Why You Should 5:2 Your Whole Life, Not Just Your Diet!

Robyn Foyster Robyn Foyster has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team


Jun 09, 2024

5:2 Your Life demonstrates how the 5:2 diet can be more than just a weight loss programme, it is a way of life. The small weekly change can make a huge difference. And that’s what 5:2 is all about – taking simple steps, on just two days per week, which will have a powerful ripple effect on your whole life.

Now Kate Harrison, best-selling author of The 5:2 Diet Book and The Ultimate 5:2 Recipe Book, has taken her knowledge and experience to turn the diet into 5:2 Your Life: Get Happy, Get Healthy, Get Slim. An inspiring six- week plan will help you to take control of the things that matter most to you, from your relationships and your work, to your health, your leisure time and the dreams you’ve been neglecting. There’s even a brand new eating plan to help you lose weight too – with exciting recipes and guidelines on eating the 5:2 way for the rest of your life.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to 5:2 Your Life. 

Are you desperate to change your life but can’t find the time to make a start? 5:2 could be what you’re looking for . . . by making small changes on just two days a week, you can reap the benefits on the other five – improving your relationships, work life, relaxation, fitness and even your sleep… Most of us know there are things we could change to become happier, or healthier, but we struggle to find the time or energy to get started. We think it’s going to be a huge, all or nothing But it doesn’t have to be that way . . . Take the 5:2 diet.

We used to believe that dieting meant restricting ourselves the whole time – and feeling guilty when, inevitably, we gave into temptation. But now hundreds of thousands of people find they can reach a healthy, stable weight by watching the calories on just two days each week. Now imagine applying the same principle to the rest of our lives – making small changes, just twice a week, that will help you achieve your biggest dreams.

That’s 5:2 Your Life

I’ve lost two stone doing the 5:2 diet – after a lifetime of yoyo dieting – but almost as important is what I’ve gained: bags more energy, a new enthusiasm for running (before this plan I couldn’t run for the bus) and the sense that anything was possible. When I began the diet, there was very little information available, so I started a Facebook group with a few friends who were trying fasting too – and when that group grew and grew (it now has over 20,000 members), I realised how powerful the 5:2 approach was.

Group members were changing jobs, taking up exercise for the first time, even finding love; all thanks to their newly discovered confidence and sense of achievement. I used that as the inspiration for a plan applying the same principles to all the things in life that influence our happiness and well-being. 5:2 Your Life combines fun activities, great challenges and psychological research to create a very practical programme to help you transform your life – part-time!

How does 5:2 Your Life work? 

I designed the plan to take you through all the most important aspects of our lives – helping you to picture the life you want; improving your relationships; working fun fitness activities into your routine without joining a gym; and decluttering your home, your money and your mind. The ideas and tasks are practical and proven, offering creative ways to help you feel happier and healthier. I’ve tried them all myself and I know the difference they make. I’m more confident, sleep better and am free from the winter blues that used to hit every year without fail.

There are no ‘cookie cutter’ solutions – this plan gives you the tools to work out exactly what you want the most – and the techniques to help you make changes you’ll notice straight

Small changes, big dreams

All the activities in this book fit in around your life as it is now – you can work on your dreams during your daily commute, in your lunch break or once you’ve put the children to bed. Almost without noticing, you’ll find that these little steps combine to produce a powerful ripple effect that will be felt all week long – and beyond. And if you didn’t get time to finish a challenge or activity – there’s no guilt. You simply pick up where you left off the next day.

The 5:2 Eating plan – delicious meals to help you control your weight

Even the busiest person will be able to find enough time to try the enjoyable, energising activities – and 5:2 Your Life also has a brand new six-week Eating Plan that complements the lifestyle challenges: you could lose a stone/6kg or more in the first six weeks.. You can choose to do the Life Plan and the Eating Plan together, or separately – it’s all about what you want the most.

How 5:2 Helps you take control 

Imagine the life you’ve always dreamed of. OK. Let me qualify that a bit. Imagine the life that’s like yours, but much, much better. It’s your life when the kids are getting on brilliantly and your partner gazes at you as though you’re Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie (if you’re reading this, Brangelina, then, yes, 5:2 can even work for you). It’s your life when you feel fit and positive: no health worries, no aches and pains, no looming bills you’re struggling to pay. You love the work you do, and enjoy your leisure time and relationships. You sleep well, and wake up full of energy.

How does that life sound?

Maybe it’s familiar – you have days like that already and you’re hoping that 5:2-ing your life will give you more of them. Or maybe that sounds like an unattainable dream – or a very cheesy cereal advert. Perhaps you think that a life like that is only for the very lucky few. Except luck is only a small part of the story. Most of the ‘luckiest’ people I know seem to glide through life, but in fact, they’ve put in the work and know where they’re going. Just like a swan, effortlessly serene above the water, but paddling hard You probably know there are things you could do right now that would help you make life better.

But where would you start – and how on earth would you find the time? When there’s work, and chores, and bills to be paid, and DIY jobs to be done, and people to be fed, the stuff that could make your life better never gets tackled. If you don’t know where to begin, you never begin at all. What if you could start small, by making changes just two days a week but feeling the positive effects all week long? What if each tiny change you made took you closer to the passions and the people that really matter to you? That’s 5:2 Your Life, in a nutshell.

What does 5:2 Your Life actually involve?

It’s a six-week plan of enjoyable activities and ways to make your life better.

  • The 5:2 Your Life Plan – a set of practical challenges and tasks to try out two days a week. Each week has a different theme – and includes an activity and a challenge using proven strategies to make you happier and more productive.
  • The Eating Plan – based on the 5:2 Diet, this has satisfying meal plans for two fast days a week (don’t worry – you won’t be fasting completely!) plus advice on how to eat the rest of the time.

The 5:2 Life Plan themes

The themes for each of the six weeks have been chosen to enhance the areas of our lives that can promote happiness and well-being.

Week 1: Discover what matters to you and what you want to change – and begin to take action.

Week 2: Connect with the people you care about and the world you share.

Week 3: Simplify your life by getting rid of what’s cluttering it up and tackling complications, especially finances.

Week 4: Move – make the mental and physical changes to increase your energy and happiness.

Week 5: Relax in the new space you’ve created and enjoy your free time.

Week 6: Do!– work out what you’re best at and how to do more of it! The plan is designed so that each week builds on the previous one – but you can choose to repeat a week, or do them in a

different order. It’s all about you! Alternatively, if you have a real hatred of being told what to do, there’s the DIY option:

DIY 5:2 Your Life

You may want to choose this if you already have a really clear idea of the things you want to change – like giving up smoking, changing your job or decluttering your home. You’ll design your own programme, using the tools in the book, to focus completely on that particular objective. There’s a separate chapter, DIY 5:2 Your Life (see page 225), to help you do that, selecting the best activities to work through on your 5:2 days.

Why part-time change works so well 

Whether you follow the six-week programme, or design your own, the two-day approach is effective because:

1 You’re focusing your energies on small changesand mini-goals that motivate you and keep you on track.

2 Change can be daunting – but committing to making changes on just two days of the week is achievable.

3 On the other five days, you’re seeing the benefits of your 5:2 efforts – and you’re also much more aware of the things you want to change, even when you’re not specifically ‘working’ on them. So, almost without noticing, you’ll probably start applying those same strategies beyond the two days – without feeling weak willed or guilty if life gets in the way sometimes.

Why I know from personal experience that 5:2 is so much more than a ‘diet’

5:2 has changed my life. As well as changing my body, it has changed my attitude to many aspects of my health and wellbeing. Yet it all started from watching a one-hour documentary in the summer of 2012.

But at this point I want to focus on the present. Right now:

  • I’m 28 pounds (almost 13kg) lighter.
  • I’m a UK size 10 (I was a 16.)
  • My Body Mass Index (BMI – there’s more about this in Part 3) is a healthy 22.8, rather than an overweight 27.6 – which should reduce the risk of conditions like Type 2 diabetes and some cancers . . .
  • Yet I still bake every week, and enjoy smelly cheeses, great cocktails and meals out.
  • I meditate regularly.
  • I sleep better
  • I run or go to the gym twice a week and am much, much more active in my everyday life.
  • I’m much less prone to the blues (one of the most significant improvements for me as I have suffered from depression in the past – I’ll talk more about this in Part 2)
  • I’m confident enough to go on TV and speak to international audiences about 5:2.
  • I’ve achieved a lifelong ambition and written a cookbook.
  • I’ve met more than 20,000 other 5:2 dieters online and in person

And last but not least:

  • I feel like part of a fantastic community – even, maybe, part of a revolution! Others in our 5:2 Facebook group – where members share their weight loss and lifestyle tips and their amazing photographs and stories – have seen the same transformations. The results are much more far-reaching than looking better in a swimming costume (though that’s a bonus). Here are some of the things they’ve achieved:
  • Giving up smoking – probably the best thing you can do for your health – and your bank balance.
  • Taking up running, cycling, Zumba, walking or gym classes for the first time.
  • Setting themselves big challenges, like entering triathlons or fund-raising races.
  • Cutting down on alcohol, sugar or other parts of their diet that they didn’t feel were good for their bodies.
  • Gaining the confidence to apply for – and get – new jobs.
  • Spending more time with family and friends.
  • Encouraging friends, family members and colleagues to make health improvements themselves.
  • Feeling confident enough to buy new clothes that flatter them, or to fit into clothes they thought they’d never wear
  • Taking up new hobbies, and going back to old ones, with the extra time and energy 5:2 has given them.

5:2 Diet Example Daily Menu 

On The menu…

This week, the two fast-day menus offer three small meals for each day…with a focus on discovering great flavours to ensure you are getting the most taste for your calories.

Don’t forget, men are allowed a precious 100 more calories that women. Either choose an extra ration from page 346, or simply be a little more generous with portion size or extras like nuts, seeds or cheese.

To drink: you can choose water, diet drinks (try to avoid too many of these), black tea or coffee, herb teas (most are under 5 calls) but count calories in any milk you use – i like almond milk as a great lower calorie substitute.

Fast day 1

Breakfast – Berry ‘smoochie’ with oats and raspberries (120 cals)

This is halfway between a smoothie and a porridge pot: like a big comforting smooch. Soak the oats overnight to make them digestible (just pop them in the glass your going to serve it in to save washing up!)


  • 15g oats, 53 cals
  • 50g almond milk, skimmed milk or apple nice, 7-18 cals
  • 50g raspberries (or any berries), frozen or fresh, 20-30 cals
  • 1/4 banana, around 30g, 32 cals
  • 1 tablespoon fat-free greek yoghurt, 8 cals


1 Pour the milk or juice over the oats the night before and leave in the fridge (you can prepare enough for two mornings and simply use half).

2 In the morning, add the other ingredients and whizz up in a jug blender or using a hand blender. Drink and go!

Lunch– Harissa Roasted veg with sweet-mint yoghurt cooler (129 cals)

This is absolutely yummy and so filling, especially on a cold day. Harissa is a spicy chilli paste that can add flavour to meat, fish and, as here, vegetable. Roasting the veg makes the most of their flavours, and the cooling sauce with metabolism-stabilising cinnamon is a great counterpoint to the heat of the harissa. I like rose harissa best.


  • Vegetables for roasting: for example, 1/2 red pepper, 1/2 yellow pepper (30 cals), 1 small courgette (20 cals), 100g mushrooms (13 calls), 1/2 red onion (19 cals)
  • 1-cal spray
  • 1 teaspoon harissa paste, 20 cals
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free greek yoghurt, 20 cals
  • handful chopped mint leaves, 5 cals
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 cals

Serves 1 but double up and you can eat this tomorrow with melted goats cheese topping and crusty bread, or serve to the family as a side dish tonight.


  • Preheat oven to 200C/400C/gas mark 6
  • Quarter the peppers and remove the seeks and stalks. Then cut all the veg into even sized chunks (the mushrooms can stay whole if they’re small).
  • Spray a baking sheet with 1-cal spray, then mix the veg in a bowl with the harissa paste. Arrange the coated veg on the sheet.
  • Bake for 40 minutes, using a spatula to turn the veg over once halfway through cooking time.
  • For the cooler, mix the yoghurt in a small bowl with the mint leaves and cinnamon. Serve on the side or drizzled over the veg.

Extra ration: a mini wholemeal pitta bread (80 cals) goes well with this, so you don’t waste any of the spicy sauce.

Dinner – Sticky sesame salmon or tofu with citrus green beans (230 cals)

This delicious nutty and sweet dressing works perfectly with salmon, and adds flavour to tofu if you prefer a veggie dish (it’ll be lower in calories, but check the packet for the exact count). For a hotter, citrus flavour, replace the soy sauce with lime juice, and add half a teaspoon of crushed chills to the marinade.


  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 22 cals
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey, 10 cals
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (5 cals) or lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 fresh or frozen salmon fillet (100g), 140 cals or 120g tofu, 100-150 calls
  • 1-cal spray


  • 100g fine green beans, 27 cals
  • grated rind and juice of 1/2 lime, 10 cals
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds, 16 cals


1 Mix Together the oil, honey, soy sauce and chilli flakes (if you’re using them). Defrost the salmon fillet, if frozen, or slice the tofu into strips. Drixxle the sesame sauce over the fish or tofu and leave to marinade in the fridge – overnight is best.

2 Spray 1-cal spray onto a non-stick frypan, then heat to a medium temperature. Cook the salmon or tofu for 8 minutes, or until cooked through. Turn the salmon to make sure it doesn’t burn; with the tofu, you can let it brown at the edges, to give more texture.

3 Meanwhile, boil a small pan of water and trim the beans. Cook or steam the veg till tender but still crunch (4-5 minutes) – drain, the toss in the juice and rind. Serve with the fish/tofu, with sesame seeds sprinkled over the top.

Tip: Double up on the marinade – it keeps for several days in the fridge and can be used on chicken or other fish too. 

Many talk about 5:2 as a way of eating or a way of life, rather than a diet. They were motivated to make changes that went beyond what they ate – many using a free guide I put on my website at the end of 2012 about setting goals to improve your life. At the time, that was as far as I’d planned to go down the ‘self help’ route. But when I began to hear the stories from the forums, I wondered how much more we could achieve by applying the 5:2 principles to some of the exciting techniques and research in the fields of positive psychology, mindfulness and life change.

Having shared this plan with guinea pigs from the groups, and seen them use the same simple principles to improve their lives, I know this ‘diet’ isn’t just about making us slimmer. It can make us happier, too.

This is an edited extract from 5:2 Your Life by Kate Harrison, published by Hachette Australia, RRP $14.99

Buy the 5:2 Your Life book here!

52About Kate Harrison 

Before becoming a novelist, Kate Harrison worked for a news agency, reporting mainly for the national tabloids including The Telegraph, The Mail on Sunday, Red and Cosmopolitan. She then moved to the BBC where she was a reporter in regional news in Bristol and Birmingham, a producer on Newsround, and worked on Panorama and other invesitgative consumer shows and documentaries. Kate is the author of eight novels, including the Secret Shopper series and, most recently, The Boot Camp. In 2011, Orion Children’s Books published the first of her young adult trilogy, Soul Beach. She now writes full-time and lives by the sea in Brighton.

Have you used the 5:2 plan? Tell us in the comments below! 


By Robyn Foyster Robyn Foyster has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team


Robyn Foyster is the owner and publisher of the lifestyle websites TheCarousel.com, GameChangers.com.au and WomenLoveTech.com. She is the only person to edit and publish Australia's three biggest flagship magazines - The Australian Women's Weekly, Woman's Day and New Idea. Robyn was Group Publisher of Bauer Media's most successful and prestigious magazines including Woman's Day, Good Health, Grazia and ran Hearst in Australia including Harper’s BAZAAR, Cosmopolitan and madison. Voted one of B&T's 30 Most Powerful Women In Media at the Women in Media Awards Robyn was a keynote speaker at Pause 2021, Cebit & J&J Women In Leadership. Robyn was also the winner of the prestigious Magazine Publisher Association’s Editor of the Year award.



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