Up until 2 years ago I could never have entertained the idea of working in fitness. I grew up believing that exercise wasn’t for me. I was the podgy kid in the family, usually last picked in P.E., absolutely DREADED sports days and couldn’t even be entered into the non-sporty kids event: ‘The Slow Bike Race’ – because I couldn’t even ride a bike.
During a tough couple of years around my late teens I piled on weight and became the fat one in my peer group. My confidence plummeted and relationships suffered. I was determined not to start uni with this identity I hated so I quit drinking at 18 for year! I started running every day and eating frankly boring food but it worked and I arrived at uni more confident, however my relationship with food and my body image in general was increasingly unhealthy.
I tried yoga in my twenties only because my employer gave us a free week’s gym membership and I had no intention of taking up a full membership. This was a turning point for me as going in with no expectations I found something I enjoyed and actually got better at. I went from gym hater to going up to 3 times a day and starting to try new things like spinning, and I loved the vibe and being part of something. For the first time in my life I started to see my body become stronger and I loved that feeling, however I was living a life of extremes: trying to ‘balance’ my party lifestyle with yoga and low carb eating – the result being that under my happy healthy exterior I was all over the place mentally and hiding my disordered eating and low moods.
I moved to Ibiza in my early 30’s and spent 6 months studying massage in London before I left so that I’d have work to go into once I got there. I absolutely loved the theory side of massage, studying anatomy and physiology, but after one dodgy punter too many and my massage table going up in smoke in a forest fire I was happy to walk away from the work of a massage therapist.
Life in Ibiza continued to be a juggling act between health and partying until my now husband and I decided to try for a baby. I fell pregnant straight away but an early miscarriage forced me to sit down and really think about how I could take responsibility for my own health. It was then that I really discovered the power of nutrition and a seed was planted to come back and study the body again at some point!
Within two months of the miscarriage I was pregnant again with my son. I piled on 3.5 stone, and in Spain, this is a lot of weight gain. I was weighed far too often and told several times by medical professionals that I was gaining too much weight and told not to eat certain foods. Despite having a great pregnancy I was in a bad place again mentally about my body and food, and once I became a Mum I felt every bit as miserable about my appearance as I had done as an 18 year old.
I joined a friendly local gym and worked hard in classes to lose my baby weight in 4 months. I wanted to make sure I didn’t have to go through this again so I signed up to a women’s weight training programme and facebook community which I absolutely loved. Only a month into it I discovered I was pregnant again and this time around I stayed active, following my programme religiously 6 days a week right up until 2 days before my daughter was born. I only gained half the weight I had done in my previous pregnancy and my body felt great.
I was doing a lot more of my own research around fitness and nutrition and was managing to keep a pretty healthy body and mind through training and I loved my ‘me’ time in the gym, driving there at 6am in the morning to get my workout done before our crazy Ibiza days started.
When we decided to move back to the UK I knew I had to choose a professional direction – it made perfect sense to me to train as a nutritional therapist, it ticked my boxes of wanting study the body again and wanting to get to the truth in all of the conflicting health messages that seemed to be everywhere, whilst also helping myself to heal.
Coming towards the end of my nutrition studies I felt that I needed to shift – I now had the knowledge to be healthy but was still living an all or nothing life of healthy weeks and heavy weekends, and I felt like a fraud. I knew that if I wanted to work in health I needed to walk the walk as well as talk the talk, and I started to think about adding fitness to my own training in order to give myself the push I needed.
I had been going to Endcliffe park each week to watch my husband do the parkrun; one sunny Saturday I got caught up in the atmosphere and announced I would do it the following week. I don’t think I’d ever run 5k in my life. The next week came and although it was seriously tough going I ran it non-stop. At that point something just clicked. I realised that I could do anything if I just believed I could do it.
I found a fitness instructor training I liked the look of and enrolled and I quit drinking. Since then I’ve completed my Level 2 training, learned to ride a bike again and swim freestyle, swum 2.5k in a lake, run a couple of 10k’s and completed my first triathlon. I am happier and the most at peace with myself I have ever been.
Honestly, I wasted so much energy over the years being obsessive, unbalanced and at times really down on myself under my confident and bubbly exterior. The knowledge I’ve gained over the years, through studying and my own experiences too, fills me with a passion to support others to really see what they are capable of and break free of the limitations of dieting and weight issues. So – there’s so much that’s brought me to where I am today, and I am still growing and developing myself – and that’s what I’ve finally realised it’s all about: just moving forward with belief, one step at a time.
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