"Yes it can be scary to begin with and it’s not always going to be an easy road, but give it a go. When you fall down, pick yourself up, it will take time but you will be amazed at what you can achieve."

Anxiety - Lifting my way to inner peace

My transformation so far has been about much more than just the physical changes, my mental health was just as, if not more important.

When I turned 18 things started to change, I went out clubbing with friends for the first time and out of nowhere, I started feeling really sick. It began so suddenly and I had no idea what was happening to me.

Whatever this was, it started to happen more and more when I went out and it would come out of nowhere. I would get hot, shaky, I’d start breathing heavily, felt nauseous (sometimes physically sick) and I just wanted to cry. It was so overwhelming and I couldn’t control when or why this would happen. I stopped going out with friends and every time they asked me to go out I made up excuses why I couldn’t go. Eventually, they started to accept my excuses and just let me be. This was a really hard time in my life. I often feel like I lost 3 years just hiding away from the world. It was tough not knowing what was happening to me and not having anyone who understood made it even worse.

I started to have a lot of trouble sleeping, I was so tired but I just couldn’t sleep! I began to worry a lot, like what people thought of me, having any kind of attention towards me was terrifying. I’m not really sure if something in particular triggered this, I guess the bullying at school and eventually comments I would receive for being skinny had something to do with it. I take things to heart; even the smallest of things that may seem so insignificant to you eat away at me.

I eventually got some professional for a brief time; he helped me to manage my attacks by focusing on the positive in every situation that I felt uncomfortable in. I was advised that alcohol could make my situations worse so for quite some time I rarely drank. This did help me for a while. I was able to go out again with my friends and enjoy that time in my life that everyone looks forward to when turning 18, but I was now 21.

For a long time, I was known as the girl with ‘The Snack Bag’ everywhere I went I would carry around this bag of snacks, chips, chocolate, muesli bars, biscuits etc. Whatever was on special at the supermarket I would buy and put it in my bag to go everywhere with me. I was always snacking and eating little meals here and there, I guess this may have helped keep my metabolism up. For many years I used to have and Icebreak and cheese on biscuits for breakfast, mind you this was a minimum of 1 -2 hours after getting up in the morning. Eventually, I progressed to Icebreaks and 2 slices of toast. I really thought this was ok because I was having dairy.

I’m not sure if it just me or maybe others get this too. People commented to my face that I need to put on weight or eat more. I remember once while I was out with my friends, I had a woman, a total stranger yell out to me that I should go eat a burger cos I was so skinny. Trust me I tried to put on weight; I wanted to, especially if it stopped people hounding me.

These days I understand how my anxiety works and what triggers it. For me, it’s like this little voice in my head that just eats away at you. I analyze every word, I think about every possible way a situation can turn out and it’s always the worst outcome. I guess you could say I read into things too much and I always worry about what people think. Even if I can see sense in people telling me it nothing to worry about, I still can’t help but let it get to me.

Once I got together with Kane he had started personal training and was learning about MP. He got me to start training by doing a little bit of weight training or going to things like the 1000 steps. I didn’t enjoy it that much but I kept trying. Kane kept at me to try and eat better, eat breakfast, eat after training, it was tough. Eating after training was a huge struggle, I couldn’t stomach it and it made me feel so sick! Then he tried getting me to have breakfast soon after getting up. Oh my god did that make me feel like throwing up. My body was not ready for this and it was such a struggle to stomach anything. I’m here to tell everyone out there that struggles to eat first thing in the morning because it makes you feel sick or it’s just not for you, if you keep persisting it will become easier. I kept at it, having a little bit each day, things I enjoyed and eventually I was eating much earlier than I used to. For a long time it was the Icebreaks and toast but eventually this changed. I changed my normal.

For years I would start some kind of training with Kane but within a few weeks I lost interest and gave up. This all started to change when Kane and I moved in together and he started his own gym in our garage. This became a safe place to train, there weren’t a whole lot of strangers looking at me, judging me like in the commercial gyms, and it was awesome.

In Feb of 2017, I made a commitment to Kane and myself that I would give a 12-week block of training and nutrition a go and I have never looked back. I jumped in at the deep end; the only time I could train was at 6:30am and I HATE mornings. I found this alone was a huge step in my transformation.

Training wasn’t straightforward for a while. I have had long-term back pain for about 12 years but never sought any medical attention. My parents both suffer from sciatica and just took pain relief for it and all my symptoms were the same so I just accepted that it may never go away. Kane hounded me for ages to get it looked at and eventually I gave in when it started to have a negative impact on my training, so I sought advice from a recommended Chiro. He quickly diagnosed that I had a subluxation in my spine along with Scoliosis. I was given a set of exercises to do before I started training to loosen up the muscles in my back. It’s now been just over 12 months since I started seeing the Chiro and I am so much better, I haven’t had to take any kind of pain relief in a long time. I do still have some discomfort but this is to be expected as my body has been out of whack for such a long time. Some exercises I still can’t do and some that I really struggle with but I don’t let this get in the way, I simply alter my training to something that works, I just focus on what I can do.

Into my second program of the year, things were starting to feel awesome but unfortunately, my mental health was not so great. I was in a job that I no longer enjoyed, the stress levels were always up and it was impacting everything in my life. My anxiety came back with a vengeance and even though I now knew what would trigger it I still struggled to control it. It began to consume, I felt like I was drowning in a rollercoaster of emotions and I just wanted to disappear.

As much as this was a very tough time in my life I am thankful that it happened, it made me realize that there was something better out there for me. Training made me happy, it was like an escape and it was building my confidence more than I realized. I made the jump and decided to leave my job and become a trainer. I had found ways to build my confidence, reduce my stress and anxiety and I wanted to help others do the same.

As you can see in the first photo I really didn’t want these pictures taken, I hated myself, I hated who I saw in the mirror and I really didn’t want anyone to see me in a crop top. Comparing these 2 photos I am actually shocked at how much I have changed in a year. I feel like my photo shoot photos are oozing with confidence. I am really starting to love who I see in the mirror and I couldn’t be happier. I love training, especially lifting weights; the feeling I get when I hit a PB or just push myself to my limits is awesome. I am so proud of what I have achieved and cannot wait to see what is still to come.

For anyone out there that is struggling with self-confidence I want to tell you that changing my nutrition and incorporating training into my life was the best thing I could have ever done. Yes it can be scary to begin with and it’s not always going to be an easy road, but give it a go. When you fall down, pick yourself up, it will take time but you will be amazed at what you can achieve.

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Victoria, Australia