So why do I want to do what I do? Why am I so passionate about helping others see past their own self-doubt?
Well here’s why. Here is my story, the whole kit and caboodle (it’s a long post)…..
So, today I am a coach with the calling to help others deal with issues of low confidence, self-belief and self-esteem. I want others to realise that the only place to work on these things is from within. I want others who have sat on their dreams, or kept themselves small, to find and build their confidence and get out there and grab whatever it is they want.
Why am I here?
Well, I was an overweight child and teenager. I certainly remember from the age of 8 or 9 being bigger than the other children. I remember one incident where some of the other kids in middle school had said something, took the mick (as it was called back then, not bullying 😔), and the teachers getting involved so it didn’t become anything more serious.
It was the first time I realised I wasn’t the same as everyone else. That something about me was different. I was fat! The problem was that my reaction to being different was to eat more. Eating was comforting. So I got bigger and bigger, I was ashamed of getting bigger and so I would numb my feelings the only way I knew how by eating more.
I was quite sociable as a teenager, I had plenty of friends and was involved in both the Guides and Scouts and with that came a huge network of people to hang around with. We were always out at parties or at camps or rehearsing for the amateur show we put on every year. It was great fun.
But my weight was always something I was so acutely aware of and my negative self-talk was strong.
Fashion and being fashionable is a big thing as a teenage girl and I struggled. I couldn’t wear the same style of clothes as my girlfriends because I just didn’t look as good in them. Well, at least that’s certainly what I told myself.
In this amateur Scout show, there were different types of outfits depending on your body shape and size. The ‘skinny’ girls wore the little, high cut tops and hot pants or tight-fitting dresses or skin-tight trousers. The larger girls, which included me, wore what can only be described as sacks, baggy tops or very loose dresses, which just took away any kind of shape. Looking back I’ve come to realise just how much this was a thing for me. I was only worthy of looking like a sack because I was overweight.
Outwardly I would be OK, but inwardly wanting to hide away in my bedroom so no one would see me. I was constantly comparing myself to others, wishing I was someone else, thinking that I’m not good enough as I am.
At the age of 18, I had the wakeup call I needed to snap into action and do something about my weight. I saw a photograph of myself sat down holding my then baby cousin. I just saw rolls, not on the baby, on me. I was certainly at my biggest at nearly 16st.
I cried for hours over this photograph. That day I also had a heart to heart with my mum and we decided together we would start going to Weight Watchers. My mum didn’t have a huge amount to lose and I think she mainly wanted to go to support me.
Losing the weight wasn’t easy, my response to any difficult, stressful, emotional situation was to eat, but also whenever I was overly happy I would eat, like when I got my first proper boyfriend. But ultimately the fat did come off and by my 21st I was at a healthy weight. And with a generally healthy lifestyle, as I’d really got into exercise and had a better control over food – far more mindful of what I was eating and when.
However, it took a long time to shake of my ‘fat girl’ low self-esteem and confidence. If I’m truly honest and this is the first time I’ve admitted this, I didn’t go away to university because I was afraid of being away from what I knew. I didn’t think I would cope. And also I was worried about what other people would think of me. My excuse though was because I didn’t want to get into debt.
But I would look at my friends who did go away to study and be so envious of how much fun they were having.
I made uni friends just fine, but I didn’t socialise in the same way those who lived in halls did. Going out boozing heightened my fear that I was going to put on weight again. Going out meant having to find clothes that were fashionable and would fit me. Going out meant needing to come across confident and extrovert, which I certainly wasn’t.
To some extent, I regret my decisions around my uni years because I do think I could have had such a different experience. But then I would not be where I am not today.
At this time I also experienced the breakdown of the relationship with my then best friend. This was the first time I had been through losing a key person from my life. I remember from the argument we had how she called me a sheep and said that I only follow people around because I’m wanting to be popular and be in with the right crowd.
You’d think I’d just brush this aside and move on, but for some reason, it stung. To me, this was so far from who I was. I couldn’t understand how she could see this of me. This really rattled me and created a fear of not wanting my intentions to be misunderstood ever again. It’s a painful scar that stayed with me for some time and added another layer to my existing self-esteem and confidence wobbles.
I trained in PR and Marketing, that’s what my degree was in. I always told myself I should be aiming for one of those glamorous jobs for a highfaluting creative agency in the capital or to become a senior manager of a large PR team.
I would see the job adverts come up and immediately decide I wasn’t good enough for the job. Especially when I read that you ‘needed to be a go-getter’, ‘have outstanding communication skills’, ‘be prepared to get in there a pitch for big global brand accounts’. As soon as I read the criteria I would revert back to ‘fat girl’ and think ‘who am I kidding, look at you, they’ll know you don’t have what it takes’.
I did have some great PR jobs working for the council, the police and a small creative agency. But I’d see my fellow uni friends and what they were up to and compare myself to them and again start telling myself I should be trying to aim for bigger and better. It was another vicious circle I was in.
All this same while I had this niggling urge to be working for myself. I spoke about this on and off for many years, about how I would love to break free and just be my own boss. Nothing at this point had come from it because, well, I didn’t have what it takes to do it, so I thought.
I really was starting to get really get tired of my own negative backchat about how I couldn’t do this and couldn’t do that. Enough was enough!
Because there were plenty of other examples of where I had achieved because I clearly had the self-belief. I’d ran a 10 mile race having never run properly before – I trained for it over 5 months and I completed it and continued with running. I’d lost the 5 stone in weight and I’d been able to keep it off. I’d entered a bikini fitness contest and got on stage in front of hundreds because I wanted my own slap round the fact that I was no longer that overweight teenager.
I knew that I had to give in to this calling to work for myself and give it a bash. If I didn’t even give it a try I would regret it.
I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to work for myself or what I was going to do initially. That was until one day my own PT said to me “you’d make a really good trainer”.
Boom! There it was, the answer to my step into self-employment. And what a great way, I could help others who were facing the same weight loss journey I had already been through.
I signed up to a distance learning course so I could still work fulltime while I was studying. But even while I was doing this I suffered from self-doubt. I regularly had the ‘What makes you think you can be a PT?’ thoughts. But I had to say firmly to myself, “enough is enough of talking this crap, you can do this”.
This path felt right and when the time came to hand in my notice, and leave the security of my job, I couldn’t be any more certain that I wanted to go down this path despite the uncertainty and risk.
It was the first big leap I’d make where my self-belief was truly in the driving seat and I’d made a totally conscious, affirming choice and it was exhilarating.
Yes, I did have days when my inner saboteur had me worried about whether people would think I was cut out to be a trainer, as I’m not your stereotypical looking PT. But my driver for it was helping others so they could improve their own confidence in how they looked and felt.
I have moved from personal training into coaching around confidence and self-belief. Through working with a coach myself I realised that I needed to work with people on a much deeper level. I was growing frustrated by not understanding why people couldn’t get out of their own way to achieve the goals they so much desired, and include myself in that.
I have learnt from being a trainer, and my own experience, that people seek external change, i.e. weight loss or to tone up or even a new super duper car, thinking it’s the answer to confidence, and it can be. But it’s often short-lived, because whatever is the trigger too low confidence it’s often still there inside.
Mine was that I was forever cutting myself short and not having trust in myself. Since I have been saying yes to following my dream, and no to hiding away, my self-belief has been growing every single day.
If you’d asked my 21 year old self whether she could even envision where I am now, I have no doubt she would have said: “no, are you kidding me.”
The biggest realisation I have had is the catastrophic impact negative self-talk can have to how we live our lives, it shuts us down from all the wonderful experiences we would otherwise enjoy.
Self-doubt can keep us cocooned in feeling numb, feeling frustrated. It can keep us little.
I am determined to help other people to emerge from that cocoon and fly free to discover the world of possibilities outside.
Confidence and self-belief comes from accepting who we are at that very moment and leaning into it, to be vulnerable and open, rather than doubting or numbing it.
We can stretch into this by learning to love the package we come as and strive for a fulfilling, rich, expansive life.
And I am still learning and practising this myself every single day.
If you would like help with anything that’s coming up for you around self-care, confidence, self-belief and self-esteem then let’s connect through a free Discovery Call.
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