Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
I am a Health at Every Size (HAES) Personal Trainer and Body Image Coach. I have not always looked at the world through the HAES lens. In actual fact, much like many of us, the complete opposite.
Negative diet culture is impacting our mental health and wellbeing. We’re so programmed with ideas of what ‘healthy’ looks like, or what we think we should look like, moving away from this norm is a real challenge.
Since I was a teenager my life was focused on trying to lose weight. I can not remember when this fixation on looking a certain way started exactly but I just remember some days only eating a dry cracker for lunch, out of fear I would get fat.
(I just want to go back and tell my younger self not to worry, fat is not a bad thing)
Fast forward to University, I was studying Fashion Design. Looks were the top priority and I was surrounded by super skinny people that judged you purely on your looks.
I was also designing clothes to promote that view; your appearance = your worth.
In my final year of university, I ended up putting on a huge amount of weight. I was heart broken and lonely after a break up with my first love. I had not really clicked with many people on my course. A huge amount dropped out due to it being so hard and the rest just were not my people.
Everyone around me was very much focused on external beauty and I didn’t fit in. After leaving University my self worth was extremely low. I got a job in London as a designer but that was a horrendously bad experience. It put me off working for anyone in the fashion industry for life.
Fast forward another year, I fell in love again and got pregnant. Which led me to put on more weight during pregnancy (naturally).
Fast forward again, I lost 3 stone (on Weight Watchers). That was only 9 months after going through an emergency c section and a complicated pregnancy.
I still did not feel good enough,
Unsurprisingly, I put all the weight back on, feeling even worse about myself.
Then I became a single mum, which led to years of online dating and pure objectification. Endless dates, leading to let down Every. Single. Time.
After that, I spent a huge amount of time on my own, working full time from home. I was and am raising my amazing son alone, and at the time building and running a fashion label. Successfully, may I add (Yes, I got into British VOGUE – proud moment). This brought me to a point where, again, unsurprisingly, I burnt myself out. Resulting in having to close down my label.
More recently I became the slimmest I have ever been.
It took over 2 years, so this time you may assume it was done properly. (What even does that mean?!)
Well, no – I got very ill.
I developed an obsession with the gym and when I say obsession I mean obsession! 5x times a week, (at least) and all intense workouts.
It made me obsessed with my body and food, I restricted so much of the food I love – I would take numerous progress pictures (as advised by the gym owner) and spend ages comparing them. If I didn’t see a difference I would push harder. Everyone around me was praising me for all the weight I had lost. On the outside I was acceptable (almost) to society, on the inside I was totally broken.
Then COVID hit…
I discovered I was using the gym as a way to suppress real emotions and had no choice but to work on myself.
I started various courses, gained a lot of qualifications. Then I went on to coach people worldwide with body image issues. I could see a similarity in what everyone was saying, and so started developing my business into what you see today.
This is where I found Health at Every Size (HAES)
It saved me from a lifetime of feeling like my body was not good enough and allowed me to see that my body is not flawed. Becoming a HAES Personal Trainer allowed me freedom to be me rather than this constant pressure to try and shrink myself. It allowed me head space to fight against toxic diet culture and fitness professionals, and to create this business, rather than having my head constantly full of anxiety around food and body hatred.
And so now I am a Body Image Coach and HAES Personal Trainer.
I have always wanted to work in the fitness industry, but I never felt that my body was good enough. Just 9 months after having my little boy by emergency C-Section, I was on Weight Watchers and managed to lose 3 stone. But I still didn’t feel good enough. I feel as though I’ve always been on a rollercoaster of yo-yo dieting, being gym-obsessed, body dysmorphia and intense workouts.
Life has been turbulent and challenging as a single mum. But, after doing a lot of work on myself and my own perception towards my body, I realised that I am good enough, and that I was totally missing the point. There is so much to fitness I was missing, and a huge amount of people were missing.
I wanted to create a better future for my little boy and make sure he understands that every body is unique and should be celebrated. If we can share this message far and wide, I truly believe the world will be a brighter place.
Because it sucks the fun out of it and adds to pressure, anxiety, stress, guilt, shame- I mean come on – that’s not what exercise is for!
So now I bring my Body Image coaching to my fitness classes with a focus on celebrating our bodies – talk of calories, weight loss is banned. It is a place to forget about societal pressure, a place to be present and to enjoy what our bodies can do.
I strongly believe that the world would be a better place if everyBODY in the fitness industry had a HAES approach – can you imagine if all Personal Trainers were HAES aligned?
As a Personal Trainer, I still battle with my own body image but I have managed to learn acceptance.
I accept my bodies not perfect (which I actually like). More importantly I have learnt I am not just a body. I have so much more to offer than my appearance.
It has taken me a while to see but, the perception of my body has had such a huge affect on my own life and all aspects of it, which is why…
I feel so passionately about helping people with theirs.
It is not a case of vanity it’s a case of realising our worth.
Going against what society expects of us and finding the real you, buried deep under all the shame, let down and guilt.
I realised my happiness will never be found by allowing my self worth to be determined by how I look – even when I was at my ‘goal weight’, my ‘goal size’, I still didn’t feel good enough. I still didn’t feel happy, and I have coached countless others with the same issue. It is once you realise your inner worth your, inner purpose – that is where true happiness and health comes from.
This is why I decided to approach fitness from a Health at Every Size (HAES) perspective.
Each experience we have in life is an opportunity to learn, nothing is a waste of time unless you don’t take at least one lesson from it – you can either grow stronger or you can let it defeat you..
Body Image Fitness today
My aim is to save my clients a lifetime of feeling like their bodies are a problem, exactly like I used to feel. To liberate them and allow them to celebrate who they are right now. I do this through a membership that offers different types of movement classes, with absolutely no diet talk and no body shame. The membership is online, so you can join from anywhere in the world.
Currently we have members across the UK, Finland and Italy. We offer body image support, and a course on intuitive eating with a certified intuitive eating counsellor and nutritionist. It’s a really safe space and we’re creating a community among our members which gives them strength and a new found confidence.
Often fitness comes with a side of shame – a side of feeling like we exist to change our bodies. Body Image Fitness is different because we make it clear you do not need to change a thing about your body to gain body acceptance or a better perception of yourself. It comes from what’s inside – no amount of changing the outside will help
This Health at Every Size (HAES) approach, as a Personal Trainer, is important now.
Lockdown was incredibly hard for people’s body image, eating disorders are on the rise. It has become normal for people to be discontent with their bodies. This is called normative discontent, and that is not right. Research suggests that between 1.25 and 3.4 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder.
And so, I will never suggest diets, because research shows that all too often dieting can lead to disordered eating. So, as comes with being HAES aligned, I am also a non diet fitness professional.
That is not something I am willing to accept.
Celebrating your body, right now, as it is, can allow you to reduce stress and overcome pressures. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others. We need to give ourselves permission to take up space in whatever body we happen to exist in.
Body Image Fitness works around your schedule, and you can be as involved as you like. There’s no pressure from us, on any level, with your membership, we’re just here to support you.
I have a Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification and I am working towards my Level 4. The aim here is to really change the perception of how fitness and health is perceived.
I completed my coach training at Robbins-Madanes Training under my teachers Tony Robbins, Cloe Madanes, Mark Peysha, and Magali Peysha.
Level 5 Diploma in Life Coaching. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Level 5. NLP Master Practitioner (Advanced to Specialist). Health and Nutrition life coaching certificate.