I fell in love with the coaching industry about 6 years ago, when I hit a major turning point in my life where it felt like everything was falling apart. My job didn’t feel like the right fit for me, my long term relationship feel apart, my friends were moving away and I realised that I had lost touch with who I really was a long time ago. I felt like I had done everything ‘right’ - I’d done well in school, got the degree, been a loving partner, travelled around the world….but I still wasn’t happy. In fact, I was depressed, anxious and scared a lot of the time. Something inside me knew that there had to be more than this - that there was a bigger part I had to play in the world and that there must be a better way to live life than in this state of insecurity or anxiety.
Over the next 6 years, I dove deep into figuring out how to reconnect with myself; getting clear on what I really wanted and how to design a life that worked for me. I went to counselling and realised how incredibly important it is to simply have someone listen to you from a non-judgemental space. While many of us are lucky enough to have great friends or partners who support us, the people we love often have agendas for us or have a perspective on what they think is best for us rather than listening to what we really want for ourselves. And let’s face it, often we also want to be seen a certain way by our friends or lovers and that causes us to hide some of the truths behind a mask of wanting to be awesome / confident / have it all together. I’ve seen massive breakthroughs happen for myself and my own clients just through having someone listen to them and really feeling heard. (I know this sounds simple, but truthfully, there’s not always a lot of listening going on in our society most of the time).
My counselling sessions led to me studying a course in Positive Psychology at the University of Canterbury, and then working with a coach at the Tony Robbins Institute. I realised how excited I got learning about psychology and human behaviour and from thereon in most of my spare time was spent reading blogs from inspirational coaches or books by authors of human behaviour or spiritual psychology. It was around this time when I fell in love with learning about the law of attraction and A Course in Miracles and the importance of changing our thoughts and beliefs in order to see changes in our external world. I was led to the work of Gabrielle Bernstein, Marianne Williamson and Abraham Hicks, all of whom focus on increasing happiness by learning to live in a state of love rather than a state of fear. This was a game changer for me.
All you need is love
While this might just sound like an idealistic and spiritual belief, this premise has also been backed up by science with people such as psychologist and emotional intelligence expert, Jeanne Segal, and nutritional biochemist Dr. Libby Weaver verifying that in our current world we are living in a state of fear the majority of the time. Our thoughts and emotions are causing us to activate our ‘fight our flight’ reflexes (otherwise known as our sympathetic nervous system) and it is having a massive negative impact on our physical and mental health. This can be seen in the way we are holding onto weight, suffering panic attacks and developing digestive issues, to name a few. On the other hand, when we learn how to live with more love - through kind thoughts, meditation, having more fun and making better food choices - we activate the parasympathetic nervous system. The part of our body that knows that we’re safe. And when the body feels safe it can start to heal and repair. Too many people are suffering from physical and mental illnesses because they aren’t giving themselves enough time in this safe space to let their body help them to heal.
My love affair with food
I’ve always been a massive foodie, loving farmer’s markets and good coffee and wine but once I realised how important food was in relation to mental health, I began exploring further afield. I began to follow the work of Kris Carr (who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and is still alive 10 years later after going Vegan) and Mark Sisson (who was an athlete who became burnt out but healed himself by going Paleo). All of this helped to confirm to me that no one diet is right for everyone, and even one diet isn’t necessarily right for anyone at different stages of life. Only tuning in to what your body is telling you will give you accurate guidance on what you need. Not long after this I found The Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and straight away, it felt like home. I graduated as a certified Holistic Health Coach in June 2015 with a year’s worth of learning under my belt encompassing not only food and exercise, but everything else that truly makes up health: functional relationships, self-love, a fulfilling career and eliminating stress.
Getting real about work / life balance
Before I found IIN I had a great job, but the 9-5 wasn’t working for me. It didn’t give me the downtime I needed to learn all the new material my spirit was hankering for, and when I looked ahead 5 years, I realised it wasn’t in an industry I could see myself working in. When I saw that I was giving away 40 hours of every week to learning more and more about stuff I was less and less passionate about, I knew I had to make a change. I refocused on what I was passionate about and began working at lululemon athletica. It was a perfect fit for me, with less hours each week, different shift times (which surprisingly, I loved!), and a focus on health and exercise.
Finding Exercise I love
So many clients say to me “I hate exercise.” I think most people hate doing things they don’t enjoy, don’t feel like they’re good at or feel like they have to do. Life’s too short! But our bodies are born to move, not stay stuck at a desk and I’m 100% certain that there’s a type of movement out there that suits everyone. I hated exercise growing up, but started begrudgingly committing to it about midway through Uni. I did it, but it was kind of like getting a pap smear - I only did it because I had to! Once I started working at lululemon though, it was inevitable that I’d be introduced to Yoga, and I finally found exercise that I really loved doing. This then lead to Pilates, and basic body weight exercises which I actually enjoy doing. I don't push myself to do any exercise my body doesn't want to do anymore and my body seems to work better for it.
But most importantly...
I’m a more relaxed and much happier person. By learning how to create more love in my life, I’ve become a much less stressed person and a much better friend and partner. I make time for meditation or deep breathing every day. I actively choose to live from a place of love rather than fear. And I choose to create, as Albert Einstein would say, from the energy of the solution rather than the energy of the problem. I know that everyone has the potential to create the same health and happiness in their life as I have found in mine - all you need is support and the tools to get you there.