It’s my birthday next week, again! Birthdays are always a time of mixed feelings for me. A period of reflection on the past year and of planning for the coming one. But this, my 36th birthday, feels very different. When I look back on everything that has happened in the last 12 months, I actually can’t believe it.
The last year has seen me taking lots of small, seemingly insignificant steps, which have somehow accumulated to bring me so much closer to my “dream life” than I could have thought possible when I was turning 35! Slowly, almost imperceptibly, I have begun to change. So here’s the run down!
I started coaching nutrition clients! Even as I type this, I almost can’t believe it. After all the training, the research and my own trial and error, this year it was finally time to take the plunge. I was wracked with impostor syndrome. I felt sure someone would interrupt my presentation to ask “why should we be listening to you, what do you know?” Surprisingly, this did not happen. Naturally, I was very nervous during that first presentation, but I think I relaxed in to it. Six weeks later when I was closing out with that first group, it felt like no big deal anymore!
The other big thing that happened is that I qualified as a Zumba instructor and recently began to teach classes. I have spoken about this in previous posts, so suffice is to say, the nerves and anxiety were back with a vengeance. Even attending the training I felt like a fraud. I didn’t have the right gear, I wasn’t as good as the other girls, I wasn’t fit enough, etc., etc., etc! Of course, this was ridiculous. Both training days were a complete blast. I can’t think of a better way to spend a day than dancing with 50 like minded ladies. I have even signed up for another course in December.
When it came to teaching that first class, I was so nervous, I thought I was going to throw up. The things I came up with to fret about! I was terrified of my mind going blank and forgetting all the steps, even though I had spent countless hours practicing. I was nervous people would question my previous experience. What was I going to say if people asked how long I had been teaching for? Would it make me less credible if I admitted that this was my first class? What if nobody turned up? What if too many people showed up? What should I wear? On and on it went. I can confidently say that my mind ran though every possible eventuality and even a few impossible ones! My over thinking kept me awake at night. For the weeks leading up to the maiden class, my walks, drives, showers and even dreams were all done to a Latin soundtrack!
The night eventually came, and although my performance was far from flawless, we all got through it. I fumbled a few steps, but I think I got away with it. I followed the advice of my own Zumba instructor who said “keep it simple and don’t forget to smile!” The ladies were lovely and not one of them asked to see my credentials. Even better, they all came back the following week! When I woke up the morning after, my body felt like it had been run over. It was only then did I realise just how tense I had been.
Another big change lately, has been starting the low FODMAP diet. After more than a decade of struggling with digestive problems, I am excited to think that maybe I can “fix” it with dietary and lifestyle interventions, as opposed to medication. I am only two weeks in and it’s really too early to tell if it’s working, but I will definitely be writing a full post about it in the coming weeks. Ironically, the IBS issues combined with my struggles with my weight, have been what has inspired the other big changes in my life.
I trained in nutrition initially, so that I could help myself. I was deeply frustrated by reading and listening to conflicting advice, so I resolved to become my own expert. I figured nobody would have more of a vested interest in my health and fitness than I would, so it was ultimately up to me. The reason I wanted to coach others, is so that I could give other people the type of help I wish I had had all those years ago.
It was a very similar story when it came to Zumba. At the very beginning of my fitness journey, it was there. Providing a fun, non threatening and body positive way for me to get a sweat on. For the first couple of classes I lingered at the back, trying to make myself invisible. As the weeks went on, I could feel myself coming out of my shell, and although I never became a #frontrowdiva, I definitely grew in confidence. I want to give that to other people. I want to empower women to reconnect with their bodies and to feel sexy and gorgeous, even if it is only for an hour!
If this year has taught me anything, it is the importance of Why. If you can search inside yourself and be honest with why you want to do something, it can be extremely powerful. I warn you, such close examination of your motivations can be painful. I spent ages getting close to it, and then backing away. The truth of it is this. In my twenties, when I struggled with my weight, was unfit and unhealthy, I needed someone. I didn’t need a nutritionist or a trainer necessarily, what I needed was for someone to say “I know you are sad now, but you won’t always be.” I needed someone to show me there was light on the other side of the darkness.
This is what motivates me to try to help other people. It might not be glamourous or exciting, but it is honest. I believe that when I stand in front of people and ask them to trust me, the authenticity of my motives comes though. While having years of experience is invaluable, being passionate and authentic is just as important. For me, it isn’t about money, or social media “fame.” It is about taking a chance that I could reach even one person, who might be feeling like I was back then. I want to tell them you won’t always be sad xxx