It's a bright and cold Thursday during Lockdown 2.0. The dog is snoring happily by my side, a warm mug of coffee nestles in my hand as my eyes gaze through the window watching the busy birds on my feeder and my mind is blissfully quiet. My husband is at work as normal, but I miss him; his steady, quiet presence. I'm happy, in that moment, I have peace.
People often comment that I'm the happiest person they know, that somehow I always manage to find the positive. 'You're always so happy Kerrie, what's your secret?' Sometimes, the best coaches are the ones who are able to share their best, and most authentic selves. I firmly believe this is a fundamental part of being able to successfully support other women - raw in their emotions and knee deep in their life struggles. So, let me tell you a little about me. My life hasn't always been like this. Let's go back 8 years....
My brain rattles awake by the brutal buzzing of the alarm, eyelids as heavy as lead, head throbbing from the bottle of wine last night. For a moment, I'm numb. Then, reality slaps me around the face, my chest constricts and my pulse quickens. I have to get up, drag my fat ass to do a job I hate. I walk past the mirror which is draped in scarves and clothes, not because I'm too lazy to put them away - that's where they live. To hide the reality of my body from my eyes.
Showered, dressed and 3 fags down I reach for my fourth cup of strong coffee and think about leaving the house. It's 7am. I haven't heard from HIM, again. He just doesn't care, I'm just not enough. I hate myself. Fat cow. Bloody useless. Just some of the thoughts racing through my chaotic head - the nicer ones, frankly. I'm going to be late….again.
The 40 minute 8 mile long commute to work provides more of opportunity to listen to the constant narrative in my head. The thoughts becoming progressively more self destructive. Catastrophic thinking in full flow. Staring at others in their cars chastising their children or smiling at their other halves and am left wishing away my life for theirs.
Putting out cigarette number 8, I pull into work; anxiety's fist clamped around my heart and steel myself for the day ahead. Just another 24 hours, that's all you've got to survive. Just another 24 hours. Come on, Kerrie. Let's do this.
This was my life for a very long time. Well, life is not the word. Existence is probably more accurate. 17 years. That's how long I existed like this. Why? Yeah, great f#cking question! How? Yeah, even better.
Why? Because I didn't even believe that life could be any different. How? Same reason. I was in an incredibly dysfunctional relationship which slowly but very surely stripped away every ounce of my self worth. I filled the gaps with things that made me feel better. Food. Alcohol. Cigarettes. I worked my ass off only to have it handed to me. F#ck you life.
I was depressed, not that I identified it as that name then. I was anxious. I was unrecognisable to myself. How did this happen? I knew I had to make a change, I just didn't know how. My weight was at an all time high. I'd done ALL the diets, and non worked longer term. My alcohol intake was becoming a problem. All of which just made my predicament worse. Every morning I'd wake and the cycle repeated. MAKE IT STOP!!!! Who the f#ck am I?!
The morning everything changed was my 36th birthday. Here I was, fat, hating myself, childless and in a loveless relationship. A huge, wonderful family I haven't seen in years because I'm too ashamed of what my life has become to go to any kind of family occasion. Isolated. Another birthday had come around where I felt unfulfilled, lonely and incredibly sad.
OK, enough. ENOUGH! I actually screamed it out loud. Life HAS to be more than this. 'No, it's all you deserve…' F#CK OFF inner voice! You've had your day. I was trembling, but there was something new…unidentifiable. Something I now recognise as HOPE!
That was the day my life changed - completely. The start of a journey to where I am today. A good place, largely. So what did I do? How did I change it? How did I break the cycle? Let me share that with you.
First, I knew I needed to COMMIT. I needed, more than I've ever needed anything in my life, to make this HAPPEN. So I wrote a list, in order of priority, of the things I wanted to change. They were:
- My relationship, with him and self
- My weight
- My job
I'm not saying these were the right order of importance - but don't judge me. It's what worked for me.
I had attempted to leave HIM for nearly 4 years, unsuccessfully. Believe me, the power in dysfunction is something not to be underestimated. I just didn't believe I was enough, that I could survive on my own. This time, I realised that I wouldn't survive if I stayed where I was. I ended 17 years with a man who wasn't actually very nice to me. There was no great dramatic display. There was no heated exchange and, 'oh baby please don't go'. I told him I didn't love him, packed up his shit and said goodbye. That’s it. It was done. I felt free. I felt terrified. I felt amazing.
Next, to do something about this constant voice of destruction in my head! I gotta just DO SOMETHING! So I went back to the gym. What? I've always had a membership, it was just used to fund their Christmas parties rather than my health! This time I wanted to get fit, healthy and strong. So I studied - I have a brain, despite being told I'm stupid for the last decade - so let's use it. I learned about food, fuelling my body, movement, mindset, addiction, behaviours and most importantly, forgiveness. I sought therapy for the issues which haunted me - knowing I had to learn to love myself again before I could accept love from another. I took one small step, but I did so on a daily basis.
The universe dropped me a little break and I was made redundant. WOOOOOOOOP! Absolute freaking RESULT! I hated my job... I was free.
Slowly my inner voice became a little less toxic. The dark, crippling times when I had devastating thoughts were becoming few and far between. I actually smiled at people as I walked about - made actual eye contact! Most importantly, these smiles were real! They weren't coming from the actress who created the illusion of having her shit together. This girl, she actually HAS her shit together - most of the time!
I became lean, strong, resilient, confident and self assured. Don't be naïve and think that old ghosts have gone! They haven't, they just don't have power over me now.
I met the love of my life. It's true you know. You absolutely have to love yourself before you accept the love of another.
I became a coach. A personal trainer. Best. Job. EVER. A gift I never take for granted - because I know the journey. I understand the anguish. I have literally walked in your shoes! I am not embarrassed to say that is a big part of what makes me pretty damn awesome at what I do!
You know what though. This all took time! It's 8 years on now. I'm married to the most wonderful man, and we have a lovely life together. BUT! It's not perfect. The point is I'm much more resilient to be able to deal with the bad days now, and not disappear back down the rabbit hole! I can say when I'm having a bad day and not worry that my world will blow up in my face. I am OK, on most days. And on the days I'm not - it's OK not to be OK.
Getting healthy, choosing a different life for myself and raising the bar quite literally saved my life. Sounds dramatic doesn't it? But it's true. It's a HUGE part of why I chose to be a personal trainer, and a coach. I wanted to help others engage in positive change. It didn't change my life, I did that. But it did give me the strength to carry the weight of my world on my shoulders.
Writing this has been one of the toughest things I've done in a long time. Both because it takes me back to those dark times, but also because it's sharing a very raw and real view of me to the world. So why do it?
I do it so anyone out there thinking they can't do it knows it's possible. You aren't on your own. You aren't stuck. You are beautiful. You are flawed. You are possible. Take one small step forward today. My hand is outreached ready to give you a steadying start. You got this.
There are many ways I work with women to help them help themselves. Right now, my wonderful and vibrant community Happy Healthy You is changing the lives of women every day. Our doors open again at the end of this month. I'd love to have you be a part of it's magic. If you're interested in hearing a little more about it, apply below and I'll be in touch with all the information you need to make a decision.
Claim your Black Friday price of £22.50 for the month of December and join here