How Finding My Passion Saved My Life

Writing this whilst surrounded by incredible views of rolling hills, smelling the fresh, clean air, and hearing birds sing. I am in New Zealand, the other side of the world in relation to where I am from, in more ways than one. I am doing what I love every single day and it feels incredible, finally a feeling of fulfillment that I desperately searched for, for so long.

I am a Personal Trainer and Nutritionist, 27, traveling privately with a client, training in the most epic places in the world. Combining travel with training, the perfect combination. So far in the past 3 months, I have travelled to France, Belgium, Spain, Gibraltar, England, Chile, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

How did I get here?

I grew up in a humble neighborhood in Manchester, UK. I studied Journalism at university, and got myself a few corporate jobs when finishing my degree. Life felt very mediocre. I felt like I was always searching for something, I knew I was destined for more from my life than what I was getting. Yes – I was earning money, but I was unhappy, which took me a while to realize. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, constantly changing direction. I always heard about those people who knew what they wanted to be since they were a kid, and I thought because I didn’t have that, I was a failure! What to do? I didn’t feel fulfilled in any way, but like many of us do, I started to get complacent with that lifestyle. Collecting my wage at the end of the month, spending it on rubbish, drinking at the weekend, dreading work on Monday morning, and telling myself that this was my life. Accept it. Be as positive as possible about it. Nobody does what they truly like to do, right? That was only for the privileged few.

The moment everything changed

In 2012, whilst laying in bed, I felt excruciating pains in my chest, neck and arms. My mouth filled with blood, I couldn’t breathe and I was struggling to stay conscious – I was so scared, waves of adrenaline came through my body like lightning. I was rushed to hospital, they found 13 blood clots in both of my lungs, blocking my airways and causing scarring on their path. The news hit me like a brick to the face. I survived something that in most cases is fatal.

When I should have been thinking about my health, I was doing the opposite. My cocktail of medications meant I could no longer drink, so I ate for comfort, I had extreme anxiety, I felt fatigued all the time – I was emotionally and physically a mess.

I hid all of my feelings so well, nobody really noticed anything was wrong. I didn’t want to be a burden, or be labelled as a victim. I gained a lot of weight, and at my most unhealthiest, I was 120 kilogram, depressed, and living a complete lie, even to myself. I felt horrible and my confidence took a massive knock, at one point, even going to the local shop felt like such a task.

After a year of living with this mindset and lifestyle, I felt the familiar pain in my chest. Panic struck me. This time a clot as big as my hand had formed in my lung, and passed right through my heart, damaging this most vital organ I have. It caused my heart to stop. I should have died, but I survived.

I remember constantly thinking that I shouldn’t be alive, mixed with feelings of being lucky, I also felt enormous guilt and some anger at myself for not looking after myself after the first clots. Although an underlying condition caused my problems, my lifestyle could have maybe stopped this happening again. This was finally my wake up call that I had to change. My life is my responsibility and it was time to take control.

Big changes

I started to try to lose weight, which proved so difficult in an industry filled with fads and constant contradictions. I was starting a new ‘diet’ every week. Never able to make myself feel any better. I got frustrated. I needed the facts. I enrolled in Nutrition Therapy and Weight Management, and went along to evening and weekend classes, around my job. I never thought I would do this as a career, that wasn’t my initial intention – I was just sick of paying people who told me completely different things – when I was still none the wiser to what my body actually needed.

My eyes were finally opened, I understood where I went wrong. Nutrition became my hobby, I loved it! How food can be nature’s medicine – how our bodies react to it – what we can do to help ourselves with food…endless! My confidence improved, as did my body, I was starting to finally live again. My doctors were astonished by the improvements my organs were making, and I was able to stop most the medication I was on.

I started doing nutrition programs for friends and family, for free, to gain some experience, and to see if my new found knowledge could help others. It did – and what a feeling that was! To help people that were once like I was – wow! I found my THING! This is where my hobby turned into my little business – this could really work! I soon wanted to know more about exercising and what was best for my body. A few months and lots of hard work later, I passed my Personal Training, Fitness Instructing and Gym Instructing qualifications. I was fully qualified! Finally, I knew what people were talking about when they said they loved what they do! I fit my new business venture around my day job.

The move

In May 2016, I quit my corporate job, packed a few cases, and moved to Barcelona, Spain to start my personal training business full time in a place I loved. I was SO nervous this was going to go horribly wrong! No job, new country, not much in the bank – PANIC! I had to adopt a new attitude to make it work – I needed to believe in myself more – something that doesn’t come naturally to some of us, I learnt that I had to be the ambitious, resourceful person I knew I could be, and took the risk. Once we drop the fear a little, I believe these things can be enhanced in us all.

I went full steam ahead, started meeting with people who wanted training the day I arrived, started beach classes, and advertised everywhere I could. My first month was a huge success. I learnt so much about myself, how I wanted my business to go, and made a difference to peoples lives – that was always my ultimate goal and what really sets me on fire – to help others.

A whole lot of change happened that summer in my life, I split up with my long-term boyfriend, I adapted a lot personally, I felt so awakened, I met lots of new people from many walks of life and places, and I realised where exactly I wanted my life to go. I started to dream bigger than ever, I was encouraged and really started to accept myself and my abilities, and believe in myself like never before. I truly integrated myself into living.

When opportunity knocks

In November, I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime by one of my clients, to help him train for Ironman, in epic places around the world. My dream has always been to see the world. My dream is also to train people and help people. The two were combined here, and I could have it all! I of course accepted, and here I am! Living what I never thought possible. This time last year I was in a job I didn’t like. I was living a whole different life, totally unrecognizable to the one I am in now. Everything can change if we want it to.

I will be on some medication for the rest of my life, but physically I feel the best I ever have. I am always constantly developing and working on myself, both mentally and physically. I make sure I keep myself grounded, with meditation, yoga, and being as open as possible.
Changes can be so overwhelming, and that’s ok – we have to learn from ourselves and acknowledge our adaptions in life are overwhelming at times. I am always striving and dreaming for more that I can achieve, this is just the beginning for me. I even hope to have retreats and gyms around the world one day! This hasn’t come easy to get to this point, and I have had many doubts, setbacks and personal struggles to overcome, and I am sure more to follow, but I know this is how I want to live my life, so I shall work towards everything I dream of, with an open mind.

Right now

My days are now filled with adventures, I train my client every day, ensure he has the best nutrition, and generally look after his health in the best way possible, around the clock. I blog about our travels and training along the way and try and live each day with a grateful heart – I know this opportunity is once in a lifetime, but I also know that my own hard work and dedication to get to this point is what has brought me here. I surround myself with positive, happy people – we become who we spend the most time with, so it’s key to choose these people wisely.

I have had some negativity over the years, which I am now able to put down to jealousy, or the fact I am sometimes too upbeat and happy about life. I’ve learnt that it can sometimes highlight people’s own insecurities, or personal issues, which can be too confrontational, especially if they’re not ready to change anything.

I try to use my own story and knowledge to inspire others where I can. Change whatever is making you unhappy, because believe me, life is just too short not to be lived to the fullest. Dream big, and remember everything can change if you want it to!

    – Holly x

Blog:
www.againstthegrain.in

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One thought

  1. This is a good post. It shows how when you start to break down your ‘perceived’ barriers then the world us your oyster and anything is possible.

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