An Interview with Fitness Expert, Helena Phil

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Tell us about your journey! What led you to this point?  

Despite exercise always being relatively easy for me, I struggled to shift weight. In fact, I was accumulating it rapidly because I just wasn’t eating right. I’ve lost count of how many fad diets I tried. And, while I often did lose weight initially, virtually before I could blink an eye, I had put it all back on and then some! I was hooked on these fad diets like a junkie needing their next fix, even though, weight-wise, they were not serving their purpose.  

 

Finally, I was able to really register the fact that they just don’t work and I’ve made sure to carry that knowledge with me ever since. Now, I speak freely on the topic and run a blog all about why fad diets are a bad idea. In speaking from my own experiences, I hope to raise awareness. I want to bring people’s attention to the fact that, though they think these diets will dramatically change their body, the real action starts with a healthy mindset. Only then will it be possible to acknowledge what does and does not work.   

 

It took a lot of work to get to where I am today. Back when I was at my worst, even though I appeared confident on the outside, inside was a whole other story. I felt fat, ugly, and undeserving, and I would torment myself with these cruel thoughts. We all have that little devil voice inside us, and mine was constantly reminding me of just how low my self-esteem was. It would tell me that I was pathetic, that even though I exercised, I was obese. And, I truly believed it, so much so that, even though deep down I knew that I could change things, I just didn’t have the right mindset to be able to do so.  

 

This then brought me to an intense period of self-reflection. I started to see a slim version of myself in the future. I wanted to look younger and be confident in my own skin. I was tired of wearing loose clothes and I knew I wanted to be able to wear something that was more fitted, that would show off my curves. I was also sick and tired of the bitchy comments I would receive from other girls as well as the self-hatred I harboured for myself. Finally, I began to notice a little voice deep inside crying out for me to love myself.   

 

It started with my being more mindful of the foods I was eating. For example, instead of skipping breakfast, I would eat porridge, and I wouldn’t go without food for hours on end like I would before. I would leave a maximum of two hours before I would refuel myself with other, healthy foods, always ensuring that my portions weren’t too big. And, like I said, exercising came relatively easily to me.  

 

Within 10 months, people began to notice a change in me. The problem was that I wasn’t. In my mind, I was still obese. So, I kept going, not realising that I had lost six and a half stone from the 15 stone that I was before. Through this experience, I began to realise that my calling was to help others achieve the same end result as me, but without those negative thoughts driving the change.   

 

What has been your biggest achievement?

 

Losing my weight and keeping it off has been a pretty big achievement. Now, being able to coach others to do the same, I know my methods work in the long run.  

 

I even managed to maintain my progress after having two major operations, with both of them putting me out of action for over a year. I was worried at the time that I would completely lose my marbles. But, instead, I focused on turning that period of recovery into an opportunity to grow mentally and used the time to gain qualifications in life coaching. So then, when I got back to work, I was able to offer a better service to my clients.  

 

To be honest, another reason I was concerned before my operations was because I was scared I would put back on all the weight that I had lost. But, thanks to my mindset switch, I actually lost more weight while I was recuperating, all while experiencing invaluable mental growth.  

 

What’s the biggest result you help your clients to achieve? 

 

Apart from coaching my clients to help them lose weight, I also work to bring out the best versions of themselves, and together we turn that into their ultimate self. In other words, I help them to really understand what they do and do not want and, in doing so, they are able to embrace more fulfilling patterns of behaviour that allow them to show up for themselves. It is this that creates the client’s ultimate self, a self that knows what they want and will strive to get it without hesitation. But, to get to this level, both body and mind have to be at their best.  

 

It’s also important to me that my clients understand the value of peak physical health, and realise that their mind needs to be balanced in order to achieve it. For me, getting my clients to this point is what brings me the greatest amount of joy.   

 

I remember I worked with a woman once who came to me with extremely low self-esteem. She was going through a divorce from a husband who had lost interest in her and wanted to marry the person he had been cheating on her with. After giving birth to her twins, she had gained a lot of weight. And, although she lost some of it, she very quickly gained it again.  

 

I recognised what I had once been through in her story and I knew exactly how I was going to help her. After taking her measurements, carrying out BMI and fitness testing, and asking her to give me a week’s food diary, I gave her small goals to begin aiming for. I knew I had to start her off with baby steps such as, for example, asking her to go one week without sugar, and then the next week to eat more vegetables, and so on. She was a complete novice to exercising. So, I ended up working with her three to four times a week for almost three years.  

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Luana Ribeira

Luana Ribeira is a best selling author, international speaker and host of business Innovators Radio.