I grew up in the 80s in a large single-parent family in the East End of London not far from where I live now.
I’ve always been proper proud of my working-class cockney roots but I somehow knew growing up that I was different…I had big ideas, big dreams. I wanted something different for me, something quite different from the lives of the other women in my life, incredible women who basically gave up on everything to look after everyone else.
I wanted to travel. I wanted to have adventures. I wanted to write.
I knew this even at the ripe old age of 7 years old.
You see I was a slightly strange, difficult and mischievous child with multiple interests and hobbies. It was ballet one day and football the next, climbing trees with my brother, playing teacher with my sisters and stealing milk from doorsteps at the crack of dawn….yes I was that little shit back then
I wasn’t great academically but I was ever so bright…I had a wonderful understanding of life and of people, much to the dismay of my teachers who despaired of my attitude to authority.
It came as an almighty shock when I announced I wanted to go to University…the first from my family, and my first big life goal I reckon. It was the most outrageous idea I had had yet, as I was leaving everyone and everything I knew behind, to do something I wasn’t even sure I was capable of.
It turned out though, that 3 years away from the challenging realities of being a teenager in East London did me the world of good, as I returned home with a new understanding of the world we lived in, oh, and a First Class Degree…trust me it was just as much of a surprise to me as everyone else.
I gained a lot of confidence being away at Uni…I learned that I could do well in life just by being myself…I didn’t need to pretend to be anyone else, plus I’d developed a really good work ethic and lust for life…I was ready for the world of work.
What followed over the next 15 years was
- An early career working in the arts with young people
- A move into volunteer management
- Bought an apartment (me a homeowner??)
- The London 2012 Olympics came to town, and overnight I kind of became a bit of an expert on this
- I moved into policy and politics for a bit and it made me ill
- I had 6 months off with depression and chronic fatigue syndrome
- Then I got made redundant (this was the 3rd time)
- I set up my own project management consultancy
- My 30s were a drink-fuelled party with terrible relationship choices and little direction
- My weight peaked at over 20 stone
- I took up running in a quest to lose weight
- I fell in love…and thought that he was the one
- I started a blog after coming dead last in a race
- I became an Olympic Development Manager for a local authority and got made redundant the day after the Opening Ceremony
- At this point, I was 7 months pregnant
- My relationship began to fall apart and I almost lost my home
See how quickly things can fall apart?
Being made redundant when I was about to become a mum for the first time was the hardest thing I ever had to endure. The fear seemed insurmountable. I blamed everyone for my situation. I was so so angry, all of the time.
I felt helpless.
It wasn’t just me I had to think about anymore.
I had to take back control and get back to that young girl who wanted adventures and excitement and a challenge.
Bit by bit I started to rebuild my life.
I started to accept help from other people, and dream of a better life. Mainly though I started reading again and started to work on myself again.
Over time I turned my popular blog The Fat Girls Guide to Running into a coaching business, and in 4 years went from an absolute nobody to one of the most influential running experts in the sport, coaching more than 10,000 women through my online programmes and challenges, running hundreds of races around the world.
Whoever would have imagined it?
I realised after a while though, that women were not just coming to me for running coaching and advice, they were drawn to me because I believed in their abilities to do more with their lives. They saw that I was doing incredible things even in my larger than average body, I was facing my fears in ways they wished they could too. Before I knew it they were looking to me for advice on time management, relationships, work goals and all kinds of non-running related issues.
I had also started doing stuff on TV and motivational talks on wider issues around health and happiness,
- I headlined the Festival of Female Entrepreneurs
- Spoke at BritMums Live
- Did 6 weeks on ITV’s This Morning
- Live/Work balance talks for the National Probation Service
- Appeared on the Today Show via video link
- Pitched live to Richard Branson’s business partners
- Spoke at Best You the personal development expo
- And even flew out to Cape Town to give a talk on Fear
In 4 years I had gone from an unemployed single parent, with no savings and about to lose my home, to a successful entrepreneur and motivational speaker, author of 8 bestselling books, traveling to 13 countries I’d never dreamt of visiting…and most importantly I found my confidence and sense of adventure again.
It is now my life’s mission to help women live a bigger more exciting life too.
Don’t get me wrong my life is far from perfect, fitting everything in is often a logistical nightmare, I have to manage quite challenging family dynamics and still have moments of doubt about where my life is going, but the difference is I now have the mindset, practical tools and coping strategies to always get back on track.
“Life used to be about surviving, and now it is very much about thriving…and I can help you achieve the same.”