Guest blog by Laura Pyper, Australian Insitiute of Fitness Personal Trainer

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Growing up, I was either ‘too big’ or ‘too skinny.’ I have suffered with depression and anxiety for most of my life, but I never did anything to acknowledge it. I lived a poor lifestyle from my teens and moving out of home when I was seventeen did not help this.

Living on fast food, cigarettes, energy drinks and alcohol became the ‘norm,’ as well as drinking two or three nights a week. Caffeine was a requirement to stay awake, and was how I got through my days. It was when I fell pregnant with my first daughter, Gracie, that I decided to give up smoking, alcohol and energy drinks, however I replaced these with eating… A LOT.

I really took advantage of ‘eating for two’ and ate anything I wanted. I put on 48kgs through my pregnancy making me a size sixteen in jeans (before my pregnancy I was a size six), and being 5’1 and overweight made the simplest of things difficult. Getting out of bed, walking down the street, even walking upstairs was a nightmare.

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It was when a friend of mine took a photo of me and posted it on Facebook, that I finally realised I had to make a change immediately, or I might not be around to see my daughter grow up. That same day, I decided to get out of the house, so I wrapped my daughter up in a blanket and took her for a walk in the park.

By the time I knew it, I had been walking around for over half an hour. I made the decision there and then that everyday after her 4pm feed, we would go for our walks. In addition to walking, I took it upon myself to eat healthier, cut out processed foods, and eat more REAL food.

It took me 18 months to lose the weight, but I lost every single kilo I’d put on. Best of all, I was now a positive role model for my daughter.

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In 2016 I decided to become a Personal Trainer with the Australian Institute of Fitness, and there are a lot of reasons why I choose to do this.

Firstly, my husband was born with a heart condition, so I really wanted to understand how I could help him train. Being able to learn how I could better help him live a healthier and longer life, for our children was very important for me.

The diagnoses of my eldest daughter, Gracie’ Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), and being ANA positive (Antinuclear Antibodies), meaning that her immune system was targeting its own body’s cells, was a BIG driver for me to learn how fitness could help her.

Lastly, I did this for myself. Suffering with depression and anxiety meant that I shut myself off from the world and ate to appease my emotions, because I didn’t know how else to do it. I ate because I was unhappy with myself and I was unhappy with myself because I ate.

A box of Krispy Kremes and two or three bowls of pasta was nothing. I’d still be hungry. My depression was the worst it had ever been once Gracie was diagnosed with JIA. I couldn’t leave the house. I wouldn’t get out of my pj’s or even brush my hair. This went on for weeks.

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Studying my Master Trainer Program part time, while Juggling children, a husband, maintaining a house and working was at times mayhem, and in my second month of study, my husband underwent two heart operations, which was a very stressful.  The genuine support, encouragement and motivation from my coach’ really helped me push through these hard times, they were really understanding.

The course was far more challenging mentally, but way more fun than I was expecting. I am so grateful that I did this course. It has changed my life in so many positive ways. I hope that I can inspire other people, specifically mums, or those who have battled throughout their life with weight or anxiety. I wish I had done the course it sooner!

Laura xx

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