Growing up, I always enjoyed playing sport. I played competitive tennis all throughout my schooling and university days, and even had a gap year after uni to play tennis tournaments around the state for small amounts of money (by no means was it at a professional level).
I was the daughter of two tennis coaches (although like most moody teenagers I rarely paid attention to their advice…) so sport and physical activity have always played a pretty big role in my life. Admittedly however, it wasn’t until very recently that I began to really focus on nutrition and exercise, and the importance they play on my overall physical and mental wellbeing.
In 2017 I graduated law school and soon after was admitted as a lawyer of the NSW Supreme Court. Whilst this might seem like a significant achievement for most and I was proud of myself for making it through five tough years of study, I always had this inner voice telling me that the legal profession wasn’t for me. To have a career solely based around conflict is not something that aligns with my goals and values. It has also taken me a while to realise that I am naturally a rather anxious person, and the high-pressured and stressful nature of the legal profession would only exacerbate my anxieties. Overall, the thought of spending the rest of my life in an office working in a profession I didn’t like was not a particularly appealing life for me.
So there I was, in February 2020, working four days a week at a law-firm and I was miserable. I had just experienced a few months of inexplicable depression and I was struggling to maintain any sort of fitness or health routine. I would wake up 20 minutes before I had to leave for work, scoff down whatever I could find for breakfast and then trudge to work. I was going to the gym sporadically but had no set plan or clearly-defined fitness goals. I wasn’t eating terribly but I certainly wasn’t fuelling my body for optimal health.
I was scrolling aimlessly through my instagram feed (never a good sign) when I stumbled across a six week fitness challenge. I noticed the challenge also had a facebook group of thousands of women who were also partaking in it. I joined the group and decided to purchase the challenge. I received my meal plan and excitedly purchased all the foods i needed to in preparation for the program.
And then the coronavirus pandemic happened. Whilst we have been relatively lucky in Australia, at this point in time the state I live in was placed into lockdown and the gyms closed. My work hours were reduced to two days a week and we were only allowed to leave our house for certain reasons, such as buying groceries or exercising.
Luckily the program I purchased came with a home and gym plan, and I had all the equipment I needed. With my reduced hours at work and all the free-time I had on my hands, I started working out at home and going on long walks with my mum because that’s all I could really do. I began filming my workouts to try and improve my form, and posting on my new fitness account because it was motivating to have other girls from the challenge commenting on my post or offering tips or advice.
I became addicted to moving my body because of the way it made me feel. After completing the challenge, kept up my exercise routine, ensuring i worked out regularly in the backyard or went for a run at the beach. I realised I hadn’t felt low for several months, and if I did it was only very briefly. The healthy foods I was eating ensured I had the energy to engage in lots of exercise. I began rising with the sunshine, waking up at 5.30am and eagerly getting out of bed for my morning walk and podcast. It seemed as though I had found my purpose. Importantly, I didn’t neglect my mental health, ensuring I engaged in acts of self-care such as journalling, reading, stretching and mediation. It’s an ongoing process for me to remind myself to constantly do these, but i’ve come such a long way from where I was.
I say this not to brag, but to hopefully help others overcome the rut and sense of deflation they might be feeling. Whilst i’m still working in a law-firm and it’s not where I want to be forever, I have found that being able to fulfil my passions with hobbies outside of work has made life in the office more bearable, sometimes even fun. I am commencing a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutrition and Exercise) online this year whilst still working four days a week. I have a feeling of excitement for what’s to come, rather than uncertainty and dread. I am so thankful I stumbled across the fitness challenge those many months ago, as I was able to clearly understand where my passions lie: health, fitness and personal development.