Exercise every day. Only eat “clean foods”. Lose fat. Tone up. Stay focused… I followed all the rules. So much so that there was NO WAY that I could not be healthy.
I was a health professional for goodness sakes, of course, I knew what I was doing!
I LOOKED healthy, from the outside. I achieved a “perfect body”. And I received endless attention and admiration for all of my “hard work”. Why would I want to change any of that!?
Well because on the inside, I was simply a girl screaming for help.
“What are you doing to look like that!?” People would ask me. “Can you help ME to do the same!?”
As a qualified fitness trainer and Exercise Scientist, my response was always “Oh, just lots of hard work.” Little did these young ladies know I was starving myself, performing 3 hours of high-intensity exercise per day and feeling completely and utterly disconnected from the world.
Why couldn’t I just speak up about what was really going on? Because that’s not what we are taught to do! Everyone wants to live this magical life of “perfection”. I have strived for it, obsessively, for my whole life without even realising. From the grades, to the body, to simply just wanting to “fit in” with the crowd.
We simply believe that if someone has it all together on the outside – the perfect body, perfect house, perfect holidays, perfect life – they must be the happiest person in the world!!
Well, I’m here to provide the reality check that we ALL need to hear in this online world. What you see on social media is NOT real life. Every single person has their own insecurities. Everyone is on their own journey, experiencing their own struggles, far beneath what you see on the outside.
I achieved perfect grades. I achieved the perfect body. I was 100% “fitting in” with the crowd. From the outside, I had reached perfection.
Yet I can tell you right now, I had never felt more unhealthy or UNHAPPY in my entire life.
When it comes to my personal life, there are three things that I value above everything else. Self-care, relationships and genuine laughter.
What I went years without realising, is that in the process of achieving “perfection” I forgot about every single one of these values.
Self-care was replaced with smashing my mind and body to absolute extremes, to the point where both were severely damaged. Relationships were pushed aside as I was both too self-absorbed and self-conscious to be able to open up and let my loved ones in. And to be honest, there was no laughter. There were tears, fear, self-doubt, insecurity… Completely lost of any purpose and any passion for life.
It took a long phase of feeling lost, and many missed wake-up calls before any change started to happen. All I remember thinking was “HOW do I feel happier? I achieved everything I ever wanted, and still felt miserable! What am I missing!?”
The thing is that in life we are forced to wait until something extremely emotionally triggering hits us before we realise that change is needed NOW.
For me, it was infertility. “Asha,” my doctor said to me, “if you don’t start looking after your body, you will never be able to have children”. Boom. Instant mindset shift.
For so long I believed that I MUST be healthy because I was doing everything “right”. I looked “healthy” – heck, I even won awards for it! Yet on the inside, my body was slowly shutting down.
In 2018, I founded Alternatively Healthy; an empowering community with the mission of inspiring and educating girls to discover their OWN version of healthy… Beyond perfectionism, expectations, bikini bodies and social media.
A safe space for girls to realise how SIMILAR we all are! To gain knowledge of a healthy mindset, on food, and how amazing our bodies are. To discover confidence, that incredible spark for life and above all, the ability to say “This is ME!” and I am proud.
When I began sharing my story, a community quickly formed. Thousands of girls from across Australia were reaching out to me, saying how close they could relate. Turns out that along with the re-training of my mind and the addition of self-care, all I needed was an incredible tribe of like-minded people to support, encourage and really, to join me on the ups and downs of this crazy thing called life.
My advice, above anything else on this platform, is that you please stop comparing yourself. You are YOU, you are freaking amazing, and once you accept and fall in love with who you are – then life will truly begin!
Accredited Exercise Scientist, Exercise & Sport Science Australia
Bachelor of Science, University of Western Australia
Certified Wellness Coach, Wellness Coaching Australia
National Motivational Speaker
Founder & CEO, Alternatively Healthy