Building yourself up after leaving an abusive marriage can be hugely challenging particularly if you also have health issues. Be inspired by Zoe’s story of how she turned her life around and become a strong woman in more ways than one!
Please tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years
I grew up with my Mum, Dad and younger sister. I loved school and in particular school sports and social activities. We grew up going to church and I went to a church school. My parents divorced when I started secondary school, For the most part of my secondary school years I lived with my mum stepdad and sister.
Please tell us about any relationship difficulties you have encountered
At 21 I got married after a whirlwind romance. We had our son just under 18 month later. The relationship wasn’t healthy, as often happens I through it could be resolved and fixed but it didn’t. We separated in 2006.
What advice would you give to a woman in a violent or abusive relationship?
I don’t think any general advice can be given as these situations are very much down to the individuals. What I would say is that you will learn a huge amount of strength and resilience as a result that you can use to build a bright and stronger future
Please describe any physical health issues you have found challenging
I gained a lot of weight whilst I was married. I was able to lose the weight but didn’t do this in the healthiest way and as a result had my gall bladder removed. After years of digestive issues that followed I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). I manage this through nutrition and keeping my stress levels down as much as possible. Being physically active also helps with this.
What encouraged you to take action to change your life for the better?
We lost a family friend in 2015 in unexpected and sudden circumstances. It was my catalyst for change. I knew I had to change my circumstances and get my life back on track.
What tips would you give to someone trying to lose weight?
Think long term lifestyle change and your relationship with food. Diets with end dates don’t work, and neither does excluding foods or food groups unless you have an allergy or intolerance. You need to create a new way of eating and new behaviours.
Please tell us about your sporting achievements.
I started training in Strongwoman events in September 2015 after someone persuaded me to sign up for the first local strongwoman competition
Trojans Strongest Woman 2015 – 5th (first ever competition) Nailsworth Strongest Woman 2015 – 3rd Southern England Qualifier 2016 – 5th England’s Strongest Woman Championship 2016 – 4th Britain’s Strongest Woman 2016 – 2nd (Highest placing!) Europe’s Strongest Woman 2016 – 9th Southern England Qualifier 2017 – 3rd England’s Strongest Woman 2017 – 7th
If you could encourage a woman to read just one book, what would it be and why?
Chimp Paradox, Dr Steve Peters. It is in my top 3 books I recommend as it helps understand how our brains work.
If you could refer a woman to one website apart from yours, what would it be and why?
http://www.better-days.co.uk/ Lots of positive blogs to read
What does your life look like now?
Happy fulfilled and busy .. just how I like it. My son is now 15 and off to college next year. He is also thriving!
Who supported you as you made positive life changes?
I have been very fortunate to have had some amazing friends, some closer than others but all who have been behind me all the way. Sometimes just hearing someone say ‘you’ve got this’ is all you need to move forward.
What would you say to a woman who feels it is impossible to change her life for the better?
When you are caught up in it everything seems impossible. Just keep moving forward, one small step at a time and it will slowly get better. Always forward, never back, small achievable steps.
Check out Zoe’s website for details of life and wellbeing coaching.
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