What happened to Sarah Simpson – and her family – changed her life forever. Here’s what happened when Sarah found herself with a decision to make: if she was going to carry on, she had to get stronger to rebuild herself.
In 2011, Sarah’s world was turned upside down when her youngest child – 5-year-old Ollie – was diagnosed with a brain tumour and died just 12 weeks later, the day before his sixth birthday.
“Those 12 weeks between Ollie’s sudden diagnosis and his death were unimaginable,” Sarah says. “As you can imagine, I didn’t look after myself at all. And it wasn’t until a couple of years later that I realised the effect it had all had on my body.”
Sarah has an back injury from a trampoline accident aged 14, which was exacerbated in 2011 just before her son fell ill. Sarah had started physio treatment, but that soon fell right off the list of priorities.
“I stopped physio, and spent much of those 12 weeks looking after Ollie, turning him over, carrying him around, trying to sleep in odd places, and generally not thinking about myself at all,” she explains.
Since 2012, Sarah has run her childcare business, plus set up a foundation in Ollie’s name, all of which has left very little time to focus on her own health or fitness.
“I eventually had to admit that my body has suffered with the stress and grief,” Sarah says. “My back was almost constantly painful, much worse than it had ever been. It seemed each joint wanted in on the pain – when one was on the mend, another one flared up. I saw physiotherapists, chiropractors, and even had a consultation with a surgeon. After a few years of this, I needed to find something that would strengthen my body, and get me stronger mentally too.”
Going to JW Training wasn’t Sarah’s first experience of fitness training. In fact, she first joined a gym as a teenager.
“Fitness and dieting was always an on/off thing,” she explains. “I would get fit, then my back would flare up, and I’d go on a diet, then fall of the wagon. My weight would go up and down a few dress sizes. I always seemed to be battling with 1-2 stone. And when I was pregnant with the boys, I put on 4 stone both times. But I never quite lost it all after my second pregnancy.”
Time To Make A Decision
Fast forward to 2017 and Sarah’s back was more painful than ever.
“In February last year, something changed,” she explains. “I realised that this physical pain had become normal, and I had no idea what to do about it. I knew I needed help to lose a bit of weight, and I really wanted to get stronger. Something told me that if I was physically stronger, I would be able to manage my demons better.”
Joe met Sarah when JW Training took part in a fun day for the Ollie Young Foundation.
Between February-August 2017, we worked with Sarah to slowly get her back on track. Sarah was already eating pretty well (she had researched foods which could be adding to the painful inflammation in her joints), but we helped her gain a better understanding of calorie intake and portion sizes. Those simple steps – with Joe’s unconditional support and gentle guidance – were enough to help Sarah lose weight.
“From February to August, Joe kept things very simple,” says Sarah. “We focused on calorie counting, and the only exercise I did was a lot of walking outdoors. I lost a stone – which might not sound like much, but it was enough to reduce my back pain and make me feel happy about my body. And all that without any new diet or any gym workouts. The impact on my stress levels was incredible. I felt calmer than I had in years.”
Sarah’s Physical Transformation
– Lost 15lbs
– Lost 14.5 inches including 5 off the hips
– Gained lean muscle
In August, Sarah told us she wanted to kick things up a notch. We were starting a new 12 week transformation programme designed to fit around people’s lifestyles. It sounded perfect for Sarah, so she signed up.
“I was so pleased with the weight loss and lifestyle changes so far,” Sarah says. “But I wanted to get fitter and a lot stronger. I loved the training group, all the training was done at home with all the information via Joe’s app, and Joe was on hand for advice and guidance.”
Using the home workout training group, Sarah lost nearly another stone and a further 9 and a half inches. But she says it was never about the weight.
A Stronger Body & A Stronger Mind
“My whole life has been about losing weight,” she explains. “This is so different. I can’t believe how I look, feel, and function now. And if I feel good, I know I can look good and handle difficult things in life.
“I don’t have time to get to the gym, and I don’t particularly want to. My son, my work with the foundation, and my home life are too important. Joe’s programme is fantastic, because I’ve been able to reshape my body and build up a lot of strength just by training at home.
“I want to continue getting stronger, but I do need someone telling me what to do. Joe is an amazing coach, he took time to get to know me, and that means he can push me just the right amount. I respect him and don’t want to let him down, so that accountability keeps me on track.”
Sarah had to find a form of exercise that would work for her. She’s not in a position to train at a gym, and she doesn’t want to train in the evenings after a long day juggling jobs, family, and work on the foundation.
The Best Type Of Training Is The Type You Can Do!
“I could never fit in exercise, but something had to change,” she says. “Joe put together a training programme that fits my day perfectly. I choose to get up a bit earlier, use my dog walk as warm up, then do my exercise session. I can be ready for the day with a bit of time to spare. It’s such a nice feeling to know that I’ve done it.”
Sarah has dropped two sizes in jeans, and people are telling her that they can see a big change in her body shape, posture, and energy levels.
“When Ollie died, I didn’t care what I looked like or what people thought about me,” she says. “Nothing was important. But I knew I didn’t want to feel like that forever. My mind is a lot stronger now. This is the first year that I feel I’m coping better with those significant dates.”
Sarah still has tough days, and when her back flares up she can’t exercise like she wants to. But we are helping her to manage that cycle, and find gentler ways to exercise which tackle her stress.
“My back is so much better than it was,” she says. “I am still carrying an injury, but being stronger makes a huge difference. I take comfort from knowing that this is my life now, so I have a more balanced relationship with exercise because I know it’s for the long term.”
Sarah has some advice for anyone who has been through a significant life change and is ready to take care of themselves again.
“Try to be in the moment, rather than dwelling on how you used to do things. I know I’m not that person anymore, and my body isn’t either. My perception of life has changed, so I wanted to lose weight to know I could achieve something. I know now that nothing is impossible, and it’s never too late – even when it feels like it is. Life doesn’t stay static, and things don’t always go your way, but you have full control of you. You are the only person who can change it. Find the right help and support and team up with the best person for you. And remember, you’re doing this for yourself.
“This is me now,” she says. “This is how I’m going to be. I’m absolutely confident that this isn’t another on/off relationship with healthy diet and exercise. This is my new normal.”
If Sarah’s story has resonated with you, and you want to find the best person to help you get to a happier place with your weight or fitness, get in touch.