I came to the conclusion that the only way I was going to be able to survive this was to replace my unhealthy habits with healthy ones
The discipline and structure of a fit and healthy lifestyle can translate to every part of my life.
You can find freedom through fitness, no matter what it is that you are feeling overwhelmed or trapped by.
Name: Justine Whitchurch
Location: Gold Coast, QLD
Occupation: Personal trainer/owner of TLF (The Life Factory)
In 2011 at the age of 38, Justine Whitchurch hit rock bottom. Faced with a variety of personal challenges such as her marriage ending, her daughter’s diagnosis with type 1 diabetes, custody issues, loss of financial security and an extremely battered sense of self-worth, Justine didn’t think she could go on. With clinical depression, agoraphobia and dependent on medications, her weight plummeted to 47kg and she faced serious health issues. However, when professionals suggested she tried to exercise, she joined a gym and didn’t look back. Each challenge she faced she now saw as an opportunity to grow physically and mentally, and slowly but surely she began to love life again.
Before Justine started training she was “sad, depressed and anxious” - she was living in a state of constant fear and her health deteriorated.
“I was told by my specialists that if I continued to go down the path I was on, my days were numbered. My family no longer recognised me, my children were fearful I would not recover and my world was falling apart,” she says.
At the beginning of 2012, in a bid to seek assistance from her family, Justine moved to the Gold Coast with her new husband and two children.
“It was a long, slow process of recovery and quite frankly, in the beginning, definitely not a conscious one. I received some intense counselling, came off all prescription medications and stopped self-medicating,” she says.
“I came to the conclusion that the only way I was going to be able to survive this was to replace my unhealthy habits with healthy ones.”
She was faced with a choice, to continue as she was going or to make a change. Her specialists suggested exercise, so she joined the gym.
“When my life hung in the balance, my choice was to ‘live’ and I just started to exercise. This is where I struck gold. I had not intended for it to become such an integral part of my recovery,” she says.
Justine was introduced to a personal trainer who changed the way she challenged life as a whole.
“Having made unsavoury choices himself in his life previously, he reinforced the ideal that everybody deserves a second chance and that I was capable of much more than I believed, if I gave myself a chance,” she says.
The more she worked out, the stronger she became and slowly she began to find strength and believe in herself.
“With every challenge I conquered physically, I also grew in strength mentally. I quickly learnt the significant correlation between good physical health and strong mental health,” she says.
“My training intensified, my confidence grew and with the ongoing support of my family and like-minded new friends, suddenly this lifestyle was something I craved.”
Justine began to apply the strategies and skills she learned in the gym to other areas of her life and found that her coping mechanisms to deal with everyday issues also increased.
“The discipline and structure of a fit and healthy lifestyle can translate to every part of my life. I am more organised, better equipped and stronger psychologically to handle the everyday challenges of life,” she says.
Having started out with no self-belief, she feels the power of another’s belief was what she needed.
“I learnt the importance of having somebody believe in you, because sometimes you need someone else to believe in you before you can believe in yourself,” she says.
One week after her 40th birthday, she commenced her personal training qualification and decided it was time to pay it forward. She now has her own business with the motto is “Freedom thru Fitness.”
“I truly believe that is the case. You can find freedom through fitness, no matter what it is that you are feeling overwhelmed or trapped by,” she says.
At 42 now, Justine feels she has finally found purpose and meaning in her life as she has the opportunity to teach others that the impossible is possible.
“I have the pleasure of watching people grow and develop not only physically, but mentally and seeing how this positively affects every other part of their life is amazing,” she says.
“Being physically fit gives you the ability to face life’s challenges from a healthier perspective. Creating habits that work ‘for you’ instead of ‘against you’ takes commitment and support and I thrive on being able to lead by example and show others how to do this.”
Motivated by the desire to never feel like she did prior to getting well, she chooses to better herself each and every day.
“The fear of being that out of control and so lost propels me every day to continue on this journey to become stronger than ever,” she says.
Justine says today her marriage has never been stronger, her children have blossomed and she cannot remember ever being happier.
“I feel alive, strong, worthy, confident and capable. Today I have my power back,” she says.