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Hi, and you're so welcome to my latest podcast episode of what served me and what didn't serve me in 2022. I couldn't not do this podcast episode because I always tried to be really transparent and open and honest about my fitness and health journey. So I couldn't not do this podcast episode because I'm a completely different person to who I was at the start of 2022 in so many ways. That I just have to share with you, because if you're listening to this and you're struggling and things aren't working for you, I want to talk to you because so much has happened for me in 2022 and I've changed so much and I have developed and improved so many things in my life, and it came down to changing my strategy.

You guys know my dear clients, I'm what was talking about just tweaking and changing your plan. I mean, not chasing different goals and having shiny objects syndrome and distracting yourself and doing something else entirely from what you want to do, but tweaking little tweaks every week, changing, figuring out what's working, figuring out what isn't working, figuring out what's not serving you, what is serving you, all those things that I want to share with you on this podcast episode. A little bit of my backstory, I had a breakdown in my twenties, a complete nervous breakdown. I started getting very severe panic attacks, overwhelming sense of anxiety and overwhelm. God, I feel like sometimes I forgot who I was, forgot my name temporarily like just such a sense of overwhelm that my mind would go blank quite often, and I was just in a really horrible way. I was unhealthy, I was definitely about three stone heavier than I am now. I smoked, I drank.

I was just very unhealthy. I was a complete people pleaser. I didn't really know how to take care of myself and I didn't take care of myself. If the phone rang and I was doing something important like just about to go out for a walk or meet somebody for a coffee or a drink, that'd be it. I'd be on the phone for as long as that person wanted me to be on the phone for. And giving you that small example to just try to explain to you that I wasn't even part of my thought process. I was so far down. I wasn't even part of it. I wasn't even part of my thought process. I didn't know what I wanted, I didn't even think about what I wanted. It wasn't important to me. I didn't think I was important to me. So fast forward all these years, I became a fitness coach, got really into fitness and health, got really into coaching clients, but I have still been on my journey. I have still come a long way.

We moved from being a physical gym when COVID hit to now I am fully online. And for me as a coach, moving fully online has been the most transformative thing in my life because what came about then was something my clients will know is Thrive Time. It started out just doing an affirmation after each online workout throughout COVID with my clients. We would say it's six times, and that developed into this 10 to 15 minute practice that I call Thrive Time that we do online virtually after our workouts. And it was through the practice of taking my clients through this that I actually completely changed my whole life. To give you an example, I stopped drinking completely on the 1st of May 2022. I have fully stopped comfort eating. I have gotten into the best shape of my life and I'm so proud of that.

I feel so fit, so healthy and physically I have never physically been as fit and healthy as I am now. My whole physique changed, my whole outlook has changed. For the first time in my life, I have peace and calm and I just wanted to share with you how that came about. Just to say to you now, between when I had the breakdown, when I recovered and when I ran the very successful women's only gym for years on the Tuam Road in Galway, right up until COVID, I was healthy. I was working out three times a week. I was walking. I was eating healthy, but looking back, I wasn't as in control of my emotions as I actually thought I was because I mean, I went from the extreme. I went from breakdown to recovered to what I thought was optimum health, but as Tony Robbins always says, "There's always another level." And there is. There is always another level.

I kind of presumed that a low lying level of anxiety or stress, that kind of reactionary way that I had to stress was normal. I mean, it is normal, but I thought that was kind of it, that there was no better level than that. So I would be healthy during the week, I would drink at the weekends, Friday night and a Saturday night or a Friday or a Saturday night; one night a weekend, two nights a weekend. And I would always get drunk, not chaotically drunk, just wine at home. I would always get drunk. I would always get drunk and feel like shit the next day, and I would always comfort eat. I wasn't able to have a dessert. Big portions to my dinner comforted me; food comforted me. Things outside of me comforted me, and I thought that was it. I thought, "Well, look, that's health."

You're fit, you're healthy, you're in shape, you take care of yourself, you binge drink, you comfort eat, and that's life. You get really stressed out, you feel bad in the morning times, but as the day goes on, you feel better. Yeah, that's normal. Keep up the good work; you are doing mighty. And my reaction to stress, or if something would happen, I'd get a really shitty email or somebody would be horrible or I'd get an emergency at home, all the usual stuff. My reaction was just so bang up there, stressed out, and I would just go into this sense of doom and gloom and worry about the future. I also spent a lot of my time in the future, which again, I thought that's normal. You have goals and you work towards those goals and you are in a stressy way working towards those goals.

You don't work towards goals in a peace and calm way, right? Oh my God, I didn't know. I didn't know that. I didn't know that you could be peaceful and calm in your life. I actually think in a subliminal way, I thought that something bad would happen if you let go. I was so afraid that something bad was going to happen to me if I was relaxed and calmed, that somebody or something would happen and it would just bang, give me such a fright that I would prefer to have almost this kind of low level anxiety waiting for something bad to happen. Don't worry, I'm not getting too happy kind of vibe. So that was me. And then COVID hit and the gym went online. It's now a fully fledged online coaching program and you can go to to read more about it.

I went from doing the online workouts, as I mentioned with my clients, to adding in some affirmations to adding in the thrive time and the thrive time. That 10 to 15 minute practice that we do after the workouts four days a week is a mix of affirmations, silence, meditation. There's some gratitude in there. And it's completely transformed my life. It has healed me and soothed me and enabled me to let go in ways I possibly couldn't imagine. So the first half of last year, things that weren't working for me that I was still doing were people pleasing, willing to drop my own sense of authenticity to make somebody feel better was a huge thing for me. I used to also be so afraid to sit in a negative environment like if I was with somebody who might be a negative person or just not be very nice, let's say. I would try to make up for that and I would be almost getting outside of myself to make up for that.

I was afraid of me just being and allowing the moment to be. Does that make sense? I hope it does. That wasn't serving me, and I've done that all my life. Making up for situations, being afraid for situations to play out, not good. Having an all or nothing approach to food didn't serve me in the first half of 2022. Yeah, I'm super healthy during the week and then at the weekends I over-indulge or I comfort eat or have massive portions, or I have smaller portions, and drinking at the weekend didn't serve me. The biggest problem I had with alcohol is that I knew there was another level for me. I didn't like waking up at the weekends anymore on the days that I should be recovering and resting from the week and going, "Wow, I just love being alive."

I wanted more. Alcohol was holding me back in so many ways. I remember thinking one day, "Oh my God, if I wake up one more time hungover, I'm just going to..." I don't know, it was just horrible. Alcohol didn't serve me in so many ways. I was on such a loop. Like drink Friday night or Saturday night or both, recover Sunday, mentally recover Monday, recover Tuesday, feel a little bit better Wednesday, feel good Thursday, feel amazing Friday. So have a glass of wine in the back garden in the summertime or like, "Oh, I like the fire, let's have a glass of red wine in the nighttime." And that looped then again. Then I spent Wednesday, Thursday, Friday feeling so good to then have a glass of wine to then wake up on Saturday to feel like shit. So I never had a day off that I actually felt really good.

And you know what helped me get off alcohol was to just find people that I really admire that don't drink. I remember I've done a good few of Tony Robbins's courses. I've been to a lot of his events like Business Mastery, Unleash the Power Within, all amazing. And I remember thinking, "Jesus, he must be so bored just being healthy 24/7." And my old coach as well, and my fitness business coach. I literally asked him one time, he must have thought I was absolutely cracked and didn't help that he was American and I was Irish and I was just playing into that stereotype of alcohol issues. But I was like, "So you don't drink? So what you do with the weekends?" And it was such a worry for me. I honestly was so afraid when I stopped drinking that I'd be bored. You can't explain it, but the longer the time passes that you don't drink, the more you kind of... I got it. That it's not really... Oh, I wish I could explain it better. I wish I was more articulate about it.

But you think when you stop drinking that you're going to be missing something and you might be craving it, but you think you're going to be missing it or there's going to be an empty void in your life and you're going to be always the non-drinker. Actually over time, all that happens is so many beautiful, amazing, wonderful things are added to your life and your life gets enriched in so many ways I couldn't even describe. In every single way it is the most wonderful thing. And so to get back on track, people pleasing, all or nothing, drinking at weekends, comfort eating, all that stuff that I thought was a part of life, a part of me that was never going to end, that didn't serve me in the first part of 2022. But I got out of that not by looking for a diet plan or tracking my food, which I have done every single January.

Even as a fitness coach on the beginning of January, I would say, "Okay, that's it. Fitness, food diary out, this is what we're going to have for the week, this is what I'm going to have for the week." Thinking that that's what I needed to do. But actually you just need to ask yourself, why are you overeating? Why are you overeating? My coach used to say to me, my fitness business coach used to say to me, "You need less than you think." And he wasn't saying that specifically to me. God, maybe he was. But you need less than you think, and that is really sticking with me recently when I'm watching my own journey. Like what I used to have are snacks, I now probably have for lunch. My portions used to just be so huge, but I didn't need MyFitnessPal telling me to have less grams of carbs or protein or fat. I didn't need somebody to say, "Oh, your portions are too big."

We all fucking know when our portions are too big, and I used to, not anymore, I used to always, when I owned the gym, get asked that. It was one of the most popular questions, portion sizes, what should my portion sizes be? We all know what our portion sizes should be. You and me both know that when we sit down and we have a massive bowl of pasta, loads of garlic bread that we're overeating, and the chances are if we have weight to lose, then that's the answer. It was the answer for me. But I must tell you now, I have fooled myself right up until the beginning of May 2022 that I wasn't overeating, but I was overeating. I eat a lot less now, but I'm really satisfied and I'm really full because when you self-soothe, then you heal and you don't need to turn to food for comfort, you automatically eat less because you're not trying to soothe yourself through food. And I was just always soothing myself through food.

A lot of my dinners in the evening time were very much carbohydrate based, as in there'd be loads of carbohydrates in them because I just found them so soothing and they would make me feel calm and relaxed. But the thrive time, journaling, meditation, silence, gratitude, when I say that, the whole thing, taking 15 minutes, it changed me. It made me calm, more relaxed, more peaceful, more centered, more grounded. And when I became more peaceful and centered and grounded, then I started to notice myself, if that makes sense. I started to notice my behavioral patterns, my flaws, my failings. I don't mean that from I'm being hard in myself way because I've also had issues with being harder myself, but more that I could see things for the first time in my life with open eyes. I could see what was going on around me, what I didn't like, who I wanted to be like in myself as in more calm, more being authentic to me, not people pleasing, not trying to please others or change how I reacted based on what somebody would say.

It gave me this wonderful space to think and to feel and to feel, to really feel. And it almost helped me then with boundaries and putting up boundaries between me, the words somebody spoke and the person, whereas before it would be the words somebody spoke and then my reaction. Now somebody can speak to me and the words kind of stay in the middle of us, if that makes sense. There's more of a barrier, a boundary. I assess the words, I see how I feel about them, and I answer back as opposed to living outside of myself and just constantly being in this reaction, even in a people pleasing reaction way. And it's been transformative because when I practiced it, I just wanted more of it. And now everybody that I see consistently and a lot in my life, I love their company. I love to be with them, they make me feel good.

And I tend to not go so close to the people that I don't trust or that don't make me feel good. And somebody said to me one time, "Really listen to how you really feel and tap in and get in tune with how you feel when you're around people. When you're going to visit them or when you're leaving them, how do you feel?" And I really, really took that on board and it's mind blowing because I realized that, wow, I'm feeling really bad here. Why is that? I thought I'm supposed to feel really good doing this, and it's really, really terrific.

A couple more things that I learned in 2023 that have really changed my life is that I started to really focus on the task at hand. So just to kind of give you a little example, just to simplify, it's like you turning up to a workout and you're thinking of what you have to do. You're not really in the mood to do your workout, so you lift lighter weights, you finish your workout, you get your workout done, but you know it's not really great. And then a couple of hours later you wish you had put in good effort. I implement that as much as I can consistently in every single thing that I do now. If I'm making a podcast episode, I try and make it the best podcast episode I can. Now, with the workouts with my clients, my dear clients, I spend so much time on those workouts on designing, thinking them through, really, really thinking the whole thing through.

And it's wonderful, it's beautiful. It's like I do less now and I focus on what's really, really important where sometimes I would feel that I used to focus on the things outside of the thing that I needed to. I don't know, does that make sense? I had 10 things to do, number five was the most important, but I would somehow spend so much time on one to four and six to 10 almost waiting for the number five. It is crazy. So I really focus on focusing on what I'm doing and giving that my 100%.

Also, I really developed my sense of consistency and I have written out a plan for myself, and I did this in the second half of 2022 of every single thing I have to do day in, day out. And I've noticed that when I did that and I wrote out every single thing that I had to do and when, I noticed the battles that I have, "No, no, no, I'll do that the next day. No, no, no, I'll do that." And it's really interesting now that I have it on pen and paper that I have to stay consistent and do the things when I say I'm going to do, and they'd still get done. They'd just get done at a later time, but I've really noticed the fight. I don't like feeling controlled, so it's been really interesting. But this is only going to help me level up because now I listen to myself and I hear myself saying, "I couldn't be bothered doing this. I'm going to do this today or tomorrow."

I allow that to happen, but pause and I ignore it. I say, "Well, this is an non-negotiable, so let's get cracking." And that's been a huge game changer for me. Absolutely. Writing down when, the times, the days for all my tasks that move my business and myself forward, that have become absolutely non-negotiables, absolutely non-negotiables. I have some of those in terms of my health on a free guide. If you haven't got it yet, you can go to and you can just download that free guide. It's My Healthy Habits Mastery Checklist. Yeah, I think you'll enjoy it. It's really good.

I spent 2022 questioning everything: my relationships, myself, my limiting beliefs, my negative thought patterns, my sense of doubt, my worry for the future. I questioned everything, and that really helped a lot. In terms of my fitness and health, working out four times a week, lifting heavy weights, drinking two liters of water, and then doing Thrive Time, journaling, letting go, doing the Thrive Time. That's how I'm fit and healthy now. I've let go of all the rules that I placed on myself around the food. And it's so funny, sometimes you can think you're being really healthy just by being obsessed with food. Does that make sense? Sometimes you think you need to go to the shops and buy loads of food and eat healthy food to get into shape when actually you'd be better off going on a journey of forgetting about the food and really focusing on affirmations, meditation, exercise, and working on making breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

A really boring, normal part of your life for the first 21 days, 30 days that you're really focused on letting go of old nutritional habits. I mean, if we look around everywhere with the weight loss industry and everything that we see in terms of food and women and weight loss, it's just, "Add this, do this, track this, eat this. Eat this to lose weight." And that's the way I was like, "Have all this fruit because it'll help you lose weight." No, it's more food. "Have a massive bowl of brown rice instead of white pasta." No, don't have a massive bowl of brown rice if you find that triggering to over-indulge and overeat. So my recommendation to you, if any of this makes sense to you, is to give up the food for a while, give up trying to figure out how to eat super healthy and just focus on getting in a breakfast, lunch, and a dinner.

And ignore all the rubbish negative messaging out there about eating this for weight loss, doing this for weight loss, and focus on healing and soothing, and the reasons why you may be overeating, why you may be overeating. And that is the holy grail, that's the secret to success, that is going to get you in the best shape of your life, not temporarily, but a permanent fix. You won't be relying on food or excess alcohol consumption or smoking to self soothe you to relax you. You'll have a practice in your life every day that will self soothe and calm you and help you live your best life. I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode. As always, you must let me know your thoughts, and I don't think I made very much sense in this podcast episode. I hope I did. You must let me know your thoughts or your feelings or if you have anything to add to it and what that I want to say to you there. Nothing at all. Have a wonderful, wonderful evening and thank you for listening. Goodnight.

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About the author 

Jessica Cooke

I love drinking coffee, and my favourite thing in life (apart from my family) is to help women to get fit and break free from unhealthy habits holding them back. (oh, and also I love playing with my two Miniature Schnauzers, Buster and Ozzy)

I’ve now supported over 6,779 women over 14 years in my Thrive Coaching Program get fit and break free from unhealthy habits!