By Romina Mayani Nankani, Cye-Cyl
From the moment we said our hellos over the phone, I could feel the bubbly nature of Natalie coming through. During lockdown back in March, I began training with Natalie via her online classes and wellness programmes. What a motivator! And now I was incredibly happy to be interviewing her. It turned out to be a complete inspiration with quite a few jaw dropping moments, I will not lie. As always, I dove right in.
“I was always very energetic. Everything was about where I could focus my energy next! I was active in sports such as netball and hockey, but mostly in the performing arts (dance and singing). I think my vivacious nature either made me popular with friends or it annoyed my teachers and older peers! This did not dampen my extroverted nature though.
At school, I will honestly say I was average. I tried where I could, but my interests never really lied in the academic side of life. I was always eager to learn about life skills, sports and arts mainly. School time ended and university was supposedly the next chapter. I chose not to pursue further education and remained here in Gibraltar. I worked in an office as a company administrator and kept to my after-work activities in sports and performing arts.
“Everything was about where I could focus my energy next!”
Fast forward to when I was about 30 years old. Most of my friends had been to university and were excelling in their career paths. They were settling down and looked well and happy to me (my perception of course). Sinking feelings of self-doubt and not being good enough brewed, an emotion I often felt whilst growing up.
One day, I was sitting in Alcaidesa beach and started crying uncontrollably. My partner kept asking me what was wrong? All I kept thinking was, what was I destined for? What am I here for? I kept comparing my life to others and felt empty! Even though I felt this way, I thought I needed to keep my energy going.
I decided to help a friend who was struggling with marital problems at the time. We attended a fitness class together and it was exhilarating! Whilst everyone was busy getting the moves right and enjoying the music, I was focused on the instructor’s entire routine and delivery of the class. I am going to do this! I enrolled in courses in the UK and came back with qualifications that enabled me to train and coach people to improve their overall physical and mental health.
This felt like such a fix to my life’s emptiness. It was challenging, especially being a mum of two, a homemaker and running a business all at once. But I didn’t surrender my ambitious nature.
“What was I destined for? What am I here for?”
There weren’t many gyms at the time, and I had a great intake of people. Almost 150 at one time. And seeing peoples’ willingness to want to take care of their health, was my biggest motivation to keep going.”
“Natalie, have you been able to keep that mindset up until today?”. The next bit I did not see coming.
“Romina, I had an amazing 8 years and felt I had a great career path, always meeting such incredible people. I began noticing however, that day after day my energy levels were dropping tremendously. I tried to up my game eating right and exercising more, but it made me worse. My partner pushed me to go see a doctor. Bloods done; my results come back that I have an autoimmune disease known as Hashimoto’s Disease! It literally attacks your good cells in your body and originates from malfunction of the thyroid glands. I felt I had been hit by a storm. How would I continue training and helping people? In addition, at 41 I was experiencing ‘the woman’s change’. I was put on medication and pre-warned they take a year to come into effect.
I was going to up my game. If I felt unwell, coffee. If I felt sleepy before training/coaching clients, coffee. I kept this up for a few years and ignoring how I really felt. Finally, the body, mind as well as the emotions came to a halt. I was forced to slow down, and my mind once again spoke up. Everything became questionable. My inner energy became my biggest opponent. I didn’t feel good about myself. I struggled with many responsibilities including taking my kids out. I could not face the world or answer people.
“The past doesn’t define you.”
I sat and thought one day, if I am so eager to help others, I can only do so if I truly helped myself. So, this pivotal moment was when I started my own personal development and growth journey. I embarked on a newfound course of ‘life coaching for overall health’ including mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. I have been combining these with my training ever since and I continue to study its vastness to this very day.
It’s been through my learning experiences and those moments where I was overcome by lack of self-worth, that positively drove me to keep doing what I do. I have truly learnt that the past doesn’t define you. Each phase of life requires a new version of you with a new earned mindset. It may have taken me an awfully long time. But the assurance that my knowledge, current mindset and encouraging nature, have and are helping people to be the best they can be, is the most incredible feeling in the world.”
The interview came to an end and all I could think was: wow, this is what you call perseverance. Her nature to encourage and to inspire is transmitted so effortlessly and so humbly. I know that many of you reading and who know Natalie well, will share this feeling too.