Shreen El Masry | Be You Be Free
Ever since my earliest teenage years I could always remember looking in the mirror wishing I was skinnier and more beautiful. Why can I not look like the other girls at school? I was ashamed and embarrassed that I looked different and had an unusual name. I wanted to be blonde, tall and slim but instead I was short, brunette and stocky. My older brothers would tease me calling me chunky monkey and my mum would warn me of the perils of getting fat. And so it began, the self-loathing, the tears, the dieting, the over-eating…round and round and round in one big never ending cycle. Too scared to weigh myself and even more afraid to look in the mirror, I hit a turning point when my friend asked me to be her bridesmaid and I had to order a size 20 dress.
I found a calorie counting website and thought I had hit the jackpot; a diet that let you eat all the foods you want if you didn’t go over 1200 calories a day! Where had this been all my life?! After 9 months, I had hit my goal weight, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted more... I wanted to be skinnier... I wanted to keep watching the numbers drop on the scale… and then it hit. I’ll never forget the words of my counsellor, “once the horse has bolted there is no going back” and this horse had bolted full steam ahead.
I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. Even as I heard the words roll out of my doctor’s mouth, I never believed it for a second. Me? An eating disorder? Depression? No way, that would never happen to me. But it did. I can’t even find the right words to explain how horrific the experience is. You are trapped in a very lonely and dark world; consumed by thoughts of fear, guilt and sadness.
I started a long and difficult path to recovery and I fell down many times. But I got back up, determined to get better. I couldn’t go on like this, I couldn’t keep hurting myself and my loved ones. I had to get better.
I discovered natural therapies and started educating myself on nutrition, fitness and wellness. Once I learnt what was happening to my body and why, I could begin to heal physically and mentally. I would take 2 steps forward and 10 steps back, but with each step forward I could see the light. The bad days became less and less until they had nearly disappeared.
Once I got better, something kept niggling at me, why did this happen to me? And I knew there and then that I had to help others going through similar journeys; I had to stop their horse before it bolted. If I could just stop one person going through what I went through…
My experience inspired me to set up Be You Be Free and train as a Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach. Be You Be Free is centered on helping women love and accept themselves for who they are. It is about supporting and guiding them in all areas of wellness so they can live the lives they want without unhappiness and restriction. There is so much misinformation and confusion around food and exercise and I want to change that. Be You Be Free offers a unique approach as we integrate all areas of wellness into our fitness and coaching sessions. It is about being part of a community and forming lifelong friendships, most importantly it is about having fun, living, laughing, letting go and being free. All our fitness sessions revolve around having fun with movement and include lots of old school childhood games including hula hoops! We also have social catch ups, coastal walks and go for a wine after our sessions! I now see my journey as a positive experience as I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t gone through it. I want to grow Be You Be Free so I continue to inspire and support as many women as I possibly can.