Part One: From Sickness to Health

My life began in Sale, Victoria in a middle-class Italian / Norwegian family on a farm. Surrounded by cows, chickens and my dads endless love, I was a pretty happy 3 year old girl. Unfortunately, this time of bliss did not last past the age of 5 when my dad moved to Melbourne for work, leaving my mum, brother and myself in a townhouse in the small town of Sale, with 14,000 people. 

As a family and for myself, I found my dad's move extremely challenging as we shared a very unique bond. Beginning school in this same year, this  difficulty was exacerbated with a tirade of constant bullying. Memories of this childhood is tainted by sadness, loneliness and confusion, which continued onto my teens. Attempting to forget my pain from ongoing taunting and rumours, I drove my energy into school work, attempting to gain some sense of happiness. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. 

Due to the chronic mental anguish during my youth, by the age of 15 I was severely depressed and attempted to take my own life. I simply did not know that life could improve, all I felt was a numb nothingness and I knew nothing else. My life as I understood it to be immensely painful, inescapable, the darkness of my thoughts were unbearable and I felt completely isolated and alone. To the relief of my family, my suicide attempt was unsuccessful and simply ended up in a psychiatric ward for several weeks as a caution - in my state, I could not be trusted to not self harm again. 

After some improvement in my mental capacity, I was able to leave and return home, and in the course of this then developed bulimia - at least I could be excited about bingeing, and feeling the emotional respite from my numbness. Despite weekly psychotherapy, this continued for over a year, and I felt completely disempowered, out of control and overwhelmed. I truly felt I was not in control of my own life at this stage; and continued to suffer within the confides of my own mind. 

Unfortunately, upon turning 16, my mental state deteriorated further when my parents separated and my childhood dog (and best friend) disappeared; in the same week. Struggling to cope with my bulimia and depression, my family separation, my mother moving out from my home and trying to support my father who was severely battling; it was all simply too much. Overwhelmed with pain, I simply stopped eating.

Within the space of 8 months I lost over 25% of my body weight and was diagnosed with anorexia, and subsequently admitted to a eating disorder unit for 4 weeks, appreciating that if I was not treated immediately, I was jeopardising my life. Although prior to my hospitalisation I had the desire to recover, however I felt I could not: I did not have the tools, resources or understanding about how to overcome this illness. I was completely immersed within it and knew no way out. 

Fortunately, dicing with death for the second time in as many years became the turning point of my life. A memory so crystal clear in my mind was the one when I decided to change - forever. It was a Saturday evening, I recall all my friends being at a birthday party yet I obviously couldn't attend as I was not able to maintain my body weight if I was out of hospital. In this moment, I asked myself: 'is this what I want for the rest of my life?'. A simple yet powerful question, I envisaged the future if I allowed my patterns to continue - in and out of rehab, missing out on friends birthdays again, no university, not having a proper family life, unable to go on holidays. In that moment, something made me believe there was more to life than that vision. To be honest, I didn't know what the improved alternative life option was as I had been so depressed for so long; however, I sincerely believed that it just had to be better than the former.

And with that, I decided to change. I realised that if I could use my energy to heal, rather than hate my body, that I would probably get better. If I learned to channel my mind in a positive, rather than negative direction, it would lead to a positive life. If I followed the principles of what others would deem a 'happy life': spend time with family and friends; attempt to truly connect with others, pursue something worthwhile - that perhaps, these principles would be as effective on me as they were to others. I didn't have all the answers; I just knew there were two directions I could go: up or down. And I sure as hell didn't want to stay down, so I had to go up - it was the only way out that was worth living.

That shift in my mind has been one of the most significant moments of my life to date. It genuinely changed my life forever. No, I didn't become blissfully happy overnight. It took time, and dedication, support from my amazing psychiatrist and three intense months as an outpatient at The Butterfly Foundation house in Melbourne. My father and mother was beyond incredible.

After this period, I realised that the more I focused my mind on goodness, the more it would come. Similarly, I recall looking back at the dark period, and understanding if I focused on this, then more pain would come. I had two options: love or fear; positive or negative; healing or slipping back. It was challenging at times, with voices in my head directing me to the familiarity of the pain of the past; but I fought hard: and won. 

I set my mind to recovering, and I did. I set my mind to enjoying my life, and I do. I set my mind to creating the life of my dreams, and it's happening. And most importantly, I set my mind to helping others through exactly what I experienced: pain, confusion and self limitation. And now, I am. 

I truly believe this experience in my life has been given to me as a challenge: if I wasn't able to overcome these difficulties in my childhood, I wouldn't have been granted them. And because I have, I believe it is my utmost duty to help others who are struggling with the similar issues - not just those suffering depression and disordered eating; but any difficulty which limits their capacity to be at their best - inside and out.

Part Two: From Health to Optimisation

Now, at the age of 28 years; I am confident to say that my life has continued to improve; with each year passing providing greater insight, clarity and understanding of my true purpose; and how I can be of service to those who need it most. Continuing to focus on what I want as a key driver, I am determined to live my best life - and help others do the same. Logistically, this means I identify exactly what I want, and then focus on finding solutions and seeking resources which will allow it to happen. Most importantly, I recognise that the most powerful aspect of this mentality is to remain mindful, present and conscious in the here and now - for this moment holds the key to all potential. Logistically, this means to do cultivate my life around what I love; being purposeful in achieving my personal mission (to help my clients and the community alike become their best selves; inside and out) and to enjoy each and every day.

Professionally, my passion for personal development leads me to provide services as a Wellness Coach, supported by my studies - Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) and Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine; current), specialising in the sleep and weight management. Both fundamental elements of functioning, I genuinely am thrilled to help clients feel rejuvenated, energetic and motivated as they implement my straightforward strategies. My love for fitness means I am also a Personal Trainer (Certificate 3+4 - Personal Training); with my genuine joy for movement encouraging my clients to share this it. I still model, enjoying the travel opportunities which have come up in the past 3 years in particular: India, Bali, Milan, London and Barcelona now all under my belt. Finally, I'm working with my dream clients as an ambassador, speaker and writer; such as Natvia and Go Healthy. 

Personally, enjoying every day means making space for fitness, meditation, nature, family, self nurturing and travel. I believe in providing myself time and energy to recharge to my best permits me to deliver my best within my working life; as well as allowing me to simply feel at my best; consistently. Evidently, I have learnt how to move from extreme ill-health as a youth to ultimate health as an adult. I recognise the stark difference in thinking patterns, habits, attitudes and self respect which correlates with each of these conditions. Quite simply, I am devoted to empowering others as I have been, knowing that progression to ultimate physical and mental health is completely possible. And further, not only does it mean you function at your best - it allows you to live your best life - inside and out. 

If the above resonates; it indicates you are ready for your next phase: the time to become your best you, is now. 

Olivia Arezzolo Personal Trainer Sydney Mindset Coach