My name is Debbie and I am a mother of 2, wife, business woman, fitness fanatic but most importantly a believer in bringing others up… EMPOWERING women to be the best they can, to believe in themselves and to see the beauty and strength I see in them, every day.
It hasn’t always been this way, of course, and when I tell others ‘my story’ about how I became a ‘mumpreneur’ running my own businesses and living life in the manner that I do (crazy, chaotic, wild and wonderfully) they often don’t believe I have been anything other than the person I am now.
This is why it’s so important to me to keep sharing my story, to let you know what I have been through and to show you that even the strongest of women face their own battles. It doesn’t make them weak – in fact, it makes them stronger than ever before.
I have always been ambitious, driven, hard-working and determined – it sounds like I’m listing my CV but honestly, these words really encompass what I am all about and help explain why in the face of adversity, I never let it win.
I got married in 2010, had my first child, Maggie, in 2014 and returned to work within 3 months and was flying high in my career as a retail manager. I had climbed the ladder over the years and was good at what I did and felt comfortable in the career I had fallen into. It had never been my passion to work in retail and although I was doing well, I knew I was destined for bigger things.
I set up my first business, Little Soldiers Bootcamp, with my husband in 2016 and we started doing army themed children’s parties around both of our full-time jobs. Again, it was hard work but I knew we could make a success of it.
By 2017 we were doing around 6 parties a month on top of our jobs and we welcomed our youngest into the family, Arthur.
Despite having a hard pregnancy and traumatic birth and recovery with Maggie, I took to motherhood with ease and I know it was pure luck that I had an ‘easy baby’ – she slept and fed well and barely cried.
Luckily, Arthur (believe it or not) was a pretty ‘easy’ baby too, although again I suffered a lot with pregnancy and had an even worse birth experience second time round, and had a second emergency caesarean.
A few months in however, I started to struggle.
Maggie did not take well to a baby brother and went through the typical stages of wanting extra attention and being far less compliant than she always had been and I found handling it extremely difficult.
So much so, that again, I begged my directors to come back to work, hoping it would be better, so I went back to work around 4 months after having him.
Sadly things didn’t get better and I just became a shell of the person I once was.
It was at this time that myself and my husband agreed he could go back to University to follow his passion of becoming a teacher. He had gone from job to job after leaving his military career and never found anything that gave him joy, other than doing the parties we were still running on the sidelines- it was Little Soldiers Bootcamp that showed him just how fantastic he is with children!
So now we had one wage coming into our house of 4, my wage, and I was sinking deeper and deeper into what I now recognise as postnatal depression.
It took me months to speak up but finally I did, after a day of suicidal thoughts, I realised that all could not be right in my head. The problem was that I had felt like it for so long, that I didn’t even know what it was to feel anymore. I couldn’t get excited about anything, I couldn’t feel joy or happiness or any other of the wonderful range of emotions that make us human.
I had lost myself and I didn’t know where to find her.
After I admitted I had a problem, things immediately felt better. Because now, I knew there was an issue – I knew I could work to resolve it. My problem-solving brain was ready to work!
There is SO MUCH help out there for anyone suffering with a mental health issue, especially postnatally – there are medical referral teams and whole units dedicated to helping Mums face their mental health battles and they are absolutely fantastic. For me, I wanted to do it on my own, I booked a GP appointment, but I cancelled it… I was determined I could solve the issues in my brain.
The internet provided a plethora of ideas to try to combat PND and I tried them all – but the one that stood out for me and gave me an immediate reaction, for the better… you’ve got it – exercise!
I have NEVER been a sporty person. IN MY LIFE. Like, NEVER.
The only time I have stopped and started exercise is in a fruitless attempt to lose weight… and I would give up just as quickly as I started.
The difference this time was that the goal wasn’t weight loss.. it was to keep me sane. And it worked!
I joined a gym and started a couch to 5k app… up until that point I could barely run for the bus!
I started doing exercise classes… Zumba, Tabata, Clubbercise, Circuits… you name it, I did it!
It only took me a few months to start feeling like myself again and I couldn’t believe how much of my children’s lives I had been missing out on, whilst living under that big dark cloud.
I felt stronger and better than ever before and life felt GREAT again.
Sadly, at the same time as my personal life was on the up, my career was unfortunately not. Our directors had decided to sell the business they had ran for 5 years and my office, which I was now working in as a retail trainer for the company, was effectively being closed and myself and the other ladies in the office were all made redundant.
We were just 4 months into Rob’s 3 year Uni course and panic set in. I was the only one earning a wage and there was no backup plan. I took a job in Cardiff, one that in hindsight wasn’t right for me, but out of desperation I took it anyway. It didn’t work out – they wanted me to be someone I wasn’t, to work long hours and to dedicate my life to the job and the people in it. I had worked SO HARD to build myself back up again, I sure as hell wasn’t about to mould to someone else’s standards of who THEY thought I should be.
Failing my probation was the most humiliating and humbling experience I have ever experienced.
I wasn’t used to someone calling the shots anymore, I wasn’t used to being told how to act, who to be and what to bloody wear!
I knew right then that retail was no longer for me.
I wanted more.
So that’s how OneFitMama Newport was born. I knew I wanted to help other Mums and I knew I could share my story and do good. I WANTED to ‘do good’. To empower, to inspire, to educate and to motivate!
When I found OneFitMama UK and heard the director, Sophia’s, own story of her battle with PND and how OFM was born with the passion to help other mums in mind, I knew it was the business for me. I purchased the franchise without even going to a class!
I was the first one in Wales and had A LOT of marketing to do to spread the word about OFM and everything we do for Mums. But I knew I could do it- and that’s just what I have done!
I launched in Jan 2020, only to be closed by March like the rest of the world because of Covid-19, however I launched virtual classes immediately and my online community grew and grew and I had around 150 ladies from all around South Wales (and other areas of the UK) join me online for support, motivation and CARE during lockdown.
I have now relaunched my face-to-face classes and run 15 between Newport and Caldicot and everywhere in between and still run online programmes as well. I do mum & baby classes, specialist core programmes, bootcamps and now even antenatal, after qualifying as a level 3 pre and postnatal specialist in the last lockdown.
I’ve also recently passed my practical and online exams to be a Personal Trainer too – so watch this space for business number 3!
I couldn’t be happier of where I am now. I have faced the good, the bad and the ugly and I have came back fighting. Now I want to use that fire to help others. To really give Mums a home away from home, some me-time, where their children can join too, and where they can feel how I feel when I exercise – tired but euphoric!
If you are struggling with your mental health – please seek help or reach out to one of the amazing charities, such as MIND, that do so much for people just like you or I.
It’s never a weakness to admit you are struggling – in fact, it could just be the making of you. It certainly has given me the passion and drive to be a better person and to live life EXACTLY how I want to.