#whatcomesnext – Natasha Hyam
Coached by Joe Parish
I was very lucky to meet Joe early on through Uni but being honest, I didn’t think much of him at the start. We both led similar lives and existed in relatively similar social circles but the similarities ended there. I saw him as a typical LAD who cared for nothing else than Fubar and football and as a result, there was little to no need for us to engage. Pretty certain he had similar thoughts of me, if he even took note at all. Almost 9 years later, who’d have thought we’d be such fabulous friends and he’d have had such a profound, significant and transformative impact on my life.
Where it all began
I joined JPhysique, or as it was then just JP in 2011. I was dangerously unhealthy, unhappy and lost as I struggled desperately and unsuccessfully to battle my demons and my relentless mental illness, anorexia. I had been through my fair share of counsellors, health professionals and personal trainers and being quite honest, was at breaking point. I had managed to regain some weight so that I could appear ‘normal’ and did my best to appear just that but it was all a façade. I wanted my life back. I wanted the pain to go away. I wanted to wake up and not feel such immense resentment and hatred for my life and my past. I wanted to embrace new experiences, regain the friendships I had lost from isolating myself and maybe, just maybe, find someone to share my future with.
You hear these stories about people who struggle to stay on the straight and narrow with their training and nutrition at uni and rightly so, we take our hats off for their grit and determination in the face and temptation of nights out, takeaways and bevy. What you don’t hear about quite so much are stories of people who battle mental illness as a student at uni. It’s just not understood, talked about or compatible with uni life in any way. As a result, I spent my time trying to cover up what I was going through rather than trying to get better.
When things changed
Given this is supposed to be a positive ‘look at me now’ transformation story I’ll lighten the tone somewhat and go on to how things turned around…
He had started seeing my fabulous friend Leanne and from just how happy he made her I realised that he was SO much more than what I first thought. He was passionate, driven, caring, funny and he also knew a great deal about how to get in shape.
We chatted one day (he was so easy to talk to!) and he offered to help me. I told him my goal was to go out for a meal without bordering on a full scale breakdown at the thought of new food and complete loss of control. How he didn’t run a mile at that I’ll never know! Pretty sure at that point, he was used to guys looking to get massive or girls getting a booty. He didn’t have the first clue about mental illness, anorexia, my f**ked up past or probably where to start but he gave me a chance.
I recall our conversations and cannot help but laugh. He listened and did his best to engage and rationalise my anything but rational thought processes. I was terrified of food …I recoiled in horror as we worked up to 45g of carbs in shake format and gradually included an egg yolk to my egg whites. Bless his heart – never once did he laugh or judge. We just took it slow, built the trust and together, achieved things I never thought possible. Without even realising it, he was working his magic behind the scenes and I was overcoming those seemingly impossible to break barriers and getting some control back.
We worked together for a really long time and although it definitely wasn’t plain sailing I reached a point where I didn’t rely on him so heavily. I saw him as my security blanket who I always thought I’d need there or I’d quite simply fall apart. Yet that was never his goal and he told me that a lot of the time. He wanted to guide, support and teach me what I need to be taught so I could go it alone. He wasn’t in it for the money. He genuinely cared about getting me to a happy and healthy place and that’s something.
Seven years later I’m in a relationship with the most wonderful person, have a great job and I’m happy. I train because I LOVE it not because I feel compelled to and I eat what makes me feel good and tastes fabulous.
Joe and I have remained friends and work together in a different way now but I know he will always be there for me if ever I need him. He has grown as a coach and as a person and the successes of the TJP business are a testament to his beautifully selfless character. To anyone wanting to make a lifestyle change (like REALLY and not just for a short period of time!) I would not recommend anyone else.