In this episode:
In episode 39 of The Fearless Females Podcast your host Tegan Mathews interviews Natalee Anderson who shares:
- The lessons that the fear of losing mobility gave her
- About learning to let go of control and have faith
- How she chose not to accept her diagnosis
- The steps she took to overcome it
- Her strategic method to learn to say “No”
Tegan's Take Aways from talking with Natalee Anderson:
- Fear can be a good thing if it is driving you towards your goals and dreams rather than away from them
- A way to trick a people pleaser into putting themselves first is to show them how it benefits other people
- No matter how hard you try and control life, it has a plan that is greater than you
- Sometimes you just have to jump without thinking and have faith it will be alright [and it usually is]
- Fat can be fuel and can even improve your athletic performance
About Natalee Anderson
Natalee Anderson is the founder of The Working Woman's Revolution 'I AM NUMBER ONE' A community of women who have made the decision to put themselves first for the benefit of those around them. The group is dedicated to helping working women to shift from stressed, exhausted, sick and burnt out to putting themselves first, being healthy, happy and confident.
As a qualified Nutritional Therapist, Personal Trainer, Workplace and Executive Coach Natalee leads the revolution with her 10 years corporate management experience, empowering women to create an unbreakable healthy platform to leverage life to unthinkable heights. With a roadmap for success Natalee takes women on a journey, nourishing adrenals back to health, healing the gut, detoxing the liver, fat burning, implementing strategies of stress and time management, personal brand and self-promotion before tapping into genetic potential with the latest science.
Contact Natalee Anderson
A Gift for Listeners From Natalee Anderson
Download the seven simple steps to reduce stress by 90% and enjoy all the benefits that having less stress in your mind and your body can bring.
Show Notes: 039: I am number one – Natalee Anderson
Natalee Anderson’s Fearless Story
To be honest there’s lots of stuff that’s happened over time and if I look back now I realise it was a big deal but at the time I down played it a lot. But I guess towards the breaking point or turning point for me where I really had to face my fears was not long after moving to Australia.
There were a few things that had happened over time, working and investing all of my heart and soul into the work that I did, my staff and the people around me. We are all busy women and we like to put everyone else first and I had done that my entire life.
My body just started to crumble and it started with a miscarriage. I can se now that it was stress induced and not long after that I did get burnt out. I couldn’t sleep from the stress, I lost a lot of weight. Found myself in my bosses office saying that I couldn’t do it any more and having to take stress leave.
But I kept finding myself coming back and doing exactly the same thing over and over again. Always putting everyone else first. So I would have these little mini breaks or treat myself and pretend that I was looking after myself and yet every time someone would come and ask something of me I would still say, “Yes” and make sure I was pleasing everyone else.
Then there was the point. I had always had a little bit of pain and there was a point when I went back to New Zealand. It was winter there and I realised the pain was so bad that I couldn’t actually straighten my leg or un-hunch my back. I was sitting there trying to warm it up and it was then I realised something was terribly wrong.
When I returned to Australia I found out it was a form of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis which is an arthritis of the spine. The prognosis was that there is no cure and it just gets progressively worse and your spine fuses into the shape of a curved rod. They call it bamboo spine.
That was probably the first time. I had always been an over achiever and then to be told…I had always been an athlete and then to suddenly be put on the spot and face that my spine was likely to fuse and in a ten-year time frame I could be in a wheelchair and I might not be able to have kids.
I mightn’t be able to compete again and for me that was probably my self-worth. So to be suddenly put into a position where I felt like I had no value. I wondered if my husband would still want me and I might not be able to have kids for him. That was probably my biggest fear. That uncertainty of knowing what was happening and what everyone was telling me was very different to the life I had been living.
What happened after this turning point?
Gosh…it wasn’t cancer and it wasn’t a terminal condition but it certainly felt like ‘life flashing before your eyes’ kind of moment. My perspective had to change. What I had been placing my importance on in life was suddenly very different. It felt like my life span had shortened a lot because my mobility was such a big part of my life and I thought if that was going to end then there was a whole lot of things I wanted to do while I was still mobile.
So it [fear] drove a lot of decisions for me [but in a good way]. I left my corporate job at the time. I was already qualified as a personal trainer so I went and managed a personal training studio for a bit to utilise those skills and the things that felt more important to me at the time.
We made the decision to have kids. The thought of not being able to chase my kids around the yard was a bit of a driver. I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to have kids because it’s the sacroiliac joint which is part of the pelvis so if that fused I wasn’t sure what would happen with child birth.
It really made me put things into perspective and decide what was really important to me and in my life.
The birth of your daughter wasn’t ideal though was it?
Birth is eye-opening and in some ways, traumatic for a lot of people whether it’s considered typically easy or not it’s just the fact that it’s an experience that you’ve never been through before. There’s nothing you can do to prepare for it.
Our situation was particularly challenging. Corie came out not breathing and she had to be whisked away and then she ended up having seizures and consequently was in ICU for a couple of weeks. They had to reduce her body temperature to protect her brain during that time.
To be honest I was in shock so I didn’t really absorb most of it and it was probably the same sort of thing we always do where we don’t have time to address my feelings right now. We think, “I’ve got to be strong for everyone else”. So we put it to the side for the moment.
How has that journey been for you?
A long one! From being a young child and seeing role models putting their feelings aside. I think it’s partially a learned behaviour. There’s been so many points in my life where for some reason we’ve experienced a lot of death in our life and each time I was always comforting and looking after everyone else and just putting those feelings down a little bit.
It feels like I was getting battered and bruised by all of these emotional events and for some reason I just didn’t seem to get it. It’s taken a very long time and I can’t even say that it happened straight away with the diagnosis. There was a point when I started putting myself first to an extent but it was awkward and it didn’t feel natural and so I kept coming back to the familiarity of putting everyone else first.
It wasn’t until I realised it was about finding a greater reason that was for me but for a greater purpose as well. It was almost like tricking myself into putting myself first and it wasn’t just about me it was about my family and it was about the greater good of the community as well.
I found that was an easier way to learn to put myself first by doing it for everyone else.
How have these experiences contributed to who you are today?
I think, I used to be a bit of a control freak or like to be able to control things and I think that’s kind of what I kept doing and I think that’s why life kept throwing me things that were just out of my control.
So I guess the big learning moment has really been that no matter how hard you try and control life, it just has a plan that is greater than you can imagine. So for me it’s been, when things are hard and I continue to have our ups and downs and in those moments I just have to trust that things will work out and I think that’s letting go a little bit.
Especially experiencing loss which is a hard thing to deal with (especially as a lot of them were young people). So, yeah the letting go. Accepting that in fact their purpose or their reason for being here was not how I pictured it to be. It was just some greater plan at work because when I look back it does work out exactly how it was meant to.
But in those moments it’s just so hard to let go of how things “should” be. It’s just those thoughts that things should be a certain way and they’re not. I think now, I’ve learnt to let go of that and have, I guess, just blind faith at times and jump without thinking sometimes and just trust that it’s all going to work out.
What are you passionate about today?
It took me a long time to learn the lesson of putting myself first and as I was going through that journey I started to notice some beautiful women around me basically crashing or burning out and almost from the same things.
I guess because I had gone through it so painfully and so many times before, as I watched it happen to everyone else it was super clear what was happening. It was always amazing, intelligent women who were so smart and so empathetic and just giving all of themselves to those around them and they were amazing at their jobs because of it.
But what was happening was they were getting to the stage where they just crashed. I had a lot of friends on stress leave, leaving work, stepping down in different capacities I guess but it was all the same sort of patterns.
A friend and I were having a coffee one day and we were talking about how we got through those moments and she talked about that support network of having people who understood what you were going through, other women and friends. So I thought, “Let’s create that group” and we created a community called the Working Women’s Revolution – I am number one.
It’s a group dedicated to women putting themselves first and that’s the primary goal. With my background I have value to add to the group with the fifteen years management experience and nutritional therapy, personal training and life coaching. So I can support the group from that way.
But at the same time, even just last week I was sitting there listening to these women talking and sharing their advice and helping one another and I thought, this was never, like I thought I was doing it for everyone else but this is just as much for me as it is for everyone else.
I am constantly inspired by these ladies and lifted up and just reminded to put myself first.
There are two. One was last year when I gave birth to my second child at home, so a natural home birth. After quite a traumatic experience first time round and not feeling in control whatsoever. To be in that position of empowerment and have that ability within your body again to take power back and be able to show what your body is capable of just by, there were a few steps involved but it started with putting myself first.
The second one was I ran a marathon in August (2016) as well so again something that is a little bit beyond most people, well even normal people I guess, let alone people with the type of arthritis that I have.
Those would probably be my two top moments. What the body is capable of when you can actually just stop for a moment, listen to your body and what it’s communicating to you. Put yourself first and make the decision to take steps to change.
What are some of the things you have done that had a positive effect on you and your body?
Number one would be the decision I made that I was always going to put myself first. So that would be my starting point and everything would keep coming back to that. When things aren’t going so well and I find myself slip up every now and again but I am now aware of the symptoms, I always keep coming back to that.
When I put myself first I know what works and I need to do that because if I don’t then everything falls to pieces and I think women are so crucial in holding everything together.
Secondly was to have a purpose. I see it with clients I work with as well. If you don’t have a great enough reason to change from where you are. You need that sticking or that why, to push you to move forward from where you are now. So I had a really clear purpose of what I wanted for my life.
I wrote a story and I created a vision board of what I wanted my life to look like. I used positive affirmations, who was involved in it, who was relying on me. So I created this really big purpose that was going to keep me motivated and keep me focussed.
The shift from victim to empowered and ownership over what was happening - at the start I was grateful to have a diagnosis because I then knew why I was in pain all the time and couldn’t move my legs. Then I decided that was my excuse. I can’t lift a pot, I need help to turn on taps etc and then it became a little bit of a victim mentality.
So I needed to make the shift to taking responsibility. I was on medication and I had done a lot of research as well but I made the decision to take responsibility for my health and I didn’t accept the outcome of no cure. I didn’t accept that I would end up in a wheel chair and have a fused spine. I just didn’t feel that was my life.
Then I had to change my mindset, not just putting myself first but I was a perfectionist, I was a stress head, that’s why I burnt out at work, I was just wound up so tight. I was rushing around, barely having a chance to breathe, it was really shallow breath. So I really had to change my mindset which I did through breathing, meditation and mindfulness.
Then there was the nutrition which for me, I had to give up sugar which is highly inflammatory and has a cascade affect within the body so that had to be part of my journey.
I did the GAPS diet by Natasha Campbell McBride who is a neurologist and a nutritionist and it’s basically a diet to heal the gut. I went on that diet which is really comprehensive and for the marathon I got the help of a coach to go on a ketogenic diet to become fat adaptive.
It was a diet that nourished my body and what it needed for the arthritis but it also gave me the opportunity to tap into a next level nutrition which is a relatively new science from the performance aspect.
What’s something in your future plans that brings you joy and freedom and does it scare you?
Gosh…I get scared a lot. Everything that I am doing is scaring me. When I started the group and as it grows I am being so vulnerable in front of hundreds of people and I’ve been speaking at different events and even chatting to you now.
Everything scares me and I choose just to try not to think about it and again have that blind faith that it will work out and what’s the worst that can happen?
My passion at the moment is using fat as fuel within the body particularly because it nourishes the gut which links to mental health and a lot of other disease as well. In order to use fat as fuel you need to be in a calm state because if you’re stressed your body uses glucose and it also offers the opportunity for a high level of performance.
From a health professional point of view the science fascinates me so that’s something I am quite passionate about and I am continuing to do further studies in that area. It’s something I am exploring with some of my clients and it’s something that will continue to grow because it’s so new, well it’s actually old but it’s starting to gain momentum because of its health and performance benefits.
This brings me joy at the moment because when I was doing GAPS it was all about healing the gut and healing my body and I felt supressed because I couldn’t express myself through my athletic performance because the idea of performing contradicted the idea of healing your body. So I feel like I’ve finally found something that offers the nutritional approach that is so holistic and looking at mindset, nutrition and performance as well.
It’s really nice to be able to tie it all in together and fuel my fire of achieving things. I had to put that on hold for quite a few years to heal and now I get to explore it again and the marathon was the start of that.
Five Fast Fun Fearless Facts about Natalee Anderson
- Who inspires you? There are three - women I meet through the Working Women’s Revolution Group. Since building the group I have these amazing and inspiring women who come into my life. I have to also say, my husband. I’m a crazy person who keeps saying, “Let’s do this” and he goes along with it and picks up the pieces if I fall down. He is so patient and that’s inspiring. And children. When you are learning about mindfulness and simplicity and the exact opposite of burning out as a woman, it’s be a child. I am constantly inspired by watching my children. They are so mindful, life is so simple, they love unconditionally. The beauty in children inspires me every day.
- Favourite thing to do each day? I would love to give you something more inspiring but it’s coffee. I have Bullet Proof Coffee because it has fat in it and I love to sit down and have a warm your heart creamy coffee, and that moment to yourself as well.
- What's something that still scares you? It’s still putting myself out there each time. Whether it’s talking, sharing my story and just putting myself out there. There’s that fear of not being loved, making a mistake, and not being good enough. No matter how many times I do it I still come back to that fear of not being good enough.
- Favourite technique or app or book? My favourite technique is what I call a strategic no. One of the problems with women learning to put themselves first is that they aren’t very good at saying, “No”. But you can’t just tell them to say no as it feels uncomfortable for them so they just wont do it. So my strategic no is when someone asks you to do something and the responsibility is then passed to you, you firstly turn it back to them by saying, “Yes, absolutely I can do that for you.” But then highlight the things you are already doing and ask them which they would like you to put on hold or ask them what they would like you to prioritise. This puts the responsibility back to them and they have to decide how important it is. This also works well in a working environment and it gets the other person to respect your time as well. Whereas if you just say yes to everything then you aren’t respecting your own time and you aren’t respecting yourself.
- If you could wave a magic wand and fix one thing in the world right now, what would it be and why? I would like to remove judgment so there wouldn’t be any judgment of what is right or wrong. There would be no good or bad, there just would be as it is.
Final Question for Natalee Anderson
If you could turn back time what's the one piece of advice you wish you could give your fourteen-year-old self?
Wow…that just made my heart feel really heavy. I only just did an inner child exercise the other day with my coach and what I would say is I would give her a hug and tell her that she’s perfect just the way she is and that she is loved very much.
Facebook – working womens revolution group
A Gift for Listeners From Natalee Anderson
Download the seven simple steps to reduce stress by 90% and enjoy all the benefits that having less stress in your mind and your body can bring.