Nat was a sporty child, but when she went to university things changed. She began struggling with her mental health and developed an unhealthy relationship with physical activity. Discovering weightlifting a couple of years ago helped Nat rekindle her passion for being active.
Throughout the breakdown of her marriage and the death of her mum last year, weightlifting enabled Nat to be physically – and mentally – strong. She’s now a single mum, the co-founder of a marketing business and Basingstoke’s Novice Strongwoman under 65kg.
I was a typically sporty child who was in all the teams at school: netball, hockey, athletics, rounders. I played them all. Some of my closest friends today are some of the girls that I used to play netball with. My Dad was one of the first touch rugby coaches in the UK and I gained my silver award while still at primary school. I studied sport and recreation at college and undertook my YMCA instructor courses while there. I became a qualified swimming teacher at university when studying sport and leisure management
My relationship with physical activity changed when I went to university. I dropped out of team sport as it became very competitive and cliquey; it lost the social element that I had enjoyed when growing up. I started exercising on my own going to the gym. During my time at university, I began to struggle with my mental health and developed an unhealthy relationship with physical activity and issues with eating and over-exercising. I began to shrink in size and I got away with it because friends and family just put it down to the fact that I was sporty and always exercising.
It wasn’t until I met my now ex-husband that my relationship with physical activity and food began to normalise with his support. I started running at this time and loved the sense of freedom and being outside, which really helps my mental health.
Being physically active is as important to me as my counselling in terms of helping me with my grief. Lifting is my therapy.
My marriage broke down in 2017 and it was at this time that I started training with Farah Fonseca (the world’s strongest woman 2018). It was a point in my life where I was reassessing things and wanted to try something different. Just a year later I won Basingstoke’s Novice Strongwoman under 65kg category at the age of 37, 2 months after my Mum had died. It felt like a double victory winning and dealing with Mum’s death at the same time.
I decided to carry on training for the competition after Mum’s death as I wanted to be successful and to make her proud. I trained the day after she died; just having an hour away from my grief was hugely beneficial. Being physically active is as important to me as my counselling in terms of helping me with my grief. Lifting is my therapy.
What I love about Strongwoman is how inclusive it is; there are different weight categories, people of all ages take part and you compete against yourself essentially. My training gym has no mirrors, so I’ve no idea what my lifting face looks like! There is a real sense of community at the gym with everyone encouraging each other.
I continue to wow myself with what my body can do and achieve. It’s important to me to be a good role model to my eight-year-old son and to show him that women are just as strong as men.