Sarah Conte has been in the fitness industry 13 years including lecturing for some of Australia’s largest fitness academy’s. During this time Sarah experienced many ups and downs along the way and personal struggles with body image. Now a gym program manager in Melbourne, Sarah’s passion lies mainly in two areas: group fitness and body image confidence. Sarah’s mission is to educate women and empower them to understand their worth beyond image and has drawn on her own personal experiences to create #Projectgoddess, a community and brunch meet-ups and workshops to really empower women to find their inner goddess and finding their inner beauty which is exactly why Sarah is our latest #bethegirl interviewee!
Hi Sarah, thank you so much for taking time to share your experiences and personal story with us. Let’s start with your background both professional and personal….
I have been a dancer since the moment I could walk, my favourite style would be jazz contemporary. I believe that my strong passion for dance has created my lifestyle both professionally and personally. I have been in the fitness industry for 13 years including lecturing for some of Australia’s largest fitness academy’s. Now I am the gym program manager at a gym in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne and my passion lies mainly in two areas group fitness and body image confidence. Coming from a dance background the pressure for being ‘skinny’ started at a very young age and became an issue moving into my late teens. I went from having a healthy passion, to a concerning obsession to fitness and nutrition to a point of a disorderly eating pattern.
In my mid-twenties I competed in a body building competition which only enhanced the internal struggles that I was dealing with and I found myself spiraling into a deep dark hole of obsessive food conditions including; bingeing, purging, starvation and it also took my self-worth down. I am now thirty and still in the fitness industry, I have spent the last three years on a journey of self-healing, self worth and understanding what ‘HEALTH’ actually looks like. I have a beautiful husband, a lovely group of friends and a supportive family. My mission is to educate women and empower them to understand their worth beyond image.
You are taking your own personal experience with body image struggles and disorderly eating conditions to reach out and support others who may need it if experiencing a similar situation. This is SO courageous and we really admire what you are doing. What led you to this decision as it’s not an easy one?
The beginning of my recovery started when I first told my best friend what I was going through and then the more people I told, the more I actually felt free. I have a voice and a great network through fitness lecturing and I love helping people achieve a healthier lifestyle… it was clear to me that nutrition and training did not cut it; it has to begin in your mindset. So I took a leap of faith and decided to put together a workshop.
The first workshop where I spoke in a public forum about my body image and the journey I have taken, was one of the most real and raw moments in my life – within the first sentence I had tears streaming down my face, as I had never said out loud some of the thoughts I had in my mind and voicing them was one of the most empowering things I have ever done. Voicing my journey has led to many women and even some men, being able to relate and resinate with myself and the group of people at the workshops. The more I speak about my journey, the more I am find that I am not alone & neither are the many women who reach out to me. It’s a beautiful thing watching a group of strangers embracing each other.
“I have spent the last three years on a journey of self-healing, self worth and understanding what ‘HEALTH’ actually looks like. I have a beautiful husband, a lovely group of friends and a supportive family. My mission is to educate women and empower them to understand their worth beyond image.”
How do you aim to support others from your own journey and knowledge that you have gained?
On my journey I felt so alone and felt embarrassed by the choices and feelings that I was suffering from, like I had no control or self-worth. My message and mission is to let women who are struggling with their body image or confidence know that they are not alone, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it is OK to have a bad day or a bad week but your worth is beyond what you see in the mirror. From regular social media reminders to monthly catch ups and workshops which includes self-worth activities that can help women on a daily basis. My support is to be a voice, a listener, and encourage women to be brave in their skin and own it.
Tell us about #Projectgoddess!
#ProjectGoddess started off as a little reminder to myself with regular posts on Instagram that I am worthy beyond my body. From there I realised that my message was actually helping others from their responses and inbox messages. It has now progressed to brunch meet-ups and workshops to really empower women to find their inner goddess. We all have a spark inside us of love and no weight of the scales, size on your clothes, what you see in the mirror will ever take that SPARK away. It’s about finding that inner beauty.
“We all have a spark inside us of love and no weight of the scales, size on your clothes, what you see in the mirror will ever take that SPARK away. It’s about finding that inner beauty.”
Your message and approach is very holistic – it’s all about mind, body and soul. Why is health and fitness so much more than nutrition and training but also mindset and your inner voice to you?
My biggest lesson in my journey was being at my leanest, I was determined to hit 10% body fat, I was on a strict clean diet and exercising every day. When I hit this target I remember still standing in front of the mirror and be so unhappy believing that I was not good enough, not ‘skinny/lean’ enough, it was just NEVER enough. I was lean, very lean but my mind was not clear and nor was I happy. I had this goal because I hated my body, but even once I got to my goal my mindset did not change – I still hated my body. A few years later and a little bit wiser – I reversed this motion, I now train because I love my body and everything it can do, I want it to be strong. I eat all types of foods because I enjoy them and I still eat 80% clean because again I love my body and want to feel good. Mindset controls the love or hate you have; start with adjusting the mind and your health will follow. It is easier said than done, and I still have days where I can get lost in the mirror of hatred but it is about practicing being grateful for what your body can do.
What is your No.1 daily tip you have for nurturing this and implementing healthy habits in our daily lives?
My No.1 tip would definitely be to take a moment every day to do one thing that will set your soul on fire, this could be reading a book, taking a walk or coffee with a friend. Setting your mind up for a positive day and creating that grateful vibe daily.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Sarah! Your honestly and openness about your own experiences and how you are using that to help other women is truly admirable and courageous, we love everything about your message and what you are doing! Follow Sarah on Instagram and for more on #Projectgoddess check out Sarah’s blog.
This article is written from personal experiences, opinions and interpretations. If you feel like any of the points talked about in this article are relevant to you or are affecting you, please always seek advice from a professional in the relevant field.