You Can Change Your Life!

23 Apr 2012

What happened when we asked Dubai’s top experts to help four women in need of a life lift? Read on to find out

‘Lift my confidence so I can accept my new body’
Dorita D’Souza, 28, account manager in corporate banking
I have a sweet tooth. Make that teeth. I never did exercise growing up, I loved my junk food and the pounds loved me. Over the years, I attempted diets – GM diets, fruit diets, work-out-like-crazy diets! Some worked, but what they lacked was sustainability. I always felt that I was working to a goal and once I reached it, I could do whatever I pleased (hello chocolate). When I was 26 years-old, I was a UK size 26, my largest ever. Going out, I’d get stares, comments and crude jokes; it would make me want to cry. One day, after a lot of goading from one of my friends, I saw a doctor who told me I was poised to be diabetic. I tried small changes, like cutting out some sugars, and slowly noticed a difference. I did more research on healthy eating and started slimming down. My clothes started to fit me better, my skin improved, I felt healthier and finally the sizes dropped from 26 to 18 and then from an 18 to a 12! It was amazing – people didn’t recognise me and I got so many compliments. It’s been a painstakingly slow journey, and emotionally it’s been a roller coaster – I often look in the mirror and see the old me and sometimes I still feel like a fat person. My friends tell me I walk like a fat person, and that’s something I’d like to correct. I’ve lost the weight, I feel great, and yet there’s this last stumbling block that I need to get over. How can I gain the confidence to enjoy my new body?

Anne Cook, the holistic health practitioner at The Healing Zone, says:
Well done to you for making such a huge change, I take my hat off to you! Remember to always do things for yourself and not for others. Be confident and accept your new body for yourself, always, and when your negative mind starts chatting away and you begin to worry about gaining the weight back, stop listening to it. Rather, change your thoughts to “I love my life, life loves me” and “I love myself the way I am”. A great self help book to read is How to Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, in which she explains the emotional side of things like overeating. Addressing your negative feelings and changing them with daily repeated affirmations will help you stay on track. Try saying the following affirmations every day to help you to stay mindful and to help give yourself an inner boost:
● I am at peace with my own feelings
● I am safe where I am
● I create my own security
● I love and approve of myself
On a physical level, to help tone and firm your body, walking and some gentle weight lifting would be a great help for you. I would also recommend using tissue salts to work on normalising metabolism, regulating elimination through the kidneys and intestines and to bring your energy balance back to a normal range. 

Mamta Saha, lifestyle psychologist at Think Spa London, says:
Seeing is believing! If you can’t look in the mirror and accept that this amazing body belongs to you, you have already created unnecessary barriers that will get in the way of enjoying your success. Spend time being grateful for how far you have come and think about what this new body means to you. Ask yourself how it feels to have achieved the body you have now. The more specific you are in describing your thoughts and feelings, the greater the likelihood of you sustaining this physique. When you spend time magnifying the positive thoughts you have around your accomplishments, your brain becomes conditioned to the fact that it is possible, and before you know it, your confidence levels will increase and you will start to accept your current reality, embrace the future and let go of the past.
To start making changes, view your past attempts at dieting as a unique learning opportunity. Think about what you can take from those times as opposed to why it was so bad. Know that nobody is perfect - it is fine to make mistakes. Reflect on successful people and the mistakes that they have made and how they have flourished. And remember that you are one of them and should feel very proud!

Nadine du Toit, fitness professional and owner of GloryGirl Fitness, says:
First of all, congratulations for the big lifestyle transformation you have made over the last two years! I'm so excited about the future for you and how you’re going to inspire other women to become their best possible selves.
Something you might look into, if your budget allows, is hiring a personal trainer who can become part of ‘Team Dorita’. A personal trainer will push you on the days when you are feeling demotivated. If finances are tight, websites like regularly have deals for bootcamps, personal trainers and exercise classes.
Also, it’s a good idea to start planning your meals and workouts from now on. Have a look at my recommendations below, open your diary, and see what you can fit into your week:
Weight training: Your quest of becoming toned starts here. Use your own body weight, dumbbells, barbells, sandbags, kettle bells, water bottles, the list is endless. To start, a full body workout three times a week will be sufficient. Be sure to include all the major muscle groups in your training including back, chest, shoulders, arms, abdominals, bum and legs.
Cardio vascular training: Cardio workouts can be anything from walking, running and cycling to spinning. These activities strengthen and condition the heart and lungs. Three times a week will be sufficient.
Yoga/Pilates: Two sessions of either yoga or pilates a week will condition inter-muscle fibres and relax you.
Spa time: Spa time equals me-time; this is where we incorporate methods like body brushing, exfoliating, self massage or endermologie, LPG and hypoxy treatments, which will help with any loose skin.
Rest: At least one day of rest is important for muscle recovery and keeping everything in your life balanced. 
Nutrition: Try to eat every three hours. Always include a protein source as well as a portion of fibrous vegetables. The first three meals of the day can also include the correct portions of complex starchy carbohydrates (brown rice, bulgur, couscous etc) and fruit. Water is very important too, and I advise between 3-4 litres a day. Have your favorite foods three times a week and keep the portion size in check so you don’t feel deprived.

‘Help me to boost my interaction skills’
Jessie Tofts, 21, event coordinator

I moved straight to Dubai on my own without knowing anyone, and this is my first full-time job. I’ve always lived in the UK and when I was offered my position as an events co-ordinator, covering functions such as rugby tours and the F1 Ball and dealing with all different kinds of clients, I knew it was absolutely perfect for me. Having been in the job now for a few months, it’s going really well but a big move to a strange country and kick starting my career has been a challenge. While I love my life, mixing with new people from all different backgrounds, ages and cultures, it’s a learning curve both personally and professionally. I’m a bubbly person but I sometimes find myself feeling shy and panicky when it comes to meeting new people, which is no good for making new friends or when I work in an industry where I have to project a high energy, upbeat and confident image. I want to be the best I can be at my new role as well as building a strong network of work and social contacts, but I’m not sure how to go about it. I am trying to learn from the people I work with, who are all incredible at talking to everyone on all different levels, and I’m attempting to ‘put myself out there’, not be embarrassed or self conscious and to interact with everyone, but I’d like advice on how best to do this. I’m worried that if I don’t boost my interaction skills when liaising with others that I’ll wind up looking desperate, feeling lonely, and I won’t be able to move on within my career. Help!

The holistic health practitioner says:
What an accomplishment, your first full time job and overseas, well done! You seem to be doing really well and just need a bit of a boost. I would recommend using Bach Flower Remedies to help you feel more at ease. They work on an emotional level and will bring ease, confidence and calm to all areas of your life. They are recommended for everyday use to help us through challenges. I would suggest taking Larch to boost confidence, Cherry Plum to stop panicky feelings and White Chestnut to help with negative thoughts. You may also want to take Elm when things seem overwhelming. Visit a practitioner and they will make the remedy for you. Alternatively, you can get Bach Flowers from a health food store. You will also need an empty treatment bottle - simply fill the bottle with spring water and add two drops from each of the remedies, Larch, Cherry Plum and White Chestnut, to the water. Place the top on the bottle, mix the solution and take four drops, four times a day. A consultation with a qualified Bach Flower practitioner would also be beneficial, as there may be other issues you want help with.

The fitness professional says:
I first want to acknowledge you for what a brave woman you are for leaving your home country. Look at all the things that you have accomplished, small and big. Write down a success timeline, also write down all your learning experiences - the times that we define as ‘failing’. Create an awareness of the things that you want to develop in, and write them down. Lastly, make a note of what you have accomplished this year like graduating, getting an amazing job, leaving the UK etc. Read through the list and see the amazing life of a strong woman unfold before your eyes. That woman is you!
Oprah used to love this quote;“You are responsible for the energy that you bring into the room”. Before you enter a room, think about what it is that you want to achieve. Make a great first impression by making eye contact, remembering names and not interrupting people while they speak.
When you find yourself in a conversation where you feel out of depth, remember: people LOVE to talk about themselves, so ask interesting questions about that person.
Dubai is going to teach you so much, make the most of this opportunity. I’m looking forward to hearing about your progress!

The psychologist says:
Think back to a time in your life where you felt invincible. Now go back to that time in your mind, feel the strength in your core as you close your eyes and visualise that moment. Re-experience those emotions and let them come back to you, feel the sensations again and visualise all the emotions being captured in your body’s centre. Know that this is your supply/reserve of ‘confidence and greatness’ that you can always come back to whenever you may need a top up. Remember and allow yourself to feel these emotions again. Don’t let any historical battle scars of emotion stop you from feeling that strength. 
When you go out, make good eye contact and dress well (and you will feel good). Learn how to build common ground and have synergy with others.  Challenge yourself to speak with people you wouldn’t usually speak with and think about three objectives that you would like to achieve through networking and make a plan around how you will achieve them. Create a vision for what you want to achieve by the end of a networking event and always reflect on how it went afterwards. 
Think about what you stand for and represent. Being clear on your personal branding immediately helps you gain confidence. One creative way of defining this is by spending some time alone reflecting. All you need is a minute to close your eyes and think about the impact that you want to create, see yourself doing so and have a vision to aspire to. Try to create this vision through pictures; this is called a ‘vision board’. If you look at this everyday, you will find that it gives you focus and before you know it, perception will become reality.
Notice the noise in your mind and write down what you are telling yourself.  Split your thoughts into two categories: positive (helpful to me) and negative (unhelpful to me). Focus all your energy on the positive; make the most of these thoughts. As for the negatives, scrub them out and realise that they are like a disease that will impact on you and stop you from being the best you can be.

‘I want to leave the past behind’
Laura Smith, 25, PR account manager
While I’m very happy with my life, I sometimes find myself referring to my past which is stopping me from really embracing my present. I broke up from a long relationship back home just before I arrived here in Dubai 18 months ago and as it was not an easy split, I’ve put all thoughts of meeting someone new completely on the back burner. Instead, I focus upon my career, the new friends I’ve made and my fantastic social life, and while I’m quite happy being single right now, I know that in the future I might like this to change. Therefore I’d like to re-frame my mind and be open to the possibility of meeting someone again someday. I’m conscious that when the time is right in the future, and someone nice does come along (Mr Perfect hasn’t knocked on my door quite yet!), I might be closed off or too embroiled in my busy schedule to even realise it! As my ex betrayed me quite badly, I feel like my judgement over who is genuine or not could be better, which is probably leading me to cast unfair presumptions over people I meet. I seem to tarnish most men with the same brush! For that reason I’d like some tips on how to let go of the negativity that occurred when my last relationship ended, advice on how to boost my optimism that there are some good guys out there, and some exercises on how to re-train my brain so it’s ready to acknowledge and embrace a potentially positive situation when someone kind, honest and worth my time does come along.

The holistic health practitioner says:
The past doesn’t equal the future – which is great to know. Our experiences can either help us grow stronger or can, if we allow them to, bring us down quickly.
To help you make better judgements, or not to judge at all, I recommend taking Bach Flower Remedy Chestnut Bud (available from chemists). This helps us to learn from the lessons we’ve been presented with in life, so that we don’t keep making the same mistakes. Larch will help support your confidence and Walnut will help to maintain your energy, so you are not so easily influenced by others.
I would also recommend a Mind Detox session, which will help you replace negative traumatic memories with more realistic beliefs. It will allow you to let go of limiting thoughts that are holding you in the mindset that your judgement is impaired, and one which may have a foundation of “I am not good enough”. You are good enough and with a Mind Detox session, which only takes 90 minutes, this can be changed to “I am confident and feel great”. I promise that it is life transforming; always remember that it is worth investing in you. 

The psychologist says:
By focusing on the hurt you felt because of your last relationship, you are creating hurdles and barriers that are unnecessarily hindering you. Remember there is no reason why any failure with an ex has to become your terminal illness unless you give it permission to be. Nothing or no one is perfect, that is an absolute fact. This shouldn’t give you an excuse to operate as mediocre, but should encourage you to stop giving yourself a hard time and start promising that you will be the best you can be regardless of what life throws at you. 
We often use the past as a map and blueprint for our future. These parameters are completely fictitious and often restrict the potential for a relationship that is out of this world. Our mind is not intelligent enough to decipher between negative and positive thoughts, therefore it takes on whatever we give most of our energy to. Discourage and eliminate negative emotions of your past hurt, as they do not serve you well. Let what you are grateful for overwhelm what is ‘wrong’. Be thankful for the basics in life - that is a good place to start (the five senses, the ability to read, having a roof over your head etc).  Remember, life could be a lot worse.

The fitness professional says:
Let’s focus on something you have right now, and that is time. Quality time, all to yourself, is a rare commodity so use this time to invest in yourself. Dust off those childhood dreams or create new adventurous, adult goals. Whether it is to learn how to paint, cook up a storm, learn to speak Cantonese, travel - the list is endless. I often find that the moment we start living our lives with carefree indulgence could be the moment the very thing that eluded us lands in our lap. I use the analogy of a child chasing butterflies; after unsuccessful hours trying to catch them, the child falls asleep and when he wakes, he is covered in the very butterflies he was chasing. Your grand mother’s advice would suffice when it come to knowing when a guy is genuine. The man who has intentions of getting to know you better is going to stick around, it’s as easy as that.
I have so much appreciation for the heartache you had to endure, but the fact that you want to develop your trust again means that you are healing. Keep a journal of your thoughts and add in your hopes for the future. Instead of writing what you don’t want in your life, write what you do want. A loving relationship, a man that treats you like a treasured woman and friend who you can be yourself with. Focusing on the things we want, writing and thinking and talking about them, is the highway to achieving them!
Once you’ve planted the seeds of what you want in your journal, the next thing to do is to start visualising and vocalising those things. One of the (free) ways to change the subconscious mind is 3-D visualisation. Using all of your senses (sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing), through visualising what you want or how you wish to act in a situation and repeating that every day, is the key to changing your way of thinking or behaving. The best time of day to apply 3-D visualisation is the first few minutes after waking up when your mind is fresh and the last few minutes before falling asleep. Try doing this for seven days and you’ll be amazed by the results.

‘Kick start my new career’
Marta Singh, 31, stay at home mum
For the past two years, my life has been dedicated to raising my two year-old son, but now he is getting older I’m starting to think about following my dream of becoming a singer – mostly at weddings – and also starting small music classes for children. I was a member of a professional children’s choir back at home in Austria for 16 years before I left to come to Dubai 10 years ago, and I miss doing what I’m passionate about. For the past few months I’ve been exploring the market, trying to get my website ready and preparing for a recording, contacting agencies and event planners, but I think I need to be a bit more persistent. I am very excited about my goal and the possibility of singing professionally once again, but at the same time, I’m terrified! Will I succeed? Will I still be able to maintain a work/life balance? How can I fit all this in? And, importantly, if I fail will it prevent me from taking the plunge with anything new in the future? I am nervous about singing in public again as it has been so long, so I need some tips on how to combat this, and I have nightmares about forgetting the words. Please can you help me to feel better prepared for this new start.

The holistic health practitioner says:
You have performed before in front of an audience, so you know exactly what it feels like and you also know you can do it, because you have done it before. To boost your confidence and ensure you succeed, connect with the memory of performing successfully, connect with the thrill and joy and ‘feel’ being there. Connect this way for at least five minutes, longer if you can, every single day.  This will give you the confidence to achieve a successful outcome when the time comes.  Negative thoughts are a luxury you cannot afford so as soon as you find yourself thinking negatively, physically lift your shoulders back, look up and connect with the fantastic feeling of performing and the audience giving you a standing ovation.
As for finding clients, get your website up and running, put lots of images on there of people watching you perform, and videos are also great. Get yourself a YouTube channel and upload several videos of you singing, then add them to your website. Create a business page on Facebook too; add something every day about the services you offer. Most importantly ensure your branding, which is YOU, is visible, so that clients can find you. You can do this – enjoy it! If you need additional confidence boosts, take Bach Flowers Larch, Mimulus and Walnut as this combination will give you new found confidence, by helping you let go of the fear and keeping your own energy whole. 

The psychologist says:
Being your best self does not have to be hard work. All you have to do is know that it is possible to be great and learn a few techniques that can enhance your strengths in singing.
Model your behaviour on people that you feel are excellent, perhaps other singers you admire. Believe and be passionate about getting better and more confident at every opportunity. The motivation that you have is an inner force that compels your behaviour; you are acting on an inner need if you are motivated. Memory and imagination are responsible for motivation, so think about the days when you were at your best. If you visualise what you will achieve, you will achieve it - all motivation comes from internal images. Don’t be passive, be active, have a voice and represent yourself. All that you need to achieve a dream is action and persistence. Keep going and keep going.
If you feel such passion, only have a plan A - see it, believe it, and start to feel that you are actually achieving it. Put all of the energy you have into reaching your goals and this will drive you harder to your destination.
How long does it take to make a decision? A second, so do it now. Every second is a chance to turn it all around. Think about what you have to lose and rationalise any fears you may have. Go for it. After all, nobody ever achieved anything by staying in their comfort zone. Take a chance and let yourself shine - just as you are meant to.

The fitness professional says:
Your new career path is so exciting and I'm sure that with your vast experience of singing and your lovely personality that you are going to bring something special to Dubai's music industry! I can understand your nervousness and I believe that there are a few practical steps that you can follow that will slide you into the shallow end of the entertainment pool.
If we had to be technical about your new career path as a performer, we could see it in the same light as you being an entrepreneur. The advice that I have for all entrepreneurs is to start small and let your business grow organically. That takes the pressure and the possibility of failing right down to zero per cent. Arrange a special night when you invite your friends and family over so that you can do a performance in the safety of you own home. You mentioned that your son is a toddler - make your service available at the school he attends and perform at their year of end function where there will only be a small number of people. After a few performances in these intimate settings your confidence will be built steadily and you will also have a clear idea if this is really the career path for you.
I would strongly suggest that you get a vocal coach; someone who has experience in the professional music industry and could act as a mentor to you.
When we take a look at professional athletes, professional dancers and professionals in just about any industry, they practice their trade everyday! I would suggest you draw up a schedule where you plan your daily singing practice and see it as an important appointment. As you've mentioned, your life as you know it might be disrupted but it's very important that you lay your personal boundaries down right from the start. Identify days of the week that are exclusive for family time and stick to that.
You have a talent which you are so passionate about that you need to share it! Start steady and small, get the right people around you and hone your craft, you will be surprised at how many lives you are going to touch and you can make a profit from something you love!
All the best, and I can't wait to cheer you on onstage!

The Expert: Mamta Saha, Lifestyle Psychologist at Think Spa London (

The Expert: Anne Cook, holistic health practitioner at The Healing Zone (the

The Expert: Nadine du Toit, owner of GloryGirl Fitness (