TWENTY years ago, Sandra Crathern’s life was far from perfect. She was overweight, smoked and drank too much and was unhappy in her marriage.
But now, the 53-year-old mother of three runs a successful life-coaching business after transforming her life and family.
Sandra, of Malvern Close, Worthing, loved her job as a practice nurse at a doctor’s surgery, but felt like a hypocrite by telling people to slow down, look after themselves and eat healthily –because she was doing none of those things herself.
She said: “Most women dash around and try to do everything perfectly – be the perfect wife and mother while holding down a career and trying to look good and have a social life.
“I do not think that when I was younger I had a real sense of who I was, probably because I had three kids by the time I was 27, and it was like I tried to be superwoman.
“But the reality was that I was three stone overweight, smoked and drank too much and my marriage had started to go downhill. I was really unhappy.”
Sandra decided to take a solo trip to Spain, where her brother-in-law owned a bar.
“I wanted to get away from my husband and boys,” she said. “It was heaven when I was abroad, because it was all about me for the first time in my life, and it was a spiritual experience which was wonderful.
“I knew I had to go back and do something different, because the trip made me conclude that I did not really take care of myself.”
Once back home, Sandra’s mother took her to Champneys health spa for a five day break.
She said: “I think Mum was worried that I was going to have a break-down. You have nothing to do while you are there and it is like you find something inside yourself or find a person that you never knew existed.
“After the break I met a guy who is probably the most incredible person I have ever met – a neuro-linguistic programming practitioner and life coach.
“A few sessions with him and things had started to massively change for me, including my marriage and my relationship with my sons.”
Sandra, who was still a practice nurse, decided that she wanted to embark on an Open University course in neuro-linguistic programming coaching.
She said: “I fell in love with everything about coaching and wanted to take it further, but needed £10,000 to fund the full training.
“But because my relationship with my husband was so much better, I was able to say to him that doing the training was what I needed. I asked him if we could remortgage the house and he said to go for it.
“I think that, because I had so many problems with self-confidence in the past, I wanted to help other people.
“From there I completed a two-year course and, as a result, started my own company, Innavision.
“I look at confidence building, self-esteem issues, management skills and relationships, so it covers quite a large spectrum.
“People are often quite surprised with the results and what coaching can do for them. It is basically about helping people to help themselves. I have no answers but I can definitely point people in the right direction. I am paid and trained to listen to people and find out what direction they need to go in.”
Sandra’s next event is on February 16, at Champneys Forest Mere, in Hampshire, when she will team up with her friend Gay Richardson, a personal stylist.
The pair have become known as the ‘Inside Out Duo’ and work together to improve clients’ appearances and mental wellbeing.
Gay, 53, who owns Style Me Confident, said: “From my side of things, it is all about people wearing clothes that suit them and encourage them to choose things that make them feel happy and look good.
“People often say to me that they would never pick a certain style or colour of clothing simply because they do not know otherwise.
“It is also hard for some people to make changes but it means that the job satisfaction is huge.
“Most people wear 20 per cent of their wardrobe 80 per cent of the time, so I try to put different clothes together, adapt items or maybe turn them inside out.
“We are hoping to help people to look at life in just a slightly different way and we like to make our sessions really fun because when you make people laugh they enjoy it so much more.”
For more information go to www.champneys.com/spa-resorts/meetings-events/whats-on/the-inside-out-duo