How Paul, a bi-lateral amputee, overcame poor self-image to become a Motivational Speaker

I am a bi-lateral amputee. When I was 15 months old, I contracted Meningococcal Meningitis. It caused gangrene, and both my legs were amputated above the knee. I have therefore used artificial legs all my life.

I have been struggling with my weight since I was about seven years old. At one stage, I weighed 107kgs, (you must realise that, when I weigh myself, it is without lower limbs). I managed to get it down to about 90kgs a few years ago, and it slowly crept back up to 97kgs.

Because I have no lower limbs – every step I take takes several hundred times more energy than an able-bodied person, so any extra weight on my body makes it even harder to move. The more weight I put on, the more of a struggle everything becomes. The things most people take for granted are a lot harder for me to do, going to the cinema, a restaurant, to the beach, shopping.

But I have never let limitations defeat me. During my high school years, I set my first long term goal to get a Karate Black belt. I did this when I was 17. Again, at the age of 26, I sat down and wrote my long term goals. I wanted to have my own training company; I wanted to get an MBA; and I wanted to have interesting non-executive directorships.

Ten years later, by the time I was 36 years old, I had achieved them. I was the CEO of a small, but successful training company called Amecus and I was an MBA graduate. I had occupied a number of non-executive directorships.

Although I had achieved these goals, there were still two massive holes in my life. I wanted to know what it felt like to be in a loving relationship and I wanted to have a positive body image. For most of my adult years, being very overweight (and being an amputee (we lose heat much less efficiently) I was very sweaty. I neither was, nor felt, attractive or sexy and, being always damp, girls liked me, but only at a distance.

Then, that same year, in June 2013, I found out that I had diabetes. I was supposed to have a tumour in my neck removed, and during some routine checks, they discovered that my blood sugar was 24. I couldn’t go through with the op because my health was in such a bad state.

I was getting more and more unhealthy, and my world was shrinking. By the age of 38, I was deflated. I thought I couldn’t achieve anything. I was always tired, and moderately depressed. I didn’t think I was going to live very long with my health the way it was. I stopped making plans, and I waited to die. I thought I only had a year left. All my dreams started slipping away.

Then, this year, I unexpectedly fell in love with a long-term friend! Life seemed to take on a whole new complexion, and I had a reason to live as I looked forward more and more to spending time with her. Just as I felt on the ‘up’ again, she turned me down. That weekend, I was due to fly to London, and it felt like I had hit rock bottom. I was so sick that I landed up cancelling my business trip. My respiratory system was a mess, my heart was enlarged, and I had had pneumonia. All of this was really down to being chronically unfit and morbidly obese. I hated the way I looked and was certainly not well enough to do my job.  How could I expect any girl to love my body if I didn’t?

I started writing an email to her, which I never sent. In the process of writing it, my mindset changed. I was going to fix my life. I was going to earn her affection.

I took stock of all the things about me that I liked and then I told myself, “I will never be able-bodied, but I can do a lot better with what I’ve got!”

I made the decision to change my life. My friend had become a Certified Banting Coach, and she set me on the path to weight loss. That was in about June this year, and I have just stuck to it; my determination to achieve this goal is not letting me fail.

The decision to fix my body was largely motivated by love, but by the time I had lost 10kgs – I had fallen in love with the process.

I started swimming, and now I swim 1km per day, and I do 200 reps with an ab wheel. I lost 10kgs, felt and looked better than I had in years and feeling confident, tried with the same girl again. Sadly she turned me down again. If it was hard the first time, it was devastating the second. I had to deal with the fact that there was no way forward; I felt as though my fairytale ending was in tatters. I was heartbroken, and it occurred to me to give up on the whole health journey. But, I went to gym the next day as usual, and while I was in the water, I realised that the gains I had made on my health were significant and I was enjoying the benefits. I was now committed to my own health and weight loss and decided to continue the journey, but this time for me! To date, I have lost around 17kgs. With each kg that I lose, I can also move more easily. I am now motivated for the right reasons to continue my path to good health.

What surprised me was how quickly things started to change for the better: my joint problems lessened, my candida disappeared, my blood pressure dropped, my lungs cleared up, and in the first 17 days, I lost 10kgs.

I am slimmer now, and fitter than I have been since I was a teenager.

I started to like myself a whole lot more. And I noticed that life became more entertaining. As my inner joyfulness improved, I found that my attractiveness to others also improved.

Now, because of Banting, I’m busy re-thinking what my whole life should look like. And it’s positive and exciting.

The one thing I feel as though I was born to do, and that everything in my life has been leading up to, is to become a motivational speaker. But, those two holes in my life have always held me back: my poor self-image (I didn’t feel like I was authentic enough to help others), and the fact that I have always been single, which has caused me immense pain.

Even so, during the many years of my training life, I would end each seminar telling my story and people would take inspiration from it. I have mentored many people in my life, mostly about their careers but also about their family life, marriages, etc. I have developed the skill of being an exceptional listener, and therefore I understand people really well. People tend to open up to me, and I can read them very well, providing me with a huge general experience of the human condition.

During these past months on my Banting journey, I have written mind-set blogs about goal setting, and getting your mind right and they have been received so positively. In the course of my life, I have done a lot of development work on myself, and I know how to accomplish long-term goals, battle self-esteem, build self-confidence, and help others to do the same.

Doing the online training course to become a Certified Banting Coach completed my circle towards becoming a motivational speaker. I learned so much about Banting and even more about what it means to become a coach and help others on their health journeys.

I have already created a curriculum that’s six sessions long. It involves stress, self-esteem, comfort eating, important relationships, what your real reasons for losing weight are, figuring out what drives you and what makes you happy. People have been hugely complimentary. It’s fun, and I enjoy helping people.

Banting changed my life and helped me overcome obstacles, and I will be forever grateful. This year, after starting Banting, the two holes in my life filled up, I now have a better body image than ever before, and I am dating a lovely girl.

I am 39 years old, and I feel like my life is just beginning. I can use my skills to do what I care about, help people improve their lives, and in the process, give my own life, even more, meaning.

To join Paul’s group visit his homepage or to find a group that suits your specific needs click here.

To become a Certified Banting Coach, click here.

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