nourish not punish












Welcome to Part 2 of my interview with Mel Noakes.  In part 2 we celebrate how Mel has learnt to nourish not punish herself and now passionately helps other women to do the same.

This has been an amazing transformation after Mel’s early life was dominated by eating disorders from 12 years old.

After the therapy and some changes in her personal situation Mel took time out to really heal herself.

This time out enabled Mel to really understand herself and was an epiphany on her life journey.

Mel decided to fulfil a life long ambition and take a trip to South America.

What made this trip so special? 

As part of the year long trip I wanted to experience the Inca Trail in Peru. Before we undertook the trek I seriously didn’t know if my body was strong enough.  I simply didn’t know if I would be able to cope with the trek.

We started the trail in a grey, rocky formidable landscape.  We emerged from this and entered rain forests full of exotic life.  Finally we emerged at he summit and it felt like we were on top of the world!

I reached the summit and just broke down.

It was such a moment of clarity and pure joy as I realized that my body was amazing.  It also made me appreciate that I had so much to give others.

My life’s purpose was spread out in front of me and I was going to use my skills to help others.

Machu Picchu

When you returned from South America how did you take your ideas forward?

I knew I wanted to help people, but women, in particular.

My idea was to work with women who were ready to look forward and not backwards.  This meant taking on the role of coach and mentor.

Consequently I trained as a coach, NLP practitioner, Hypnotherapist.   As part of my self development I also studied nutrition. I wanted to learn how to nourish not punish myself.  This was part of my own healing process to treat my amazing body with the respect it deserved.  When I’d completed my training I started to build my brand and business.

I started to work with women empowering them to find their own strength and brilliance.  My aim is to help them find their way to loving the skin and life they’re in. It’s been an incredible transformation for my clients and for me too!

nourish not punish

While respecting client confidentiality do you find that the women you help share reasons for their unhappiness? 

Yes I do see patterns emerging, with clients saying similar things:

  •  I’m not worthy
  • I don’t deserve it
  • I’m not good enough
  • I’m overspending but it gives me something to hide behind

I do believe there is a much bigger picture and it’s ingrained in our culture.

From when we’re young, boys are praised for their bravery and exploration while girls are praised for being pretty. Girls are seen as ‘Daddy’s little girl’ and learn to become pleasers.

As we go through life we find that there are stereotypical roles for men and women.  Even in 2016 these roles are still being reinforced by the media, society and workplace culture!

We have a lot to address.  With the rise of social media and digital imagery – the pressure is mounting for those that are vulnerable.

stereotypical gender roles

Do you feel that you are completely recovered from your eating disorders? 

My personal experience has been and continues to be a journey.

Some survivors will tell you they made a full 100% recovery, and that’s amazing.

For me it’s been different. I have frequently found myself in stressful situations and known that I could starve myself or purge my food.  To be able to exercise that control has always remained an option for me.

But I’ve found in the past 7 years or so whilst I have been in recovery; I get real strength from knowing I could go there – but finding a better way.

This simply reinforces how far I’ve come and shows me how strong I am.

You live by a fabulous mantra of nourish not punish how does this help you?

 My overwhelming mantra is that I and we need to nourish and not punish ourselves!

I’ve educated myself in nutrition.  This means I have a better understanding of the food I eat, and how to cook and take care of myself.

Nutrition was not something that I’d taken an interest in before.  Particularly as I was so young when I first became ill.  For me then food meant something else entirely.

I also have certain things in place that keep me in a comfortable place.  For example I never weigh myself, even at the Doctors.  I simply don’t need to know that anymore.

eating disorders are not about food

You’ve shared the stage with some very motivational women speaking at a major event.  How did that feel?

I was approached to speak at Be Fit London.  Be  Fit London is a three day event to equip women with the tools to ditch the fads and become healthier and happier.

While it was a fantastic experience to be speaking alongside health and fitness icons for me it also represented a huge milestone.  This was because my talk represented the first time I’d shared my story in the public arena.

As I stood on stage ready to begin I noticed a woman and her daughter sitting in the front row.  Consequently I really focused my talk on addressing them.

I was determined that if that young girl had any issues, my talk would offer them a different way forward.  I wanted to give them the power of knowledge from sharing my experiences.   Most of all I wanted to give them hope and a possible solution.


What is the next big project you’re working on Mel?

I’m soon to be launching my second Love the Skin You’re In program.

I wanted to create something that would help women quickly revisit their own relationship with food, with their body and with themselves.  But I wanted to be able to offer this in a more cost effective way than 1-2-1 coaching.

From my own experience I know the power of group therapy, so I wanted to bring this all together.

It was incredibly rewarding to see it come to life earlier this year.  To hear how it changed the lives of the women that took part.  Going back to our discussion in Part 1 eating disorders are not about food.  They are about regaining control we feel we have lost.  Most sufferers of eating disorders are also caught in a cycle of self-punishment.  It is so important to learn how to nourish not punish.  This extends far beyond food, but also in taking care of ourselves, nurturing and treating our bodies and our minds with the respect they deserve.

The second launch will be September 2016 and I can’t wait to support more women in this way – it’s so humbling and so rewarding.


What advice would you give your younger self?

So much!

My principle advice would be to be kind to yourself.

Listen to your inner wisdom and know that everything will work out.

Despite all the pain and suffering I went through I actually look back over my teens and twenties and feel proud of that young woman. She was brave, determined, passionate and fearless in so many ways.

I’d also tell her not to change anything because every single bit of the experience would lead her to something special.

nourish not punish

If you would like to learn more about Mel’s ‘Love The Skin You Are In’ program and learn how to nourish not punish yourself click here.

In case you missed part 1 you can read it here.

Perhaps you have been inspired or touched by Mel’s story?  I’d love to get your comments below and I’d love you to share Mel’s inspirational story on social media.

We all have stories to tell which will inspire others.  Are you ready to share your journey?  If you are I’d love to hear from you.