Passion for health and fitness
When she walked away from an established, 12-year career in the bank, it was because Elizabeth Ward determined she had to follow her passion and she had firmly made up her mind it was not banking.
While immersed in the white collar job, taking on the day-to-day responsibilities in the stressful atmosphere of the world of finance, there was another interest gnawing away at the heart of the health and wellness coach, almost to the point of restlessness.
During her work day, she could hardly wait for the day to end before darting off for a session at the gym. “I actually used to spend about seven days a week in the gym. I was somewhat fanatical at the time and I was doing something different every day – weight training, cardio . . . ,” she said.
Somehow this was not a newly discovered pastime. “Somewhere along the line I realised that I had a great liking for fitness and health and wellness,” she said and as early as about age 21 she started to embark on “that type of journey for my own self, really trying to get my body fit and healthy.”
It was a natural development from the childhood days of dancing, for which she showed a natural talent and was admired by everyone who watched her dance. It appeared to be a natural talent.
Of the fitness regimen, she said: “I had really liked it. It was like my therapy as well. On evenings, I would go straight to the gym after work.”
Encouraged by instructors at the gym to make a career out of health and fitness, Elizabeth’s passion now is to see people healed, healthy and well, holistically. It is a process that involves work on the total person, mind, soul and body.
She said: “Some of the instructors actually encouraged me to go do some certification because they noticed I was getting this thing done really well . . . .”
She took the instructors’ advice, did the aerobics instructors course and started teaching aerobics in the evening after work. That went on for “a couple of years”, during which she felt stagnation setting in at the banking job. “I was feeling no growth at the bank.”
Finally, in 1999, she decided she needed to transition “because fitness and health was what I really liked.” She made up her mind it was time to make the move and decided to ask for voluntary severance from the bank.
“I am that kind of optimistic person, so I went and asked them. They probably thought I was crazy but perseverance seldom fails and faith goes a long way in working things out for you.”
In about three months after making the request, she was out of the bank and on course to follow her real passion.
She told Easy magazine: “I am that type of adventurous, outgoing person, so the office thing felt like it was caving in me, more or less like if I was a bird trapped in a cage. I decided to get out.”
Elizabeth went on to do personal training certifications and soon became a full-fledged personal trainer and aerobics instructor. She also started doing wellness counselling.
In the continual interaction with clients, she noticed that people taking her into their confidence were still struggling with “a lot of fundamental issues”.
“I myself was struggling with deeper issues,” she confessed. Reaching out to others evolved from her own personal journey when she was trying to figure out how to take care of the deeper issues which were dogging her, causing a lot of imbalance in her own life.
She embarked on a spiritual journey in which she immersed herself in studies to learn how to deal with the total person.
That total person she defines as the spirit, the soul and the body. She found the three elements were not being addressed in the regular fitness, health or wellness programmes.
“I realised that it was important and all three parts of the total person are all integrated and are supposed to be functioning harmoniously – a relationship she calls “the wellness flow”.
It was at this point she transitioned from the physical aspect of wellness – the aerobics and fitness training, to helping people to deal with the deeper issues that enable them to maintain the balance of fitness, health and wellness.”
Thus began her work with holistic wellness.
“I realised that a lot of people cannot really even start or maintain fitness, health and wellness because of a lot of mind and emotional issues, so the goal was to find ways to help people to deal with that.”
She was in the United States and fell ill. The experience led her to essential oils and she discovered their value and relevance, choosing them over the familiar patent medications to treat herself.
“I have fallen greatly in love with essential oils,” she says, explaining these are “young, living, therapeutic grade essential oils” extracted from plants.
Elizabeth’s choice is influenced by her recognition that plants were created “for our health and healing and for our food as well”. The day she was feeling down, and inhaled lemon oil to lift her mood, the result, according to her, left no doubt in her mind that this was the ideal remedy at the time. “I felt so good; my spirits were lifted again.”
She believes just as the oils function as the immune system of the plant, they have a role to play in maintaining the health of the human body.
That is why she is adamant: “I don’t want any of that medication in my body.” Instead she continues to do her own research on natural health and herbs and leans more towards treating herself with foods and natural substances.
In her personal training and counselling people on health and wellness, she tries to figure out what is it that causes people not to eat the right things and to eat the things they should not eat; what causes them not to have the motivation to get up and go and exercise when they know their health or even their life is at stake.
“As far as I am concerned, there is no lack of health information in Barbados,” she says. “The issue is getting people to get up and do it. If a person suffers from depression, they are going to the doctor and they are going to be medicated. But yet they still don’t have that drive to go and exercise and to prepare healthy meals.”
She believes the traumas many people suffer leave them with emotional blocks and that hinders them from coming into emotional balance.
“I would have seen and would have had much frustration in the past as a personal trainer trying to get people to do what they are supposed to do.”
She is consumed by a passion to help people move “from soul issues to soul health”.