031: From tragedy to triumph – Pam Bailey


In this episode:

In this episode of The Fearless Females Podcast your host Tegan Mathews interviews Pam Bailey who shares:

  • How she blamed herself for the sudden death of her husband
  • The steps she took to recover after the event
  • How her fear of dying pushed her to get healthy
  • How her passion for nutrition and the psychology of food grew

Tegan’s Take Aways:

  1. It’s ok to seek and accept help during times of need
  2. Everything happens for a reason
  3. If you don’t know who you are, take some time to explore and experience different things
  4. The universe always sends me what I need, when I need it
  5. Dream, believe and you will achieve

About Pam Bailey

Pam is a Feel Good Facilitator. After facing personal tragedy in her mid-fifties she discovered who she really was and went on to create a whole new life for herself. She feels driven to inspire other women to reinvent themselves too. Pam believes that everyone deserves to love life & feel good about themselves every day and she can’t wait to share her experience and learning with you.
Through a range of workshops, online programs, retreats & personal coaching, she introduces her clients to a wide range of factors that she believes contribute to a holistic sense of wellbeing.
This includes creating a healthy relationship with food & movement, saying goodbye to stress, taming the inner critic, releasing limiting beliefs, practicing meditation & mindfulness, introducing gratitude, embracing love of self & of course the importance of always including fun & play in our lives.
Pam is a Certified Eating Psychology Coach, Life Coach, Louise Hay ‘Heal Your Life’ Workshop Leader & a qualified Nutritionist. More importantly, she believes that what she learned from life itself has taught her far more than any course ever could.

Contact Pam Bailey


Embrace All of You – Pam Bailey

A Gift for Listeners From Pam Bailey

A 60-90 minute one on one coaching session with Pam Bailey. Whether you are a little lost in life or feel that food and your body are the enemy, having a session with Pam will bring you closer to the truth and enabling you to embrace who you are and who you can become. Enter your details below and Pam will contact you to arrange a time for your complimentary session.

By entering your name & email address we agree we won’t share your details with anyone! You may receive the occasional emails from Pam Bailey and Embrace All Of You. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Show Notes: Episode 031: From tragedy to triumph – Pam Bailey

Pam Bailey’s Fearless Story

In 2010 my husband and I were in our mid-fifties [he was 54 and I was 53] and we were plodding along in life. We had reached that stage in life, our daughter had married and left home so our general expenses had reduced. We were coming along nicely with the financial side of things.

My husband had his own business and I was working for a government department part time and studying part time and things were just ‘jogging along nicely’ as they do. Life wasn’t massively exciting but we were comfortable with the way that we were.

Then in September of 2010 tragedy struck and my husband had a fatal heart attack. It was totally out of the blue, there was no warning. He hadn’t been ill, we weren’t aware that he had any heart problems and it just happened basically. And I was there when it happened.

A few weeks prior to this we had decided to pull ourselves into line in relation to our health. We were both over weight, we didn’t eat a particularly healthy diet, despite the fact I was studying nutrition at the time. So we decided to embark on this lifestyle change and I suggested that we work together with a personal trainer.

So we had completely changed our diet and were eating healthy food and we were going to this personal trainer twice a week together. We had been doing that for about 5-6 weeks and we were both doing well. We were losing weight and we were getting fitter and then this tragedy happened.

We had actually been to the personal trainer that evening and we had come back from the session with the personal trainer and my husband was complaining of pain between his shoulder blades which is not typical heart attack pain. So that didn’t raise itself as an obvious issue and we assumed he had pulled a muscle or done something during the training session.

Even though we both thought it was just a muscle issue we decided we should go to the emergency department at the local hospital. Who knows why but thank goodness we did anyway. So off we went.

I was driving and we pulled up at the doors outside the emergency department, he got out of the passenger side and by the time I walked around the back of the car to where he was, he had collapsed. Despite the best efforts of the staff they weren’t able to revive him as he had had a massive heart attack.

He was taken off to a room where they could work on him and I was taken to a private room where I was never left alone. There were nurses with me the entire time. Then a doctor came in and she was the one that had been working on him and she told me that he had not made it.

I remember the first thing I said was, “But we’ve got relatives coming from England in four weeks” and I presume that was my way of saying, “This can’t be true, you’re not right, that’s just not possible.”

How did you get through that?

There were a lot of fears that arose for me and the first one was, how can I possibly live alone? I had lived with my parents until the day I married my husband and we had been married for 32 years. So I had never lived by myself.

We had still been quite independent. I wasn’t the type of wife who needed him to do everything. We did our own things, he travelled for his work and I had a responsible position that meant I travelled interstate for that so I was independent in that sense but I had never run a house on my own.

Then in the coming weeks a number of things arose. There was a fear that I was responsible for his death. The reason that fear was there was because I was the one who had suggested we hire the personal trainer and I was convinced that the sudden onset of exercise was what had caused the heart attack. So, therefore it was my fault.

Of course, that wasn’t the case and as a result of counselling and talking to doctors I was able to resolve that fear and realise it wasn’t true. But there were other things that came up. I had to drive past the hospital where this had happened on a regular basis.

I had to go past it to get to my regular shopping centre for example and I found it really hard. I had a fear about going anywhere near this hospital and when I started working with a counsellor she explained that it was something that really needed to be dealt with because it’s my local emergency department. If something were to happen to you me and I needed to go there, I wouldn’t want to have to deal with that fear along with whatever the emergency was that I was dealing with at the time.

She came up with a strategy that allowed me to gradually overcome that fear which was great and I was eventually able to go to that emergency department after getting this professional help to deal with that fear. My take away from that was to seek and accept help.

I had never been very good at asking others for help but clearly there are some situations where you need to do that and this was one of them and she was able to do that for me.

You also have a daughter, what were you afraid of for her?

Yes, we have one daughter and another fear that I faced was that I would die too and then she would be left with no parents and the grandchildren would have not only lost their grandfather but also their granny. That was a big fear for me.

When my husband died, the healthy lifestyle we had been following for the past few weeks went out the window. It was a miracle if I even just ate a sensible meal in a day. Things just were not normal. But a few months later, he died in September and then in about February, as a result of this fear I had, I decided I needed to buckle down, lose some weight, get fit, and I did that.

I joined a gym. I started going to a dance fitness class and I was eating healthy. I had meal plans in place based on the knowledge from my nutritional studies. My daughter also organised to raise money for the Heart Foundation, in her dad’s memory, a healthy heart beat challenge.

There was a group of family and friends who embarked on this twelve-week challenge and we did a range of things to help us all get healthy. It wasn’t just about losing weight for example, one person in the group gave up smoking so there was a whole range of different things people did.

That helped us to get through as well because that helped us both to focus on something other than the tragedy of what had happened and we also felt that we were finishing something that he had started. So once I had lost a reasonable amount of weight and had become fitter, then I felt there was less chance I could die and leave them all alone.

How has this experience changed your direction in life?

It has completely changed my direction in life. I had been working for a large government department for 26 years. I was the manager of a team that provided public seminars and information about retirement planning. Originally I had done that job myself, running the seminars and providing the information to people but then I became the manager of the team for the whole of Western Australia.

Then I had gone part time so that I could pursue this study of nutrition which was something I had always wanted to do but I don’t think I ever really believed that I would leave my government job permanently and pursue anything with the nutrition. And I don’t think that would have happened if my husband hadn’t passed away.

So that really ties in with my belief that everything happens for a reason. As much as I would have loved my husband to have not passed away, if he hadn’t passed away I think I would have still been working for the government department. Maybe I would have finished my degree and maybe I wouldn’t have.

But I certainly wouldn’t have gone on to do the extra study after the degree that I have done. I have now done several courses since then, to add to my skills as a nutritionist. And I would certainly have not started a business and have the wonderful experience to be able to help women to drag themselves out of the misery of just settling for second best in life and never putting themselves first.

Are there any other steps you took that supported you through the process?

Well, I was on sick leave for a number of months after the event and I actually had a fear of going back to work because I was afraid of having to tell that story to so many people. I knew so many people I this large government department that I thought for months I was going to be continually telling people this story and it would just keep coming up again and again.

I was fortunate enough to be offered redundancy about nine months after he passed away and I took that and also superannuation and life insurance had paid out by then too. So financially I was able to be comfortable without having to provide myself with any sort of income for some time.

For quite a while I didn’t actually do anything but I did realise that I didn’t know who I was. I had been the mother and now my daughter had grown up and had children of her own and therefore her demands on me were different and diminished to what they had been and so I felt my role as a mother was now much less than it had been.

I was no longer the wife and what went along with that. And I was no longer the manager with a very responsible job. Nobody needed me and I didn’t know who I was. So I started to take steps to discover myself and I found this person I didn’t know I existed.

She had been there probably since I got married but she had been hidden. I started reading self-development books, I joined Facebook groups for inspiration, I did some short courses, courses at the local library and things like that. I even went to a retreat in Queensland [another state] which was a bit random. I had never done anything like that before.

It was actually a weight loss retreat but there was a lot more to it than weight loss. There was a lot of stuff on self-love and what’s going on in your head and all that sort of stuff. I made some really good friends there and we actually have a reunion every year. We meet up in Queensland and we’ve made such good friends with each other.

I also joined a women’s social group to get me out of the house because I found I just wasn’t going anywhere, I was just staying at home all the time. Then, all of a sudden in 2012, a couple of years after my husband had passed away, I had this A-Ha moment that I needed to do something with my life. I had started to find myself and now that I had found myself, what was I going to do with myself?

So I decided it was time I went back and finished the nutrition degree that I had started and in February 2013 I went back to study. I was able to finish that degree full time, which was a bit of a shock to the system, in one semester! I was also the oldest person in the class so that was a bit of a challenge as well.

In May 2013 I finished that degree. I had always wanted a degree for some reason. Ever since I finished school I had wanted one but I never really thought I would ever finish it. The other thing was that my husband had always said to me while I was studying, “You’ll never finish that and even if you do, you’ll never do anything with it.”

That was always playing in the back of my mind while I was going through this horrendous full-time semester. It was like, “I’ll show you!” “I can do things that you said I couldn’t.” What that taught me was never give up, you can do anything you want.

But even then, when I finished that I then went on to do more study. I was just driven to learn more so that I could help more people. I had this knowing inside me there was something I had to share with other women, but I kept feeling like I wanted to learn more in order to be able to help them in the way that I wanted to.

So I studied and became a certified Eating Psychology Coach which is all about why we eat the way that we do, rather than what we eat. I did a life coach course with the Beautiful You Coaching Academy here in Australia. I also did a training so that I am able to run Louise Hay – Heal Your Life Workshops.

Bringing all of that together I feel now that I have a big enough toolbox to be able to help women with a lot of different issues that we tend to suffer with.

Most Memorable Moment

Graduating from my degree course was an absolute highlight of my life because I had doubted myself so many times and Mike [Pam’s husband] had said I would never finish it.

What are some of the fears you faced then?

The fear I faced then was, then I had lost my goal because my goal was to finish that degree and so if I had finished it then I was going to have to go and do something with it. I felt obliged to go and do something with it. I was going to have to start a business but I wasn’t ready to at that point and so I didn’t immediately start.

It was probably about six months later before I started and although I wasn’t advertising myself as a weight loss nutritionist for some reason that’s what I kept getting – clients that wanted to lose weight.

I very quickly realised that I could tell them what to eat and provide them with meal plans and tell them they needed to exercise more but that wasn’t going to work. There was something missing. They knew what they should be eating and that they should be exercising a little bit more but I knew there was something going on in their heads that needed to be ‘fixed’ as well.

That was when I started looking for some sort of course to help me understand about mindset and emotions and how they effect metabolism. Then by accident (but nothing happens by accident – the universe sent it to me) I received an email advertising the coach certification with the institute for the psychology of eating and I thought, “Yes, this is exactly what I need”.

Sure enough, it was what I needed and it fits perfectly with the nutrition because it encourages people to actually figure out what’s causing the symptom of the excess weight or the over eating or the binge eating or whatever it is. Whatever the issue is that the person is having, there is always an emotion going on behind it.

The body is sending you the message and the message is the symptom so you just have to figure out what it’s trying to tell you and that’s what I help people to do during personal coaching.

That’s why women have this diet cycle where they lose weight to a certain point and then they go off that diet they’ve been using to lose the weight and they just gain it back again because they haven’t dealt with the under lying issue.

It may well be something that happened in childhood or some trauma that they haven’t dealt with and there’s a whole range of different things it could be.

What are you passionate about today?

So yes, business is my passion but in the last few weeks I’ve developed a new passion having discovered Taryn Brumfitt from the Body Image Movement. She’s a mum from South Australia with three children who is trying to change the culture around body image,

I’ve always put body image at the side of all the other stuff I do and I have avoided having clients with body image issues, instead, I’ve focused on the weight loss and overeating and binge eating. But I’ve been really inspired by what Taryn is trying to do.

She made a documentary which has been released just a few weeks ago, to raise awareness and change the culture around body image and the stuff we see in magazines and models on the catwalk who look like they haven’t had a decent feed for years. I am actually hosting a screening of her movie in a couple of weeks and I never thought I would put myself out there in that way and actually host a documentary.

It’s really exciting and that’s my current passion is helping to promote this particular topic. So much of our inner critic talk is based around body image

What is something in your future plan that scares you?

Although I enjoy one on one coaching with my clients I have a passion for workshops and retreats but I have a fear around that. What if I organise something fabulous and nobody wants to come? So I am working hard on that by dealing with my other fear which is the fear of being seen.

This is part of the reason for doing this interview, by putting myself out there to be seen then I am hopefully going to avoid the mistake of playing small. Then, if I am able to do that, then hopefully it will encourage people to come along to my fabulous workshops and retreats I have planned.

Five Fast Fun Fearless Facts about Pam Bailey

  1. Who inspires you? That does tend to change from time to time but for the last couple of years while studying at the eating psychology institute it’s been Mark David and Emily Rosen who were the founders of that institute but right now it has to be Taryn Brumfitt and The Body Image Movement. She is just so inspiring.
  2. Favourite thing to do each day? I use essential oils every day. They’re something I discovered in the last couple of years. I use them on my body every day, when I have health issues. I also use pure essential oils in raw chocolate that I make myself. I also like to spend time in my garden with Barney the dog.
  3. What’s something that still scares you? But I am getting better, in the last couple of years I’ve been in a helicopter, walked across a suspension bridge with a river running under it, and several cable cars. So, I’m getting there. I didn’t used to be able to even go on a second-floor balcony but now I’ve even been in a helicopter three times now. It’s amazing.
  4. Favourite technique or app or book? My favourite book is The Slow Down Diet by Marc David – the founder of The Psychology of Eating Institute.
  5. If you could wave a magic wand and fix one thing in the world right now, what would it be and why? On a personal level, I would like my daughter and her family to have financial security so that she could relax a little more. On a global level, I would like to ban all quick fix products that use fear and insecurity to create demand. Things like diet pills, shakes, diets themselves, ridiculous exercise machines. I would like for all of those quick fixes to be gone so that people could deal with the real issues and get long term results.

Final Question for Pam Bailey

If you could turn back time what’s the one piece of advice you wish you could give your fourteen-year-old self?

This is an interesting question because I have a whole book load of advice for my fourteen-year-old self but if I just have to choose one then it would be to never settle for second best. Go for the big dream. Dream, believe, achieve!

Where can people reach out to you? www.pambailey.net

Facebook – Embrace all of you – Pam Bailey

A Gift for Listeners From Pam Bailey

A 60-90 minute one on one coaching session with Pam Bailey. Whether you are a little lost in life or feel that food and your body are the enemy, having a session with Pam will bring you closer to the truth and enabling you to embrace who you are and who you can become. Enter your details below and Pam will contact you to arrange a time for your complimentary session.

By entering your name & email address we agree we won’t share your details with anyone! You may receive the occasional emails from Pam Bailey and Embrace All Of You. You can unsubscribe at any time.

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