Woman of the Week: Helene Sinclair
Helene Sinclair is a woman who has lived through so much and now, has made the decision to live life fully on her terms. Having been through a divorce, having lost her home to bankruptcy, raised her daughters as a single mother, she is now putting herself first and is loving it. She is giving back in many ways, offering to coach and guide others when it comes to health and wellness and she is also a voice to those who do not believe in themselves. She is moving forward and living life fully, and is this week’s Woman of the Week.
Tell us about yourself
I am the youngest of 3 siblings, originally from Sudbury, Ontario. I am mom to two girls (aged 20 and 16) and step-mom of two as well. My immediate family now consists of just one sister as my parents and older sister have passed.
I am divorced and have been a single mom since 2002, although I’m now experiencing some empty nesting, as the living arrangements for my youngest are shared with me and her older sister. I am currently living with a loving partner (since August of this year) so adjusting to living with someone again after being on my own for 14 years.
I work as a full-time Administrative Assistant with the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research group (HALO) within the Research Institute of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). I am very involved with the CHEO Staff Forum (social committee) as co-chair. Through this role, I launched the Fit Club at CHEO which has been running now since October 2015. I organize monthly Lunch and Learn activities relative to encouraging health and wellness with our colleagues at work.
I am very passionate about my work and what it stands for! When I was hired to work with HALO, it was like a dream come true to be able to work with such an inspiring group dedicated to fulfill its mission “to advance the understanding and promotion of health and wellness where children live, play and learn as well as develop, evaluate, and mobilize strategies to prevent, manage, and treat obesity and lifestyle-related disease”.
Outside of my full time job, I do some casual virtual assistant work (Sinclair Office Services – SOS) and I am now a Beachbody Coach as well as a member of the Ottawa Market Council (who helps to organize local events relative to Team Beachbody). I am also a long time member of the SparkPeople Community (a free weight loss/health website).
I feel so blessed that my work allows me to contribute to the health of others by inspiring through the sharing of my own personal journey via blogs and accountability groups that I lead on Facebook.
I am also an author – having contributed a story to the book Passwords Volume II – Passing on the Words of Wisdom and Strength, which was released in May 2010. In this book, I shared my personal journey that led to my move to Ottawa in 2008. I aspire to write more in the future – perhaps even publish a book of my own.
Who inspires you and why?
Author Louise Hay is an icon that helped me turn my life around during some very challenging times. Her book “You Can Heal Your Life” was the catalyst that started my transformation and healing as I started to learn how to love myself again. I am inspired by stories of those who have survived very difficult life situations and who have turned it into positive gifts to others. It is my own desire to do the same as I pay it forward.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your life? What did you do to move through them? What did you Learn?
My greatest life challenge came to me in 2002 – when I felt like my world was falling apart. In November of that year, my husband left me and then my mother became ill and passed away on December 20th.
Dealing with this marital breakdown and moving forward with my children on my own was truly difficult. I felt like I had failed my marriage and that I couldn’t take away all the pain for my children as the separation truly affected them (and this showed up through the years in many ways – including experiences with depression, anxiety and self-harm). Having to navigate services to address my daughters’ needs and trying to be there for both of them was so hard. Through it all I also suffered from my own depression – I dealt with an unexpected job loss and subsequently had to give up my house through bankruptcy. I also experienced mostly negative romantic relationships through all of my life – and that was because in most cases, I felt I wasn’t good enough to deserve something GOOD.
After seeing a therapist to work through some of these issues and difficulties (including working through some of my own childhood traumas), I decided it was time to ‘move forward’ and start a new life.
I moved to Ottawa in 2008, to be closer to my step-kids (so my girls would have their siblings closer to them) and to have a fresh start. I didn’t have a job – but I knew I would land on my feet because I had the skills and determination!
I became involved in some community activities through volunteer work. I became President of my local administrative association (International Association of Administrative Professionals) and chaired for two terms in 2010-2011 and 2014-2015. Through this networking – I landed some contract work as a workshop facilitator to lead a course in French (The Outstanding Administrative Assistant) and also contracted some virtual assistant work.
I continued to work on my ‘self’ through professional development, attending women’s focus groups, obtaining personal coaching and therapy, as well as getting involved with various activities that would help me rebuild my self-confidence and self-esteem. With my life becoming more stable and balanced, I was also finally able to attract and connect with a loving and positive partner in 2014.
In 2016 – I decided it was then time to let of the extra cushioning of weight – something I held on to as I managed various challenges and stressors. It was time to take further steps to HEAL my physical self and started working out consistently and focused on improving my nutrition – including letting go of the daily alcohol habit that had become part of my coping mechanism.
In September of 2016 I turned 50 and I developed my mantra of Fit@50&Beyond! In honor of my sister who had passed at the age of 50 due to her issues with alcohol – I started a challenge group that I fondly call “Lose ‘da Booze 100 Day Challenge”.
What are you most proud of?
At this moment, what I am most proud of is initiating and COMPLETING my first 100 Day challenge (something I had been trying to accomplish since 2013). On January 1st 2017 I then started the second 100 Days (or more) challenge and opened it up to others via invitation to others who had the desire to make this change in their lives – and to commit to a minimum of 100 Days AF (alcohol free).
This group has become something I’m so proud of and so passionate about. Every day I look forward to reading the posts about how people are experiencing improvement in their lives and how they are rediscovering what life was like before alcohol. To see the joy and also to share our struggles, to see the positivity and non-judgmental posts warms my heart.
As a coach with Beachbody – I’m also very proud of my own dedication with the products I truly believe in and how I am holding myself accountable all the while inspiring others. I receive notes about how I am making a difference in someone’s day or moment or life and that has always been my ultimate goal! To be of service and to help others live THEIR best lives as I strive to do so myself!
What do you want younger women to know?
I will write this as though I speak to my own daughters… Life will not always be easy and it will throw challenges your way but NEVER be afraid to ask for help. Always believe in your dreams and reach for them! Only allow people who honor and respect you into your life. Make sure you practice self-care and self-love – don’t speak negatively about yourself or about others. Stay positive. Always look for the GOOD in every situation. Don’t hold grudges and always forgive. Life is too short to be anything but happy.
What does living fully mean to you?
I live at my fullest when I feel I’ve been able to give of myself in all ways – at work, as a mother, as a partner, as a coach and as a friend. Living fully also means respecting that you need your own time to care for yourself and recharge so that you don’t become that empty cup – so keeping a healthy balance of activities and setting appropriate boundaries so you don’t over-extend yourself. Living fully means to never stop setting new goals or learning. I believe that I grow as I push myself out of my comfort zone. Living fully means living with passion and purpose in all things!
I’m a quote lover so it’s hard to pick one – but for this purpose I believe I’ll share this one:
The Past is your lesson. The Present is your gift. The future is your Motivation.