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Health & Fitness Daughter helped bring mum back from alcoholism - by placing her on the weighing scales

18:41  01 august  2021
18:41  01 august  2021 Source:   walesonline.co.uk

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It was only when Donna Craven was put on the scales by her daughter that she realised one of the major tolls her drinking was having on her body.

"I knew that the way I was living wasn't sustainable, but I just didn't have the motivation to make a change until Sophie put me on the scales and I saw how much weight I had gained," said Donna. “I was drinking around 4,000 calories a day.”

It was in 2019 that Donna, 45, from Manselton, Swansea, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression. As a coping mechanism, she turned to alcohol and was eventually admitted to hospital with alcohol-related complications.

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After witnessing her mother's harrowing ordeal, and after watching her mum gain a quick five-stone through drinking, daughter Sophie Price, 23, knew she had to step in to help her mum reclaim control over her life.

Sophie Price, also from Manselton, is a familiar face to most people in the gym world of Swansea. A life-long fitness enthusiast, she spent her teenage years as a competitive dancer and athlete - earning herself World Champion status in her dance school. She's now successfully running her own business as a 1:1 fitness coach, but for Sophie and her mum, things haven't always been smooth sailing.

"It was an incredibly hard time in my life." Donna recalled, "I turned to drink to try and numb some of those painful feelings, but it came to a point where I was drinking a litre of vodka a day, sometimes seven bottles of wine."

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Donna said she reached out for help three times, but as a result of Covid restrictions, she only ended up with a valium prescription.

Determined to take quick action, she felt she had no choice than to go ‘cold-turkey’.

“It wasn’t easy, as you can imagine, but I had the right support around me - and lots of jelly babies for sugar.”

But even with the alcohol out of her system, a bigger problem remained - her mental health.

The 45-year-old said, “I had some support from Barod’s (the support service for people affected by drug or alcohol abuse), but ultimately it was my daughter who helped me get back on my feet.”

“We started out just by walking together, at least 10,000 steps a day. It's a small change, but for me it made a huge difference. We still walk together regularly, sometimes up to 18,000 steps a day. On top of that, Sophie designed home-workouts for me and guided me through them, which also made a massive difference."

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"In the space of a year, I’ve lost 56 pounds.”

Donna has also now been sober for more than a year.

While simple exercise and lifestyle changes aren’t always an all-round cure for a mental illness or disorder, for Donna, regular exercise quickly turned into a life-affirming experience that lifted her out of a dark place.

“I'm now in much better shape mentally as well as physically. For me, it’s about taking control of what you can.”

After a few tough years for Sophie and her mum, things are certainly looking up.

Since becoming a mum herself to eight-month old Myla-Mae, Sophie has turned her efforts toward helping people improve their physical and mental health through 1:1 personalised health and fitness coaching, inspired by her experience with her mother.

a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Sophie Price has used her experience with her mum to forge a career © Sophie Price Sophie Price has used her experience with her mum to forge a career

“After being by my mother’s side over the past year and seeing the huge influence of fitness on her life, I felt inclined to pursue it as a career choice, as something that makes a difference.”

“At work, I try to focus on helping people make simple, realistic lifestyle changes, rather than putting them on a fad diet or some ridiculous intensive workout regime which is more likely to leave them in worse shape than what they started with - both mentally and physically speaking.”

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Since working with her first client in 2020 during lockdown, Sophie’s client base is growing steadily - and she credits this in part to her own support network.

“The gym can be daunting if you’re not in a good place mentally, but when you do get involved you often end up finding a really supportive community of people who genuinely wish you well.”

“I don’t know where I’d be if it wasn’t for the support I’ve received from people like Chris Ware, who’s supported me in my fitness career since I was 16.”

Research indicates that up to 40% of those with a PTSD diagnosis will also have an alcohol misuse disorder. The two tend to go hand in hand.

Bethany Blackford-Jones, an NHS assistant psychologist, said: “Trauma can often be hugely misunderstood, particularly when people experience complex trauma that happens beyond a single event and over a prolonged period.

"Trauma keeps us stuck in a ‘fight, flight, freeze’ response, and often people resort to coping mechanisms that promote a sense of ‘numbness’, like alcohol and drugs. Getting the right support that often includes acknowledging and processing the trauma and then finding coping mechanisms that serve as an outlet is so vital.”

Meanwhile, Sophie is hoping she can continue to help others with their issues and goals.

She added: “I’m trying to keep people busy, at the end of the day. The goal isn’t only about weight - it’s about giving them something to look forward to, something to work towards."

"And of course - my most loyal client will always be my mother.”

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Mum brought back from alcoholism by daughter who got her onto scales .
Sophie Price's set up a health and fitness coaching business following her experience with mum Donna CravenIt was only then Donna Craven realised one of the major bad effects her drinking was having on her body.

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