New year, new you? Forget fad diets, 5am exercise regimes or learning a whole new language, if you want to improve your life, health and happiness then look to these three women who have, in different ways, made the leap to change their lives for the better in 2022 (and not one of them had to ban doughnuts). Get ready to be inspired…

Trisha Sakhlecha
Ditching a high-powered job

For years Trisha Sakhlecha, the woman behind Create & Empower, lived a life that fashion-lovers would dream of – flying around the world as a senior designer, working with brands like Zara and Bloomingdales, and going on thousand-pound shopping trips in Paris. But behind the glitz and glamour was a different story. Trisha, 36, was working 14-hour days and rarely had the time to see her friends and family.

While there were some brilliant moments, eventually years of living out of her suitcase left Trisha exhausted and questioning the industry. “There’s only so many of those trips you can go on without starting to feel jaded. You think, ‘Hang on, if I spend that much money on samples and clothes and we only use a tenth of them, then am I not feeding into the problem of overconsumption?’ Plus, I didn’t have the emotional bandwidth left to see family or friends. I was doing well, but I didn’t have the chance to enjoy the fruits of that labour.”

At first Trisha decided to take a year out to write, but when she found herself missing the buzz of helping people she decided to start over, on her own terms. Now she has a consultancy where she helps what she calls ‘heart-led’ brands: “Whether that’s through mentoring sustainable brands or liaising with a socially conscious collective that’s run by refugee women, it’s fashion, but fashion for good.”

“Now I have complete control. I pick and choose people whose values align with my own and brands that are doing things that will be good for the world. Plus, I can work with as many or as few people as I want and manage my workload based on what else is going on in my life.”

This was particularly important after both of Trisha’s parents ended up in hospital in India with Covid-19, as she was able to visit them once they’d recovered (and it was safe to travel). “It was the freedom to be able to say, ‘I’m going to India for a few months’ because it’s just as important for me to have time with my loved ones as it is to further my career.”

“And, for the first time in my life, I don’t have to choose. I feel like we’ve been fed a lie our whole lives that we have to choose. Suddenly there was a lightbulb moment when I realised that I can have it all.”

Jennifer Castro
Celebrating all the non-traditional milestones

Getting a ring on your finger, marriage, babies… When it comes to celebrating our achievements, why are so many of our goals based on having someone else with us? Personal growth coach, Jennifer Castro decided it really doesn’t have to be like that. After reassessing her life and making changes to make herself happy, she resolved to celebrate more than just the traditional things.

“Before the impact of Covid I felt like I was at my prime; I had a job I enjoyed and excelled at as a sales and marketing coordinator. I had a personal trainer who I worked with four times a week, and my social life was good. But there was a big imbalance when it came to the time I spent by myself. So, when I found myself on furlough, spending a lot of time at home and alone, I started to assess how happy I really was.”

It turns out, she wasn’t as happy as she could be and so, over the last year, Jennifer, 28, has committed to not only pursuing new hobbies and ventures and saving for a flat, but celebrating the small wins that life brings to her. “I’ve really started to invest in myself. I’ve been working with a coach, spending time reading books and cutting off from social media. I was a social media addict and it was part of my work as well, but now if I see something that makes me feel negativity I log off immediately. I’ve joined a litter picking group and I’m looking into dog walking. Even though I don’t have a lot of free time, I’m more intentional with the free time that I do have.”

What’s more, Jennifer extends this to celebrating the wins of her friends. “When a friend was accepted to do a master’s at university, I wanted to celebrate so I tracked down her sister on Instagram so I could send her surprise flowers. Traditional milestones are important, but they aren’t the only things we should be celebrating. Like Galentine’s Day for example. For the past five or six years I’ve sent flowers or chocolates to my friends, my mum and my sisters on Valentine’s Day too. I reached a point where I questioned why I was waiting for a partner to do that for me – why not do it for myself and for all the special women in my life?”

Penny Weston
Slowing down when it comes to exercise

You might be forgiven for thinking that the more exercise you do, the better it is for you, right? But since giving up her daily HIIT classes for a more holistic approach to her mental health and physical wellbeing, Penny Weston, 35, who runs MADE, a 360 wellness centre, says she’s happier than ever.

Penny began exercising in her late twenties in a bid to help her ill health. “I had chronic asthma, was anxious and as I worked long hours, I tended to eat pretty poorly. When I was about 26-27, I had a collapsed lung and lots of stomach issues - that’s what motivated me.”Penny continues, “I started exercising and it took me about three years to feel confident to go on my own. Eventually I managed to come off all the asthma medication and was a lot healthier.”

But fast forward to her early thirties and Penny had become addicted to exercising every day. “It was a good thing that I was healthier – I don’t want to say heavy exercise is bad for everyone – but it became too much for me. I didn’t need to exercise as much as I did. I even did a strength class the day I went into labour.”

However, after a difficult labour, an emergency C-section and an infection, Penny was diagnosed with PTSD as well as suffering from sleep deprivation and a twisted pelvis. Being forced to slow down made Penny explore more mindful ways of moving her body – and her mind.

“I did stretching, then meditation and started to look at healthy recipes. Now if I wake up and I’ve had a bad night’s sleep, the first thing I do is a brain dump. I write everything down, to get some perspective, and then I’ll do something with movement – on the low end a big walk and on the top end a training session. As cliché as it sounds, now I use exercise as therapy.”

“I enjoy life more as well. If you go for a walk or you’re doing a meditation, you’re not thinking ‘I’ve got to go to the gym, I’ve got to get this workout done’. They’re healthy practices you can have in your daily life without it being so intense.”