A leap of faith into wellness coaching
Allison Outerbridge appeared to be down on her luck.
She had just returned to the Island having received a bachelor's degree in nutrition, but found none of her plans were falling into place.
The 22-year-old triple jumper didn't get accepted into the graduate school of her choice and just missed qualifying for the 2014 Commonwealth Games by two centimetres.
She felt “down in the dumps”.
“I questioned why I was being put through this because nothing was falling into place,” she said.
“I was at my lowest point and then I thought, ‘You know what, Allison, if you want to achieve your goals you need to just do it'.
“It was the definition of walking by faith because a lot of people wouldn't pick up and move to another country like that, but I felt God was watching over me.”
Miss Outerbridge took advantage of Optional Practical Training, a scheme that allows foreign graduates of US-based institutions to apply for a visa to work in their field of study for a year.
She is now living and working in Atlanta at health and wellness coaching company, Get Sexi Nutrition.
Miss Outerbridge said staff there have “taken [her] under their wing”, so she can get first-hand experience helping clients to reach their goals.
“It's funny because what I'm doing now is what I envision for my business one day in Bermuda,” she said. “I just didn't know how to do it right out of school.
“I knew I wanted to do something combining my expertise in track with my schooling in nutrition, but didn't know how to balance it. Wellness coaching is exactly it.
“The difference between us and personal trainers is we offer long-term support and don't just put someone in the gym and train them on certain machines, before letting them go about their business. We do it with the client and go step by step with them until they get to where they want to be.”
Miss Outerbridge decided to study nutrition after going through her own weight loss journey.
She has always been active, having practised sports since age seven.
But then while in college, her coach explained she was slightly overweight.
“At first I didn't know how to deal with that news,” she said. “But instead of starving myself I decided to research more into nutrition, so that I was able to balance the rigorous workouts I was doing with what I was eating.
“I carved my body fat from 25 per cent to 17 per cent during my time in college and I did that based on my knowledge of nutrition.
“Before that I was a kinesiology major, but after that I switched to nutrition.”
She said Atlanta was the perfect place to be at this point in her career.
It's a very health- and wellness-oriented city, she explained.
“Since moving here I've been to a few wellness fairs and events and I like how wellness isn't just about exercise and fitness, it's more holistic and includes skin care and emotional health as well.
“That has been really uplifting and empowering for me because I hadn't seen that before.”
However, she also believes that God played a part in putting her there.
“Honestly it was something I had been praying about while I was in my final year at school,” she said.
“I knew I wanted to be in America for some reason, more specifically in Atlanta, so I took a leap of faith and just came out here.
“Literally the week before I left Bermuda I had no idea what I was doing about a job, a place to live or a visa, but I was so at peace because I felt God had already put it in my heart and everything came through.
“The Friday before I was due to leave I got my visa and the following Monday I learned my application was approved for my apartment.
“The next day I scheduled a job interview — this was all happening in the space of a week. Even that Sunday at church everyone said, ‘What's the plan?' and I still wasn't sure. But a week later I had mostly everything I needed, so it happened very quickly.”
She said the experience has helped to put life in perspective for her.
“I've learned why God sometimes closes doors for a reason and opens up others,” she said.
“He lets us go through minor setbacks so we can have a major comeback.
“I used to say these quotes in church sometimes, but until you actually lived it you can't really believe it.”
Miss Outerbridge plans to get her master's degree in nutrition in the near future and then return to the Island to start her own wellness coaching business.