Emma Clayton is on a mission to help high achieving women finally find freedom from food so that they can experience true inner confidence, increasing peace of mind, and focus on creating the life and career they deserve.
Having had a successful 20-year career in the financial services industry, you would be forgiven for thinking she had it all; the six-figure salary, the house, the car, the holidays etc, yet behind the scenes she was struggling with her own unwanted destructive behaviours around food, fuelled further by fraud-like feelings of ‘not-enoughness’.
But all along she just knew there had to be a better way to think and feel about herself. It’s taken a decade of experimenting; trying and failing but always learning and growing, before she found the formula to freedom from food, dieting, and anxiety that she now shares with her followers and clients.
Hey Emma, can you introduce yourself to us?
Hey! I am super excited to be here, thanks so much for inviting me. Born and bred by the seaside in Kent, I’m a nutrition & lifestyle coach and NLP practitioner focused on helping women break free from her unwanted destructive behaviours around food & build true inner confidence. I am dedicated to continually grow and develop personally and professionally and am particularly fascinated by how our brain works and how we can choose to harness its power or continue on autopilot – effectively sleepwalking through life!
I’m a Pisces, exploring the more feminine, spiritual side of me since leaving the corporate world. I love yoga, travelling, walking in nature, sunsets, spending time with my favourite people and Buddy, my golden cocker spaniel pup.
Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?
I was an active kid, but I was bullied by the boys for being ‘fat’ (even though I wasn’t!) so I turned to diet pills and Slimming World at 13 years old in an attempt to be accepted and desired. But I remember obsessing over getting my hands-on food and would spend my bus money on 4 bars of chocolate which I’d eat on the walk home. From the age of 18, prioritising binge drinking over any exercise, I started to put on weight at quite a rate! I lacked any self-worth, hated what I saw in the mirror and felt like a complete failure for not being able to stick to a diet for more than 3 weeks at a time. Turning 30 was the original trigger to snap me out of self-destructing mode. I was desperate to find the solution that would end the constant restrict and binge cycle. I attended a Fit Farm, hired a Personal Trainer, signed up to a 12-month online programme with a Nutritionist and started to learn how to feed and move my body for health.
Meanwhile, I had thrown myself into my work and was doing well in my career. I didn’t take a typical route up the ladder. I left school at 18 and worked my way around the business, from back to front end, from technical to operational roles until I found my passion in leadership positions where I could inspire and motivate teams of people to work together. I was a natural leader, coach and mentor to people not just in my team – I cared that people were happy at work, and they wanted to know what my secret to a successful and diverse career was.
But as my responsibilities increased, so too did my symptoms of anxiety and my confidence hit an all-time low. As a non-technical person in a very technical environment, I learned to distrust my intuition and stopped speaking out in meetings for fear of getting it wrong. I felt like a fraud and thought it was only a matter of time before I would be caught out.
I knew I’d hit rock bottom when I realised I’d been replaying a meeting that hadn’t gone well, over and over in my head 6 months previously. I’d also been on an all-out secret binge since then and regained the 2 stone I had lost the previous year. Something had to give!
I decided my go-to strategy i.e. dieting, was not working and decided to try something completely different! I read ‘Health At Every Size’ by Dr. Linda Bacon, joined the Body Positive Community and threw caution to the wind vowing never to restrict anything ever again! At the same time, I worked with a coach to improve my self-esteem and start to accept my body and be kinder to myself. I also started studying Nutrition and reading books and learning about how habits are formed and can be changed for good.
In the Summer of 2017, I was faced with redundancy after 20 years with the same company. But I wasn’t sad about it, I was excited! I saw an opportunity to take everything I’d learnt on my journey, all my knowledge, strengths and skills and apply them to something I am hugely passionate about – helping other high achieving women experience the freedom I now had – not just from food but freedom from that incessant negative inner chatter and anxiety.
So, I took that redundancy and here I am!
What is a day in the life of you like?
My alarm is usually a cup of lemon in hot water being delivered by my boyfriend Adam who is an early riser at 5:30am. Buddy usually joins me for cuddles whilst I spend some time journaling my intentions for the day and anything else that comes up intuitively – this is often when I get my creative hits! Buddy and I take a stroll out before I even look at my iPhone or have breakfast. Then I am usually quite structured in advance about how I want to spend my time between connecting with new people, creating value and content to share with my audience on social media and of course supporting my incredible 1:1 or group clients.
As well as my business I prioritise my own personal growth and development and ensure I spend time with people that inspire me and make me laugh, from my favourite family and friends to fellow entrepreneurs. I work all over the house, wherever I feel most inspired in the moment.
How did you launch your coaching career?
I posted a very vulnerable video on my personal Facebook page telling my story and declared what I was doing next (no going back after that!) I then hired Vanessa Hallick, an amazing mindset & business coach to support me in strengthening my self-belief at the same time as getting up and running and visible so I could start serving women as soon as possible. I met my very first paying client at a free training event for coaches and a couple of others from doing some market research all before I had a business page or anything setup.
Can you tell us how you are helping your clients to overcome their unwanted behaviours around food? Such as binge eating and unnecessary dieting?
When women sign up to work with me 1:1 for 6 months in my online Ultimate Freedom Mastermind we focus in on their relationship with food, break free of the restrict and binge diet cycle and learn how to deal with the ongoing urges to binge. But before long we are taking a deep dive on all aspects of their life; healing from events or situations they are still holding on to from the past but weren’t even aware was still having an effect on them today, improving satisfaction with relationships, careers and life in general to help them ensure their needs are met, whilst building self-worth and dreaming big for a desired future for which we also work on a plan for. When you address all these elements of life, your unwanted behaviours around food no longer have a place.
Can you give us 3 tips to help us beat the binge eating urges and make better food choices?
- Take a look at your dieting history and see how that’s worked for you so far. If you have yo-yo’d or always put on more weight than you’ve lost or struggled to maintain any weight loss without constantly being on a diet – then it’s not working – and the diet industry banks on that to keep you coming back for more time and time again. There is another way!
- Your urges to binge are so strong because you keep restricting; calories or carbs or fats or whatever. Urges are your brains natural response to restriction. Stop restricting (dieting) and learn to harness the power of your brain in your favour: the formula I teach in my Food Freedom Academy.
- Get support! It doesn’t have to be scary or take years (decades) like it did me. Enlist the help of someone who’s been there before, who’s story you can relate to, who can show you the easiest way to freedom.
Where can you see yourself within the next 3-5 years?
I see myself as a leader in my field, educating not just high achieving women on this alternative, transformative approach but younger people too. I love meeting my clients in person so will be doing more of this, hosting big events having appeared on the TEDx stage and I definitely have a book in me!
What strategies do you have in place when looking at the expansion of your business?
I am looking into automating processes where it makes sense and enlisting the help of a team to take care of those tasks that take time away from me being in my zone of genius.
Can you tell us what areas you have struggled in professionally?
I have struggled with self-belief my entire life! As a high achiever, you never feel you are enough and are constantly striving for more, bigger, better. Until now, where I find myself doing my purpose work, as cheesy as that still sounds for me to say, it’s so true!
Have you ever had any other mentor? If so how has this benefitted you to grow?
Always! I have had one mentor or another throughout my career, I always handpicked them, choosing them for having opposite preferences to me so they could challenge me to think differently and spot things that weren’t so obvious to me. Someone who I admired for their confidence and speaking their truth, and their ability to inspire that within me too.
What outlets do use to market the Food Freedom Academy?
The academy is my 8-week signature group programme where I share my formula for food freedom, it’s incredible! It is marketed on my social media platforms, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram which you can find below.
Which methods are you using to build your own support network?
I realise I have always been really good at doing this. By the time I left the corporate world I had a huge support network that I built over time, and being an entrepreneur is no different. I have met women I admire through being part of online groups or sharing the same coach or at networking events and we remain friends who help each other out. I know who my go-to friends are for creative input or for sound strategic advice. I am not afraid to ask for help and will always have a coach myself as I know the value that continues to bring to my life.
What do you believe are the common misconceptions about diet and nutrition and how are you using your platform and voice to educate people more?
Unfortunately, the Western society is consumed by our bodies and how we look, how much we weigh, what size or how toned we are, or not and whether or not we fit a certain unrealistic ‘body ideal’. And diet industry preys on those insecurities. But as I’ve learned on my journey, not only would a ‘one size fits all’ approach make this world a very dull place to live in, but we are all SO much more than our bodies. Each and every one of us unique and perfectly imperfect and when we embrace that and get to know who we are at our core, and how we want to make the absolute most of this one life we’ve been given, only then can we really start living!
What would you like to see changed for millennials in business?
They need more support to get their ideas heard and materialised in the world – not just financially but through mentorship and a test environment where its ok to fail. I love the growing concept of reverse mentorship where millennials are mentoring senior leaders in business, – it’s necessary for companies to remain relevant in the future.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received to date?
Just to show up and be me! So simple yet not something we are always encouraged to do through life.
What is the number 1 critical lesson you have learned in your career so far?
Be unapologetic in speaking your truth.
How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?
By doing work you truly love there is less of a need to distinguish the two. Working from home rather than commuting or always travelling means I feel grounded most of the time, it’s just a matter of being disciplined with the amount of time I spend switched on in my business. I try to be offline between 8pm-8am and that really helps.
The highlight of your career so far?
Signing up my first 2 clients on the same day in between Christmas and New Year 2017 which gave me confidence in my mission – I was onto something here!
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
When I see the breakthroughs in my clients before they can even find the words to say out loud what they’ve just experienced when I know that life will never be the same again for them for all the right reasons, priceless!
What challenges have you seen to have been presented during the growth of the Food Freedom Academy?
For me it’s finding the words to express the value of the transformation these women will experience. Then appealing to that woman who is ready to invest in herself based on the possibilities of a new future, rather than through the lens of her past which is tarnished with cynicism and doubt.
Which other leading entrepreneurs and pioneering game changers do you also admire and why?
There are so many inspiring people doing amazing things in the world. I admire Taryn Brumfitt for how she exploded onto our screens with a raw and unfiltered naked photo and has since created a ripple effect across the world with Embrace the documentary and the body image movement.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I am reading anything by Dr. Joe Dispenza in preparation for attending his week-long retreat later this month. ‘Breaking the Habit Of Being Yourself’ is the current read. I just love learning about the most powerful supercomputer on earth: our brain!
Top 3 go-to Podcast channels?
- I do love listening to Oprah’s ‘Super Soul Conversations.’
- I’ve recently discovered Lewis Howes ‘School Of Greatness.’
- When I want to switch off my guilty pleasure has to be BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs.’
How do you measure your own terms of success?
Freedom is one measure of success I apply to every area of my life – how free do I feel from food, from negative chatter, from judgement of others, how free am I to work on my terms, to create transformative programs, to show up and bring my A-game to my clients, to be there for my loved ones, to learn more and more. Of course, financial, geography and time freedom can also be measured.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
To me, #BEYOUROWN means to need no permission to finally be your own per, on, boss and inspiration whilst impacting the lives of others and creating a legacy in this one amazing life we’ve been given.
Lastly, what is next for you?
Now I have graduated from being a student I am so am excited to have some extra space to be able to add an in-person element to my virtual Mastermind, plan my first retreat and launch the next enrolment for the Food Freedom Academy to kick off in the New Year, if anyone reading this far is interested in learning more, I’d love to hear from you. I am also working on a programme to help build confidence in 13 to 18-year-old female police cadets which I am excited to deliver. Finally, I am actually looking forward to celebrating turning 40 next year, life is good!
LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ec-confidencecoach/
Book a discovery call: https://calendly.com/ec-confidencecoach/discovery-call