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Sophie Winter

Your name/about yourself ?

My name is Sophie Winter and I am a 5th year Medical Student at Birmingham University, and co-founder of @mymusclemind with Ella Denham. We have an instagram and website ( community spreading the word about exercising to improve mental health, and trying to decrease the stigma around mental illness. Our hashtag #StrengthNotStigma embodies these goals, and we hope to share it as far as possible to help as many as we can.

Why did you get into that?

MuscleMind began during our recoveries from mental illness (I have battled bulimia myself since 2009) when we realised the positive impact physical activity can have on your wellbeing. The use of exercise is quoted in NHS guidelines for mild depression to anxiety, but it’s not really talked about and can seem overwhelming when you are feeling low. We decided to share our stories, write informative posts and include pieces from anyone who wanted to get involved! We’re so proud of how far it’s come, and have had some amazing feedback which make’s it all worth it.

Name 3 words to describe you best?

Loud, thoughtful and loyal

Which females influence you the most?

The females that influence me most are probably normal everyday women I meet in life. Sounds like a cop-out but if you pay attention, your friends, family and the people you meet are all strong and amazing in their own ways and we can learn a lot from each other.

What struggles have you over come and how?

The biggest struggle I’ve overcome is probably bulimia. It affected every aspect of my life, spiralled into an anorexic subtype and I honestly believe I would die from it. At first my hospital referral was lost (not ideal) however, I got help after presenting to the GP a second time, started CBT and fluoxetine (an anti-depressant used for bulimia in higher doses than for depression) and started utilising the gym differently with Ella. With eating disorders, exercise is complex but I started to use the gym to celebrate my body, rather than punish it. Experimenting more with yoga and weights helped me leave behind excessive cardio and improve my mindfulness.

How do you stay positive and focused?

Whenever I’m feeling down I find simple strategies really help. After lots of experience I am so aware of how much better I feel after a bit of exercise, hot shower and some loud music - so they’re probably my 3 go-to’s. It’s not easy when you feel low to stay positive and focused, but I just have to remind myself of all my previous experiences, and the positive effect my ‘go-to’s’ have on my mood.

Any words of advice for future girl bosses following in your footsteps?

Future girl bosses, keep going. It may seem pointless or you might want to give up, but it will get better.

What is one quote you stand by?

"This too shall pass"