I studied an honours degree in Biochemistry with Physiology at the University of London and followed this with a Masters in Human and Applied Physiology. My first job in science was working with the Royal Air Force figuring out how to manage urinary control in fast jet fighter pilots!! (The US Air Force was losing a LOT of aircraft at the time to this problem). For the first two decades after graduation I was working in the science industry in a corporate environment and life was going well – I got married, travelled, migrated to Australia and developed my corporate science career.
And then in December 2011, out of nowhere I got sick. I went from being a healthy and care free person to being chronically fatigued with an aching body from head to toe and the need to go to sleep every afternoon. It was affecting my home life, social life and work life.
My GP ordered every possible blood test but this uncovered nothing. Instead I was told to just go away and be grateful that there was nothing wrong with me. A visit to a rheumatologist suggested it was a condition called fibromyalgia and prescribed me a mild form of anti-depressants. Needless to say I never picked up the prescription and I never went back to see the specialist! By this stage my aches were subsiding but I was left with shortness of breath during and post exercise. Sometimes this could last all day. Other than a moderate indication of adrenal fatigue by a naturopath (for which I was told there was no treatment) I was getting nowhere and getting no better.
6 months into my journey another GP diagnosed me with asthma and prescribed me an inhaler. Initially I thought it was working (?placebo affect?!) but then realized I wasn’t improving at all. I plodded along for another 12 months, in a daze wondering who and what to turn to next. 12 months later (July 2013) I asked my GP to refer me to a sports physician who I had researched and had a special interest in respiratory medicine (she had helped advise the Olympic team during the Beijing Games with all the fog and pollution). I had extensive tests including a chest x-ray and the full spectrum of asthma respiratory tests which ruled everything out and showed that I’d never had asthma after all!
Eventually she diagnosed me with chronic post viral fatigue – the default diagnosis when the medical profession cannot identify anything specific.
Although this was devastating I had some kind of answer.
I was training for a marathon at the time and this news put that to a halt! This was devastating news to me. The Dr sent me back to basics. I had to pull right back on my exercise and not let my heart rate get too high.
However…within several months I was able to slowly start building up my exercising and my walk turned into a jog which turned into running.
During this time I also explored other healing modalities. I discovered essential oils and found a blend that started to help me with my breathing. I also had a session with an access consciousness BARS practitioner and found this shifted a lot of things for me. Finally, my passion for running (and life!) slowly started to come back.
In April 2014 I ran my first 10km fun run since I had been sick. It felt amazing. I was finally back on track. Slowly, day by day I started to feel stronger and healthier.
During this time, I did my own research as I was surprised that nobody had asked me about my diet. So I therefore took things into my own hands. I dropped dairy overnight (very hard for a big lover of blue cheese) but I knew deep down that it is no good for the respiratory (and other) systems. I could feel the difference within weeks. I completely stopped drinking caffeine (although I am not SO strict with this now), cut out all processed food and refined sugar and dramatically increased my intake of fruit and vegetables. I now run (literally!) on a plant based diet and have never felt better. I thought that I was eating healthily before but there is always room for improvement, whatever level you are at.
I am now at the point where I feel great! I have heaps of energy and in October 2014 I ran the Melbourne Marathon. I followed this in January 2015 with my first ultra-marathon: 50km.
I have learnt so much over the last few years. I now know how to look after my body, both from a nutrition perspective and from a wellness perspective. Looking back my body was whispering to me to slow down and re-assess. When I didn’t do this it started to shout louder until I had no choice but to listen. I now know how to listen to my body and when to pull back and rest.
I have been there, crying every day from exhaustion and pain. I know what it is like. I have come through the other side and I am now here for you. To help you to be healthy and happy.
I am thankful for my health story. This is what drove me to pursue further training in nutrition and wellness so that I can help others. What a journey! But what a blessing too, so I could finally wake up and realise what I was supposed to be doing and in turn allow me to pass this knowledge onto you.