It all started five years ago when I decided to change my eating habits for the better. I grew up eating a lot of starchy/processed carbohydrates such as white potato, pasta, white rice and frozen chips! I ate a lot of packaged foods too. I was having problems with feeling generally flat. This wasn’t good, because I was working as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, and my first thought was that I was burning out!
At the time we introduced a new Les Mills program to my gym, called Grit Strength. I loved it, HIIT training and my body go hand in hand. Along with the new program, Les Mills released a 21 Day Food Challenge, which was focused around eating five meals per day, including one protein shake, and four whole food meals (one palm sized serving of lean protein, two handfuls of vegetables and one thumb sized serve of good quality fat). Wow, did I find this challenging! It removed gluten, dairy, fruit, carbohydrates and all processed foods from my diet. The goal was to put my body into ketosis. By the time the 21 day challenge was finished, I felt amazing! I felt happy, energetic and was sleeping better than I ever had! I slowly started to introduce some lower GI carbohydrates (my body needs them) and my body flourished from there! I was leaner and fitter than I had ever been in my life, at 42.
Everything was fantastic after that, I stayed true to my new way of eating. I had no intention of changing because I felt so good!
In 2014, my family and I went on a holiday to the US. I was slightly concerned that while travelling for a month I would have difficulty finding gluten free and dairy free food in restaurants everywhere, and I admit it was very difficult. My eating habits changed while I was there, slowly I let go and decided I was on holiday, relax, I’ll sort it when I get home, and my habits changed. Pretty normal I would think!
After I returned home, I found it difficult to get back into routine. I was having gluten and dairy sometimes, but I wasn’t too bad. A few months later, I began running a food business I had absolutely no idea about. The stress began!
In hindsight I can say the holiday (although the best holiday of my life, changes and a very busy schedule added an element of stress to my reasonably anxious self) and then the addition of taking over The Green Room, was the beginning of the majority of my problems.
It started within twelve months. My first bout of adrenal fatigue. It stopped me dead, I couldn’t get out of bed for days, but I recovered fully after resting.
This occurred another two times within the next few years, completely unexplained by my GP.
Then, the last time it happened I didn’t recover from it. I was constantly battling fatigue, overwhelming depression and nausea. I felt completely hopeless and exhausted. I had a Naturopath in the shop one day and he could tell I wasn’t well and offered to help. And that he did, he put me on the blood group diet, which more or less cleaned up my eating, and removed alcohol (which I have found to be one of the biggest culprits).
I was feeling much better, fully recovered, but found that once I stopped seeing him, my original symptoms would come back.
My family GP was unable to help me, but referred me onto another known GP who
specialises in womens’ issues and environmental health.
Bingo! My symptoms were very familiar to her, so she went straight to testing the bacteria levels in my gut. And yes, there were lots of bad bacteria, and no good bacteria.
So for the next two months I removed sugar from my diet completely (to starve the bad bacteria) and added 1 litre of bone broth per day (to feed the good bacteria).
I alternated antibiotics and probiotics for the two months to help balance out the bacteria levels.
I felt amazing after the first two weeks!!!
No more depression, no more adrenal fatigue, perfect sleeping patterns, bursting energy levels, I felt so happy I couldn’t believe it!
Being given the opportunity to start from scratch with a healthy gut has allowed me to work out what works for me and what doesn’t. I have worked out that fresh, healthy, unprocessed food makes my gut very happy. And while my gut is happy, so is my mood, sleep patterns, and energy levels.
I also know that stress is a big part of my journey, and that is something for me to work on. But gee, everything is way less stressful when you’re not battling every second of the day. I feel I can face anything!
I also know that not everyone is the same. That is also a big lesson I have learnt. I can share my story, but it doesn’t mean someone else will do the exact same thing and end up having the same result. But I would like to give hope to someone who reads my story to not give up, there is an answer, and while it may not be an easy journey, the results are well worth the sacrifices and challenges along the way.
Ironically, my story ends on day 21 of the same Les Mills Food Challenge that I started with. I’m sitting here writing, feeling extremely proud of myself, feeling at peace with my health.