I have battled with my weight over the past 20 years and have done regular diets, lost 10, 15 or 20kg and then put it all back on, plus some! Have you noticed it is always plus some?!! I have been aware from fairly early on that some foods affect me, made me feel bloated and tired etc but until recent years didn’t link this to my other health problems. I had been bloated and tired for so long I no longer had a reference point for how it felt to feel good! I see that in clinic all the time, normal is subjective, if you have symptoms for long enough, you will believe that is “normal” and not realise it is your body giving you a clear message that something is wrong!

Last time I presented to emergency with numbness and tingling (thinking I was having another stroke), I spent a week in hospital and was given some sort of strange diagnosis of migraine that causes numbness and tingling but no other symptoms! One of the medications I was prescribed caused a huge reaction, first I broke out in hives and what followed that was three months of incredibly painful arthritis which moved day to day from my knees to my shoulders and around my body. It was so painful that I cried myself to sleep some nights shaking in pain and had trouble and incredible pain with basic tasks like using a door handle or holding a glass. On reflection, I believe my symptoms at this time were about anxiety, and had nothing to do with migraine. After this experience I decided to NEVER put my health completely into anyone else’s hands, I had to take charge and take full responsibility for my health and my contribution to the results I was getting. I could no longer just be a victim.

Fiona – feeling better now!

Somewhere along this confusing and frightening road of health problems, hospitals, diagnosis and more and more medications I decided to study nutrition. By now, I knew that nutrition mattered (one of my friends was studying naturopathy and the things she was saying seemed to make sense), but I still wasn’t quite sure how it all fit together. I gradually started eating a somewhat healthier diet, I really didn’t know who to believe, there were so many conflicting views on what a healthy diet was and whether to take medications or herbs or vitamins etc. I knew I wanted to head in the direction of nutrition and natural therapies but needed to understand it better to be sure. Even though mainstream medicine at the time was not helping me and if anything making me sicker, there was much fear around letting go trying other ways!

I moved forward one step at a time, embracing new ideas along the way. I cleared out my house of toxic cleaning products, perfumes, skin care etc. I started using Certified Organic Miessence skin care, what you put on your skin and what you breath in matters, it all ends up in your blood stream so I cleaned up my environment. Eventually I graduated and started working as a nutritionist. At this time, I was eating what would be classed as a healthy diet according to the food pyramid, and feeling better than I had when I was eating lots of junk food but still didn’t feel quite right.

I had been told by various friends and health professionals that I should look into food sensitivities but found it so overwhelming, I didn’t really know where to begin. I had managed to overcome my addiction to cola and chocolate but was still very addicted to sugar and did not like the idea of giving up my favourite foods. The weight was piling back on again, I starting feeling depressed and had no motivation and felt like a fraud as a nutritionist being overweight and unwell!

Then when I was finally ready to listen, I came across two practitioners who became mentors and helped me understand and navigate my way back to health. The first was Stephen Eddey Naturopath and Biochemist, whose seminars I started attending, he is the first person who brought my attention to the truth about grains and how inflammatory they can be in our diet, he was the first person to explain the connection between grains and auto immune diseases to me. I resisted my new knowledge for a while still wanting to hang on to my morning porridge (oats are good for you right?), but eventually I listened and I reduced my addiction to grains stopping my morning porridge! Have you ever had that experience where you learn something new and deep inside, you immediately know it is true but you also instinctively know everything is about to change and you slip into denial and resist the change? However you cannot “unlearn” something!

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

At around the same time, I attended a webinar by Jodi Chapman a Naturopath based at the Advanced Wellness and Behavioural Centre in Maroochydore, (QLD, Australia). She explained the connection between food sensitivity, weight gain, gut problems and depression and finally I had that “aha” moment, it was all starting to make sense! I contacted Jodi immediately, she has been my mentor for most of the last two years. Jodi put all of the pieces together for me and put me on the path to wellness, she then went on to teach me how to do this for others. Jodi has changed my life in so many ways, I can’t begin to thank her enough, her colleague Suzi Le Fanue – Naturopath has also been a great source of information and support.

I finally identified my food sensitivities and with support from Jodi and Suzi, learned how to change my diet accordingly. Now I help many others with the same challenges! My weight is finally back to normal and I am feeling happy and healthy now. I also started working with a Personal Trainer last year (Shane Hodgins), he has also been a great source of encouragement, advice and support for me.

A couple of months ago, I had loads of blood tests to see how my new diet and lifestyle have been working over the last couple of years. I no longer have any signs of auto immune diseases, they are both in remission! My thyroid is functioning and making thyroid hormones now (I have been off my thyroid meds for approximately 18 months after 8 years on them)! My cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels are all normal. My CRP levels (which measures inflammation in the body) are very low.

Many people have supported me along the way, my husband, family, friends and practitioner friends, particularly Victor Tuballa – Naturopath, Linda Campbell from Mind Mastery and Denver Oliveux from Looking Good and Feeling Great who have both been “in my corner” for several years now and my Bowen Therapist Maureen Rogers who has supported me for many years. Thanks to everyone for your support and to my clients for believing in me and letting me help you! Thanks you to my family and my husband who also give me much support and love me no matter what.

One of my biggest lessons has been to allow myself to be vulnerable, to allow myself to be wrong sometimes and not have all the answers. To ask for help and be open to new ideas, be prepared to change! Sometimes it is so overwhelming you don’t know where to start, my advice is to just start, one foot in front of the other, one goal at a time, you will get there. I would also advise, don’t do it alone, ask for help! Feel free to share your journey below, I would love to hear your story.

The point of this story is not to be disrespectful to specialists and other medical practitioners, I need them, they are an important part of my team. It is just that medicine is not very good at treating chronic illness, it is better at acute treatments. Chronic illness also needs to be seen in terms of lifestyle and requires a holistic approach, you cannot expect anyone to wave a magic wand and fix conditions that have developed over many years.

For part 1 of this story, click here

For more information or personalised advice on a healthy diet contact us on (02) 47 222 111 at the Informed Health Nutritional Wellbeing Centre or www.informedhealth.com.au

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