When I was in my early twenties, I thought I was on top of life, training for a marathon and forging what I believed was going to be a successful career in advertising, until one day life had a different plan in store. It decided I needed to spend the best part of four years in bed – sleeping up to 21 hrs a day, too exhausted to move and wracked with pain – to the point I had to crawl upstairs on my backside because my legs were so weak. What began as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, later progressed to SLE – better known as Systemic Lupus, followed by Hashimoto’s and a pituitary tumor. Not exactly the flash corporate career in advertising and running achievements I had envisaged for myself, but what I thought was my worst nightmare, turned out to be the best blessing in disguise.
What the?! I hear you say….well you know the saying, every cloud has a silver lining and life has a way of sending us what we need at the perfect time, well it turns out my journey with chronic illness was the best thing that ever happened to me, because it set my life on a path, far richer and meaningful than the one I thought I was striving for. To cut a long story short, I eventually overcame this period of chronic illness and ended up turning my experiences into my career – as a Clinical Nutritionist. Since then I have gone on to treat thousands of patients with similar conditions, or complex health problems, that conventional medicine was unable to relieve.
One of the most common questions I get today about my journey to recovery is – what did you do to get better? Well the answer was actually pretty simple… I applied 9 specific things to my life, which lead to me to where I am today – fully recovered. These 9 things are also what I see in people who overcome any form of chronic illness or in people living their healthiest and happiest life.
- I use food as medicine – the food you eat will either create wellness or feed illness. By that I mean that every food choice you make is either going to help you thrive or lead you towards a path of illness. So don’t just base your food choices on what your body is craving, but consider what’s actually in your food and where it came from and how it’s been processed.
- I fixed my gut – healing your gut is the single most powerful thing you can do towards achieving your full health potential and overcoming any illness, no matter how minor. Without an optimally functioning gut, no cell, organ or body system will function at it’s best.
- I adopted a “glass half full” mentality to life – you’ve probably heard the saying, “where your thoughts go, energy flows”, & through becoming aware of your thoughts, will help you to identify whether your attitude is generally one of positivity or negativity. Many of us can find ourselves trapped in negative and defeatist thought patterns, especially when we are not healthy – which can either lead to, or exacerbate chronic illness. Breaking free from negative thought patterns is essential for healing your body. Practice finding at least one thing you are grateful for each and every day – even if you think your life and health is miserable and eventually this will flow on to develop a more positive towards yourself and others.
- I learn’t to live in the present – most of us struggle with living life in the present, let alone understand this concept. Learning the art of being present lead to one of the biggest shifts in my health – enabling me to worry far less about the things I could not control and let go of events from the past that I could change. It’s not always possible to live each and every moment being present, and I still fall into the trap of either being stuck in the past, or worrying about the future, but acquiring the skills to catch myself out when I do this, eventually helped me to live a life far more in the present – and less stressed.
- I learnt to say ‘no’ – this was, and still is one of the biggest things I battle with, out of fear of letting people down. I also see this trait in many people with chronic illness, or adrenal exhaustion – particularly mothers – because they feel guilty for saying ‘no’ when they really want to. But learning not to say yes to everything that is requested of us and gracefully saying ‘no’ to those things or people we know are a drain on our energy, is an essential step to replenishing your adrenals and energy to heal.
- I prioritised my health above everything else in my life – instead of trying to build my health around my life, I built my life around being healthy. I know for many this concept seems impossible, but for me it was a choice I needed to make to enable my body to truely heal and find true happiness again. Sometimes what seems impossible, is actually the thing that creates the most possibilities…. if only we let go of the fear and limitations in our thinking and belief systems.
- I learn’t to love and accept myself exactly as I am – Instead of wishing I was someone else, or comparing myself to others as many women tend to do, I learnt to love me for me – warts and all. I eventually discovered I was good enough exactly as I was – even when I was sick, because through doing so, my mind and body stopped fighting to be someone or something I wasn’t. In the end I reached a place in my health which was exactly where I wanted to be and I actually became my happiest, without it being conditional on certain people, places or achievements in my life.
- I became my own best Dr – being sick taught me to tune in and listen to my body, so that I could understand what it was telling me and what it needed – especially when things were not in balance. So rather than waiting until something went drastically wrong with my health to be able to know something wasn’t right, I am now able to sense when I need to pull back or shift my health back into balance, because my body clearly talks to me each and every day. Infact even if you are not functioning at your best, your body is constantly talking to you, sending you signs and signals about where it’s at. All you need to do is listen and act accordingly.
- I learnt to trust my body – The day I surrendered to my body and accepted that I was not able to control everything in my life, I also discovered that if I provided my body with the best opportunity to heal, and created an internal environment that would enable me to get well again, then my body would have the inate ability to restore itself back to optimal health.
So whether or not you suffer from some form of chronic illness or health problem, if you are not as satisfied or happy with your current state of health and maybe even with your life, then you will benefit from adopting these tips into your everyday life. If you’re not sure where to start with getting your health back on track – sick or not sick, then why not join my next 6WK Eat Yourself Healthy program, where I will guide you step by step on exactly what you need to do, in order to achieve your full health potential.