At the end of Summer 2002, I was 12 years old and weighed 12 stone.
Something, somewhere, had gone terribly wrong. I still couldn’t tell you what, but my relationship with food was not a healthy one.
I had gained a significant amount of weight through my early teens when I started high school. After being brought up on a healthy diet at home, thanks to my Mum’s interest in organic produce and wholefoods, packed lunches were soon a thing of the past and I was suddenly introduced to the school canteen food of pizza, chips and cookies and I was seemingly unable to resist the temptation. It was all very new to me! Then, after seeing a photo of myself on holiday in Italy, wearing size 16 clothes and having been consistently bullied at school for a year, there came a time when I knew I had to do something about my weight.
My Mum was my biggest influence through all of this. She had always been very healthy and I was now at an age where I could appreciate this and understand exactly why she chose to live this lifestyle. She had also incorporated alternative medicine and holistic therapies into her way of life as she grew older, as a way to enhance her wellbeing, and I soon became very interested in learning more about this as I knew how healthy she was on the inside, and it was also visible on the outside. I took the opportunity to learn as much as I could from her, and therefore my journey began – with her by my side, supporting me all the way!
Within 9 months I had got down to a healthy size 8-10, all through a combination of changing my diet and doing regular exercise. It wasn’t short lived either, as I continued this healthier lifestyle into my later teens.
Just when I thought things were going well, my whole world was suddenly turned upside down overnight.
My Dad died unexpectedly, just two weeks after my 16th birthday.
My body went into shock the day after his death, and I’ve unfortunately never been quite the same since. I have struggled tremendously with my health over the years and I know that it all comes down to this point in my life. I suffered terrible acne and skin problems after this, my hormones completely lost their way and were imbalanced for many years, I suddenly built intolerances to all sorts of foods and had many digestive issues, and I lost all confidence in myself, which only got worse as the emotions of living without a father took their toll on me.
I have thankfully resolved most of these to a stable level 12 years on, after being truly determined to heal my body and working really hard to get there, but if my life becomes unbalanced in any way then these can very easily become a problem again.
This became very apparent when I contracted Dengue Fever in Indonesia in November 2016, and ended up in hospital in Singapore for a week, and debilitated for weeks after. Six months on (and as I am writing this now), I am still struggling with my recovery. Only recently, following a yoga and health retreat in Spain, have I discovered the areas I need to work on and found the voice within to allow myself the chance to do so. I have spent too much time questioning why I haven’t been able to recover fully, yet I also know that the emotional stress I have put myself through has not helped one bit.
I know this journey will always be one I have to work on, but I am okay with that now. In the kindest way, I feel blessed that traumatic events in my life have led me to caring so much about my own health and have steered me towards helping others on their own journey. I can only find positives in where I am now, and not dwell too much on the past and what could have been.
I can honestly say that I am so proud of how hard I have worked in getting my body, and mind, as healthy as possible, but it hasn’t been all that easy getting others around me to understand. Eating more wholefoods, quitting sugar and cutting out certain foods have only become well-known in the last couple of years, so when I started out my friends and family didn’t seem to be as understanding about my way of life and I often felt isolated. People questioned why I wasn’t eating certain foods, why I took herbal medicines instead of going to the doctors or why I didn’t want to get drunk on the weekend, and I found this hard socially for a while. In time my confidence grew, as I knew in my heart that I was doing all the right things and hoped that people’s perceptions would change gradually. And, thankfully, they did.
Now I feel much more understood by people, and I do think that this has a lot to do with the rising successes of people like Deliciously Ella (one of the first health bloggers I followed), Sarah Wilson (my absolute favourite wellness woman), Madeleine Shaw, Hemsley + Hemsley and, particularly due to his already huge fame, Jamie Oliver, when he brought out his recipe book inspired by wholefoods and super-foods. I seriously love how real food has become a talking point now and how people really are starting to understand the alternatives of Westernised medicine and how food really can improve our health and wellbeing in such incredible ways.
My personal experiences have given me the confidence to believe that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and I will continue to work on my health and inspire others to be the happiest versions of themselves for as long as I live. I am confident that the career path I follow in the future will relate to everything I share here, as this journey has been such a huge part of my life and lies at the heart of everything I stand for!