Like many who help others, my support and knowledge has been gained through painful experience.
When I was 27, for no apparent reason, my knee caps started dislocating. It happened 3 times to each knee within a period of 2 years and each time, I would tear ligaments, tendons and cartilage. As a hard working single parent to 2 precious sons, I opted for major reconstructive surgery and naively had both knees done at the same time. My strongest memories of the time were the terrifying realisation of my own weakness / vulnerability at having to learn to walk again and the surgeon warning to me that I should expect pain and arthritis in my knees for the rest of my life. He also warned me against ever doing high impact exercise.
His words were prophetic. I struggled with my balance and with 2 small boys, did little to look after myself, became less active and more protective of my knees. Inevitably, having gone from a very sporty youngster to sub-consciously doing only gentle activity, my weight started to creep up. The more it crept up, the less I felt in control and the more ashamed I became… so I ate. The well meaning advice of “if you could just exercise a little more and eat a little less, you’ll be fine” was constant, hurtful and shaming. Over time, I developed a “gut instinct” that something was wrong with my body but chose very carefully who to share my thoughts with in case it was viewed as an excuse to “keep stuffing my face with food”.
When I turned 37 and weighed 107 kgs, I turned to a personal trainer who very quickly picked up that I had “post exertion malaise”. Most people after exercise will feel exhilarated and energised. I was so exhausted and in so much pain that I would go back to bed. She advised me to see a gp and for the first time, suggestions of ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Epstein Barr and Coxsackie virus was raised. Under the doctors support, I was referred for a ketogenic weight loss program and received years of alternative treatments which helped me lose a lot of weight and keep living a fairly normal life until I moved to the UK.
Commuting in London was a massive shock. Where before I had always relied on my car to protect my legs from pain, I was now having to stand on a tube for 2 hours every day. Within weeks, I had plantar fasciitis under both feet, repetitive strain injury in both wrists as well as a myriad of other constant aches and pains. A wonderful physio realised something was amiss and referred me to a specialist who within 2 minutes of being in his room, diagnosed Fibromyalgia. He suggested I go home and read all I could on the condition on the internet. The first sentence I read was “Fibromyalgia is a chronic incurable condition”. Great. For the second time in my life, I went into body protective mode, comforted myself with food and moved less as the pain increased.
When I first moved to London, I signed up to learn basic hypnotherapy to help me manage my life. It ignited a passion that hasn’t ended. I became obsessive about what had caused my issues, what could help it and started experimenting with treatments and diets. I went on to do a Diploma in Hypnotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy and then started combining that with ketogenic diets. It worked and as I started feeling better, I started helping others.
I have since done courses in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Coaching, Transactional Analysis, Emotional Freedom Technique, Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy and some Neuro Linguistic Programming. I’ve also trained in various eating programs, always with healing in mind.
Over the years, the exhaustion continued, sometimes becoming crippling. In 2012 a blood test revealed I had a benign growth on a parathyroid gland. Unfortunately, despite surgery being the only treatment, doctors fobbed me off for a further 5 years until I was completely bedridden, sleeping for days on end or not at all, felt dissociated, had severe depression, paranoia, intense pain and reached my highest weight ever. I had to fight very hard to have the surgery but on June 15 2016, I got my life back. The improvement was instant. (My surgeon later estimated I had the tumour for over 20 years). My mindset shifted massively from “this is how bad it is and it will only get worse” to, “what can I do to improve my life?”. I have since then embarked on a program to restore my health, a side effect of which was to lose over 20kgs. My health is still a work in progress but I have weaned myself off all medication, feel happier and healthier than I have in over 20 years. More importantly, I started very gentle power assisted exercise which was a huge achievement. I am now addicted and look forward to it.
The idea behind this page was born from these things;
- the conviction that reaching a healthy weight is not simply about eating less and moving more,
- the realisation that I have all this knowledge to share and
- the knowing that sometimes, all we need is someone to talk to. We need support, encouragement, structure, a purpose, belief in what’s possible, a hug, someone who authentically understands and who genuinely cares that we get our happy bodies back.
In my time of need, there was often nowhere to turn and I realised that there must be others out there who feel the same way. I hope this blog can be that for you.
I specifically do not want to focus on the eating or exercise part of losing weight. I want this page to purely be about the emotional and behavioural side of weight loss, gain or maintenance and for it to be a helpful, safe place for anyone who is not living in a healthy happy body.