So it was just over 10 years ago that I found myself, not realising at the time, heading into a decline with my health. I was in my late thirties.

It started by simply starting to gain weight for no reason at all – or so I thought!

I had always been relatively fit, I could climb mountains, cycle long distances, run, I was strong due to a number of years of weight training, I was a registered nurse, qualified pilates teacher and personal trainer, so I understood the body ……. yet I was putting weight on, despite eating healthily and exercising.

When you’ve always been able to manage your weight, it’s a bit if a bugger to say the least when suddenly you don’t seem to be able to. I was working in an industry where it mattered, who was going to believe I could help them if i couldn’t help myself? My confidence took a blow, the more stressed I got about it the worse it was.

I did what most people do, I went to the doctors, – was it my thyroid, my hormones maybe? The doctor looked at me as if to say ‘oh no, not another woman complaining about her weight gain’ and then said – maybe you’re eating too much! Now I don’t know about you, but it takes a lot, in fact a huge amount of effort for me to go to the doctors. I was brought up by a GP ……. you NEVER go to the doctors, you find a way, do what you can, and only go if it’s an emergency. But I was desperate, so I went – and I just felt humiliated. Even more so, when all the blood tests came back normal, so they advised anti-depressants! NO THANK YOU I said.

So I took onboard, maybe I was eating too much. Tracked my calories and it got to the point I could lose weight, for about 2 weeks if I only ate less than 1000 kcals per day, then I’d plateau.

I experimented with everything, nothing seemed to work, if I lost weight, twice as much would go back on. I paid for Personal Trainers, Coaches (to improve my mindset and accept my weight!) Shake / Bar based dieting programmes ….. it seemed no-one had a long term solution. It was a quick fix and certainly not long lasting.

Around this time, I’d recently remarried and was so happy with this part of my life, that what was happening to my body just seemed so unfair. I was 9.5 stone when my husband met me, now I was 12 stone! Lucky for me, he loved me and not what size I was, but I was beginning to feel the real me had got lost inside this body I didn’t recognise.

So, I knew I had to embark on this journey my way, learn along the way, understand what was happening and ‘find me’ again.

After I trained as a personal trainer, I also trained as a Paul Chek Holistic Lifestyle Coach and I remember my eyes being opened to a new world of ‘what is health’ but also ‘what is disease’?

Disease, as Paul Chek says, is when the body is in a state of DIS-ease. I’d not thought about it before, but my unexplained weight gain was a disease ……. a sign that my body was in a state of DIS-ease. It was a symptom, warning me like a belisha beacon, to STOP. To listen to my body, otherwise I was heading for trouble. But did I? No, I keep ‘fighting’ the weight, emotionally, physically, nutritionally and creating even more stress.

It wasn’t until I ‘put my back out’ that I was forced to stop. It was during this time I connected the dots.

Our body is a very very clever machine. It was designed with one thing in mind – SURVIVAL.

So when something is not quite right in one system, another system will compensate until balance is found again – a simple description of homeostasis – body balance.

My weight gain, was not due to what I had been doing at the time, my weight gain was a symptom of my life in the previous 5-10 years.

And down to one thing only – STRESS!

Stress creates a danger response in the body. Our parasympathetic nervous system is not something we have any control over. Think Fight or Flight Response. It’s automatic.

We think this is only triggered by obvious stressful life events. But our Para-sympathetic nervous system does not know the difference between low level chronic stress and acute stress. It will release the same hormones, and the body will adapt.

Stressors can be Physical, Emotional, Nutritional, Environmental, Spiritual (think values)

So what were my stressors?

I’d had an abusive first marriage but finally plucked up the courage to leave. A year later I met the man of my dreams, but he was only just separated. We quickly knew we wanted to be together, but he also had 3 children. I underestimate even now the impact of their 2 year very acrimonious divorce, becoming a step-mum to 3 children (their choice to call me that, not my expectation), the trials and tribulations of modern families, being burnt out in my own career, mainly as a result of a values clash in the NHS organisation I worked in, moving home 3 times, and embarking on a new career. In addition to this, I was stressed nutritionally (yo-yo dieting), physically (over-exercising) and spiritually (I had lost my sense of self) – WOW! No wonder I was knackered.

I honestly believed I had taken it all in my stride …… until boom! My body told me otherwise. By this stage I also had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia developing.

But, I see myself as one of the lucky ones, many people ignore the lifestyle factors that contribute to ‘ill-health’ they get stopped by a physical or mental illness or disease, in worse case scenarios, heart attacks or cancer.

I am grateful and blessed that mine was weight gain, IBS and back problems. It has given me the opportunity to help myself and more importantly to now help others. I not only have the scientific knowledge, the evidence around what works and what doesn’t, but I also have personal experience in how to apply it, without making false promises to anyone.

So I share this, not for recognition or sympathy, I share this to raise awareness. Are you listening to your body? Are you taking notice of what it is trying to tell you? Are you open to learning all about how you can heal yourself (if you have a diagnosed medical condition, my work does not replace treatment, but you can run it alongside)

These are words you will be hearing right now:

  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Stress induced …… xyz

Most of these are avoidable and reversible lifestyle illnesses. I’m excited to be part of a growing body of Lifestyle Medics, Lifestyle Medicine Coaches & Health Coaches who’s ambition is to help change the health of our nation through evidence based, scientific and proven ways of living a long, healthy and happy life.

Watch this space for further blogs, information and a community you’ll be able to join, early in 2019 for ‘free tips and advice’ on Living with Optimal Health.

Until then, remember:

Health Is a Journey not a destination