I was interviewed on a podcast show recently and this required a great deal of self reflection as to the path my life has taken, the decisions l have made and the direction in which my life is going. I look in the mirror now and l can see the ‘real me’ as the confusion of being ill has gone, my life long destructive relationship with food has settled and l am learning to know myself.
This is a photo of my mother and l on Mothers Day. She is an amazing woman with so much life experience to call upon and very talented and intuitive. I see so much of myself in her which over the years has been confronting and challenging for me to accept at times as we like to be our own person rather than a reflection of someone else. I understand so much more about myself now and things that used to worry me l am at peace with. When you become a mother you seem to go into auto pilot sometimes as you default into the patterns and behaviours that you observed from your parents as a child. I acknowledge that l sometimes do this but as l parent in a mindful way l am trying to reflect on what l say and do and ensure that it reflects my own values and the needs of my family and this can mean doing things quite differently to how l was raised, and making decisions that reflect life in a more modern world.
My relationship with food has always been complex and during my twenties l managed to maintain a healthy weight as l mostly ate a basic diet of meat, vegetables and fruit with lots of exercise, but l also had some very unhealthy lifestyle habits going on as well which were seen as a normal part of life such as binge drinking which probably was a way to numb some of the internal anguish l was starting to experience.. Such a contrast to now where l haven’t had any alcohol since before my first child was born and feel a bit tipsy even drinking kombucha.
After l got married l started to eat a very high carbohydrate based diet and can recall my regular meals including lasagna, pasta bake, home made pizzas, noodles, rice and potato dishes. My body was not used to this diet and l very quickly began to struggle with weight gain, while also feeling incredibly hungry all of the time. I continued to exercise but it wasnt enough to counteract the impact of this dietary change. I had grown up eating a very simple and plain diet, but now l was married with two stepdaughters and was trying to create delicious meals and very quickly that meant a high carbohydrate dominated diet. As the years rolled on my weight went up and down and my body image continued to confuse me. The birth of my first child was crunch time where so many things changed and family life and life in general seemed to become more and more complex. My journey into the world of chronic illness was beginning and l thought that eating the SAD diet as recommended by the food pyramid was supportive of good health. How wrong l was!
I found a couple of photos of me from around the time that l started to become quite unwell. This period lasted for about 12 years and was a journey down a confusing and painful path as life became complicated and l didn’t have the mental or physical resilience to handle it well at all. I internalised everything and turned to food and exercise in order to cope.
I went through periods where l lost weight and maintained it but it wasn’t really sustainable long term as the chronic exercise pattern just wore me down and caused injuries. As chronic illness started to take a hold on me l just didn’t feel good quite often and during periods where there was a lot of stress my weight was definately affected (both up and down) and l am sure this contributed to my body not functioning well and really impacted my day to day life.
When illness became the central feature of my life almost three years ago with an emergency gall bladder removal, digestive dysfunction and a diagnosis of the genetic blood disorder pyroluria l was all of a sudden very thin mainly because l couldn’t eat or digest much. Thin but unwell! Lots of compliments from people about how great l looked with little acknowledgement of the horrid journey l had been on. It is amazing how much a smile can mask.
Life is so much better now and l have fully embraced the ‘eating real food’ journey and feel really excited about the future as l have an energy now, like a buzz. It comes from inside and feels like an excitement at the amazing possibilities of each day.
I am discovering so much about myself as a person and my body and feel so free not having to rely on carbohydrates or service the addiction to them as it was really tiring and quite life numbing. As l explore new and exciting foods, regain my mental and physical fitness and continue on this journey l am also trying to share what l have learnt with those who are looking for inspiration. You will have seen that l have been running a Paleo Nutrition and Primal Living Course locally with the next one commencing in July, but l also am starting a Paleo Weight loss Course. This will be Wellness focussed and l want to share the freedom of being able to eat what you want and not having to worry about counting calories or exercising obsessively to be at a healthy weight.
Through my own experiences l have learnt that we need to embrace our life journey and realise that we are the sum of all of the experiences we have had. By accepting and moving on, growing as a person and living mindfully we can let go of bad feelings, memories and experiences which can be very damaging to your health and inhibit your enjoyment of life.
I would love to hear of your own experiences!
You can follow me daily on Instagram at holistic_paleo or on Facebook at Holistic Wellness For Life or Primal Living Melbourne.