Photo credit: Jason Kirkland Expressive Photos
Not all journeys to health are about weight loss – mine was quite the opposite – but it is what has driven me to become passionate about educating and helping others through nutrition and health and what gave me the idea for The Balanced Body Nutrition.
I love this photo of me as it represents the moment I let go of any negative body image and became confident, strong and positive in who I was from the inside, with a change in my lifestyle focused on long term holistic health.
That photo above of me in the window is from a photo shoot I did in early 2015 and represents a pivotal moment for me. It was the first photo of me that I had shared publicly looking and being the healthiest but heaviest I had ever been. As silly as it sounds now, posting that photo for me at time took guts. I was 6kg + heavier and not super lean like I had been used to throughout the majority of my 20’s. Prior to this photo, I’d spent the past 2+ years training and following meal plans with a goal in mind of wanting to become fit and healthy, strong and athletic; and what started as this goal turned into so much more. It became more about a change in mindset than anything physical.
Like a lot of women and men I know, I struggled for years with my body image and health. I had to much of an emotional attachment with food, and as a perfectionist, I obsessed over everything I put in my body because I wanted to be ‘healthy’. I did hours of cardio and over-exercised in attempt to be ‘fit’. But there’s a line between dedication and obsession and I was a little off the mark.
At age 23 I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and later Hypothalamic Amenorrhoea (HA) (in a nutshell I wasn’t getting my period because my body was under too much stress), and I suffered acne and recurrent candida, all of which I no longer have. I was unhappy, stressed, over-exercising, under-eating, and my life and body were well and truly out of balance. So I set myself on a journey to improve my health naturally and have healed my body thanks to dietary and lifestyle changes.
I sought out information and tried everything from nutritionists, naturopaths, personal trainers, athletes, acupuncture, osteotherapy, and myotherapy. I researched scientific information, read medical journals, case studies, books and magazines (something I continue to do – we never stop learning), and in 2013 began studying a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutritional Medicine, which I’ve fallen in love with doing. The knowledge I have acquired and continue to gain is what has helped me, so I want to share this with you.
It hasn’t always been easy; there were a number of times I’d given up all hope. There were challenges, setbacks and comebacks; but with it came personal growth and confidence and a healed, healthier, fitter mind and body. It’s something I want to inspire in all of you.
What do I believe in? My food & lifestyle philosophy is:
- Health comes in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t matter if you are a size 6 or 16 (or anything in between), as long as you are looking after the long term health of your body and mind.
- Long-term sustainable diet and lifestyle changes win every time over trend diets, detox’s and the like. The old saying is true “you can’t out-run a bad diet”.
- Build a positive relationship with your body, mind and with food. It breaks my heart to see how many people struggle with this, because I understand exactly how it feels. I can’t even begin to explain how free I felt once I let go of any negative burden, fears, and guilt. Food is there to nourish our body.
- Eat real food. And keep it simple.
- Balance, moderation and variety with your diet are key. I love chocolate and I’m not about to give it up but I also eat my greens (I just prefer high quality dark chocolate over highly processed sugary kind).
- If you have a body goal in mind that’s great, go for it, but make healthy sustainable changes first. Inner health = outer health.
- Reduce stimulants such as caffeine. I probably drink too much coffee – I’m still working on this.
- Reduce stress in your life – physical, mental, social, emotional. Stress has a huge impact on our health and every part of our lives.
- Rest and sleep are highly important. This was one of my biggest downfalls. You absolutely need and deserve to give your body and mind rest.
- Challenge your body and mind. Our bodies are so amazing and incredibly adaptable. If you want to make changes to it, you have to push outside your comfort zone. I’ve tried a number of things from weight training, yoga, Pilates, meditation, HIIT, distance running, surfing (I learnt I’m fairly hopeless at this but I’d still do it again), boxing and I’m keen to try more. I found my enjoyment in the weights room and after many months of training I competed in my first natural bodybuilding show in 2014. Over 2 years I competed in 7 INBA shows in fitness and bikini model divisions, placing top 5 in every show. In October 2015 I hung up my heels to pursue other interests, after ending with a 2nd place Australian Bikini Model Champion at the 2015 INBA Australian National Championships. All this from a girl who once avoided sports and couldn’t even do a push up let alone get under a barbell.
- Don’t be afraid to try something new. It may work, it may not, but you will never know otherwise. Regardless, you will gain wisdom and knowledge.
- Walk your own path. You can’t blame others for your unhealthy choices, just as much as you shouldn’t allow others to persuade you with theirs. Be strong in your own choices.
- It’s cliche but I believe in ‘strong mind, strong body’. I’m still not sure one comes first, rather I think they go hand in hand.
- Treat your body and health with love and respect. Listen to your body. Get to know it well. Be in tune with its needs.