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My quest to reclaim my body, get back my life and awaken the joy within

Life is so precious. All too often we become consumed with the busy-ness of day to day existence, hooked up in the unrealistic expectations of modern day life and overly committed to putting on a front.

We soldier on, making out everything is okay, pushing our body and mind to its limits, trying to hide our self-perceived faults and failures and striving to achieve what we think is expected of us. But all this comes with a price tag. Our most precious asset of all; our health, starts to suffer. I know. I’ve been there.

I came to a crossroads in my life, where all this had to change. I had gotten to a point where my body had abandoned me, my mind was a murky mess of fear and confusion, and I had lost my inner spark. My joy had begun to fade.

In one particular moment of fear, with my heart pounding in my chest and body weakened by years of chronic health issues, I decided I wanted to turn life around, once and for all.

This is my story, and my 5 top reasons to treat your body as a temple.

After several years of slogging it out, treating my body like a work horse, and ignoring every plea and cry for care and attention it could muster, my world came crashing down to a sudden halt.

At age 31, I had found myself in a pretty bad shape, struggling with a multitude of health problems and juggling a young family. After years of dealing with fatigue,  digestive & hormonal imbalances, chronic anxiety, and pain, I was staring down the barrel of being diagnosed with a life limiting chronic illness, or worst still an irreversible autoimmune condition.

My body was under attack and chronically inflamed. My immune system, digestion, nervous system, and mental health were suffering.  My immune system was in such a state of high-alert, I had even developed an allergy to the sun.

After an acute flare up of my symptoms following a particular stressful period of my life, and juggling the challenges of two small children, I found myself in a pretty dark place, battling pain, exhaustion, daily anxiety attacks and struggling to get out of bed each day.

After several months of going in and out of doctor’s offices and failing to get better, I started to look for alternative options to heal my body, and get back my life. I had two beautiful children to look after, and a life of opportunity ahead of me. I was desperate to get better.

I spent week after week researching extensively, diving deep into the science and pawing through the literature. I began to realise that almost all that we are taught about health, nutrition, digestive conditions, managing chronic illness and helping our bodily systems to restore function, is based on limited information, and doesn’t quite give us the ‘full picture’.

Determined to find out more, and spurred by my own background as an occupational therapist, I signed up to expand my studies in Nutritional Medicine & integrative lifestyle approaches and began to explore the deeper concepts underpinning healing and recovery.

I started developing a holistic base of education, research and frameworks, and started applying these principles to my own life and health.

Based on my findings I started to design my own fitness and wellbeing program, combining it with my holistic occupational therapy background and diverse clinical experience. I put it into play, piece by piece, step by step; amalgamating my discoveries into the fabric of my daily life. It literally transformed my world.

I overhauled my diet, adopted a nutrient-rich, wholefoods eating lifestyle, and loaded up on fresh organic produce, healthy greens, vegetables and moderate amounts of pasture fed meat and poultry, every day. I got stuck into all the good fats, adding them to my cooking whenever I could, enjoying the brain boosting, body healing benefits of pasture fed clarified butter (Ghee), organic flaxseed oil, olive oil and unrefined coconut oil.

I completely removed refined sugars, flours and processed packaged foods from my diet. This was hard to do at first, but so worth the relief. In the beginning I had to follow a strict autoimmune protocol, removing egg, nuts, grains, seeds, and shellfish, and even some fruits and vegetables that caused a strong immune response (histamine intolerance). I am able to tolerate small amounts of these now, as my body continues to heal.

My health started to improve, but my journey did not stop there. I needed to take it further, so I did.

I learnt all there was to learn about caring for my mind, my body and my emotional & spiritual health, and spent the next 12 months, integrating this knowledge into my own life. I sought out an integrated medical approach to restoring health and wellbeing, saw a Nutritionist and adopted the advice of some of the best practitioners in the field.  I started to notice improvements within a few months, and with time I could literally ‘feel’ my bodily systems reintegrating, my brain rewiring, and my body reprogramming.

I took up yoga, meditation, acupuncture and a daily mindfulness practice. I got outdoors more, reconnected with my heart-mind, restored my creative focus and spent time doing the things I loved; the stuff that gave me meaning, purpose and joy, and reignited my inner spark. The things I had taught my patients to do for so long whilst practising as an occupational therapist, but which I had forgotten to do myself.

I continued to search the literature, overturning every book and peer reviewed journal article I could find on nutrition, digestive health, mind-body science, functional medicine, and whole-body approaches to health and wellbeing. I continued to implement these approaches into my own life.

It worked. My life changed, my inner joy began to bubble, and my health improved, not just a little bit, but dramatically.

My blood test results were finally clear, my inflammatory biomarkers returned to normal, my liver function detox pathways were improving and all my clinical signs and symptoms started to settle. I no longer reacted to the sun. Niggling health issues that I had suffered with for so long (sinus, digestive complaints, severe abdominal pain, heart palpitations, neck pain, migraine, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, pins and needles) went away.

My body was healing and I was recovering from symptoms that had plagued me since my late teenage years. I was in my thirties and felt better than I had in my twenties.

Instead of plonking myself on the coach in front of the TV at the end of each day, I had energy, vitality and a vibrant outlook on life. My anxiety lifted, and my mindset, mental clarity and emotional wellbeing shifted to whole new level.

For most of my young adult life, I didn’t know what it was like to feel well. Now, I not only feel well, I feel amazing! I still have days where things get out of balance, and my health starts to buckle, but I now know what my body and mind needs to get it back in balance, and return to vibrant health.

 

Here are my 5 top reasons to treat your body as a temple.

1. You only have one, and there’s no back-up plan. If you don’t start to do something now, it might be too late. Start to love yourself enough to practice self-care every day, to realise the preciousness of who you are, and to recognise that the ultimate path to sustainable happiness and inner peace is: a health mind and body. The rest starts to fall into place from here.

2. This is not a dress rehearsal people! You only have one life, and it is right here, waiting for you to live it, in all its fullness and richness. The only way you can do this, is if you look after your greatest asset: your body. Without a healthy body, you won’t have a brain that functions well, and without a brain that functions well, your mind will suffer too. When we start to look after our body like a temple, we start to truly realise our potential. Our whole body starts to work in synergy with our mind, and life starts to pump with joy, balance and vitality.

3. Love the creator, in the creature. Love your body, like a mechanical engineer would love the beautiful purring engine of an automobile masterpiece he just created.  Have you ever really taken the time to look closely enough at how wonderfully designed your body is?  Wow! Our bodies and our brains are so magnificently and intricately designed to do what they do. Science is a really wonderful lens for us to see the beauty of the living, breathing, moving vessel that our body is. If you don’t appreciate your body, start by sticking your nose into some neurobiology books. You will be blown away!

4. Your body is your vessel to propel you in the direction you need to go. Don’t underestimate this amazing asset. No matter how much pain you are in, how much ill health you are experiencing, how frustrated you might be or helpless you might feel, if your body is breathing; then there is always something to work with! The breath alone is a powerful tool to restore health and bring balance back into your life. Start by focusing on all the things that are right with you, rather than what is troubling you. Your body has an incredible capacity to heal and sort itself out. Epigenetics is showing that we have actually been magnificently designed to evolve, transform, heal and change, given the right support and conditions. Remember, whilst you are still breathing, we always have something to work with.

5. Life is so precious. You are precious. What more can I say. Amen.

Following these 5 simple principles is a vital step in creating a better life for yourself. I put them into place during my 2 year healing journey, and witnessed some incredible shifts and changes.

Inspired by my journey I set out to create my own Whole-Life Fitness model for health and wellbeing. Combining it with my holistic occupational therapy mind-set I developed a unique, integrative lifestyle approach that encompasses all facets of the wellbeing spectrum. It is uniquely designed to restore health & wellness, reignite  people’s vitality & zest for life and re-engage them in the activities and processes that give meaning, purpose and joy. And I’m ready to share it with the world.

I have created Mind Body Living and the Whole-Life Fitness approach as a foundation to support my quest to educate people, initiate change and inspire others to be crusaders their own health & life fulfillment. 

I offer 1:1 consulting sessions, individualised programs, online support, group support and workshops aimed at educating and facilitating change. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to know more!

May you find a deep inner peace, enjoy a healthy body and mind, and experience life in all its joy and richness.

In vibrant joyful health

Jess x

Occupational Therapist, health crusader and lover of life overflowing with the good stuff!

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