In my past life I worked in advertising. I was the total cliche – 20 years spent working too hard, drinking too much and eating rich food at too many restaurants. I deprioritised my health, my family and my wellbeing for a high salary.
The hours were horrific, the job was demanding, many of the people I had dealings with were unpleasant. And frankly, on many occasions, so was I. It became apparent over the years that the “glamorous” industry I had bought into was far from that, and I was making significant sacrifices in return for a few dollars. So in January 2016 I left the money behind to pursue my dream to work with food.
My reward for all those years of hard work was a body wrecked by stress. I had eczema all over my legs, hands and arms. There were times where my hair would fall out. I was having recurrent anxiety dreams, where I was still dealing over and over with my former employer and clients. Blood tests revealed that my liver function was well below par. I was short tempered with my children, my digestion was poor and my eyes looked permanently tired.
In addition to all of this, over an 18 month period I had gained 5kg. This doesn’t sound like much, but I am only 160cm tall. My weight (with minor fluctuations) has generally sat at around 60-62kg. Heading north of 65kg meant I couldn’t fit many of my clothes, and I felt sluggish. Choosing work over exercise and diet meant that I was in a downward spiral. I’d lost fitness, so didn’t have the energy to do the tasks that were demanded of me. But the job was so demanding, I didn’t have time for exercise.
Those 18 months were especially difficult (bearing in mind that there was no life or death experiences here!). My cervical smears had been irregular over the 10 years since my son was born (Ollie is now 11). Numerous visits to Auckland Hospital’s Colposcopy Unit finally resulted in the need for a cone biopsy to remove the abnormal cells. The doctors advised no exercise for 6 weeks. Part way through this recovery period, I was made redundant from a role I had only held for 8 weeks due to restructuring within that company. With bills to pay and a large mortgage to cover, I took a role against my better judgement, working with a company and client who I knew to be especially demanding. The stress I had experienced over the previous few months kicked up a notch within days of starting in this new role, and continued for 12 months unrelentingly until I finally called time.
So that’s the background. I’ve let myself become unfit, overweight and unhealthy. It’s time to do something about it, and part of this process is to write about my experiences, share some of what I’ve learned, keep myself honest and on track, and hopefully give you some information that’s valuable and useful.
When I started blogging, I had no intention of writing about wellness. Too many “wellness” bloggers seem to be about eliminating food groups, or using popular food myths and pseudoscience to make claims about how to eat yourself healthy. I never want to be that person.
That said, as I have started on my journey to rehabilitate my own health, I’ve found that the science is beginning to support the pseudoscience. The reality is that exercise is not enough, and what you put into your mouth is of equal if not greater importance. So I will be adding a wellness element to my blogs from here on, to teach myself and you about which foods make you feel better.