I have always been the one who would eat everything in sight and still remain a size 8-10 – until one day I wasn’t.
I used to get called names at school for being too skinny. Yes, you heard me correctly; the skinny kid doesn’t get off so easily. I used to have kids follow behind me with their arms out to the sides – because I might fall down a drain. I used to have food thrown at me – because obviously I didn’t eat. I used to get called names like twiggy, skinny-malinky-long-legs-big-banana-feet… The reality was that I did eat, A LOT! Now, I’m not telling you this to brag, I’m telling you this to help you understand that skinny people have their own $h!t going on too and to show you that skinny does not always equal healthy.
It probably didn’t help that I used to have hemiplegic migraines (head splitting pain, disturbed vision and one side of my body numb and lame) AT LEAST once a month and would miss up to a week of school at a time. I was taking pain killers daily as a preventative measure that only masked my symptoms for a while. Not to mention my skin problems and podiatrist appointments for my flat feet!
So I spent my teenage years hating my body and my late teens/early 20’s abusing it. I drank alcohol pretty much every night of the week, drinking to excess at the weekends. I even experimented with some recreational drugs to see if that would make me feel better about myself, it didn’t. I ate crap, there is just no other way to describe my diet of take-outs and chocolates. I didn’t eat red meat only chicken or fish (I have since discovered it was due to a taste and texture issue, not anything else), so I lived on veggies, pasta and bread. I can’t forget to mention my sweet tooth! I was working in clubs/pubs/restaurants/hotels and despite being very social places to work; they involved very anti-social working hours. Looking back at pictures of me from that time (the ones that I didn’t manage to avoid), I have a big grin on my face but that’s not how I was feeling inside.
I had started going to a Chiropractor when I was 17 and was getting great results with migraine relief (I was now only having 4 or 5 a year) and was in less pain in my legs and hips. I was so pleased with the results that I had applied for a job with the company and spent many years helping and running practices as a Chiropractic Assistant. Despite being in this “healing” environment I was still paying very little attention to my own health and well-being.
In early 2009 a routine PAP smear returned a result of abnormal cells for the second time running. I was referred to a clinic where they did further testing and confirmed CIN2.
The easiest/simplest way to explain it is this:
No Cancer – CIN1 – CIN2 – CIN3 – Cervical Cancer
I put off treatment for over a year while I went to the French Alps to work a ski season where I continued to booze, smoke and fill my body with more crap. Looking back now, I was in denial and on a path to destruction.
On my return I booked in for my treatment where I was told that the situation was worse than when they had last seen me.
My big “Oh F#*k” moment was when they talked through some of the possible side effects of the treatment: scar tissue could prevent my cervix from working properly and stop me from falling pregnant if I ever wanted to have a baby.
Whenever anyone ever asked what I wanted to be or what I wanted to do in life, I was never sure exactly but one thing I was always certain of was that I wanted to be – a mother.
My lifestyle was going to have to change. I couldn’t continue to abuse my body and expect it to thrive I started dating my then boyfriend (now husband), Greg shortly after my treatment and he was already starting his journey to health and vitality.
He was a Chiropractor and we were introduced through mutual friends at the company I used to work for. We had discussed our long-term relationship plans quite early on as he is South African and I am Scottish so there could be a logistical issue. We knew we were both in it for the long term and we both wanted to have children at some point in the future. We both wanted to be in the best condition physically, chemically and mental/emotionally and our initial goal was to best prepare our bodies for that.
As part of my chemical changes I stopped smoking (at one point I was smoking up to 40 cigarettes a day) and we made the decision that I would come off any hormone altering contraceptives so that my hormones would have a chance to normalise.
Greg had the physical movement side of things sorted, he was enjoying CrossFit training but as a guy living with friends in a bachelor pad he was struggling with the food side of things.
I loved experimenting and getting creative in the kitchen but got out of breath climbing a flight of stairs. So we worked together and based our lifestyle around the following basic foundations:
• Eat Real Food – something like Paleo
• Move Yourself – something like CrossFit
• Be the Balance – more than just positive thinking
• Keep The Power ON – regular Chiropractic care.
In 2010 I found myself working at reception for a gym in Glasgow, and hating it. I was so stressed that I actually lost my sight. I went blind and couldn’t see anything for a whole month. I had been doing so well changing my chemical and physical stressors but I hadn’t even looked at my mental/emotional stressors.
I knew that Greg and I were going to be moving the Cape Town in April 2012. And I knew that I couldn’t continue to work where I was. So I sat down and ‘dreamlined’ my ideal job: from job description to sector, from salary to contact length, even perks and bonuses.
Within 10 days of me writing down my job dreamline, I received a phone call offering me that exact position! Now, I was never one to believe in the power of manifestation, however I’ve now done this with many things in my life and well…it works.
So, fast-forward one year, a move to Cape Town, starting Peak Chiropractic from scratch, planning and having a wedding and in May 2013 we made the decision to start a family. Two weeks later I pee’d on a stick and discovered we were pregnant!
I continued following my chosen lifestyle and had a wonderful, happy, healthy pregnancy, working until the week before the birth. I also continued my regular adjustment schedule to ensure that my body was functioning optimally for our chosen birth plan. You can read more about my pregnancy journey here.
Breah Lilly Venning was born at home on the evening of 29th January 2014 weighing in at 3.3kg with the assistance of our midwife team from Birth Options. I used techniques learned at our HypnoBirthing classes with Beautifully Born to control pain management as well as Chiropractic adjustments during the early stages of labour to make sure my body was best prepared. I did not require any drugs.
My lifestyle choices have not changed since the arrival of Breah, in fact I am even more determined to stick to them to ensure that Breah has the best start in life and I am there to enjoy and participate in her childhood. She took to breastfeeding straight away and as I write this, a few weeks shy of her 1st birthday, she is still breastfed.
As I journey into 2015 I am looking forward to what the year ahead has to throw at me and I am grateful for my experiences in the past 30 years, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’. Here’s to the next 30 years of Thriving!