For a good portion of my adult life, I would never have thought I’d be here writing an article about my journey to peak health. After what I went through for close to a decade, that would have seemed unimaginable; a crazy dream. Yet here we are…
To say I am a health geek is somewhat of an understatement, but I have good reason to be. Growing up I was exposed to an alternative way of living and eating through my parents. Throughout my childhood they tried many different ways of eating. Pritikin, fruitarian, and vegetarian were common terms I heard. For the majority of my childhood, I always had healthy meals prepared by my mother — with big bowls of salad, platters of fruit and lovingly home-cooked meals the norm in our household. My parents were incredible role models.
But they will also be the first to tell you that at that time, in the eighties and nineties, there was something else taking place: a proliferation of food-like substances everywhere you looked. Coco Pops, Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, white bread, milk chocolate, Roll Ups, fruit ‘juice’ poppers, and fast food on every corner. So while my siblings and I were raised in a healthy home, we still fell victim to the marketing of the time. And when you’re young — heck, at any age — that stuff can slice deep…
When I moved out of home, my favourite meal was supermarket white bread (Good on ya Mum, Tip Top’s the one, good on ya Mum) with butter and peanut butter, washed down by a big glass of commercial orange juice. I would sometimes have such terrible ‘sugar shakes’ as my Mum calls them, — a.k.a. massive highs and lows in blood sugar — that I would have to lie down and hope it passed. I couldn’t move. Yet I didn’t make the connection to what I was eating.
In my early twenties, I traveled around the world on my own and after some time in Asia, contracted Dengue Fever. Of course, back in Australia, no doctor I saw knew what was actually wrong with me, so the solution was… antibiotics. Lots of them. After wrecking my gut health and microbiome I started getting terrible sinus infections and postnasal drip. But hey, that’s just a normal part of being human, right? We get sick, yeh? Not so…
My Nana — who lived on brown rice and veggies, and was doing yoga in the wild lands of Australia decades before it was mainstream — lived until she was 96 and was driving her much younger friends around until she was 90. Unfortunately, after falling and breaking her hip, she went through a fairly classic case of nursing home mishandling — going from a retirement home where she functioned very well, to a nursing home who thought drugs were the answer to all her troubles.
Once I visited her and she was so confused. It was very out of character, so I asked around to find out what was going on and was told by the staff that she was getting dementia. How could that be? Does dementia happen in a matter of weeks? I held her hand and when I let go, I noticed her skin stayed all pinched together — she was terribly dehydrated. After telling the staff, they put her on a drip and… yep, she was back to normal and off all the drugs they had her on to keep her ‘well’.
When she passed (she could have easily lived another 10 years, I believe) she also left her grandkids a small amount of money. I was so unwell at the time that I decided to spend it on a ‘radical’ doctor who subscribed to the wild approach of using food, not drugs, to heal. He has spent most of his career defending himself from the ‘authorities’ who have tried to shut him down for 40 years.
This kick-started my health journey. I went gluten free and stopped eating red meat, sugar, and dairy. Life changed very quickly and I felt great for a few years until I married an Italian and back came the pasta, sugar, dairy, and meat. Nothing against Italians at all — they are doing a lot right with the Mediterranean diet, which is a pretty good middle road if you need one. But in that culture, it’s hard to escape some of the decadence. Every Sunday, I’d eat our customary huge bowl of pasta and red sauce with parmesan, then would collapse on the couch and struggle to do anything. I started to believe that maybe I was just the lazy type as I had zero motivation.
Combine this with work stress, financial stress, a new baby and a marriage falling apart, and you’ve got yourself a Molotov cocktail of approaching disaster. For me, it started as a headache. I never got headaches, and then one day — after not being able to ease the pain for three consecutive days — I found myself in intensive care in the middle of the night. Hard to remember how I got there, but when I woke up, I was surrounded by fifteen ER staff all looking very worried and a head that felt like it was going to explode off my neck. They were guessing an aneurysm, but it turned out to be meningitis.
After two weeks in the hospital, I was deemed ‘recovered’ and discharged. Not one friend visited me (a sign of the state I was in at the time), and not a single hospital staff member explained that my nervous system was completely shattered. But hey, I was grateful for the sponge baths I received from a seriously hot nurse, although I was super worried she might see I thought she was hot, if ya know what I mean… ;)
I was wheeled out that day and headed back home where I tried to get back to work. Four months later, my marriage fell apart and I found myself single, dealing with the agony in my body, the pain of separation, and coming to terms with being a single parent financially responsible for two homes.
And so began a three-year journey of being essentially bedridden and living off income protection (thank you, Russell, for convincing me to protect myself). Not exactly the most inspiring place to be. But somehow I met an angel of a partner who came into my life and breathed new hope. I got better, slowly. My healing journey had cost me years of my life and hundreds of thousands of dollars, but what I also got was an incredible education that can sometimes only come when you are forced to dig deep for your own survival.
After trying everything (and I mean every crazy healing modality you can possibly imagine), I was pretty well for many years, until I decided to dive back in again and clean up any lingering issues that were still unresolved. This led to tests confirming severe mould toxicity from renovating a 110-year-old home, as well as a host of infections like Lymes and Epstein Barr and labels like Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia… I had more labels than a frickin’ Westfield!
So: bring on the biohacking, I said! Everything was in play again. Blending butter into my coffee, eating loads of fermented foods, zero natural sugars, and the kicker… Keto. While keto may have some amazing applications in very specific cases like epilepsy and cancer, for the everyday person, unless you are overweight and looking for a metabolic kick start for 6 weeks, keto is kryptonite.
Replacing a nourishing meal full of fiber and nutrients with a high-fat meal is simply bad science and will not deliver you any sustainable results that give you what we all ultimately desire… living a long, happy and healthy life.
For me, keto almost killed me. #nojoke. For my Vata Pitta (ectomorph) body that thrives on glucose for fuel, the high-fat-low-carb diet was just downright dangerous. It destroyed my gut to the point where everything I ate gave me red bloodshot eyes. Like what I was eating was leaking into my bloodstream. I withered away into a shadow of my former self, with one doctor who I now refer to as Dr. Death telling me my body was ‘precancerous’, whatever the hell that means. Thanks Dr. Death! I may not have understood it logically, but my body knew very well what it was: stone cold fear.
That fear took me deep into dark places I had never known before. Every day and every moment was a battle to survive. I would walk around repeating in my mind the simple mantra, “I am strong, I am healthy, I am calm.” It was all I could do to keep the depression at a level that was just above wanting to end it all.
Then I met Dr. Stephen Cabral. In our first consult, he looked me in the eye over Skype and said with a smile on his face, “I know exactly what to do with you. You have nothing to worry about. Each month we will get you 10% better so that in 10 months you should be close to 100%.” It was a big promise after all those years, yet I believed him, and it turned out to be based on the simple fact that given the right fuel (glucose, not fat) the mitochondria can start to rebuild and duplicate. I promised myself his intake form was the last I would ever do. That was only 18 months ago, and the man I am today is infinitely stronger, more peaceful, vibrant, loving, kind and compassionate.
A few months into working with Stephen, I said I wanted to one day go 100% plant-based. I had for many years not felt very comfortable consuming animal products. Ever since I started meditating, it was like something changed in me. Stephen said I needed to be patient, but he would support me when the time was right.
That time came recently. I woke up and my body just rejected animal products. Just like that, it was over. So in my typical fanatical way, I went deep. But this time, it was from a place of peace, not pressure. I watched the films I would never watch as an omnivore. The visuals I was exposed to in ‘Earthlings’ still stay with me. It’s the hardest thing I have ever watched, but it awoke in me a new level of compassion. I used to believe there was such a thing as ‘humane slaughter’, but now that feels like a far fetched fabrication I was telling myself to make it okay.
And so, here I am. 100% wholefood plant-based and feeling better than ever. It’s not just about what you eat, but the lifestyle as a whole. A lifestyle aligned with what the world needs…
Compassion. Love. Peace.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I show you how to transition, what to eat and why it’s not as hard (or as big a deal) as you may think.
P.S. Leave me a comment below. Let’s connect. I would love to hear your thoughts.