I use the Transformation Cookbook to help me live with a condition I have called Crohns disease, I wanted to share my story, in the hope that it will help others, said Amy.
My goal is to raise awareness and reduce the stigma that is associated with Crohns disease. If I can save someone some shame, a little heartache, or maybe just make them feel better, then telling my story is worth it.
What is Crohns Disease?
Crohns disease is a genetic auto-immune disease. In your immune system, it is thought that the immune system fails to recognise its own cells and sees them as foreign bodies. This causes severe inflammation on the gastrointestinal system anywhere from the mouth to the anus.
If not treated, the inflammation can even perforate the gastrointestinal system. This malfunction is thought to be triggered by an external environmental factor such as bacteria.
I was diagnosed at fourteen years old.
By the stage I was diagnosed, I couldn’t get through the day without a sleep. I couldn’t get through a period at school without running to the toilet. I couldn’t eat anything without crippling abdominal cramps or wanting to bring the food back up. There was blood in my stools all the time, and it smelt like dead rats in the middle of the Sahara dessert.
When I landed myself in hospital, I had half my red blood cells, no iron, I was crippled with abdominal pain and I was completely fatigued. I weighed 51kgs at 5 foot 6. My immunity markers were off the scale and my body was in a state of shock.
Living with Crohns didn't stop Amy from becoming a Fitness Model Champion
Treatment included a hospital stay usually for a week at a time, where I was starved, probed in most orifices and poked with needles constantly. I received infusions and medications with nasty side effects. Once, in the middle of the night, I didn’t make it to the toilet in time.
I’m lucky I responded to the medications. I got better, and went home until the next time. This cycle was repeated many times throughout my teenage years. It was difficult on my family, particularly my mother. It was hard to catch up at school or live a ‘normal’ life.
I woke up one day somewhere around 23 yrs of age and had enough of living like this. I had sat on the bench for too many basketball finals too weak to play. I decided to take my health in my own hands.
I wanted to prove to myself and everyone that I was no longer the sick girl.
I knew I could do it. Everybody including my family laughed at me when I announced I was doing my first Half Marathon and Olympic Distance Triathlon.
I love Shar's Transformation Cookbook because it's not a set way of eating you can contour to suit your own needs.
My shifts at work made it difficult to train, and my stomach made it difficult to eat. But I did the absolute best I could with what I had. I shocked everyone when I started repeatedly smashing PB’s in the gym while running up and down mountains.
I had become the person I knew I was.
Then came another challenge.
I undertook my specialty training in Intensive Care Nursing. That was a grueling year with full time shift work, university study and many practical assessments on top.
It was stressful and challenged me academically, professionally, personally and practically. I wanted to keep up with my training and knew I needed to stay healthy to look after my patients and keep up with my classmates, though I was very time poor.
I remained consistent with my training and nutrition. I knew this was the only way to save my health. I discovered that the more muscle I had, the stronger my immune system became, and in turn I started to feel much healthier. I wanted a new goal, and to train with structure and purpose to stay on track.
Amy's top Tips for living with Crohns Disease
1. Rest when you need to
If you’re anything like me, this is difficult. It’s a good idea to plan your rest time and be very vigilant at sticking to it. This means going home early, and sometimes not going out at all. Being organised and creating time to rest is vital. Get into a good routine with sleep. Make it a priority to get enough hours’ rest each night and develop a routine before going to bed and after you wake up.
2. Find your Personal Why
One of the key's I learned from Dr Paul Cribb is to find a very strong, personal 'why' you need to do what you are doing. You need to have this or you lose focus when life takes over and you fall out of your routine, especially in times of stress or celebration. Don’t be influenced by the crowd and stick to your personal why.
3. Live by the Transformation Cookbook
One of the best things I learnt during my comp prep is how good your body can feel when you fuel it right. The Transformation Cookbook opened me up to new levels of energy, vitality and health.
4. Protect yourself
Keep your house, work place and car clean and tidy. Try to avoid poorly ventilated rooms with a lot of people. Wash your hands before and after eating. Don’t share food and drinks with other people. Try and avoid seeing others who are sick and contagious. Keep your protein intake high and get plenty of sleep as this is how you keep your immune system strong.
As soon as I accepted my situation and the power I have, my whole life changed. I took what I learnt from my illness and made myself a physician, I now take care of sick people. I took my frustration of missing out on so much on the gym and smashed many goals, from endurance events to body-building competitions.
In the past, I felt like my condition was out of control and I would constantly suffer from flare-ups and nasty symptoms. Nowadays, the only time I experience symptoms is when I don’t to listen to my body and don’t give it the rest it needs. You can achieve anything if you are willing to make the right positive changes in your life, well said Amy!
FOLLOW Dr Paul Cribb PhD.