Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Wilson, the creator of the Warrior Woman Project and author of Become a Warrior Woman for the 40 Fit & Fabulous Podcast – LISTEN HERE
Jennifer has very kindly shared her winning battle with Crohns Colitis on the Podcast and has also shared her amazing story here, in today’s blog!
So, if you are struggling with Crohns Colitis, or indeed any other related issues, please read Jen’s amazing, winning battle below and find out exactly how she overcome some of the worst pain she has ever felt!
“Saturday 11th March 2017, 10.05am I am sitting in a backless gown after having a camera sent up my back passage listening to the consultant tell me I have severe Crohn’s Colitis… My initial reaction was delight and relief. I finally had a confirmed diagnosis, I would get some medication and be back on my feet again in a couple of weeks. That initial reaction was pretty naive. I was unprepared for the next stages of the journey in that moment.
How did I end up there?
The medical world can’t confirm anything, they still to this date are not sure how or why anyone gets Crohn’s or Colitis. Genetics is mentioned, I am first generation in my family so that doesn’t fit. One nurse said ‘some people are just autoimmune people’, when you research in to what autoimmune actually is, you soon realise it’s one of these umbrella terms they give out to diagnose people because they don’t really know, but current trend understanding is the body is attacking itself. Some ‘out there’ doctors will tell you that the body isn’t attacking itself, it’s attacking something that we haven’t yet identified.
The short version is, my body was a bit broken right now and I needed to do something to fix it. First of all I needed to work out what I did wrong. I was a fitness professional, exercising every day and I followed a predominantly whole food, plant based diet (crisps are my vice, but they are a potato, so….). So I was what the medical world would have classes as ‘living a healthy lifestyle’
Reverse Engineering Crohns
When I started to reverse engineer what Crohn’s was, an autoimmune disease, which is chronic inflammation in the body… what causes chronic inflammation? Sleep deprivation, stress, environmental toxins, toxins in our food, processed food, light pollution, noise pollution, city pollution… the list goes on… Pretty much everything we experience in today’s modern world can cause inflammation, however when we don’t give it the right conditions and opportunity to heal, it just gets worse.
I had to do a full edit of my life. 1st things… sleep & stress! I would be up at 6am to go and teach an indoor cycling class (high intensity exercise, physical stress), I would then head off to do a workout in the gym (heavy weights, more physical stress), follow that up with clients, another indoor cycling class, more clients, for 4 years I was back in full time education too, another class… sometimes by the time I got home it would be after 9pm, I needed to have dinner, wind down… I could be 2am or later before I would get to sleep… This was my life from mid 2009 through to late 2016.
Time off required
I didn’t take many days off because I loved what I did and didn’t feel like I needed time off. Holidays were party time in Ibiza. In 2010 I went through a divorce so to get me through that party time with my friends was added on top of the work load…
I thought I was showing myself love but I wasn’t and I was staying busy all the time – I was numbing myself and I was putting my body through physical stress – even when I was exhausted or weak I would ‘push through’.
Lifestyle is a major factor
My lifestyle was a huge contributing factor to getting sick. I wasn’t practicing what I preached to my clients (very hard for a top coach to admit -ed.) and class – if you are exhausted, go easy on yourself, rest, take some time out… Nope, not me, I was the exception to the rule.
Except I wasn’t. frequently I got sick and there was NOTHING I could do for months. A cleaner became an essential addition to my life because I couldn’t even change the sheets on my bed or use the vacuum cleaner. I needed to sit and meditate every single morning. Needed to make sure I am eating all the anit-inflammatory foods and learn what’s right for my body… I have been learning a lot about Ayurveda and the different body types and understanding when I am out of balance the implications it has but also how to fix it. Raw foods are not great for me, my body can’t digest them efficiently meaning that if I am not careful I could end up deficient of nutrients.
I am in bed asleep by 10pm at the latest every night. 8 hours of sleep has been incredible for my healing journey. My exercise regime has totally changed too. I now do weight training 3 times a week, Yoga and Pilates 4 times a week. High intensity exercise isn’t for me anymore, my attempts saw me fighting with fatigue for 2 days after.
Sometimes we need to let go of the things that we think we love and are doing us harm and find new things that will actually nurture us and allow our bodies to heal.
If you are struggling, take a day off. Get your rest. Get a good nights sleep every night and catch up on the nights sleep hasn’t been great…
Without our health, we have nothing and we need to take responsibility of it, there isn’t a magic pill to get us there.”
Firstly, admitting you are largely at fault yourself is huge! We need to take ownership of the way we run our life and the lifestyle we lead. When you are a health coach, it is a very brave thing to admit to!
This is why I love this story and want to share it.
We all suffer with life’s stresses and it affects us all. None of us are superhuman. However, we can definitely put self care practices in place to minimise the damage and the affect of life’s stresses.
Make sure you take time everyday to relax. Eat well and stay active. Do things that nourish your body and soul. Do things daily that make you and the people around you smile. And above all else, have respect for you, your body, mind and spirit.
Believe me, it will reward you in kind…<3