Over the past years I have spoken to many people about what I have been through both physically and emotionally. This period of time saw my entire immune system shut down and created countless health problems for me! This blog post is going to take you through some of the causes for this as well as some of the lifestyle changes I made to overcome such a stressful and anxiety filled time in my life.
My first year out of school was exciting and full of potential! I was working two jobs and studying a Diploma in Beauty/Makeup. One of my jobs was working and managing a tanning salon. I absolutely LOVED this job with the main perk being able to make people feel better within 10 minutes (we all know a spray tan is like a 6 week holiday in Europe ;) I met so many amazing people through my job and made amazing friends and got to know my regular clients on a personal level. I got to travel nationally and internationally with a career highlight being a trip to Vegas where I met some of the world’s most amazing body building athletes from across the globe.
A regular week saw me spending a minimum of 20 hours spray tanning and even more when it was competition season. After a few years of solid spray tanning I started to notice my health began to deteriorate. Several reasons for this included my long term relationship break down and the chemicals I was exposed to in my work environment being chemically toxic to my body. I have always been quite health conscious and have always felt much better when I ate healthier. For at least 2 years during this time I was pretty much gluten, grain and fructose free however my body and how I felt on the inside didn’t represent this. Symptoms I experienced were bloating, constant tiredness and feeling lethargic. Along with this my hormones were all over the place resulting in irregular periods and really bad fluid retention throughout my entire body. A standout memory for me during this period was the day I went to put on my favourite pair of jeans and couldn’t get them past my thighs! You can imagine the horror and confusion I felt as to how this was possible when my diet and exercise regime were in check! It was the worst feeling in the world and a pivotal moment in what catapulted this journey to discover what was going with my body.
After a few months of trying to deal with it and not feeling confident or good about myself I decided to seek some medical advice and get a proper health check. I have always gravitated towards alternative health/wellbeing and really believe that our bodies can heal themselves as opposed to the bandaid effect of over the counter medications as an initial go-to. So I went to see my yoga teacher and mentor Bill Giles, he has worked intensively with people for over 40 years. He has practicing clinical immunobiologist and specialising in immune-related diseases. In his clinic he works with homeopathy, herbal medicine, Chinese medicine, Zen shiatsu, yoga philosophies and NLP just to name a few! Bill is a fascinating man and you can read much more about him and the clinic he runs in Deakin, I will include his website below.
I explained my various symptoms to Bill and he decided to test me on his Vega Machine (this is a machine that tests your bio-energetic levels and will look for disturbances within the body). Once he had finished testing me he discovered these issues were all to do with chemicals and my liver.
He suggested that I stop spray tanning immediately to give my body a chance to recover as he didn’t know whether spray tanning could attribute to long term health concerns, such as liver cancer. After receiving this information I was devastated at the fact I would have to give up something I loved, enjoyed and thought I would do for a long time.
After the initial shock passed it was time to move on, embrace the knowledge I’d received and stop tanning for a while. In my mind I thought that once I was better I would be able to go back to tanning, but the effects it had on my body ran much deeper than what any break would be able to fix. Essentially, there was no ‘quick fix’. So, I stopped tanning and gave my body time to heal.
After 6 months of taking a liver supplement and following my gluten, grain and fructose free diet I began to notice an improvement, but my immune system was not bouncing back and my liver was struggling. I did more research on tanning products and their ingredients in the hope of identifying what element of the product could be affecting me. It all came down to the active ‘natural’ ingredient called DHA (Dihydroxyacetone) is the ingredient in fake tan that reacts to our skin and causes the change in colour. After scouring the Internet from top to bottom I found documents, which suggested DHA, could be so potent that it could actually alter your DNA.
One document even stated:
‘The use of DHA in 'tanning' booths as an all-over spray has not been approved by the FDA, since safety data to support this use has not been submitted to the agency for review and evaluation. A June 2012 FDA report claims the main chemical found inside that spray - DHA - is potentially hazardous when inhaled. Some of the DHA if inhaled can cause damage to cells and possibly lead to cancer according to physicians (Wikipedia, 2017).
It was at this point where I really started to understand what my body had been through and why it was really struggling to gain its full health back.
I reached out to Bill for options as to what to do next. Bill works closely with the immune system and suggested I off load my immune system to really give my body a chance to heal and fix my liver. So that’s exactly what I did.
Now this all might sound crazy to you all because most people assume that yogis and yoginis are vegans or vegetarians but I had to go and do the exact opposite! I ate nothing but meat, eggs, butter and a little bit of dairy for pretty much a whole year…. sometimes I had veggies, but rarely. The benefits I received from cutting pretty much everything out of my diet was astounding. The effects of the DHA began to noticeably reverse and my body was healing itself!!! I noticed I was sleeping better (not waking up at liver time 1-3am), wasn’t lethargic and my hormones returned too normal. This meant my periods returned to a regular cycle and my fluid retention subsided, meaning my weight stayed the same and wasn’t constantly fluctuating. I honestly couldn’t believe it! After such a long and torturous journey it was something so simple that lead to this complete regeneration of my health, the best thing was I didn’t have to kill myself with hours of exercise I just needed to adjust lifestyle.
For the past two and a half years now my diet has consisted of meat, eggs, butter, minimal dairy, coffee and super dark chocolate as a treat and I can honestly say it’s the best thing I have ever done.
Unfortunately my immune system and liver are very scarred from what my body went through and when I introduce too many vegetables now I get the same symptoms coming back, for me its just not worth it. I know this all sounds very counterintuitive but the way Bill explained it all to me is meat eggs and fat go straight into your stomach and are used as fuel. Plants, vegetables, herbs etc all need to be processed through the liver first because they are full of toxins then your body will use it after its gone through the liver. So by me eating a high fat high protein diet it enabled me to off load my liver and organs so that my body could begin to repair itself. Anything that our body doesn’t know what to do with it goes into our blood stream and becomes lymph, this is the fluid you get under your skin, you may find that sometimes you fluctuate and this can be caused my many things (food, lifestyle, stress). The fluid retention for me was due to the DHA active ingredient in the spray tan, which I was inhaling and also going straight into my blood stream via my hands, which were always covered in tan.
I know you’re all probably thing ‘wow this girl is crazy!’ and probably wondering where I get my nutrients, vitamins and minerals from!? Essentially, these nutrients are all readily available within meat, eggs and butter. I do go through stages of having liquid vitamins to give my system a little boost and use herbal liquid tinctures made by Bill and Larisa that are made especially for me and my body.
Even though I have gained the majority of my health back it is still a work in progress. I still go through bouts of illness and fatigue due to my immune system being so scarred and I am definitely more sensitive to certain foods and chemicals but because I am aware of this I know how to deal with it. Last year I experimented and tried getting a spray tan again! Of course, for a good month after the tan my body didn’t cope and straight away I gained all the old symptoms back. It took forever to get back on track and feel good again.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying or preaching about a one fix all diet or lifestyle, EVERYONE is different and food, chemicals and emotions all affect us differently. The reason I wrote this blog is to make people aware and mindful of what we put our bodies through. Everything we eat, drink, put on our skin, hair, nails and even inject must be processed through our liver. If your immune system is already damaged then your body is not going to cope well at all. This is not to mention the emotional trauma we all put ourselves through and how things like daily anxiety and stress etc can create such tension within our body and mind.
I used to try and hide the fact I was on this journey as I didn’t think people would understand it or even accept it. One thing I learnt last year was just to accept yourself and I found myself happier and excited to share my journey. I was amazed by how many people were actually asking about the lifestyle I follow and why. I am always so grateful to the support and amazing people around me who accept it. Never do I force this idea onto others however, if they are willing to give it ago I have always supported and guided them 100% because it isn’t easy and I know this first hand!
I am a massive advocate for finding what’s right for you! Once you do, you can live the best life possible and not have any emotional or physical barriers holding you back. At the end of the day I am glad I went through what I did as it would have never led me onto this journey of health and yoga. Being able to help people and share my knowledge has been one of my greatest accomplishments. I have had people very close to me who have been attending yoga since we opened and I have seen how their lives have COMPLETELY changed. We created Bodhifit to help and support people in mind, body and soul and I always believe that every path we stumble upon leads us onto something great, whether it’s negative or positive it all leads to where we are meant to be.
If you’re interested in reading more about Bill Giles and his work visit his website: https://www.billgiles.com.au
Dihydroxyacetone. (2017 September 22). Retrieved from Wikipedia website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dihydroxyacetone