Hi, my name is Lisa and, like a lot of people, my life story to date has been quite varied and very interesting – both positively and negatively. My personal health journey has been long and I have a great affinity for those with digestive issues and autoimmune conditions because I have experienced these myself. I have become very passionate about helping people to restore their health and improve their mobility and fitness. Food has the power to harm or to heal and I believe that what we put into our mouths on a daily basis has a profound effect on us, mentally, physically and emotionally. Likewise, movement is an incredibly important part of our health story and incorporating it into our life regularly, via general daily activities plus specific exercise will help to keep us fit and agile into our golden years. All too often we accept illness and immobility as part of “getting older”, but it absolutely doesn’t have to be that way. How we take care of ourselves is paramount to living a very full and active life, right up until the very last day – as it should be!
My Food Story
When I was younger I suffered a great deal of ill health and consequently was given a lot of antibiotics – so much so that when my second teeth grew the bottom front two had large yellow spots on them, which I later learned can be an effect of antibiotics! They have faded over the years but I was very conscious of them growing up.
From my childhood and into my teens I suffered from intermittent chronic abdominal pain and frequent bouts of severe constipation. I had several investigative procedures done such as barium meal (where you drink a coloured substance and then they monitor it going through your system to see if there is anything obstructing the route), an endoscopy (camera down your throat and into the stomach), and a laparoscopy (camera inserted via the navel) as they also checked to see if the pain was caused by reproductive problems (they weren’t). Invariably I was given various medications to alleviate the pain and told it was “probably IBS”. Of course, what no-one was connecting at the time was the link between the antibiotics, leaky gut and damage done to my gut microbiota. And the possibility of food intolerances never investigated. However we ARE talking years ago and the microbiome wasn’t something that was being researched in any detail.
In 1997 I lost my smell and taste. Yes, you read that right! I had thought I was coming down with a cold, but nothing happened – except that I couldn’t smell or taste anything. I had an exploratory examination – which involved a camera being inserted up my nasal passages (which are quite small in the first place!) – a bit eye watering to say the least – but nothing consequential was found. No polyps, no blockages, no swelling. It was put down to non-descript “allergies” and I was given a steroid nasal spray. After a month or so of using the spray, which didn’t really do much to alleviate the problem, I decided that I didn’t want to be using it for the rest of my life and so I stopped.
My intestinal symptoms began to get worse (and more frequent) over the years, so I started my own investigations to try and narrow it down. I had become a qualified nutritionist by this point and was constant researching human health and nutrition – it had become a real passion. I had a test done for H-Pylori to find out if it was that bacteria causing the problems (it wasn’t!). I then started the process of eliminating several things from my diet and that’s when the pieces of the puzzle began to fit together. Turns out I have a gluten intolerance. So the logical thing was to remove gluten, but when I went shopping for “gluten-free products” I read the labels and realised that, although there was no gluten in the products, they were substituted with various other dubious sounding ingredients. Processed foods are processed foods – whatever the “healthier” option might be!
I removed all grains and legumes from my diet, but kept dairy in. My upper digestive issues disappeared completely, however I was still experiencing some lower abdominal discomfort whenever eating dairy so I decided to remove that too. My symptoms disappeared completely. The proteins in dairy are very similar to gluten so although you may not have a true lactose intolerance, the body can mistake the proteins for gluten and you experience a cross-reaction.
To make things a little more complicated, I had been a vegetarian for 27 years, but after having removed various foods from my diet I was now not getting enough protein, which led to severe tiredness, especially after exercising. I made a big decision to re-introduce meat and fish into my diet, which improved my energy levels dramatically almost overnight. Having always been against factory farming, it was extremely important to me to make sure that whatever meat and fish I bought was always grass-fed or wild caught. This makes such a huge difference to the nutrients we receive through these foods compared with the farmed option, it also ensures a high animal welfare policy and traditional farming methods help to save our beautiful planet with less greenhouse emissions and replacing valuable nutrients into the soil.
Unfortunately even with a really nutritious diet, the truth is that today’s soils are so depleted that we are not getting a really nutrient dense base for our fresh produce to grow in, leaving them lacking in essential vitamins and minerals. I took various supplements to make sure that my vitamin and mineral levels were optimised, along with regular probiotics.
My leaky gut was healed (or so I thought) – I certainly wasn’t having intestinal issues. I consumed a wide range of unprocessed whole foods including some grains such as wild rice and rolled oats and a little dairy in the form of raw cheese and home-made raw milk yogurt. I also made sure to include fermented foods and drinks every day, which are easy to make at home (recipes available on the blog page). I believe that if you are eating plants then we need to make sure that our gut bacteria remains optimal for the fermentation that is required.
I started to implement intermittent fasting in early 2017, and found it to be extremely beneficial. My body composition changed as I leaned out more, but more importantly I found that the clarity I experienced was amazing and my energy was very consistent, as was my mood. I very rarely get sick or catch colds.
But my food journey was to take me further still. In October 2017 I decided to see what would happen if I removed ALL plant material from my diet. I had read a lot online and there was a growing body of individuals experiencing some incredible health issues due to this way of eating. It was to be an experimental month. So I started to eat fatty meats, fish, eggs, and a limited amount of raw cheese and stopped taking any supplements. To cut a long story short, a month into “carnivory” my sense of smell and taste returned! I am now over a year into this way of eating and I can still smell and taste. I feel strong and healthy, but of all the things I wasn’t anticipating it was this! I have a few theories about why – which I am planning to put into a book, so watch this space!! It is, however, important to implement this way of eating properly, and everyone is different in their response, depending upon their starting point and health issues. This is why I developed the ROAR! program, to help people find their way safely and effectively.
My Fitness Journey
Despite my health problems, I regularly participated in dance and fitness activities throughout my life, helping to keep me strong and flexible. However, during my early twenties I injured my back – ironically not through exercise but from lifting a car battery out of the boot of my mini in the ice! I slipped and twisted my back, injuring my sacro-iliac joint. The sacro-iliac joint has the responsibility of bearing most of our weight when we are upright and so injury to this area can be very debilitating. It took me a long time to recover from this injury and although I was back to work after about 3 weeks, I still suffered from a very painful lower back all the time and wasn’t really able to exercise properly (although if I had known then what I know now things would have been very different and my recovery would have been much quicker).
A couple of years later I had my first son, followed by three more boys in the subsequent years – the last two being twins! My back problems felt worse than ever. Throughout the years I kept researching different forms of exercise to help, and doing these definitely brought intermittent relief. Although having had a C-section for the birth of my twins, my core strength was virtually non-existent!
As my children grew up I was able to increase and vary my exercise but still found that I was getting niggling pain in the lower back. It was really when I decided to start a career in fitness that things started to change – particularly after I qualified as a Personal Trainer and started researching, and specialising in, functional fitness. Using tools such as kettlebells have helped me develop a really strong core and I no longer suffer from the dull ache in my back that pervaded my life for so long!
Today I live life to the full and am healthier and fitter than I have ever been – at the age of 51! I live in a beautiful part of the world in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire with my wonderful husband and our two labradoodles and cat. My sons have grown into wonderful young men, of whom I am very proud, and I am happy to say that they all take care of their health and fitness. I believe is critical to pass a real understanding of health on to our children. Taking care of ourselves means sharing this knowledge with the next generation, both genetically and through lessons learned.
Building strength and increasing flexibility, using correct movement patterns, is critical to good movement generally and in overcoming, or managing injuries.This is why I perform a Functional Movement Screen with clients, as well as a Fitness and Flexibility test, to assess movement patterns and determine a fitness level baseline from which to work. This allows me to provide a tailored fitness program to suit individual requirements.
Life is full of challenges – and none more so than relationships. When my marriage fell apart it was a very difficult and painful time for all of us. I decided to take some courses with a view to returning to work as a single parent. I studied Counselling and Women’s Stress and qualified as a Women’s Health Practitioner. These courses provided valuable insight into exploring my own vulnerabilities and dealing with the challenges we faced as a family and as an individual.
I subsequently followed my dream and became a fitness instructor and then qualified as a personal trainer and started my own fitness business. I have certifications in various different fields of fitness expertise such as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Cardio Kickboxing & Kettlebell Instructor.
Following my own bouts of ill-health, nutrition began to focus more and more in my life and I gained qualifications in Clinical Holistic Nutrition, Precision Nutrition Coach, Paleo Nutrition and am now a qualified Naturopathic Nutritionist. My interest has been further piqued by the growing research surrounding the gut microbiome and the connection it has with our health and wellbeing. I recently completed a gut microbiome course run through the University of Colorado and am currently studying for a qualification as a Microbiome Practitioner.
I am a member of professional bodies such as the International Institute for Complimentary Therapists (IICT) & the International College of Holistic Medicine (ICHM).