My Wellness Journey
(Sneak peek: It includes a 30-kilo weight loss transformation)
I found my passion for health and fitness at the age of 23. I was also 10-kilos heavier than today and felt like a slug. I was coughing like I had emphysema and my only way of dealing with stress was by lighting a cigarette and puffing away my dilemmas. I knew I had to change. I was lonely, heartbroken and felt like a little fatty – an extra 10-kilos on my 5’1 frame made me look and feel like it was 100-kilos.
I decided it was time to change. So, on that day in August 2003, I went full throttle with my health and fitness goals and have never looked back. I started reading Women’s Health magazines like Oxygen and Women’s Health for inspiration (this was before the interwebs) doing simple exercises in the gym and eating healthier meals. A good friend of mine who was also a Fitness Instructor, drew up a workout plan for me and took me through these exercises till I felt confident knowing what I was doing.
A couple of months later, I ditched the cigarettes for good and just committed to being healthier and fitter. In 8 months, I dropped 10-kilos and continued to work on my health and fitness because I was hooked. I loved my new body and for the first time, I started to love me. This getting healthy and exercising thing was making me look and feel amazing. It gave me a new lease on life and I didn't want to stop.
This all happened in my twenties, where I managed to complete three University degrees (B.Sc majoring in Anatomy and Cell Biology, Master of Occupational Therapy and Graduate Certificate in Occupational Health and Ergonomics) as well as obtaining various personal training qualifications in my spare time. I was fascinated by the human body and how it worked both structurally and functionally. How injury is caused, prevented and rehabilitated. Hence the overkill on the degrees and being the ‘health nerd’.
I worked in the corporate health industry as an Occupational Therapist and Ergonomist in Australia for over 12 years and loved it. After work, I would train clients at my local gym who were looking to get fitter and healthier. Life was great and I was doing exactly what I wanted until August 2012, when it all came to a head.
In 2012, when I was 32 years old, my father was diagnosed with Leukemia (AML) and I was 7 months pregnant. What was meant to be the happiest time of my life (other than finding Mr Right, getting married and soon to be having a baby) was also the worst. Nine days before my daughter was born – as I struggled with pregnancy-related issues and a 30-kilo weight gain (largely due to the stress of a dying parent), I lost my Dad to cancer quite suddenly. Within 2 months of his diagnosis, he was gone. It was the hardest and most challenging period of my life. It was also my critical health turning point. It forced me to reflect on my own health beliefs and practices, whilst trying to understand why and how this could happen.
Over the next 6 years, building on my existing education and years of health industry experience, I committed myself to understanding disease prevention more holistically and what it would take to avoid such an outcome happening to me and those I cared about. I am an experienced health practitioner after all, so I did my due diligence through academic research and critical appraisal. I read fervently and experimented personally with different diets and lifestyle changes, in order to measure the impact these had on my performance both mentally and physically. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary.
My before photo in 2012 had me 30 kilos heavier and a whole world away from the person I am today (heck I still looked pregnant at 3 months post pregnancy). I know personally what it feels like to dislike the body you are in and long more than anything for a vibrant, healthy and beautiful body that you maybe once had or know you deserve. It took me 8 months to lose the baby weight and feel better about my body shape. This time, I looked and felt even better than before because I applied a more holistic approach to my health and fitness, which I still implement today.
The tragic circumstances of my Dad brought me to truly understand the value of health from the inside and out. Focusing on using food as fuel, finding your fitness passion, being comfortable with the uncomfortable and treating your body with kindness. These are the pillars of my Body by Ashanthi philosophy and why I feel so passionate about sharing a more holistic approach to being healthy and fit.
My goal is for all individuals to love their life, their bodies and look and feel amazing every single day from the inside and out.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. We are all on our own journeys in life and I sincerely wish you well in yours.