This week I am a guest blogger on Changing Habits. So excited and proud to see my first guest blog! The past three years has been a journey, and Changing Habits has been a huge part of my recovery. Check it out here A journey of healing and self-discovery by Sarah West.

Here is my story…

Journey of healing and self-discovery – Sarah West

Like so many of us it took a health crisis for me to awaken to a new way of eating and living. Three years ago in 2012, two weeks after the birth of my first child I developed Postpartum Psychosis. This is an acute mental illness that occurs after having a baby, a loss of contact with reality that includes mania, confusion, strange beliefs, hearing and seeing things, racing thoughts and is a psychiatric emergency. Despite having a background in Psychology and Brain and Mind Sciences, I had never heard of this postpartum mood disorder. Like many I only knew of Postpartum Depression, and I was struggling to comprehend what had happened to me, why did it happen and what triggered it. I was not only struggling to care for a newborn, I was also struggling to work out who I was as a new mother. I was struggling to work out how best to look after myself and heal from the darkness of my mental illness.

In times of unknown I seek out answers, I research and educate myself. In searching for a reason for Postpartum Psychosis happened to me I had a theory that it had something to being deficient in nutrients as the pregnancy had drained what little I had to begin with. I had ignored my body whispering Ketosis Pilaris to me for years, a fatty acid deficiency, which I knew from my university studies that Omega 3 plays a major role in mental health disorders. I have grown up on the Standard Australian Diet, a low-fat diet which I have now realise that is not compatible with a fatty acid deficiency, processed foods with all the chemicals that add toxins to my body, and lacking nourishment for my gut-health. Throughout childhood I was chubby, and as I got older I continued to put on weight, no matter what I seemed to do or try the weight kept creeping on into adulthood. The pregnancy and anti-psychotic medication tipped me to the heaviest weight I had been in my life.

2013-11-15 010 Damien

A year along in my journey of recovery I began to research to seek answers to my questions and as I researched I stumbled across the Changing Habits Website in November 2013. Everything I read made sense, and I began to realise that my nutrition and nourishing my body was key to my recovery and healing. With the expectation that I have nothing to lose I threw myself into Changing Habits. I began to listen to the Up For a Chat podcasts from the beginning which gave me huge support and motivation, many ahas along the way and three vivacious ladies who made me feel that I wasn’t alone on this journey of healing. I heard that Cyndi was doing a workshop in Sydney in March 2014 it was a glimmer of hope for me. I took mum and myself along to the workshop for a day packed with nutrition-focused information. From this workshop I came away feeling that I can change one small habit at a time, I began to work out what my body needed in order for it to heal. Meeting Cyndi at the end of workshop was a highlight, she was so genuine and down to earth, supportive, and happy to chat and listen. I still remember her advice to me was “You need to meet Mel”, as in Mel Kent, the Changing Habits Healthy Living Club Coach.

With the ‘Changing Habits, Changing Lives’ book in hand I devoured every chapter of knowledge and began implementing small changes into our family lifestyle. When weaning our son off bottles, we weaned our family onto full fat milk. I started to scrutinise the back of every pack, scanning the ingredients and reducing the numbers of additives. I began cooking and baking at home making food from scratch, starting with making our own bread. I began to reduce the amount of refined wheat and sugar our family were eating. The more changes I made the better I felt mentally, which gave me the resolve to take on another change, which the weight began to fall off giving me more energy to take on more changes. The biggest change I made was adding in the good fats, this was a huge change of headspace for me after growing up with the notion that fat is bad for your health. Instead of focusing on what I had to take out, I slowly added in the good, nourishing foods which crowded out the not-so-healthy foods that I had grown up with.

I heard that Up for A Chat was holding retreat on the Sunshine Coast, the Awaken the Change Within retreat in November 2014. Along with mum we jetted off to Mooloolaba for three action packed days with Cyndi, Kim from Twenty8 and Carren Smith. At this point of my journey I had released 15kgs since the Day with Cyndi in March and I was touched that Cyndi remembered me, though I did look different! I had many break downs and break throughs over the retreat but it gave me the strength to continue on my journey of healing. I picked up another key to my recovery: self-care. It was up to me to nurture myself physically, mentally and spiritually.

2014-11-21 011 Cyndi

In May 2015 I attended the MINDD Forum in Cyndi and caught up Cyndi, who once again did not recognise me. I looked different having released another 15kgs, a total of 30kgs in 14 months. In May I also attended the Day with Cyndi 2016 and was able to connect with others who were also on this journey of change. I love how Cyndi is always educating herself and sharing her research with her tribe. From attending the MINDD Forum to the Day with Cyndi workshop, Cyndi was passionately speaking about how we need to get back in the kitchen to feed our families to heal the nation. Being in the kitchen was instrumental in healing myself and I was seeing changes in not just my own health but also my husband and son’s health.

2015-05-23 002 Cyndi

Over the months I continued to seek out more knowledge and education. In 2015 I began the Twenty8 Health and Lifestyle Education Program with Kim Morrison, learning the power of essential oils and daily self-care rituals and how important they are in my journey of healing and self-discovery. I also heard that Changing Habits was starting an Education Course too, which I was so keen to be a part of. I got the opportunity in the July 2015 Intake of the Changing Habits Online Nutrition Course. I am empowered being a part of like-minded tribe of incredible souls, sharing knowledge together and working towards changing the world to be a better, more nourished and healthy place for us all.

People would ask ‘How did you lose the weight?” Nourish my body and nurture my mind. “Do you exercise more?” No, if anything I exercise less to reduce the stress on my body and allow it to heal. “Are you doing Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and the like?” No, I am changing my habits and biohacking what is right for my body. “So what do you eat?” I just eat real food. For those who were aware of Changing Habits, “Have you done the 4 Phase Fat Elimination Protocol?” No, I read the book ‘Changing Habits, Changing Lives’ and imagine what the possibilities are when I do start the protocol! I changed one small thing at a time; there are no quick fixes, no diets, no magic pills, just working towards being the best version of myself. To date, November 2015, I have released 38kgs over two years, I am discovering who I truly am and I am healthier than I have ever been in my life!

Inspiring you to nourish yourself towards healing and self-discovery!

Changing Habits