Endometriosis and one woman's fight to the WBFF Championship
My endometriosis story began at the age of 11 when my periods started. I would bleed for 3 weeks, with one week break. This cycle was continuous and very tiring. I was put on the pill to try to regulate my cycle; different oral forms were tried with little improvement. My periods were very painful and heavy - it wasn’t easy dealing with this at such a young age. Later on in my teenage years I was transferred onto the depo injection which seemed to help my symptoms, but things still clearly weren’t ‘normal’. I went back and forth to the doctors but was just told it was 'one of those things'' and I was unfortunately 'one of those girls' who would suffer excessively painful and long periods with erratic cycles.
It was when I hit my 20s that the pain between my periods was increasing and the effects of excessive bloating and feeling nauseous were getting much worse. I also upsettingly suffered a miscarriage, which I still think about to this day. Taking myself back to the doctors I was told my symptoms were a result of an infection and put on 3 courses of antibiotics, which improved nothing. Eventually after months of pestering I was referred to a gynaecological specialist. After many scans and tests they confirmed I had severe endometriosis. I was advised to have a hysterectomy – without it, I was told that my symptoms would get increasingly worse and would only lead to a poor quality of life.
I was only 23 years old at the time and knew this wasn’t the right thing for me. I had a laparoscopy in which a laser was used to remove a lot of my scarring. The operation confirmed I had many lesions throughout my system and on my ovaries. From this I was told I wouldn’t be able to conceive, which was hugely upsetting and led to the breakdown of my relationship with my boyfriend at the time. I think the medical profession is amazing, I cannot knock them for all they do, but for me I needed to find a more natural way of dealing with my endometriosis if I could.
This was the turning point for me, when I threw myself into my fitness and nutrition. I turned into a book worm researching healing foods and supplements. I used myself as a guinea pig, cutting out foods that were reported to irritate endometriosis and trying out healing foods. The more and more I got myself into this, the more it amazed me. What we put into our bodies on a daily basis really can change our lives!
I took my love for health and fitness to the next level and entered myself into a bodybuilding competition. I have always been a very active girl, dancing since the age of two, competing in all the sports teams at school and for the county in netball. But this was another level, even for me! I completely u-hauled my diet, removing all sugars and processed foods. I began to eat plenty of vegetables, meat, fish and healthy carbohydrates and fats like brown rice, sweet potato, oats, nuts, avocado and oily fish. As my body fat began to drop, my symptoms lessened. The combination of a clean, healthy, low-sugar diet and daily exercise of weights and cardio was really paying off. Through my research I discovered that fat cells produce extra oestrogen which feeds endometriosis, so the less we carry the more we can help this condition. Saying this, we don’t want to drop to an unhealthy body fat as this can put strain on our systems.
Four months on, I enter my fist competition and win! This led to 3 years of competing and loving the sport. I now have the title of WBFF Pro, a dream come true to compete as a professional in a sport I love. Competing on the world stage in Vegas against all the other Pros from around the world was a truly humbling and emotional experience. I felt so lucky to be up there.
Now don’t get me wrong, this hasn’t been a breeze! I still very much suffer with the debilitating effects of this condition. There are still days where it will hit me and I will feel so ill that I struggle with the simplest of everyday tasks. Anyone who suffers with severe endometriosis will know how this feels. The only way I can describe it is like having a combination of flu, a sickness bug and a hangover! This comes and goes for reasons I still cannot put my finger on, but I’m working on it!
I am very lucky to have great support around me in the form of my husband, family and friends, not forgetting my new found network of endo warrior sisters!
I hope that by sharing my story other endometriosis sufferers and their families can find comfort in knowing they are not alone and a wonderful life can be had. A positive mindset and a healthy lifestyle really has helped me to achieve many dreams and goals that I once thought would be impossible.
Much love and health to all my fellow endo warriors!