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Podcast: From Obstacles to Opportunity: My Transformation Journey


Transcript of Podcast


Hello, hello, hello. Welcome to Fit and Fabulous with me, Dr. Orlena. Today, I am going to do something slightly different. I am going to tell you my story. My story of transformation and what that looked like. And you might be thinking, why? Why do we want to know your story? And there's two reasons why I would like to tell you my story.

Number one, Just so that you can get to know me a little bit better. And I would love to get to know you, so if you're not in the Facebook group, come and join the Facebook group and introduce yourself. And that's really a place where I can connect with people and we chat and get to know each other a little bit better.

So that's the first reason, just getting to know each other a little bit better. And the second reason is, I want to explain to you why I'm so passionate about health and wellness. And as I explain, you'll see how easy it is for you to make changes. Where to start? Where to start? Like, back, back, back in the day, I was born in 1975.

To my parents, they lived in London, they moved to tiny Devon, to a tiny town in Devon so that we could lead, you know, grow up in the countryside rather than grow up in a big city. Anyhow, fast forward. I eventually get myself to medical school and I went to the University of Bristol and studied medicine and you may find that my life is not very well planned out.

My dad always used to call me Lena Loops because he said to me I always would get, you know, muddled up about things and never did things in a particularly straight line. So, it took me a while to get to medical school for a variety of reasons. Partly, because I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. And partly, when I had decided I wanted to be a doctor, I didn't have the right A levels, and I had to go and get different A levels.

, another sort of obstacle to overcome. But, when we talk about obstacles, it's very easy to get wrapped up in obstacle, and, oh my goodness, that was difficult. But, I do think out of every obstacle comes a learning opportunity. And my learning opportunity at that moment in time is I remember. Being in a hospital, and I was doing some work experience, I must have been around 19 at the time because I'd already left school and basically realised I needed to get some work experience in order to get myself into university.

And the doctor said to me, Well, what do you want to do? And I said, No, no, I'm not going to be a doctor because basically I didn't get in and I'm just, I'm just going to go and find something else to do. And I remember him saying to me, Well, what If you really want to do this, you will make it happen. And that is something that, oh my goodness, 30 years later, I still remember that exact, I remember standing in the, in the foyer, we were in a busy entrance hall, and I remember him catching me after I was just like busy trying to go home, and him taking time out of his busy day to make this point to me, like, you know, if you want to do this, you will You have to have some skin in the game.

It comes easily to some people, but other people have obstacles. And that's okay. It's your journey. If you want it, you have to do the things that you need to do to make it happen. And that is a lesson that I have really taken with me through the rest of my life. I like to make things happen. Not necessarily in the easiest way, as my dad observed when he called me Leelaloo.

Anyhow, I went to University of Bristol and had a fabulous time, and I ended up going into paediatrics. I don't know why I ended up going into paediatrics, I did really enjoy working with kids, so when I was a student I used to do a lot of nursing, and I used to really love working in the paediatric hospital far more than the other hospitals that I worked in, and so I found myself in paediatrics.

And then at some stage, I, having got reasonably far in paediatrics, I decided that I wanted to move abroad. Now, it wasn't particularly strange that I wanted to move abroad. I've always loved travelling and part of going into medicine was so that I could travel and see the world. The irony being that right now, I did do the travelling bit, I live in Spain, but I'm not actually a clinical doctor anymore.

, I decided to move to Spain and that was really a long story and some other bits that come with it, not least because, you know, it was one of those things that I was putting off and putting off. Oh, I'm going to move when the time is right. When the time is right, I'm going to do that. And certain things sort of happened where I just kind of thought, you know what, I'm going to do it now.

Now, one of the things was my mum lived in France, or she did at the time, and it was October time. chatting to her. This was back when everyone was using Skype rather than Zoom, back in the day. And, you know, we'd just turned the heating on. We were living in South Wales, which we had a lovely house, you know, a nice place to live, but it was cold there.

And my mum was gardening and she had this tiny little t shirt on and, you know, came in to answer the phone. And here's me thinking, I hate the cold, why are we still in this country? And another thing that happened to me, was this was back years and years ago, when there was another pandemic, it wasn't COVID, it was oh my goodness, cow, pig flu, I can't remember, some flu that we had years ago, and I was working at that time, and at that time I was pregnant with my second child, and we weren't supposed to come into contact with patients who potentially had this particular flu.

And, what basically happened was, it was all a bit of a disaster, system failures, I ended up having to tell everyone that I was pregnant, I was really quite early in pregnancy, and essentially I ended up having to see all these patients who were potentially this flu, and I worked in paediatrics. And part of me thought, wait a minute, I work in a department which is looking after the health of children, and that includes unborn children, but my child isn't.

protected enough for me to not be in contact with these patients and that was basically the guidelines that we were given. Which, and then on top of that, one of my bosses really just shouted and yelled at me when I phoned her up on Tuesday morning to say, hey you know those nights that we were supposed to swap and I was supposed to do a different rota, that didn't happen, it all just fell to pieces.

And she just lost the plot on me. Now she was clearly very stressed. A few months down the line she did actually apologise to me, but by that time I had made the decision that I wanted to move to Spain and I was going to work in Spain as a doctor. Now, long story short, that I did work in Spain, but it didn't really happen as easily as I thought it was going to.

It took me an entire year to get my degree recognized in Spain. I just thought, oh, we're all in the European Union, I'll be able to move across and go to Spain. But one of the parts of my journey was that whilst I was in Spain, whilst I started off in Spain, and this idea, this sort of juxtaposition of, oh my goodness, I'm leading this holiday life, I live in this beautiful place.

And yet it was real life as well. And not only was it real life, I found that I had accidentally lost my career. I didn't really mean to give up my medical career. As I say, I thought it would be really easy for me to come here. I also knew there was a possibility that that wouldn't happen, and thought, I'm a resourceful person, I'll find something else.

But I just wasn't prepared for the reality of letting go of that medical career. My, my identity had become a doctor and I liked that identity. I didn't really want to get, you know, let go of it. But that doesn't mean that there weren't, you know, difficult bits with being a doctor. Being a doctor is stressful.

It's long hours, it's a lot of responsibility. And so, you know, there were bits that I loved and bits that I, not so much loved. But so I find myself in Spain, and I'm on one level leading, hooray, dream life, and on another level I'm really, really struggling internally with, oh my goodness, what have I done?

I've lost my career, and what, what do I have to do? Now parallel to that, I already had two children. We moved with two children who were one and two when we moved. And then, I became pregnant, which was a planned pregnancy, but surprise, two for the price of one, twins. So I found myself with four children under the age of four and a half.

Obviously, they grew up, but you know, long, lots of stuff going on, looking after four young kids. and not having a career and thinking, but I need a career and I don't have that security of a career. It's not just I'm taking time out and going back. I've let go of that. What do I now have to do? And so a big part of my journey was, okay, what are you going to do?

And I started blogging. I started blogging about children's health. I knew nothing about blogging. I knew nothing about building a business. And so that was a really big shift for me and one that I could see, you know, I thought it was going to be really really easy it didn't turn out to be really easy and I could see myself, I could see myself being what I call grumpy mum and I didn't want to be grumpy mum I wanted to be leading this holiday life, leading my best life and yet at times I could see myself just getting grumpy with my kids overwhelmed with the situation I could see myself being upset at my work, like what I was supposed to be doing, I would come across some obstacle, I don't know, like trying to put my blog together, and it didn't work, and I would just derail myself for an entire morning and think, what on earth is going on?

And it's at that time that I really started thinking about self care and looking after myself. Prior to that, what did life look like? Well, I was exercise phobic, as a teenager. I went to a school where really you were either in the sports team or you weren't in the sports team and I wasn't in the sports team and I had this idea that I wasn't good at sport and I couldn't do it and I did a little bit of swimming and that was basically the extent of any movement.

So exercise phobic. I remember one of my friends once playing tennis with him and him saying you do know you need to run to hit the ball not just stand there and hope that it comes really really exercise phobic. Now, I ate reasonably healthily, not 100 percent healthily. I had a mindset shift, which I'll tell you about in a minute, about nutrition, but I considered myself to be a reasonably good eater.

Now, the other aspects that I teach people about are sleep and emotional wellness. Well, at that time, I hadn't even heard of emotional wellness really. It wasn't something that really came across my radar. I was, I'd give myself a 60 or 70 percent in terms of healthy living. I'd get more points because I was eating relatively healthily.

I ate a lot of vegetables and a meal without vegetables for me was sort of unheard of. I had grown up in a household where we always had salad or we always had vegetables with dinner and so that habit just kind of carried on. I would essentially always have either salad or vegetables with, with my meals.

What did the transition look like? Well, first of all, I really had to give myself permission to look after myself so I could see myself. I realised, oh my goodness, I'm tired. So, so amazingly tired. I don't actually do anything to look after myself. I don't have a moment to myself. I have these four young kids who jump on me all the time.

I love them to bits, but oh my goodness, are they hard work. And now, in hindsight, I can see, like, negative brain really playing into this. situation so negative brain from my point of view but also for my kids that contagious negative brain that gets passed from person to person So I gave myself permission to go to a yoga class and this was a really gentle yoga class It was Monday afternoon and it was not a sort of strength building yoga class.

It was a relax and calm down yoga class and it was my little period of time in the week where I really allowed myself to relax and just let go of things and that was amazing and obviously by this stage my kids were all at nursery so they were a few years down the line. I also started going, started swimming and that's when my swimming journey started.

To begin with, it started because I was taking my two oldest boys who must have been, I I'm guessing four to six. At that time, they were going to swimming classes. And I remember my husband coming back one day and saying, oh, Dante didn't want to go swimming today, so he didn't go swimming. Now I had been staying at home because the twins needed their nap and they, I think I was still breastfeeding them at the time.

I can't remember the exact the exact timeline. But I remember saying, yeah, that's not really how it works. We've signed him up for these classes and he needs to do these classes. It's not that we're giving him an option here. He just needs to do it. And we need to help him get into the pool. So the next week, I went along and, you know, helped him get into the pool.

And I went upstairs and watched and thought, oh my goodness, it's amazingly hot in this, this pool. in the rafters of the swimming pool and secondly it's a little bit boring watching my kids just swimming and doing their class and oh my goodness I would really really love to be in that pool going up and down and swimming and that's when I started swimming and for me Not only was it a time to start moving my body, but it was a time when I knew I wasn't going to be jumped on by my kids.

It was this amazing period of time for me. It was like a small, another small window in my week that was really just time for me when I had a bit of a break from the kids and could do something else. Now that swimming has step by step got bigger and bigger. I started going to swimming club and classes.

I've found some friends. During COVID we started going more often in the sea. And so now I swim between five and seven days a week, essentially. Either in the swimming pool or in the sea. And each time I swim at least two to three kilometers. that's a period of 10 years that that has happened.

It started with just going to the pool once a week. And that was really what I call my exercise that lights me up. I love swimming. I didn't always love it so much. I used to find it really boring. But, I have managed my mindset around that and I have found ways to not make it boring. So, for example, I love going to swimming club rather than just going up and down the swimming pool.

, it started, , back ten years ago or so, really, probably even longer than ten years ago, with a few changes. Now, the other big change that happened to me was nutrition and I started really looking into nutrition and having a think about nutrition. Now, there were various reasons why I did this.

Number one, I had four children who turned out to be really picky children. Prior to having kids, when I was working as a paediatric doctor, I would have so many parents who would come in and chat to me and say, My child has tummy ache. Oh my goodness, what am I going to do? And I would diagnose that child with constipation and say, Hey, you know what?

It's great. It's fine. It's a really good diagnosis because all you have to do is eat more vegetables. So easy, right? Fast forward a few years and now I'm that parent and I look at my kids and I remember one day my three year old sitting on the toilet with big tears rolling down his little chubby cheeks.

Why? Because he's constipated. Why is he constipated? Is it because I'm not giving him the vegetables? No, the vegetables are on offer but what's happening is he's just picking out the pasta from the pasta and vegetables and not getting enough fibre. And it was really that moment where I realised, oh my goodness.

It's, you know, one thing to present your kids with food, it's another thing that they actually eat them. And it's not as easy as I had previously thought to get your children to eat a healthy diet. I really started looking into nutrition and what is healthy diet and what is the current research. And oh my goodness, bombshell, this idea that white, what I now call white refined carbohydrates of bread and pasta are not good for you.

I had no idea before that. I remember my aunt, years and years ago, I must have been about 15, and she came to stay. She lived in the Bahamas, so we hardly ever saw her. I remember having lunch, And I remember her saying, Oh, this bread is so delicious, I'm going to have another slice of bread. But that's really naughty, isn't it?

And when I think about this in hindsight, I think she must have had this idea that bread wasn't good for her. Whereas in my mind, bread was savoury, bread was healthy. It wasn't like eating chocolates or cakes. It was something totally different. And now I know better. Now I know that basically bread and sugar metabolise to be basically the same thing.

They are essentially the same thing. Except that I went through the whole of medical school without realising that, without really thinking about it. It wasn't something that really came on my radar. There was this big shift of, oh my goodness, I've grown up in what I call the carbohydrate era.

Breakfast cereal for breakfast. Sandwich for lunch, pasta for dinner, snacks of biscuits and crisps and things like that. Yes, we were eating fruit and vegetables, but there was a big focus on white refined carbohydrates. And there doesn't need to be a big focus on white refined carbohydrates, other than this is the era that we live in and they're very easy to purchase and they're very easy to buy and prepare.

That was a big shift really in terms of nutrition. Not just for me, but also for my children as well and figuring out, like, how do we help children in this modern day and age eat the healthy stuff when really what they want to eat is cake and biscuits and more cake and more biscuits and processed food.

Why? Because it tastes good. Because it's easy. Yeah. Okay. So I did a lot of work on that. Those were some of the transitions I made. And really building them into my life, so that that became my identity. This is who I am now. I eat healthily, I exercise, I love it. This is me leading my best life. And obviously, yes, I've worked on mindset as well.

And I've continued to work on mindset. And understanding how the brain works, and how we think, and how our emotions work. Oh my goodness, understanding emotions was another epiphany. Eat like. I had no idea what emotions were before and how they impacted us, I just went on this roller coaster of an emotional ride.

But now I realise I don't have to do that, or at least, not 100%, I can have some control over my emotions. Those were some of the shifts I made until I've got to where I am now, which is, what I say, leading my life of luxury. And I don't mean I have a Louis Vuitton handbag, I don't, I'm not that rich, I will be one day, I'm sure.

But what I really mean is, I get to lead the life I want to. I work flexible hours, I'm here for my children, I swim, I do things that I really love that are good for me, good for my body. I have a great work life balance, and all the things I do, I enjoy doing, and also they support my health and my wellness, which is really important to me.

And so that brings me to this question, why am I so passionate about health and wellness? Why do I spend my life inspiring other people to make changes and going, you can do it, you can do it, you really can do this? And the answer to that question is Well, when you look in a hospital, when I worked in a busy hospital, I had to do adult medicine for a little bit before I did paediatric medicine, it is full of people who are there with a big contributing factor of lifestyle illnesses.

Now, when I was working in a hospital, I didn't really exactly have these thoughts, I kind of resonated, but not thought out. And now when I look at it, I think, oh my goodness, so many of those illnesses can be avoided. by leading a healthy life. Now, not only that, you can increase your energy levels if you want to lose weight.

All of these things are symptoms that you aren't leading your most healthy life. And not only can you lead your best life and enjoy your best life by leading a healthy lifestyle, but actually it doesn't have to be that difficult. I know that when you're standing there and you've got all of these habits, all of this stuff going on that you normally do, it feels like it is really, really difficult.

Take, for example, giving up sugar. If I tell you, you have to give up sugar to be healthy, most people are like, oh my goodness, what is life like without sugar? That's going to be just a disaster. I can't possibly do that. I'm going to be deprived of sugar. I'm not going to have any joy in my life. But what if I said to you, actually, you're still going to enjoy your life, you're still going to have fun, it's just that sugar's not going to be part of it, it's just you have to go through that process of understanding, yeah, actually, sugar does not equal joy, sugar does not equal happiness.

And once you've gone through that, you get to this place of, I love my life, I do all the things I really want to do, I enjoy my life. look after my body, I look after myself and I don't need sugar. Now that is a journey that people go on and for some people, yep, they get it like that, like in a few days.

Some people it takes a little bit longer. Remember that doctor who I spoke to right back when I was 18 or 19 and he said, you know, people's journeys are different. If you want this, you have to go and get it. You really have to do it. Like for some people it's going to be super easy. Some people start medical school at the age of 17 or 18.

I was. 21 when I started medical school. That's okay. We're all on a different journey. Some people have more obstacles than others, but whatever the obstacles look like, once you get to what I call healthy, amazing you, you are loving your life. It is easy. And you're doing these things to support your health and wellness.

Your energy levels go up. You've reduced your risk of all these horrible diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Even some cancers. And you're just enjoying your life in the same way, if not more, than you were before. When you were there thinking, Oh my goodness, I need to make changes, I need to make changes, I need to make changes.

The reason I want to inspire people is because it is actually really easy when you get there. There is this transitional bit, which can be tricky, which makes it feel impossible. It's not impossible, it just feels impossible. Now, that's the bit that I call the rickety bridge. Imagine yourself, you're on one Tori says swine flu, thank you Tori.

Imagine yourself, you're on one One plat, one cliff. And that is where you are right now. And you want to get across to another cliff. But there's a ravine in between. And there's this thing called the rickety bridge that goes across. Now you want to get to the other side, but the rickety bridge is rickety because you start going along it, something happens.

And then you end up going back and that something is life and that those going back that's habits your old habits pull you back but once you've got to the new habits it's all amazing it's all easy you're doing it without thinking now I will be put my hand on my heart and say I think a lot of people actually They need support getting over that bridge.

Why do they need support? Because they're so busy doing other stuff. They're busy leading their other lives. They've got other responsibilities. And that's fine. It's fine to have some support. Now a few people can do it by themselves. But the vast majority of people can't do it by themselves. And for some reasons, like if we think about who can do it by themselves, people who've had a really big medical scare, and their doctor says, you need to change or else it's going to be lights out.

That might motivate you enough to get to the other side. But the vast majority of people really do need some support getting across, and that is what I offer people. I offer people that support of getting to healthy, amazing you, so that you are enjoying your life, so that you're doing all of these healthy things that you love.

And feeling healthy, full of energy, and knowing that you're avoiding all of those horrible diseases in the future. I hope that explains a little bit about me, and why I'm so passionate about healthy living, and why it's so important. I kind of see myself as a doctor who helps you avoid going to see other doctors who are going to give you some pills and medications.

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