I would like to be up front and make it clear that I, Caitlin Ficken, like most people out there, experienced a time when I could not have been considered ‘healthy’. I was a 19 year old who was ironically studying nutrition at university, yet I was relying on vitamin B12 injections along with a whole host of supplements in order to curb my severe anaemia and get out of bed in the morning. I was exercising like a maniac, running everyday sometimes up to 2.5 hours at a time. Both a podiatrist and a chiropractor told me they couldn’t believe I was still walking, let alone running with the extent of joint inflammation and muscular imbalances I was experiencing. I was exhausted, I had brain fog, I was constantly cold, I was constantly hungry, I had terrible mood swings (even after the years of being a teenage girl had passed) I was underweight but I would spend countless hours a day obsessing over my body fat and longing to be thinner. People would commend me on how “disciplined” I was when it came to my diet and exercise regimen and my ‘trim’ figure when in reality I was drowning.
I followed a strict vegan diet coupled with long distance running for two and a half years and it left me mentally and physically broken. Here I was on the path to becoming a Dietitian who was supposed to be an expert in nutrition and I was battling disordered eating and nutrient deficiencies across the board. I was proud of the fact that I survived on fruits, vegetables, tofu and a few nuts only. Was I surviving? Just. Was I thriving? Definitely not!
The path to wellness was not an easy road. Transitioning to a diet which would provide a full nutrient profile made me feel like a failure. To be healthy I needed to put on weight and start to build muscle and accepting that was a daily struggle. Destined to reverse the damage I had done to my body I threw myself into the conflicting world of nutrition and was shocked by all the discrepancies between what the latest research reflected and what our ‘healthy eating guidelines’ were telling us.
I put into practice all I was learning and I was finally on the road to developing a healthy relationship with food. I changed my perspective from simply tracking calories to nourishing my body with REAL, unprocessed, nutrient dense wholefoods. Fast forward to today and I am a completely different person. I have the energy and muscles to lift heavy weights, sprint fast, and walk around on my hands (which I do every day). I am happy in my own skin and my journey has inspired me to help others to maximise their health through education and great nutrition.