Growing up, I used to have this strange thing happen to me where I would just break out in hives, really itchy, big hives and I noticed the symptoms would amplify when I would go into a chlorine pool. 

I took one Zyrtec (antihistamine) everyday for a couple of years and then I sort of grew out of it…

This was the start of what was to come. I suffered from really bad back pain at the age of 15 and was given anti-inflammatories to go overseas but little did I know that the vertebrae in my lower spine were inflamed and riddles with arthritis.

At the age of 16 I woke up to find my right eye red, sore, swollen and pupil was failing to dilate as normal. 

With all the things that had happened to me during my childhood, I think my parents may have had multiple heart attacks, but this time I myself, was starting to freak out. 

I was diagnosed with Arthritis in the eye and had to put some very uncomfortable eye drops in until symptoms eased.

At this point, we still had no knowledge that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis because nothing had triggered it off.

Unfortunately, it is hereditary and on my mums side of the family, and it’s common for something like a gastro bug to trigger the symptoms.

Well lucky me… 

I had gastro over a weekend when I was 22 years old, and funny enough, a few weeks later I began experiencing inflammation in my knee. There were times that the pain was so uncomfortable I was forced to wear a knee brace to work. Walking & kneeling became a daily struggle. I then started experiencing inflammation in my fingers. The pain I experience here was next level!
My knuckles became so inflamed I had to sleep with gloves on in an attempt to reduce some of the swelling. Not to mention my lower back pain had returned to add to the troubles.

After a ridiculous amount of blood tests, I was finally diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a type of Rheumatoid Arthritis. 

I was prescribed some pretty heavy drugs, a chemo drug called methotrexate, which can cause severe nausea and affects your reproductive system whilst taking it. I also had to give myself an injection every two weeks with a drug that suppresses my immune system to help fight the disease, in this case arthritis.

One way to get off the methotrexate was to improve my overall health. I knew I didn’t want to be taking this drug long-term, and if I started to make a conscious effort to improve my physical fitness as well as my nutritional choices on a daily basis, I would set myself up to be living a much healthier lifestyle.

At this time, I rarely exercised, but I knew it was something I needed to do more of.

Given my situation with severely inflamed joints, the only thing I could do was yoga.

So I did yoga, every…single…day! 

I became quite good at it too!

I also did some pilaties, then decided I wanted to get into running, So I began to get into some running training. I had no strength or fitness so I would run every afternoon from North beach to South (about 1.5km) until that became easy and then gradually increase the distance.

This was the beginning of my running days and wanting to learn more about the fitness industry.

I got myself to a healthy enough state so I no longer required the methotrexate, but I still to this day give myself an injection every two weeks.

My Rhuemitoiligst is constantly amazed at my training capabilities. 

Sometimes, there are some pretty tough days, especially through the colder months.

I can recall a number of times where it would hurt to even wrap my hands around a barbell, but I would suck it up and push through it anyway.

I like to do some type of training every day, because if I don’t, I feel my body stiffen up.

I know there are many people out there that may experience far worse conditions than me, but I am very grateful that I can do what I do everyday and work with some amazing people to help change peoples lives the way I have changed mine.

Coach Natalie