I am Kirsty Harwood a scientist by training, and live in Newcastle upon Tyne with my partner and two daughters. I have a degree, MSc and PhD in a range of environmental sciences and have published scientific research papers. I currently work part time as a government environmental scientist monitoring and understanding natural environmental interactions. The rest of my time is spent studying and practising nutrition.
As an active person who exercised,
socialised, lead a normal family life and was rarely off work ill, I was
shocked when suddenly in 2014 I was unable to function. I was wired and had an
over active startle reflex with multiple energy ‘crashes’ and needed sleep
through the day. I could no longer perform simple family tasks like taking the
kids to school and had to stop work for 6 months. I had the all too familiar
experience of being passed round conventional medicine disciplines but there
was nothing that the standard NHS tests could diagnose. I had ‘medically
unexplained’ symptoms and like many others ended up with a bucket diagnosis of
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
As many of you know CFS is not a diagnosis, it is a set of extremely debilitating symptoms with no single cause.
A nutritionist’s explanation of CFS, and indeed many ‘medically unexplained’ illnesses, is due to metabolic dysfunction brought on by multiple imbalances in the body. There are a minority of sufferers who only have one or two imbalances and can improve by changing what they eat (e.g. removing inflammatory foods) or practising mindfulness (to calm their ‘fight or flight’ sympathetic nervous system) and then become ‘cured’ and can function normally again. For most of us with CFS however, it is not that simple, and there are many more imbalances at play.
Taking matters into my own hands, I invested my spare time and resources into understanding how the (my!) body works, as well as seeking advice and guidance from various experts, including both NHS consultants and private independent practitioners. I realised that the approach that sports scientists use to get the body working at its best for competitive events can also be used to improve chronic health conditions.
Nutritional therapy, or functional
nutrition, has been key to my recovery.
For this I enlisted the nutritional guidance of Marek Doyle’s to guide me
through my own unique imbalances. Within 6 months had regained my health
sufficiently to return to work and restore my self-esteem. Since then I have
continued to regain my health, I am back at work, practising nutrition and
enjoying life again. I have rediscovered my love of walking and climbing hills
and holidays are spent recharging in the fresh air.
I also volunteer and run the facebook page for 'CRESTA Fatigue Health Champions' at the NHS fatigue clinic I attend, as I wanted to help others in my situation not feel isolated.
With my health returning, I have continued to learn and train myself further in nutrition, so I can hopefully help others on a similar journey. My experiences, training and qualifications include:
· Diploma in Advanced Nutrition from http://www.gbfitness.com– approved by the Complimentary Medical Association and run by Cain Leathem an experienced nutritional therapist and personal trainer to sports professionals
· Attending GB Fitness seminars on endocrinology (that’s hormones to you and me, not just sex hormones, but also cortisol for your ‘get up and go’ and thyroid to control your metabolism)
· Attending further practitioner seminars on hormones and weight management
· Most recently, I have been studying under Marek Doyle’s Academy for nutritional therapy http://www.marekdoyle.com . Marek has 12 years experience and over 2000 clients. He understands how to optimise an individual’s metabolism to get his clients bodies to work at their best, from the chronically ill to sports professionals.
I have passed the following Academy modules - these are gruelling 2.5 hour written exams so this is no mean feat, but necessary to demonstrate thorough understanding of principle and techniques
- Structuring a Treatment Plan – feeding without inflaming.
- Sleep, Digestion and Central Nervous System
- Hormones (Thyroid, Adrenal, Estrogen/Testosterone/Progesterone and the Rest)
As part of a growing network of nutritional therapists, working alongside Marek Doyle’s Academy, I also access other therapists to draw on their experience and case histories, to provide a wider pool of support and guidance.
So I get it, have lived it and now want to share what I have learnt to help others to improve their health.