UA-71620762-2About – Tara Jackson
My health journey

I was adopted from India when I was just two weeks old and moved to Kenya (where I grew up) with my parents who were expats from Canada and the UK. Growing up I had many influences on me from a wide variety of cultures, as I also got to spend a lot of my summer holidays travelling around Europe, the US and Canada to visit family. I got to try many new cuisines and my love affair with food began.

I moved to London for my degree, which is where my health started to change for the worse. It was a total culture shock coming from an environment rich in tropical flowers and greenery, earthy ruggedness and warmth all year round to the cold, grey, harsh reality of this overwhelming city (or at least that is how it felt at the time).

I grew up eating real, whole food, mainly vegetarian as it was cheaper (I have six siblings) and had exercised weekly throughout my entire childhood – where I was on all the sports teams. In London, I began to eat and drink excessively as I found comfort in the warm doughiness of baguettes packed with cheese, endless sweet and creamy coffees, muffins, pizzas, you name it. If it was a quick and easy white carbohydrate I was on it! I also chose to escape in bottles of cheap red wine – yes, being a student didn’t help. But it came too easily as a way to avoid reality.

My university years were a combination of bingeing and then jumping on the bandwagon of the next ‘lose weight quick’ celebrity endorsed diet, where I inevitably yo-yoed between losing a bit of weight and then gaining it all back plus more.

This way of eating continued as I moved into an office job. It was further enhanced by way too many after-work drinks and I eventually found myself with major digestive issues (which were so bad at one point I was taking taxis to work as I was scared to get on the underground for fear of an ‘accident’), feeling consistently tired, steady weight gain and general low self-confidence.

I knew my diet had a huge part to play in how I was feeling and what I was experiencing, so I would go through phases of healthy eating and cooking, spurred on by seeing a macrobiotic coach at one point, doing a short nutrition course and reading extensively around the subject - which I find fascinating. I would then start to feel healthier, happier and have more energy, but then as soon as I did I would have a ‘blowout’ and go right back to where I was. I always seemed to self-sabotage.

It was only when my brother was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour and had to change his lifestyle overnight, I knew it had to stop. I needed to really think about what I was also doing to my body. I needed to stop treating it so badly. I was also sick and tired of feeling like crap. I knew I could feel amazing in my skin all the time and I didn't know why I was settling for any less.

So, I started to make some major changes – only eating real, whole foods, cooking most of my meals from scratch and incorporating yoga into my weekly routine. I began experimenting with food, exercise, meditation and more to find out what worked for me and my body, to make me feel great. At the same time I started studying to be a health coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. This was such a wonderful, informative experience that totally complemented my own changes I was making.
You can learn more about my training here.

Today I’m enjoying the process of doing things to relieve stress which make me feel good about myself, moving my body in ways I enjoy (sometimes it’s a gentle yoga class and other times it’s a fun zumba class), cooking wholesome, veggie filled, nutritious meals, and above all, doing things that make me feel good inside and out (if that’s a day in bed in my pyjamas with a pizza so be it)!

I feel so much happier and alive and am so thankful this is where I am today.

If you would like to read more about my story and journey, please take a look at my book 'Embodied' which came out in July 2019.