Deb’s Story


Early in 1996, I decided it was time to get fit and lose a few pounds, so I joined the gym and signed up with a personal trainer. Before long, I was going 5 days a week – 3 x for an hour weight training, and 2 x for an hour “fat burning” on the treadmill or in an aerobics class. And I started to learn about nutrition. 

My trainer cracked down on junk food, and fat, and increased my protein. Because of my level of weight training, I was eating 90-120gms of protein a day, my carbs were unrestricted and my fat was low. I was vigilant, and proud to be able to get my fat under 15%. At this time, some of the body builders in the gym knew to decrease their carbs when getting lean for competition, but they still kept their fat intake right down. Nobody had heard of The Zone. I took a multi-vit/min and a few other supplements. I was getting stronger and fitter. My weight slowly crept down, by about 1/2 a kg a month, which seemed a healthy rate of loss. I was only working about 25 hours a week and thought things were going pretty well. Ian owned a bike shop at the time, and when we started a website in 1997, I started sharing what I’d learnt about sports nutrition with our customers.

After about 18 months, I got a sore throat & thinking I was fighting off a cold, upped my Vit C. I never got the cold, but it took weeks for the sore throat to go away. Another 3 months went by and I started feeling a little tired. Some weeks, by the time it got to Thursday morning I’d wake up & think “I’m too tired to go to the gym” and sleep for an extra hour. By this time it was nearly Xmas, which is always a hectic time of year, so my fatigue seemed normal. After Xmas I spent my usual couple of days “recovering” but to my surprise my fatigue didn’t then go away.

There had a been a rash of people at work “catching” glandular fever or Epstein Barr virus, so I went to be tested. Sure enough, I tested positive. My doctor couldn’t suggest anything except rest and time. In February, my contract work ran out, and I was able to spend most of my time resting. Which was just as well – some days I’d get up, shower and dress, eat breakfast, and then my energy would run out. I’d always been interested in alternative medicine, and had been studying herbs for some time. I started searching the net for “cures”.

I started learning a lot of new stuff about health, but it wasn’t till I heard about the blood type diets and started on the O diet, that my health began to improve. Not only did the chronic fatigue go away, but cutting out grains, especially wheat, fixed some bowel problems that I had been experiencing. It took what seemed like a long time for my body to fully recover. In the meantime, I read many health and diet books, spent a lot of time on the net and learnt a lot of nutritional information that was different to what many people believed. My few food pages became a stand alone site, and DietNet was born.

There are a few important points to be learnt from my experiences :

  • The dangers of overtraining. I thought I was doing no more than other people at the gym, and believed I needed to do that amount of exercise to achieve my goals. What I didn’t know was that a moderate amount of exercise enhances the immune system, but an excessive amount depletes it. The amount differs from person to person, but be careful with the amount of exercise you’re doing.
  • The dangers of inadequate fat in the diet. My fat intake was excessively low, and this was a huge contributing factor to my eventual meltdown. I’ve since learnt through experience that I need quite a high level of fat in my diet to stay well. For me, increasing fat intake, and cutting out grains started to improve my health. I was already eating plenty of protein, but that wasn’t enough without the fat.
  • Ill health can sneak up inexpectedly, so don’t ignore the signs. The onset of chronic fatigue took me by surprise. Apart from the bowel problems, I felt pretty well. A bit tired occasionally. Maybe if I’d listened to my own body more carefully, I wouldn’t have ignored the signs.
  • Take responsibility for your own health. Listen to health & nutrition advice from your doctor, naturopath or personal trainer, but do your own research as well. The more knowledgeable you are about health issues generally and your own situation specifically, the more likely you are to make the right choices.

Incidentally, I now follow a (mainly) whole food diet, hardly ever eat grains, and keep my carb intake lowish and my protein and fat higher. I’m back weight training three times a week, but my sessions aren’t as long, my cardio sessions are shorter and more fun and I do a fair amount of stretching.