ABOUT STACEY HANCOCK
Qualifications & Experience
I get it. I know what it feels like to be overweight, bloated with no explanation, in pain, fatigued and looking for my 6th coffee by midday (with tons of sugar of course). I understand emotional eating, I understand binge eating and I understand how hard it is to make a change. I also know how rewarding it is. My qualifications mean nothing if I can't relate to you. Keep reading for the long history and please do read right to the end - it might change your life.
THE LONG HISTORY
Everyone has a story to tell. This is my story of how I reclaimed my health through nutrition, exercise, hope, determination and perserverance. If I hadn’t been through this mess, chances are I wouldn’t be doing the job I do today. It is this personal 35 year journey, my 5 year experience in this business and my international qualifications that make me the coach I am.
BIRTH, INFANCY & ADOLESCENCE
I was born with a cleft palate, fortunate enough without the harelip, so you can’t tell that I had one. What this meant was right from day one of life things were pretty stressful. I wasn’t breast fed and I wasn’t allowed to suck my thumb. I was also subject to tests, needles, surgery and drugs all before the age of one.
At the age of 2 I developed chronic constipation that lasted for around 2 years (yes I went in that time, but boy was it a battle and it was only every 3 or so weeks...youch!) This meant more tests, doctors visits, and loads of laxatives. Finally ending in...you guessed it, surgery and more drugs.
From around age 5ish I developed a series of chronic UTI (Urinary Tract) infections that continued on for around 3 years. Blah blah blah, more antibiotics, doctors visits, tests and once again...surgery and drugs.
It’s not over. The next chronic ailment included severe ear infections and tonsillitis. Antiobiotics, tests, doctors visits, surgery and drugs were all on the menu. At the age of 16 my ears were finally dealt to through cortorisation and at the age of 21 the doctors finally removed my scarred and enlarged tonsils.
My diet was pretty shocking, I was one of those kids that didn’t like or eat many vegetables, although my parents tried. We had a good upbringing, but I would always base my diet around biscuits, chips, icecream, white bread, lollies, cakes, slices, cordial and softdrink and complement it with meat. My diet didn’t contribute 100% to my medical conditions, but it didn’t help either.
From as young as I can remember I have had emotional health issues (I don’t like to label them mental health). Chronic mood swings, depression, anxiety and a very poor stress response.
Not surprising really is it.
I began binge eating from the age of 6 as a way of self medicating the anguish that I carried every single day. Binge Eating Disorder is not the same as “having a pig out” or overeating once in a while. I was a Binge Eater until the age of 28 before I realised I had a problem. No one, at any point in my life stopped and asked me why I would eat so much, so fast and still eat more.
From as young as I can recall I have always had a distended stomach with excess body fat. I was never obese, but I have always been “overweight”.
My nutrition and Binge Eating never improved and I continued to have chronic mood swings, and my weight didn’t seem to increase, but my bloated belly would always hang over my pants. I saw myself as fat and disgusting. I was bullied at school by nasty girls who threatened to “smack me over” and amongst my group of friends there were girls who also bullied and belittled me.
After a head on collision, I was ridiculed some more for my driving. I was just glad to be alive.
I began drinking at the age of 16, regular, weekend binges that would out-do any adult male, and would see me in bed all day following.
Staying in the Halls of Residence, combined with weekend boozing, study stress and a new carefree freedom being away from high school kept me stuck in my health patterns of mood swings and depression. My weight started creeping up more during this time – but I was having a good ol’ party time and didn’t care.
Once I started flatting during study, my diet consisted entirely of energy drinks, alcohol, Cookie Time Cookies, snack bars, hot chips, pies, buns, Chinese food and flat cooking.
At the age of 21, I had 3 falls onto my tailbone (snowboarding, rollerblading and being drunk). They weren’t major injuries, but the culmination of those injuries combined with poor posture and poor gut health created chronic back pain which lasted 13 years!
EARLY WORK YEARS
I started my career in a radio station. My diet never changed, but got even worse! I was now drinking lattes all day long and adding 6 sugar packs to each one. I was averaging about 27 teaspoons of sugar a day in my coffee alone. That was including all the muffins, savouries, lollies, milkshakes, ice creams and energy drinks I was consuming.
By this time, I was on anti-depressants. I was still experiencing mood swings, was in the grips of back pain and was having daily sharp pains through my right shoulder. I was ending my day with a drink and recreational drug use which didn’t help – of course.
I started moving flats, jobs and cities in order to find some sort of peace and comfort. What I really needed was to tidy up my internal chemistry so that I could think and feel differently about my life.
I fondly remember one flat I lived in, the staple grocery shopping haul each week was: White bread, 2 minute noodles, coke, mince and 6 packs of pies. I honestly can’t remember what else was in those groceries. My neighbour even started calling me Noodles.
FINDING HEALTH....SORT OF
How many gym memberships had I obtained and not used? I don’t know, but it was quite a few. The general culture seemed to be “exercise your face off” and not one gym instructor addressed my diet, back pain or lifestyle. I was left to flounder and obtain zero results.
I really enjoyed the experience of falling off the treadmill. But what I enjoyed even more was the asshole trainer who decided to hassle me about it every time I went to the gym. Needless to say, I didn’t stick around.
At my heaviest I was 85kg. I discovered Body for Life when I was in Christchurch in 2003 and ended up losing 10kg very easily. But then my job situation changed and I got sucked into ‘hospo’ eating and gained 5kg back. No one had yet taught me what the relationship was between food and life. I did manage to come off my anti-depressants...they didn’t seem to be working. But again, no one was there to help with the process of weaning off. It was rough going.
On moving back to the Waikato I made a pact with myself. I was going to get my health sorted once and for all. And when I say health, I didn’t just mean my weight, I was also talking about my posture, pain, energy, and mental health. It was a big goal and needed the right approach. I didn’t put a time frame on it, My only thought was this: It’s not over until the job is done.
Unfortunately I only found an approach to deal with my weight. Once again I couldn’t find a trainer who could help me with food and training specific to my other goals.
I lost 20kg with a couple of trainers, going from 80kg down to 60kg and competed in my first bodybuilding show in 2007 where I was in the top 5. The following year I placed 2nd. Tell me...does 3 hours of daily exercise and a strict diet every single day sound like a body that was happy to let go of fat? The pain from my back was excruciating, but I foolishly kept going. Because that's what we kept getting taught right? No pain no gain?...Pain is weakness leaving the body, or some other stupid nonsense like that.
My weight shot back up to 70kg within 2 weeks. Not really a good long term weight loss approach now was it? Not only that, my mental and physical health was well and truly broken. I had hit that low point of burnout, where no hormone could function as it was supposed to.
So, by 2008 after that show, I still had chronic back pain, still suffering from anxiety, depression and stress and still had poor posture. I knew I had to take matters into my own hands and think outside the box to manage this myself. And that’s where the real journey began.
In 2007 I started my company, completed my first qualification and got stuck into researching all about my health issues and the relationships between our body, mind and the environments we operate in. I hired physios, osteos, chiropractors, naturopaths, herbalists, counsellors, doctors, massage therapists, hydrotherapists, natural healers, and other personal trainers to get their perspective on my body. I created timelines and documented patterns regarding my entire life, from the day I was born.
I undertook international study through the CHEK institute and continued on with independant research throughout the nutrition, fitness and natural health professions. I attended seminars and workshops and picked the brains of all types of practitioners to get a handle on how this crazy ol’ body functions from north to south, east to west and all points down to the central core.
I kept going, trying everything I could find, learning everything I could and finally conquered the bulk of my health issues.
Finding health and finding both physical and mental strength, endurance, flexibility and agility is a journey for deep and long standing issues.
So right now I am still working with my Integrated Doctor in detoxification and with various bodywork specialists to help tidy up the deepest and oldest stuck patterns in my health. The superficial layers have been worn away and I am happy to announce I no longer suffer depression, anxiety or stress. Life is pretty good, actually, life is really good – even the bad bits don’t seem so bad these days. My stomach is happy and my aches and pains are almost a distant memory. My posture is so much better. Another huge relief is a reduction in menstrual pain, I no longer experience nausea, low blood pressure, hot and cold sweats and stabbing 3 hour cramps.
I follow quite an intuitive diet which is gluten/wheat/soy/additive free and somewhat dairy free. I’ve learnt how to manage my body weight while still eating what I like – which really doesn’t include much bad stuff as my palate has changed and I don’t crave muffins, cakes, pies or energy drinks. In fact, they kind of repulse me. I still enjoy coffee and I don’t scrimp on portions. My diet is largely meat, fish, eggs (although I am intolerant to them), veges, fruit, nuts and all the wonderful alternate ingredients you find in organic food shops.
I exercise through pilates, tai chi and yoga and have given up heavy weight training for more functional exercises that are specific to what my body needs – if that just happens to be squats...so be it.
I’ve also learnt to be happy and comfortable with my body. It’s a little soft here and there, and I’d love to be a particular number on the scale, but if getting there means having to burn myself out, then I’m just not interested. My number one training and fitness goal these days is to be happy, healthy and pain free. It’s that simple. I don’t care about a 6 pack. I’m a soft, healthy and happy size 10-12.
MY BUSINESS AND MY PHILOSOPHY
My philosophy is pretty much what you’ve just read. Give a person what they need and guide them through a holistic journey of how their body works. Sure, we can all follow a bodybuilding style diet and do loads of exercise and end up slim and toned. It’s not actually rocket science and is probably one of the easiest and laziest things a nutritionist or PT can do. The hard work comes from teaching you how to fuel and listen to your body correctly for you, so you can move forwards through life with a new respect for the body and how it works so hard to battle the crap we as humans throw at it.
I am an Integrated Nutrition and Exercise Specialist. Yes, I am a Personal Trainer and yes I am a Nutritionist and I’ll take on those easy jobs, but I am more than that. I’m your health project manager and I give you my word that if my approach doesn’t work, I will work heaven and earth to find someone who can help you. I’m not afraid to lose clients to other practitioners. The hard work comes from that stubborn weight loss, or those unexplainable migraines. You will NEVER EVER catch me saying this line to a client who hasn't lost any weight.... "Oh you probably just put on muscle".
I specialise in clients who have not exercised much or those who don’t like going to the gym. I specialise in the beginner, the person who would like to exercise, but would like a bit of a base before they go and join a group or a gym. I specialise in weight loss and health rebalancing – you name the health concern, and I’m confident that I can help you with it and again, I will refer you to someone else if I feel that is needed.
I’ve been at the lowest of the low both mentally and physically. I don’t wish for that for anyone. Everyone has a chance at feeling good with their body and being healthy. So let’s walk this journey together.
See you at the studio soon, x
© Stacey Hancock 2013. All rights reserved.