Kate’s health journey began with her first child, which was then followed closely by her father having a heart attack. The heart attack led to an extended stay in intensive care, and Kate began to question why and how her father ended up in the hospital to start. What circumstances and choices over his life led him to the state where doctors were keeping him alive long enough so he could heal from the devastating injury to his heart? This was the first time she questioned conventional nutrition advice, care, and the meaning of ‘quality of life’.
Kate began to explore nutrition through an online course and resources friends shared. After reading one book in particular, called Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, she thought it was a load of rubbish and put the book away. Little did she realise that a seed had been planted. A year later, through her continued exploration, Kate was further introduced to the concept of ancestral health and how humans have not changed much physiologically, but environmental conditions have changed extensively and how nutrition can help or hinder a person. She began testing the principles, and diet was an obvious place to start. Quickly Kate realized all aspects of health were interdependent: food, sleep, physical activity, and state of mind.
When considering her physical health, Kate wanted to be outside, so she began hiking, cycling and walking whilst refusing to do any exercise indoors. At first, Kate was afraid of encountering wildlife such as snakes, boars and monkeys, that made her fearful of going out on her own. She joined the Hiking Meetup Group; a 13,000 member strong multinational and multi-age community of hikers in late 2013. Once a week she began hiking, gradually learning trails and gaining confidence. The idea of hiking from public transport into the woods and ending up at another public transport stop over the course of four hours made hiking accessible and fun. She quickly realized the trails were safe and more importantly she enjoyed the people, the sights and sounds of the country parks.
Hiking continues to be a lifeline for Kate in 2015. Being away from the distractions, people, noise and clutter of the city has helped her feel so much better physically and mentally. The diverse meetups include the old, young, single, with and without children, locals, foreigners and just about anyone you can imagine, expanding her social network. Now Kate leads group hikes both during the day and the evening. Right now she is training for a 50K.
In response to the amount of exercise she does on a weekly basis, Kate has continued to expand her knowledge of nutrition. Because she is constantly pushing the envelope on her fitness level, quality food has become essential to supporting her high level of fitness. Kate says that just because you exercise, it does not mean you are healthy. A fit person may be able to get away with unhealthy practices in the short-term, but it is essential to fill the body with nutrient-dense food sources. For that, Kate turns to whole foods. Conventional advice would advise carbohydrates and sugar to get through intense activity; GU chews and sports drinks regularly feature as common sources of energy in sports. However, Kate fills up with healthy fats, protein and dried fruits. This allows her body to run on fat instead of sugar. She avoids typical energy swings, allowing her to hike for hours at a time without feeling hungry and with consistent energy levels.
For a hike longer than three hours, Kate relies on smoked salmon, cooked chicken, packets of ham, boiled eggs, cheese and dried fruit. She adds trace minerals to her water essentially creating a sports drink without the sugar. Other favourite snacks include packets of various nut butters, coconut butter and nuts. Over the past year, she has trained her body to run off of these foods whilst slowly reducing the amount of sugar and carbohydrate heavy snacks.
In her family life, Kate generally applies the same principles of whole foods and ancestral health. Her family eats good quality fats and protein, always looking for ways to extend nutrient density into everyday foods. For example, rice is always cooked in bone broth for nutrients and collagen. This allows her body to heal faster from long hikes. At home she also makes kefir and kombucha along with other fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi. Her childrens’ lunchboxes are full of nutritious meals from the night before including stir-fry, spaghetti bolognaise, cauliflower-rice and combinations of meat and vegetables. Snacks include cheese, fruit, homemade paleo muffins and fresh sourdough bread with butter. Kate also has some favourite supplements including probiotics, magnesium spray, trace minerals, green tea capsules and sea iodine.
Kate encourages everyone to get outside. To join one of her hikes join the Hong Kong Hiking Meetup.