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How A Health Experiment Led Me To Financial Independence
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf
Today we have a guest post from one of our readers.
I thought Jeni would be a great contributor after reading some of her comments in our community on Facebook.
The thing I really like about her story is the extent to which she took steps to turn a negative situation into a positive one.
However, it took years to see the transformation.
The time it takes and the hard work necessary are things that people typically don’t consider when they observe the success of others.
From a health scare to a period of transformation and results, and onto Financial Independence.
This story is one we can all learn something from.
I also especially like that Jeni had to get uncomfortable in order to work towards a place of peace, health, and comfort.
So much to learn from that process.
Ask yourself as you read this post –
What transformation am I experiencing in my life today?
There is usually a gift at the end of that experience if you let time do its work.
Intro To Jeni
I’ll now hand over to our guest writer – Jeni Crane, owner of Yum Nutrition.
I’m a Nutritional Therapist, with a passion for food, movement, and energy for life.
Although my life is more balanced and happier today, it wasn’t always so.
Let me take you a few years back to the life challenges that have led me to where I am today.
These challenges have also given me a new passion for helping people achieve better health and wellness through food.
Like most people I had never really given a second thought to my health until I received a diagnosis in 2003.
I had spent the best part of my late teens and early twenties enjoying the student life.
Drinking, partying, and eating lots of processed carbohydrates.
I didn’t really correlate what I ate with how I felt.
I’d grab what I wanted to eat when I was hungry without consideration for its “value” to me or how it would impact my body and health.
When I received the diagnosis of PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) it didn’t really mean a lot to me.
I didn’t understand the implications.
All I knew was that my body wasn’t working the way that it should and the solution that I was presented with, by the consultant and GP, was medication for the rest of my life.
I asked a number of times whether I could do anything to reduce the symptoms, whether what I ate was having an effect.
But I was pointed in the direction of a couple of websites for support groups and told to do my own research.
Learning and Development
Flash forward 8 years, I’d moved to Bristol for a promotion and had fully embraced the party lifestyle that working in a city offered.
With a super stressful job in recruitment and a horrendous schedule of work, little sleep and social engagements, my health was the last of my concerns.
Part and parcel of my move was a referral to a local specialist consultant who kindly informed that I had put on a significant amount of weight.
At this point, I was 2 stone overweight, had horrific acne, no menstrual cycle and was pretty miserable.
Increasingly frustrated and hopeless I started the process of trawling the internet for information.
Something, anything, which held the answer.
During the next 4 years, I managed to amass a little knowledge, I had gradually been implementing each recommendation and using myself as a “one-person experiment”.
I had noted the power of overhauling my diet to veer away from the alcohol and refined carbs which had propped me up in my twenties, and how much better I felt when I exercised.
It made me think – “there is something in this”.
Side Hustle to Business
I developed a passion for researching everything I could about nutrition.
Whilst at a health fair, I came across a stand which was promoting part-time courses to train as a nutritional therapist at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in Bristol “in my free time”.
At that time I was working a 50/60 hour week and I didn’t have any “free time” per se.
I was burnt out and disenchanted with working in corporate.
But I knew I had to do the course, regardless of the fact that I would be pushing myself to the extreme for the next 3 years.
I saw it as my opportunity to escape.
Within 4 weeks of seeing the course at the fair, I had
- enrolled on the course,
- parted with a lot of money (£9,000 to be exact, with only £1,500 of it saved. The rest I borrowed from my mum), and had
- 2 weeks before the term started.
Little did I know the journey I was about to embark on.
Far from the 12 hours personal study per week cited, the course involved hundreds of hours of lectures, case studies, clinic hours, essay writing and revising.
With money, time and emotions now committed, there was no backing out.
I’m not too proud to admit that there were a few times when I was completely overwhelmed.
BUT it never once crossed my mind that I wouldn’t complete it.
It was my golden ticket to a career doing something which I was really passionate about, helping others.
3 long years later, there I was, a graduate with a Diploma in Nutritional Therapy.
In all 3 years, I was eager to get my business up and running and to start helping people cut through the noise to take control of their health through nutrition.
Now the real work began.
During the course, I had enlisted a business coach to help me with the basics.
Things like getting a logo, my website set up, my insurances, registrations, and documentation sorted. I was ready to go.
Journey to Financial Independence
Retraining as a nutritional therapist has inadvertently been a key step in my journey to Financial Independence.
I’d never heard of Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) until mid-2018 when my mum showed me an article about the FIRE movement in the US.
It really piqued my interest as someone living in the UK.
I’d been working on becoming more minimalist since 2014.
Plus, I’d developed a passion for the reduction of waste (particularly plastic waste) and had been gradually reducing my use of consumables as part of my environmental stance.
FIRE seemed like the next logical step.
I’d already considered the financial impact of moving from being a fairly well-paid employee to being self-employed.
I also considered the effect this would have on my ability to cover my outgoings and had been minimising them for that very reason.
Then I started to read as much as I could on the subject, starting with:
- Think and Grow Rich, then
- The Simple Path to Wealth and onto
- Your Money or Your Life
Although my husband and I had been throwing our money at our mortgage to get it paid off as quickly as possible from the day we moved in…
…after reading The Simple Path to Wealth I opened my first stocks and shares ISA and started investing.
It felt uncertain and risky but as I learned more and more about how to invest it felt more comfortable and strategic.
Related post: Index Fund Investing and The Simple Path To Wealth
Since then I have taken control of my pension from my Financial Advisor who I realised had been taking a large chunk for his commissions, and invested in my SIPP (private pension).
I used the FI resources on the internet to work out my FIRE amount and for the first time in my working life, I could see freedom.
Working towards that number is hugely motivating and empowering and has meant that I don’t just feel like I am on the hamster wheel of employment.
In the meantime, the income from my nutrition business is also going towards that FIRE figure.
Whilst I have no intention of retiring and not working at all, the promise of being able to work on my terms in my own business doing what I love AND positively impacting other peoples’ lives is a total utopia for me.
Healthy Living Tips
Over the years I have formulated some quick and easy strategies for the busy person striving for Financial Independence and good health whilst balancing a full life:
1. Food prep and planning is your friend
Eating on the fly and thinking only from one meal to the next is a sure-fire way to ensure that you are filling up on expensive calorie-laden sandwiches, processed meals and nutrient void “foods”.
2. Sitting is the enemy of health
We are in a society which favours inactivity, commuting, office work, watching TV, all of these contribute to what is being called the biggest health crisis since smoking.
Daily movement is absolutely crucial to health, not only keeping the body fat from piling on but also from a mental health perspective.
Getting a gradual build up to 10,000 steps throughout the day is key for physical wellbeing and longevity.
Incorporating exercise into your daily routine, ideally whilst achieving something else i.e. commuting or learning via audio books, etc, is a great strategy to ensure that it is sustainable and maintainable.
3. Buy in bulk-the cheapest wholefoods are often the most nutritious
Buying lentils, beans, oats, rice, nuts and seeds from a local unpackaged shop is both more environmentally friendly (less plastic) cheaper and will mean that you always have healthy nutritious food in stock.
Related post: How We Live Well On A £50/Week Food Budget (Family of 4)
4. Get a Veg box delivery
Ideally organic and seasonal, there are many local companies who offer a delivery service which you are able to customise and amend regularly-sometimes weekly.
We use Plowright Organic, although you can find others local to you fairly easily.
This has saved us a lot of money.
No traipsing around the supermarket being subjected to impulse purchases.
It has also saved us time as we have this delivered every week, plan our meals around it and don’t need to head to the shops once or twice a week.
This also supports the local economy (they are a local organic farm) and means that we have a supply of our favourite fruit and veg to ensure that we are getting all the micronutrients needed.
- FIRE SuperPower™ – A video course to help you achieve Financial Independence
- How Much Money You Should Have Saved By Age
- 9 Qualities You Need To Reach Financial Independence
- Financial Coaching
I would love to continue the conversation with Humble Penny readers.
If what I have discussed resonates with you, if you are looking for tips and information on nutrition please head over to my social media profiles and say hello!
Links to my business: www.yumnutrition.org
Do please share this post if you found it useful, and remember, in all things be thankful and Seek Joy.
Jo Parkinson says
I thought this was a good article. However, I do have a question for Jeni, did you clear up your PCOS with your dietary changes? And what major changes did you make? thank you
Hi Jo, Unfortunately PCOS is, at present, incurable, however all of my symptoms are in remission and have been for 3/4 years now. Major changes were, weight training 4/5 times per week, eating a predominantly plant based wholefoods diet and virtually eliminating alcohol….. And getting enough sleep-8/9 hours per night every night without fail 😊. Thanks for your question