For almost a year I’ve struggled to write a bio for my website that made sense to me. I’ve written generic one’s but it didn't resonate with me. I just recently came to the realization that it wasn’t a bio I needed to write but more of a short essay letting you know who I am, where I came from and why I may be the person you didn't know you needed.
In a perfect world my new career would have been born from a natural passion but sadly my creation story didn't come from a love of all things healthy, it was unfortunately quite the opposite. Two defining life circumstances led me down this path, both difficult in their own right, taking both an emotional and physical toll on my health.
The first story is about my personal health profile. My picture should be in the dictionary next to the word, dichotomy. I had my first drag of a cigarette at the age of 11 and started full time smoking at the age of 14. I then continued to chain smoke for 20 years straight. I never quit, I never said I was going to quit, I was proud to be a smoker. As I was slowly killing myself on an hourly basis I was also extremely vain and into fitness. I worked out 5 to 6 days a week, I drank my 8 cups of water, I did juice cleanses and filled up on veggies and protein. You can get away with not really feeling or being aware of the ill effects in your teens and early twenties but as we all know, as you age it catches up to you. By the time I was in my early 30’s I was suffering in secret. Looking back, I can easily see how sick I was (mentally & physically) but it was all my body had known for years so it took time for me to recognize how ill I truly was. My body couldn't take the onslaught anymore. Our bodies speak to us if we listen, and mine was yelling at me to stop being an asshole. It was starting to shut down and I could feel it happening at an accelerated rate. I recall having vivid dreams of me dying of cancer, talking and smoking out of a hole in my throat while dragging along an oxygen tank. This wasn’t the person I was supposed to be. I knew subconsciously I was destined for more than this current version of me.
I was so tired all the time and having a foggy brain was my normal state. I would have to drag myself out of bed on a daily basis. I hardly slept because nicotine keeps you wired. I was lucky if I was getting a solid 4 hours a night. Guys, that went on for 20 years. Do you know how quickly that ages you?! When I got into my 30s this abuse was starting to show and Vain Yui was not feeling it. Exercise would give me temporary energy but it didn't last long. I then had to turn to caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes to keep me awake and functioning. Visually, I didn't look like death though so people didn’t know how bad it was. I could go on about this but I think the state of my health is pretty clear: I was a walking zombie.
I finally hit my rock bottom and realized I needed to make big changes or I was going to get cancer and die. I could feel it in my bones. Long story short, I put in the work and I quit smoking on my first attempt. FYI this is definitely my proudest moment. This October 31st, 2021 will mark the 8 year anniversary of me being a non-smoker. I forget how huge that is sometimes. I was so addicted that when I quit one of my friends also quit shortly after me. She said “Fuck, if Yui can quit then anyone can”. They say nicotine is more addictive than heroin. HEROIN!!! I have to tell you that when I quit and realized I would never smoke again, I realized that I could literally do anything I put my mind to. That was pretty mind blowing. I had no idea how much smoking had affected me mentally, allowing so much subconscious self doubt and personal shame.
So now you're thinking bye-bye Smoker Yui & hello Healthy Yui. Not so much! Our bodies are machines and they do anything and everything to keep us alive. It's actually magical when you learn about the intricacies of how our bodies function. Ok, so Yui quits smoking, we think yes life will be beautiful now. Sorry friends that was definitely not the case! I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. More than one every hour on the hour. My body was so dependent on the chemicals in cigarettes that when I went cold turkey my body shut down. When I quit smoking my hair fell out, I gained 18 lbs, my skin dried up, my nails were weak with ridges, I slept 16 hours a day, I was bloated and gassy & on top of it I became severely constipated. That’s not even all the things that were wrong with me. The list was so long. BUT, shockingly during this whole time I was still so thankful that I had quit smoking. I remember being in awe of that fact.
“When I quit smoking my hair fell out, I gained 18 lbs, my skin dried up, my nails were weak with ridges, I slept 16 hours a day, I was bloaty and gassy & on top of it I became severely constipated.”
I really wish I had someone like Present Yui to guide me through quitting smoking. All of my side effects didn't need to happen. Thankfully I’m nosey AF. I read books, I Googled, I went to every doctor I could. I even paid $2500 or so to go to MedCan in Toronto. Everyone kept telling me that I was “fine” and that I was free of disease. Most people belittled what I was experiencing. I went to see a male endocrinologist who also told me I was fine because my TSH was in range and that I needed to focus on diet and exercise (FYI my diet & exercise were totally on point and had been for over a decade). The ignorance, the lack of bedside manners and the dismissiveness I dealt with was next level. Even at my weakest I am still considered a strong individual. I was outraged for myself, but more so for other people who weren’t as privileged as me and didn't possess my confidence. I learned first-hand how ill-equipped our healthcare system was when dealing with people like me who were subclinical. For them, if you’re not in a diseased state then you’re considered “fine”. Nothing to do but “wait and see” they said. That obviously wasn’t good enough for me and shouldn’t be good enough for anyone who is suffering.
So, as most people do they end up turning to holistic health in a last ditch effort. I found myself a naturopath. The naturopath helped me get about 70% better which was amazing but it wasn’t enough. I still didn't feel right. I couldn't lose the extra weight and I was so tired all the time. I eventually found a Holistic Nutritionist who helped me lose the excess weight but fatigue was still an issue and I also had to be pretty tight with my diet and I knew that wasn’t going to be sustainable. Again, I could feel something wasn’t right. I had exhausted all avenues. There was only one door left open to me and that was to go back to school. Seriously, never in a hundred years did I ever think I would do that. I actually only signed up for one class but I loved it so much I ended up continuing my education and becoming a Certified Holistic Practitioner. Now years later with countless certifications to my name, when people ask me what I do I no longer answer “I have a family business” instead I say “I'm a Holistic Nutritionist”.
Sadly, my story doesn't end here. In Part 2 I delve into the sad half of my story. It is something I haven't shared with many people but I feel it's so important fo you to know how my life as a Nutritionist came about and how deeply connected I am to my new life's work.