A mother-of-two who was told she would have to live with a debilitating condition for the rest of her life has detailed how a healthy eating plan has eradicated her symptoms.
Holly Donald, 36, from Grimsby was diagnosed with fibromyalgia after suffering from a series of symptoms including regular migraines, exhaustion, cramp and joint pain.
It’s the same condition that caused Desert Island Discs host Kirsty Young, 49, to announce she was taking time away from the show earlier this year to focus on her health.
A year after Holly was diagnosed, a friend introduced her to the Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living and Beyond Programme, a programme that combines detox with educating you about food and what’s right for your body.
Holly, a supervisor at her local council, dealt with the symptoms for more than a decade, often putting them down to every day stresses or being a new mum.
Holly Donald, 36, was diagnosed with fibromyalgia after suffering from a series of debilitating symptoms (pictured with her daughter Matilda, six, and son Max, nine)
However, after her symptoms worsened, to the point where she struggled to do her daughter’s hair or fasten her children’s uniforms, she sought a diagnosis from a doctor.
Discussing the time before her diagnosis, she said: ‘Life back then was really hard, I just about got through a day and would flop into bed once the kids were asleep, exhausted. I struggled on, thinking it’s going to get better but not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
‘I became quite low in mood and at times didn’t feel I was being a particularly nice mummy. The problem was I didn’t have the energy to find a way of changing, I was just treading water, too tired and in too much pain to do anything else.’
In June 2017 Holly was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic illness that worsened over time and would need to be treated with high doses of steroids and amitriptyline in order to make it bearable.
Holly, a supervisor for her local council, dealt with the symptoms for more than a decade, often putting them down to every day stresses or being a new mum (left). Kirsty Young, pictured at the Royal Television Society Programme Awards (right) also suffers from
Refusing to accept that she would be resigned to taking steroids as a form of pain relief for the rest of her life, Holly looked into alternative treatment.
Rather than following doctors advice Holly initially did a juice cleanse before discovering a healthy living plan
Holly said: ‘I was suffering migraines where my sight went pixelated, roughly about three or four times a week.
‘My hands would cramp up I’d get a lot of pain in my hands and my feet, so I’d wake up in the morning and feel like I’d not slept at all, I was consistently exhausted.’
She said the thing that frustrated her most was the ‘brain fog’. It meant she was unable to convey what she meant and ended up stuttering a lot, which had a massive impact on her confidence.
Holly, from Grimsby, said: ‘I was told it was a chronic disease that would only get worse and the dosages of prescribed drugs were going to increase, there wasn’t going to be a cure and I was never going to feel better.’
Keen to find another option, which didn’t include the prescribed drugs, she said: ‘When I started looking into the benefits of healthy living and eating I was finding out how your body can rejuvenate itself. But only if you’re putting the right stuff in and taking the bad stuff out.’
She started by researching herbal medicines and the potential positive impact they could have, as well as looking into juice diets to rid her body of toxins.
While completing a 30 day juice detox she started to see a positive impact as the pain she was suffering from fibromyalgia began to ease.
Holly pictured before and after her second healthy living plan which she believes has eradicated her fibromyalgia symptoms
As much as the plan has helped Holly with her fibromyalgia symptoms she said that equally it is also about the importance of teaching her two children about the importance of health
However this was an unsustainable way of life for Holly, who had dropped a massive two stone over the 30 day period.
Her body needed food and once she began eating again her condition got worse again, with the migraines coming back – along with IBS, joint pain, fatigue and the brain fog.
‘At the time I did a lot of things that I thought helped me cope but were actually making my situation a lot worse, like having a glass of wine at the end of a stressful day and some chocolate as a treat to make me feel good.’
The programme she began gave her a huge boost of good bacteria, minerals and enzymes, which flushed out all of the toxins harbouring in her body. All the products are plant based, pure safe and beneficial.
Each week the plans provide 14 recipes and a shopping list so you can go and buy the ingredients and make the meals along with your protein shakes and snacks
Arbonne, who do not test any of their products on animals, have banned over 2000 ingredients from being used in their ranges, keeping them pure and safe.
Holly integrated protein shakes, snacks, fizz sticks and detox tea, along with the simple meals, into her daily diet, and within days saw a vast improvement in her condition.
She said: ‘I thought I was pretty healthy, I’ve never eaten processed foods and I don’t eat ready meals,’
‘But while on the plan I made little changes and saw a massive difference in how I was feeling.
I was shocked because I also felt full and was eating some really nice food. It didn’t feel like a diet at all but I was loosing weight, feeling less boated and the pains were subsiding,’
‘I realised that this plan was not just about my fibromyalgia but about improving health in general. My friends, who have now tried the programme for themselves, have also seen it a positive impact on their energy levels, weight, skin, hair and digestion.’
As much as the plan has helped Holly with her fibromyalgia symptoms she said that equally it is also about the importance of teaching her two children about healthy living and how easy it can be.
Since being able to offer her children these new foods they have started enjoying an array of healthier meal options.
Holly has completed the programme, which offers both a vegan and an organic meat eating option, twice and the first time around she included meat in her meals.
She said: ‘The second time around I did the programme I had completely lost interest in eating meat and so just followed the vegan recipes.
‘I now don’t think I’ll ever go back to eating the foods that gave me so many problems, I just don’t miss them, I’ve found much nicer replacements.’
Holly, who now wants to help others who have conditions similar to her own has begun working as an independent consultant for Arbonne.
‘I’m passionate about it because I’ve seen massive results, my own result personally is that I am no longer taking any herbal medicines, have no pain and no brain fog, I sleep well and have great energy levels.’
‘Last summer when I was on herbal medicines and on my normal diet I ran out and within a couple of days I couldn’t use my hands again, they were cramped up and I was in so much pain.’
Holly (pictured with son Max, nine, her daughter Matilda, six) says that following her second time on the plan, which she began in October, Holly said she isn’t on any herbal medicines and hasn’t yet seen signs of any of her symptoms
‘After feeling a bit of relief from the juice detox and taking herbal medicines it was a shock, I couldn’t use a pen because the power in my fingers to pinch had gone, like when you put your hands in ice to make a snow man your hands feel cramped and powerless.’
However following her second time following the plan, which she began in October, Holly said she isn’t on any herbal medicines and hasn’t yet seen signs of any of her symptoms.
She said: ‘It’s now getting cold which is a trigger for fibromyalgia. I also have Raynaud’s, a syndrome affected by cold where you’re hands go numb and white.
‘It’s not as cold as it can be yet but already last year I wouldn’t have been able to use my hands,
‘I have found a way to manage my chronic illness by simply making small changes to what I put in my body. I feel in full control of my health and feel passionate in sharing how others can do this to’, she said.
Holly added: ‘I’m not resting like the doctors told me, they told me to sleep in the middle of the day and take regular rest, put your feet up and stop your brain but I’m not doing that and it’s not having an adverse effect on me.
‘Since finishing this second 30 day plan at the end of October I haven’t had a headache and I can use my hands even though it’s getting colder.
‘If I were to go back to the unhealthy eating, drinking and smoking again I would most likely see those symptoms come back as I now understand that it was my lifestyle that had caused the problem in the first place.
‘Whether I stay cured or create other health issues is completely in my hands and the choices I make each day on how I live and what I eat. I would never have guessed the solution could be so simple.’