Can you introduce yourself? Your story is a little different to others I have featured so far on North of Here.
I am an almost 30 year old mummy to Archer who is 18 months old and wife to Cameron. I grew up on the North-West coast of Tasmania. My parents were farmers when I was little, so this upbringing has given me a love for the outdoors and fresh air. I worked as a personal trainer for a while after I finished my Arts degree majoring in Sociaology and Behavioural Science. Personal Training wasn’t for me, so I moved to Melbourne and completed a Dip Ed to become a Primary school teacher. This is a job I adored and. I worked as a PE teacher as well as teaching in the classrooms in the lower primary section.
We now live in Bendigo due to my husband’s work, where I I stay at home to look after our 18 month old.Although I have lived quite a normal and content life, my story is a little different because when I was pregnant with Archer, I developed benign tumours on my optic nerve. Once Archer was delivered, I underwent a grueling brain surgery to remove the tumours which were compromising my vision. I woke up from the surgery legally blind. This was irreversible due to the complexity of the tumours. Not only was I a first time mother, but I had to adjust to a darker world. I do have some functional vision and as I have regained my independence back over time, I have discovered that I can do everything I used to do including cooking healthy meals and exercising. I have documented my road to independence in my blog Blind Intuition to raise awareness for people who are blind or have low vision, break down stereotypes and demonstrate that life does go on and function well after experiencing the trauma of sudden vision loss.
Tell us a bit about your current wellness, health and fitness journey; What is your favourite healthy recipe right now? Are you still into running?
At the moment I am taking a break from running after completing the Bendigo half marathon back in October 2016. You can read about the day here. My husband and I are doing some HIIT training in the gym together 3 times a week early in the morning. I also dabble in a bit of Kayla Istines BBG workout guides and have done for a few years. Her sweat app isn’t accessible using my Voice Over, so I just use her guides. I enjoy going for walks with Archer in his Smart Trike. I am joining a bootcamp class for mums next week so I can take Archer with me. It will be two mornings a week. We have just moved to a new area in Bendigo and I am keen to meet people and make some new friends. I am actually keen to run again soon, but keep the distance around the 7-10 km mark.
My go to healthy recipe at the moment is an all in one bowl quiche. It is just 8 eggs and a cup of milk, then what ever meat and vegies you want. I like it hot or cold with a bit of salad.
What was the motivation to start your blog Blind Intuition?
The night before I went into brain surgery, I knew I would have a story to tell. I wanted to share my experience of trauma, loss, grief and and insight into my world of losing my vision at the same time as I was grappling the concept of being a first time mum. There were no stories like mine out there or what I could find which I really could have benefited from at the time. I saw this as an opportunity to help others and raise awareness for people who are blind or have low vision.
Editor note: You can check out Sarah’s blog here: blindintuition.com
I came across your blog post Running in the Dark, which is a bloody great read. Can you give us an insight on what it is like to run in the dark.
To be honest now that I have had 18 months to adjust to my vision, I have got used to it by now. It is much more mentally straining because you have to really concentrate on your surroundings so that you can stay safe. I can’t run early mornings or evening because it is not safe for me. The more light, the better. I do feel a little anxious when I am running but that is more about getting lost than injuring myself. I have got lost a couple of times, but Sirri always gets me home. I stick to quiet times during the day, where there is less traffic, I run routes I am familiar with to avoid getting lost and I walk a new route with a friend or my husband pointing out landmarks, obstacles and things I could possibly trip on before I run it. It is challenging, but I love the ecstasy I get and feel from running.
Can you tell us about some of the challenges you face?
18 months on, challenges like functioning in the home, getting out and about, shopping, and learning screen reader technology have been overcome and life has relatively gone back to normal. The biggest challenge right now is more mental with the frustration not being spontaneous and as mobile anymore. I can’t just jump in a car and drive to where I want to go. I am limited by a bus timetable and my husband who works long hours to get to where I need to go. Travel time and walking to different places is time consuming, particularly with a toddler. I am much very walking fit now which is a pro in this.
As far as the challenges when it comes to looking after myself goes, there isn’t one. I still cook healthy meals, I still exercise regularly and there is a gadget, app or technology to aid me with my vision if I need to read a recipe or a new workout. There are really no excuses. At the end of the day I need to be the best version of me that I can so I can cater to Archer and Cameron’s needs to my best.
What do you love most about running?
It is my time out with just me and the fresh air. It helps me to forget my insecurities for a bit and I just get a good vibes buzz.
Where do you turn to for fitness motivation?
I love following health and fitness instagram accounts to get ideas for recipes and workouts. I also like to be committed to something so I don’t fall off the wagon such as a bootcamp class or a program on my running app to train for my particular goal like the half marathon I did.
Grocery shopping is generally a pain. What What are some of your favourite foods that you buy that make you feel great?
I struggle with the grocery shop due to my vision. It is mentally draining so I do Coles online. I always have eggs in the fridge because you can do so much with them such as fritters, muffins, quiches, omelettes and the list goes on. You can use what ever veges you have on hand to create a dish. I also can;’t be without bananas. You can do lots with them too and they make good ice-cream when they are frozen.
What are your three top tips for living a healthy lifestyle?
- Eat in moderation. I try to have a bit of everything and allow myself to indulge in a cheese platter or chocolate bar every now and then. I generally eat healthy 80% of the time.
- Try to Find your middle ground with exercise so you don’t run yourself into the ground. Build up to you goal in small steps rather than try and do it all at once. For me, I try to get at least half an hour in most days when not running.
- Drink water. I try to drink 3 litres a day and I have a 2L drink bottle to monitor this. It makes you feel alert and awake.
What does health and happiness look like for your in a sentence?
Health and happiness to me is being comfortable and confident in my own skin and a balanced work, social and personal life.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT SARAH:
Your Story Matters: Is a regular series where I sit down at chat with women like you about your health and fitness story. Everyone has a story to tell and we can all learn from each other. If you would to be featured please email me: hello <at> northofhere.com.au