About Alison » About Me – The Full Story
Read about my journey:

In general:
    Short Bio
    Read the whole story
    See my life in pictures

Specific branches:
    Weight loss
    Changing career
    PCOS and Natural Fertility
    Hypermobility
 

The first steps – weight loss

I don’t ever remember being a ‘normal’ size – I was a chubby child and as I moved in to my teenage years my weight increased to the point where at 20 years old I was over 20 stone. 
Aged 18 on holiday in France
 
I was teased by friends and insulted by strangers. I was morbidly embarrassed and hated having my photo taken. I couldn’t buy clothes in the High Street (I took a size 28 trousers). Whilst all my friends were getting boyfriends and dressing up I couldn’t and would put on a brave face and try to convince myself that it didn’t matter. But it did. I knew when I looked in the mirror that the girl looking back wasn’t me. The insults hurt, the loneliness hurt…but it was a vicious circle.  The more people labelled me as the fat girl, the more I believed it and the more I would turn to sweet treats to console myself.
 
Although everyone from my parents and well-meaning teachers to nutritionists had tried to help me, none of them had an effect – I didn’t buy into it. Something changed when I turned 20 though – I looked ahead and knew that I didn’t want to spend my 20s in my current state – lonely, sad and embarrassed. I wanted to have fun!
 

Looking back, this is where my own path less trodden started. I took a step off the easy, well-worn road on the day that I decided to take responsibility for my own weight and with it, my happiness. It started with one decision – to refuse some chocolate raisins offered to me. That one step gave me confidence to take the next one, to realise I had a choice and had the ability to say no to what I’d previously done out of habit.

My 21st birthday

 
Pretty soon after this I started to exercise. At the beginning it was tough as I was so overweight; I got ridiculously out of breath and didn’t want anyone to see me! I ordered an exercise tape and I worked out upstairs at home, away from prying eyes. Once I got started with it, in the habit, it became easier.
 
The more I saw my weight and health changing, the happier I felt in my choices and the more it empowered me to continue.
 
A year and a half down the line and I felt like a new person, physically this was obvious – I’d lost a massive 8 stone, but I felt it mentally and emotionally too. I’d explored new food; I’d learnt to enjoy exercise and I’d created a whole load of new attitudes.  
 
 
‘Success’ at work and at home wasn’t all it seemed – deconstructing a lifestyle
 
In my 20s I climbed the career ladder very successfully. Within 6 years of starting work I was working for Microsoft, earning substantially more than my peers. Despite the fact that I liked the work, I knew I wasn’t giving my all. I could do well, get good reviews and I was even selected to be part of a training program for the top 5% of employees without really trying.
 
Whilst in this job I’d also married my partner, and by the time I was 27 we’d moved into our second house together. We were comfortable – forever expanding our needs to match our salary increases. We had all the latest gadgets, drove fast cars, ate out a lot and often cooked with luxurious ingredients at home. We had gym memberships, went on great holidays, both smoked and we were out drinking with friends 3 or 4 times a week.
Yet, something wasn’t right. I knew it deep inside of me – but it took a while for me to admit it. It started with a small unease. I wanted to travel and I’d not been able to…and I couldn’t see how it would happen given the future I had mapped out. I often felt caged; like I wanted to fly – using my own steam and ingenuity, to see, feel and experience all the things I had ever dreamt of. But my partner owned his own business and only ever took 2 weeks off in the summer. How could I explore when I had a mortgage to pay and a job with a golden career path laid out in front of me? With my new-found shape and accessories like my BMW I was slowly loosing the morbid embarrassment I’d had throughout my overweight adolescence, my confidence was growing and I was meeting many new people through my job…yet at home, my partner would flop onto the sofa after work wanting to watch TV. My marriage was really comfortable, he knew me very well, but we seemed like brother and sister to me.
 
I felt as if there could be really exciting chapters in my future and I wanted to explore them, yet the way I was going they just weren’t available to me. The life I saw stretching before me didn’t excite me. I knew I could give much more, see much more and experience much more – and that to feel vibrantly alive, and to live my life fully I needed to do these things.
 
I was often drawn to imagining myself at 70 or 80, looking back at my life. How would I feel if I’d squashed all of these desires down and not done any of them, preferring to stay safe, preferring to choose the money, the security, the flashy lifestyle? I knew that if that was the case I’d probably be a very bitter woman.
 
As I carried on enjoying my life, the call to do something more remained with me. I gave it space and time by journaling and reading widely. I was beginning to realise what a fundamental part of me it was. After a while I was brave enough to share my thoughts with a few close friends.
 
As this vision got stronger it gathered momentum, and there was a tipping point where I knew it was to be my path. It had gathered so much momentum that it just seemed like the natural thing, I knew it was my truth. That’s not to say I wasn’t scared – I was petrified! I’d never made choices that were so off the beaten track – yes, they had been deliberated over for many hours, analysed and well-thought out, but they would lead me to a place that I hadn’t been, and a place that for me felt like it had no safety net.
 
This period of deliberation and development lasted about 9 months. I was going out more, drinking more. Staying up till dawn and then getting up for work the next day was a regular occurrence. My partner was doing the same too, but separately – neither of us would admit our relationship was falling apart.
 
There came a day when I knew what I had to do and, amicably, my husband and I split up. We sold the house we were living in. This was an incredibly cleansing time for me. I sorted through all my possessions, donating over half my wardrobe and much of the clutter I’d accumulated to charity. It astounded me how much ‘stuff’ I was carrying around with me. It felt so good to give most of the contents of a 3 bedroom house away – I wanted to travel as light as I could in life from that point onwards, so I could metaphorically fly…
 
Learning to fly – a 3 month vacation
 
I continued to work and play hard. I also started devouring life-coaching books and went on several self development courses. My horizons began to feel wonderfully wide. I knew I wanted to travel. The old me had thought that I wasn’t the type of person who went travelling – I can’t manage an 80 litre rucksack on my back and am not the best at dossing down in whatever bed is presented to me! New thoughts about travelling came though – that I could do it my way. It felt so exciting planning and researching. Looking back this was the happiest and most engaged I’d been for a very long time.
 
Slowly, and somewhat magically, it all came together. I found a volunteering project teaching English at a music school and to a percussion band in Brazil. Being in that part of the world meant I could move on to Peru – I’d always wanted to trek to Matchu Picchu. From there I’d go to Australia, and visit a good friend who lived there. Then, the perfect volunteering project landed in my lap – it was called ‘Singing Russia’ and involved travelling into rural Russia and helping to document the local songs and traditions. I was so excited about it – an unusual, exciting country, singing (which felt like my home, I’d been in choirs since aged 7), along with learning about local culture. I was so excited, it was absolutely perfect.
 
I negotiated a 3 month sabbatical from my job at Microsoft. I’d prove how serious I was by stopping smoking and using the money I’d saved to help fund the trip, along with money I’d get from selling my BMW.
 
The trip was absolutely amazing. I had the time of my life. I learnt so much about myself, met many, many inspiring people and had such fun. I watched the way people in other cultures choose to live their life – sometimes in ways very different to what I was used to, and that made me sincerely question my own choices and values.
 
In the hostel in Brazil Drumming in Brazil On the top of a mountain in Peru! Trekking the Inca trail
I wrote travelogues back home during my trip, you can read them here.
 
Leaving Microsoft – an unpopular decision
 
When I returned I went back to my job at Microsoft, but I wasn’t the same person. I had come alive when travelling, I’d seen a different side of myself and I knew I couldn’t continue working for a company that stood for things I did not believe in, in an industry that didn’t interest me, doing work that I didn’t feel motivated to give my best to. I chose to look for a job in the music industry and I knew I wanted to live in London, something I had hankered after since being a teenager.
 
This was a decision that I took against the wishes of my family, and against the ongoing security that the job at Microsoft would have given me. I was getting paid well, I had share schemes vesting much future value and I had great benefits. My job was ‘cushy’ – I was seen as one of the top 5% of employees without really trying! The path was all mapped out to a ‘glittering’ career; all I had to do was glide onto it. But in my head there was no question, I had to do something that interested and enthused me; I wanted to wake up every day excited at the thought of the day ahead.
At a restaurant in London

 
It took me about 6 tough months to find a job. In the end, I was offered work at a tiny music charity in Soho, London, earning half the salary that I was getting at Microsoft. I was over the moon! Everyone else, including my parents, thought I was crazy. They didn’t think I’d be able to survive on the money and couldn’t understand why I would voluntarily leave such a prestigious job.

On a beach in Suffolk

I moved to a flat share in London, bought a bike and cycled to work every day. I felt freer, and my life far less complicated. I loved living in London – to be part of a vibrant and cosmopolitan city. I experimented with all sorts of dishes in our flat’s cute little kitchen, I started baking bread, I picked up my yoga practise with a local teacher and I started presenting a hospital radio show. It was great to feel I was actively participating in life – choosing the things that fired me and inspired me. My job put me right at the centre of classical music in London – I visited all the concert halls, worked with the movers and shakers and got to be a party to ins and outs of the industry. 
 

Life showing me the way – leaving London and discovering the power of yoga

Although I enjoyed this job, after a few months I could see quite how underutilised I was. I had so much more knowledge that the role demanded and despite trying to stretch myself by taking on technical tasks, the work was boring me. Perhaps this was a stepping stone to the next role though? At the start, I was really interested in working in radio, for the BBC, but, having seen the world that its employees inhabited, I began to wonder if it was really me.
 
Life then stepped in and took control of the situation for me. A relationship I’d been in for about a year was having very negative effects on me, and my health deteriorated to the point where I could no longer work. I ended the relationship, and moved back in with my family for a while. My recovery was slow, but aided immensely by one to one yoga lessons and a daily practice – the focus this time provided gave me such a strong base on which to rebuild my life.
 
Shining in Italy!
Yoga now felt invaluable to me and I wanted to dedicate more time to it. Through some quirks of fate I ended up working with a teacher in Rome (unbelievably it was cheaper than taking a trip to Devon!). I came alive in Italy, the warmth of the sun and the people uncurling me, breaking down the shields I’d put up. The visit reminded me of my love of the country and I was lucky enough to be able to return there the following summer.
 
Leaving the office behind – going back to being a student
 
This period gave me some perspective and I decided that working in an office environment would never truly satisfy me. I felt as if I’d always have to ‘fit in’ in order to succeed and I didn’t want to do that. I was learning that I wanted a job where I could be myself.
 
I decided to go back and study. Once my health had improved, I started two courses – one an MA in World Music and the other teacher training in the Alexander Technique. Both of these courses taught me a lot: The MA showed me that academia wasn’t going to be my sort of world; the Alexander Technique teacher training, which I continued for 2 years, opened my eyes to my habits, both mental and physical, and really showed me the meaning of holistic – the mind and body are one and the same. This has been invaluable to me in all my endeavours since.
 
I thoroughly enjoyed training to teach the Alexander Technique, but I was worried about setting up in business once I’d finished. I’d been in Italy two summers in a row. My childhood love of all things Italian had been cemented there; marry that with my passion for travelling and I felt like there was someone tapping on my shoulder, saying, ‘you know, you could live there, Alison, in the sun, with that lifestyle, in that wonderful scenery, speaking that mellifluous language’. I’d hear this often and I knew that setting up an Alexander practise in the UK would tie me to the country – this thought didn’t sit very well with me.
 
The darkest place can show us the way – planning a way to live abroad
 
Towards the end of the 2nd year of my Alexander training life again took control of the situation for me. I developed an acute neck problem, which became the worst period of ill health I have ever experienced. You can read the details of the injury and it effects here in detail, but to summarise I spent about 6 months unable to hold my head up without severe muscle pain and therefore I was unable to leave the house. With this confinement came depression and very dark times. This was the lowest point of my life – I often thought I would never recover and just would not be able to live normally again. I remember thinking, in the depths of it, ‘if I can just get through this, I’ll get to Italy, I’ll find a way. What have I been waiting for? This is what life’s about, this is important to me’.
 
Slowly, and with the help of an amazingly supportive physiotherapist, I did recover. It was a very difficult path; I had become so fearful of moving my head and had to put my trust completely in the therapist. I committed to her advice and to a long daily session of remedial stretches and strength-building exercises. Gradually, and with two steps forward, one step back, I improved. After about 6 months of work I was getting out and about a bit. After a year I was much stronger, and the constant pain had left me.
 
The thoughts about Italy certainly hadn’t left me though; I’d stayed committed to them all through the previous year, but I had no idea how I was going to do it. I had no way of making a living there, and although my neck was recovering, I could hardly lift or carry anything – let alone move countries! In addition, having spent most of the previous 18 months very confined, I’d had a huge self-confidence knock.
 
Moving to another country had always been one of my biggest dreams, and here it was, calling me. Thinking about it for more than a couple of minutes excited me tremendously, yet scared me to death.
 
I took a small step: I decided to train to teach English as a foreign language. Secretly, I was doing it so I had the option of teaching English in Italy but I was still a long way from openly admitting that was what I wanted.
 
It was about this time that I started seeing my current partner (we’d known each other from Alexander College, and got back in touch through a random coincidence). He earned my trust and I slowly opened up to him about my dreams. It was so difficult for me to share them though, I felt as if I’d tried so much in my life, but nothing had really stuck. I was awfully worried that the same thing would happen to a dream I’d had for a long, long time, and if that happened, what would I have left?
 
Facing the future of my health – starting to change my ideas around food
 
I’d been living with my family whilst I’d not been working. It hadn’t been ideal – I am a fiercely independent person but I was learning from it. One of the things I’d noticed was how much older my parents seemed to be. Suddenly, they had aged. They took concoctions of pills and visited the doctor’s often. Both had high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes was also being tested for. I was concerned that this was what fate had in store for me – after all, I had their genes.
 
Seeing this day in day out made me curious about health. I wanted to avoid heading the same way. Heck, I wanted an old age where I wasn’t in pain, didn’t have to pop pills, wasn’t worried about contracting this, that or the other. I wanted to enjoy my life!
 
At 33, I considered myself pretty healthy. I usually ate more than my ‘5-a-day’, my diet was varied, with meat and occasional dairy. In addition, I’d managed to maintain my weight loss, more or less. In reality though, my health was far from ideal – I was badly fatigued very often, and I had afternoon slumps in energy (which I thought were normal). I had suffered from constipation for about a year. I had IBS-like stomach issues with pain and bloating after eating and my hypermobility and PCOS, although being managed, were not in the place I wanted them.
 
Taking responsibility for my own health
 
Driven by wanting to avoid an old-age plagued by illness, I started reading and researching. I spent about a year ploughing through book after book on nutrition and doing much online research. I started with Patrick Holford and went right through conventional nutrition to the Gerson and Hippocrates Institutes – where people had defied doctors and reversed ‘incurable’ diseases, even cancer, through nutrition. I also read more and more on the environment and the amazing toll our food chain has on our world’s resources.
 
In love with apples!
After a few months, in anticipation of the health benefits, I decided to switch to vegan diet (I’d not eaten dairy for a while so it was just fish and eggs that went) and go wheat-free. I replaced these foods with wonderful fruit and vegetables and instead of wheat bread, which I had loved, I baked my own bread, experimenting with different flours.
 
The changes this engendered were amazing and I was starting to actually see for myself that what I fed my body really made a difference. I lost weight that I’d not been able to shift for years and I felt empowered. This experiment was teaching me that we can sculpt our own reality through what we feed our bodies. Importantly, I was creating great tasting, imaginative dishes that really satisfied.
 
My partner, who had been through his own pretty nasty battles with wheat intolerance, had been on a water fast to help his healing process and had also spent short amounts of time eating a diet that was very high in fresh, unprocessed, uncooked produce – that is ‘raw food’. He told me about this idea and my first reaction was, ‘how ridiculously radical!’ The thought that he was keen on it – it had brought him unparalleled health and vitality – was scary…I mean – we shared food together…I didn’t want him turning to a raw diet – what would happen to our love of food, how would we share it together, where would we eat out?
 
Broadening my horizons – putting things in place to move to Italy
 
Kicking off my boots on a research trip in Italy
While all this was happening I was moving to a more stable and optimistic mental and emotional space. I continued to discuss my idea of going to Italy with my partner and it seemed that, with his help, it might actually be possible. I did lots of online research and we visited Italy to check out some English schools, returning to work out a plan. I was excited, but really scared. Would I be able to cope with daily life with my hypermobility? How would I get on with the work? Was I doing the right thing – it wasn’t like I was a 20-year-old going off for a year abroad. Deep down something in me felt right though. I was excited by the possibilities, I felt freer than I had done in years. It felt like the time had come.
 
Through some teaching I did in the UK, I heard about a school in Tuscany. I contacted and liked them and within a couple of weeks they had offered me work. So, a month or so later, I was all set to ship out to Italy.
 
Next steps on my food journey
 
Despite being scared of the idea of a raw food diet, I continued to research it. I subscribed to many raw-foodie websites and soaked up information on what it was, why it was good, what benefits it brought, what recipes could be created. I downloaded raw ‘cookbooks’ and forwarded them excitedly to my partner, feeding him information, as well as trying out a few dishes myself. Whenever he got excited I would dampen his energy though – I didn’t want him changing over to a raw way of eating and taking away our sharing of creating, preparing and eating together. He took 2 steps forward and I dragged him 1 step back.
 
About this time I tested positive for an overgrowth of the yeast Candida. After research, I decided to follow the Erica White candida diet. This meant removing all sugars, including fruit, from my diet. I did this for 6 months and over this period I gradually moved to a diet that was based on vegetables and unrefined carbs, and about 50% raw. My weight decreased, my skin improved and my IBS-like symptoms lessened. 
 
Loving my new figure in Eastbourne
With my continued research, understanding and exploration I got increasingly enthusiastic about the raw way of life. My previous reservations were, one by one, knocked away. I could see it would allow me to be just as creative, if not more so, in the kitchen – there were plenty of people out there creating wonderful, varied recipes that looked and tasted fabulous. I could create these and share them with my partner – we would both be satisfied and I could entertain and amaze friends with stunning dinner party dishes from totally raw ingredients. In addition, the vision I had of a healthier and happier future seemed more assured the more I read about the effects eating raw had on your body. Here was a way I could not only eat great food and share my love of creating dishes but also do my very best to ensure I was the healthiest person I could possibly be.
 
At that time though, I still wasn’t eating fruit – which made a high raw diet virtually impossible.
  
I had been suffering from constipation for a while and after 6 months without fruit I suffered an awfully acute bout. This horrendous experience made my mind up to eat fruit again. Bringing fruit back into my life was a joy, my IBS stayed at bay and, by the end of the following month I’d decided that I wanted to try a ‘raw food weekend’. I’d eat just raw foods for the weekend and see how it went.
 
I ate really well – lots of fruit, large salads and some sprouts and felt great all weekend, so, when it came to Monday I didn’t stop! That was the beginning of 2010 and the start of a year and a half of a completely raw food diet.
 
A new Alison – what eating raw did for me
 
That weekend I fell in love with raw food, and it'll always play a huge part in my life. At the start I wondered how I’d fit all the preparation that seemed needed into my days, but I learnt some simple, killer techniques and recipes as well as picking up various tips and tricks from all my research – this meant I didn’t spend unwanted hours in the kitchen…yet the diet gave me the freedom to spend a few hours with my apron on at the weekend coming up with desert or main course dishes to share with my partner and my friends.
 
Munching on raw food at Inspiral in Camden, London
My food experiments – the raw diet and giving up wheat and sugar – saw my health improve in ways I never imagined it could have: Instead of fatigue that would drain me and make it difficult to get up the stairs, I felt light, agile and alive; I dropped 3 stone in weight without even trying; my IBS symptoms completely vanished; the acne that I had previously experienced on my face all but went; my recurrent hay-fever disappearred; scars and cuts on my body healed in half the time they had before; my constipation completely disappeared and my elimination became regular. In addition, I rarely get that draining afternoon fatigue, I sleep so much better these days and wake in the mornings with energy, I’ve lost that morning grogginess. I feel like a different person; one with more vitality, verve and energy then I ever remember having. I’m more creative with my food than ever before and most importantly every meal I eat is a joy!
 
Living my Path Less Trodden in Tuscany
 
The first year in Italy was a huge culture shock; A new life, in a new country, with a new language; a new job, one that challenged me. It was tough, but it was also uplifting and empowering as I’d truly sculpted it myself. I’d sculpted my health, my body, my work, and I was doing something I’d dreamt of (and so many others dream of) for so many years. I was actually doing it! Being the change I wanted to see in the world in my lifestyle, living the life I hankered after, plunged in it, despite my fear, despite all my reservations.
 
The joy of my new life led me to start a blog, which I decided to call Path Less Trodden. I loved writing and creating and this was a way to share my own life 'off the beaten path' – following my passions, facing my fears, doing what I loved, being creative. Through my writing I communicated the joy of going after your dreams – with the intention of helping guide people to live their most inspired, vibrant life. I pretty quickly realised I loved what I was doing, I was getting great feedback…it all felt right, I knew it was what I wanted to do for my work.
 
The next two years were a labour of love – birthing my site and my life's work. I taught English just enough to pay the Italian rent and then would go out on my bicycle into the countryside, get creating recipes in the kitchen, or write and design. Being called to share my journey and experience, I did a year-long coach traning with Karen Knowler in the UK and immersed myself in writing, creating and communicating my beliefs – that you can step off the beaten track, you can love your life, you can follow your passions and you can live jouyfully as the person you know you can be.
 
Creating, creating, creating
 
So much love, experience and work went into creating Path Less Trodden and its offerings. I designed and oversaw the new-look website, wrote all the content, created my ebook 7 Steps to the Life of Your Dreams, working with an artist to get it looking beautiful, and developed my bi-weekly e-magazine Dare to Dream, all the while completing my coaching training and writing regular blogs. After nearly 10 months the website and ebook were finished, and I turned my attention to finding and creating products that I knew the peole who loved what I was doing wanted. Check our my goodies page to see what the buzz around my work is all about.
 
In addition to these products, in the first 2 years of my business, I've run live events in the UK, retreats at my home in Italy, and grown a thriving coaching practice – where I do such powerful work one-on-one with clients.
 
Getting more support as my business has grown has been vital – it's been so important to make decisions from the person I want to be, not from the space I am at the moment. I've reached out to work with coaches myself – a business coach to help me systematise and structure my business and a personal coach to guide me to be the person I dream of being in all of my life as I challenge myself with my work.
 
My miracle – proving my doctor wrong
 
As I blossomed, following my passions in Italy, my relationship with Rob, the partner who had helped me get out there 4 years before not knowing whether it was going to be the end of our relationship, was turning into the most amazing of my life. We were forging our own path together, supporting, challenging and communicating with each other in the most beautiful way.
 
And as our relationship deepened, I began to realise that I wanted to create a family; I longed to be a mother. This was a challenging for many deeply-held reasons: I'd never thought of myself as naturally maternal (having been told many times my my family that I was 'selfish'); I had a new business that was my love, my focus and my only income, and I was living with a partner whose passion – his music – burned just as deeply in him as did mine. On top of this, I'd lived with PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome) since my early teens and had not had a menstrual cycle for over 4 years.
 
I'd made so many strides with my health, but this one hadn't budged. And it hurt. Motherhood was something I longed for and despite the fact I was convinced (and always had been) that I could heal myself naturally, the possibility seemed, at times, so far away. And yet, I continued following what I believed, researching, experimenting and challenging my relationship with food and with myself.
 
And then the miracle happened. Despite my doctor telling in me in no uncertain terms that I would never bring my menstrual cycle back naturally, I did. And then, within 2 months I was pregnant. I tell the story better on film: take a look at my video:
 
 
 
What's next?
 
Continuing to follow my passions and live an extraordinary life not being bound by society's expectations, deepening my love of my work, becoming a mother and allowing that to take me on whatever journey it wants to – knowing that is exactly where I need to be.
 
Guiding, inspiring, supporting and challenging as many as possible, so that they too can live the life they've always dreamed of.
 
 
You can lose weight and find a diet you and your body loves. You can find work you love. You can live wherever you dream of living. You can find joy in your life through simplicity. You can wake up every day vibrant. You can live an inspired life. 
 
I’m here to support you on this, your own Path Less Trodden, to help you move closer to the life you know you can live, the person you know you can be…it’s easier that you think! Start small and one day soon you’ll excitedly look in the mirror and see an amazing person looking back. One who is truly living an inspired life!