RORY BLAND, 24, HEALTH EDUCATOR, WOOLLOONGABBA
When I was 17, my dad [Steve] had a heart attack and died on Boxing Day, 2006. He was 46. He had a high-stress job, he smoked, drank alcohol to wind down, travelled between two countries every fortnight and he ate a lot of cheese on toast and spaghetti bolognaise.
I didn't know how to deal with life after he died. I sank into depression and basically just gave up on everything. One night, I had an anxiety attack and Mum [Bonnie, 51] suggested I get away from it all. We lived in Cairns at the time and I went to a yoga ashram at Mangrove Mountain [on the NSW Central Coast] where I stayed for eight months.
When I returned, I started studying nutrition but I went too far. I was trying to eat so healthily – to avoid dying like Dad did – that I developed an eating disorder. I did courses and workshops in personal development and then a range of jobs – fruit picking, telemarketing, working in a health food store, massage therapy. I felt like I was looking for something. But the whole time I was still experimenting with different diets and food.
My family moved around a lot when I was growing up. Dad was a marketing manager for a casino company, so it was normal for us to move. The longest I've ever lived in the same house is two-and-a-half years. I still can't be in the same place for too long. I was born in Launceston, Tasmania, and have also lived between Cairns, Indonesia and the Gold Coast. I moved to Brisbane in February last year and in November I'm moving to Sydney.
But now I have a purpose in life, something that inspires me to wake up every day. Almost two years ago, I started using the name “whole food dude'' after a friend called me that and it has become my business. I am passionate about teaching people about eating whole foods, blending, juicing, detoxing, and I travel around Australia doing workshops, talks and coaching in personal development. Teaching kids is a passion too because we can educate them before they establish bad habits. Nutrition needs to be as important in the school curriculum as science and English. I'm determined to make a difference.