Real-life health jour­ney: A mum-of­five who is on a mis­sion

AF­TER A TUR­BU­LENT YEAR, LIFE­STYLE BLOG­GER SERA LILLY IS SLOW­ING DOWN AND PUTTING HER HEALTH FIRST. SHE SHARES HER STORY

Good Health (Australia) - - Content -

To say that last year was har­row­ing is an un­der­state­ment for Sera Lilly. Com­pli­ca­tions fol­low­ing the birth of her fifth child al­most cost her her life, and the road to re­cov­ery has been a test of her strength. But Sera doesn’t want to dwell on the neg­a­tives. Hav­ing learnt first-hand that health is wealth, she’s re­turned to her love of fit­ness, de­vel­op­ing a healthy life­style app (Fit with Sera Lilly) that caters for women of all shapes and sizes, and wants to spread the mes­sage to women that their well­be­ing is worth putting first.

A close call

“It was a day or two af­ter my cae­sarean sec­tion that I started to feel re­ally un­well. My stom­ach was huge and re­ally dis­tended, I couldn’t keep any­thing down and I was in so much pain. A spe­cial­ist said it was fine and I was dis­charged. But the pain and dis­ten­tion in­creased, and my mum, a for­mer in­ten­sive care nurse, in­sisted I go back to hospi­tal. Even­tu­ally I was di­ag­nosed with a rare com­pli­ca­tion called Ogilvie’s syn­drome and I had bowel de­com­pres­sion treat­ment.

I was al­lowed to go home, but six hours later I was in ex­treme pain and my daugh­ter called an am­bu­lance.

I was taken to a dif­fer­ent hospi­tal, and by this time I was scream­ing in agony. Un­for­tu­nately, my bowel had per­fo­rated, but it was not picked up by any of the doc­tors. By the time I was trans­ferred back to my orig­i­nal hospi­tal, I had spent 12 hours with an un­treated rup­tured bowel and had de­vel­oped peri­toni­tis. I had emer­gency surgery and part of my bowel re­moved, and I was later told that if I had not ar­rived at the other hospi­tal when I did, the out­come may have been very dif­fer­ent. I’m very thank­ful that the surgery went well, and that I was able to avoid hav­ing a colostomy bag.

What up­sets me the most is how much I had to fight to be heard. I be­lieve women know their bod­ies, we know when some­thing is not nor­mal, but I re­ally had to keep push­ing for some­one to ac­tu­ally lis­ten.

The re­cov­ery was hard; I was in hospi­tal for weeks and at­tached to catheters, feed­ing tubes and pumps. It was all a huge shock; it re­ally brought home to me that what is most im­por­tant is our over­all health, not just the phys­i­cal, but men­tal and spir­i­tual health as well. It’s so vi­tal be­cause if you’re not in a good place men­tally, you can’t look af­ter your­self or oth­ers.

Tak­ing the leap

I al­ways wanted to launch a fit­ness app, but as I’m not the typ­i­cal per­son that peo­ple as­so­ciate with fit­ness, I was scared

‘What up­sets me the most is how much I had to fight to be heard. I be­lieve women know their bod­ies, we know when some­thing is not nor­mal, but I re­ally had to keep push­ing for some­one to lis­ten’

‘If it makes just one woman feel okay about her­self, then what I’m do­ing is worth it’

I would be mocked. But the key mes­sage is that fit­ness is not a num­ber on a scale or a clothes size – it’s about be­ing the best ver­sion of your­self, what­ever that looks like.

I went back to study as a per­sonal trainer, I was the big­gest and old­est in the class but I just don’t care about that sort of thing any more. When I started film­ing the videos for my app, I was at my heav­i­est. I have to ad­mit I’ve cried look­ing back at my­self on film! There’s rolls of fat and cel­lulite, but I think we don’t see that enough in fit­ness. I know there’s a lot of women who are too scared to go to a gym, as it feels like you have to be in shape be­fore you can set foot in the place.

I have a mas­sive scar from my surgery, and one day I want to do a video in a crop top. I think if it makes just one woman feel okay about her­self, then what I’m do­ing is worth it. I think for many women it’s about work­ing out with some­one who ‘gets it’ – I know what it’s like to ex­er­cise when you’re big­ger; get­ting down on the ground is hard, get­ting up feels em­bar­rass­ing.

I know it can be hard to make a start with ex­er­cise, but I also know that af­ter you’ve done it, you feel amaz­ing.

Per­sonal jour­ney

My own goal is to lose 30kg. I refuse to weigh my­self, as I find that a num­ber on a scale can put me on a down­ward spi­ral.

Over the years I’ve tried nu­mer­ous pop­u­lar weight-loss pro­grammes, but these days I don’t do any par­tic­u­lar diet, just healthy whole­foods. I still have on­go­ing bowel is­sues and need to look af­ter my health.

As some­one who has suf­fered de­pres­sion, I know that healthy food and ex­er­cise are so good for my men­tal health. I’ve also de­vel­oped a sup­port­ive, non-judge­men­tal on­line com­mu­nity around the app, as talk­ing things through, even with strangers, can be re­ally help­ful. I feel as though I’m on a health jour­ney with them.

‘Healthy over skinny’ is my mantra now, as there are enough things in the world to worry about al­ready with­out get­ting stressed over a fit­ness ideal. I want to help women feel bet­ter about them­selves, and to do that we have to sup­port each other.

‘Healthy over skinny’ is my mantra now’

Above: Af­ter a har­row­ing year, Sera is on a mis­sion to lose 30kg and wants to help other women too. Left: With her five chil­dren Amalia, Kingston, Odelia, Luella and Stella.

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