Interview 15 of 52:  “Overcoming ‘I can’t’”

Ashely is one of the kindest, most genuine, intelligent and nurturing people I’ve met!  I came across Ashley on Instagram through meal prep photos and was so impressed by her commitment and dedication to holistic living.  Once I spoke with Ashely and heard her story I totally understood why!  

Ashley and her husband Mark live in Toronto, Canada and dedicate their lives to helping people on their path towards health.  Mark is a personal trainer and Ashley focuses on holistic nutrition.  Their mission is strong!  For Ashley it all started when she was 9 years old when she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.  She’s been living with Crohn’s for over 20 years and felt the brunt of it during her teenage years.  At age 16 she was dealing with such extreme flare ups that she couldn’t eat for 3 weeks.  She dropped 20 pounds and at a frail 79 pounds she remembers thinking “if I ever pull out of this I challenge myself with fitness to prove that I am strong.”  

All of this was happening during her high school years.  She was extremely embarrassed to talk about it with anyone because, well, it dealt with stomach issues.  She has a few hospitalizations through high school and she would say she had the stomach flu or food poisoning.  She began to realize that her flare ups were due to malnutrition.  After that, she wanted to learn how to fix it.  She was determined to learn how to gain muscle and how to protect her body with food.  It took her almost 10 years to be comfortable speaking about what was happing.  But now, she is an incredible advocate for people suffering with Crohn’s and Colitis.  

Ashley is truly inspiring.  I have had family members with Crohn’s disease and never knew the struggle they were going through. Like Ashley felt in the past, it just wasn’t talked about.  But living through these experiences gave Ashley a mission and a voice.  “It gave me an idea of what to do with my life and how to help others” she shares.  I didn’t know this but Toronto is the number one area in the world that has the highest concentration of Crohn’s patients.  Ashley works with patients and serves in advocacy groups to help manage their Chron’s symptoms through nutrition.  

“When dealing with a chronic illness, your lifestyle and nutrition can get you so far but I think what can be the most impactful is meeting others that can inspire you” Ashley says.  Just getting the diagnosis immediately our mind begins to tell us “I can’t do this…” Then add on the influence of family and friends trying to keep you safe and it reinforces the negative feeling of “I can’t.”  Patients hear a lot of: “Be really careful, don’t lift, don’t run for too long… makes you feel like you should be restrictive” Ashley shares.  Part of living with Crohn’s is overcoming what the disease says you can’t do.  

There is a stigma with the disease.  “We gotta break out of that stigma. You still can do a lot of things” she says.  Ashley plans on spending her days confronting that stigma!  “I try to live my best life and fight for my goals” she shares.  And that’s what she instills within her clients.  

The Instagram account Tri_Nutrition highlights real people who are living with this disease.  It highlights people who live well with the disease.  “We need more of that” she says.  There is so much negativity with this disease.  So many people don’t feel good enough to do certain things…even as simple as meeting up with friends.  It can be totally debilitating.  Her mission is to lift people up and cheer them on!  

I asked her to share what she has learned over the last 20 years.  Her top 3 tips. Here is what she said: 

  1. Take time to really explore what foods work well with your body.   How it feels towards your body.  Your body is so knowledgeable if you could hone in on what works with it.  Find out what works specifically for your body.
  2. Exercising is a fabulous stress reducer and when you get those endorphins going it’s really important. Work our bodies in a healthful way.  Find something that’s meaningful to you.  Have fun with it.
  3. Tap into your own wisdom and intuition. Inside of our hearts and minds we have so much wisdom. Tap into that and empower yourself and add value to your life.  As much as we can be our own worst enemy we can also be our best friend.  Trust yourself.  

Ashley is an incredible example of how to treat your body kindly with food and exercise.  She has continues to fight a battle every day with grace and strength. With or without Crohn’s disease we can all take lessons from Ashley’s story.  Learning to trust yourself, fuel your body properly and fight for what burns within you!  It is a pleasure to know you Ashely!  I am excited to watch your continued success!

xo

Becky  

Thank you for taking the time to engage in my 15th interview of 52 inspiring women!  Please feel free to share your comments, feelings and send this to a friend you think would benefit from reading this!  If you want me to interview someone you find incredibly inspiring, I would be truly honored to meet them! This is a journey that has no parameters or rules!  Let’s have fun with it and continue to spread the message of empowerment, love and kindness - to ourselves and others!

You can find Ashley on Instagram at @Tri_Nutrition