Ah, famous last words. When I asked that question back in 2005 while watching Cadell Evans bow out to see one during the Tour de France, I had no idea that it would change the trajectory of my life so significantly.
On hearing what they did (“they help people that get injured by doing rehab and exercises”), I thought I could happily do the job even if it didn’t become a passion because I’d get to do what I wanted to do: help people. After all, some of my favourite subjects were physiology, chemistry and biology, and I liked exercise and knowing about how the body worked. And for an eternal student, what was another 4 years of study if it meant I avoided spending the next 40 years sitting in offices doing jobs I hated?
I moved up to sunny Brissie rather than wait another year (post Arts/Science degree, photography course, study overseas in Germany and taking a belated gap year to ‘find myself’, I wasn’t keen on waiting for the next round of GAMSAT exams that were needed to get into physio in Melbourne. So, hello University of QLD).
Coming back as a ‘mature-age’ student who already felt she was lagging behind, I was so keen to work when I graduated that I did 3 different jobs and 60+ hours a week. It lasted about a year and a half, until I decided life was more important than money and having no time or energy. I switched to part time, working with kids on the Family & Early Childhood Services (FECS) team in Browns Plains, a musculoskeletal clinic on the Southside, with Extend Rehabilitation alongside some of Brisbane’s best upper limb surgeons, Core Yoga Studios in West End (all at different times!), in disability sport, and on the side, started my own private business, which back then I just called Sissy Taufika Physiotherapy.
I also happened to fall in love with a guy who not only shared my love of food and being silly, but was also a significant factor in my journey towards taking a more holistic approach to lifelong health. Ryan is a C5 quadriplegic due to a car accident he was in at 16; he’s also the captain of the Australian Wheelchair Rugby team, the Steelers, and spends big chunks of the year travelling to compete and train. We bonded over ribs and lactose-free desserts, drives in his ‘67 Camaro and a mutual love of the Simpsons (it’s the simple things, right?)
Meanwhile I was enjoying physio but felt something was missing. Some bigger, greater aspect… that more ‘holistic’ picture I mentioned. I knew I wanted to help people in a way that went deeper than just resolving their injuries or getting them back to sport but I just didn’t know what. I was also struggling with my own personal on/off battle with an eating disorder and a love-hate relationship with my body that, while I was still able to work and function, always seemed to be present in the back of my mind, rearing its ugly head at different times and putting me out for a day or two as I tried to shake off its aftereffects.
Then one day while trawling through the internet universe of health research as I often did, I stumbled upon some YouTube videos by a guy called Paul Chek. A super fit, super intelligent, 100-miles-an hour… sort of weird kinda guy who talked about primal pattern eating, parasites and chakras, and who could press a 20kg dumbbell overhead while standing on a Swiss ball.
Coincidentally, around that time Ryan also taped a show about pro surfers on the Gold Coast who’d been helped back to peak performance by some ‘C.H.E.K practitioner’. Again, the Chek name reared its head, so I decided to find out more. I ended up doing a few sessions with Rhett, that C.H.E.K practitioner, and my mind was blown; this was the missing link and it was so obvious I can’t believe I didn’t know it before.
C.H.E.K Practitioners and Holistic Life Coaches were addressing factors like diet, stress levels, digestive and adrenal health, exercise and high level performance using both science and alternative treatments to help improve peoples health, performance and lives. And having amazing, really effective, results.
Starting my C.H.E.K journey was a no-brainer; beginning with Holistic Life Coach, I learnt principles that changed my own life and personal health for the better. I found I was able to help Ryan with the digestive and training issues he was having, and soon the both of us had changed not only the way we ate and moved, but also the way we lived. As I became stronger (mentally, emotionally, spiritually & physically), I became hungrier to know more. Exercise Coach, and soon-to-be-completed C.H.E.K Practitioner came as a natural progression.
The idea to integrate C.H.E.K. principles into my physio work came intuitively but its implementation was somewhat harder, especially in today’s medical model-based healthcare system. Even other physios, some of whom I thought would be open to the idea of a more holistic approach, poo-pooed my idea and made me completely doubt what I wanted to do. But I felt there was something to the idea and I believed in it, dammit, despite what other health therapists & professionals told me.
And so I decided to ignore the naysayers and do it anyway. The results I was getting were so much more effective and meaningful than what I had gotten in the past, and the idea of integrating nutrition and physiology with physiotherapy made complete sense to me. Let’s be honest: I also absolutely loved the idea and it made me excited to wake up each morning because I knew it was the only way to make true, long-lasting change the way I wanted to.
Plus you can only help others to the extent you help yourself, and being able to help people chase, and catch, their wildest dreams is inherent to my passion and work. What example could I hope to be if I didn’t do it myself?
So this, dear reader, is how nutritional physiotherapy and Absolute Potential came about. If you’ve never heard the term before it’s because I created it based on the growing field of functional/nutritional medicine, and one that best summarises the direction and content of the experience, training and passions I have. It is the ‘change I want to be in the world’ and I hope that one day, nutritional physiotherapy will be a standard in conventional healthcare. But until then, I invite you to see for yourself how taking a scientific-holistic approach to wellbeing, health and performance can literally change your life. It helped me recover from my issues as well as helping many others who had struggled for years using conventional therapies with little success.
Oh and yes, Paul is every bit as smart, ahead of his time and out-there in person as he is on those videos. But then aren’t all the revolutionaries and world-changers?