Susan Birch - Real Health Blog

The beginning of a new year is an opportunity to reflect back on our lives, assess what is important and to think about how we want the future to look.

Looking back on 2016 feels good. It was a year where I had satisfaction in achieving some of my goals and I’m feeling positive about where I am headed.

While I have accomplished things in previous years, there has often been an overriding sense of frustration that it wasn’t quite what I was aiming for and something was missing. I dealt with this by making promises to myself that I will do better, be more motivated, stop procrastinating and so on. I would set myself schedules and deadlines that I would inevitably fail to meet. I am sure many of you will know exactly this feeling I am talking about. It isn’t that any particular year is bad, it just the gnawing feeling that life could be much more rewarding.

The lessons

Why was 2016 different? There were a few reasons. I started the year recalling some words of advice from my dad. He told me if you are unable to achieve a goal, it is because one of three things:

  1. You don’t know how to do it yet
  2. You haven’t practiced doing the right thing often enough to master it
  3. You don’t really want it. It isn’t important enough to you so stop worrying about it and do something else.

I also took a philosophy we apply in the nutrition and exercise world. This is called “taking a 180”. It is based on the idea that if you have been doing something one way for a very long time and it hasn’t worked or has stopped working, then change direction and do the opposite.

I decided I needed to take a 180 and go back to the beginning and figure out what it was I didn’t know and then practice it until I learned. I also realised a major missing component in my life was having fun. I was taking it all far too seriously. When I made a mistake or took a wrong turn it felt like I was back at the beginning and I needed to start again. These kinds of thoughts are really demotivating. I find they don’t only discourage me from working effectively, but they also discourage me from doing the things I really enjoy.

As usual, I had quite a few goals lined up for 2016. Personal, study and work. I knew from past experience that the study goals would be fine. It was the others that posed the problem. So I settled on two for 2016.

The first was personal and very important; it kept me awake at night. I wanted to paddle my slalom kayak so I looked like I belonged in it.

The second was how to achieve my other passion; empowering people through education to take proper care of their health so they can really enjoy life with energy and vitality.

Neither of these were new goals for me. However, I had become so frustrated because it felt like no matter what I did or how hard I tried, I wasn’t getting anywhere with achieving either of them. I was seriously contemplating giving it all up.

Despite having had both business and slalom coaching in the past, nothing really substantial had changed. I read a ton of books on business, goal setting and self-development until I felt I knew more about these topics than most of the coaches did. But I still wasn’t making progress in communicating effectively with people and getting my message across.


It is funny how life provides us with what we need when we are ready – serendipity. I love that word. I made a decision at the beginning of 2016 to “take a 180” and within a few weeks met business and lifestyle coach Leanne Mulcahy of Stand Out Women.

Leanne did for me what I do for my clients. I turned up to our first appointment, with a long list of all the problems I was trying to fix – my symptoms. I had an equally long list of things I had already tried – my supplements.

She explained there are many reasons for the symptoms. None of the fixes worked because we hadn’t identified the underlying problem. I needed an assessment (testing) to figure out the root cause. If you don’t know why something is broken you can’t fix it.

This lady was talking my language. “Test Don’t Guess”. I was to learn this is essential in all areas of life, not just the nutrition and fitness world. I quickly realised everything I had been doing was just applying a Band-Aid. A one size fits all approach popularised by internet marketing gurus. I was focused on the wrong things.

My slalom paddling went through a similar process with the help of Coach John. I had spent many years, investing hours and hours of effort into doing the wrong things over and over. I had to cut my losses, forget what I thought I knew and start over.

It was time to revisit my dad’s advice. I didn’t know how to do it yet and I hadn’t practiced doing the right thing often enough. This applied to both work and play.

I won’t pretend that this year hasn’t been hard work, or that I have got all the answers yet. I know there is a lot more work ahead of me. The difference is I feel excited about the journey, I am really enjoying the process, and I am having fun. I have stopped beating myself up when I make a mistake.

Many of the people I work with have similar experiences around their health. They are smart and very capable. They have often learned a lot about health. Like me, they were frustrated that despite being really capable and all their efforts, it didn’t translate into getting the results they wanted.

Trying harder isn’t the solution

Before coming to me, many of my clients feel they just needed to try harder, be more motivated, and stop procrastinating. They think they are lazy. They believe the ingredients for success are willpower and determination. While these are certainly valuable qualities, they don’t help much when you don’t know why something is broken.

For all these people, getting results started once we did the right kind of testing. If we don’t know what is causing the problem how can we get to the cause of it? Some people are lucky and figure out the solutions. But for many, they give up in frustration, resigning themselves to a life of troublesome symptoms they just accept.

My client Ceitha Andrews puts it like this…
“And to anyone feeling out of whack, with sudden weight gain, extreme fatigue, fogginess…get your blood work and systems checked thoroughly by the right people. I had a thyroid disorder that was treated incorrectly and swept under the carpet whilst dealing with my cancer diagnosis and then it got so bad it became auto-immune and triggered other systemic upsets…I’ve gained nearly 30kgs and finally after 4 years I have finally found the right balance and through the help of the right people I’m finally starting to feel like myself again”

Take a 180

It really doesn’t matter which area of life you are struggling with (health, weight-loss, money, relationships, business or sport) I recommend “taking a 180” and investing in a root cause analysis. There is no better investment you can make than in yourself.

If living life with optimum health and vitality is your goal for 2017, I’d love to help you on your journey, just click here and book an initial 1-hour functional nutrition consultation today.

Happy New Year to you and I wish you the very best year ever.

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