Ulcerative colitis can be physically and psychologically challenging. It can drain you of your energy, leaving you weak, fatigued and unmotivated. A disease with an unpredictable and devilish nature that can disrupt all aspects of your life, a disease in which your own body fights against you. Being diagnosed with an incurable, auto-immune disease at the age of 18 was never going to be ideal, but it has never stopped me doing what I have wanted to do in life and it never will.
I am now 26 years old; I have achieved two degrees and landed a job which I love in private healthcare as a Health Physiologist. I am passionate about wanting to help others change their lifestyle for the better and this has developed from knowing that good health is not always guaranteed. Leading a healthy lifestyle should be your priority as it has a direct impact on your quality of life, both physically and mentally.
On my good days I have the ability to get out of bed in the morning, go to work, go to the gym, play football, spend time with my favourite people and enjoy life in general. I have been playing football since I was around 7 years old; I have played for my county, university and now I play for a local team. Growing up I was always told that it was a “man’s game”, but my Dad always said otherwise – he actually coached the first team I played for. I love the sport and I have made long lasting friendships from it. It is also so great to see women’s football becoming more and more popular!
I am lucky enough to have experienced remission periods with my IBD and during this time I take full advantage of being fit and able – living my life to the full because you never know when the remission periods will come to an end. I know how unpredictable IBD can be and this brings about anxiety surrounding the uncertainty of several things, including failing medication, medication side effects, how the disease will progress and ending up in hospital again. It can almost feel like you lose your control on life when you suffer with IBD, so there are things I do to help bring that control back in. This is where leading a healthy lifestyle is key for me. I live a continually active lifestyle and exercise frequently. This keeps my body strong and my stress low. Recently I have completely cleaned up my diet in order to give my body the best possible chance to heal. I always try to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night and aim to drink 2L of water a day. I also practice mindfulness every day to help with stress. These are my controls; these are things I can do to optimise my health and will continue to do.
If living with IBD has taught me one thing – it is that I am strong. I have battled this disease for 8 years now and when it knocks me down, it knocks me down hard. During flare ups I have to put my life on pause and focus entirely on recovery. But my mindset is strong, I know I will recover every time and I will bounce back even stronger. I have learnt that you should never compare yourself to anyone else. You have your own goals, your own challenges in life. You set your own targets and only you know when you have truly achieved them. You should focus on bettering yourself and use those around you for inspiration and motivation, but not for comparison. Every challenge I face with IBD just adds fuel to my fire to become a better version of myself and this also becomes my motivation on and off the pitch!
Charlotte was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2012, at the age of 18 just after completing college. Determined to not let her diagnosis hold her back, she went on to obtain a degree in Biochemistry at the University of Portsmouth and completed her education by achieving a Masters in Clinical Exercise Science. She now works in private healthcare as a Health Physiologist and as a freelance PT with the aim of empowering women to become the healthiest and strongest versions of themselves.
Charlotte enjoys running and has completed 10 mile and half marathon races in the past. She hopes to take on the challenge of the London Marathon next year! Her main passion is football; she has been playing for 20 years and now plays for her local team – Tooting Bec FC.