Chronic fatigue is one of the most dangerous and under diagnosed health challenges that affects millions of people every day. In this article Christine Frappier opens up about her past struggles with chronic fatigue, how she had little support from her doctor other than being prescribed dangerous sleeping pills, and what she eventually did that literally brought her back to life after years of suffering. So put your coffee, Red Bull, and other dangerous products aside – It’s time to learn how to infuse real energy back into your daily life.
By the time my ninth birthday came around I already knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Little did I know about the added health challenge I would have to face on route to becoming a police officer. Here is my story.
As far back as I can remember, even as a 13 year old in high school, I always felt tired, day in and day out, school day or not. I had a hard time staying awake in class even after a good night’s sleep. I felt that life was a constant battle and, as I looked around at my peers, I seemed to be alone in facing this issue of constant fatigue.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, is a clinical disorder characterized by profound fatigue that is not improved by rest or sleep. Mainstream medicine has not been successful in detecting a specific cause, and no cure is said to exist.
Early Struggles With Weight
I was overweight until the age of 14. One day, and I remember this clearly, my mother took me aside and started talking to me about her past Weight Watcher’s plan while handing me the guidebook. I understood right away that she meant to say that I was getting a little too heavy. To top it off, I received a great gift from my brother that same day: he told me I was FAT. I cannot explain the trauma I experienced except to say that I was heartbroken with no self-esteem left in me. I had always been an introvert, suffering from thoughts of not being good or pretty enough, and now to actually know that my own family members thought the same thing! That’s a lot to handle for a 14 year old.
Being a fighter, I knew I had to do something about this on my own. Without telling anyone, I started to set some goals in order to reach my ideal weight. I began at the end of the school year while in grade 8. I weighed 155lbs at 5’5″ and wanted to lose a good 35 pounds by the end of the summer. To do so, I started cutting my portions in half or more, took on running a couple of times a week, and did some push-ups and sit-ups on the side. Other than cutting out desserts, I did not change what I was eating. I just ate less. Being a young teenager, I had no choice but to follow my mother’s cooking. She was health conscious in her own way, but she did have a sweet tooth which made it that much more difficult for me to get off what I now realize was an addiction to sugar. My diet at the time was what most people generally consider to be healthy; no fast food, just some home cooked meat, rice or potatoes, and some cooked veggies on the side. No processed food whatsoever. Cutting portions to restrict my calorie intake was all that I knew how to do at that age, and it wasn’t easy. For the most part, I was still eating the same foods that were stressing my system. Today I understand that eating a bit of crap is still eating crap! Anyway, I kept track of my weight every week and got the results I thought I wanted. By the beginning of the next school year I was at my ideal weight and was even able to join the basketball team!
The Problem Didn’t Go Away
I was getting in shape but my chronic fatigue wasn’t going away. Blood tests revealed that I was maybe borderline anemic but nothing else, nothing seemed to be wrong with me medically. Nonetheless, I continued getting in shape throughout the years, joining a taekwondo club, a soccer team and eventually the gym. I earned my first black belt (out of two) at the age of 18 and participated in a world Taekwondo competition at age 20. That’s me in the photo on the right, featured in a local french newspaper a few weeks before the competition that took place in Australia. At this time I was already enrolled in a three-year police technology program in order to fulfill my life long dream of becoming an officer. But every day was still a struggle. How can it be possible to be in shape and yet be constantly tired? I was eating a “normal” diet, sleeping a good amount of hours, training hard and never partying. When I say never I mean that, to this day, I can count on my two hands the number of times I stepped into a night club. I was a very focused person who enjoyed martial arts training to the fullest. I lived what is considered to be a “clean” life.
The Worst Had Yet To Come
I graduated from my program at 21 and got into the police academy training program six months later. To be admitted into the program I passed all of the medical exams as well as the strenuous physical tests. I was a “perfect” candidate. Looking back, I can now say how painful this 15-week training was for me. With all of the added stress to pass the program in order to have a chance of applying for a job, combined with the not so healthy three meals a day that were provided by the academy, and the horrible sleep we all got at night on those uncomfortable beds, my fatigue hit a lifetime high. It became hard for me to think clearly much less complete any given task. My stomach was hurting all the time, and I was having only one bowel movement a week. On the weekends I was able to go back home to recuperate a little. I still don’t know how I successfully got through police academy when I was barely able to function. But I did get through.
A couple of months later I finally got my dream job. I was 22 and a cop. At first I was excited, everything was new, and I was enjoying the feeling of having my first “real” job so much so that even the graveyard shifts were cool. But not for long. Like everything else, novelty wears out quickly. I began to feel tired on all of my shifts, day, evening or night. Graveyard shifts became unbearable, and even though I was able to actually sleep more than most of my colleagues, I was suffering.
Visiting the Doctor
I did go see my family doctor for my chronic fatigue and she recommended I take some sleeping pills. Thank goodness I had the common sense to realize this was a completely insane thing to do. I threw the prescription away and went back to work. Let’s be honest though, a tired officer that cannot think clearly is dangerous, not just for him or herself, but for his or her partner and the public as well. Fortunately, no one was harmed during my service and the adrenaline rush while on high-risk calls allowed me to function well in critical moments. I was not a dangerous cop, far from it. In fact, I think I helped a lot of people, but looking back I know I would have done a much better job if I had normal levels of energy.
My constant fatigue as well as some other personal reasons resulted in the end of my police career after 3 years of service. My family was worried that I was giving away everything that I had ever wanted or worked for. But deep down I knew something had to change. If I continued on this path my health would continue to deteriorate, and I feared the worst.
The Answer, Better Late Than Never
It took me several months to recover from police stress as well as the shift work. But getting back to a normal day’s schedule did not solve my fatigue issue. I still kept the same kind of diet but was trying to incorporate more vegetables and juices. I knew I needed to change something to feel better. This is when I turned to Marc Jaoude who had always been ahead of time in terms of health, training and nutrition. He taught me how to look at my health problem in a way that nobody, including my doctor, had ever shown me, and he introduced me to a whole different way of eating and thinking. I learned that my chronic fatigue was a symptom of a deeper underlying issue, one that was surely related to my digestion problems as well as to other symptoms. To beat chronic fatigue I had to cut out all animal based food from my diet, and replace it with sprouted grains and legumes, vegetables and wheatgrass juice. It wasn’t easy, but if this is what it took to get rid of this life altering condition, I was willing to give it my all.
In the beginning I did not cut out all animal products at once since it was quite a bit of a shock to eliminate the diet I had known to be right for my whole life. But soon enough, I realized that it was too hard to transition slowly, and that it would be better to commit 100% to this new way of life. And so, just like that, I stopped eating all animal based foods. This meant I would no longer buy or consume any meat, poultry, fish and dairy. Instead, I began following a whole foods plant based diet, with the majority of my meals consisting mainly of sprouts. Learning how to prepare recipes with these new ingredients was a fun challenge, and I soon realized how much richer, versatile and interesting my meals had become. Marc explained that I was on the richest diet on earth, consuming more enzymes, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and even protein than ever before. I wasn’t sure what all of that meant other than it was working.
Marc created a nutritional program for me and I can honestly say that I was experiencing unbelievable results just from the morning routine of wheatgrass juice, along with my breakfast of sprouted grains. Among the many benefits, I also started having regular bowel movements, something that I had never experienced before, and I no longer suffered from gastric reflux. I felt lighter, stronger and my mind was a lot clearer. After just one month of eating this way I knew I had turned the corner and felt energised for the first time since childhood. I was a whole new person.
This was the turning point of my life. But yes, I do have regrets that I have to learn to put behind me, namely that I sometimes feel like I lost a huge chunk of my life due to the chronic fatigue syndrome I suffered from. Who knows what I would have been able to achieve in my past had I enjoyed the type of energy that I am blessed with today. But what is more important now is what I can do to help people in the same situation that I was in. This is why I felt it was necessary to share my story. I encourage people to learn about the real science of food, to stay open minded, and to never underestimate the fact that something so simple as knowing what to put on your plate can change your life around. Had I not changed my diet my health would have deteriorated. It’s true what they say: “if you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.”