From Juvenile Arthritis to Personal Trainer & Sports Model

 

Rich in 18 essential amino acids, collagen plays a crucial role in building and repairing joint cartilage and acting as an anti-inflammatory agent. For this reason, it is used by some arthritis sufferers to relieve pain and promote more fluid movement in the joints. Here is one woman’s incredible life journey with arthritis, starting at just 13 years of age.  

At the age of 13 Zuleika was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. Doctors advised against any sport. At the age of 37 she was spotted working out in a gym by a scout and her career as a sports model took off. This is the story of what happened in-between - and beyond - some of those 24 years.  

Dad knows best 

Luckily for Zuleika, her Dad in particular didn’t take the news lying down. He was a man before his time. He’d been teaching Zuleika Wing Chun (the form of martial arts advocated by Bruce Lee) since she was a toddler. He drew on his rich Indian and Mauritian background and began preparing more Ayurvedic food; nutrition to heal. He made her drink proper cod liver oil - well before it was turned into a pill to pop - and plenty of water. As she grew older he bought her dumbbells and encouraged her to build muscle density. He kept her moving and eating well. 

But we all fall off the wagon 

Naturally a size ten, by the time she reached her early 20s Zuleika had got caught, hook, line and sinker, in the London rat race. She had a high-pressured career in HR and her eating ‘went off the rails’. All those good practices learned from her Dad required preparation and time. London life had no time for that and made it too easy to default to fast food. One day she had to buy up a jean size. Soon after that, she had to buy up another size. Eventually, she found herself outside Evans, a store for big sizes. Zuleika knew she had to go up to size 18 and she knew, back then, they’d be the only retail outlet to offer it. She burst into tears outside the store.

It was that day she knew changes must be made. 

Finding herself again 

Zuleika set about losing weight. She had extra motivation in that she wanted to have children, but she didn’t want to be carrying unnecessary pounds as well as being pregnant. She got down to her original weight range and, two babies later, she decided it was time to really get back to her old ways. It was time to amp up her fitness and ‘sort herself out’. Zuleika started boxing and kickboxing classes, and really started looking after her nutrition. She began to feel fantastic. 

Model material 

It turns out she looked every bit as good as she felt. It was at the gym that she was spotted by a model scout. She was 37 years old. She doesn’t think he had any idea of her age. Before she knew it, she was featuring in health magazine spreads. Since then, she’s been in all the big mastheads and plenty of women began to take notice. It was the old ‘When-Harry-Met-Sally-I’ll-Have-What-She’s-Having’ attitude. If she looked and moved that well at 37, they could, too! 

HR - from Human Resources to Heart Rates 

Zuleika realised she could share and teach her training and lifestyle approach with other women. She could even pursue a career in doing so. She wasted no time acquiring her Personal Training Levels 2 and 3 certificates. She initially began working for gyms but soon realised too much of her pay was going back to them in commission. So, she set up her own business. It’s been a success from day one and she’s now in her seventh year. 

Lockdown 

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Zuleika, like most, found herself at home and not working. Within two weeks she was climbing the walls. Not at all tech savvy, she nonetheless decided to do a live Facebook workout - just a 30-minute session for fun. It went so well she realised she needed to take this to the next level. Fast-forward and she now has a dedicated online following and virtual clients who are more than happy to train remote, regardless of isolation restrictions or otherwise.  

Dealing with arthritis 

Don’t forget during all this Zuleika has been living with arthritis. On her good days she might struggle to move really well. Her right hip, ankle and knee would all play up. On her bad days, the pain was so acute she would have trouble taking off her jumper or undoing her bra strap. It was that bad. Five years ago, it became so intolerable she knew she had to make sweeping changes. She could either succumb to it, or fight it. She dialled up her training big-time, to the point where her workouts sometimes left her hurting. She returned wholeheartedly to her father’s ways. She put herself on a lean, healthy, Asian-based diet. She literally spiced up her life, particularly with turmeric. And she started taking collagen. 

Arthritis and collagen 

It’s the collagen in particular that Zuleika thinks has made a real impact. Since she started taking it daily, within six months, she noticed a difference. 

Zuleika likes to keep things varied but one of her favourite recipes is to use her Marine collagen in a smoothie with almond milk, actual almonds, banana, spinach and vanilla protein powder. 

She thinks it has helped alleviate a lot of the inflammation in her body. So much so, in fact, that she trained for and completed her first marathon last year. It was a big risk, but she went about it smartly and carefully and it’s been one of the biggest achievements in her life. It was an emotional finish. The 13 year old in her could hear that doctor advise her to never do any sport. Yet it was sport that saved her. 

Do you have a specific health concern and think collagen might help you? Visit our article detailing common ailments, illnesses and injuries and the role collagen plays.

The information we have provided herewith, and all linked materials, are not intended nor should they be construed as medical advice. Moreover, the information herewith should not be used as a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. This story relates to Zuleika’s personal condition and is, by no means, purporting to claim that collagen can be used as a medicinal product. Collagen is a food supplement and any results mentioned in this article are unique to Zuleika.  Edible Health makes no medical claims regarding the use of benefits of collagen hydrolysate outside those related to a food supplement.Please consult your General Practitioner for advice specific for you. Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for more information.