My Story

About My Health Crisis

I’m Helen Marshall, a forty something year old mother of two and I live in on the South Coast of Western Australia. At age 38 I had a health crisis. I had digestive, hormonal and sleep problems. Everything was utterly overwhelming – even the laundry. My mood was default ‘life is hard’ and I felt depressed and anxious. Naturally this crisis affected my life – I was a ‘shouty’ Mummy, a ragged libido less house wife and I couldn’t cope with much more than the daily grind.

Sick & Tired All Of The Time

My overriding symptom was nausea. I felt sick all of the time – like a hangover with a side of morning sickness. Inside I was sure I was dying of some awful disease and the outcome of that seemed like it would provide a welcome relief. On the outside though I glossed over it and got on with life, the kids still needed to go to school and I had to get groceries. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling this way – after all I was so ‘healthy’ I ate according to the government guidelines – low fat high carbohydrate - and worked out at the gym three to five times a week. So why did I feel so sick, so disconnected, so exhausted and tired but wired?

At one of my lowest points I was discussing whether to book in with a naturopath or not and out of the blue I said “…she will only tell me to go gluten free anyway.” Shocked by this, I went gluten free right away. It was exactly what I needed and I have never looked back! After an initial yucky detox (they say the worse the detox – the more you needed it!) I started to experience some reduction in inflammation. My headaches and sore feet (plantar fasciitis) went after about two weeks. I DID book in with the Naturopath, she diagnosed me as having SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability that is, things that should remain in your gut and be expelled, end up in your blood stream!)

Have you tried Paleo?

A good friend Kirsty mentioned the word “Paleo” to me for the first time. My initial reaction was “oh my goodness I have never heard anything more insane, undoable and more awful in my entire life!!” But I was desperate. So in a desperate attempt to reset my health I did a Whole30 (well more of a Whole45) where I ditched seed oils, grains, gluten, legumes, dairy, sugar and alcohol completely.

I dragged my ‘tradey’ husband (think rugby player, big appetite!) and two school age kids with me for the ride. We were your typical Aussie family eating four loaves of bread a week and boxes of muesli bars. My husband said to me that we could only do this journey if we had Cookies! So I tweaked our favourite recipe and swapped the ingredients around to make them gluten and grain free and more nutrient dense. Turned out, I loved spending time in the kitchen and came up with some good recipes! All the while my health was on a rapid incline! I felt joyous, energised and oh SLEEP!

I felt great! I was compelled to spread this news!

To be honest I got a bit evangelical about the Paleo diet! I must have talked about it HEAPS because one day my friend Caz said to me “Jeez H, it’s like you’ve found God!” Point taken – so I started a blog -I called it PRIMAL SOAPBOX, cos it was me on my soapbox talking about the primal lifestyle I chose Primal over Paleo for two reasons. One I LOVE Mark Sisson and am a graduate of his Primal Health Coach course. Two – I find primal is more flexible than Paleo. I believe everyone needs to become an expert in themselves. Blanket approaches are quite negligent! Do what works best for you. Be prepared for changes and setbacks and view your health as your life’s work! I shared recipes and tips and the feedback I got was that people wanted to go Primal but found that it was very time consuming – they were out doing proper jobs in the community like nursing and teaching! The two questions I got asked most were “What shall I eat?” and “How do you find time?”

I started making Primal alternatives for my community

So the budding entrepreneur in me saw an opportunity and I started selling my products, firstly via Facebook – and delivering. Then a local farmer said I should try a stall at the local markets. I approached our local health shop and they started selling my stuff and I promoted myself on Facebook. I wanted to sell EVERYTHING but I wanted to work from home. I wanted this to fit around our family. Prior to being a Mum I had spent a decade in the corporate world as a Business Manager and prior to that, ten years in the Health & Fitness industry as a trainer – both of which didn’t fit around being a 40-year-old Mum!! After a consultation with our Health Inspector I realised that I could only produce ‘low risk’ products from a domestic kitchen. This was a blessing in disguise, because instead of stretching myself and trying to make EVERYTHING – I focused on and nailed five products.

The products were a hit! I wanted more people to have access to them

Being behind the stall at the markets really gave me some insight as to how I was serving my community by providing these products. I was amazed to find that it was a real game changer for people. I didn’t realise just how many people have dietary restrictions -and for many different reasons. The two things I found that made the biggest impact were that it made making dietary changes more sustainable, doable and FUN (pizza night anyone?) And it stopped people falling off the wagon or derailing all of their good work just because they wanted a biscuit. Soon the Primal Alternative brand gained recognition and I was being approached to supply the local gourmet pizza shop, the local trendy café, a health shop in the nearby city, and a gourmet deli.

Our town is a tourist hotspot in the summer and during this time the Primal Alternative range reached customers from the big smoke (AKA PERTH!!). I was getting ask repeatedly for stockists in Perth – but I was flat out baking already. I wanted Primal Alternative products to be available to more people – making dietary changes doable for a wider audience. Mass production totally doesn’t light me up, factories….staff…yawn!

So I hatched the Primalista Licence!

That’s when the idea to provide Licences popped into my head (thanks Universe!). What about if I could put together a training programme that empowered other women like me to have their own business? What if these Licences could provide a solution to the family separation issue facing many working Mums? So the Primalista Licence was born!

Here’s My Vision…

My vision is to have one hundred (or more!) Primal Alternative Primalistas around Australia. I know there are so many Mums out there with a real passion for wellness, they love cooking with their Thermomix (or similar) in their kitchen. What if they could earn an income from doing something they loved and be valued by their community!! Oo it makes me excited! The business model I have for created is tried and tested. It’s successful, unique and replicable! The recipes are easy: measure, mix & bake. All of the money pitfalls and hurdles I encountered (many failed recipes, $$$ on logos and labels, hours on business planning…accountants & lawyers, $$$ on web design, graphic design and barcodes to name a few) are removed so that Primal Alternative Licensees can hit the ground running.

My Health now…

My health now is much improved in every way! I have become an expert in me. I am still a work in progress. I don’t think we ever get to the stage where we say right that’s health ticked off! It’s a daily practice, decisions made every time we eat. I believe food is joyful, I believe it’s human nature to get away with as much as possible and I believe there is no failure – only feedback!

As well as passionately growing the Primal Alternative food brand, I work one on one with clients in my Primal Health Coaching business and have an online course, a podcast and a book in the pipeline! I’m so glad you are here for the ride! You can follow Primal Alternative on Facebook and Instagram.