We dive into the depths of her unshakable mindset on how she overcame some incredible athletic feats, and more recently, her relentless quest to help her mother who suffered a severe brain aneurysm and stroke. The journey with Lisa and her mum will have you in awe of what the human body and spirit is capable of. Enjoy!
About Lisa: Lisa Tamati is New Zealand’s best known ultramarathon runner. Since the publication of her first book, Running Hot, she has gone on to run ultramarathons in the Gobi Desert, the Sahara Desert and the Himalayas.
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Guy: Hi, I’m Guy Lawrence and you are listening to the Guy Lawrence podcast. If you’re enjoying this content and you want to find out more and join me and come further down the rabbit hole, make sure you head back to the guylawrence.com.au. Awesome guys. Enjoy the show.
Guy: Lisa, welcome to the podcast.
Lisa: Nice to be here Guy. I really, really privileged to be on your show. Thanks for having me.
Guy: Oh, you’re so welcome. I have to say, I was, I was looking at all the fits you’ve done and I was, I had no idea where to start this show to be honest here because there’s so many incredible things that you’ve achieved and I, yeah, I’m excited to be diving into all that. But the one thing I do ask everyone is if a stranger stopped you on the street and asked you what you did for a living, what would you say?
Lisa: Um, I help people reach their potential, um, more about high performance and, uh, helping people be the best version of themselves that they can be. That’s what I do now these days.
Guy: Yeah. Which is a pretty cool, cooler to make a living, I reckon.
Guy: So, so the, the next question I would ask if I was that stranger, I gotta be honest, I’d be like, well, how do you do that?
Lisa: Yeah, exactly. That’s what you want. This is what you want people asking. So, then you can talk about what you do a little bit more, but you don’t want to sort of overwhelm them because, um, yeah, I do a lot of stuff and uh, but like yourself, I’m interested in everybody thing under the sun and I’m very interested in the mind and how the mind works. I’ve got history is, extreme athlete if you like. And so extreme sort of ultra marathons, expeditions, that type of thing. Um, which I’ve done for near on a quarter of a century. She started saying I’m retired now from that sort of a game and just using the lessons that I’ve learned, to coach and help others. So via, we have an online one coaching system, for example, we do sort of retreats. We do, mindset courses. Um, and we we’re right into epigenetics program and just personalizing your health journey, um, and trying to get the best out of our clients and, and their athletes. So yeah, that’s, and I do a lot of speaking and I’ve written a couple of books. I’ve got a third one coming out shortly and yeah. Busy, busy.
Guy: Amazing. And do you know what, you know, the next question I would ask you, well, like I’m just going off on a tangent here. If I, if I had, while I’m meeting you, is what was the toughest thing you’ve ever done?
Lisa: Agh! The toughest, the toughest race I’ve ever done in regards to the sporting side.
Lisa: Or there’s some big tough ones here. There was a run
Guy: Well they all look bloody tough, mate
Lisa: Varies from really there was a rice and Niger, which is one of the poorest countries next door to Nigeria. It’s a place called Niger and that sort of deep deep Sahara. So sort of halfway to Timbuktu. And, um, we had a 333 kilometer race that was uh, after there, which I’ve got a documentary on and um, if anyone wants to, it’s in German. But, um, at the time I was living in Austria and it was down there, um, and this was only 17 runners, so it was very spread out very fast and I got food poisoning an hour into the race. It started, you’re in one of the most dangerous countries on earth. There’s a civil war going on the right, you’re running through the Sahara and you’ve got food poisoning. And a week before my husband had asked for a divorce. So, I wasn’t in a good friend out there anyway, so that was pretty much hell on earth. Yeah.
Guy: My God. How long does it take you to run the 300 and…
Lisa: well, the time limit was about 86 hours I think was, um, I actually only got to the 222 came up with all that sort of stuff going on. I, so I, I took 64 hours to do the 322. Um, and then I was in such bad shape. I was, you know, really, really ill with the food poisoning and of course. The dehydration and, that was just horrific. You know, my heart was breaking at the time and when you don’t have your mind on the game as well, um, then, you know, and it was very dangerous race. Like it was run by an ex French foreign legion guy who really didn’t give a shit whether we all lived or died or he was there for the money. We’d all pay quite a lot of money to go. And the privilege of doing this for me and it was so badly organized, like we would need to have food come from France. They didn’t tune up. That’s why we ended up eating local goat to been on the Land Rover for three days as we drove out into the desert. And that’s what, you know, got me. And a couple of the other runners as well, is, was, you know, things like not enough water at the checkpoints and things, you know, so it was pretty,
Guy: well, I, there’s two things I’ve had food poisoning while I was hiking through the Himalayas. It was, it was hell, I was so trying to run, I can’t even starting to comprehend that. And the second thing was, when you said running for 64 hours, are you like running nonstop or do you,
Lisa: so with ultra marathons, the way it is is there are races that are, uh, Mulstock races. So the clock has going, that does not mean you cannot stop. It just means that the clock has going and the competitors aren’t sleeping. So the race is on the whole time. So obviously you can stop and go, you can, you can have it, you, in that period of time, I probably had two, two hour stops at the checkpoints. Uh, what, you know, seeing a doctor there was on the thing and trying to balance out my, my blood pressure and blood sugars and all that, which was gone all up the oops and I kept passing out and stuff. So yes, you can stop but the clock is going. Um, and so you don’t stop for more than, you know, a two hour period sort of thing moving.
Lisa: Um, and it gets down to very quickly to a walk, you know, because uh, especially when you’ve got food poisoning and I’m at basically you’ve got to get from a to B in a certain period of time. And obviously the quicker the better if you want to win the race or get get near the pointy end. Um, but it is mostly about survival. It’s a survival thing more than less having, yeah. So I had met some of them horrific, doesn’t tree and vomiting and cause in, in a desert environment where you’ve got very limited water on your back, like, you know, to two or three key, uh, liters of water, you know, you can dive very quickly out there and if you get lost and, um, you know this, okay, so take me back. How does one end up, yeah, how does one end up in the crap like that?
Lisa: Um, I grew up in New Zealand, so I’ve in New Zealand and from Taranaki and um, grew up in a very, very sporty family. Um, grew up with a dad who was a real hard ass and, uh, he put a lot of, a lot of pressure on us as kids to perform in sports. So, uh, he, he was, he was someone who didn’t tolerate weakness. You know, if he got sick, you were in trouble, that sort of thing. And, and he’s a great dad, but he was very intense, you know, very much a lot of pressure. So you wanted us to represent your country and a sport and I was the first born. Um, and I was a girl, which was a disappointment, I think to him. Thank goodness I had two younger brothers come along, uh, who shade the Lord. But if they had his way, I would’ve made an ESI his soldier and an old black and, uh, you know, uh, top corporate people.
Lisa: So he just expected to behave a lot. And so you grew up with that sort of pressure and I always wanted to please my dad. So, um, I did gymnastics as a kid and I was, so I learned a lot of discipline and training and, but then when I got to puberty, I grew up too tall and just didn’t have it. I didn’t have the skills that you need for that sport and I didn’t have the body shape that you need for that score. It, you know, they very much, you know, you got to be tiny, you’ve got gotta be, and I was tore very tall and athletic built, you know, um, and so they, they too, a lot of shelf loading because I was wrong body shape and I was constantly being told on my coaches, your fat, you’re overweight, you know, which I was not by the way, but I was in regards to the size, that gym, this have to be.
Lisa: Um, and so then I went, you know, years of, of, of self hatred, self-loading of not being good enough of thinking that I was the fattest, ugliest thing on the planet. Um, and you know, they, they sort of go sort of formative years can be so brutal, you know, those, those puberty years for girls especially can be really quite brutal. Um, so that really affected my self esteem on who I thought I was and how, um, you know, all of that sort of jazz. Anyways, so then I quit gymnastics and my dad was just so disappointed in me. And so then I tried it with other sports and he just said to me, Oh, you’re always quit just before you’re gonna get there. Right. And, and I knew I wasn’t gonna make it. I didn’t have it. And I got into surfing and my brothers and I all got into see a thing and they were really super talented, um, surface.
Lisa: And I was totally hopeless. I tried to be really, really good at that and I tried to keep up with the guys and I just didn’t have it, you know. And once again, I just keep falling short of the Mack. And so then I, when I found later on, I got into running and I was not a good runner. I’m not a good runner at all. The thing is what I did have was just fight the ability to fight through things and to keep going. And, and I, and I sort of worked out, I got together with a young Austrian guy when I was young and we were in a relationship and he was a very extreme person as well, extreme athlete. And he actually, you know, we traveled the world, we did bike tours, we tripped across places, we climb mountains, canoed places, you know, it did all that sort of adventurous stuff, which was fantastic.
Lisa: And I got to see the world and I got to sort of push my limits on a daily basis. But um, he was also very abusive and very, um, there’s another half man, I just replaced my father with a boyfriend basically. And but worse ways. And so when I got into, um, I got into running and I don’t want to go like the whole bloody story, but I had something to prove. I had something to prove. I want it to be finally good at something. And I wasn’t fast as a runner. Like you put me in a local team,K and I’m still in the middle of the pack effect. But what I found is that I could run, I could go for a long, long time. I could go for days if I had to because I hit the mental strength for years of pushing myself really had.
Lisa: And I started to realize I had a skill there. And so that’s how I got into ultra marathon running, not because of the talent, but because there was a very stubborn person and I did love adventure and I did love, you know, planning out what the hell I am. And I, and I learned so much, you know, in this journey. Um, I can imagine it feels like I’m almost channeling internal, maybe even pain that’s going on into a very positive and very much thing, you know, so you can direct that energy into something else. Yeah. And it was all tied up with, you know, wanting to prove something to people who only ever appreciated toughness. So, um, and it came from a place from just wanting to be accepted and loved, you know, and, and the, and the early years, that was definitely the driving force, the motivating force. And that can be a very powerful force, you know? So even though it’s a negative thing, if your life, it’s also ma enables you to galvanize parts of you that you wouldn’t normally be able to tap into, but because you’re so hungry for that, like the shirt, no pressure. [inaudible] perfect. Love it. I’m going to punch that for my Instagram.
Lisa: It’s so true. You know? So, so I went through all hard knocks if you like. Are we through bloody bootcamp times a hundred. Um, and, and I survived and came out the other end and, um, and then I’ve used it too for good. You know, like we all have shit happen to us and uh, and I’m very much about, okay, I don’t want to be a victim of my circumstance. I want to be, I would not let the past control who I am in the future. And that’s what, for me, mental toughness is about, is about, yes, Kreps happened to us. We’ve been the victim of something. We’ve, we’ve, whatever’s happened to us, but it’s what we do with those situations and how we turn that now into an a positive going forward. And it’s, it’s not to say, you know, that we don’t have our moments of being poor me and stuff, you know, but you can’t stay in that space and you have to, you have to turn the story around and move forward into, into a positive place.
Guy: Yeah. It’s, it’s those moments that define us. I couldn’t agree more. Like you say. I mean, I think it’s really interesting because the morning I’ve been looking and doing this work myself in terms of what I teach and do with leaded in and everything. I think we all have problems. We all have self belief issues, we all have self worth things and what to do. And it boils down to wanting to be loved and accepted. And that’s just the human experience I think. And it’s like, it’s okay, we’re all like, don’t worry about it. Let’s see what we can do with it.
Lisa: But it’s so empowering when people say that. And this is what it’s really important for me to share the honest truth about stuff instead of I can come on and say, you’re on this amazing athlete and I did all this crazy cool stuff, you know? And it was amazing and I’m amazing and this bullshit is it, you know, it’s, it’s understanding where it’s come from and it’s understanding the motivations behind this. Like, I mean, you even watch some of the top athletes in the world, you know, you wonder why the hell they would put themselves through that sort of stuff. Like, you know, I’m really into the Tour de France coming up in a couple of days and I’m really excited and, and I’m looking at these guys and go, why, you know, I’d love to know why. Why would you do that? Cause that’s pretty freaking intense, you know? It’s, um, but, and that’s what interests me is really the stories behind the story, you know? Yeah, yeah, totally. It’s going on people’s minds and, and how we reach now, how we reach those states, perhaps perhaps doing it on, you know, out of will, not out of circumstance. You know, not out of the pressure to be something. I’ll
Guy: do something where we don’t have to wait until the pain gets so great before we take a stance and take a step forward. And, you know, that’s the way I look at it now. Why wait? Let’s just keep finding the edges and moving forward from a good place where you have more control. You know, it makes a big difference.
Lisa: You don’t have to hit rock bottom before we try and back up out now, which we head to a real young and that was the way that we moved forward and grow. Um, and I’m a big believer in something called, you know, everyone talks about post traumatic stress, but I am a big believer in post traumatic growth though when we go through, um, had tough, horrible, tragic experiences, it’s a chance to actually use it to become a strong, a bit a person to, to help other people. To be a more compassionate person is a whole lot of things that we learn out of this that can actually help us moving forward. You know, if we have the strength of minds and the strength in our character, they actually use that for good.
Guy: Yeah. I’m the, I’m the, I know, let’s, let’s touch on the Libyan desert because I know you went through some growth and it was a pivotal point for you. Uh, I’m a, if I’m not mistaken, it was seven day walk, 250 kilometers. Yeah. So this was a expedition of four, four of us doing it. And yeah,
Lisa: I was with a young man that I mentioned before who, um, we’d been together for five years at that stage. And, um, I t w we were doing this expedition, which was a really extreme, that was completely unsupported. It was also illegal. Uh, so this is on the border area between Egypt and Libya. Right. So we starting off in, in, uh, an oasis steeped down in Egypt and we had no water on route, so we had to carry our entire supplies. So we had 20 liters of water each, which was only, we were hoping to be thrown in seven, but we were planning for teen days, which means two liters of water a day is what we were rationed. And we have backpacks. I had 35 kilos. The guys have between 40 and 45 kilos. Um, and this is back in the, this is like, yeah, late nineties, so 97.
Lisa: Um, and we not very much knowledge about, you know, things like electrolytes and what foods to take. And you know, this was completely stupid really. But anyway, um, and it was led by the survival expert from Yugoslavia. Elvis was his name, that was his real name. And, um, he, he was in charge in the expedition and he was the boss, right. And my boyfriend and I were, you know, the other two. And then there was another guy had gone to, and from the very start, we’d spend our five years together traveling around the world alone. And we’d never had anybody outside of us really. Um, I had no influence. I was very isolated. I was living in Australia, I didn’t speak German when I first went there, I need to quite quickly. But, um, so I was very isolated and, and it was a very unhealthy relationship.
Lisa: Lots of power that he had over me and controlling everything that I did and see it. And I was never good enough and I was useless and God knows what. And I’d taken all that on board over time, you know, we as you down, here’s the type of go, oh, we just hammer it you for hours, you know, telling me how bloody useless and Ben crap you were. And anyway, so we started the six petition and the, the backpack was so big, I couldn’t stand up by myself. The guys had to put me on my feet and you know, go forward. And we had to cover, we’re trying to come a 45 kilometers a day and we had to disappear carefully out of the, so asis because it was a military bad zone, you weren’t allowed to go in there. So we didn’t want to be kept in jail.
Lisa: Right. And this is a Islamic country, you know, very, very, very bad for us. Um, and so we just disappeared in the middle of the night into the desert with a huge backpacks and walking 45 kilometers in the, the, the immediately the boots that I had on with the heat and stuff, my feet started to swell. So the blisters were just horrific from the get goes across the Arabian desert, uh, the week before. So I was very, which was a lesser thing, but I was very tired and exhausted from the whole thing and already on the back foot and the partner that I was worth, he was wanting to do a book, uh, on the sixth edition. And so he was a photographer, right? He was photographing everything and he wanted me to help with it. And Elvis was like, yeah, you can do the photography and stuff, but we’re going and we’re not stopping cause we’ve got to make the kilometers per day and we can’t wait for you to take photos basically.
Lisa: And he wanted me to help him with the photos, run around, set up tripods, you know, do whatever, carry the gear and while the other guy, you know, is still moving and I just physically wasn’t able to call them, you know, it was beyond my abilities. Um, I was doing everything. I could just say up right with 35 kilos on my back, cause I was about 59 and in the thing that dehydration really started to hit, you know, after a couple of days ago [inaudible] so there was a lot of tension between, um, the leader of the expedition and the boyfriend and they were fighting over, you know, what I should be doing and he was going, you can’t treat her like that, you know, basically. And this was the first time that anyone had ever said to me, this is not okay. What’s happening in the relationship in that, until that point, I just thought this was normal, you know?
Lisa: And because my self esteem was so bad that, you know, early years that I just was just grateful that I had a boyfriend. I didn’t think I’d ever, you know, I thought it was ugly and terrible. You know, how screwed up your mind can be as a teenager. Um, and so he, the way he treated me was for me normal. You know, and then there was this leader of the group going, you put the hell, you can’t treat it like that. Don’t talk to her like that. And then these two guys started to fight about that. And on day four when we’re all like severely, I mean our tempers are very short because you’re sitting an extreme just with this mess of thirst and your body’s starting to break down and you’re, you know, things are going in shaped and it’s really dire straits basically. Cause the, the hate was horrific.
Lisa: You know, it was 40 odd degrees during the day and it was minus temperatures at night and you know, we couldn’t eat cause we didn’t have enough saliva. You know, you’re just dried so dry. And the boyfriend was also a bigger than me, needed more water. And so I’d been sharing some of my water with him. Anyway, day four, he decides the middle of the day in the burning hot sun. He’s headed, guts followed us and I can stay with with them and he’s gonna piss off and leave me. And that’s the end of the relationship, right. Five years of relationships. So to me that all of the Libyan desert, yeah. I think to do this in the middle of this somehow, I don’t know why. Anyway, so he left and of course I was, you know, devastated and worried and I didn’t know whether he’d survive. It was dire, straight to heat off in the middle of the, and dessert on your own can be a death sentence.
Lisa: And certainly in the dehydrated state that he was in. And I, you know, and I started, you know, crying and then I, then I realized I cannot let my emotions take over right now. I’ve got to compartmentalize this because I’ve got two other guys here looking at me going, oh my God, you know, how are we going to get through here? Um, she’s, you know, in a psychological mace obviously in, and so I just had to pull myself together and really focus on the job at hand and, and forget about him and just get through because we had another, you know, three days or so ahead of us of, of really this brutal. Um, were you aware of the dangers at that point or is it just like what’s actually starting to happen? Yeah, yeah. Like have my, my, you know, as central nervous system and it doesn’t get enough water SAS to write down.
Lisa: So on day, uh, it was the next day going to start having really bad troubles and he started, you know, passing out and like with tuna tinned around at one stage and he just wasn’t behind us and he’d gone and Elvis had, you know, told me to go and pack up under the, under a cliff. I steer in the middle of the day and he went back and tried to find him and then, so then you’re alone in the desert. All right, you guys gone. I can’t see them anymore. They’re gone. And then I fell asleep and I wake up hours later alone and they still hadn’t come back. Um, and as you know, panic starts to rise then because you’re, you’re on your own and you’re in deep trouble. And then, then I see them coming over the horizon. Um, and uh, uh, always was carrying guns in his pack.
Lisa: was just stopping, you know, constantly in, down on the ground and then, you know, so he was indicted trouble. They eventually got back to us, we hit the wrist, then the knee move behind schedule. So we had to carry on and go fast once he’d recovered enough and were walked through the night. And then about, um, two o’clock in the morning, a fend storm hit on that night. And like when the same storm hurts, like this was a massive sane storm. But like in the movies where you see to take cover. So we, you know, got our sleeping bags out as quickly as we could and dive into them and just took cover and there’s sleeping bags right up over our heads and the sense just like you’re buried under the sand, there was just so much and because it all happened so quickly, I hadn’t even had a chance to get the water out of my pack cause I was drinking mostly at night because then my sales could take it up.
Lisa: If you have a during the day it just evaporates and now it’s on. And so I didn’t get my plier it and there’s hours of that same storm and then a, a few hours in the early hours of the morning we had to stand up again and go again and again in a hurry and only had a little bit to drink and I’d lost my thirst at the stage. It was really quite bizarre. And then I got up, we said, we get going again after this massive snow storm. And um, then I started to break down. So I just kept passing out and the guys just turned around, picked me out, put me back on my feet and then carry on again. I’ll pass out again or pick me up again and carry on. And this carried on for a number of hours. But Elvis wouldn’t stop for me to get water out of the pack.
Lisa: And I was in such a, you know, out of it state that I was just like a robot moving and he wanted to get to this one place where he knew them where we were, and they knew that we were, we would survive. So he was just pushing really hard to get to that end of the bar, weedy depression so that we could see where we were and what was happening because there was no maps of the Syria except as the pilot MIPS that he’d managed to get off the u s military. So they were very, you know, distant match. So you had no idea of the terrain and it was like this. It was like, we thought what was a tabletop mountain was actually constantly climbing mountains. So anyway, we got eventually to the space. But by then I was hallucinating the rocks for turning into monsters.
Lisa: I was completely on La la land. My body started to really just go the stage. And Elvis, somehow he grabbed me by the hand, he got me down the cliff face cause we had to skip down this, you know, little clubface thing down into the [inaudible] depression. And then we sit there and he said, now drink and I want you to drink your entire supply. We’re going to sit here for a couple of hours and you’re to, you know, recover. So then I, I got a couple of liters of water on board and cause he knew that we would get out within the next two days and that we would make it. And I’d been hoarding a little bit of extra water because I was terrified of running out of water. And so I drank all that and he said to me, no, people die with water in their backpacks because the squirreling away and get to the point where the body can’t return.
Lisa: And I was on that point. And so anyway, long story short, we got to the end of, we survived and I remember coming into this nixed oasis that we were coming in to amaze a military base there and we hit to get past the military base before we could get into the oasis. And once again, you know, it was a really dangerous time, you know, sneaking yet underneath guard towers with the dudes with AK 47 are standing over top of you. And I had no emotional reaction anymore to anything. You know, it’s just like us just know, no fear, no nothing. I’m just remember sticking the last lonely I had in my mouth and sucking all of that, looking up at this dude and go, oh yeah, whatever. Cause you just so out of it. And anyway, we got, we, we’d got past the military camp and into the oasis and then, and then we are right, you know, and we survived.
Lisa: How long does it take to recover from something like that? Uh, they took me a good couple of years, like physically because I did some major damage to my kidneys and I’ve still got problems with today. Um, and but more, more psychologically with the, with the relationship then it was, um, you know, a hell of a battle for the next three years to try to untangle that miss and get out of that situation. Um, so yeah, there was a turning point in my life where I said, no more, you know, that was for me. He’d put me in a dangerous situation one too many times. He, and, um, you know, and I, and I finally started to stand up for myself and started to go not, and this is why I got into a couple of years later, I started to, so I read it about the marathons Assad lays, which is a race and Morocco, um, a very famous ultramarathon there.
Lisa: And it was touted as the toughest race on earth at the time. And I was reading this magazine and going, but I just did that in the Libyan desert with no water and you know, like two liters a day, not nine liters a day. And this rice is like similar distance, 240 kilometers. But you’ve got doctors, you’ve got 200 bloody journalists, you’ve got helicopters and bloody, you know, everything support that you could possibly want. You’ve got nine liters of water a day and you’ve got all your key care. You have to carry your gear, but you got water all the way through, right? And I’m going toughest rice on it. I could do that.
Lisa: And so I found up for it. I’ve never run a marathon or anything. Um, but I signed up for this and I, and I trained hard for it and I did it. And then when I did that first race or I loved it, I was just like surrounded with people that were just positive and amazing people from all I have. The birth is 700 people in this race, right? It’s a big race now. It’s 1500. Um, and just the whole camp chef’s like a big military operation and you’re in the, you know, Moroccan Sahara. And it was just all exciting and crazy and tired, but not they have, you know, and uh, I just had this wonderful experience in the, this my self esteem started to, you know, back and then I’d say, alright, I’m addicted to this now because I want this high all the time. And so I just did one hour a marathon after the other, after the other FTL
Guy: The v Two v it very different experiences, isn’t it? And, and I often wonder how much potential we leave on the table in our daily lives, especially if we don’t have context of something that we’ve experienced like that. And it’s not until we have those experience, we can have a reference point in context and like you looked at the, the ultra marathon, then go on piece of cake probably you don’t have to what you’re been through. So having that, but where, where we hadn’t gone through that then it’s
Lisa: the x way. And I think we’d context it gives you context because yeah, that’s exactly what I, I try to express to people. But you just said it better than I say it is. It is. It is putting things in context. So now when I come up against a big challenge in life, you know, whatever the scary thing is might be a career or business thing or you know, doing something that they don’t, then I think about those times and I think, Whoa, I got through those times. This is, and I’m getting up on stage to speak in front of thousands of people or something. Is it as dangerous as running across the Sahara? Is this bad? Is that time when you did this x, Y, Z in na so you can cope with it. And it just puts things in perspective for you because you know that you can overcome and they, it’s the beauty of doing things outside of your comfort zone or that ski you because it gives you power as you move forward through life to be able to go, to pull on those experiences, put on that knowledge that you can overcome.
Lisa: And therefore reach new heights, you know? Yeah.
Guy: Talking about big, you mentioned big challenges. I know you’ve had big challenges on a personal level with your mum as well. I thought that would be a great place to, to segue into that cause I’d love you to share a little bit of what’s been going on there.
Lisa: Yeah. And this is a real great example of the learnings from, you know, ultra marathoning and doing sort of extreme stuff and how you can apply them in a real world situation. So my mum, who’s been my amazing, most amazing supporter of my whole life, just, just an absolute amazing woman. He had an aneurysm three and a bit years ago. Um, and was relieved. Sorry. That’s a massive bleed in the brain. Um, at the time where that happened, the doctor at the emergency for which she had a migraine and so I ignored it for six hours and um, disaster. In other words, he, he just ignored us. The pain that she was in. I didn’t and I didn’t know what to ask for it. And I’m sitting in the Ed and I know that my mom’s in deep trouble because she never complains about anything.
Lisa: And she’s in screaming pain. She’d collapsed on the floor in the morning and um, I knew there was something major, but I didn’t know anything about anything at that stage. Um, and I rang up a friend of mine who was a paramedic who crude for me all over the place, called Megan and she, she came up to the hospital. I said, kick ass man are, we’re not getting any results. I don’t know what the hell is going on, but this doctor’s treating us like she’s a neurotic old lady with a headache and she’s not. She’s got something. And Megan got up there and she took one look at mom and said, no, she’s, she’s having a stroke or she’s having something in your brain. So she went and told us, and she’s a very strong lady. She went and told this guy, get her a fricken teeth CT scan now, now.
Lisa: And so he went, oh, okay. Um, got the CT scan blood right through at the Brunch, you know, massive damage done. Six, I mean the golden standard as we have something like that is to kick them into surgery within an hour to get us. Uh, um, so, um, oh crikey, we’ve got probably he won’t. Um, we’re just saying you might have to talk that but out, I can’t even find it. Sorry guys. So anyway, so we now have a diagnosis. She’s had an aneurism, a massive lead in the brain and it’s very big trouble. And um, and then they started to move, but we had to get into a Wellington hospital, which is another three hours away cause we hit no neurological unit and she was in deep trouble. It took them 18 hours to get her down there. So we had another 12 hour wait.
Lisa: Um, and then that experience taught me that take control in a situation like when you’re in, uh, you know, in their medical system, don’t rely on the professionals to do everything for you. And for them to know everything. You have to fight for the resources you have to fight, you know, to understand what’s going on. And so I just went into deep research mode and started studying everything I possibly could about this and causing his doctors, nurses, whatever I could find. And she was an a in and out of a coma for the next three weeks. They didn’t expect it, it alone, but she did live in. Then when she came out of the coma, she had nothing. She was not much over a vegetative state. She had a few words that she could add. She had no control over her, any bodily functions who her, her right side and had been paralyzed during an operation that they had done, a coiling operation.
Lisa: Um, and she was also unable to like, you know, she didn’t know what her hand was or that all’s a daughter or you know, any of those sort of things. They, she was in hospital for three months and the rehabilitation, um, and then they said to us like, she’s not going to approach this. You have to put her in a hospital and he will care institution. And she’s never going to do anything again. And I just went, now that ain’t happening. And I, the whole time I was studying, studying, studying and trying to find answers for brain injury and what I could do with, with her. And I came across something called hyperbaric oxygen therapy and this actually ended up being, um, a miracle for her. Um, and because I’ve done a lot of stuff at altitude, I understood the, what happens with when you don’t have enough oxygen in the body.
Lisa: Um, done some stuff in Himalayas. I’d had hypoxic brain concussions before. I was recognizing some of the symptoms that she was having as being related to not enough oxygen. And so I started to think when she was in hospital, I think she’s got sleep apnea, not breathing at night. So I got an a consultant and outside consultant and went over the heads of the doctors for him and did a sleep assessment, came back severe sleep apnea. So she was stopping breathing 150 times a night and knocking off what little brain cells she had left were being knocked off. So we got her on the sleep apnea machine and she started to have little bits of improvement because she was actually getting the oxygen that she needed. And then I went, oh, oxygen, oxygen status studying and came up with hyperbaric. After three months later, I had to really fight when they said they were going to put her in a risk tome, you know, hospital level care, risk home.
Lisa: And I just said, now she’s, no, I’m coming. She’s coming home. And they said, look, there’s no way she’s 24 seven around the clock here to people. Cause you know, she was quite heavy. She was overweight. I couldn’t move here on my own. So she, we needed two people at all times and I just said, you won’t, you won’t, you won’t manage it. And I came and I actually brought my books in and I threw them at the social worker and I said, this is who I fricking in and I’m taking my mum home and you’d better get used to it. And he would not give us the resources and the support we needed, which was just like caregivers in the morning. And the evening. And so I got my big brother who looks like the rock and um, we went up to the hospital and we don’t to the social worker’s office and we had a bit of a housing father with him and um, no one sees no to my brother either.
Lisa: The end of the story, he, we got what you wanted. We got the resources that we wanted. Um, and that we needed was a budget thing. They wanted to stick her in another person’s budget and not having them in their budget when they’d seen them home. It costs him money to, um, it’s still within the budget and they just didn’t want that. And so we administered overcome it. But it taught me a lot of things about fighting for things in the system. And when I got home, I put her in, I had a been studying this hyperbaric in trying to find a place where I could get access to. I have a very oxygen chamber and this is what they use for divers. So this is, um, we in divers have the beans, they use this to, um, um, help, help them in the pen dive excellence in.
Lisa: So I knew that dive companies had them, commercial glove companies, and so I found the company that would let us use the chamber. And I went to them and I said, you know, can I use this situation, this of my research that I’ve done, it’s very beneficial for brain injury. Would you let me use it? And they said, Yup, sign a legal waiver, get sign off from your neurosurgeon and we’ll do it. We’ll do it for free. Um, which was huge, absolutely huge, and I’m grateful to those people. So the stay are amazing. I did all that and the neurosurgeon signed off on it. He said, look, you’ve got nothing to lose. She’s got nothing, so why not try? And I put her in the air. So we’d take it down to this factory sticker on a forklift sticker in this hyperbaric chamber. Everyone thought I was completely nuts.
Lisa: Um, and for 33 sessions, we would be the for two hours a day. So five days a week, which was the protocol that we’d worked out, 1.5 atmospheres. And after 33 sessions, she started to wake up and come back. She started to be able to talk a little bit. She started to have little bits of memory and a flicker of intelligence behind your eyes. She started to be able to move herself just a little bit. And then I was like, right then they had to take the chamber off overseas and I lost the access to it. And so then I mortgaged the house and I bought a chamber and I, and I installed it an our home and I put them on through another couple of hundred sessions and huge thing to do. And as she started to come back to us in this process, I started to stay in one step here up here.
Lisa: And the rehabilitation process, I started studying things like functional neurology and physio and nootropics and um, you know, diet changes and all, everything I could possibly do. Um, I had to teach her everything. It took me a year and a half just to get her to be able to roll over and bead. Yeah. A year and a half of trying to teach her. That took me so long for her just to be able to set because she would just flop. She had no balance, nope, no idea of where her body was in space. Um, and after 18 months she stood, uh, she was able to stand on her own for the first time without collapsing. Um, and so I had to teach you then every step of the way, there’ll be new problems that I’d come up against. Things like drop foot that the mobility in your muscles and see. So she had noticed, you know, ability to stretch or move or anything.
Lisa: Um, but long story short, straighten it, but years later now my mum is full back to normal. She is driving the car. She got a full driving all power of attorney back. She’s an intelligent woman again as she always was, you know. Um, and you know, you wouldn’t know if she’s got anything wrong except your balance is a little bit, she’s a bit slow with your walking and a little bit, um, which we’re still working on and I, I want 110%. That’s what I want. I want you to be better than she was and was perfect. I won’t give up until she gets it. And those journeys taught me that everything that I went through, the, all the shit that I went through as a young woman and all the stuff that was, there was a reason because if I didn’t have that ability to push and push and go beyond limits of normal endurance, if I didn’t have the faith that when everybody’s telling you there’s no hope, there’s no way I’d always been told my entire life, every race that I did, you can’t do that.
Lisa: It’s humanly impossible. What are you doing? You know, everybody is always your family. Everyone’s going, this is stupid. This is crazy. You can’t do it. I was used to being tired. I couldn’t do stuff. And I was used to seeing other ultramarathons do incredible things. And I knew that the human body was capable of so much more than what these local doctors were, were telling us we were capable of. And so I just had that little voice inside me saying, this is going to be the incredible comeback story you’ve ever heard and this is going to happen. And at once, that decision, not a, not an, you know, well, I hope it’s gonna, it’s kind of, and I hate to have that certainty within myself. And that’s not the state that I didn’t have days and moments and to spear and desperation and exhaustion and all of those things that came along the way.
Lisa: But it is to say that I was just like, this is happening and I don’t care what anybody says to me. This is going to happen all in, all in all the time, every day. And the, you know, the, the, the title of my book is called relentless and that is exactly what I had to be to get her back. And I got a lot of criticism for people in telling why are you putting her through such a torturous regime? I mean, I put her through an eight hour training program every day and I still do. And um, that was hearing before and she’s like, you’re not there yet. Where I um, and I pulled it through this whole program of, of things all the time and she’s always been pushed and it’s painful. It’s torture sometimes for him. And people would say, just leave her alone.
Lisa: Relax. What’s, what’s the harm in who having a piece of cake? What’s the harm on who are doing, having a day off the Jeff and I, his head to be nut is absolutely relentless. So, you know, my family calls me Hitler, but I don’t bloody care. You know, like I’m the fun police when I come in, in, in and I’m so disciplined with here, but I have to be like, my mom is back. Nobody argues with me anymore though. Everybody knows that what we’ve done is amazing. My mum is incredible and I was very, very lucky that I had once mum started to realize what had happened to her and come back to her, which took a long time. But once she did, she’s as determined as I am. And if I didn’t have that combination, if she had fought me all or every step of the way and say, no, I don’t want to do it, I don’t want, you know, then I couldn’t have done it because I needed her corporation that she same tenacity and she’s a very different personalities.
Lisa: There’s a lot. Jim Thriller, a nicer person than I am, but she’s a very stubborn and very carries on, just quietly gets on with things and every single day she does that. You know, that’s an incredible story. Um, you mentioned as well, there’s a book coming out on that. You’ve written this, it does mine. This is why it’s been a hell of a journey. Just writing this book now I tell you I needed to be an ultramarathon and for this one, um, yeah. So that’s gonna be out in about three months. I’d love people to, you know, contact me and get on my list for when it comes out. I can let you know when it’s, when it’s launching. Cause this is a story. It’s not, it’s not about how to recover from a aneurysm or a stroke or a brain injury. It’s, it’s bad as well, but it’s far more about the power of the, the, of hope, the power of love, the power of the human condition as we, we have potential that’s just untapped. We running around working on 40% on most days and that’s okay. We can’t run it 100% all the time. But there are times when you want to be able to tap into that hundred percent.
Guy: Totally. Totally. Yeah. Amazing. I got to, I got a couple of questions to, to wrap up the show for you. Um, one is what does your morning routine look like?
Lisa: Um, I uh, forced myself out of bed. I usually want to stay in the air and keep warm. But I get out and immediately I make my bed. I then do some exercises. So I doing press ups before I’ve done anything precepts and some yoga. And uh, I do that to reset my cortisol levels in the morning cause I’ve had not surprisingly adrenal burnout. And this helps with it, my cortisol because my cortisol is through, up to low in the morning. So that helps immediately doing some exercise just activates that and it’s only five minutes, but it starts the body off. Then I go and have a cold shower. I have a hot hot shower first encounter and then, and then, you know, activate everything. I hate it, but I do it. Then I go and have, um, um, a leader of vegetable juice. So this is so things like, um, I put lemon, tumeric, ginger, psyllium, husks, horrible spinach, celery, carrots, whatever’s in the fridge as far as vegetables go. And I have that every day, a whole waiter over time. And then I’ll sit down and work and I need to add to that meditation. I haven’t gotten to that yet. Yeah,
Guy: I can point you in that direction. Don’t worry about that. Um, if you could have dinner with anyone tonight and from any timeframe, anywhere in the world, who do you think it would be and why?
Lisa: Jeez, it’s a hard one. I’d love to sit down with Nelson Mandela, you know, just to find out how the hell do you go through such an experience and come out as a positive, amazing leader when you’ve been in jail for 26 years, persecuted, you know, subject tore that horrific stuff and then come out and tune it into a positive. Some people. Yeah. The people that can do that, they face tonight me however they can have horrific experiences in life and make, you know, life gave them lemons and they made lemonade out of it. Yeah.
Guy: Yeah. Were, that’d be great to know. He’s been mentioned a few times on the show, actually the legend. Um, is there any last words you’d like our listeners to ponder on with everything we covered today? Any last words for the listeners to ponder on?
Lisa: Yeah, yeah. I, I want you guys to understand that you have one chance in life that the chance that we, that we are actually here in this incarnation and the combination of cells that we are, it’s something like one in 48 trillion some though worked it out. So we’ve all won lotto just to be here and we go around squandering our lives and being ungrateful and unhappy and having all these limiting beliefs and that’s part of the human experience. But the thing is now as adults, as people in control of our own lives, it’s time to take ownership of who the hell we are, what’s happened to us in the past to work through that, to share that, write it out. Go and see a counselor. Go and see somebody. Get those limiting beliefs and those memories and those stories that are running in your head that are holding you back.
Lisa: Start to get a grip on those and to turn them around to be in your favor for the future so that you can be free so that you can stop the limiting beliefs and move forward. Being bold, being courageous, and taking big decisions so that when you, you know, get to the end of your days, you don’t look back and going, oh, I wish I’d been brave or I wish I’d done this. I wish I’d done there live. Now you never know when this is the last day. You know, and having, you know, worked with people in the last few years with disabilities and things go through life with an attitude of gratitude. This gratitude is something that I really work on every single day when I get frustrated and angry and you know, with the crap of life or someone cuts me off in traffic or I’m, you know, having a trouble with a computer and I’m starting to swear, I don’t worry, but, and that thing happens every day.
Lisa: You know, it’s part of who we are. But I catch myself doing it and then I, I recognize that I’m doing it and then I go, hang on a minute, I’m acting like an idiot here. Um, and then I try and replace it with a gratitude. I’m grateful that I’ve got a damn computer that can actually run my business from home, then I can do this. And you know, it’s turning the story around here and this is a constant battle. This is not something you, you went in a day, but, but, but catching yourself in those, those thoughts that aren’t going to serve you. The Times when you’re a hundred date times a day complaining about every damn thing under the sun, catch yourself doing it. Turn those stories around, replace it with gratitude and you’ll find your life changes. Amen to that. Can everybody, um, follow you, get ahold of you, check your, I’d love to hear from anybody you want to reach out.
Lisa: Um, if you want help with anything, like I do running, coaching, obviously. Um, I do, uh, mindset courses and seminars, um, which is all about, you know, mental toughness and emotional resilience. Uh, we do epigenetics. You can find me at least the Thomas E. Dot com. All our programs are on there. I’m very active on Instagram. It, um, at least at…. is spelled t a m ATI, um, on Facebook, very, very active as well. I have my own podcasts. If you don’t want me sharing that one as well, 100%, just so fantastic. I learn so much from other people’s podcasts and guys, podcasts is definitely one you should all be listening to, but come and check out mine too. It’s called “Pushing the Limits, Pushing the limits. If you just, uh, look that up or hop on my, it’s on there as well. I love, that’d be follow me on the end.
Guy: Yeah. Beautiful. Lisa, thank you so much for coming on, being such an open heart with it all and a little bloody inspiration. Right? And that was awesome.
Lisa: It’s been awesome debate. I love talking to like minded people who get it. And um, to your listeners, thanks for listening to my crazy stories. And ugh, Yea I been conflict thing called Lisa
Guy: Thank you Lisa.