I was so excited (and grateful) to connect with Toby Morrison recently for this Interview. If you haven’t heard of Toby or his website http://www.cfshealth.com yet I am pretty sure that soon he will increasingly be on your radar. After successfully recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome himself in his teens, Toby has gone on to set up a world leading clinic and treatment programme helping others. He truly lives a life full of joy, passion and meaning.
On a mission to help people recover from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and live purposeful lives.
He genuinely projects an aura of such vibrance that you cannot fail to be inspired. I know you will as motivated by his story and his vibe as I am ….
Hi Toby, Can you tell us a little about where you are in life right now and how it looks?
Where am I at right now in my life?
Well literally right now I am in the south of France currently helping clients in Europe through a 4 week inpatient CFS rehabilitation program. My work with people happens in a number of ways. Firstly, on a World wide scale I offer my CFS Health online recovery program. Then my outpatient clinic in Melbourne offers a one on one, face to face consultation practice and wellness program with my awesome CFS coaches Ash and Raeya. Both of whom suffered with CFS themselves and then recovered through my program and went on to further gain health and fitness qualifications before joining my team. And of course we run inpatient programs for people who want and need a specific intensive program for 3-4 weeks at a time.
All in all we do our best to accommodate everyone no matter where they are in the world. We help people regain control of their health and lives long term – No miracle cures, no quick fix pills. We simply work on the 5 key health fundamentals that are affected from CFS:
– Restorative Movement & safe Progressive Exercise
– Stress and Anxiety Management
– Personal Development.
We implementing structure, routine, and a step by step guide and the results speak for themselves.
What were your personal health circumstances that led you to this point and setting up your program?
I suffered with severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome from the age of 16 years old. Like most people with CFS I saw 100’s of doctors who didn’t help, had 100’s of tests which showed up nothing, and I was basically left with little to no help. I suffered for four years. Originally I contracted Glandular Fever at the age of 15 but I kept pushing my body as I was trying out for the state basketball team for Victoria, Australia. To cut a long story short, I decided that after suffering this way on my own (I had some very dark moments) I didn’t want to see anyone else in the same position. I wanted to inspire others to keep living and keep the belief that they would recovery eventually.
There was a huge space in the world where I knew that I could make a difference and REALLY HELP PEOPLE.
What was the turning point in your own recovery?
2 years in with no improvement (sleeping 16 hours a day, primarily housebound and barely attended school.) I did a 4 week inpatient program at the Austin hospital. It was mainly focused on physical reconditioning of the body and as I was very weak it was mostly about building myself up slowly and progressively. Getting into such a routine, which I could stick to, and noticing small improvements within those four weeks gave me a glimmer of hope that maybe recovery was possible.
It took another two years after that to really improve and get my life back. It took time, 100’s of setbacks, ups and downs, lessons learnt and trial and error. And it required courage and a hell of a lot of self belief to recover.
No one believed I could do it but me.
I had to find that belief within myself and find a deep purpose to never give up.
So, how did you start in terms of formulating and creating and this amazing CFS Project and Business?
I never set out for this to be a Business in the first place. As I started to recover I studied Health and Fitness and went on to become a Personal Trainer and Health Coach in my home town. I become quite successful and enjoyed being surrounded by like minded, healthy people who wanted to better themselves. I ended up managing a kids fitness company where I coached 1000’s of kids every week.
At the time I loved it but my passion still lay with CFS and I was always keeping a journal and knowing that one day I would write a book on recovery. My intention was not to make money from it but to help people. At the age of 18 (mid recovery) I payed $400 for a crappy website with my story on it. There was nothing on it but my recovery story and where I was headed. I just wanted other people to see that it was possible to get better.
2 years on (I think the website only got 10 hits and a few emails) I was doing 50-60 pt sessions a week and then I got a call from a ‘friend from a friend’ who had just been diagnosed with CFS and requested my help. Of course I said yes and he started coming in to see me me once a week.
I started with the basics and we built him up slowly but surely over time, dealing with setbacks and symptoms. Together we rebuilt structure and routine into his daily life. He was very sick. Within four weeks he noticed big improvements, and within 8 weeks he physically started to change for the better. By 12 weeks he was running again! Yet, he had been barely able to walk for more than a few minutes when he first came to see me. This amazing improvement proved to me that what I teach and what I do does produce results.
From that point, word of mouth spread and I started to attract more and more people with CFS to the point where I decided to focus on them exclusively. It was something much closer to my heart and filled me with passion. As my work expanded I began to record my clients progress. I learnt what worked, what didn’t work, and some KEY factors on what helped people the most. I knew my passion and dream was born.
I started writing out set programs – and sending them to Doctors clinics asking for their opinion. I got laughed at a lot because I was so young, but I knew that I could offer so much more then anyone thought. Eventually the Doctors agreed with the program. In particular Dr Lionel Lubitz who heads the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. He liked my approach, agreed it was safe and effective and is a now a constant referer to the program, as well as having written the forward for my published book Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – A guide to recovery.
Totally amazing! So, what is life (and health) like right now for you?
Life and health is great for me. Helping so many people and being BUSY comes at a cost and I am lucky that I can take a step back now and have some ‘me’ time. I love training. I love being fit and strong.
I love surfing and for me it is like meditation – You are in the moment and nothing else matters but you and the ocean.
Life is pretty darn good and it has been a solid 5 years that I have really been living my dream through hard work and passion. I get to travel the world, but more importantly I get to connect with all my clients – online and face to face. There are people whom I had never met before but whom I can now call ‘my friend’ and I care for them as they do for me. That is pretty special.
When did it first hit you that you were making such a profound difference in the world?
Early on before I founded the CFS health centre I would spend every night writing pages and pages of stuff on CFS. Journalling my dreams and recovery program ideas, and how I would help so many people. I would get tingles down my spine with the excitement of knowing that something was born. I knew I was going to make a big difference.It was exciting.
I am not going to lie – I worked extremely hard post CFS recovery to fulfil my dream and passion of helping as many people as I could. I think that most people with CFS are like this actually and they tend to push themselves all of the time and are high achievers. It is a great quality to have. I am lucky that my health is now good enough to be able to manage everything. In the past 5 years I have helped thousands of people with CFS and achieved so much.
I really haven’t had a chance to let it all soak in, because for me there is always something more I can do to help. It has been a pretty full on 5 years to be honest and I had no idea that I would be doing THIS MUCH, and this quickly, but when you have a true passion it is very hard to stop, even if it comes at a personal life cost.
I had just one goal when I got diagnosed with CFS and It was to help as many people World wide as I could once I recovered.
So when I got better there was not a minute in the day I would waste. Two years ago when I was writing my book and producing the online recovery program I told myself that the only thing that matters is that before I die, I have to get all this done. I wanted to leave a legacy and help people. It was as simple and as crazy as that. It was a little deep but it gave me the motivation to never give up no matter how hard things got. People don’t understand how tough it is to really fulfil your passion but when you put everything on the line for the greater good there is no better feeling.
What does the future hold?
It’s funny, I don’t have any goals anymore. I feel like I packed 20 years into the last 5. Personally I am learning to slow down, work smarter, not harder and just enjoy life.
At the end of the day, I have to practise what I preach. Balance is very important in life and very hard to obtain when you have a burning purpose.
Regarding my CFS clinic, I think we collectively do a great job. I think people can get too caught up in business goals and they loose sight of the real reason why they started things in the first place. Im a people person, I like helping and inspiring people to live a healthy life, but more importantly to find their own inner passion and purpose. That is what inspires me.
I will continue to help more people on a broader scale through TV interviews, seminars, webinars, my CFS health recovery program, and some fun health retreats for people to get away and find themselves again. I’m also starting an online self help program called ‘Choice, Future, Success.’ It is for people to really rebuild their life, to get their shit together so to speak, and really start creating AMAZING in their own life. It will cover things like stress and anxiety management but more importantly self improvement.
What soulful and insightful lessons have you learnt along the way?
Not taking life for granted. Being grateful for your life. Keeping the glass half full and doing it your way.
Early on, I had so many people offering advise. Doctors laughing at me, friends who didn’t believe in me and old school teachers who thought I would equate to nothing. But all that mattered was my belief in myself and what I was capable of. One great lesson for coaches out there (or people who like to help others) is that you can’t help everyone so don’t try to. Now I only help people who want and need my help and I make sure of it. We even have an application process for our online recovery program as I like to know that the people who do it are ready to change and ready to help themselves.
You cannot force change upon anyone unless they are ready to change themselves.
What are you most thankful for?
My mum and dad. I will never forget how at the age of 16 my dream of being a professional basketball player was wiped from underneath me. Yet, after being diagnosed with CFS and being Bed bound I wondered if I’d ever be able to run again. My dad came into my room one night when I was crying and so upset with being so sick and what felt like having no life and said to me
“This has happened for a reason and it will be a blessing in disguise.”
At the time I hated him for saying that, but 10 years on I know he was right. I love them both. Im also thankful for my clients and incredible team.
Describe an average day for you?
I get up around 8 am have a coffee and my eggs (I eat a lot of eggs), check my emails, usually do an inspirational post which comes to me (I don’t plan what I write, I write what I feel -they call that an emotional writer.) I may have 2-3 Skype sessions for my high end clients who get one on one coaching from me. Then I will have a healthy lunch and maybe another coffee, check some more emails, check in with my coaches, write some content, do some filming, set up a free webinar for my inner circle group, hang out with my mum and dad when I am in Australia. Work some more….. I kinda pick and choose what I do which is a nice feeling as I don’t do 16 hours day of crazy work. The hard work is done now.
Describe a perfect day for you?
Pretty much above – I never want to retire – that would be boring and depressing. I choose to chase the sun and surf in between helping people!
What else do you enjoy doing?
Seeing friends, nice dinners, dancing, surfing, swimming and tanning – (I LOVE THE SUN.)
Finally sum up how you Live Well and Breathe Happy?
Honestly, finding myself, being REAL and feeling what I’m feeling. I am all for hard work, achieving things and being positive but I am also a massive advocate for just being and living in the now, and enjoying what we already have. The simple things in life are the most important – we seem to forget that a lot now days. Time to go back to basics and enjoy life.
*Please go to http://www.cfshealth.com to look at Toby’s products and services and connect with him on social media.
So, are you as wowed as I am right now? I think it is so important to surround yourself with success and healing stories when you are unwell. Keeping the faith is where it is at even when we feel we have tried everything. But for me I also really love to hear how diversity can actually encourage and produce a life of purpose and meaning, and how good can come from bad.
Let me know if you enjoyed this interview and whether it has inspired you to dream big?
I would love to hear from you here and let’s connect on Facebook.
If you would like to read more on my own journey with Autoimmune Thyroid, Adrenals & CFS and the complexity of it all please do so here.