Bare Feet Against Fatigue

So much has happened since my last post. It was obviously a very bad mood that encouraged my last post, although I am glad I was able to end the post on a slightly more positive note. And it was that night, after writing the last post, that I lay awake thinking about it. How do you know when you really are too tired to do something and when the memory of being tired stops you from trying to push a little further than you have done previously? Pushing, after all, is not what we should be doing when suffering from fatigue.

So that night I made a decision. I decided that I am better. After all, I have plenty of evidence. I am getting more done, I am exercising a little bit again and I actually really wanted to go for a run. So I promised myself next time I feel like it, I will do it.

A little while later, while in Germany, I had a chat with my mum about my lost fitness. I can’t lie, I am not happy about it and at times even upset. I have gained a fair bit of weight and most of my clothes don’t fit me comfortably any more. This, however, encouraged further new thinking. I longed for a run, but was worried to go running. And that worry was valid too. If I have learned one thing, it is that I need to trust that little voice inside. And that little voice told me to best pass on the run. So why is that? Well, running used to be my best friend. It is what I did to clear my mind. It was my meditation. No matter what I had going on in my life, as soon as my running shoes hit the road, all I could hear in my head was “thump thump thump thump”. Nothing else. Bliss.

What I hear when running today is more like “for God’s sake, Sarah, why did you have to let yourself go so much? Jeez, this is so hard. Ugh, I can feel my back fat jiggle… This is aweful. Fat bitch huffing and puffing…” You get the picture. But what do you do when you miss what you used to get from running and cannot get it any more? I have tried to concentrate on other things while running but it always comes back to this.

While talking to my mum, I explained how I first started exercising again very gently by going for 15 minutes swims and when I felt I could take it up a notch, I started with yoga. You know, the whole having no comparison because I have never done it before. And that is when it hit me. I had to re-learn running completely. And so I discovered barefoot running!

I wanted to be prepared and read up on it on the internet. I thought I had to go to a course first and learn the right posture, until I came across a wonderful website: http://www.barefootbeginner.com/. Chris, the source of the website, provides a free beginners guide to barefoot running on his website and it has changed my world. I am loving running again and with all the new sensations in my feet, my mind has no time for the negative self talk. The distances I am running now are barely worth mentioning, but that is all part of the process. It is completely different to running in shoes and you use different muscles, so I can accept that the results are different to what I used to do. I almost see it as a different sport entirely. And it is such a relieve. Not just that I can run again, but kicking off your shoes and going for it is such an amazing sensation. It truly is freeing – we are born with bare feet, after all.

Conclusion

If what you are doing is not working, change what you are doing. Or maybe, just change how you are doing it.

 

If you are interested in giving it a go, I can only highly recommend Chris’ website and beginner’s guide. In his guide, he promised running barefoot would put a smile on my face and it certainly did. I have only been for my 4th run today, but I cannot wait to hit the road again. This is an exciting breakthrough!

The Identity Crisis Of The Permanently Tired

If you are tired, you are just tired, right? You are still the same person, only tired? Except you are not.  At least I am not and I wonder if there is anyone out there suffering from any form of chronic fatigue who is.

Not only am I not the same person I used to be, my adrenal fatigue has thrown me into a full blown identity crisis. Some days I keep myself over water believing that I will be myself again. Some day. Hopefully soon. Other days, like today, I am struggling with the fact that I am not myself any more. And I appreciate that everyone changes and I actually embrace change. However, this is different. There is a difference between being a changed person or not being yourself. I suppose it has to do with authenticity and my body is not allowing me to be my authentic self.

Let me explain what I mean by that: Today I really felt the urge to go for a run. For the first time in a long time did I have this burning desire to feel the wind in my hair and rain on my face and just be out there, moving, sweating, breathing. I went for a walk instead. A short one. I have been to yoga last night and found myself being very dizzy every time I had to come up, moving from one pose to the next and I still have that feeling of dizziness today every time I get up. Plus my whole body is a little achy. So I knew that going for a run would cost me dearly.

The real Sarah loves to be active, she loves to run and she is not scared of the pain or the exhaustion. She is strong both mentally and physically and loves a challenge. She naturally pushes herself to her very limits and loves every second of it. I know that this mindset has had a role to play in my current condition, albeit a small one in my case.

Why does that cause a full blown identity crisis though? Well, words that resonate with me are things like power, strength, machine, beast, animal, unleashed etc. All very powerful, strong words describing, in my mind, very strong and powerful things or people. I am a big fan of sports such as extreme callisthenics and free running and everything that demonstrates both superior physical strength and discipline. As fit as I used to be, I never used to be able to do the kind of stuff those athletes could do, such as a human flag. Hell, I can’t even do a handstand. And yet, I felt a little bit like a part of the tribe. The crazy people that go out for a run in any weather, the ones that sign up to gruelling assault course races, the ones that can’t get enough of it. The ones that have the same feeling I do, like there is an inner beast that needs to be unleashed, let out for an epic run and roar its mighty roar.

I can still feel the roar inside of me, only when I try to let it out, it is a measly little sound, barely there and a far cry from what it once was and what it wants to be.

As you can see from this post, I am a little down in the dumps about it all today. But the little, cute video below has given me a hopeful thought: This little tiger knows that a big roar lives inside him. It comes out as a measly little sound now and people may even laugh at it. But all he needs is time and the right care and one day his roar will be so mighty that anyone who hears it will shake at the knees!

A Detox Gone Bad For A Sure Way Up

Blimey, where did the time go? It has been ages again since my last post. The reasons are altogether quite positive though, with some less positive side effects.

Progress Update

So I have been on my Adrenal Fatigue programme of good nutrition, rest and positive thinking since late October / early November. I have to be honest: Reading Adrenal Fatigue Forums has somewhat freaked me out in the meantime. People described the recovery time to be anything up to 3 years but surely not under 6 months.  What if if remains difficult for that long? So I had to check myself. Here is the low down:

Just 3 months into the programme and the way I feel now is worlds apart from where I was before. I am up and about pretty much every day. I have been away over the weekends and actually getting work done as well. Some days, even though I am tired, it does not feel like my usual desperately tired, but rather like a normal “I did not sleep too well and now I am tired” kind of tired. If you have not experienced the desperately tired kind of tired, it is difficult to explain what I mean by that. Basically, it is the kind of tired that makes you not care what is going on around you. You just want to sleep or at least lie down, no matter what. Fatigued rather than a little sleepy.

Feeling better for me means that I have started doing a lot more again, I am doing Yoga twice a week now and, quite regularly, I am overdoing it which means that I am tired again the next day. But recovery time has greatly decreased and usually I am back on my feet within a day or two and I am still able to do more basic stuff even on the off days. Hence the blog got neglected, because I have used my energy for other things that require more energy than sitting in front of my laptop.

The Negative Side Effects

Since November, I have put on a stone and had an acne break out. I got through my teenage years with a total of about 2 pimples throughout, so you can imagine my surprise when my face broke out in big, painful spots.  My face has been looking like a pizza for the last 2 months and, well, I have not been happy about it. BUT: This is not all bad. It has made me realise a few things and I learned more about the process of getting better.

Detox Gone Bad

When you make good changes in your diet and lifestyle, you will enable your body to start to detox. During a stress response our bodies release a host of different hormones, which, in high doses, adds to the toxicity in your system. Therefore, bodies of those suffering with AF could usually do with a detox anyway. If you now make too many changes too quickly you will not be able to control the detox and it will not happen slowly but rather all at once. This may well have been responsible for the weight gain and certainly for the skin condition. But once I understood that I also understood that I had to support my body as best as I can and wait it out. I do get down about it sometimes, but things are on the up again and that shows me that I am on the home stretch of getting better!

How To Help The Detox

I realised that what I will need to do now as a next step is to improve my digestion. I have been very strict with my diet, adhering to a whole food diet or what may be called eating clean. I love eating clean and the better I feel and the more energy I have, the easier it seems to get as I am trying new recipes and started to really enjoy cooking. So with a good diet, how can my skin become problematic all of a sudden?

I have also had a very weird sensation of hot and cold flashes, with the hot flashes increasing lately. Looking into that, and deciding that I am too young for menopause, another possible reason could be that the body is detoxing. And that reminded me of what I already knew: The skin is a mirror of the digestion. So to improve skin, what I need to do is to improve digestion. To do that, I have started to eat raw fermented foods (which I love anyways) and am very excited that the fermentation jars I have ordered finally arrived, as I will be making me own Sauerkraut. Oh hells yes!!!

In the meantime, I have helped my skin by applying a mask I made myself with raw honey, coconut oil and castor oil to aid the healing of current spots and wounds as well as making my own toner from apple cider vinegar, rose water and witch hazel water. All of this has really improved my skin again. It is not back to its old ways, but much better than it was.

Conclusion

Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. A detox can add new symptoms to your existing ones. Have patience and remember: There is only one way, and that is UP!

Happy New Year – Give It A Fighting Chance

Ah yes, don’t we like a good fight? We fight with each other, we watch others fight, we fight animals, train them to fight each other and we fight for the causes we believe in. Everything is a fight and the more of a struggle it is, the better.

I come to write about this today because as I took a shower this morning I noticed this on a deodorant spray bottle: “Fights white marks!” Huh??? Hang on a moment. I don’t have white marks, naturally. Maybe yellow in a white shirt if I don’t wash it regularly. But I do not produce white marks. Deodorants are known to do that though. Especially the anti-perspirant type. So why would a deodorant need to fight white marks? Don’t give me any to begin with and job done, right? Or does this deodorant give you white marks and then enters a violent fight in your armpit to eliminate the stain again?

You can see why one might get confused over this. But this deodorant’s marketing goes with what we, as a society, want to see. We love a good fight. LOVE IT! If it is not worth a fight, you won’t even get my attention. But I don’t think we are doing ourselves much of a favour with that way of thinking.

You may have heard of the law of attraction. While I, myself, do not believe in a conscious, caring universe that provides everything we wish for, I do believe that we control what goes on in our life. If we continuously focus on the negative things in our live, we will be more aware of all the things that are wrong in our lives. Our brains re-wire themselves all the time and the connections in our brain that transport those negative thoughts are transformed into thought-super-highways. The positive thought connections, in the meantime, shrivel away to little dirt roads and gravel paths until eventually they seize to exist all together. If we chose to count our blessings and see the positives in our lives, we will be happier. I am not saying that being aware of the positive magically attracts more positive things into our life. Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t. I would argue it does not even have to. By focussing on the positives all the time you raise your awareness to all the good stuff while you become less aware of the shitty bits. So whether there is more of the good actually happening, your perspective has changed and you recognise what there is already.

Let’s take America’s “War on Drugs”. Ever since it started over 40 years ago, the US have spent over $1 trillion. That is a hell of a lot of zeros. But apparently the drug problems have increased over that time. I think this is due to modern facilities maybe making it easier to transport and distribute, but maybe also because since we are focussing on it, we are seeing more of it going on which was previously hidden. One of the reasons why the war on drugs may be failing is because the focus is on the drugs, not on the addiction. So dealers are locked away, but people are left wanting more and they will find it. Lock a dealer up, there is always another one happy to get his job. What if instead we focussed on doing more work to get those who are addicted off the drugs and, better still, give kids more chances to do positive stuff which will keep them too busy to even get into that sort of thing. Once in a blue moon, we hear about a dance or art project that gets kids off the street, out of gangs and away from drugs. But those are little side notes and barely news worthy. A crying shame that is. Imagine if we focussed our attention more on those things and put our efforts and money into creating more of it? We’d live in a better world, I’d say.

So while you are still busy pondering on your new year’s resolutions, why not make it one of them to stop the fight and focus on the good stuff? Open the gates to those shrivelling little paths of positive thinking and build them out to 8 lane super-highways.

There are a few ways you can do that:

  • Keep a gratitude diary – write down a minimum of 5 things every day that you are grateful for, preferably just before going to sleep. This can be a pretty lady smiling at you on the tube, the extra strong latte that was charged as a normal one, live’s every day little sun-rays.
  • Forgive – don’t hold a grudge. Forgive easily and fully. One way to help do that is take yourself out of the equation and try to think from the other person’s perspective. Why did they do what they did? What might have gone on for them? Is there anything that could have made you act in a similar way? Understanding that the way someone else acts is all about them and what they have going on rather than you really helps.
  • Be nice – treat others like you want to be treated
  • Say thank you – to other people, to yourself, in every situation you find yourself in. Find the positive. Someone slaps you in the face, but it got you to look down and see that penny in the road. Awesome, you just found yourself a penny! 99 more slaps and you got yourself a pound ;-)

What goes on in your life goes on no matter how you think about it. This is where you are in control. See the negatives and be miserable or focus on the good stuff and be happy. It is up to you. Your decision.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Hamlet

Have a great 2014!!!

Mover And Shaker Vs Helpless Victim

Today I want to write about something that has been on my mind for some time and seems to keep coming up a lot recently in conversations – Victim Thinking. Stay with me, there is a connection to Adrenal Fatigue.

Playing The Victim

Just to be clear, I am talking here about a mindset. I am not trying to blame victims of violent crimes or natural disasters. Although even with those you see some coming out the other end stronger and others who break under the “Why me?” thoughts. I can say that because I have been there. While receiving Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for my PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) I have learned that it was my “Why me?” mindset that enabled those traumatic memories to manifest into PTSD. People with victim thinking are more likely to develop such conditions. And it makes sense why.

I could have taken steps to change my situation. But I did not. Mainly because I was under shock, so you can’t blame me, right? Wrong! Well, kind of wrong. While in the situation I was paralysed with shock and horror. However, had I been more aware and changed the way I think and the way I see things earlier, it would have never gotten to that point. So the earlier you can check yourself and re-educate your mind of how to see situations and take responsibility, the more likely you are to avoid getting into bad situations or suffering from them. By not blaming others and taking responsibility, you are in charge and when you are in charge, you have the power to stand up for yourself and do something about it.

Examples Of Victim-Thinking

Sacrifice

I came across this picture on Facebook today and it was the last straw to make me decide to write about this subject, which is very close to my heart.

The picture describes all those sacrifices women make: Giving up their name, their home, their bodies. But where does it mention that women, too, are thinking humans that make their own decisions? While I agree that one should appreciate their partner and be grateful for them, women are not victims of nature, designed to make all the sacrificing. For the right partner, they may DECIDE to do certain things, but surely you cannot blame your partner for that. And appreciation and gratitude goes both ways. Being in a relationship, both parties give up their previous life, both parties compromise and sacrifice. In many relationships, it is still the man who brings home most of the money,  which seems to be taken for granted. “Oh, but I can’t work as much, because I am bringing up his children!” – Sure, but they are your children too and you both decided to have them (ideally). How about we stop rating who gave up the most and just appreciate each other for everything we do for one another? Just a thought.

I recently had a lengthy conversation about this with two girlfriends. One of them was very big on blaming guys for everything that was wrong in our lives. An ex-boyfriend of hers had “wasted her time” by staying in a relationship with her for two more years after he already knew (so she says) that it was not working. How dare he? What a horrible individual he was…! No thought was wasted on maybe he was confused? Maybe he did not know for a fact that things are not working out? Maybe he just feared that it may not? Maybe he was clinging on to a failing relationship because he loved her and did not want to accept that the relationship was just not working out?

It may seem easy to blame someone else for our pain. And maybe it is. In the short term. Long term it is very detrimental to our lives and health. When I first came to London, I did so for my ex-husband. See what I did there? I did something for him. And this is how easily it becomes his responsibility. And when things started to become bumpy, I started to despise him for making me give up my home and come all this way to a foreign country living in a city that I hated with every fibre of my being. Those feelings were eating me up from the inside and were a terrible strain on our marriage which did eventually break down. I have been divorced for almost 4 years now.

We were seeing a couple councillor to try and patch things up at the time and she was the first person who put the mirror up in front of me and challenged that thinking. She kept telling me that it was I who has made that decision, who packed up my things and moved here. I remember thinking “How bloody dare she?” and it was not until much later that what she said started to sink in. The funny thing was, once it did, once I took responsibility for my decision to move to London, the hate in my heart dissolved and I felt so much lighter and happier right away. And not only that, with the hate-cap off, I started to see London for what it was – the most amazing city in the world! I fell deeply in love and am now so happy that I did make the decision, 9 years ago, to take a leap of faith and come here. Rather than my greatest failure, moving to another country now became one of my biggest successes which left me feeling very empowered and ready to take on the world. You see how a little shift in thinking can change your perspective on life as a whole.

Society at large supports a victim mentality. One of the best examples is obesity:

  • Mannequins in shop windows should now be fat too, because it is offensive that they sport a healthier weight than the average person. Right, why should be take responsibility for our health and reduce weight when we can just fatten up our surroundings to make ourselves feel better.
  • Scientists have found a fat-gene – halleluja! It is not your fault, it is genetic. Funny then that when you look at obese families, their pet tends to be fat, too. And I am pretty sure that their dog is not actually related to them. In fact, I would even argue that most of us have the “fat gene” as part of natural selection. Think about it, those best able to store fat would have been the individuals most likely to survive during difficult times 200,000 years ago. Yet not everyone is fat today. Maybe some of us just take responsibility for their health. Now, don’t get me wrong. Weight issues are complex and often there are underlying health issues. In fact, I think there are always underlying health issues, because a healthy body does not store excess fat. Excess fat in itself is a symptom. But taking charge of your health certainly goes a long way in combating weight issues.

Typical Characteristics of Victims

There is a nice little article in the Huffington Post: Do You Have ‘Victim Mentality’? What To Do About It. In this article the author describes a few characteristics of those with victim thinking:

    • People who are victims usually don’t see that the only thing in common between all the people and situations they think they have been victimized by is themselves.
    • Victims usually are people you can’t depend on, because they deny responsibility for their actions. They are quick to blame other people and situations for anything that doesn’t work in their lives.
    • Victims don’t have resilience, which is the ability to quickly bounce back after being knocked down.
    • Victims generally are passive.
    • Victims are usually angry at the people or events they think have “done them wrong,” and underneath the feeling of anger is almost always the feeling of powerlessness.
    • Successful people are rarely victims. One might be able to be a victim and still make money and have great relationships in rare cases, but usually it would be difficult for victims to be successful. To be successful you need to learn from your mistakes and try again. Victims are, by definition, people who do not acknowledge responsibility for their actions and who blame outside forces.

If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim. (Richard Bach)

Helplessness And Adrenal Fatigue

Being in charge is important for adrenal health. In fact, researchers have found in experiments that rendering an animal trapped and helpless is one of the most rapid ways to deplete its adrenals. Being in charge does not mean that you should do everything yourself, accept and ask for help. This is not about tasks. It is about the way you think and feel.

In Dr Wilson’s book on Adrenal Fatigue (Adrenal Fatigue – The 21st Century Stress Syndrome) he says:

“The particular kind of rest you need when you have adrenal fatigue comes not so much from lying down, but from standing up for yourself, and from removing or minimizing the harmful stresses in your life. […] because a sense of powerlessness or helplessness is the most debilitating and stressinducing emotion there is.”

Self-Empowerment

Can you see yourself in anything I have written about? Do you recognise thought patterns with which you victimise yourself? I have found 3 questions to be especially useful in taking responsibility for your part and changing a “victim-memory” into one of responsibility for your own life. So when you think back and you think of a person or situation which you have blamed for unhappiness or bad things happening to you, try and ponder on these 3 questions for a little while. And do this a few times. See if they change things for you.

  1. What was your part in that situation / how did you contribute to it?
  2. How did the situation serve you?
  3. If a person was involved, why would that person deserve your forgiveness now?

I realise that for some things it will be difficult to think about how it served you. But really try and come up with something. If you really make an effort to find something, anything, that may have been beneficial about the situation for you, you will be surprised by what comes up. And how much better you will feel after. Taking responsibility and being accountable for your own life is the most empowering thing you can do for yourself – and your adrenal glands! ;-)

Exercises For Adrenal Fatigue

I have been able to increase the amount of exercise that I do and as I do it, have noticed more and more beneficial effects to how I feel. This has lead me to a new theory that I need to prioritise exercise above other things. So far, I would plan my day and look at what I absolutely had to get done that day. Then, if I still had energy left, I may have spent that on a little exercise. But I now think I need to reverse those priorities. Exercise first and then see what else I still have energy for.

The few exercises I am doing have started to make me feel better. Initially they drained me, so I had to take the intensity and duration right down. Exercise should not drain you while you are nurturing your adrenal glands back to health. I mentioned how I started to swim 3 times a week for only 15 minutes at a time. That enabled me to still go about my day without “passing out on the sofa” afterwards. The good thing about reducing how much exercise you do is that it enables you to

a) make exercise a regular habit again, because you have enough energy left to do something regularly

b) make it a positive experience, because you still have a little left in you.

So far, I have used the weights in the gym, gone for a run outdoors, been swimming regularly and I recently started yoga. My verdict on all of those:

Weights At The Gym:

While I used to love bodyweight and freeweight exercises (I am not a big fan of the isolating machines in the gym), I have found that a little too intense and noticed that I am the most likely to get carried away on that one. My previous mindset of “push harder to get stronger” takes over and I shoot over my now very low limits. I will chuck in the odd session, but am very aware that this will not form my main exercise regime again any time soon. But it will again eventually.

Running Outdoors

I used to love running. It was my form of meditation before I knew about mediation. Getting out in the fresh air is fantastic. Although with Adrenal Fatigue, the colder season really is not the time to do it. When I feel like I need to clear my mind, I might go for a short run, no longer than 15 or 20 minutes. It is a high impact sport, especially if done incorrectly or you do not have the muscles in your legs to support your joints. So when it comes to running, I will not deny myself the fresh air when I really feel the urge (which has only happened once in the past month), but I will also not push this any time soon. It will form a regular part of my life again at some point though and I have just become very interested in barefoot running. Since I am pretty out of it right now, it is the best time to start this new running style before I re-enforce my previous running habits of high impact heal strikes.

Swimming

Swimming has been wonderful. And I am not even a big fan of swimming. My local gym has a nice pool and as I am not a good swimmer with no skills other than a basic breast stroke, I have found this was the easiest to start with. I had no precedence of what I am able to achieve as a swimmer, so it was easier to relax in the water, do my lengths and get out of the water after 15 minutes. I have been able to increase my time to 30 minutes now and when I am in the water, I swim continuously without break. I do find myself competing with other swimmers sometimes, but I am quickly able to focus on relaxing my mind again. I use exercise to do this, as I find it easier than sitting down for meditation. Swimming will remain a regular part of my exercise regime right now, although eventually it will be replaced by running.

Yoga

Now this has been a game changer. After my first yoga session 3 weeks ago, I have to admit I was a little exhausted. But it was not as bad as it used to be. The second time seemed to have been “energy neutral”. By that I mean that I did not have any more or less energy afterwards than I did before. And after today, for the first time in years, I feel actually energised AFTER having exercised!!! This is amazing news, which I am really excited about. In fact, I am positively ecstatic!

While I find yoga physically challenging, the focus on breathing and relaxation means that not only am I able to last the entire hour, but still have energy afterwards. After today’s yoga class I caught up on 3 weeks worth of laundry, did the grocery shopping and got a fancy dinner on as well as pre-cooking lunch for tomorrow. This may not sound like much, but it is more than I have been able to do in a day for months and that was without exercise. Just doing the shopping would be enough to send me back to bed for the rest of that day and the next.

Conclusion

If you suffer from Adrenal Fatigue, I would highly recommend that you start or continue to exercise. BUT

  • form a habit by doing it regularly (this is more important than how much you do or how long you do it for. Just do a little bit as often as possible until you can do something every day. If your fatigue is very severe, you could start by just getting dressed and walk to your local gym and back home several times a week, just to get you started.)
  • keep it light
  • keep it short
  • increase duration and intensity very slowly
  • consider things you have not done before, to avoid the “I used to be able to do this” thinking trap
  • give yoga a go.

I have really fallen in love with yoga in my very first session. With Christmas coming up and me going back home to spend it with my family, I want to ensure that I don’t get out of it and stay true to my new commitment of prioritising exercise. With the internet, I am hoping that I will be able to do 20-30 minutes every morning of yoga.

If anyone has any suggestions of a good youtube channel or similar for a newbie to yoga, please comment below. Your responses would be much appreciated.

Tomorrow morning I am booked to try out Pilates. I missed that class last week and if I go, I will let you know how it went.

A Bumpy Road To Recovery And Snowballing Back To Health

Lately, my blog has been much neglected. In fact, my last blog post went out over a week ago. A good explanation would be that I was stricken down with my Adrenal Fatigue. But actually, the news is rather good instead.

The reason for my longer than planned absence is in fact that I have been getting so much better. My increased energy has led me to do more things on a daily basis. But just because my energy levels are better than what they were a month ago, does not mean that they are back to normal. So there I am, getting up in the morning and actually feeling somewhat energetic and I get carried away. I start doing things, planning my day and before I know it, I have run out of steam and not written anything for my blog yet.

I have been doing more exercise and recently started with yoga. The first lesson was amazing and I did a lot better than I would have expected. I am hyper-mobile which helps with the contortions, although according to a chiropractor I should not be doing yoga at all. Well, what can I say? I have never been interested in yoga until I was told that I should not be doing it. And if you are hyper-mobile, I would say that yes, you can do yoga. Just be aware and do not hyper-extend your joints.

The second sessions was a lot harder, but I felt pretty tired that day anyway and went ahead regardless. I managed to get through the entire hour and managed to get some research done in the evening as well.  I can only highly recommend yoga to anyone suffering from any kind of stress or stress related illnesses. It is amazing. Two sessions and I am already a fan!

It is only about a month ago that I found out that my adrenal glands are exhausted and started to take steps towards recover. Now I can barely believe how much better I am feeling already. Some days I feel really motivated and even have some kind of drive again. I still get tired more quickly and require a lot of rest. But the times in between rest have become so much more productive and enjoyable. And with those improvements, the resting does not seem so bad any more. In fact, I have started to really enjoy my relaxation time, am getting regular Thai massages and cherish my quiet time now rather than feeling condemned to rest. I have become so much better at listening to my body and with increased energy I have increased motivation to eat and cook better, which has had its part in my recovery so far.

So the road to recovery is bumpy. And as you get more energetic and your highs get higher, your lows may seem lower even though likelihood is they are not. But as you learn what does you good and what does not, you learn to listen to your body and those bumps are no longer an obstacle. Instead, it feels more like a fun ride with ups and downs, peaks and troughs, acceleration and slowing down. There are no obstacles, no breaks. Just the flow of the process.

And it seems that getting better has an accumulative effect. As I get better I eat better which helps me to get better even faster. And the more energy I have the more I exercise which in turn gives me more energy again. So while the start off is slow, I seem to accelerate more and more as I get on, a bit like a snowball rolling down the hill that gets bigger and heavier as it gathers more snow on the way down and as a result becomes faster and rolls with more force.

And this will be me. I started off as a little snowflake, weak and tired. Now I have become a little snow ball that started rolling down the hill. My body is healing and soon I will be back to the unstoppable force of nature that I know I can be once again!

Heal your body naturally. Be Healthy! BE UNSTOPPABLE!

Milk – Nature’s Perfect Food?

If you look like this little guy, replace the “?” in the title with an “!”. Because if you are a calf, cow’s milk really is nature’s perfect food for you. Nature designed it especially for you. It includes all the goodness you need to grow and develop into an adolescent and it will build the base on which you will transform into a strong, fully grown cow or bull. There really isn’t anything better. If you are a calf…

If you are not a calf but rather a human being, well, then there is still a perfect milk for you: Your mother’s breast milk. Again, nature designed it especially for you with all the nutrients that you need as a little baby human. Yet, we feed our children cow’s milk from a very early age and health services are running campaigns to persuade mothers to breastfeed their children.

And here is where it gets crazy. Wherever you go, you can buy milk. Cow’s milk that is. And you are being fed that story that it is ever so good for you. Even though you are not, yourself, a baby cow. However, an ice cream place in London was told to remove their breast milk ice cream because Westminster Council officers wanted to make sure it was “fit for human consumption”.

Fit for human consumption? It is breast milk. It is made for human consumption. Cow’s milk, on the other hand, is a different story entirely.

An argument to reduce the consumption of cow’s milk

The common sense approach

First and foremost, I would use the common sense argument: YOU ARE NOT A BABY COW! And then there is the whole question whether we are even able to digest cow’s milk. It certainly was not part of our diet until very recently (in evolutionary terms). Homo Sapiens appeared around 200,000 years ago. Maybe it is my lack of imagination, but somehow I just cannot picture an early homo sapiens chasing a wild buffalo around to milk it. Wild buffalo are fierce animals and a mommy buffalo is very keen on defending her baby. Any approach would have been seen as an attack. And taking milk and thereby stealing food from baby buffalo? I doubt mum would have looked kindly on that kind of behaviour.

Other humanoids have existed for a while  longer than homo sapiens and I doubt any of those would have been stupid enough to steal milk from mommy buffalo either.  Farming and the domestication of cattle only started around 10,000 years ago. That is barely a heartbeat in evolutionary terms and therefore not much time for our digestion and every other system in our body to catch up with the consumption of cow’s milk. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

The Nutrition Approach

So why then do we still have milk? Well, there is a very strong lobby (of course there would be, there are money making businesses involved here). This lobby will tell you about all the advantages of drinking milk. Only they somewhat distort the facts.

For example, while milk is rich in some nutrients, it is severely lacking in others and many fruits and vegetables are higher in manganese, chromium, selenium and magnesium, which we humans need. It is very rich in calcium, however. That presents its own problems: our bodies need a ratio of 2:1 of calcium to magnesium. The ratio in milk is 10:1 and 28:1 in cheese. This means that your body uses magnesium that is already in our body to make use of the calcium, which can lead to magnesium depletion in our body, which in turn has been linked to heart disease.

The Nature Approach

Cows these days have little to do with what nature designed them to be. Extensive breeding has ensured that cows have udders so big they can barely walk, so they can hold more milk and hormones off the chart so they produce milk all year round. To ensure the milk keeps flowing, the dairy cows are almost constantly pregnant while never getting to breast feed their babies.

The cows are pumped full of hormones and medication while on a very unnatural diet. Cows are designed to eat grass. By eating other stuff, the cows no longer produce the milk that is so good and nutritious for their calves. The production is flawed from the onset.

The Hormone Approach

Cows are meant to give milk after they had a calf, so little baby cow has something to munch on to get big and strong. Humans have managed to breed cows so that they can give milk even while they are pregnant, when their bodies are full of oestrogen. By feeding the population with milk, we are oestrogenising them (another word I just made up) and putting their own hormone balance out of whack.

It is therefore not surprising that milk has been closely linked to certain types of cancer such as prostate and testicular cancer in men and ovarian and breast cancer in women. Is it a coincidence that the cancers milk has been linked to are all of the sexual organs? I believe the hormones in the milk have something to do with that.

Studies comparing the incidence of cancer to the consumption of milk have further confirmed that link. For example, the incidence of those “sexual” cancers are significantly lower in China, a country with very low dairy consumption (in large cities in which dairy has become more fashionable, the incidence of cancer was higher than in the rest of the country). When we look at survival rates from cancer, the results are even more dramatic. The chances of a woman dying from breast cancer in China is 1 to 10,000 compared to 1 in 10 in the UK. The incidence of prostate cancer in rural China is only 0.5 in 100,000 yet the prognosis for 2015 is that 1 in 4 men will have it in the UK at some point in their live.

The Environment Approach

Dairy cows produce a lot of waste and green house gases. Now almost all living beings do, but we keep many more cows than would usually live in such small spaces. An average dairy cow produces about 120 pounds of waste per day. To put that into perspective, that is equivalent to 24 people. And cows do burp and fart a lot. With 4 stomachs, each digestive stage creates its own little burps.

And if you have a soft spot for furry creatures, there is of course the happiness of the cows to consider. While I know of small farms that keep their cows in very humane conditions, most of the dairy production is done in factories with no regard for the animals. On a factory like dairy farm, the cow’s life expectancy is reduced from a natural 25 years to 4.

Conclusion

The reasons I have outlined to encourage you to consider reducing your consumption of dairy is by no means complete. Studies have also linked milk consumption to heart disease and infant onset diabetes. When fed to babies, studies have also shown an increased risk of milk allergy and intolerance. Many adults suffer from milk intolerance as many of us lose the ability to digest lactose (milk sugar) as we grow up (which makes sense since we would not be breast fed once we grow up and therefore naturally there is not need for us to be able to digest it).

Still fancy milk? I have replaced it with alternatives, such as almond and soya milk. There is a much wider range out there from oat milk over rice milk to all sorts of nut milks. With so many reasons to avoid milk, why not try one of the many alternative choices?

And remember, a reduction alone can improve your health, even if you do not cut milk out from your diet completely. Strive for better, not extreme. But make your diet a little better every day. And one day, maybe you leave it out completely.

What’s Lurking In The Breadbox? The Impact Of Food Intolerances

Now a kitty in the breadbox is pretty cute, apart from leaving hair all over you bread. But what if it is not a cute furry animal lurking in there but rather something that makes you ill without you even knowing it?

As a nutrition fanatic, I have started to cut out milk about 6 years ago. I go through phases of being religiously strict to much more lenient. Either way, I have dramatically limited my intake of cow’s milk and replaced it with a mix of mainly soya and almond milk. A few years ago, I did also go through a time when I cut out wheat and therefore gluten completely for an extended period of time before reintroducing it in much smaller quantities, only having wheat gluten once a week or so rather than several times a day. But over the years I slipped back into old habits and went back to enjoying bread and pasta, with the knowledge of food intolerances conveniently moving to the back of my memory.

Now battling with Adrenal Fatigue, I am now coming across this subject again repeatedly. Allergies and hypersensitivity to food can play a vital role in overcoming Adrenal Fatigue. As I have had several symptoms that I did not immediately relate to AF, such as having the worst skin of my life with more pimples in my face than I had throughout puberty,w hich makes my face look like a pizza, as well as the re-appearance of the eczema that I experienced for a short period of time as a teenager. So when reading about how to overcome AF and being reminded of food intolerances, I took another look at my current diet.

Adrenal Fatigue And Food Allergies / Intolerances

According to the charity Allergy UK up to 45% of the population in the UK suffers from food hypersensitivity. But what has that to do with your adrenals?

Well, when you have an allergic reaction or when you are hypersensitive to a food, your body will release histamine or other pro-inflammatory substances. As cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal glands, is a very strong anti-inflammatory, your adrenal glands react to the production of pro-inflammatory substances by producing more cortisol to take care of the inflammation.

And the effect of that is a double edged sword:

a) If you have food intolerances, the constant inflammation counter of the adrenal glands can cause them to fatigue, as they are continuously producing higher amounts of cortisol to counter act the inflammation that would be caused by the intolerance or allergy.

b) If you suffer from Adrenal Fatigue, you will be more susceptible to food intolerances, as your adrenal glands will no longer be able to counter act inflammatory reactions. Therefore it may seem that you have more allergies or intolerances than you had before or that existing allergies have become worse.

You see this is a viscous cycle. Intolerances and allergies deplete the adrenal glands and fatigued adrenal glands can worsen the effect of food allergies and intolerances. So if you think you are suffering from some degree of Adrenal Fatigue already, it is time to identify if you have any hypersensitivities and eliminate those foods from your diet. Pronto.

Allergy Vs Intolerance – What’s The Difference?

The main difference between the two is that an allergy is an immune reaction whereas intolerance is a digestive reactions.

In food allergies, a certain protein in the food you are eating is seen by the body as dangerous and antibodies are sent out to defend the body from this intrusion. The allergic reaction to the food is usually immediate or occurs within a very short time of eating the food, while the amount you ate does not seem to make much of a difference. This means that if you are allergic to peanuts, it does not matter whether you eat half a peanut or a bag full. Reactions are usually more severe than those of intolerances and can even be deadly.

Food intolerance is more chronic, less acute, less obvious in its presentation, and often more difficult to diagnose than a food allergy.The multiple causes for food intolerance include:

  • Absence of an enzyme needed to fully digest a food. Lactose intolerance is a common example.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome. This chronic condition can cause cramping, constipation and diarrhea.
  • Food poisoning. Toxins such as bacteria in spoiled food can cause severe digestive symptoms.
  • Sensitivity to food additives. For example, sulfites used to preserve dried fruit, canned goods and wine can trigger asthma attacks in sensitive people.
  • Recurring stress or psychological factors. Sometimes the mere thought of a food may make you sick. The reason is not fully understood.
  • Celiac disease. Celiac disease has some features of a true food allergy because it does involve the immune system. However, symptoms are mostly gastrointestinal, and people with celiac disease are not at risk of anaphylaxis. This chronic digestive condition is triggered by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains.

The reaction to eating a food you are sensitive to can vary in severity, onset and depend on the amount you have eaten. There can be anything up to 3 days delay between eating a food you are intolerant to and having a reaction to it.

Symptoms Of Food Intolerances

The symptoms vary from person to person and depending on the food you are intolerant to. The symptoms often seem so unrelated to what you have eaten, it makes it more difficult to put one and one together and blame it on the food you ate. Below is a list of common symptoms as listed by Allergy UK:

  • Abdominal pains
  • Aches and pains
  • Acid reflux
  • Asthma
  • Arthritis
  • Autism
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Diarrhoea
  • Eczema
  • Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy
  • M.E.
  • Migraine
  • Nausea
  • Rashes
  • Rhinitis
  • Sinusitis
  • Skin problems
  • Stomach cramps
  • Tension
  • Urticaria (hives)
  • Weight loss
  • Wheezing

Weight gain is another symptom that was not listed by Allergy UK.

Conclusion

I have suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) for about 10 years. During my time of optimal health, that disappeared, even though the doctor told me there was no cure for it. My IBS always used to be worse during times of heightened stress. I suppose during my optimum health, firstly I had dramatically reduced foods that I knew irritated my gut (in my case milk and gluten) and secondly I really was not very stressed. All the sports and especially the running I was doing was my form of meditation. It cleared my mind and calmed me down.

I have now cut out the milk and gluten again and have been particularly strict with the gluten.

It is a good idea to try this out and cut certain foods out for a period of time, preferably at least 2 weeks. This then gives you the opportunity to observe the reaction more clearly when you reintroduce that food as a trial. When I have milk, I notice that my belly bloats up to such a point that I look pregnant and I have painful cramps and a whole host of digestive discomfort. Since I have stopped eating gluten, my skin has improved significantly. The pimples in my face have started to heal while no new ones have appeared and the eczema is slowly healing off. When I do have wheat gluten, I notice that my heart starts racing within an hour of eating it and then the headache comes along with a significant dip in energy levels, which last for up to two days. With all the alternatives you can get out there, it really is not worth the trouble for me.

I think when it comes to intolerances, it is important to remember that cutting them out during times of illness and heightened stress is beneficial. This does not, however, mean that we can never reintroduce those foods. As mentioned, I used to be gluten free for a long time and then re-introduced the wheat with no problems. I did not consume as much gluten as I had previousy and as my body was at optimum health, I could handle small amounts of the food irritants. It is when our body is dealing with other issues that those become a pain. Literally. 

Your Body Hears Everything Your Mind Says – The Power of Positive Thinking

Thank you The-Optimism-Revolution for the image

Finding out about Adrenal Fatigue has been a revelation for me. Just knowing what the hell is wrong with me has given me the opportunity to improve. Just from knowing. It has put me back in charge! Because knowing has allowed me to take a long, hard look at myself and look at what I can do better to get better. And as I mentioned yesterday, changing the way I think was the most important part for me. 

For example, before I knew about adrenal fatigue I would beat myself up when I slept until 9am. Because I thought I am such a lazy cow, sleeping through half the day and if only I wasn’t so fucking lazy and would get my arse out of bed at a normal time, I would actually get stuff done. And then I felt so tired!!! Can you imagine waking up with that mind chatter? It makes me tired just thinking about it. Huh, it just dawned on me where that saying has come from…

When I understood how important sleep is for Adrenal Fatigue and that there is some adrenal magic happening especially in the morning hours of 7-9, my thinking was now very different. If I sleep until 9 am, I have an internal celebration going on – Woohoo, well done! Only just woke up and already done some important healing work for my adrenals. Oh yeah, I rock! And I get up feeling a lot better about myself and as a result of it, feeling a lot more energetic as well.

I gave you some examples of where I have already changed my thinking or reframed the self-talk to become more positive. Negative thoughts are poison. Because as the title says: Your body hears everything your mind says. So what? Well, if you have negative thoughts, they are stressful. And if you think stressful thoughts, your body goes into a stress response. And that has a whole host of negative effects on you. Especially if you are suffering from Adrenal Fatigue. As you just keep feeding the monster that is causing the problem to begin with.

“Only Perfect Is Good Enough” Vs. “Perfectly Good Enough”

I recently came across a wonderful article on the Huffington Post on perfectionism. I found it interesting because, well, I suppose I have to admit that I am a bit of a perfectionist myself. Everyone always used to tell me that I am, but I have spent many years denying it. Because in my head, perfectionists are the ones that do things perfectly. Whereas I never quite got there. Try as hard as I may, I always fell somewhat short of getting it just right. But of course that is exactly it with perfectionists. No matter how well you are doing, you never give yourself any credit because instead of seeing what went well, all you can seem to see is where it could have been that little bit better.

Another good example is my approach to exercise. How much exercise is too much very much depends on your fitness level. Going for a half an hour run can be barely achievable for some, especially if they have never run before. For me it used to be nothing. A half hour run is what I did when I had no time for a real workout. But of course now I cannot do that any more. And running for only 15 minutes seemed like failure to me. But the more I felt like failing at my workouts, the more fatigued I had felt. Because my body was listening! And as I said in my previous post Working Hard For Your Health – Not A Good Idea: Overdoing it will result in you doing nothing. And doing something is a hell of a lot better than doing nothing!

If you are interested, I would recommend reading the Huffington Post article on perfectionism, which you can find here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/06/why-perfectionism-is-ruin_n_4212069.html?&ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000070

Say A Great Big “Fuck It” To Perfectionism

I did mention that I like to swear. But actually, in this case, I am merely using a quote. One of the best things I have read in a long time was “F**ck It” by John C. Parkin. The idea behind the book is that if we stop attaching meaning to things, life gets so much easier. In the words of Hamlet:

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

I have been wanting to start a blog for weeks before I actually did it. I was so worried about getting it right, about finding the right subject to write about and what if I was not writing well? But then I thought What is the worst thing that could happen? That nobody reads the blog? Maybe. And then I read another blogger saying If you enjoy writing it, your blog is already a success. So I decided FUCK IT! I am just going to do it. And now I am and the world has not come to an end. In fact, I do enjoy writing my blog.

Can you imagine if you said Fuck It to all the things that are holding you back? If you felt the fear and did it anyway? You would be UNSTOPPABLE!!! Imagine if you said Fuck It to everything that is bothering you. How much more mindspace would you have if you did not have to worry about it any more? Your husband leaves his socks in the sink all the time? Every time you get annoyed about it, you go through a stress response. The cost of that is paid only by you. Imagine if you could just say fuck it and get on with life. So what there are socks in the sink? In the great scheme of things, what does it really matter? I mean REALLY? Bigger picture, people.

Look at me talking… Truth is, I read the book about a year ago and I am obviously still not quite there. It is a work in progress. But isn’t everything? And every improvement is a success. Instead of trying to make today PERFECT, why not try to just make today better than yesterday. And if you do that every day, you get a little further every time.

If you want to read more about saying Fuck It and learn how to do it and where to apply it, read the book or have a look at John’s Fuck It website http://www.thefuckitlife.com/

 

I like that little story of the old Cherokee and the two wolves. The good thing is that if you keep feeding the good wolf, not only will you starve out the bad one, but as the good one gets bigger and stronger, it will fight the bad one for you and before you know it the good one will be there to respond before the bad one gets there. And in the meantime it can harm to just tell the bad wolf to go fuck himself!