Category Archives: Fitness

A Day In The Life Of

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Today I thought I give you a little insight into what life is like when preparing for a bodybuilding competition. I knew a few bodybuilders before I decided to do this and knew it would be hard. But oh boy was I not prepared for what I had coming. It is one thing to hear about someone’s struggles and imagining how they feel vs actually feeling it, believe you me.

So here it goes:

6 am I get up for my first session of cardio. Some of my friends have to get up at 3 or 4 am, so I consider myself lucky!

8:30am I will have meal number 1 – oats and lots and lots of egg whites, which I turn into pancakes. As it turns out, I can turn pretty much anything into pancakes. They are bland, but they look like pancakes, so I imagine they taste good.

10:30am time for meal number 2. Food? Again? Well, when you have 6 meals to get through in a day, you have to eat every 2-3 hours. This is quite time consuming. Although eating the exact same things at the same times every day means I can prepare a lot of it over the weekend and save lots of time during the week. And let’s be honest here for a moment: I never struggle to eat… ;-D

1pm – lunch (ah yesss, I was close to starvation)

2pm – gym for a proper weight session. We are talking bench presses, deadlifts, weighted squats and basically just lifting some heavy stuff. I grunt, I swear, I sweat. It is not pretty… But this part is the one I enjoy the most. Every workout counts and I push myself as hard as I can. Leaving the gym after a really good leg workout and barely being able to walk is one of the most satisfying feelings to have. I can’t deny that I feel a sense of disappointment when I wake up the next morning and am not sore ;-D

3pm – meal 4 straight after the gym to replenish my body. Ooh, that one always feels good!

5pm – meal 5. More food. Glorious food.

7pm – my second cardio session for the day. I get to walk through the local parks for an hour with a heavy bag full of water bottles strapped to my back.

9pm – meal 6, my final bit of food before heading to bed.

10pm – lights out! Sleep is such an important part of life. It is necessary for good health, something that I have chosen to ignore in the past. Sleep is also necessary for muscular development and so now I am making it a priority. I work too hard on my physique to jeopardise it with a lack of sleep. Besides, sleep tastes so, so good (I tend to dream of food… haha)

The cardio sessions are designed for maximum fat burn and so I wear multiple layers (3 pairs of long trousers, a thermal shirt, hoodie with the hood up and fleece on top plus a jacket for the session in the park). The layers ensure that I sweat. A lot. We are talking waterfalls running down my back and sweat dripping into my eyes and off my chin. This is one aspect I don’t love about the process, if I am very honest.

So there you go – a day in the life of… me! Living the rock’n’roll lifestyle 😉

I may be missing out on a social life right now, but it will all be so worth it when I step on that stage for Rosa UK.

If you are feeling generous after reading this, you can sponsor me here.

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Rosa Who?

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There have been quite a few historically significant Rosa’s and each one of them had a lasting impact. Be it Rosa Luxemburg, Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and anti-war activist who showed courage and tenacity in the face of adversity. Or Rosa Parks, an African American who refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white man and inspired the American civil rights movement with her action. And Rosa May Billinghurst, a suffragette and women’s rights activist who was born in Lewisham, the beautiful borough in south east London I call home.

In my last post I described some of the struggles I have experienced and how bodybuilding is my way of reclaiming control over my body. I mentioned that in order to get my health back I had to learn to be kind to myself and to forgive. Surprisingly, it has been very easy for me to forgive other people. The boss who put my life in danger, the manager who bullied me, the justice system that failed me and even the man who raped me. The part I am still struggling with is forgiving myself, however. For the choices I have made, for the warning signs I did not see and for not fighting harder. And it is affecting my confidence and ability to trust myself.

So it is no stretch to see why I would select a charitable fund that supports female causes:

Rosa is a charitable fund set up to support initiatives that benefit women and girls in the UK. Because, while many women and girls here do enjoy freedom of choice and the opportunity for success in their lives, that’s simply not true for all. Our vision is of equality and justice for all women and girls in the UK.

Rosa supports projects under four priority areas that underpin their work:

Leadership and Representation

  • More women should hold positions of leadership and decision-making in the UK.
  • Women are hugely under-represented in politics and public life. And women in minorities – such as black and minority ethnic, disabled, and lesbians – are even less likely to have a public voice.
  • This means that the issues that are important to them, such as care provision, reproductive choice and local community resources, are less likely to reach the top of the agenda.
  • Rosa invests in projects that aim to understand how to get rid of the barriers that prevent women from participating in public life and encourage their equal representation and contribution in politics, the economy, the media and social agencies.

Safety

  • All women and girls have the right to live free from violence and the threat of violence.
  • Safety for women in the UK is a huge issue, as crimes of rape, domestic violence, sex trafficking and ‘honour killing’ continue at shockingly high rates. Yet many projects that support women who are at risk or seeking refuge are in funding crisis. Some organisations are being forced to close through lack of funds, leaving vulnerable individuals with even fewer places to turn for support.
  • Rosa invests in projects that are improving safety for women and girls in the UK, and helps raise awareness of the funding crisis to other potential funders.

Health and Wellbeing

  • All women and girls should feel good about themselves – and be able to get the help and healthcare they need.
  • Some of the health issues we’re concerned about include poor body image, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and increased alcohol consumption among young women. And some women are especially susceptible to ill health, poor support services and access to treatment – purely because they come from black and ethnic minority communities.
  • Rosa invests in projects that tackle these issues – from awareness raising projects to support groups and initiatives to reach women and girls from all backgrounds with the information they need to help keep them well.

Economic Justice

  • All women in the UK should have the opportunity for economic stability and success in their lives.
  • More women than ever before are earning now – but usually far less than men, even if they’re doing the same job. Women also lose out when it comes to moving up the career ladder or having flexible working options. Girls from disadvantaged backgrounds find it hardest of all to get ahead.
  • And lack of affordable childcare keeps talented women out of the job market altogether. Rosa invests in projects that will help create a more even playing field of opportunity for women – benefiting individuals, families and employers alike.

 

Why from Bedridden to Bodybuilding?

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Welcome to summer. A week into the warm weather and everyone seems to be complaining it’s too hot. You’ve gotta love London 😉

For me, the hot weather is fantastic. The aim of my cardio workouts is to sweat as much as possible and so I wrap up in several layers, starting with thermal underwear and ending with a hoodie and extra warm fleece. In this weather I am just dripping with sweat. And yes, that’s a good thing – burning more fat to get me ready for the stage in just over 8 weeks.

Last week I gave you a broad overview of my journey ahead. Today I thought I’d tell you a little bit more about who I am and how it came to this. For that, I will have to take you a little bit back in time:
It was in 2010 that I found my energy levels dwindling. Initially it was cause to annoyance rather than concern and I did what I always do – push through. Hard.
In 2013, at the tender age of 31, I suffered a complete burnout and was bedridden for a year. Not much use while unable to get out of bed, I lost my job, ending my corporate career. What got me there was a culmination of life changing episodes including severe stresses at work, working hours in excess of 80 hours per week on an ongoing basis, multiple trauma, physical attacks (all of which were sexually motivated), divorce, rape, burglary, sexual harassment and bullying, cancer in the family.  I could go on, but I will leave it there.
In 2012 I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after experiencing cluster migraines and I was signed off work, 2 weeks at a time, for the whole year. I suffered severe pain all over my body and was chronically exhausted. Every morning I woke up feeling like I had not slept in days, even after sleeping for 16 hours straight. I’d then have to decide whether I would brush my teeth or my hair. I did not have the strength to do both. Simple day to day tasks had become insurmountable.

Previously I had felt unbreakable. Super-human. Slowing down was for other people.
And now here I was. Broken.  

As I mentioned in my last email though, I was not willing to accept living like this for any length of time. For me, this was not living at all. So I started to do research. Initially I could not read for more than 5 minutes at a time, it was too exhausting and the letters on the pages turned into indecipherable dark blobs. I had to learn the hardest of all lessons and the one that would help me the most: accepting where I was right now. That meant accepting that, right now, I could only do as much as I could do. Accepting that rest was ok. Not only that, but it was helpful. Constructive. Productive! I had to learn to stop pushing myself harder and harder, something I’d been very good at. In its place I had to learn to slow down and be kind to myself. Something I had never previously done. And I had to learn to forgive myself. For everything that had happened to me.

I slowly improved and was able to start swimming and later yoga in 2014. Roll on 2016: I am now running my own businesses to empower women and to advise other people who are experiencing signs of burnout. I am in the final weeks of preparation for my first ever bodybuilding competition. I will enter the bikini category which sports a lean but not overly muscular look yet still requires a lot of training and discipline. But more about that at a later stage.

I hope that my journey will inspire someone out there to not give up in the face of adversity. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how long that tunnel may be.


He replied, “I’m going through hell!” Said his friend: “Well, keep on going. That is no place to stop!”  ~ John Randall Dunn


Thank you so much for reading, your encouraging emails and support. It means the world to me!

Lots of love
Sarah

Still on my journey from Terribly Tired to Fabulously Fit

 

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It has been quite some time since my last post again and I am still on my journey “from terribly tired to fabulously fit”. Now less tired and focusing on becoming fabulously fit, I have decided to enter a bodybuilding competition. And I am doing it for charity.

Oh yes!

Over the coming weeks and months I will post updates on my journey to get stage ready and hope you will find it entertaining, maybe inspiring. And maybe you can even help.

Today I just want to give you a little overview and will keep it as short as I can. I will get into more detail over subsequent posts. That’s something to look forward to, eh? So let me take you a little back.

It all started as what I call one of my “brain-farts”. Not too long ago, back in 2013, I was very ill and bedridden for the whole year. I was told I would never get much better and should learn to live with my symptoms. But me being as stubborn as I am, I got to thinking “Who are these people to tell me what I am or am not capable of achieving?”
I set out on a mission to get myself healthy again. Doing lots of research and working towards my health every single day, I started to improve. Fast forward to 2015 and I started to go to the gym. It was while I performed the very first ever deadlift of my life that my “brain-fart” occurred: “I know, I’ll compete in a bodybuilding competition!”
Initially I wanted to prove to myself and others that I had gotten my health back. Since starting this journey early in 2015, my motivation has changed though: I am hoping that my journey will somehow encourage others not to give up. Inspire them to keep going no matter what anyone else says. And just to pack that extra punch and make sure that I won’t drop out (as if…) I decided to do this for an amazing charity – Rosa the UK fund for women and girls.
And this is where YOU come in. Seeing the word charity, you probably clutched your wallet tightly, didn’t you? But guess what, while it is great if you are able to sponsor me, there are many other ways you can get involved that will not cost you a penny.

You can help by

  1. Donating to my charity through my fundraising page, obviously 😉
  2. Raising awareness for my campaign by talking about it or sharing it on social media. (Instagram: @frombedriddentobodybuilding)
  3. Sharing your contacts – who do you know who could support my campaign? Maybe someone who works in the media?
  4. Encouraging me – send me a little note of support, like my posts on social media. Anything that shows me someone is watching and wanting me to succeed will help me to keep going.

My competition is on Sunday 18 September. I will post regularly to let you know how you can support me on this quest and to update you on progress 😀

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you will enjoy my posts.

Lots of love
Sarah

Getting my “BOOM!” back

My oh my, it has been nearly a year since my last post. And so very much has changed since then. To think that just a year back I was still plagued by almost permanent fatigue, spending a lot of time lying either in bed or on my sofa to rest. It seems like such a distant past, even though it is really not that long ago.

I never received a diagnosis from my doctor and worked on the assumption that it may be adrenal fatigue. However, considering the severe chronic pain that I also experienced in my muscles and joints, I ticked all the boxes for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / ME.

For those that have been following my blog, you will know that I started my journey in November 2013 when I decided that enough was enough and I was going to do whatever it takes to get my health and my energy back. You see, I have always been quite an active and high energy person. So there was really no alternative for me other than getting my health back. FULLY. And that is exactly what I did.

When the Motivation is right – My Wake-up call

I had rested up for weeks to go to “Power to Succeed“, a free weekend event organised by Elliott Kay, aka The Coach in the Hat. It was a wonderful weekend and there was one exercise he had us do that really changed my life. He invited everyone to stand up, close our eyes and guided us through a meditation. At the end of that 10 minute or so meditation, he asked us to imagine looking at ourselves in the mirror 5 years from now if nothing had changed. What would we say to that person?

And there was one thing that came to mind immediately. And it was the only thing I could think of that I would say to myself in 5 years time if nothing changed – “REST IN PEACE”.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have never been suicidal. I love life way too much. But I was no longer living it! And I realised right that second that something MUST change. On that realisation, I broke into violent crying (not the little teary-uppy kind of crying, but the proper snot and tears and uncontrollable sobbing sounds kind of crying). I had to leave the event. I was exhausted. It had become clear that for me, getting my health back was a matter of life or death. Continuing as it was could not be an option. And I was not going to be defeated!

And on to the “BOOM!”

I have always had a bit of a “WHATEVER IT TAKES” kind of attitude. If I really want something, I will not stop until I make it happen. In fact, that is part of what got me ill. However, it is also what got me better.

Over the last year I tried so many different things. Some things worked a little bit, others not at all. But I kept at it relentlessly. I had chosen life and I wanted to live mine again!

Gosh, to think that just one year ago, simple tasks such as washing my hair were unmanageable most days. Now I sometimes head to the gym twice in a day just for the fun of it. I stuck with the yoga, which has been so wonderful for me and am now finally hitting the gym regularly again for strength training as well. I am even thinking to do a Tough Mudder in May 😀

And that, my dear friends, is my “BOOM!”. It is the energy to do all the things I like. The energy to enjoy life and make it a hell of a ride. And finally go back dancing again as well, tearing up that dance floor like there is no tomorrow and with enough energy to get up the next day and do it all over again. Or going to have some fun in a kids playground, like I did in that photo. That was FUN!

Chronic Recovery Centre
Living with “BOOM!”

Conclusion

Whatever you have been told, whatever your situation: DO NOT GIVE UP! The old Henry Ford had a good point:

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t-you’re right

Those that have been told that there is no cure and actually believe it do not take the necessary action to get themselves better and hence they stay in that nightmare that is fatigue. But those who, like me, say “FUCK IT, I know I can do better!” they get better.

So DO WHATEVER IT TAKES and keep moving forward.

My love goes out to everyone out there still battling fatigue. Keep your head up and your eyes on the goal – you will get better again!

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!

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.