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!

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!