Tag Archives: natural healing

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

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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.

A Bad Day Allows Time to Consciously Appreciate The Good Ones

Yesterday I missed publishing my blogpost. I already had an idea of what I wanted to write about. In fact, when I write a post, I usually have the idea for the next 3 or 4 which I briefly outline to myself in a few bullet points. That allows me to keep some kind of flow going between posts. At least that is what I aim to achieve.

So yesterday’s blogpost was outlined. I already had the idea. I just needed to write it. But yesterday was a bad day . I only managed to drag myself out of bed around 11am and spent the rest of the day on the sofa or eating on the sofa. Adrenal rest days are characterized by cravings, insatiable hunger and lots and lots of eating all day long.

Where did the day go? What did I do all day? Apart from eating… Well, mainly I spent the day staring into space. I was back to being so desperately tired, I could not even be bothered to sit up straight and type a post for my blog. It just seemed too much to ask of me or anyone who feels that way. And I did have a little “here we go again” thought creep into my mind. But I took a long hard look at that “thought gremlin”. Do you know “thought gremlins”? Those little lying fuckers that tell you all the shit you don’t need to hear, like you are useless, you cannot achieve something or you are not good enough.

Since I was not going to do anything but sit on my arse all day, I decided to reflect on the last couple of weeks since I found out about Adrenal Fatigue and the improvements I have made since then to help my adrenals back to good health. And immediately I did not feel bad about being so “lazy” any more. Because for one, I was being quite productive by thinking about all the good stuff that has been happening. And I realised that things have improved so dramatically over the last two weeks. I now had one day of lying around incapable of doing anything, yes, but after I had spent two full days over the weekend helping to facilitate training sessions and having spent a full day working on various things on Friday. Three full days in a row. How amazing is that? I have not managed to do that for about a year!!!

I would not even call yesterday a set back. Just a logical conclusion – a day of necessary recharge. My adrenals are getting noticeably better. And going from having a productive hour 2-3 times a week to 3 full days of doing things, being active and productive and after having hit the gym 3 times as well last week, I think that is quite an achievement.

Yes, yesterday was not a good day. I was tired. I could not think. I just wanted to sleep all day. But I am no longer hopeless. No longer accepting that this may just be how it is now, this is what life has become. Having those thoughts bashes your adrenals even more and feelings of being helpless and hopeless.

So my top tip to anyone who suffers from Adrenal Fatigue is: Be conscious of the good times and know that those can become permanent again. But not over night. So cherish them when they come along and be conscious and grateful for them when the bad times come knocking again. Cut yourself some slack. You won’t go back from 0-100 in a day. But while acceleration may be slow, it is also steady. When I started two weeks ago, I got a productive morning followed by a day in bed. But wow, I had a whole morning of feeling awake. Then last week, two weeks into the changes I have made, I had 3 whole days.

Yesterday’s bad day was not a reason to be distraught. It was a reason to celebrate. I had 3 full days. And I am feeling really good today. So after 3 days I needed 1 day rest. So what? Soon I will get 4 days and 1 day rest. Eventually I will only need half a day rest. And over time I will be able to do more and more without feeling exhausted while my body will be able to recover in shorter periods of time.

One thing is for sure, I will now always make time and space in my schedule to rest and recharge, even though one day I won’t feel the need for it any more.

Why Is A National Epidemic Not Being Recognised By The Medical Profession?

Thank you to Food Matter for the image

I say national, but actually I think this statement can be expanded for the entirety of Western society.

Of course we can spend some time discussing on whether there is an epidemic of Adrenal Fatigue in the Western World or whether it is wise to make such sweeping statements. Or we just accept that this is my blog with a representation of my opinions. Great – now that we have cleared that up, let me tell you that I believe it is an epidemic. And I am sure you will want to know why, so I shall oblige:

I’d say 90% of people I have worked with during my 8 years in a consultancy firm have complained about being tired. A lot. And now I understand how I got to suffer from it myself – mainly due to ignorance,mind.

Adrenal Fatigue can be easily prevented. But to do so, you’d have to know about its existence. And that is where the problem starts. Many moons ago, after adrenal fatigue was discovered over 100 years ago, it was a big thing for the first 50 years. It was being researched and studied. Then someone figured out that medication can’t really do much about it. Rather getting better requires healthy lifestyle choices. Now there is a shocker. And let’s face it, unless there is money to be made for Old Daddy Big Pharma, nobody is interested in it.

Anyone who is vaguely interested in nutrition may have heard of people who healed their MS or cancer purely through nutrition. You may have even heard of studies proving that very high amounts of Vitamin C (over 1,200 times the RDA) cannot only stop the growth of cancer cells, but heal it completely. And we have all heard about the impact of fast food, with a certain skinny bitch of a clown and Burger royalty receiving regular media attention. Yet nothing is really being done about it. In fact, the U.S National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library, does not even index studies into the positive effects of “natural medicine”, such as curing cancer with Vitamin C (and this, dear haters, is why it is so blooming difficult to find them!).

I have to warn you before you read on – this next part will be a bit of a conspiracy theory:

There is no money to be made from dead people. No Shit Sherlock. But there is also no money to be made from really healthy people. Not in the medical sense. So what to do when the pharmaceutical industry is so immensely powerful. How can we keep them happy? And we do want to keep them happy!

Oh hang on, here is an idea: How about we keep the population just a little bit ill. Preferably chronically. Severely enough to have them running to a doctor and begging for relieve of their symptoms. But preferably without killing too many of them. And to make sure this model actually works, we just adjust the education system and make sure that a certain level of ignorance is being maintained in the masses. Such as telling everyone that Fluoride is good for their teeth, but just omitting the fact that it is also a toxic sedative. Adolf Hitler was a big fan – he used it in the concentration camps. And now it is used in our tapwater. Glorious!

Coming back to Adrenal Fatigue, www.adrenalfatigue.org (currenlty my favourite but not only source of information on this subject) states:

“Although there are no recent statistics available, Dr. John Tinterra, a medical doctor who specialized in low adrenal function, said in 1969 that he estimated that approximately 16% of the public could be classified as severe, but that if all indications of low cortisol were included, the percentage would be more like 66%. This was before the extreme stress of 21st century living, 9/11, and the severe economic recession we are experiencing.”

Having taken the Dr Wilson’s test, my own rating suggested very severe Adrenal Fatigue, in fact it was not far off Addison’s. In Addison’s disease, the adrenals have stopped working all together and sufferers need to take medication to replace the cortisol that their adrenals are no longer producing. The NHS website states that Addison’s patients need to take cortisol for the rest of their lives. Go figure. They make no recommendations to how you can enable your body to heal itself, which IT IS DESIGNED TO DO by the way. However, at least Addison’s is being diagnosed. And if the medical profession acknowledges and treats Addison’s and Cushing’s, which represent the 2% extremes of each end of a bell curve (I have popped a nice little generic bell curve picture down there so you get an idea), does anyone seriously expect me to believe that the entire 96% in between those two extremes is normal and would have no effect on how I feel? Really? So forgive me when I come to the conclusion that the existence of medication is paramount in the acceptance of a condition in medical terms.

Bell Curve
Section F = Addison’s
Section A = Cushing’s
And according to the medical profession in general, EVERYTHING in between is just dandy.

What T. F. Is Adrenal Fatigue?

When I first heard about Adrenal Fatigue, I thought WTF is that? Some new fad? Some new scam to sell us whatever supplements or rubbish? Until I started reading and it sounded as if someone had taken notes when I was complaining about how I was feeling.

Below I have summarised some of the information taken from Dr Wilson’s website http://www.adrenalfatigue.org, which you can check out for further details.

What is adrenal fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome, that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. However, it is not as easy to identify it as other illnesses because of its array of perceivingly unrelated symptoms.

As the name suggests, the paramount symptom is fatigue that does not seem to be alleviated by sleep. While you may look healthy and may not even be able to quite pinpoint what may be wrong, there may be a sense of unwellness, tiredness or “gray feelings”, similar to depression. Although I was not so lucky. I don’t just feel like shit, I look it too. Friends and family have repeatedly been pointing that out to me, as I have become increasingly paler and the rings under my eyes increasingly darker.

Adrenal fatigue has been known and researched by the medical profession for over 100 years and has been known under several names, such as non-Addison’s hypoadrenia, sub-clinical hypoadrenia, neurasthenia, adrenal neurasthenia, adrenal apathy and adrenal fatigue.

The more severely fatigued the adrenals are, the bigger the impact it has on every organ and system in your body. The changes can affect the metabolism, thereby contributing to weight gain as well. Our bodies are amazing pieces of engineering (Mother Nature must be German…!) and so they try to make up for the under-functioning adrenal glands, but hat comes at a price.

Ugh, just a quick nap. About 8 hours or so…
What causes adrenal fatigue?

The adrenals are called into action each time stress is being put on the body, whether that be negative stress from grief or work or positive stress from exercise, for example. They are responsible to regulate the body’s response through hormones to stabilize the body’s health and functioning and to enable you to respond to those.

You may have noticed that your heart starts racing or your muscles tense up when your favourite boss screams at you from across the open plan office about that report that was due on his desk 2 minutes ago while you are still typing the last paragraph. Those feelings, that’s your adrenals at work.

During adrenal fatigue your adrenal glands function, but not well enough to maintain your body’s equilibrium because their hormonal output has been weakened. In extreme cases such as Addison’s disease, the adrenals cease to work completely, usually because of over-stimulation. Over-stimulation of your adrenals can be caused either by a very intense single stress, or by chronic or repeated stresses that have a cumulative effect.

Who is susceptible to adrenal fatigue?

Anyone can experience it and there are many different levels to it. Whenever you have experienced trauma or prolonged stress, chances are you have worn your adrenals out. Interestingly, feelings of being trapped or helpless are a big drain on your adrenals. So if you tend to see yourself as a victim, you may be more susceptible. Lifestyle choices will also influence your adrenals’ performance, such as diet, substance abuse, sleep patterns, lack of rest and the way you deal with stresses in your mind (more on that bit in a future post).

How can I tell if my adrenals are fatigued?

Some common symptoms, which I experience myself:

  • Feeling tired for no reason
  • Having trouble getting up in the morning, even after a good night’s sleep
  • Feeling rundown and overwhelmed
  • Difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness (already had 3 colds earlier this year, each took ages to shift!)
  • Craving salty and sweet snacks
  • Feeling more awake towards the evenings (I barely got that. I was always tired)

When I saw this, I started thinking back to my “stress history”

  • Working long hours in a high pressure performance driven environment
  • Experienced a whole series of traumatic events while working abroad and after return, which resulted in post traumatic stress disorder
  • Taking on my employer through a grievance process and getting ready to possibly take them to court, talking to solicitors and worrying about upsetting old friends I worked with
  • Trying to force my way back into fitness and beating myself up for feeling tired

If you think you have some of those symptoms and may not have had a chance to recover from accumulated stress, you may want to take Dr Wilson’s adrenal fatigue test. Check out the questionnaire at http://www.adrenalfatigue.org/take-the-adrenal-fatigue-quiz

Continue to follow my blog to learn more about adrenal fatigue and how I am overcoming it by supporting my body to heal itself naturally.