It's hard for me to believe how fast the last 15 months have flown by. I moved into a new team at work at the end of 2014. That still seems like yesterday but it coming up 1.5 years ago. I guess it's part of getting older that the years seem to go by faster. In a way I think it's a good sign. For most of that time my health and happiness levels have been very high. And when that's the case time seems to pass faster. During 2010 and 2011 when I was really struggling the weeks and months used to drag on forever.
Aside from a couple of blips my health has been great. So long as I stick to eating whole foods and close to zero tolerance on sugars (and alcohol) then my health and general wellbeing continues to get better and better. Far higher then before I got sick with Lyme disease. During those times it's fair to say that I've made a 100% + recovery.
2 or 3 times per year I generally have a blip. The trigger for the blip is usually a holiday. It's a familiar story: I go on holiday and start to get relaxed with my nutrition. I start to enjoy a bit of wine and chocolate in the evenings. First few days my health is still great so I keep going, upping the wine, chocoate and introducing a bit more bread, pasta and other foods that I generally avoid.
Now I need to make it clear that, aside from the chocolate, I'm not binging on this stuff. 2 or 3 glasses of wine a night, a couple of slices of bread. That's all we're talking about. But it's enough. After a week or two my health starts to suffer. Especially my sleep. It was my first problem when I got sick with Lyme disease and it's the most enduring and most insidious. Usually this time coincides with the holiday ending and beginning back at work. I don't then have the luxury of being able to take it easy and rest during the day so I manage to convince myself that it's OK to up the coffee and chocolate intake to give me the energy to get through the day.
But of course it's a no-win strategy. My sleep suffers more and every day becomes a struggle. That is the downward spiral I've found myself in 2 or 3 times per year in the 6 years since I first got sick with lyme disease. When I'm doing well, which is around 9 months per year, then I'm doing great. But when I'm in a blip then life is hard.
I'm coming out of a blip at the moment. Up until the end of February I was doing great. At that time I was finishing a 100 day yoga challenge (100 hot yoga lessons in 100 days). During a lot of those 100 days I felt more content, happier within myself and confident than at any other time in my life.
The last 2 weeks of my yoga challenge were hard. In order to make my goal I had to do at least 2, sometimes 3, yoga lessons per day. It might sound easy but hot yoga is intense. Either 60 or 90 minutes of hard work in 40 degree heat. I pushed myself too hard in those last 2 weeks and once my challenge was over I was wrecked. The day after my yoga finished I went on holiday. I went from extreme discipline and health to no exercise and over indulgence. Booze, junk food, chocolate replaced water, salads and smoothies. TV watching replaced yoga. For the first few days it felt good. Shortly after that my health started to head south. Sleep problems, no energy, back problems. I just felt old and tired.
But I've been through it before. And as the years go by I become more accepting when it happens. Although I'd like to be strict and maintain great health 100% of the time I don't think that's realistic, at least not for me. So these blips, these periods where I fall off the strict eating wagon for a while, could well be something that will continue to feature in my life.
My last blip started a month ago. I'm almost fully back on the wagon now. I did my first yoga class in a month a couple of days ago and immediately I felt better. It's so refreshing going to yoga without a goal in mind. Just being there. That's how I think yoga should be.
zaterdag 2 april 2016
zondag 8 februari 2015
For 10 years I was dependent on diet soda. My drug of choice was diet coke (a.k.a coca-cola light). At an absolute minimum I would need a can a day. If I didn't have this I couldn't function. But usually I had way more than a single can. I would often buy 1.5 liter bottles and go through the whole lot in a couple of hours.
During the early years in my recovery from Lyme disease I knew that I should give up diet coke. However my consumption actually increased. It was my crutch. I was trying to work full-time whilst sleeping 2-3 hours per night. Whenever I had to give a presentation or attend an important meeting I didn't feel like I could function unless I had a diet coke beforehand.
Then one day I stopped. I had done this many times in the previous years but this time it was different.
It was still hard. The cravings were super strong. But I stuck with it. And eventually I got through the day. Then the next day. Then the next. It's now been 9 months since I had a diet coke (or any other fizzy drink). There are still times, particularly after a terrible night's sleep, when I hesitate whilst walking past a vending machine. But so far I haven't weakened and I'm determined to keep it that way.
5 reason I gave up
These 5 reasons below were the reasons I gave up diet-sodas and are what I focus on to stay strong if I'm experiencing cravings. Most of the reasons are really referring to aspartame, the artificial sweetener in diet coke and many other diet sodas.
1 - It's toxic
The initial reason I switched to diet coke back in 2004 was that I was seduced by it's message of zero sugar and zero calories. It seemed a drink I could enjoy guilt free. On the contrary there are many health issues linked to aspartame consumption. To confuse matters, some of the studies that have been undertaken on aspartame show it to be safe. However there are often conflicts of interest issues behind many of these studies.
2 - It can prevent recovery from Lyme disease
It's reported that aspartame consumption can cause relapses in Lyme disease and lock the Lyme bacteria into the body.
3 - It can makes you fatter
Some studies have shown that aspartame can increase insulin and leptin levels, which can lead to obesity and diabetes. The fact that it has 0 calories does not mean it'll help you lose weight.
4 - It's expensive
I was probably spending close to 600 euros a year on diet coke. Plus often when I bought a diet coke, I bought something to eat from the vending machine. So in effect I was spending close to 1000 euros a year to make myself fatter and sicker.
5 - I feel much better without it
Once I made it through the first week I started feeling much better. I could sleep better. I didn't go through a huge dip every day at work. My brain fog lifted.
How did I quit?
- I focused on the reasons above to keep in the front of my mind why I was stopping.
- I found a substitute (green smoothies) that gave me a lift without the bad side effects.
- I focused on getting through one day at a time.
- I drunk more water
Often I had diet coke when I was thirsty. I found that if a craving for diet coke reared it's ugly head I could defeat it by drinking water.
- I watched out for my weak spots
For me a weak spot was long car journeys where I used to use diet coke to keep me sharp. I swapped out diet coke for coffee and also pushed myself less when undertaking these journeys. If I was tired I would find a place to sleep rather than ignoring my body and pushing through it.
The first few days were the hardest. Once I made it through a week most of the cravings had gone. However occasional triggers (such as long car journeys) brought them back again. In these times I focus my attention on getting through the moment and not giving in.
In the months since I've given up diet coke my health is significantly better. It's impossible to isolate how much of this improvement is due to giving up diet coke as I've also made other changes in my diet and lifestyle. However feeling better and sleeping better are huge motivators to stay on track and aspartame free!
maandag 2 februari 2015
I've been very slack at my blog the last few months.
I'm planning on turning that around in 2015 and devoting more time to blogging. I'm still busy with my Lyme journey and learning so if I can share that and possibly help someone else then that makes it worthwhile.
Health wise things have been going well for me. Last December I placed 4th overall at the dutch stair running champs and was the first old guy (40+). Recently I got selected to take part in the first ever Eiffel tower running race in March 2015. At almost 1700 steps that is far longer than the races I'm used to doing so I'm working hard on my fitness.
I'm still having trouble sleeping. Sometimes I have good periods, for a few days, a week or so. But then I also have periods where I'm only getting 2 or 3 hours of quality sleep a night. This only came on when I first got sick with Lyme disease 5 years ago. I've been numerous times to the doctor, sleep clinics, neurologists but their view is that this is not a lyme disease problem but something in my head. Unfortunately I hear many stories of people who are terribly sick with Lyme disease being told the same thing.
Luckily for me I can still function, and usually thrive, through lifestyle and nutrition choices.
Beating Lyme for me to all about being vigilant. It's about working out the strategies that work for you and making them habits. I fully appreciate that I am one of the lucky ones. Many people aren't diagnosed and some who are sick are probably too far gone to make a full recovery. However having said that I think the power of nutrition (especially fruits and vegetables) and lifestyle choices to heal is incredible and too many people give up before exploring all of these options.
I wish you all the best for 2015.
zondag 31 augustus 2014
Alriiight....86.1kg !!!! The last time I was down at this weight was 10 years ago!
The progress the last few weeks has been awesome. Recently I've been reading about intermittent fasting and I am going to give it a try. Actually I already did... I tried it yesterday and it felt fine. Normally for me I gobble down breakfast as soon as I wake up but this morning I 'broke fast' after getting home from my yoga class at 12:30. Breakfast (well it was really lunch but it was breaking fast in it's truest sense) felt different from my normal breakfast. I could really taste and appreciate the food much more.
So I'm going to keep the intermittent fasting up for a while and I'm going to aim for 2 days a week. The approach I'm trying is 16/8, so 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating. So I'm going to have my last meal about 18:30, and then break fast the following day at 10:30.
Intermittent fasting is touted to have many benefits beyond weight loss. Once I have read more and tried it out for myself for a period of time I'll report back as to how I found it.
zondag 17 augustus 2014
OK - so I've only lost 200 grams from my last weigh-in post 4 weeks ago which looks pretty average BUT I just spent 3 weeks on holiday so any weight loss at all over that period is pretty awesome I reckon!
I was strict on my diet on holiday and most days I did at least a couple of hours cycling and lots of swimming in a (very cold) mountain lake but it's all paid off.
So now I'm back about to get into the normal work/home routine and I've got 12 weeks to really buckle down and get down to my goal weight!
Weight = 89.1kg
Body Fat % = 21.2%
zaterdag 16 augustus 2014
I'm very lucky to be able to enjoy holidaying a few times each year in the magical village of Cetta, set 800 metres above sea level in the Ligurian Alps (Italy).
My family and I have been coming to Cetta for 7 years and it is an amazingly tranquil and beautiful place.
As you can see from the photo, Cetta looks out over a valley (national park) and it is in this valley which I have a fitness test which I do about 4 times a year.
The test is to walk or run up the old path from the river (basically the lowest point when looking up the valley in the photo) to the road (close to the highest point when looking up the valley). The path that I follow is many hundreds of years old but these days I'm pretty much the only person using it (I've never seen another person on this path in the 7 years I've been walking it).
When I first walked the path a few years before I got Lyme disease it took me 40 minutes. Over a number of attempts I managed to get this down to 36 minutes which I thought was pretty good.
Then I got sick. There was a year or two when I didn't attempt the path and when I finally tried again I couldn't make it. I had to turn around.
But I kept persevering.
In May this year on my 40th birthday party I was able to do the path in 26 minutes 16 seconds. That time blew me away. Was far faster than any other time I've done.
3 days ago (August 2014) I did the path again. It's brutally hard. It's 600m of altitude gain clambering over rocks and tree roots. If you go all out you're huffing and puffing and swearing like a trooper before you make it a quarter of the way up. I gave it by best shot and ended up completing it in 24 minutes 34 seconds. WOW!!!!! That's a full 10 minutes faster than what it took me when I was much younger and prior to getting Lyme disease.
I was pretty chuffed.
I'm going to keep training away and I reckon I can bring the time down even further. Getting below sub 23 would be awesome, sub 20 would be epic!!!
ps - in earlier posts I had talked of my fat loss challenge. I wasn't able to weight myself for the last 3 weeks (on holiday without scales) but weighed myself this morning and was 90.3kg. That is slightly heavier than a few weeks ago but after 3 weeks of holidaying in Italy I reckon that marginal weight gain is more than acceptable! I ate super clean most of the time and so managed to keep the weight under control.
zondag 20 juli 2014
Time since beginning challenge: 7 days
Weight lost: 2.2kg (91.5kg to 89.3kg)
Fat % change: 2.5% (23% to 20.5%)
Really successful week for losing body fat. Due to time constraints I didn't have the chance to do much exercise but I did eat SUPER clean. I also limited my fruit intake. Whereas normally I put banannas, dates and berries in my smoothies, this week my smoothies consisted of broccoli and kale. Not that tasty but effective for burning the fat.
The challenge is really going to be to try and lose (or at least limit the increase of) body fat over the next 3.5 weeks when I will be on holiday.