www.Hypersmash.com Beating Lyme

vrijdag 4 april 2014

Training PB in the tower! and suffering through cold showers!

A couple of weeks ago I started tower running training monday and wednesday mornings with a group of friends from work.

The tower we run up is 28 stories high (approx 600 steps).

I also trained in this tower last year. Up until last week my personal best time was 3 minutes 31 seconds.

Last wednesday I smashed that with a run of 3 minutes 17 seconds!

Super happy!

Short term (next two months) I'd like to get that down to under 3 minutes. Longer term I think 2 minutes 30 seconds is possible. That would be a stretch goal though!

One of the things I love about tower running is that it's just you versus the stairs. When I was bike racing there were so many variables; weather conditions, road conditions, punctures or mechanical failure. In the tower all the variables are within yourself. It's interesting to tweak something (like what I eat prior to running) and then seeing the effect this has on overall time.

It's intersting (and motivating) seeing my times improve as my weight decreases.

It's also meditative. You go through so much pain running up stairs that you need to be able work through this pain. Maybe block it out, maybe embrace it, I'm not sure yet. It's all a learning process.

Another learning process I've been trying recently is cold showers. There's lots of benefits associated with cold showers:

I guess part of the reason I want to take them is to get used to the suffering. Taking a really cold shower is hard. I'm definitely not there yet and I can't really say it's got easier over the past week but I'm at the stage now where I look forward to the cold showers, relish them even. And I feel great afterwards! Last night I slept poorly. I was completely out of vegetables and fruit (very unusual) so I had a bowl of cereal before I went to bed. Big mistake! Was up at 4am and couldn't get back to sleep.

But the cold shower snapped me out of my funk and set me up for a good day.

Give it a try yourself and let me know how you find it...

zondag 30 maart 2014

Getting in shape for tower running

In 2 months the tower running race in Almere, the Netherlands will take place.

Last year I did it with a couple of friends from work. This year there'll be 5 of us competing (as a team) from my work.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I fell off the healthy eating wagon a bit in the first couple of months of 2014. Over the past month I've climbed back onto that wagon and since then life has been great! I'm sleeping much better, way more energy, happier, and a nice side effect is that the weight is coming off and my fitness is increasing.

A month ago I weighed 95.5kg (211 lbs). Today I'm down to 91.5 kg (202 lbs). It's been a fairly steady kilo a week weight loss. My goal is to keep this weight loss rate going for the next 8 weeks. If I do that I'll head into the tower running race weighing in at 83.5kg (189lbs). That would be an awesome achievement!

With tower running weight is a huge factor in performance. Last year it took me 4min 29 seconds. My goals this year are:

goal: run under 4.29
Stretch goal: under 4:15
Real stretch: under 4 minutes

My first goal is to improve on my time. But really I want to do much more than that. I want to blitz my time from last year! However the 2 months of downtime I had over the winter may put a bit of a damper on what I can do. But I'm going to give it my best shot!

My training program at the moment is:

Monday bike to work (1 hour). Train on the stairs. Bike home after work.

Tue: bike to work and back. Yoga in the evening.

Wed: bike to work (1 hour). Train on the stairs. Bike home after work.

Thurs: day off

Fri: Gym and run.

Sat: Yoga and tabata (or bike ride)

Sun: Gym

woensdag 12 maart 2014

are you not yet fully recovered?!?!

I've been asked this question a couple of times via e-mail recently. It's one that doesn't have a yes or no answer.

My health and well-being is now higher than before I got sick. At least most of the time it is. Both mentally and physically I am stronger than what I was 5 years ago. I have never got a cold or flu since getting sick with Lyme. I'm getting more out of my life now than I was before. Things that I couldn't manage before I was sick (e.g, learning dutch) I am able to do now. I would say that I'm happier now.

However it's not all roses.

In order to maintain this level of health and well-being I need to be super vigilant about what I eat. The eating plan I'm following is very strict. What works best for me health wise is gluten free vegan. I know from experience that if I fall back into my old eating habits then my health will go downhill rapidly.

In the past few years there have been a few times per year when I fall off the diet wagon. Usually these periods begin when I'm on holiday. It's hard to exist on water, green smoothies and salads when your family and friends are enjoying a cold beer or an ice-cream on the beach. Usually in those times I'll waver, enjoy a treat, the next day enjoy another treat and begin a ride down the slippery slope back to my old eating habits.

The trouble is that there's no instant feedback. For a few days, a week or even two I feel great. Then the troubles start. Insomnia is usually the first thing to rear it's head. Loss of energy and nerve pain will follow.

The hard bit is getting back on the wagon once I've fallen off. It's a really vicious cycle. I'll be existing on a few hours sleep a night so my energy, mood, discipline and willpower is super low. I'll have some chocolate or a few too many coffees to stay alert or a few wines in the evening to wind down. But in order to get back on an even keel it needs to be full on monk adherence to the diet plan. If I do that then I can, over the period of a few weeks, get back to where I was.

I'm in the process of getting back on an even keel now after fallng off the wagon a bit over Christmas. The thing is that I still ate a very healthy diet over that period. Much healthier than I would have eaten prior to lyme and much healtier than the average guy on the street. But that doesn't cut it for me anymore.

Each time I go through one of these 'relapses' the conection in my mind between the return to old eating habits and the subsequent relapse becomes stronger. Plus each time I learn something new about how to stay healthy. The thing I've learnt in the last few weeks is how badly my body reacts to gluten. Usually I don't have much gluten in my diet but eat pasta quite regularly and bread occasionally. Over the past few weeks I've got to see how badly this stuff affects me. When I eliminate it from my diet I'm OK. If I introduce it it hits me like a freight train.

I hope that over time my holiday relapses will happen less and less. However I'm human and definitely falliable. My recovery from lyme has definitely not been a linear progression upwards. There have been many ups and downs over the years. But the general trend has been positive and I hope that continues into the future.

I must add that even when I eat super clean and stick to my exercise plan there are still some times when I go through a bad patch, usually with insomnia. This was never a problem prior to Lyme. These periods do not happen often but I try and accept them when they come along and try as best as I can to hang tough till the good times come along again. Lyme has a nasty habbit of biting you in the bum just when you think you've got it beat! But if you can figure out your own strategies for beating it then it doesn't need to define your life.

zondag 15 december 2013

Dutch tower running championships...

Today was the 2013 Netherlands tower running championships. I had been targeting
this race for a while and my training had been going well, with a fair bit of specific stair
training in our 28 story head office building (which coincidentally was the same height as the building we would be racing in).

The evening before the race I was biking to pick up my daughter from a friend's
place when BANG - my front wheel slipped out on some wet cobblestones and I
fell heavily on my right hip and elbow.

I was gutted. Nothing was broken but my hip was bruised and it hurt to walk. I
spent the rest of the evening applying ice, heat packs and tiger balm. Hopefully
something would kick in and get my hip right for the next day!

I woke up early this morning and gingerly tried walking around. The hip was stiff
but not too sore. I really ummed and ahhed about going but eventually I decided
to give it a go. I'd trained so hard for the race and I would be gutted if I had to
miss it.

The race was in Enschede, about 90 minutes train travel from my house. The trip
went fine. I arrived, picked up my start number and then shortly thereafter I was
lining up at the start ready to go.

My strategy had been to start off easy focusing on my arms and breathing for the
first 8 floors. Then ramp it up a bit for the next 10. And then gradually crank it up
for the last 10 finishing with a sprint.

A sound plan, but the idea of starting off easy does not compute with the
endorphins and adreneline coarsing through your body at the start line! On the
positive side, any thoughts of my sore hip went out the window along with my
pacing strategy!

The first 8 floors felt easy. That got me down to 20 floors to. The next 7 or 8
floors also felt OK. But with about 10 floors to go; BOOMPH!!! I hit the wall, my
hip started to make itself felt, and my pace started to drop off big time. I didn't
really feel like I was suffering that much but it just wasn't possible to coax any
more speed out of my legs and lungs. I managed to clamber up the rest of the
stairs and stagger into the finishing area.

After a few minutes of chest heaving, lying on the ground, I felt well enough to
have a look around. There was a screen showing the interim results and, at that
stage, I was sitting in 3rd position. The top 20 seeded athletes (the toppers as the
dutch call them) started last so I was under no illusions of maintaining this
position but I was still pleased to put in a good performance.

I got the lift down to the 24th floor and stayed there for the next 2 hours
cheering on the rest of the runners. There were all sorts; firemen in full gear,
disabled athletes, children and the super fit 'toppers'.

I waited until the last athlete had gone past then made my way down to the
results area. My time had been 2 minutes 29 seconds which was good enough for
15th overall (out of approx 80). The winner did it in 1.59 which was a course
record. I was only about 16 seconds off the podium.

I was super motivated by this result. I really think that if I train hard, lose some
more weight, and come to the race injury free next year then a time under 2.10
is achievable.

I'm proud of myself for giving this race a go. 3 years ago when I was being treated for Lyme disease I was told by a neurosurgeon that I might end up wheel chair bound and back then even the idea
of being able to walk pain free seemed an unlikely dream. So to be able to reclaim
my health and fitness and compete well in this race is a great result and
something I'm very proud of.

Next month the recumbent racing winter series starts so I want to focus on that
for the next few months. I'll aim to build up my running with a view to competing
in some of the bigger tower running races in Europe next year.

zondag 27 oktober 2013

losing fat

13 years ago I moved from New Zealand to London and into a lifestyle of long hours at work fueled by caffine and junk food. To unwind I used beer and partying. Within 4 months my weight had gone from 78kg (172 lbs) to 96kg (210 lbs) and things that had seemed easy 3 months before were a real struggle. It gave me a wake up call and I moved away from London partly to try and get my health and fitness back.

But even with an improved lifestyle, my body seemed to have chosen 96kg as my new 'norm' weight. There was a couple of brief periods where I was able to lose a significant amount of weight but it always came back on again after a couple of months and settled back at 96kg.

When I got sick with Lyme disease my weight continued to go up even though I was taking much better care with my nutrition and exercise. It seemed like my tolerance for certain types of food and drink (namely sugar and alcohol) had been affected and even consuming a little bit of these caused me to gain weight.

My weight topped out at 103kg (227 lbs) in January 2012 which gave me a BMI of 33 (obese). This was also when I was really struggling with quite a few Lyme disease problems including insomnia and low energy and I felt terrible.

Since then I've been on a mostly positive trajectory with regaining my health and losing fat.

In April this year I got down to 87.5 kg (193 lbs) but over the next few months I slightly fell off the healthy eating wagon which caused my weight to balloon out to 97.8kg (216 lbs) 4 months later (August 2013). As well as the weight returning, my problems with insomnia and low energy also returned.

In the 10 weeks since then I've been super strict with my diet and am now down to 89kg (196 lbs). My goal is to get down to 84.5kg (186 lbs) by December 15th 2013. That's 8 weeks away.

Getting below 85kg is a significant milestone for me. The last time I was down to that weight was at my wedding 9.5 years ago. And the last time I was consistently down to that weight was more than 13 years ago.

Here are the strategies that are working well for me in losing weight. I believe everyone is different in the sense that what works for me may not be suitable for someone else. But I'd like to share what worked for me in case it can help you. I don't see the points below as a diet that I'm following. More a lifestyle change that I hope will allow me to be able to maintain a healthy weight for the long term.

- Plant based

The food I eat now is more than 90% whole plant food. My diet now is based around green smoothies and salads. I make a large green smoothie each morning which is my breakfast and 3 small meals during the day. I also have a large salad for lunch. For dinner I eat what my wife makes which is always delicious but not always plant based.

- No alcohol

For me I've found that when I drink even one or two glasses of wine or beer it's almost impossible to lose weight regardless of how clean the rest of my diet is or how much I'm exercising.

So although I really enjoy a glass of red wine, it doesn't form a regular part of my life anymore. It was hard to give up at first but I don't miss it anymore.

- Cutting out the naughty treats

I've got a real sweet tooth and often used to snack on chocolate, biscuits or nuts. It's so easy to take on unnecessary calories that way so I've cut these out. Again, not easy at first but after a few days the cravings go away.


So what motivates me to lose fat?

- Firstly I find that I can manage my lyme disease problems when I eating cleanly (as outlined above) and exercising. I sleep much, much better. I've got more energy, am more focused and can get more out of each day.

- Secondly being at a healthy body weight means I'm much less susceptible to a whole host of diseases (diabetes, heart disease, cancer).
- I feel better when I'm at a healthy weight.

- I can perform in the sports I do much better when I'm at a healthy weight.

zondag 13 oktober 2013

4 things I wish I'd done differently with Lyme...

This is sort of a continuation of the theme from my last post. Whereas there it was about things I wish I'd known, this is more looking at a few key things that I would have done differently...

Better Prevention and awareness

4 years ago I was only vaguely aware of lyme disease. I had no clue about how it was transmitted or what the symptoms were. I did a lot of walking in the bush (forest) back then but I never took any precautions in terms of the clothes I wore, etc. So things I would do differently if spending time in forests or other tick prone areas are:

- Wearing appropriate clothing (shoes/boots in place of sandles, long sleeve shirts and trousers in place of t-shirts and shorts)

- Using effective insect repellent (such as one containing deet)

- Avoid walking through high grass or bashing through leafy areas

- Check myself (and my family) daily for ticks or rashes

- Check my dog daily for ticks and make sure he has an combined anti tick/flea treatment

Go to the doctor sooner

I got sick in late May but it wasn't until late July that I went to the doctor. Initially it seemed like a flu and then the symtoms were so weird and varied that, for some reason, I decided to try and ride them out hoping they would come right by themselves. This was definitely not the right thing to do!

I was very lucky in that when I did eventually go to the doctor it was only a matter of a couple of weeks before I was in the hospital and getting treated. I fully appreciate how fortunate I was in this regard (for many, many people it's a nightmare to try and get treated).

So what would I do differently? Go to the doctor much, much sooner. I really feel that if I had further delayed going to the doctor or hospital it's unlikely I would have made a full recovery as the severity and frequency of my problems was exploding just when I was diagnosed.

Think holistically (sooner)

I needed the antibiotics to recover but I wasn't able to recover by solely relying on the antibiotics.

It took nutrition, alternative treatment, supplements, visualization, among other things. My doctors in the hospital rubbished these alternative approaches to healing. For them it was at best a waste of money. But it wasn't until I began exploring some of these options that my symptoms began to fade and I slowly began to reclaim my health.

Take it easy!!!

When I was first undergoing treatment I had the idea that Lyme disease was not that serious and that I should be back at work. Not only back at work but back studying (I was doing some extramural study) and doing the other day to day things that I was preoccupied with prior to lyme.

Rather than try and rush back into my pre-lyme busyness, I should have just tried to relax and focus on getting my health right. And just to give myself more of a break rather than continually pushing myself to achieve things when I was still trying to recover.

woensdag 9 oktober 2013

4 things I wish I'd known when I was diagnosed with Lyme disease

This post is dedicated to Amber. My best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

Recently I had a message from someone who was recently diagnosed with late stage lyme disease and who is about to begin treatment. Reading this made me think back to that day 3 and a half years ago when I was diagnosed with late-stage lyme disease and the weeks and months that followed.

Recalling this time I remember feeling scared, confused and depressed. I felt worse during the treatment than when I started and had no idea why. I would trawl through lyme disease forums and read that I would never recover. Regaining my health and positive feelings was a journey that took many months and years. There are so many things I have learnt during that time.

When I think back about the things I wished I'd known at the beginning of the treatment these 4 spring to mind:

- Herx reactions
In short, when the bacteria die off from the antibiotics toxins are released into your blood stream that can cause really nasty reactions (big flare up in symptoms for example). I herx'ed like crazy but had no idea what was happening. I just figured the antibiotics weren't working.

Google 'herx reaction' and learn about what may happen when you're undergoing the antibiotic treatment. The worst aspect for me was a feeling of helplessness that nothing was working. If I'd known about Herx, it would have been easier to summon the mental fortitude needed to grit my teeth and get through the day knowing that it would subside.

- Nutrition

Eating predominatnly vegetable and fruit whole foods has had a huge positive impact maximising energy and minimising my Lyme diesease problems. Everyone needs to find what works best for them but for me personally this plant based way of eating had changed my life.

Note that when you first start this diet it may be hard initially. But, at least in my experience, if you perservere you will grow very quickly to love the new way of eating and start to crave those green smoothies and salads and the way they make you feel!

If you have Netflix check out 'Fat, Sick and nearly dead'. It illustrates the tremendous positive effect eating a plant based diet can have on health.

- Acupuncture

When I was being treated I went about 6 weeks without any decent sleep. I was drugged up to the eyeballs and still not able to sleep for more than 20 minutes. After my first session of acupuncture I slept for 5 or 6 hours. Bliss! I would have paid 10,000 euros for that sleep!

Acupuncture is very dependent on how good the practitioner is so if it you're not seeing benefits after a few appointments I would suggest to try someone else.

Stay positive - you can get better!!!

When I first got sick I was so sick and in so much pain I could never imagine a time when I might feel human again let alone have energy. And it took a long time to reclaim my health and it's still an ongoing journey with insomnia but I'm getting there and I can honestly say I feel much better now than I did before I got sick.

I don't want to give false hope as everyone is different and some people do not respond to the treatment. But statements that Lyme is incurable and that you'll always suffer are heart-breaking to read and frankly bullshit. Don't give up hope. Even if it gets super bad (and I had some days where all I could do was crawl up in a ball on the floor) cling to hope, do the things like nutrition and acupuncture to give your body the best chance of healing.