In May of 1999 I fell down a flight of concrete stairs.
This seemingly disastrous occurrence actually saved my life, for at the time I had a ream of health problems that I was busy ignoring. In the end – and after a couple of months of harrowing hospital stays and specialist visits – I had become one of those people who had a list as long as her arm of all the things that were wrong with her.
Some were hospital diagnosis:
I’d had several unreported heart attacks
I had unstable angina
I had several Deep Vein Thrombosis [DVT's] in both legs, but most were in the left
I had a malformed bone in my spine that was responsible for the searing pain I suffered throughout my adult life
Some health issues were GP diagnosed:
My thyroid was under-active
I had high cholesterol
I had high blood pressure
Medication was prescribed for all the above diagnosis.
There were side effects of the medications, some of them so severe that I decided to take myself off them. Some I stayed on.
Some health issues were diagnosed as ‘give them time’:
My left knee and right hip were damaged in the fall and never came right – walking was painful. My left leg became shorter.
I was deep in menopause.
My lymph system was a disaster area, I retained water as if in danger of imminent drought.
My eyes wept every morning and in the cold and in the wind.
I had violent attacks of sinusitis.
I had headaches
poor sleep patterns
And a raft of undiagnosed un-wellnesses that left me drained, exhausted, irritable and putting on weight at a rate of knots.
It wasn’t quite that extreme but it felt like it!
The years passed and I made many changes to my life. In an attempt to recover completely and to reassess who I was and what I needed to do with my life, I quit teaching and training and administering and moved 800 kms away, to a place where I knew no-one except my youngest daughter, who had accompanied me.
I spent a year living by the sea and painting and quietly and almost imperceptibly regained my inner equilibrium.
In the way it does, life stepped it up a notch and I found myself back in the work force in a role that was different yet the same. I was still teaching only now it was unemployed youth and unemployed women. This role segued into opening a community centre for women where I ran courses in employment skills and life skills and self empowerment.
This work led me directly into life coaching. When the government withdrew all funding for my kind of community care work and channeled their attention into youth unemployment – which they did as the global recession hit, my little centre came to a stop as well and I had to try and make it on my own.
All this happened over a seven year period and throughout this time I was developing a deeper understanding and relationship with myself and my own health.
I ate healthily and despite that still had that never-ending list of on-going painful maladies in my body. I had got myself a a treadmill and despite the pain and discomfort in my hips and joints, walked every morning and every evening on it.
But still I never felt well and I never lost any weight – in fact I was slowly and steadily putting more on. I consulted naturopaths and doctors and specialists. All kinds of tests, drugs and potions were tried and nothing helped. There was one quite spectacular moment when my doctor actually threw his hands in the air and said he didn’t know what else to do. I was on my own.
I knew that most of my health issues were caused by inflammation, I just didn’t know what to do about and it seemed the professionals didn’t either. The doctor had prescribed various diuretics and diet pills that did nothing much and came with unpleasant side effects. The naturopath had given me herbal tinctures to take that made little difference to my health.
I resigned myself to the fact that the best was over. I didn’t like that thought at all.
My life had taught me that my core beliefs held the answer to my health issues. The experiences of my early years had driven me out of my body and into my head. I was well aware of my thoughts, my phobias, my spiritual path; I was less aware of what my body was telling me. It was the thing that was often in pain and slowed me down and stopped me doing what I wanted to do. I sailed on despite my body, not because of it.
And then my very clever ED gave me a book for Christmas 2112. ’I Quit Sugar’ by Sarah Wilson. The premise of the book is relatively simple – society’s over consumption of processed sugar is the cause of rampant ill-health. In the author’s case it was ‘a life time of mood swings, fluctuating weight issues, sleep problems and thyroid disease’. I could relate!
The time must have been right, for I read it, it made sense to me, it struck a chord – and immediately I began to prepare for a change in life style.
It wasn’t so much that I consumed a lot of sugar, I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth, I don’t drink fizzy drinks [sodas as Americans call them] I’ve always thought they were a really bad call given that coke can be used to make a rusted on cap move. But the book had reminded me and made me really aware of the hidden sugars in prepared foodstuffs and that was what needed to change.
Really what was being called for was a return to eating foods I prepared myself from good old fashioned whole food ingredients. Returning to the way I used to eat before I got busy and didn’t have anybody to cook for except me so I didn’t always bother – I’d just grab something quick or convenient that I could slap in the oven while I did something else.
Having said that I didn’t have that bad of a diet either. I ate a lot of salads, they were always quick and easy and convenient. But I also ate a lot of bread – sandwiches for lunch, sometimes toast for my evening meal …. and bread contains sugar. I never ate breakfast. I sometimes grazed in the evening, looking for a pick-me-up I’d end up with my head in the fridge – or worse the freezer, because that was where the icecream lived……
I didn’t know if I would last very long with this new regime of eating breakfast, snacks of activated spicy nuts, a salad lunch, evening meals that required some forethought if it wasn’t going to be another salad ….. but I was prepared to give it a go and see if my health issues would be alleviated.
I quit sugar sometime in late February 2013.
I never noted down the exact date – I didn’t expect a mind blowing transformation in my health or that I would have any reason to talk about life BQ or AQ. [Before Quitting and After Quitting]
I decided a couple of weeks later that seeing as how it appeared I was going to stay off sugar I might as well quit wheat as well.
I never said I would do it for forever, or even until next week. I simply said, I will do it today. And today. And today.
And now it is a year later and I have changed my lifestyle completely and discovered that I like it this way and that because I feel so good I would never, never consider trading that in for the wrong food choices again.
It changed my life!
I have no illness. I feel no pain. I take absolutely no medication.
Without dieting or following a rigorous exercise programme I’ve dropped 4 dress sizes.
I live well, sleep well and eat well. I have a stable emotional life, a pain free physical body and am inwardly quiet and serene. For the first time in my life I am in tune with my body, I listen to it, respect it, care for it and nurture it. It’s a little miracle really and I am in awe at its ability to reclaim health.
For me personally I discovered that I am extremely sensitive to sugar, even natural sugars found in fruit and root vegetables can be tough on my system. I can only eat one piece of fruit per day – any more and my body suffers. The very foods that I was happily ingesting, believing I was being healthy were in fact poisoning me.
I stay quite far away from sugar these days, but of course now and again give myself a ‘treat’ and indulge in a dessert. I’ve found that if I don’t do that very often my body doesn’t suffer too much – but the instant onset of severe ADHD is hilarious to anyone observing this calm serene, middle aged woman who abruptly and without warning becomes a wriggling, jiggling maniac who needs to fling her arms around like a windmill and do jumping jacks just to get the sugar rush out of her system.
I’ve done a lot of research over this past year into the food and health industries. I am very clear about what is going on, I am very clear about how the food we eat affects our health and general well being and I am very clear about my responsibility for my own health and well being.
I have learned that we are all different, there is not a one size fits all solution to our health. Fad diets are not the answer. Boot-camp exercise programmes are not the answer.
We must eat and we must move. We must find the foods that give us health and ensure that our bodies are allowed to move in a free and healthy manner every day for the amount of time that our particular body best benefits from.
We are all different and so are our food and exercise requirements.
We have to pay attention. We have to observe how certain foods make our bodies feel. If there is ill-health there may well be a dietary reason for it. It is a consideration worth considering. I have learned that there are three main food groups.
1. Foods that give me health
2. Foods that are neutral for me
3. Foods that are poison to me
I eat mostly the foods from group 1. I can eat a small selection from group 2, but as they do not add to my sense of well-being I do not use them as a major part of my meal planning.
I can and sometimes do choose to eat foods from Group 3. I then have to suffer the consequences. :-) But mostly I choose not to eat them any more, I don’t like the consequences!
But, when all is said and done, I’ve simply chosen to be responsible for my own health.
There’s a great and empowering freedom in that.
Please do be aware, this is just my own journey, my own experience. My life has taught me that when I get my head straight, when I understand what is required of me, when I listen to what my body is telling me, I can get myself a bit more sorted. This is just another step on the path I’m walking, taking responsibility for my own well being as far as I am able.
If you have questions please feel free to ask them. If you have something to share and contribute, please do - don’t be shy.
Thanks for coming by today.