We changed our mindset


Mindset – it either makes or breaks us.  I drastically changed my mindset about food … and health … and this is where it got us!

“You must master a new way to think before you can master a new way to be” (Marianne Williamson)

It started as a coupe of serious health issues, sparked by a pre-diabetes blood glucose level 3 years ago (my husband’s) and me living in constant pain.  Within 24 hours we had purged our pantry and started our 10 day food detox as outlined in this post .

We continued with this strict food detox for much longer than 10 days due to how well it was working for both of us – my pain was subsiding and my husband’s BGL’s were stabilising in the normal range.  In fact, we continued on a strict food detox for 60 days before starting to add our eliminated foods back one by one.   I had to keep many of the eliminated foods out of my diet for many months – corn, quinoa and dairy were definitely not my friends for a very long time.  After 12 weeks I wrote a blog post that you can read here .

I had serious gut issues and only once these were resolved could I tolerate some corn and some quinoa.  The day I could add back goat’s cheese was one of my happiest “food” days – funny how the smallest of things become big things!

In the last 6 months I have managed to add fermented homemade yoghurt back into my eating plan.  Regarding the nightshades – the only one I have successfully added back without causing any pain, is well-cooked white potato – I can tolerate a small amount a few times a month.  I am happy with this as white potato is good as a resistant starch and has many health benefits.

When we started on this journey we were told it was totally unsustainable.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

After 3 years:

  • I eat real, whole foods only
  • I don’t follow a particular “diet”
  • I avoid gluten and soy and some nightshade vegetables
  • I eat whole fruit
  • I don’t eat sugar
  • I make everything from scratch
  • I eat when I’m hungry
  • I don’t count calories
  • I don’t fear fat
  • I eat many more vegetables than I used to
  • I eat across the colours of the rainbow
  • I eat fermented foods daily
  • I eat nutrient dense food
  • I eat and live mindfully
  • I buy as much as I can from farmer’s markets and support local growers and producers
  • I avoid the foods that I know inflame me and cause my pain to flare
  • I move as often as I can
  • I make sure I get at least 8 hours good quality sleep every night
  • I drink good quality water
  • I walk barefoot on the beach as often as I can
  • I walk or sit in the sun as often as I can
  • I don’t sweat the small stuff
  • I enjoy my red wine

    What we were doing before wasn’t working.

What did we have to lose by changing our mindset about food and health?

A lot!

In fact we lost 80kg combined weight in 3 years.  How we did it is totally achievable.  What do you need to do?

Change your mindset!

 

 

Food and Pain

Food and Pain.

Three years ago I did not believe that food could cause pain nor did I believe food could alleviate pain.  As a pharmacist I was taught to treat pain with pills or topical agents.  Anti-inflammatory medication for swelling and trauma and pain medication for the pain.  End of story.  Makes sense in theory, but I now know first hand that the food we eat is either inflammatory or anti-inflammatory and either good or bad for us as individuals.

For 10 years I lived in chronic pain. I have osteoarthritis and both my hands are badly affected, so much so that up until a few years ago I had weekly appointments with an occupational therapist and wore purpose-made hand splints. I had got to the point where I could no longer hold a pen to write, I could not do up zips or buttons, I could not hold my toothbrush and brush my teeth (thank heavens for electric/battery operated toothbrushes), I could not hold a sharp knife to cut things like pumpkin or even carrots, I could not open screw top lids or cans with ring pulls or even use a can opener. Other than my hands, I had one shoulder, one hip and one ankle that were permanently sore as well. I slept badly, my mobility was not good and I was still young.

Life was not easy and I needed NSAID’s and paracetamol and codeine on a daily basis, just to function. Of course I knew the risks of what I was taking, but I was not left with many other options. I supplemented with fish oil or krill oil as well as glucosamine and vitamin D during my dark years of pain too, as the research suggested these to be beneficial.

So today when I read this Medscape article entitled Food and Pain: The “Essentials” –  my heart sang!

Last week at the American Academy of Pain Management (AAPM) 2016 Annual Meeting, Robert Bonakdar, MD, director of pain management, Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, La Jolla, California, and assistant clinical professor, University of California, San Diego addressed delegates at the meeting and spoke of how “Diet can influence inflammation, shift the microbiome, modulate the immune system, improve joint function, eliminate pain triggers, and reduce deficiencies.”

This is music to my ears.

People think I’m “off with the fairies” when I say I “cured” my pain by changing my diet … and if they don’t actually say it, I can see they are thinking it!  Pharmacists I work with say they would not have believed it, but they witnessed my progress with their own eyes!  My family and friends know how much I suffered and how well I am now.  I myself still struggle to believe how changing my diet changed my life!

Three years ago my occupational therapist informed me the last thing available as a means of pain relief was thumb surgery.  This would involve a lengthy recovery and there were no guarantees.  I decided to explore every other option available before resorting to this.  Why was my body was giving up on me and attacking itself?  Besides the osteoarthritis, I had already had a  parathyroidectomy for hyperparathyroidism, so in my eyes, my body appeared to be hell bent on destroying itself.  I was not going to give in lightly, and as fate would have it, my husband’s blood sugar became raised at about the same time. With a family history of diabetes, we embarked on Dr Mark Hyman’s 10 day sugar detox diet to get his blood glucose under control.  I turned my focus to helping my husband and by chance helped myself!  You can read about our initial detox here.

Within 7 days my pain had reduced significantly enough for me to see the benefit of continuing with this lifestyle.  After 2 months I no longer required pain medication and the hand splints were permanently packed away!  I have never looked back.  (Nor has my husband, his blood glucose levels are in the normal range.)  This is not a diet, this is a lifestyle we follow to keep us inflammation free.   For me, there is no better motivator than being pain free.

So if you live with chronic pain or inflammation, take a look at what you are eating.  If we eat highly processed, inflammatory foods, our cells become toxic which results in inflammation and chronic disease.

When I started on this journey I was obese.  Obesity is also an inflammatory condition.  Removing my inflammation helped me shift 42kg.  It’s not about how much we eat, it’s about what we eat.  So choose your food carefully.  You alone control what you put in your mouth, nobody else.

 

 

 

Pomegranates and The Hage

pomegranates

Pomegranates.

The Hage.

More childhood memories I said I would share.

As you know, I grew up in the street where the Flamingo Bakery was…so those of you from the Hage know exactly where I grew up!  We knew everyone in our street and all the streets around us – Victoria Street, Vida Street, aka the  “Back Street”, Cannon Street, Caledon Street, the whole block ….  This is so different from today where the kids usually don’t know anybody in their neighbourhood, not even the kids next door.

So other than my 3 older “non-blood siblings” that lived down the road, I also had 6 other “non-blood siblings” over the road that I spent many hours with.  Behind their house, extending from Cannon to Caledon Streets, was a huge field and on the other side of the field were the backs of the houses in Victoria Street.  This field provided endless hours of fun for us kids.  We only really played in this field in the winter months as we had no shelter from the mad man who lived down the bottom of the field in the summer.  There were also snakes in the summer, so we stayed away.  Winter time the liquorice grass grew up to about 4 or 5 feet tall and provided good cover for us kids.  We used to joke with each other that we needed to avoid the “yellow” liquorice grass as that was the grass that the neighbourhood dogs had pee’d on!  Just like you don’t eat yellow snow, don’t eat yellow liquorice grass!

During the winter months, the oldest of the 6 kids I played with used a lawnmower to mow tracks in the long grass of this field.  We would ride our bikes in here, we played cops and robbers in here, we sucked on the “liquorice” grass in the field and there were also a couple of empty dams in this field that provided fantastic props for our cops and robbers games!  Surrounding these dams were pomegranate trees and from memory some apple trees.  The apples were promptly picked by the mad man at the bottom of the field, but he obviously didn’t like pomegranates so they were left to rot on the trees.    This nasty old man didn’t like us playing in the field and he didn’t want us to enjoy his pomegranates either!  However, that didn’t stop us!  We used to steal the pomegranates and he used to shoot at us with a pellet gun!   How we never ended up with pellets in our bums or our heads or anywhere else for that matter, baffles me!  Winter was the best time in the field.  I will never forget the wrath of my Mom when I eventually got home with red stains on my hands and my clothes.  I don’t know why she didn’t put me in black or navy clothes all the time, but she didn’t.  It would have been much easier, for her!   She was never impressed, to say the least.

It’s funny how these neglected fruits have now been shown to have fantastic health benefits.  The rich, ruby red reminds me so much of  the colour of our blood.  Pomegranates are rich in Vitamin C and therefore powerful antioxidants, they contain Vitamin K and magnesium and they are rich in fibre.  Studies show eating the fruit and/or drinking pomegranate juice can help protect against disease, like certain cancers and Alzheimer’s.  They are anti-inflammatory too.   Make sure you wear old clothes or an apron when cutting open and de-seeding your pomegranates, but make sure you eat them, they are little powerhouses of nutrition.

HEALTHY HAPPY THIN

healthy happy thin

Healthy

Happy

Thin

It’s only taken me 30 years to be healthy happy thin but heck, who the hell is counting?  At least I got there in the end.  Just like a fine red wine, I have matured with age and will (hopefully) age gracefully too.  Seriously though, it took me 28 years to stop believing everything I read about healthy eating and 2 years to get rid of my chronic pain AND 42kg once I started listening to my body and took matters into my own hands!  Even if I say so myself, I think that’s pretty damn remarkable!

I started this blog so people could read how I lost the first 31kg and recovered from chronic pain – you can read about that here and here .  I maintained my weight by avoiding the foods that inflamed me and was quite comfortable and happy in my own skin.  I was healthy happy thin -ish and had gone from a size 18/20 down to a size 12 and seriously would have been quite content to see my days out at that weight and size.  I had loads of energy, I was healthy, I was loving life, but I wanted to see if I could get back to what I weighed in my late 20’s.  I had finished my nutrition studies through Changing Habits (if you are interested in the online nutrition course I chose to do, as it resonated with my beliefs of health and wellness, you can read about it here ) and was inspired to try one of Cyndi’s protocols, which she adapted from the 1950’s Pounds and Inches HCG Diet, developed by Dr Simeons.

A lot of planning and food preparation is needed to succeed with this protocol.  The timing of when and how you start this protocol is essential as it is a process that needs to be followed to a T.  The protocol is divided into 4 phases and I did my 4 phases over 63 days, so essentially you need to find two months when you cannot have any excuses about this function to go to, that child’s birthday, no Christmas parties, etc.  You need to be in the right head space as once you start, you can’t stop until you’ve progressed through all 4 phases, otherwise you are just kidding yourself and you won’t succeed.

Personally, having followed such a strict personal eating plan for the last 2 years, I found this protocol a walk in the park.  I was seriously never hungry and the weight just melted off.  If anybody thinks my usual eating plan is restrictive, then don’t even consider this protocol as it is 100 times more restrictive.  Before starting on the protocol, I was skeptical to say the least.  Homeopathic HCG drops are taken three times a day and my pharmaceutical brain had me believing I was going to be starving hungry, irritable and a witch to live with.  I did not believe the homeopathic drops could perform the miracles they were touted to perform!  Boy was I surprised as to how quickly and effectively they worked!  From day 1 I felt different, and at no stage did I think I could not do this.  Being prepared food-wise is key to succeeding.   So, if you are interested,  just click on the link below and you can find out everything you need to know, how the drops work, the support offered by Changing Habits,  what you need to take along with the drops, how to order, etc.  I have been amazed as well as to how my whole body shape has changed.  Although within 10kg of my ideal body weight when I started the protocol, I think the excess 10kg I was carrying was between my waist and knees.  This is where I have slimmed down considerably,  but have lost a bit more in other areas too.

https://changinghabits.com.au/4-phase-fat-elimination-protocol?utm_source=iDevAffiliate&utm_medium=Banner&utm_campaign=iDevAffiliate%204%20Phase%20Fat%20Elimination%20Protocol

Maybe this is for you, maybe it isn’t, but for me, this has been the icing on my weight-loss cake.  No more guilt, no more shame, I can now hold my head high and walk my talk and best of all, no more pain!

2013-2016

ps…I am now a size 10 🙂

healthy happy thin

 

Inflammation Obesity Pain

obesity gone pain gone

Obesity.

Inflammation.

Pain.

Gone.

What a difference 2 years can make to one’s life.   April 28th 2014, my body was broken.  I suffered from chronic arthritis and lived in pain.  I was inflamed.   I was obese.  Every day was a struggle, but of course the rest of the world never knew this.  I became a master at masking how I actually felt.  I couldn’t hold a pen, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t do up buttons, I couldn’t pull up zips, I couldn’t open taps, I couldn’t open bottles or screw top lids, I couldn’t shake anybody’s hand, I couldn’t cut with a knife, I couldn’t hold a cup by its handle, I could only use a battery operated toothbrush, I couldn’t do so many things and life sucked!  I was also wracked with guilt – I was obese and it was all my own fault.  Did I really eat that much?    No, I actually didn’t.  But what I did do, was eat the wrong foods for my body!  Facing surgery on both hands, with no guarantee for success, I put on my scientific hat and researched and researched to find out WHY my 50 + year old body was letting me down.

Quite by chance my husband’s body was broken too, but not in the same way mine was.  He suffered from obesity too and he was pre-diabetic. Being a male, he wanted to fix himself straight away!  Actually, he expected me to “fix” him overnight!   Based on my research at the time and the books I had been reading, I chose to do a 10 day food detox with him (based on Mark Hyman’s book of a similar name), to restore his factory settings (and no, he isn’t an Apple).  Guess what?  I started detoxing and losing weight within the first few days of our food detox, but another miracle was unfolding.  My pain started to disappear and within the first 2 weeks I no longer needed to wear my splints on my hands all the time!   These results blew my mind – diminishing pain, weight falling off and I was eating so much…three times what I normally ate…and the only exercise I could manage at the time due to my pain level, was walking, so this was not a case of  less calories in and more calories out!

You can read about our original Food Detox here.

So the 10 day detox became a 60 day detox and at the 120 day mark, this is what I had discovered.

For 15 months my weight remained stable after losing 31kg,  the bulk of it within the first 6 months.  I had regained the use of my hands, lost all my pain and my body was no longer broken!  My obesity was gone! I then decided my weight needed to go down again and so 6 weeks ago I embarked on my final push to drop the last 10kg that would get me back to the weight I was in my 20’s….

And I’ve done it!

ps My husband’s pre-diabetes is fixed too!

Bye Bye Amalgams

Today I had the last of my amalgams (mercury fillings) removed.  I’ve had them for years, as these were the only fillings available to us baby boomers all those years ago!  It’s taken 3 sittings – each roughly 40 minutes and quite honestly, it was a breeze.  Yes, it came at a price, but hopefully the health benefit will far outweigh the financial cost and my private health fund paid a bit too, which was a bonus.  For someone who hates the dentist, this was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. But, let me say it right here and now, the removal of amalgams MUST ONLY be done by a holistic or biological dentist. The procedure is not complicated,  but preventing mercury toxicity during the removal is critical not only to the patient’s health but also the dentist and technician’s health.

I had quizzed my previous dentist many times about the risk of heavy metal poisoning from the mercury in the mouth and always got the same reply: “Just leave them be, they are safer in your mouth than trying to remove them!” What a load of hogwash. As part of my health crusade, I was determined to have them removed as all my research pointed to chronic long term health issues as a result of mercury toxicity.

Our bodies are designed to naturally detoxify mercury and other heavy metals, but can only cope with incidental exposure, not chronic long term exposure. How effectively we detoxify naturally depends on how healthy we are, our genes, our gene expression, the exposure levels, and whether we are slow or fast detoxifiers.  Mercury fillings emit vapour all the time, the fillings are in our mouths, next to our mucous membranes and a few inches below our brains…it would be unreasonable to believe that our body can cope with this exposure 24/7 and effectively detox us fully. As mercury crosses the blood brain barrier (it is fat soluble and the brain is 60% fat), neurological symptoms including depression, anxiety, memory loss and even Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease have been attributed to toxic exposure and accumulation. Besides our brain, the vapour leaches into our saliva, which we swallow and so expose our entire digestive tract to mercury too.  And what do we have in our digestive tract other than our digestive system?  Our immune system!  So what effect does mercury have on our immune system?  And don’t forget that neurotransmitters are made in our gut and in our brain, so this is a double whammy for mercury causing neurological issues!

But how does the body cope with what it is exposed to?  Well it can’t so it stores what we don’t detoxify naturally and it stores it in our body fat … and we are supposed to lose this fat in the winter and whoosh, out goes the mercury.  In a perfect world, yes this would be so, but I was fat for so many years, not much mercury had a chance to leave my body!  So yes, I’m sure my amalgams have contributed to my health issues.

So in order to support my body’s natural detoxification pathways and safely eliminate mercury from my body, I put myself on a “detox” programme of sorts. The critical first step was to ensure that my diet was optimal, and mine is by the mere nature of what I eat and don’t eat and I’ve eaten like this for almost 2 years. The second step is – go slow and proceed with caution, under the care of someone who knows how to coach you through this. Certain foods and supplements can help support your body and its detoxification pathways and are essential to help rid your body of accumulated mercury.  You can’t go from 6 amalgams to no amalgams in a couple of weeks. Your biological dentist is the one who will decide and advise you on how long you need to detoxify for and at what rate the amalgams should be removed. If you go too fast, your body won’t be able to remove the mercury quickly enough and you could end up with severe kidney issues.  Mercury leaves the body via urine, faeces, breathing out and breast milk!

Besides dental amalgam exposure, mercury is found in fish, air, drinking water, vaccines, fluorescent light bulbs, thermostats and thermometers, batteries, red tattoo dye, and many more readily available products.

Thank you Simon at Ozone Dental, Adelaide, for helping me on my journey.

Better health can be achieved by changing your spots

Change your spots for better health
Can you change your spots?

I’m sorry if your bubble is about to burst, but better health depends on so much more than the number “spot” on your scale.  Whatever the number, it is only part of what makes you healthy.  Your gene “spots”, your sleeping habit “spots”, your stress “spots”, your exercise “spots”, your hormonal status “spots”, the health of your gut microbiome “spots”, the food you eat “spots”, the level of low grade inflammation in your body “spots”, your exposure to environmental toxin “spots”, the risks you take “spots” and many more “spots” all work together to determine how healthy you are.   They all need to be in sync to ensure homeostasis and better health.

The only thing about me that people who have known me for a long time notice, is I’m thinner than I used to be.  They all want to know how I did it.  They all want the magic formula.  They all want to lose x amount of weight.  A quick fix.  They don’t ask if I’m in better health.  If they listen long enough for me to explain how I was searching for better health and the weight loss was a side effect, that’s good, but most of them lose interest when they realise it isn’t just about what I eat.  And it has taken a lot of effort.  You can’t buy a magic potion and expect miracles to happen.  You can’t buy a bottle of new “spots” either.

“I don’t have time for breakfast”

“I can’t give up cheese”

“But I love pasta”

“You don’t eat tomatoes?”

“What do you eat?”

“You obviously never eat out anymore”

“Just tell me I don’t have to give up my coffee”

“Can I still have my wine?”

I’ve heard it all and more.

I am still a work in progress, but I have tried to fix as many “spots” as I can in my life to reduce the toxic/inflammatory load from my food, my environment and my personal space.  I feed my microbiome on a daily basis with fermented coconut kefir and/or probiotics.  I aim for good quality sleep every night and I regularly use technology to check that I’m getting it.  (There’s an app for that).  I refuse to allow myself to get stressed, those days are over.   (There’s no app for that, but there are “mindfulness” apps you can use to help you relax).  I “move” my body daily, I certainly don’t over do it.  I keep track of how many steps I walk per day.  (There’s and app for that too).  I don’t count calories, or keep track of fats, proteins or carbs.  I eat when I’m hungry, but I only eat what I know will be of nutritional benefit to me and steer clear of my known inflammatory causing foods.

So, all in all, I’ve managed to change my “spots” and have found better health.  Change, like happiness is an “inside” job.  Nobody or nothing can change you, you have to do it yourself.  Don’t try and change all your “spots” at once.  Start with one and when you’ve changed it, move onto the next and so on.  You will be surprised how many “spots” you can change in your quest for better health.

Quality of Life

the wonder of nature

Almost 18 months ago I embarked on a health crusade to help my husband reverse his pre-diabetes.  Along the way, as a side effect to the new way of eating, I inadvertently dampened down my chronic low grade inflammation, lost the pain in my hands, hips and feet, started sleeping like a baby and shed 31kg! You can read about this here.

This started me on a crusade.  A crusade to be as healthy as I could. A crusade to help others to achieve the same improvement in quality of life that I have experienced.  My zest for life is greater than it was in my 30’s.

My personal quality of life has improved beyond my wildest dreams.  No magic potions, no magic pills, no intense cardiovascular exercise, just good, wholesome, nutrient dense food, avoiding inflammatory foods and foods to which I am sensitive to and buckets of persistence!  And boy has it all paid off.  I am pain free and motivated to keep going for the rest of my life.  I never want to suffer like I did before.  Nothing is more debilitating than chronic pain and lack of sleep.

We all know that with the tremendous advances made in medicine regarding the treatment of trauma and disease, that our lifespan has been significantly increased.  We will all be living longer and can be kept alive for longer, but my big question is what about our health during this time?  Factors that influence our lifespan include our genes, environment and behaviours. I don’t want to be living longer if I have no quality of life.   I want to live longer and still have the same if not better quality of life.  I still want to do the things I love doing.  I want to get out there and walk on the beach, swim in the sea, take photographs, play with my grandchildren and travel even more than I travel now.  I have lots of things still in my bucket that I want to do and believe me I am doing them as fast as I can, because we never know what the future holds for us.  I don’t want to slow down as I age.  Life is for living and I intend to live it to the full!

….and so to get back to where I started this entry from, by me dampening down my low grade inflammation, I worked out what had caused or contributed to it.  I healed my gut and changed my diet drastically.  Yes, hindsight is an exact science and I’m so glad the way things worked out and I was fortunate enough to work it all out!  Diet, exercise, sleep, stress and hormones.  All of these need to be optimal in order for us to function optimally and have a healthy lifespan or “health span”!

Why oh why do we think we are untouchable?  Why do we think we are invincible?  Why or why, do we wait until the last minute before we make changes?  Sometimes this is too late.  Why do we wait until tragedy strikes in the form of an incurable illness before we make the changes?  Why, why, why???  As I write this I’ve just been told that someone I studied with has end stage lung cancer.  Yes I know that the dietary and lifestyle changes I have made is no guarantee that some illness won’t strike me, but hey, I’m giving it my best shot.  And in case something does strike out of the blue, well I want my body to be in the best possible position it can be, to beat whatever it is.

Just today I listened to the most incredible podcast…I stumbled onto it by mistake.  Ironically it was a podcast with a longevity doctor that I have consulted.  The podcast reminded me of how much I have changed in my everyday life, how far I’ve come at biohacking my health and how I should be ready to have a healthy lifespan (all things withstanding) or “health span”, a term that I feel sums up everything so well.  A frightening static that was shared on the podcast:  at the age of 40 we have the potential to have 10 undiagnosed medical conditions, waiting in the wings, so to speak.  At age 70 this escalates to around 23.  This is frightening.  On a positive note, we are capable of living up to the age of 120, provided of course we make the necessary changes to promote our longevity.   We are also on the cusp of people living healthily for much longer, up to 150 years.   It is of the belief that the child has been born already who will reach that age.  You have to listen to the podcast.  Make the time, it’s about an hour long.  Here is the link.

So God willing, I think I’m good to go for many more years…don’t know how happy my family will be to hear this as I know I’m a pain…but no pain, no gain, the squeaky wheel get the grease, etc, etc!  I’m always looking out for them and of course my nearest and dearest friends.  I almost feel as if I was “lucky” enough to have been given a second chance and that my job now is to help as many as I can to achieve their own “health span”. I have this insatiable, impatient desire to learn and understand everything…

So please, don’t wait until it’s too late.  I wish I’d started 20 years ago.  If I can do it, anybody can.  For without “health span”, what good is a long lifespan?