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!

 

 

Obesity Determinants

There are many different factors that contribute to the world-wide problem of obesity today.  If solving this problem was as easy as eating less fatty foods and exercising more, we would not have a problem.  Unfortunately it is not as simple as that.  While the “calories in, calories out” theory looks good on paper, it doesn’t take into account the complex metabolic pathways that different foods go through when we eat them or the effects that different foods have on our hormones and brain.  Calories in vs calories out in general therefore fails to work at a grassroots level.

We are all different and thank heavens for that!  We all have different genes, come from different cultures, are of different social classes and live in different environments.  Obesity is complex.  Weight loss is more complex.  It is an individual thing, there is no “one size fits all” and all calories are not created equal.

Living in cities we are surrounded by fast food chains and supermarkets that are open from early morning to late at night.  Food is freely available, most of it is processed and the more processed it is, the cheaper it is.  So if we can’t afford to be a food snob and only buy the healthiest organic food our bodies need,  then we will buy the cheaper, more addictive foods that the food industry likes to advertise.  And we can and do become addicted to the processed food.  We eat more and exercise less, so yes in this case calories in vs calories out does come into play.  However, if we ate more healthy foods, e.g. vegetables, healthy fats and good quality protein, but of the same caloric value as the cheaper, addictive carbohydrate-laden processed foods that the food industry love, then weight loss would actually happen.  All calories are certainly not equal.  The food we eat control the hormones that regulate how much we eat and when we eat as well.  Different foods go through different metabolic pathways in the body, some cause hormone changes that encourage weight gain, while others increase satiety and boost the metabolic rate.

We live hectic lives, we are often stressed and sleep badly.  This too impacts on our hormones and prevents weight loss no matter how minimal our calorie intake is or how excessive our calorie output is.

Toxins surround us.  We inhale them, we consume them, we apply them to our skin and they are disrupting our endocrine systems and poisoning us slowly, day by day. This too has an impact on obesity.

Throughout the world, cultures are threatened as well. Younger people are not taught basic home cooking and even older baby boomers have become accustomed to making use of quick and easy meals prepared with packaged ingredients.  Kitchen skills are not being passed down from generation to generation.  Urbanisation, modernisation of lifestyles and globalisation of food are robbing cultures of their heritage and this is having an impact on obesity and health.  We can’t solve this problem by eating less fat and exercising more.  We have to change our mindset and go back to the basics.  We need to live and eat like our grandparents and great grandparents used to.  And this also involves eating healthy fats!  Like our grandmothers we should render our own lard and tallow and use it for cooking. It may be higher in calories, but less is consumed as it satiates us quicker.

Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people, being part of a caring community, being aware of the nutrient value of food, partaking in regular physical activity (a daily 30 minute walk will do, it doesn’t have to be 60 minutes of cardio!), sleeping well, stressing less, having “me” time and holding ourselves accountable, all affect energy in, energy out and can prevent or treat obesity and ultimately keep us healthy.

So don’t cut out the fatty food, just make sure it is healthy fatty food. You may just be surprised by the result.

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?