Monday, 9 September 2013

Paleo and I...

I've mentioned "Paleo" a lot in my previous posts, I'm a little surprised at that since I really don't like the label. When people realise you follow a Paleo lifestyle, a lot of people aren't really sure what it involves, and assume it's a fad diet that's trendy at the moment. For me, it's far more important that what I eat and drink doesn't harm my body, rather than obsessing over whether or not it comes under a strict Paleo protocol. For that reason, I'm flexible with my food, and will lean towards Primal sometimes... I like cheese sometimes ok???? It doesn't cause me any allergies etc, so I'm not going to live a life of deprivation! I do try to go for raw milk cheese where possible though... keep it as wholesome as possible :) 

I fell into this lifestyle accidently if I'm honest. I touched on my background briefly in my first post.. I've been through chemotherapy, radiation, countless surgeries (seriously, I have lost count), blood transfusions, hair loss, a bottomless bottle of tablets that just keeps on throwing more medication at me and  more needles than a needle exchange programme. Long story short, I've been pretty ill. There have been days where I've felt too sick to get up, to exhausted to carry on, and then the days where I physically haven't been able to stand up. Those days are the worst. My legs don't work sometimes. That's devastating, not just to me, but to those around me who have no idea how to help. Thankfully, those days are in the minority. 

25 May 2011 I decided that I was going to change things. I had been overweight for as long as I could remember, but things had gotten out of control. I'd love to blame the medication for weight gain, but in truth it was laziness and eating too much of the wrong food. I changed my diet, opting for animal protein, vegetables, naturally occurring high quality fat sources and some fruit. I didn't even realise I had switched to a Paleo lifestyle... to me, I was just eating good quality food. Keep it simple... eat meat, vegetables, nuts and fruit. That's not so hard right? 

I was amazed at the changes I saw in myself. 

Weight loss
Seeing the scales going down, and my clothes getting looser was a huge motivator to keep going. The best thing of all... there was no paying someone to weigh me, being told what to eat or calorie counting. Eating clean and sensibly, is never going to make you fat.

Increased energy levels
I had more energy, and I wasn't eating a carb loaded diet???? But doesn't the food pyramid say I should fill my body with bread and pasta?? Guess what, the food pyramid is WRONG. The human body doesn't need all those carbohydrates we've been told (by the food industry) that we need to survive. Lower carb intake means less glucose in our body, so guess what... our body burns fat for energy. How can that be a bad thing? AND you'll have sustained energy levels throughout the day, none of this 3pm carb crashing that has you reaching for a Mars bar...

Improved mood
I touched on this before... I was seriously depressed for a while. Don't ask if it was my weight, my illness or other stuff... it was most likely a combination of things. Clean food definitely helps your mood. I think I'm a far more pleasant person to be around these days.. (I can hear some people sniggering from here... shut up!) Don't forget the insane PMS behaviour.. sugar causes a spike in insulin levels, and then a sharp drop, this affects our mood and may turn us into scary scary hormonal people that nobody wants to be around... 

Better skin
I suffered with eczema and psoriasis from my mid teens (albeit mind cases of both). I'm not kidding... I don't even own any pots of potions for either skin condition these days. If you eat crap, you're never going to look great!

And the big one for me... 

Being sick was taking over my life, and it was taking away from my life. I couldn't do things I wanted to do because of a compromised immune system...going shopping would be taking a risk. I couldn't go out with friends because I was too exhausted.

None of that actually really matters when you're faced with far bigger struggles...These are the things that nobody ever wants to hear... 

  • "Chemotherapy & radiation haven't worked as well as we hoped"
  • "Surgery didn't get all the tumour because it was too risky" 
  • "Your blood pressure is too low, it would be too dangerous to give you a general anaesthetic so we'll just give you a local anaesthetic instead"...Holy crap!!
  • "Your hair is going to fall out" 
  • "Let's try Cryotherapy on your brain"....ouchie!!!
  • "I can't guarantee you'll get the use of your leg/arm back again"..
And the list goes on... I think the worst part of all of that, was the sound of them saying my weight may have been a factor in my illness. Had I brought this on myself??? If I had, I was going to do whatever it took to fix it... 

I now realise, that whilst my weight probably didn't help, it's all too easy for doctors to focus on one factor and place blame. I focussed on that for so long, and became so determined to lose weight, that when I did, and I wasn't miraculously cured, I was disappointed. I had set myself up for a fall.. "I lost all this weight, and it didn't make a difference... I'm still not well" was the overriding thought. 

I was wrong... 

  • Eating whole foods boosted my immune system; I got far less infections and colds during my treatment than other people, and as a result, treatment didn't need to be interrupted to allow me build up my energy. 
  • While I can't deny that my energy levels dipped during treatment cycles, I was always able to get up and do a little bit of activity to maintain my energy. Sounds mad right?? I still went to the gym, and I always felt better afterwards. My mood improved, energy levels improved, and I got out of the house.  
  • My mood was so much better when I ate well, and as a result, I was far better equipped to deal with day to day struggles and keep focussed on what mattered. 
  • I've lost half my body weight... that's incredible, and I am so proud of that achievement. 
  • I'm almost done with all the horrible treatments *fingers crossed*

Did I mention that I was wrong?? 

Oh and did I mention that I've also got Multiple Sclerosis and a blood disorder that will never go away? Yeah that sucks... boo hoo etc etc 

I can't control them, I can however be as healthy and fit as possible to make sure I am better equipped to get over any of the barriers they put in my way. I have consistently ignored medical 'experts' and dieticians telling me to follow the food pyramid, and I've seen incredible results. These medical 'experts' have consistently refused to acknowledge that my nutrition and training are in any way linked to an improvement in my health. One doctor in particular told me (referring to Paleo) that "No amount of hippy fad diets will keep me from a wheelchair". You know what? Fuck him. I'm sorry, but that's as succinct as I can be when it comes to summing up my feelings towards him.   

Fitness is hugely important as a compliment to good nutrition for overall health. I'm fitter, and stronger than I could ever have imagined when I started training.... but I'll ramble more about that later, since it's become a huge part of my life. 

Long story short...stop eating crap! Give the Paleo lifestyle 30 days, and then make your own decision...

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