Gut instinct

Posted August 10th, 2010 by Penny Wise

Aug 10, 2010

Today's blog is a bit of a journey of self discovery so feel free to click the heck out of here if you don't want me to get all deep and meaningful on you! I have a bit of a confession to make. Don't worry, I haven't reverted back to being a Sad Sally or anything, quite the opposite in fact! It's just that for quite some time now I haven't really been looking after myself as well as I should. I think it's a mum thing. I'm not trying to sound all saintly or anything but you know how it is. You spend the whole time looking after everyone else and making sure the rest of the family is tickety boo but somehow you don't quite get around to doing the same for yourself. So here goes:

Confession 1 - I haven't been eating properly. Which is really daft and should technically be impossible for me NOT to eat properly with the abundance of glorious fresh, healthy food we have available but somehow I still manage to stuff up. I love making my kids delicious hearty breakfasts to set them up for a busy day of school or sport but when it comes to my breakfast I tend to grab whatever and stuff it in my mouth standing up while doing a dozen other things. Same when it comes to lunch. I just grab whatever's handy or a lot of the time I don't stop for lunch at all. Consequently when the time comes to cook dinner I'm absolutely ravenous and will fill my face with absolutely anything from the pantry so that I don't faint before the evening meal. I pride myself on making wonderful dinners and by the time I have dinner I'm already full but eat a huge dinner anyway! I'm also quite an emotional eater and if I'm having a bad day (or even a good day!) I'll often think 'Stuff it! I DESERVE a caramel slice/burger/pie!' and wolf it down. Of course the stupid part is that I don't really enjoy it because it's laden with guilt, both for wasting my money and filling myself with fifty zillion calories.

Confession 2 - I don't drink enough (make that ANY) water. Noel says 'how can anybody not like water? It doesn't taste of anything!' Well I'm sorry but I don't like the taste of water and never have. I don't drink any hot drinks and have never had a cup of tea or coffee in my life. What I DO like, much to my detriment, is fizzy drinks. In particular Coke Zero. Coke has been an addiction of mine for years. I remember even as a shoe shop assistant in my teens I could get through as many as six cans of Coke in a single Saturday shift. Even after the kids were born it was nothing for me to drink a two-litre bottle of the brown stuff in a day. Eventually I switched from Coke to Diet Coke and lost 4kg in a week. When Coke Zero was released I embraced its 'Zero Sugar' tag and have been guzzling the stuff ever since. Until very recently I bought it in cans in bulk from the supermarket, pleased with myself that it is so much cheaper to buy this way. My wonderful savings gave me all the go-ahead I needed to drink as many cans as I liked. Where other people get up in the morning and put the kettle on for a nice cuppa, I'd be cracking open my first can of Coke at 7am and would have one on the go all day. I also never left the house without a can of Coke Zero and felt very virtuous that I didn't have to buy any drinks when out and about. Good idea in theory!

Confession 3 - I drink too much wine. Of course the real problem isn't me; it's simply that my wine glasses are too big. I never realised just how big they were until one day recently I went to put a bottle in the recycling and saw written on the label in miniscule writing 'contains approximately 7 standard drinks'. There were SEVEN drinks in that bottle? You're kidding! So how come I only got three-and-a-half glasses out of it?! Suddenly all did not sit well with my nightly tipple. Sure, I knew that the recommended daily alcohol intake for women was two standard drinks, but I was only having three - wasn't I? Apparently not. In fact when I worked out how much I was actually having compared to the amount I was supposed to have I almost fainted.

Something had to be done! Just not today... so on I went, telling myself as I had done for years 'Tomorrow is the day! Tomorrow I'll be good'. Fortunately fate has a habit of stepping in sometimes and this happened to me two weeks ago. Out of the blue I started to get dreadful pains down low in my bladder, in fact my whole abdomen swelled up. For almost ten days I didn't know where to put myself. I couldn't get comfortable, couldn't sleep and could hardly walk. Noel had to do almost everything for me while I dragged myself around. Whilst I wasn't exactly ill, I was in a lot of pain and felt that something was horribly wrong. I also instinctively felt that it was self inflicted. This was a frightening thought. What damage had my unhealthy eating and drinking done to my body? I didn't know what was wrong, I couldn't see inside myself but was imagining all sorts of nasties from cirrhosis of the liver to bladder cancer. I had had bladder infections before years ago but this wasn't the same sort of thing; it didn't hurt to go to the toilet but my bladder felt constantly full to bursting. Nothing would take the pain away and I looked as though I was pregnant. It didn't help that I had to take to wearing stretchy tights and floaty dresses as I couldn't bear wearing any clothes that put pressure on my middle. As the days went on, the more desperate I became.

I went to the doctor who suggested I should stop drinking Coke Zero straight away and went on to tell me of the cases he had seen of people who had become ill from drinking it. In some cases, people even put on weight from drinking it! He advised me to drink as much water as possible and gave me a strong course of antibiotics but even after I finished the course it made no difference. In fact I was getting worse and I don't mind admitting I was bloody frightened. 'Please help me get better!' I begged the powers that be. 'Just let me get better and I promise I'll look after myself!' I had tried several homeopathic remedies but wasn't confident I had picked the right ones as my symptoms didn't really match the usual ones for a bladder infection. In the end I called my local homeopath, Janis Beet. She was lovely and straight away when I told her of my symptoms she said 'Sepia! Take three to four doses of Sepia for the next four days. That should do it'. Thank goodness for my Homeopathic First Aid Kit! I quickly popped a couple of pilules in my mouth and I'm not kidding, within ten minutes I felt better. By the next morning I was 90% better and I continued to improve with each dose.

I honestly don't know what I would have done without it. One thing was for sure, I was incredibly relieved to have my health back and vowed never to take it for granted again. Since then I have not had so much as a mouthful of fizzy drink and I haven't touched a drop of wine. I don't miss it and I don't plan to go back to it, my health is far too precious. To think I put it in jeopardy like that makes me feel really stupid but I'm sharing my experience because I know I'm not the only one who treats their body this way, thinking that they are indestructible and it won't affect them.

I have also made significant dietary changes. I stopped eating meat a while back but three years ago when Liam was diagnosed as wheat and gluten intolerant, Ali and I were also diagnosed as intolerant but on a much lesser scale. While I made sure Liam's every dietary need was catered for I never bothered doing the same about mine, until I caught up with a friend a couple of weeks ago. She had been gluten free for a year and looked fantastic. I was immediately inspired to try it out! I have cut wheat and gluten out of my diet as much as possible and can't believe the difference already. I feel amazing! The good thing is, cutting out wheat and gluten automatically eliminates a lot of the bad foods I was previously eating on the run. My food choices are naturally healthier. I snack more because I get hungrier without the bulky foods glueing up my system but again they are healthy choices and my meals are all smaller. Wow - no meat, no wheat, no Coke, no alcohol - next thing you know I'll be polishing my halo!

It goes without saying I'm saving stacks of money by giving up all my bad habits. But you know the biggest thing I have learned from all this? It's to stop worrying about my weight and let my new healthy lifestyle take care of things for a while. Before all this I was busting a gut, doing an hour's Zumba five days a week and training for a half marathon (yeah I know, a really sensible goal for someone with CFS!) and why? Because I was worried about my weight. Because I was getting heavier and felt and looked fat. The thing was, I was my own worst enemy all along. My erratic, fat laden diet was doing me no favours and I was drinking almost the equivalent of a packet of chocolate biscuits every night! I exercised to burn off the guilt. It's a wonderful feeling now to end each day thinking 'Yay! Another alcohol free day! I drank heaps of water! I didn't eat anything stupid!' It's wonderful to end each day guilt free, knowing I've done the best I can do for myself. And with a healthy diet, plenty of water and my beloved Zumba (don't get me started, that's a whole other blog!), I no longer have a reason to feel guilty and beat myself up. I no longer have to run 5km to make myself feel 'good enough'. I already feel good on the inside and am confident that before too long I'll be looking good on the outside too. Watch this space!

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