If you read my first post of the year (and well done if you did; it was massive!), then you’ll know that I am focusing on my physical body this year, having done tons on my brain retraining and subconscious work the last two years. My poor little physical body feels a bit left behind and needs a bit of TLC and rebuilding now.
Some of you asked me to share what I plan to do so here it is for you. This will evolve, I have no doubt and, as you’ll see, the physical work needs to be dovetailed with the work to keep my amygdala desensitised and new brain neural pathways strengthening so I can maintain my food reintroductions! It also needs to fit in around my work if I am to develop this chronic illness work the Universe seems to have chosen for me!
From a physical perspective, the aim is primarily to start encouraging better lymphatic flow, tissue and organ oxygenation, muscle flexibility and strength. I also have a feeling I am still holding trauma in the muscles and that needs to be released.
Time was when I was really strong, fit and lean, worked out several times a week with free weights and in the gym and had powerful upper body strength from all the massage and manipulation work I was doing in-clinic. Now, I feel weak, tight and congested much of the time.
I sit on my backside most of the day writing, reading and answering questions. When I was really thin, I had to sit on a few cushions as it was so bony-painful. I also had to wear lots of warm clothes as I was so cold. Now, the food is going back in and the pounds are piling back on.
This is to be expected – when the body has been in starvation mode for as long as mine has, it will happily cling onto every calorie you give it for a while until it feels it can trust you again. That’s a survival mode switch and there’s no getting around it. If you restrict your food intake, for whatever reason, the body just gets more efficient at storing and using what you do give it as fat mainly. That’s why food restriction diets don’t work.
Women are especially good at this. We are the ‘feeders’ of the babies; it’s our job to keep the species going, if you like, and we hold more fat deliberately so we can continue producing enough hormones to have and feed babies during the leaner, scarce-food times.
Anyway, I am being kind to my body and giving it some TLC and a year to get used to me eating again. Which it will.
The importance of Self-care
When we are in chronic illness mode, we tend to ‘give up’ on our physical bodies; we distrust it, don’t like it, blame it, even hate it. I know I did. That often translates into self-sabotage types of behaviour, which of course can be horrific for some souls, but it can very commonly be seen in simply avoiding looking after yourself in the ways you used to.
Part of this next healing phase for me is to restart some of those. I’ve had my hair done into a new style – braving a big proper hair salon with smells n everything – started massaging oil into my nails which are as dry, ridged and bumpy as sandpaper and today treated myself to some ‘proper’ hair products and bugger the chemicals. I used to model my hair, for goodness’ sake, and my family will testify to some of the weird and wonderful hairstyles I’ve had -including very high sticky-up ones, pink, sponged-green and even an M shaved into my hair. Oh yes, I had fun.
Someone said to me the other day that I’d had the same hair style ever since he’d known me. That is NOT good. I realised during this last decade or so of illness, I had barely even looked at my hair really, so I vowed to start with that in my self care and now I have.
I used to LOVE having long baths with a glass of wine, some music or a good book. In fact, I used to finish work, get straight in the bath and call friends or family for a chat. It was my ME time. Then, I started reacting to the bath products in the water, then to the water itself, then I had panic attacks even getting into filtered non-chlorinated water.
Recently, I have been able to start having baths again. The first few resulted in panic attacks. The next few I meditated and WHEE’d in the bath (I just wanted to say that!) to tell myself I was safe. Then I had plain baths and, today, I am up to ones with Faith in Nature bubble bath, a candle and a glass of wine (sometimes). To treat myself and celebrate my bath progress, today I used a voucher from my birthday to buy this bamboo bath rack:
Anyway, I share all that to illustrate the self-care point. This is all part of the physical body healing plan for this year. To make friends with my body again.
Daily Healing Plan
So, here is my daily plan, such as it is, in case it helps you – I’ll point out all the new stuff too as I know it gives some of you hope and you ask me to (stop press: coming back here after I have written this post, I have even astounded myself at the number of new things!!):
Wake. Hot water and lemon (new) or ginger (new) or a coffee (bean to cup)
Breakfast: Smoothie with fruit, slowly adding greens (new), banana, a date (new), almonds (new), brazil nuts (new) and sometimes cashews (new), flaxseeds (new) and pumpkin seeds (new) all blitzed up with RO water (not got tap yet) in my blender. I make enough for one and a half big glasses. I might add supplements in to it as I get to them. I currently spray magnesium oil (new) on after a shower and have started working on adding the TGF core supplement protocol (new). I also want to add some spice like turmeric and have got some fresh root ready for the purpose.
Before starting work: if it’s raining, I do a 10 or 20 minute morning, energising Qi Gong routine. If it’s fine, I walk up and down the road, which involves two steep hills and a glorious view of the sea, more than enough to set you up for the day! If I’m having a crap, poorly day, meditation for 20 minutes. If I have a migraine, I can’t meditate; I lie down and read, watch Homes under the Hammer or sleep, depending on how bad it is!
Mid-morning: drink the other glass of smoothie. I am perpetually hungry – I assume to do with the insulin control loss of PCOS and the gluten related disorder causing malabsorption. I need to eat very frequently or I will fall over. Or kill P. If I’m really starving, I need more fat so I might add half an avocado and re-blitz.
More work til lunch.
Lunch varies. Usually omelette or egg-based (new) or left overs from the night before. Often fresh mackerel or fish from the harbour. I am trying to get back to salad. I went off it for a long while because of my mouth pain. You’d think chewing leaves would be easy, right? Nope. The grinding motion was really painful a lot of the time so I just stopped and ate soft, non-grindy foods instead – loads of cooked root veg and fish mainly. Even things like spinach (grindy) or broccoli (couldn’t bite through it unless overcooked which I hated) had to be avoided because of the mouth pain. It might be a slice of roast beef now too (new). I’d love to get soups or casseroles or (please) curries in and I’m working on that.
I might have an apple (new) or a pear (new) to finish my lunch with something sweet.
After lunch is my most vulnerable time of the day. I have learned to just rest if I can. I often meditate for 20 minutes and then do some personal bits and bobs such as cooking, ordering stuff, putting the washing on, looking stuff up etc.
I am ALWAYS hungry about half an hour after I have eaten lunch. I haven’t worked this one out. Adrenal crash maybe from the exertion of digestion or gastric dumping syndrome I’ve had suggested to me, but haven’t worked on yet (part of this year!). It doesn’t matter what I’ve eaten; it always happens.
I’ve tried everything. Nothing works like 2-3 squares of really dark chocolate (new). Maybe it is a magnesium need. (I just thought that as I wrote it as a craving for chocolate is often a magnesium need). Anyhow, that’s what I do. When I couldn’t have the chocolate, it was a nightmare; I’d feel like I was going to collapse to be truthful. I recall P had to have the chocolate ready for me to pop out of a clinic appointment with a patient and give it to me as soon as he saw my pale face run into reception lol. Poor P. When I couldn’t have the chocolate – or a magnesium spray or any supplements – my saviour: plaintain crisps came to the rescue. I somehow needed fat and the salt which is what makes me feel it is to do with my adrenals. I swear those crisps stopped me losing even more weight. I still have some occasionally in the afternoon.
Back to work. I am trying a cup of tea here (new). I have so far had Golden Monkey black tea – very gentle. I have several new ones to try and started with hibiscus flowers today, bright red colour and bursting with Vitamin C. Focusing on anti-histamine and nourishing types such as lotus root, moringa and olive leaf as well as my faves like spearmint and licorice.
In this new year, after lunch and my break, I will be focusing on writing the Healing Plan and doing the chronic illness development work. That involves reading, listening, watching stuff and writing mostly. This year, part of my plan is to build up to going for a longer walk three times a week and listen to a training podcast. I have got several series saved up especially for this that I’m really looking forward to.
Of course, this has physical body benefits in terms of the walking, the fresh sea air and resting my eyes on the sheer beauty of where I am lucky enough to live. This increases lymphatic flow, oxygenation and muscle strength as well as overall cardio fitness. Listening to the podcasts is training, but it is also part of my neuroplasticity work to keep strengthening those new neural pathways that healing is not only possible, nor even probable; it is a question of time and putting the effort in. Listening to others’ stories and understanding how things went wrong for me – and many chronic illness sufferers – and how to turn it around is a big part of the therapy.
Sometimes, of course, it is best to use the walk as ‘movement meditation’ and just concentrate on what you’re seeing around you. It’s a balance and intuitive.
Come back in from walk. Check for any urgent emails, finish off anything needed. Once I’ve finished emails, if I’ve not done a walk, I will usually do a 10 or 20 minute evening Qi Gong routine to release stress. There are shaking exercises in this that I find really work for me; I feel miles more relaxed in the evening if I’ve done them.
Interestingly, so-called trauma release exercises usually involve muscle ‘shaking’ so I am starting with the Qi Gong routines, but may upgrade to TRE or psoas release exercises later on when I feel ready. These are specific methods of releasing stored trauma and stress from the body tissues. I have tried them but they are too strong for me currently. If I feel rubbish, I will have a bath or do some more meditation.
Go and have some tea. Nowadays, that could be fish or seafood, egg (new) or meat (new) with courgetti pasta (new), mini baked, jacket or boiled potatoes (boiled in tap water!)(new), mayonnaise (new) or tomatoes (new), mushrooms, cucumber (new) or root veg with greens such as spinach, broccoli or cabbage mostly. I might have a glass of wine (new) rarely if I feel like one – usually if I have a bath, see above!
I might then follow that later on when I’m watching the telly with a couple of squares of chocolate (new) or a portion of my current fave: a nut fruit crumble made using apples (new) and plums (new), ground pecans (new) and almonds (new) with either dates (new), coconut sugar (new) or honey (new) and a little grapeseed oil (new).
So, that’s the ideal and what I can do food and energy-wise so far. It doesn’t always work out like that, of course, for various reasons, mainly if I feel rubbish or have got loads of work on, but that’s what I am now aiming for most days.
And that’s a heck of a lot better than life has been I can tell you!
As I have said many times, you need to have a plan, you need to know what you’re aiming at and you need to put the work in to get better. This is not as simple as taking a pill, although if that’s all you can do for now, that is fine. Like me, maybe you can start with lying-down meditation and WHEE and, just by doing that, you will start to turn yourself around and point yourself in the right direction for wellness.
For me: I am determined to keep all the ‘body balls’ as I think of them in the air. I need to keep the emotional trauma work going with the hypnotherapy, WHEE, CBT etc, maintain the mental, cognitive neuroplasticity work to strengthen those neural pathways, continue my ‘spiritual’ work with the meditation and connection to the Universe (the most weird and hardest for me to accept, but ultimately, the most change has come from this) and now add in the physical work to build nutrient levels and optimum physical functioning. Ultimately, this will also build into better social connections and stepping back out into the world as a fully-well person.
Just a wee bit to do there then – I swear this getting better lark is a full-time job!
This year, peeps – are you coming with me???