Hello my name is Nikki and I’m a much healthier person than I was this time last year.
Yes, I may have indulged in one too many glasses of champers over the past few days but I’ve done so in the knowledge that I think I’ve finally come up with a health formula that works for me.
It’s a formula I needed to find fast when in July I was offered a book contract with Hachette. I knew if I were to keep on track with the book, turn up here on the blog and help my family through a very busy second half of 2013 that I had to be at the top of my health game.
I’ve had more than a few requests over the past few months to share my health story so here goes.
I’m sharing – not from a position that I think this is something that will work for you – but more from a position that if you’re not happy with your own health then maybe the New Year is a time to work out a formula that works for you.
The back story
If you’re a regular here you will know that I live with the auto-immune condition, Hashimotos. I have an under-active thyroid that is treated by medication – Thyroxine and Tetroxine. I’m resistant to Thyroxine so need to take both.
I have blood tests twice a year to make sure my TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels are correct but that’s the extent of what the world of medicine can help me with.
It’s up to me to look after my immune system the best I can. And I’ve made a number of lifestyle decisions with the help of a naturopath to do that. The biggest decision was removing gluten from my diet. Within three weeks it had made a difference and I’ve never looked back.
I SHOULD drop alcohol as well. Instead I limit it and have a couple of periods throughout the year where I abstain for a least a month. This is the compromise I make with myself.
I’ve got better at recognising when I’m having a thyroid-y day and respecting it. Laying low, catching up with a nana nap or just taking some time out for myself.
I found out the hard way that hard core, vomit-inducing workouts not only make me put on weight but also make me physically ill because of the stress they place on my immune system.
Managing my weight with Hashimotos is not a fun exercise. It is very easy for me to put on weight and it is very difficult for me to shift it. It’s bloody frustrating but it is what it is.
Early July I got the mother of all flus. You know the kind? The once-of-year kind that tells you that something needs to change about your health. That was all I needed to make a health pact with myself.
The scales in our bathroom needed their batteries changing. I took this as a sign and didn’t change them.
I wanted this to be about how I FELT. I didn’t want how I felt to be determined by the number on the scales.
I know for many this would not be a motivator but for me (because of my condition), even when I’m sticking to the most strict eating and exercise routine, I can go days and weeks without shifting a gram.
It becomes de-motivating and depressing.
I’ve felt neither of those feels over the past five months.
What I did
(yes, I could really do with upgrading my dumb bells!)
1. Stuck to the HCG protocol for the first five weeks. This is something I did twice in 2012. It is HARD. For me, it’s like re-booting my metabolic computer … well as much as it can be re-booted when thanks to Hashimoto’s it’s more like a 1985 Commodore 64 than the iMac sitting on my desk. I didn’t drink during this time – and like previous times I’ve done this, my energy levels were through the roof. You can find out more about HCG through the Changing Habits site. I’ll probably do this again early in 2014.
2. Spent the weekend at Gwinganna. I was fortunate to return to Gwinganna, so I timed my coming off the HCG for that weekend. It was a weekend for ME. A weekend to get back my motivation to exercise and to calm the mind before the huge writing task ahead. One of the best takeaways from the weekend for me was learning the “Five Essentials” – five strengthening exercises I could do at home in under 20 minutes. The Five Essentials are two sets of 16 squats, push-ups, lunges, standing rows (using dumb bells) and one minute planks.
3. Returned to yoga. It had been two – maybe three – years between me and a downward dog. An email from my former yoga teacher landed in my inbox at just the right time. I bought a 10-session pass and signed up there and then. I committed to attending the beginners’ class every Thursday morning after the school drop-off. I feel stronger – physically and mentally – for making that commitment. I’ve already signed up for a yoga studio in Brisbane for 2014 so that I keep it up.
4. Created an exercise schedule that worked for me. Being a commuters’ wife does not make it easy to make the time to regularly exercise. I had to commit to getting up at 5.30am each morning (except for yoga mornings!) and hitting the pavement for a walk to the beach and back before Mr SY jumped in his car to travel to Brisbane. On one or two mornings I’d do the Five Essentials. Importantly, this was a routine that I could implement and stick to without compromising my health. I haven’t been sick at all.
5. Embraced the 5:2 way of eating. I bought this book after hearing about lots of people embracing the concept of intermittent fasting. It made enough sense to me to give it a go. It won’t be for everyone – two days a week you have only two small meals – but for me it works. I usually do a Monday and Wednesday or Monday and Thursday, switching days if there is an occasion or event to attend. The rest of the week I continue with our normal healthy cooking and eating at home. We have long embraced whole foods over processed as part of our regular diet but these two books below – Don’t Quit Sugar and Clean Living – have provided fresh inspiration. Also, discovering and regularly ordering gluten-free protein bread from the Whole Meal Cafe has meant that I’ve always felt that I’ve got an easy breakfast option without resorting to regular GF breads that are mostly just refined sugar and additives.
How I feel now
The thyroid-y days are still there but they’re usually the result of my own misbehaviour. A girl’s got to have fun, hasn’t she?
I love that I love getting up to either walk, do my strengthening program or go to yoga. I love that I really miss it should work or life get in the way of a day’s planned activity.
I love that without actively setting out to quit sugar I’ve actually lost the craving for it. I may think I want something sweet, then I have something sweet but find after a mouthful that I really don’t need any more. That it’s too much.
I love that my clothes fit me comfortably.
I love that this is something I plan to keep up for 2014 … because I know I can.
Tell me about your health formula? Any plans to change it or up the ante in 2014?
NB. It’s important that you talk to a health professional before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise routine. I’m not a professional – I’m just sharing my story.