Intermittent Fasting-14 months and 3 weeks later

I knew within a month of starting that I would not be going back to the way the things used to be. So here I am, almost 15 months done an dusted and I have no regrets. I am constantly learning about my body and how it reacts to food, stress, sleeping patterns and exercise. I am fascinated! So what have I learnt:

Food and exercise

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As a person living with diabetes I definitely have to control my carb consumption. No surprises there. The biggest no-no has been baked goods although I still treat myself from time to time. I only live once after all. What lockdown has taught me is that the 8 hour eating window is to be treated with respect at all times. My home is pretty small. I found myself stuck at my desk in back-to-back Teams meetings every day and the only time I moved away from it was to go to the bathroom or to get something to snack on. Most of those snacks were pretty unhealthy too. My son also used the time at home to teach himself to cook so he kept me supplied with tasty goodies. Naturally, I gained 4 of the 6kgs I had lost in the first 3 months of fasting and I found that the odd trip to the mall left me exhausted. My blood glucose readings were slowly creeping up again as well. I needed to make some changes. I started in October by ensuring that there was at least a 2 hr gap between anything that I ate within the 8 hr window, which helped stop the constant snacking. I began working out with a personal trainer 3 times a week at the beginning of November. By the end of November I could see that a lot of the inflammation that I was seeing in my ankles had disappeared and I just felt more energised! My blood glucose average also started dropping so I knew I was on the right track. The only thing that hasn’t changed is my weight. It has see-sawed within a 1kg range since November and I have no idea why. If you do know please share the reason in the comments. I have lost a few (much needed) centimetres around my tummy and waist thankfully but just a few. One thing I must add about exercise is that walking makes a difference. On the days after I get in 10 000 steps, I see a difference in my blood glucose levels. Walking is definitely something I need to do more of.

The power of sleep and the devastating effect of stress

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My exercise sessions are done at home via Zoom as my personal trainer is in Johannesburg and I live in Durban. I chose to schedule them during my lunch hour so that I least got the circulation going during the course of the day. My friend had joined me half way through November and in December, she needed earlier sessions as she was travelling and didn’t want to miss out. This is where the lesson kicked in for me. I am an owl. She is a lark and so is my personal trainer. Getting up to exercise at 6am was the worst kind of torture for me. The two of them were positively buzzing at that hour of the morning. Initially I was fine with it as it meant I got it out of the way early and I started the day feeling pretty good. I made the mistake of continuing with 6am sessions during my leave in January. Worst mistake ever! I was miserable! My blood sugar levels started rising in the morning and by the time I went back to work, I felt like I hadn’t had any leave at all. We immediately went back to 12pm sessions. To make matters worse, I hit the ground running at the end of my leave. I was exhausted by the end of my 2nd week being back at work. I am not a sickly person. Suddenly I was getting migraines every weekend. (I haven’t had a migraine for years) Then my face became swollen on one side. I had to change my eating patterns for that week so that I could take the medication in the morning and at night. Within about 3 days the head fuzz was back. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. As soon as I started fasting again, the head fuzz disappeared. What a relief! That was not the end though. About a week later, a shingles rash appeared. It has taken 4 weeks for all the scabs to fall off! Fortunately I did not feel the pain that everyone talks about and the itching was only unbearable (at 3am!) in the last week. Needless to say, these days I rest more and I am feeling way better. One of the mornings last week I had my lowest reading ever in the morning. It was below 6. I was so excited! I am making progress! Slowly but surely I will get off my meds. The lesson here though is to work within your natural biorhythms, and set boundaries for yourself. I was so busy trying accommodate everyone’s needs that I forgot to look after myself.

On the plus side, I did end the year lighter than I started it. My HBA1c levels dropped and were in a good place and, my optician was very impressed that my eye health was still very good despite the diabetes. All of this serves as excellent motivation to keep on working on my health.

Let me know how your journey is going. Any tips and tricks to help me on mine are welcome too.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to wear your mask and sanitise your hands (often) when out in public. Stay safe.

Book Review: 3 books in 4 days-Diet, Surrender and Inspiration

Wow, 3 books in 4 days and I have 2 others open😱. I am on a role! 😂 In all honestly, each book had me captivated, entertained and a little wiser. Thought I would share a review of each while it is all still fresh in my mind. Besides, with covid infection rates rising, home and reading is the safest place to be right now.

Image created on PS Express

1. The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s perfection by Michael A. Singer

How does a man go from just wanting to be on his own in a cabin in the woods to being a CEO of a multi-million dollar company (while still living in a cabin in the same woods)? He surrenders to life’s flow, that’s how. If you think back to the times when you just followed your instincts and things just fell into place and everything turned out way better than you could have ever expected, that’s surrendering and following life’s flow. Michael Singer discovered his ego voice (my words not his) by chance one day and became obsessed with trying to silence it so he could enjoy inner peace. The book details how this obsession led him on a journey that he could never have foreseen. It teaches us the power of faith in a higher power/life’s flow and how important it is to get out of your own way and not overthink things. Accept that everything and everyone is in your life for a reason and that if you are focussed on the right things, the right people, experiences and even money will appear just as you need it. It’s a very powerful story.

2. A Recipe for Miracles by Jeanne Danielle Brooks

I was so inspired by this book. This is the founder story of Wicked Donuts, a hand crafted gourmet donut brand that is available in Durban, South Africa. The author takes you on the roller coaster ride that was her life until she found her calling. My heart broke for her, then I got excited for her and next thing you know I was punching the air in sheer joy. If you find yourself in a space where you feel like nothing ever works out for you and you don’t know what your next step forward is, pick up this book and let the author inspire you with her story. The last 20% of the book is filled with tips and tricks for budding entrepreneurs which the author learnt along the way. I am sure that she and her brand will only go from strength to strength in the future.

3. The New Keto Friendly South Beach Diet: Rev Your Metabolism and Improve Your Health with The Latest Science of Weight Loss by Arthur Agston, M.D.

I remember buying the original book when low carb diets became the in the thing back in the day but I didn’t follow it at all. I don’t even think I got very far into the book. This time round, I didn’t put it down until I was done. This is probably because I am far more invested in my health now than I was back then. (Oh how wish I was still that weight. That was about 30kg ago🙈🤪) The science is so easily explained that each time you put an item of food in your mouth, you are making an informed choice. There is no space for excuses. I bought it because it was only $2 on the Hay House Sale and because I knew I needed to be more serious about my nutrition and I was looking for a ready made eating plan that I could just start using. I find creating one for myself overwhelming so I end up procrastinating and, next thing you know I am a few kg’s heavier instead of lighter because my eating goes off on a tangent. 🤦🏽‍♀️ I got way more than I was expecting for my $2.29/R34.66. I received an invaluable education in nutritional science and the eating plan I was hoping for. I cannot begin to detail the where, why’s and how I have diabetes today but I am grateful to finally have a better understating of where I went wrong and how I got here. The authors aim is really to help you prevent diabetes but the science was very relevant to me as well. Science has come a long way in a very short space of time in understanding how we ended up overweight and pre-diabetic/diabetic and how to turn the tide. If you are looking for links to scientific papers to back him up, you will be disappointed but hey, he even references Dr Tim Noakes who essentially woke South Africa to the benefits of the low carb Lifestyle and Banting. Dr Tom Noakes does science! He also incorporates Intermittent Fasting into his recommendations so he ticked all my boxes.

Each of this books happened to catch my attention at just the right time and the message in each was just what I needed to hear at this moment in my life. I am so excited about 2021 because I feel better equipped by them to achieve the goals I have set for myself. I could have ignored them and told myself I have enough books to last me a good few years (which I do) and I don’t need more but they tugged at me so I followed my instincts and purchased and read them anyway and I am really glad that I did.

I hope you enjoy these books and find them as enlightening as I did. All are available on Amazon right now. 50% of the profit from A recipe for Miracles will be donated to Gift of the Givers who do amazing work throughout the country and the world.

Stay Safe! Happy Reading!

Intermittent fasting – 12 weeks in

Four days into lockdown in South Africa but as importantly… 12 weeks of Intermittent Fasting done and dusted! I am so excited to have made it this far and even more excited at the results that I am now seeing. Guys, this lifestyle change is worth considering! Don’t believe me? Read on…

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The Benefits

Where shall I start…ok, lets start with the one benefit that everyone wants to know about…the weight loss. Yes it is happening and not very fast at all but the I have lost approximately 6kg’s thus far. I seem to have stagnated at this point on the scale or I just need a new scale. (It’s been very inconsistent lately.) I doesn’t really phase me though. What does excite me is that I have lost the weight and I have dropped 2 dress sizes! Yes you read that right! ok, lets call it a dress size and a half because I would hover between and 18 and a 20 and now I fit back into a 16!!! How times change…the first time I ever bought a size 16, I was mortified at how fat I had gotten and now I am thrilled to be wearing that size.

My energy levels are definitely up. I have started running up my stairs now that we are in lockdown and it feels good. I definitely need to exercise more to get my fitness levels going . I have been working from home for 2 weeks now and I suspect that the lack of movement around the office, which is where I would normally get 5000+ steps in, is also slowing down my weight loss. My head is still clear as well which is brilliant. I never want to go back to that foggy head feeling again.

Lastly, and most importantly, I have seen a reduction in my blood glucose levels. I was so excited by today’s reading in particular. I had my lowest reading this morning since 2016 and I was shocked to have my lowest readings after 2 helpings of dessert this evening. I know I shouldn’t have but I couldn’t help myself, my son had made the must delicious apple cake which we had with cream. Besides I had my morning reading to celebrate. 😉 The reading was almost normal. My doctor is going to be pleasantly surprised when I tell him.

The secret?

I am religious about fasting for a minimum of 16 hours every day. I usually start eating at around 11:30 am or 12 am and have my last meal by 7 pm at the latest. I am not as good about watching what I eat but I try not to snack during my eating period and I stick to black coffee these days. I do need to increase my water intake again as well. i have slackened off on that. I don’t really miss eating during that fasting period and, even when I feel hungry, I don’t stress about it because I know that those pangs will subside as quickly as they rose up whether I drink something or not. The real secret is to commit to making the change and to always remember why you made that commitment in the first place. What is that benefit, that life changing benefit, that you are committed to achieving? That is what will make you keep your commitment to yourself. As Simon Sinek says; “Start with Why”. Here’s the other thing to remember, you will only be committed to the change when you are ready to make it. You will know when is that time for you. For me, I have a sense of “it’s now or never” and then I know that it’s time to make the change, I commit to it, the universe sends me who and what I need and then it is a done deal and there is no turning back. I do my part and God does the rest. I don’t believe He is done with me yet! What’s your “commitment” moment?

I hope you are all staying at home and keeping yourselves and your families safe. Let’s do our part to #flattenthecurve

Until next time…#staysafe

January was a great month!

Can you believe that January is finally over! While it was definitely a long month, it was a great month for me (and I hope for you too). I started and maintained Intermittent Fasting in an effort to get this diabetes into remission and, hopefully, I will lose major weight along the way. I have also started being more disciplined and focussed on my goals and desires.

a greek salad
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Intermittent fasting…an update

My routine

It’s almost one month since I started. I started strong and expected a wobble when I got back to work halfway through the month. I must admit that I do miss breakfast. Much like smoking, I miss the ritual of it and not the actual eating of food. It was also something I did with my son in the morning and I could see that was he was getting a bit lonely in the mornings so now I make sure I have my coffee while he is eating so that he doesn’t eat alone. I am also up earlier during the week because of work so I feel hungrier sooner than I did when I was on leave. I usually end my fast at 12 and start between 6 and 7pm. I try not to eat after 7pm if I can avoid it. On those days when the hunger pangs are too great to bear and not even coffee or water is keeping them at bay, I eat at 11am. I just make sure that I have my last meal no later than 6pm. Snacking is still my challenge over weekends. During the week I have the meals and almost never snack in between.

The benefits thus far

So far so good. I think my body is starting to heal but we will have to have my doctor check that in July when I have my check-up. I am thrilled that my blood glucose levels have a lower average through the day. This week I saw my lowest morning readings in about 2 years. They still need to drop further so that I can stop my medication but that will take time and this is a war I will win. I have to admit, every time I am tempted to snack often, I just remind myself of the goal and I pick up a glass of water instead. They say that you have to have a clear purpose to give you the best chance at succeeding at a goal. Beating diabetes will not only benefit me but my son in the long run and so far. this is the main reason I have been able to stay on track. The other reason is the dream of walking into a clothing store and just picking stuff up off the rack that I know I will look good in. Putting on weight completely threw for a loop when it came to clothes shopping. Suddenly all my favourite styles and cuts just looked wrong on me. I can’t wait to go back to buying my favourite clothes again. As of this morning, I am 2.9kg lighter (Whoop whoop!) so the weight loss dream is still alive. I am most excited about my lower blood glucose levels though. My head is still clearer than it used to be. The inflammation is largely gone but as I mentioned in my last post, it still pops in if I eat too many carbs. I also have more energy. Not vast amounts but I have noticed that I am not as tired at the end of the day on the most days which is great. I hated being tired more often than not.

So what have I been eating????

In all honestly, I haven’t made too many drastic changes to my diet. I have cut out fried chips but will steal 2 or 3 from Alex when he has so as not to feel deprived. He doesn’t bother getting upset anymore and now just offers them to me…lol. I try to keep fast food down to twice a week and and when I do have it, I make sure I am done eating by 6pm. I just feel less guilty about it if I eat it early for some reason. My dinners tend to be a protein plus veggies or a salad. I try to keep carbs to the barest minimum. My lunches are similar. I will have a chicken wrap most often at work for lunch. It keeps me full for the rest of the day and my blood glucose levels are pretty good after 2 hours. My aim is to avoid spikes in my blood glucose levels after meals. I stay away from fruit as a general rule (I was never a fan anyway so this is not hard for me) and eggs are my saving grace when I don’t know what else to eat. A boiled egg salad always hits the spot and the taste buds are always happy with it as well. What changes did you make when you started IF?

Exercising Greater focus

The one thing I have decided to start up again, although I can’t possibly tell you why I stopped, is meditating. I suck at it but I feel good about trying to do it anyway. My brain is all over the place! I accidentally bought the Oprah and Deepak 21-day meditation entitled “The Energy of Attraction” almost 2 years ago. I was mortified as it was not cheap but I kept it as I figured it had a message I needed to hear. Listening to it now, with the last 18 months worth of life experience behind me, has helped me see things differently. By the way, the free 21-day meditation on health starts on the 3rd so go and sign up if you are interested. There is a link on my facebook page. (Lawd please don’t make me make the same mistake again cos my credit card cannot take the pressure!)

candle
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Other tips and tricks that are helping me stay focussed on my various goals

  • I have my vision board on my bedroom wall and on my phone. Alex is most fascinated by it and keeps asking why I this or that included. He says I believe in “a lot of things that most people don’t”. It used to bother him but he is starting to see the benefits in his own life so he is slowly coming around.
  • I set reminders on my phone with positive messages and affirmations to keep me focussed on what I want so that I don’t drift off into zeroing in on the things that I don’t want. It is just way to easy for me to get upset about the things around me that I don’t want instead of focussing on where my vision is. As Steve Harvey says” You simply cannot drive forward if you’re focussed on what’s happening in the rear view mirror.”
  • A lot of the non-fiction books I read are on my kindle app on my phone. I highlight the passages that resonate with me so that I can easily go back to them when I feel like I am drifting off course.
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Of course I have made all these changes with my the intention of changing my inner word so that my outer world will change. How long it will take for the outward changes to show will probably depend on the consistent implementation of those inner changes and how big my dreams are. I don’t expect to be a billionnaire overnight but it is not impossible to be one 15-20 years from now. The changes required to make it happen have to happen now as an example. I am so excited anyway because I know in my heart that everything I have ever prayed for and will still pray for in the future is on it’s way to me. Watch this space! It’s gonna be a “God’s gone and done it again” decade!

Lastly, welcome February, the month of Love 🙂 I can’t wait to see what miracles you bring me. Of course love is definitely welcome and a lot of spoiling. 😜 Hope you all get to celebrate love with someone special to you this month.

Bye for now.

Intermittent fasting – Day 7

Day 7 of my new reality. Let me tell you, it’s a not a bad reality by any means. While I had no doubt that I was going to make this work when I started on Monday, I didn’t expect it to feel so easy and so natural. I really didn’t expect to enjoy it so much either. I have also learnt a bit thus far.

Eating all the time is stressful

Do you realise how much time you spend thinking of food when you are eating all the time? Mornings are a breeze because I only break my fast after 11am. Then I generally eat again between 5 and 6 pm and that is it. What a pleasure! Essentially I fast for a minimum of 16hrs and a max of 18. In between I drink ice water or black coffee. I am so thrilled that my response when asked “how do you take your coffee?” is now: “Black. No sugar.” Makes me feel hard core and like I am in a movie! Hahaha! I used to snack a lot in the afternoons and I do still get the urge. Water and coffee are my go to’s when the urge strikes. I think that if I wasn’t allowed coffee, I would never have coped. It’s my drug of choice, my crutch, my friend. It keeps me sane. Back when I was still a stick figure, I used to happily live on coffee and toast for most of the day and then have a decent meal for supper. So yes, at least I still get to drink coffee.

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I feel great (mostly)!

My head feels very clear. I haven’t reduced the carbs at each meal as much as I had planned as yet but perhaps, since I am taking in less overall over the course of the day, it has an impact. I wonder if, now that my body is spending less energy digesting food, there is more for my brain to use? I have also being doing better than normal on my scrabble games. (Yay!) It could also just be that I am rested since I am still on leave. Who knows. Time will tell I guess. I have been crabby though and this is not usually a crabby week for me from a hormonal perspective. (I have very distinct periods in my cycle where I am grouchy AF so I try to stay in my corner on those days). I am really hoping this is just a minor adjustment period I am going through.

I see a reduction in inflammation

My face is often quite puffy and it drives me insane. I had noticed a while ago that it is related to the amount of carbs I eat. Clearly just the reduction from removing a meal is enough to make a visible difference to the puffiness. This thrills me to no end. 😁 I also see an 800g loss on the scale which I am very happy with so so far so good! (doing the dance of joy…whoop whoop) Even my blood sugar levels are looking pretty decent over the course of the day. I think once I am fully low carb than the readings will be pretty steady all the time. 🤞

All in all this new reality has been a pleasant surprise. This is great because it means it will be that much easier to stick to. As I mentioned in a previous post, back in the day I ate to live and I did not live to eat and it feels good to go back to living that way. It feels right for me. I would definitely recommend giving it a chance if your doc says it’s ok for you to try. My bestie is also doing it so now I have 2 buddies to keep me motivated.

Let me know if you got a chance to read the book and if you have started intermittent fasting as well and you are finding it. Thanks for reading.

Losing weight is harder than giving up smoking

Disagree with me if you must but I promise you I will take up smoking again if it meant losing the weight and then giving it up again.

Yip.  This is coming from a person who loooooved smoking.  My cigarettes were my companion.  They gave me something to do with my hands when I was nervous or angry.  They kept me sane.  I enjoyed my smoking rituals… a cigarette with coffee and my thoughts before the day began and a cigarette after a meal as examples.   I loved smoking. It was a part of me.  When my son came along, it became apparent that my beloved cigarettes had to go. So I made the decision to stop. I bought Allen Carr’s easy way to stop smoking. Read it and, when he said go and smoke your last cigarette, I did. That was 6 years and 11 months ago and I have never smoked another cigarette since. I thought I would die on day 3 but I didn’t and that was that. Don’t get me wrong, The first few weeks were hard and I miss smoking every day but all I had to do was to make a choice to stop lighting up that cigarette and putting to my lips.

I put on 20kg once I stopped smoking due to a medical issue that cropped up and just general over eating to compensate for the lack of smoking. The problem then became, how to lose weight. Now, let’s be frank, losing weight is not a simple thing. It takes making conscious choices every single day to lose the weight and once you succeed to keep it off. It requires walking away from indulging in all your favorite foods that made you fat in the first place. It requires choosing to exercise often enough to make a difference. It takes a completely different mindset about that which you cannot live with out…yes, I mean FOOD!

My doctor and dietitian keep telling me the same thing…you have to plan your meals so that you don’t fall into old patterns. Planning is not one of my strong points and now they want me to plan my meals. I know they are right but gees louise! If I had to plan around giving up smoking I would never have made it. In fact, I still enjoy a moment with my thoughts and a cup of coffee in the morning but I just don’t have a cigarette. I still have coffee after every meal but no cigarette. There was no lifestyle change. Losing weight requires a complete change in lifestyle and that is no easy feat. That takes real commitment!

So, now that I have that off my chest, the experimentation begins on on what that new lifestyle that I want to commit to looks like for me. My doctor has given me times when I can eat so now I need to spend the time to research:

  • What foods I need to avoid and what I can keep.
  • Recipes using these foods that I might enjoy (I have yet to master the art of creating my own concoctions in the kitchen. Thus far all have been disasters 🤦‍♀️)
  • Planning meals for the week. I never know what I want to eat for dinner in particular from day to day as a general rule and now I have to decide for a whole week upfront. This is probably the biggest challenge for me.

Ok. My doctor has set me a goal of losing 10% of my weight by July. Challenge accepted. I also need to improve my fitness levels as he will be putting me on the treadmill at my next check-up. Lawd help me! At least I am aloud the odd cheat day. That should help keep me sane. It’s going to be an interesting 2020 but I am looking forward to being a fitter, healthier and thinner somebody at the end of this year. The bonus will be if I can get my sugar levels down and get my diabetes in remission. This is my ultimate goal. I have got this though. It’s time.

Well, wish me luck as I embark on this journey. Any tips and tricks you have to share are always welcome.

Have an awesome 2020! Don’t forget to like and share if you enjoyed the read. Bye for now.

Chocolate cake
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