It’s fair to say, that right now, I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself.
It happens from time to time, especially around this time of year. The clocks have gone back, darkness seems to descend in the middle of the afternoon, and it’s either cold, or wet, or both.
This year however it’s a little different. I’ve been working from home now since March 2020, and will not be returning to the office. The Hubster is also working from home permanently, although he does manage to escape sometimes for work. I’ve discovered quite a lot about myself since it’s been like this. One of the main things I’ve found is that whilst I am a sociable kind of person, I also very much like my alone time. I like to be able to interact on my own terms. But I do miss people, and have found that I seem to have forgotten how to be social. When I need to do something for ME, I’m a lot more successful if I can engage help & guidance from others, but execute the activities on my own. I’m not sure why, but I’m a lot more focused that way.
So why am I telling you this?
I think my sorry story is one that many of you might be able to relate to.
Rewind 12 months
This time last year I was in demand, due to completing my Guinness World Record attempt. I had spent most of the pandemic to that point training to complete LEJOGLE, and it had helped me keep focus. I was quite literally eating for England, as I hadn’t emotionally moved past the need to consume lots of calories for my training. I was the fittest I had ever been, I was at a healthy weight that I had been over 20 years earlier, and my physical health appeared to be good. My Ulcerative Colitis had been in remission for years, and I was blissfully unaware that I had any issues with my blood sugars. Even my menopause symptoms weren’t unduly problematic.
But, there was a problem, and my mental health wasn’t brilliant. I missed people, and with more lockdowns hitting us, emotionally I was all over the place. I spent my time trying to help other people, whilst ignoring my own needs.
Then at New Year things changed. The death of a family member caused me to look at myself and acknowledge that I had my own mental health problem, and so I sought help. It took a few weeks but I discovered a key point in my life that had been instrumental in my adult relationships with others, and why I never felt worthy of recognition. I worked on my emotional health, and at least from that perspective things started to improve.
Age catches up with me
While I was busy fixing my head, I decided that I was going to take some time off of hard training. I had my first off road event planned for June, and the training for that was fun more than a challenge. I loved playing about in the woods or on the South Downs revisiting mountain bike skills that I had long forgotten. But once that event was completed I opted to stop training completely to give myself chance to focus on other things.
Since January however, I had noticed that my weight was creeping up. By mid summer I was almost back to my heaviest weight, my clothes were tight, and my belly seemed to hang over everything. I knew that I was moving a lot less during the day, especially since my dogs became to old to go for long walks. Working from home can have that effect & basically I had become lazy.
Our spare room got converted into a home gym during 2020, but I rarely ventured into it, and so my body started to seize up. My ankle and hip flexibility were getting worse, to the extent that the first few steps on getting out of bed in the morning were actually getting quite painful. I wasn’t sleeping particularly well either.
And then finally, I had my over 50’s health check, only to find out I had pre-diabetes. That was a massive shock.
Now, you’d think there was plenty here to spur me into action. And to some extent it did…..a little. I started experimenting with checking my blood glucose levels to find out what was actually going on, and if I did really need to be concerned. You can check my initial findings in my blogs…..
But I’m not really sure I took it all that seriously. After all, for the most part I felt fine.
I read up on foods that helped to avoid glucose spikes, and how to combine certain foods, but then I would still eat an ice cream, or say yes to that bar of chocolate that the Hubster bought home. 75% of the time I would make a real effort, but the rest of the time was not great.
But finally this week I have been forced to address a harsh reality. I need to try harder. I caught the mega cold – the post pandemic cold that is 10 times worse because we’ve all failed to gain any cold virus antibodies over the last couple of years. In additional to the cold, my Ulcerative Colitis has returned and my menopause symptoms have made an unwelcome reappearance.
I’m feeling dreadful!
My body has thrown everything at me in an attempt to make my head listen, so I think it’s about time I paid attention. My enthusiasm is at an all time low right now but I can’t ignore it any longer. This time though I don’t think I can do it alone. For reasons that I can’t quite understand, I am lacking the drive to push forward with sustainable and consistent change. My driver is that I simply don’t want to feel like this, and I want to live a healthy, active & long life. Yet that in itself is failing to inspire me.
I had always hoped that I had inherited the longevity gene from my mothers mums side of the family. My nan lived a healthy life to 103, and her parents lived well into their 90’s. But sadly I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that genetic diabetes, heart attacks and strokes come from my fathers side, and it’s possible that I might have inherited his health genes instead. In 55 years, this is not a possibility that I ever really considered, as I had always said that I planned on living until I was 125 – assuming there would be a lot of medical advances in my lifetime to make that kind of lifespan a possibility. Until recently I was convinced I was less than half way through, but now my body is screaming at me that without changes, my time will be much shorter.
Time to take action
Although my diet is mostly fairly healthy I think it needs a radical overhaul. It needs to be built around an anti-inflammatory core, which will help to address both my Ulcerative Colitis, and blood glucose issues. We eat mostly a plant based, with fish diet at home, but still need to make substitutes. Ulcerative Colitis is both an inflammatory bowel disease, and an auto-immune disease. so by addressing some of the underlying causes through improvements to diet & exercise, it will help with my weight management and blood glucose levels too. I need the Hubster to be on board with this, and be willing to come on this journey with me, rather than just do his own thing. It might be quite a hard sell, but I’m know I’ll have more chance of success if we take the journey together.
It’s going to be a long road ahead, and it will be difficult to change some of our habits, but if I’m to regain my energy and get my health back on track it has to be now. My body has spoken loud and clear, I need to start looking after me properly.
Can you relate?
I don’t just write all this so that readers feel sorry for me. Instead I write so that others like me don’t ignore the signs that their bodies are communicating. We’d all like to think we are invincible, and that if we eat well, and stay fit, nothing bad can happen. Certainly that is a formula that can help. But the reality is, sometimes our genetics have a huge part to play and all we are able to do is respond and lessen their impact. It’s not inevitable that I’ll get diabetes, have a heart attack or a stroke, but by being aware now that there is a likelihood of a genetic predisposition, I know that I’ll not be able to take good health for granted. I know that I’ll have to work harder to reduce the risks.
Do you know your family health history?
Do you go to your routine health checks?
Do you take it seriously when you are told you are at risk of a future illness?
I now understand that it IS better to know, than to be blissfully unaware, because I now have a chance to improve my outcomes. It will just take a bit of hard work to develop my new habits, and then life can return to an adjusted normal. A life free of illness has to be worth the effort doesn’t it?