Friday, 2 December 2016

My Fitness Journey ~ Update, What I've learn't, New outlook and why I haven't been posting lately

You may/may not have noticed, but I haven't posted a 'Fitness Post' since July and I haven't joined in any Yoga challenges, since August. I did start a post in August about my new fitness goals and new workout routine, ( I mentioned in June/July posts, I was looking into changing my routines.) But things changed. I started to feel unwell at the end of July and really struggled with my Yoga in August and then I didn't have any energy to do anything. From September I haven't done any sort of workout :(. Nothing.. September and October I didn't have any energy what so ever, I just slept. 

By the end of October after 3 months of getting worse, not sleeping well, feeling lethargic, no appetite, weightloss (I got REALLY skinny) and rapid heartbeat. I finally got my anxious backside to the doctors and had a blood test. We were all (doctor included) 100% convinced I had a B12 and or Iron deficiency.  

To my surprise and everyone else's my B12 and Iron came back perfect ~ Shocked to say the least because I haven't been taking any supplements for B12. I'm not saying you shouldn't take them. But my levels came back fine and I haven't eaten well the past few months before the blood test. My iron I'm glad is good, I eat a lot of Iron rich foods. Mushrooms are huge part of my diet and potato.

Please check with your Doctor and get a blood test if you think your are deficient in anything. Its not really a good idea to supplement if you don't need it. There are some vitamins and minerals you can overdose on and over dosing on Iron is not good.

I will start to include a B12 supplement into my diet, even though my levels are fine. It doesn't hurt. (Unless you are trying for a baby..Then please don't ~ please check with your doctor).  
I have got myself some Nutritional yeast which is Fortified with vitamin B12 from Holland and Barrett. I will finally get the chance to make a vegan cheese sauce :). Also it is Gluten Free :)

So... What was wrong with me. My blood test came back with a very Low Urea level. My not eating enough plus my Anxiety, which had been really bad, equals malnutrition :(

I really need to up my food and protein intake.

I have always had a small appetite, but mixing that with my anxiety being quite high and having a few active months ~ hasn't helped. It soon catches up on you.

So the past month my main priority has been to increase my protein and overall food intake.

Also I should add that I thought I had gotten to the point where I was eating enough. But I was wrong. I actually filled out My Fitness Pal incorrectly!!!! Because I changed my workouts to only Yoga. I changed my daily activities to sedentary. But because I'm I was quite anxious I should have put Active. Which it now is. If you use My Fitness Pal or any other tracking apps PLEASE make sure you have added your details correctly.

Because of this I was under eating (over at least 5 months) by at least 1000 less calories than I should be. Even though I felt full, my body wasn't getting enough.

I knew I couldn't dramatically increase my protein and food overnight without being sick.  I decided to help increase my protein intake, I looked up protein powders. I needed ones that are Gluten Free and Vegan and less processed. I ended up getting Hemp Protein, from Holland and Barrett.

Obviously, I would prefer to get my intake from real food. But for now because I realistically can't up my calories overnight. Adding a scoop or two to my smoothies until my body (stomach) gets used to the extra food. This would do for the time being. I was only going to use this till it was finished. But at the moment am looking into purchasing other Protein Powders. I need something extra to help me get enough protein, just until I can physically eat enough. Plus I haven't got back into a regular exercise routine yet, so it might take a while. I'm still not a fan of protein powders. Yes, it did help me, I feel back to my 'normal' self. It did help me increase my calorie and obviously protein intake. So my appetite  is coming back. But, I didn't like drinking it. And at the moment its a choice of two evils ~ eating double the amount of 'processed' vegan/gluten free Food or drink a Protein Shake. Either way its processed, but the powder is easier to put into my smoothie. We will see how it goes. If you recommend a vegan and gluten free, protein powder please leave a comment below.

Not going to lie the first few days of increasing my food was difficult, ( not surprising really my stomach had got used to only eating 1000 < calories a day). When I thought I had eaten enough and then again realising I hadn't, was quite frustrating. But adding the scoops of protein powder really helped me reach (or very closely reach) my protein intake. 

Being unwell and being unable to do anything made me re-evaluate my fitness goals. And it opened my eyes to what really is important.

And That is my overall well-being and Nutrition

Yes, I've always known eating well is the most important thing, I mention that a lot. Food is Fuel. But I knew deep down because of the weight gain my main focus was to just get rid of the fat and get back to the weight I was before.  I knew my diet was clean, full of fruit and veggies. I have never had much of an appetite, I have said on here a lot, my main problem is not eating enough. And Nutrition is a very vital role. I thought I got to the point where I was eating enough, but by my blood test results I obviously wasn't getting enough. And it shows you can study and research all you can but if you fill out your details incorrectly that isn't going to help :/ .

I have over the past few months really started to pay more attention to my body ~  All what happened has really been a huge smack in the face to be more mindful.

I'm not going to dis any diet or say what you should or shouldn't eat. Even eating a Meat based diet you can not eat enough and be malnourished .

But I will say, make sure you are eating enough for your lifestyle. And more importantly the right Nutrients. Hitting your calorie and protein marks on a junk food processed diet is not going to do you any favours.

Once I have got my calorie and protein levels back up and they are consistent. Hopefully feeling 100% better I will start to incorporate exercise back into my lifestyle. At the moment, I'm being active, but just household duties active. Nothing extreme.

Focusing more on my overall wellbeing and by re-evaluating my goals I realised that I have learnt so much during my journey over the past 4 years and as you read above still learning :).

I'm not at the end of my fitness journey, I love fitness, I believe we should all do some sort of fitness daily. Just because I have lost all the weight and back to where I was before. Doesn't mean I should stop. This is a Lifestyle. Health and Fitness should be everyone's number one priority in their lives. If we don't take care of ourselves how can we care for others?

Like I mentioned above my main focus now is my overall well being. I will still be active. Yoga ~ every damn day :) and I will do the occasional 'fitness' workout (squats, push ups, lunges, arm weights), because they are great for your mind and body. You need to get your blood pumping :).

In case you are new to my blog. I started my fitness journey in 2012, after I got over my withdrawal from the medication I was on which lead to my nearly 4 stone weight gain. Nearly 4 years later and 24.8 kgs lighter. I have lost all of the fat I gained. I should note before the weight gain I had always been active and at a healthy weight.

I often get asked for tips and advice on how I managed to lose the weight. So I thought I would share with you what I have learnt to achieve my fat loss. Please note this is what I have found that works for me. I am not a qualified Dietitian or Personal trainer.

  • Diet
Don't Diet , It is a lifestyle change. Diets, They really don't work. You need to learn about portion control and listen to what your body needs. These Fad Diets don't help you do this. Eat Clean, by which I mean cut out Processed foods, they are full of salt and sugar. Eat real food.  Don't deprive yourself of anything you want to eat. Don't feel guilty if you eat something 'bad' or you want a 'Treat' , you will only end up binging. One meal won't ruin your progress.
Listen to your body, Are you hungry or just thirsty. Have a glass of water.
Cravings, wait 10-20 minutes. They don't last long. I started to really pay attention to my body, when ever I had a little treat. For example when I had a bit of chocolate, I started to notice how my body was reacting to it ~ a Sugar spike. Fast heart rate and felt sick :(.
That's when I realised it was true, once you take the processed food out of your lifestyle your body goes back to its natural state and you can really see what processed food does to your body. Eventually the cravings will stop. Plus really noticing the effects stopped me from eating them.

Also learn to make your own food from scratch. Especially 'Treats', you will realise how much sugar and rubbish is in those 'Treats' and you will learn how to make a healthier alternative. And they taste so much better.

Homemade Gluten Free Pizza

Be mindful and present when you eat. Digestion starts in the mouth. Chewing your food will help stop bloating. Eat slowly, this will give your body enough time to tell you when it is full. So you don't over eat.

How you feed your body is the most important thing to get a healthy body. You can never out train a bad diet

  • Exercise
I don't need to workout excessively. Remember to just be active and get your heart rate up.  Looking back there were quite a lot of months where I didn't do much and only a very few where I worked out twice a day. The most progress I noticed was when I only worked out for 20-30 minutes a day and that was only a Yoga workout.  Find a workout that you enjoy and it will keep you active.
I enjoy Yoga, Walks and bike rides. If I'm feeling lazy (my body wants to move) I will do a little 20-30 minute fitness workout.

If you don't enjoy going to a gym or you find it difficult to find time to workout. Well. You don't need a gym or set a time to work out. Household duties, Gardening, taking the stairs, park your car further away and getting off the bus a stop or two before yours. Are great ways of getting a good workout. You can fit some sort of exercise into your daily routines, sometimes you just need to get a bit creative ;) .
  • Core and Posture
This should really be mentioned in the above. But I believe you really need to focus on having a good posture and a strong core. Having a strong foundation really helps not just in fitness but in everyday activities and your appearance.

  • Drink a lot of water
I aim for at least 2 litres a day, that can be more or less depending on how active I am on that day. I have a blog post HERE about the benefits of drinking water.  The only thing changed is I now drink out of a 1100ml stainless steel bottle instead of a plastic one.

  • Mental Health
Take care of your mental health. Looking after your mind is so important. Its where it all starts. All the above points will help you get / stay healthy.
I know some of you are probably thinking you have heard the quote

Healthy Body ~ Healthy Mind
Which is true, you feed your body the right nutrients and move daily you get a healthy mind.
You are what you eat!
But... I believe its more Healthy Mind, Healthy Body. You sort out what's going on up in there and your body will follow.  You need to change your attitude. Be Positive. Focus on what you can do.
You need to 'workout' your mind like you would do to improve a muscle.
I believe you do need to do daily practices / exercises for your mind. To keep it strong, healthy and positive.
Here is what I do:
Meditate for 10-30 minutes
Get plenty of sleep
Fresh Air, even if its just opening a window
Practice Gratitude
Be Mindful and Present 
If you would like to know more about my mind exercises, contact me / let me know in the comments below and I will do a separate post for them.
My whole attitude towards health and fitness has really changed over the past 6 months. I believe practicing mindfulness and meditating is to 'blame' for this :) I just want to take each day as it comes and make the best decisions for me and when it comes to fitness, just focus on improving each pose. Yes I would love to be able to do the splits and a handstand. And yes I will be really excited when I achieve them.

I'm just not focusing on goals, the final result. I know the pose will happen. I need to focus on the foundations :)

I'm not sure if I'm going to be doing monthly Fitness diary posts anymore. I think I will just see how it goes. Maybe I might change them to a 'life lately' post. Which will be what I've been up to each month, which will include Fitness, Health, Mental Health, Zero waste etc. If you follow me on Instagram @donnaukx you will know the things I'm interested in :). Let me know if you are interested in that. I know one thing I am really missing. The monthly yoga challenges. I'm really looking forward to starting them again.

I'm going to leave it here. This has been a long post, I hope you can take something from this and have found it helpful. Do you have any tips you have found really helpful on your fitness journey? I would love to know. Please leave a comment below.

Till next time ~ Stay Healthy

Donna x

Like this post? You might like to read: Yoga & Anxiety and or Meditation 

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