Live Myself Healthy: My journey through lockdown - Intro.
At the start of 2020, I like all of us, had no clue we’d be spending at least a third of the year in lockdown due to a global virus pandemic. For some this has meant an intensification of job responsibilities, longer working hours and increased stress – and to all of you we are hugely grateful! For many, myself included, we have experienced the opposite job-wise, being stuck at home on furlough, having no work at all and relying on government handouts, or have been made redundant – all of which have come with their own challenges and stresses.
Through 2019 and early 2020 I had embarked on a journey that lockdown has really enabled me to pursue and focus on in a way that was not expected or foreseen. I’m 55 and for years I have struggled with being overweight and all the issues that brings. Higher than ideal blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, liver enzymes and triglycerides. I keep a reasonable level of fitness being a lover of the outdoors and most things sport, but for years I have been frustrated about not being able to run so far or fast, getting out of breath too soon, being less flexible, developing a handsome pair of “moobs” and generally feeling like a right old podge!
Some basic body information (January 2020): Age 55, Height 6ft 2in, Weight 122kg (19st 3lbs or 269lbs). BMI level – MORBIDLY OBESE!
Personal information: Married for 30 years to Jess. Three kids – Sam 28, Ben 26, Juliette 23. Optometrist. Inventor and owner of Greeper Laces (www.greeper.com). Live in The Cotswolds. Have the good fortune of living a life I love and for which I and daily very grateful!
Ask my wife, for 25 years, I have been weight and health conscious (like so many of us) and tried most of the weight loss and get yourself healthy programmes out there in one form or another. I have lost weight and got healthier at times and then gradually slid back to where I was and usually a little bit worse!
Towards the end of 2019 and in January 2020 there were a few things that happened that set me on a different approach to this perennial problem. I love golf! Towards the end of 2019 I developed medial epicondylitis – literally know and golfer’s elbow! (This is similar to tennis elbow but that is lateral epicondylitis). Then in January 2020 I went skiing with my two boys and after just 2 days, with no wipe outs or accidents, my right knee gradually ballooned and became too painful to ski! This in turn led to my first experience of gout. Added to all of this, for some years I have been aware of some niggling arthritic aches and swellings in various joints – hips, knees and fingers particularly.
Working in a healthcare profession and with some other prompting information from various reading and podcasts I came to a clear recognition that all of these issues were an inflammatory response of some kind, chronic or acute. For the non-medical, any word ending with the suffix “itis” denotes an inflammatory response – arthritis, tendonitis, dermatitis etc.
Having had this little Eureka (or “Aha” as the Americans like to say) moment, on March 27th on the first week of lockdown I opened a journal and embarked on a new journey to “Live myself healthy”! This is a somewhat plagiarised phrase inspired by the book Eat Yourself Healthy by Dr Megan Rossi (The Gut Health Doctor) and a recognition that I wanted to do a lot of research about how to eat to minimise inflammatory response as well as take a holistic view to my life and consider not just my diet but also exercise and mental wellbeing also.
And so, this particular journey to the new leaner, fitter, and more physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthier me began. And what a beginning it has been! At the time I, like all of us, was just coming to terms with the concept of lockdown. I had effectively lost my job (I work part time as a locum optometrist and, as all routine eye examinations are not allowed, I am off work indefinitely other than the odd emergency clinic).
This is now the start of week 9 and I can report that I am 6.4Kg (14lbs) lighter, fitter, stronger, more flexible and very importantly feeling almost totally free of those various inflammatory issues. The gout is gone, my knees and hips only ache towards the end of a longer walk (over 90 minutes) and my hands – finger joints in particular – only ache a bit after an intense workout where I have rowed 5km or done some weights. I feel SO MUCH BETTER!
One of the most exciting things for me about this new journey is that (so far – that’s the voice of my wife in the back of my mind) I feel it is sustainable! I love food and enjoy eating! I do not feel hungry! This is because I am eating generous portions that fill me up, my appetite is fully satiated, which has often been an issue for me with other diets. On top of this the food I am eating is ecologically and environmentally positive (an issue very important to me).
I’m guessing that if you’ve read this far, one of the questions you will be asking is how have I achieved this? I will go into a lot more detail about this in my next blog, but for now will summarise as follows. I have researched about foods that have an anti-inflammatory benefit, which unsurprisingly have many other positive benefits. I have listened to and watched (being dyslexic and wanting to consume information quicker than I can read it) various podcasts and documentaries about healthy eating and the incredible healing benefits of the rights foods on many chronic illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and many others. I have significantly stepped up my exercise regime. I have been motivated by some study on the data available about Covid19.
For now, if you’ve read this far, thank you! If you have any questions, please contact me via social media or at firstname.lastname@example.org
In my next post I will write about the changes I have made to what I eat and drink and why!
My sincere good wishes to you all.