So you want to try yoga?

I’m not an expert in yoga at all but if you read my first yoga birthday post, I have some quite fresh experience in getting into the lifestyle, so I thought I would give you some advice if you’re new to yoga or even if you want to try it, but don’t know where to start.

Do your research.
Do you know anything about yoga? Do you know what type of yoga you would like to do? Have you done it before? Is this your first time or are you getting back into it again? These are all questions you have to ask yourself while researching about the practice.

Find classes in your area.
I’m all for watching videos online, I think it’s a fantastic resource and with so much free content out there, I don’t think you should let it go to waste. HOWEVER, for yoga especially, I think it’s an absolute must to go to a class and learn how to do the poses correctly. You will never know if you’re doing it right if you’re watching it and trying to copy it, you could end up hurting yourself.

It shouldn’t cost the earth.
It doesn’t have to be expensive either; depending on the area you live in, you can find affordable classes with experienced teachers. I live in Belfast so I learn through Yoga Belfast who have a range of classes for beginners right up to intermediates, in a range of areas, and are affordable too. There’s some drop in classes and others were you can sign up for a certain amount of weeks. There are many other yoga companies in Belfast of course, but I haven’t had any experience with them.

Get the right gear.
You don’t have to buy a £200 yoga mat, you don’t have to spend loads of money on new workout clothing, but make sure you’re equipped to work out properly. You don’t need to worry about trainers because yoga is done in either socks or in your bare feet. Try to avoid very loose clothing but don’t go really tight either, try and find a nice balance in between the two. I personally don’t like the cheap foam yoga mats because they can slide back on the floor (First week I went to yoga, this actually happened, so personal experience is talking.) but I got a good yoga mat from ASDA and it wasn’t expensive at all. I’ve heard TKMaxx or Sports Direct do some nice ones too.

Practice makes perfect.
This speaks for itself really. You can’t expect to get better at anything if you don’t practice. You’ll mess up, you’ll fall over, you’ll lose your balance, your posture will need corrected, but you know what? That’s okay, if you learn with someone who is willing to show you the ropes and if you’re willing to put the effort in, even one or two times a week, then you will gradually get better.

I am very thankful to have introduced yoga into my life, I don’t know what I would do without it. It has helped me physically; I’m now more flexible and that is particularly helpful when I go to the gym too. It has helped me mentally; I still get stressed and I still panic but yoga helps to bring me down (If only I could do yoga in work every day, now that would be heavenly!). I believe yoga is for everyone, no matter what your age, gender, flexibility, fitness level, lifestyle, whatever it is. It’s such a good focus for people to get stuck into and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I hope my advice has helped even just one person, good luck!

 

My First Yoga Birthday!

FYB

A few weeks before the end of 2014, I decided to go to a drop in yoga class because I was always interested in finding out about it. I went on my own (but I’m used to going on my own to new things now) and I met Chandra who took the class and I had a blast. I remember I really struggled with some of the poses (but who doesn’t at their first class?) but I actually really surprised myself too. It was such a relaxed atmosphere and in all honesty, I didn’t know what to expect, but it was something I knew I wanted to take further. So a few weeks passed and I didn’t see the point in beginning just before Christmas so I waited to the New Year and I signed up to a six week class with Chandra again, and I’ve been attending ever since.

The date of that first class was Monday 5th January 2015, so the 5th January is the date I’m calling my first yoga birthday!

I never knew what a positive impact yoga would have on me. Physical, mentally and spiritually. I go on Monday nights after work (Thankfully it’s just a thirty second walk from work too) and it makes Monday a little more bearable. I’ve seen such a change in myself over the past year; obviously it’s not a complete miracle worker and I have gone through a few things during the year but I haven’t thrown yoga to the side, I’ve went even when I haven’t been feeling my best, and it might not have made me a positive bunny, it still helped me a little, so that in itself is the sign of a great practice.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year is to advance further in yoga. I want to challenge myself more, I want to do more, I want to see how far I can push myself (within reach of course) and  as I reflect over the past year, I don’t know what I would ever do without it now.

My Second Intolerance Test.

If you’re not familiar with my first intolerance test, you can click here and it’ll take you to that post. It’ll describe my experience, what I found out and why I done it.

So I would say it’s been a good year and a half since I got the test done and over the past two months, I was starting to revert back to some of the feelings I was getting before the first test. When I would eat certain chocolate, I felt really groggy and slightly crampy and when I ate certain meats, the same thing would happen. I booked my Mum and I in for another intolerance test (This was her first one), I thought I had booked for the blood test but me being silly, it wasn’t. It was just like the one I got done before, just in a different place (So I’ll not be describing the process again, so you can check the above link if you’re interested in finding out what happens).

I found out that my gluten, soy/soya and carrot levels were still very high, surprisingly. I had been off it for a year and a half so I thought it would barely show up. I was very wrong. What also showed up was cocoa/chocolate, potatoes, MSG and pork. A few days previous, I had a really weird moment with some bacon, about twenty minutes after eating it so once she told me that I couldn’t have pork, that “episode” made total sense.

We found out about a week ago (My Mum had slightly different intolerances to me) so it’s almost like going back in time to when I first found out. This time is harder, for me anyway. As I sit and write this (on a Sunday night), I’ve just had two slices of gluten free bread, toasted. I don’t feel too good after it, so I go look at the packaging. There’s potato starch in my bread. That’s not something I would have looked for, maybe I should have, so I can see why I feel slightly strange.

With seven intolerances, well actually there’s a lot more, because pork covers so many as does potatoes, MSG and gluten, I am constantly worrying about food, especially when I eat out. Before it wasn’t too bad because I only had three to contend with. I went for pizza with my best friend the other day and I felt rubbish after it. It was a gluten free base pizza and I really tried my best to pick one that wouldn’t affect me and the only thing I can think of is either 1) the spicy beef was the problem or 2) there was a cross contamination issue. I started feeling a little sore about ten minutes after finishing it the pizza, so I know it wasn’t what I had for dessert, which was just a simple ice cream. But then again, if it was pizza, maybe it had potato starch in it? I just don’t know.

I can’t be spontaneous any more, and ever since the first test, I haven’t been. It does help finding new and interesting restaurants in Belfast and just outside, but I don’t know if this will get any easier any time soon. As for lunches, I won’t have to change too much but I can be more creative with food now, because I’m being forced to; I don’t want to be sore all the time, and I don’t want to damage my body. I’ll be tracking my progress on my blog, and I’ll be trying out more new recipes, since I can’t have chocolate any more, so possibly lots of sweet ones, but good sweet ones!

As with my other post, I have to say this was my personal experience of food intolerance testing, I am not a medical professional and if you are in a similar position, please seek professional help from your doctor.

My experience of food intolerance testing.

This post is following on from this post, so if you haven’t read that, make sure you read that first.  I also have to say, this was my personal experience of food intolerance testing, I am not a medical professional and if you are in a similar position, please seek professional help from your doctor.

After researching and finding that there were places that could actually push me in the right direction about what was going on, I found one close to me, shot them an email and I set up an appointment. Now because this wasn’t under the NHS, I did have to pay, but to be completely honest, it wasn’t a lot of money and it’s better than living in agony all the time.

I arrived at the centre and my appointment was with a woman who (was a trained professional of course) was really friendly, she put me at ease and the session went quite quickly. She started telling me how the whole process works, and it was very scientific so unfortunately I can’t tell you the science behind it, but there were no needles involved. She used an almost blunt pen connected to a big monitor with loads of tubes connected to it that you could put in and take out. These were to do with all different food groups and when she pressed the pen into either your hand or your toes, it would send a reaction to the pen, which is how it tells you if your body is reacting to it. The reason she pushed it into your toes or hand was because these parts of your body show the reaction to other parts of your body, like your kidneys and liver for example.

Towards the end of session, she gave me a very helpful booklet and told me all the foods that my body seemed to react to. These were gluten, wheat, soya/soy and carrots. When I tell anyone I can’t have carrots, I get very odd looks because it’s very strange to not be able to eat, and it’s a real shame because carrots used to be my favourite vegetable. She also told me about the Candida diet which was connected to not being able to eat wheat and gluten as well as having a possible yeast overgrowth in my body and through the diet, it is meant to flush out your system and bring your body back to health. The process can take anything from two months to eight months, but at the time I had a lot of work going on in college and I simply couldn’t have gone off a lot of food at that time.

There is so much information on Google about the Candida Diet and the benefits of doing it (Of course, it is a treatment for built up yeast overgrowth and should not be done unless you have all the information and are advised to do so) and there are big long lists of food and drinks you can’t have during it. When I was doing more research on this, I found The Candida Diet website very helpful or more information.

In this booklet, she gave me advice and tips for the diet as well as moving on with my regular diet cutting out wheat, gluten, soy/soya and carrots altogether. She was really helpful and was able to answer any questions I had at the time.

About a year later, I went to the doctor and they weren’t happy that I didn’t go through them to find out if I couldn’t have gluten and wheat. In hindsight, I probably should have badgered the doctors more and got a Coeliac test done. I wouldn’t be able to do this now because you have to put your body through eating gluten for at least six weeks and I feel (and the doctor also felt) that it would put my body through too much. So if I had any advice for anyone who thinks that they may have an intolerance to wheat or gluten, go to your doctor first and try and get them to get the appropriate tests for you. I felt guilty when I was told that I shouldn’t have went to a technically third party (They are trained professionals, just not through the NHS) to find these information out, but how long would I still have been in pain for if I didn’t? Would I have ever found out soy/soya was bothering me, or carrots? I’m glad I did it, but if you are going through something similar, go to your doctor first and be persistent.

The first of a few Health Journey posts.

Before this blog, I had another one. I’ve actually had a few over the past few years but I always get so insecure about them, that I would delete them. My last blog had two great posts, both about my transition into the gluten free lifestyle and I deleted the blog a month ago, completely forgetting to save those two posts so if I ever wanted to talk about it again, I could simply copy and paste. I really regret it now. The upside of this is that I get to talk about it again, but a year later. I’ll spilt this into two posts, because my other posts were too long and it really needed that second post to balance it out.

I can’t remember when I started to get signs that something wasn’t right. It might have been in the New Year of 2013, or slightly before then but I was having a really healthy year. I had came back from University the previous year and gave myself a good kick up the arse and finally started to get healthy and lose weight. I was the healthiest I had ever been, but I was getting sore heads, stomach cramps, feeling exhausted and having a really foggy head. Those were the main symptoms I had had. I was sleeping so much after college every day that I had to ban myself for an entire month because it was getting out of hand and when you’re so used to going home and having a three hour nap, once you ban yourself, it’s not pretty. I banned myself in the December of 2012 because I remember thinking half way through the month “Oh yeah, I’ll be off for the next weeks so I’ll not want a nap anyway”. I had no idea what was going on, absolutely none. I went to the doctor and told them what was wrong with me and I was told I should go off bread for a month. That’s literally what I was told. Going off bread didn’t help me, I think I done it for about two months and there was still no change. It had been suggested to me that maybe gluten was the problem, but I had no idea what gluten was, but I love researching (It was one of my favourite things to do in college for projects) so I done that and it was if someone had just watched me for a few months then wrote down everything that had happened. My symptoms and other symptoms were listed and it made so much sense. All the pain I was in, all the tiredness I had felt, all the times I couldn’t concentrate in class and sometimes struggled writing down the exact same words the teacher was saying on a piece of paper, it all made sense. It was gluten. It just had to be.

I’m not a huge fan of going to the doctors for a few reasons. 1) Whenever there’s something wrong with a woman, the first question they’ll usually ask “Is there a chance you could be pregnant?” I get it. I’m a woman and yes, we can get pregnant but it really annoys me that for the majority of time, that’s what we’re asked. 2) Appointment times. As I said, I’m not a fan of doctors so when I go, I am genuinely not well but whenever I would ring up for an appointment, I was given one for a week and a half later. I understand that if it was truly an emergency, I could get an emergency appointment or go up to A&E, but isn’t a week and a half later a bit ridiculous? So I was put off a lot and I didn’t think I would get anywhere fast. I’m pretty sure I went for another appointment a few months later but I can’t be 100% sure about that.

I was still getting cramps, I was still exhausted, I was still feeling foggy. I was exercising and some people thought I was tired because I was “working out too much”. Trust me, I didn’t over-do it and I wasn’t tired from it. I actually dread to think what I would have been like if I hadn’t been working out. I was still losing weight and I was eating enough for my body type and enough for me to lose weight. But the pains were still coming and in November 2013 I’d had enough. Enough of the stomach pains especially, I was a woman, we get period pains, I only expect pains once a month, not once a day for hours on end. So I did more research and found a centre that done allergy and intolerance testing near me.

In my next post, I’ll go through my experience of the intolerance testing and how it’s helped me ever since. I wanted to include it in one big post, but it’s much better to split it up into chunks (: