Tag Archives: Experiences

My Experience and Thoughts | Intermittent Fasting

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At the beginning of the year in my Continue, Start and Stop plan, I wrote down that I wanted to explore the idea of trying intermittent fasting and currently while we’re on lockdown, I thought now would be the perfect time to try it so that’s what today’s post is all about.

As a disclaimer, I understand that talking about food can be a trigger for some because I will be talking about my own diet and restricted eating (in a time restricted sense) in this post. If that’s not for you, that’s okay!

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If you’re not sure what intermittent fasting is, it is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It doesn’t specify what foods you should eat, it’s more focused on when you should eat. I found this really great article by Healthline (which I’ll link here) that has everything you need to know about the process. It includes the type of fasts there are, what scientific evidence there is to prove the benefits and the important side effects too.

For someone who craves routine, I was pleasantly surprised that I wanted to try something new with my diet but because it’s not been the greatest over the last year, I thought having a change up would do me the world of good. Another reason for trying this practice out was because I have been looking at the weight loss side of it; based on my last post about weight loss (which I’ll link here) it’s something I do think about, for the good of my own health and I wanted to see if this would steer me in the right direction. I’m not a fan of taking a complete food group out of my diet so this was a much healthier alternative for me.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I first started this process so over the last few weeks, I’ve been taking some notes on how I’ve been feeling and decided to talk about the four most important points for me.

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(Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash)

I was surprised how fast I adjusted to not eating in the morning.

I’m a breakfast girl and the last time I didn’t eat breakfast was when I went to University so I’ve been doing it religiously for quite a few years. Now don’t get me wrong, while the week progressed; I started to become hungry at around 11am but at that point, I only had to wait an hour to start my eating for the day so that didn’t bother me at all. I was really surprised that I was able to adjust quite quickly because it was something that I was slightly worried about at the beginning.

It’s surprisingly helped me with my water intake.

I believe one habit that helped hugely was my water intake; every morning I would make a large cup of mint tea and I would also have a steel bottle full of cold water too so that equaled four glasses of water, half of my daily intake. If I did this twice before lunchtime, I had hit my water intake for the day. I think part of my problem before is that I was instantly eating a snack because I thought I was hungry but during this period, I drank more fluids and I realised that it was thirst problem rather than hunger.

I understand hunger from boredom.

I would say a lot of us have been there where we go into the fridge or the cupboard but we’re not really that hungry, but we think we need something to eat. I’ve done it and it’s part of the reason over the last few months I have gained additional weight. From doing intermittent fasting, I can understand hunger from boredom, and I haven’t actually eaten out of boredom once because the boredom time normally comes a few hours after dinner, but because I stop eating at around eight o’clock, I don’t experience that boredom hunger anymore.

Navigating my period around it was difficult.

Periods are rough, there’s so doubt about that, but with increased hunger and the emotional side of your hormones that come into play too, that makes intermittent fasting a little difficult. With this month being my first month of IF, I really wasn’t too sure what to expect when it came to my period. The very painful cramps didn’t help in the slightest but I noticed increased hunger for two days from about 9:30am. Now, I know that IF is about working your eating times around your schedule and not the other way around but I wanted to roughly stick to the same time schedule so I chose to stick it out until 12:30pm. I would say that this was probably the only negative of IF but in a more positive light, it really showed me that you can work this lifestyle around you and when you want to eat.; I just chose not to do it this time around.

charles-deluvio-PvAAYZx-yf8-unsplash(Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash)

Will I continue it?

For me, intermittent fasting has been a positive experience and I don’t see any reason not to continue practicing it daily. I don’t see it as restrictive (even though it’s giving you a restricted eating window) and it’s giving my body a message of when I should be eating; in the past, I found myself eating when I was emotional or bored, but this process has really taught me on how to listen to my body. I find the concept of intuitive eating hard to get my head around (there’s quite a few avenues to go down with that one!) but giving myself cut off points for food felt very intuitive because I’m training my body that I don’t need to eat at all times of the day.

The one exception during all of this and was actually quite an eye-opener was the experience around my period, as I’ve already explained. Because it’s the first month of this new way of eating, I wanted to keep to the same schedule throughout the month to see how I dealt with it, but I know that when this time comes around again, it will be easy to move my timings differently and I’ll still be gaining the benefits, but I’ll still be helping my body with that increased hunger and cravings.

Thank you, as always for taking time to read today’s post. I’ve really loved the intermittent fasting experience a lot more than I thought I would and I’m looking forward to learning more about it over the next few months. For any comments or feedback, feel free to let me know over on my Twitter and Instagram channels. Have a great week! ☀️

My Experience of Anti-Depressants: One Year On (Part One)

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Next month (June) will mark one year since I started on my anti-depressants and because one of the focuses of my blog is mental health, I wanted to discuss briefly on how I got to that point and in my post that will follow this, I’ll talk about how I have been feeling during this period while on them. I just want to put it out there; this is in no way a sympathy post, I personally think it’s important to talk about different ways we cope with certain situations in our lives and this is one of the ways I have been able to cope, and if we can encourage others to talk to professionals about how they are feeling, then the world will be a better place. 

(Just as a disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, I’m in no position to give out medical advice; this post is simply talking about my experience going to the GP and making the decision that was best for me at this period in my life.) 

I’m not sure about you but anti-depressants in my opinion, have never had the greatest reputation and I don’t really know why. I’ve heard them described as “numbing” and “short-term gain” which is two things they can do perfectly but for me, they have been so much more than that. I was recently listening to Dr. Phil’s podcast “Phil In The Blanks” and he was talking to one of my favourite people Dax Shepard. They were discussing going to the doctors and Dr. Phil said that quite a lot of general practitioners are very quick to subscribe pills and let the patient go. I’ve heard this a few times from different people, both in real life and on line, saying that when they were going to the doctors, they would listen to them for two minutes and put them on anti-depressants. Knowing that this was the experience for a few people I had heard, I was already preparing myself not to be listened to and being given pills.  

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Looking back, I couldn’t have been happier with my experience. I went and spoke to my regular doctor. I went over what had been doing as briefly as I could within a doctor’s allotted time slot and what was interesting with this visit was that they asked could one of the student doctors ask me questions to get a background on me before going into the appointment, and I was fine with that. It was a nice experience because it was an additional ten minutes, I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise so she had asked me why I was there today and why I thought I had been feeling this way. She asked me about past experiences so I was very open with what had been happening with me over the last few years; I also talked about going to CBT and I said that it had been amazing but there was still something just not right. I had been able to change most of my thinking patterns but my body wasn’t responding to those patterns sometimes. Once that was finished, I spoke to my regular doctor after the student doctor had told him what we had discussed and I already felt at ease about the experience. I was no longer worried that they were going to throw pills at me and be on my way. One of the main points he had asked me about my tiredness and I was completely straight with him, I told him that I can’t remember the last time I WASN’T tired and that’s completely true. Give me five hours, eight hours or twelve hours of sleep, I will still be tired. He was concerned about that considering I was still in my mid-twenties so when he asked me about my diet, I told him I was vegan and that’s when he suggested going on iron tablets and in my head, I rolled my eyes. It’s that classic vegan line, “Oh maybe you’re not getting enough iron” but I went with it because as much as I rolled my eyes, I probably wasn’t getting enough iron to be absolutely fair to him. He was very clear though; we’ll try the iron tablets for a few weeks and see if everything else lifts; and if it doesn’t, then we’ll look at something else. 

I left that day knowing that iron tablets weren’t going to be the cure all. Simply because I have been tired since I was around fourteen; and at fourteen I was eating meat, getting enough sleep and being a typical teenager so using the reasoning of my vegan diet, I just knew it was something more. However, I’m a woman of my word so I took my iron tablets, went back a few weeks later to get a few blood tests, and booked another appointment to see a doctor for another few weeks down the line while I was there. 

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This time around, I didn’t have my regular doctor which was fine, because you have to wait a few weeks for an appointment so at this point, I just wanted to speak to someone! My notes from the previous session had been on the system (albeit very brief) and I talked about being there last time and how I had felt so I had been put on iron tablets but I didn’t feel any better, I actually felt worse. She had checked my results and my iron had shot up dramatically which I was shocked at because many people think that if your iron levels are normal, you aren’t as tired (I’m living proof that this is not the case). We determined that this was something else and I spoke about how I had been feeling, and ironically during this visit, I had been told I was being made redundant just a few days before so understandably, I was still very emotional and I’m sure that’s one of the main reasons I was feeling worse (though not the only reason). I know all about self-care and looking after yourself so I stressed that I socialised, I looked after my body with the food it needed and the exercise it craved. There’s this huge perception online that you can cure “sadness” (or whatever you choose to call it) with good food and exercise, and while that may be true for some, it’s not always the case for everyone else. I sat in tears because I was tired; I had spent the first part of the year feeling completely miserable (and the first three months crying almost every day at little things). I should have gone to the doctor earlier, I know that now but I thought the sadness was go away at some point. We talked about the options and I had mentioned that I was currently going through CBT and while it was working great with some areas of my life, my head wasn’t able to catch up. She asked me how I felt about anti-depressants, and I raised my concerns. I told her that I was worried about being on them forever because I didn’t want to dependant on a tablet forever and change my hormones; it’s actually a huge reason I have never been on birth control, because I wanted to be in control of my body. I was desperate, I sat there in tears and told her that I thought I was depressed and I had thought it for a while but I never wanted to admit it. I had only ever mentioned the emotion “depressed” very few times in that time period because I didn’t think I had the right to be depressed. I had been in pain for a while but because I thought it was “just go away”, I waited and waited and it only got worse. She confirmed that this was more than being “sad” and that it was much deeper; she said the anti-depressants would be my best option for now and down the road we would review it.  

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After hearing the horror stories of others saying that GP’s just want to hand out pills and be done with it; based on my experience this was not what happened with me. I felt listened to, I felt like both my GP’s had compassion and it wasn’t being dismissed. While I didn’t feel like the iron tablets would do anything at the first appointment, I know now they just wanted to check that was okay first before moving onto to something else. No GP has ever sat me down and told me I have depression so for that reason, I don’t feel like I can say I have depression but I describe them as depressive episodes. Do GP’s explicitly say “I’m diagnosing you with depression” I don’t know so that’s why I don’t like saying I have depression because it’s never been confirmed to me, but I know it’s more than a sad phase. 

As I mentioned at the beginning, there will be Part Two to this post (because I didn’t think that this would end up this long) and I’ll be discussing how I have felt over the last year being on anti-depressants and why my perceptions have changed completely on them.  

Thank you so much for reading today’s post; I know it’s quite a personal post but I thought it was important to talk openly (or as openly as I felt comfortable with) about what has been going on with my mental health. It can only take one conversation to help and while I’m not the most open person on the planet, I still think it’s important to talk to someone you trust AND a professional. Have a great day! ☀️

Not Eating Enough Before A Race.

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We all have our different opinions on how we like to train; some prefer a fasted run, others can’t train without having something in their stomach. For me, I thought I had eaten enough before a race but today’s post is all about my experience when I realised I hadn’t.

In the middle of June, I took part in the Lisburn 10K race which I recently posted about and I was so incredibly happy with the experience because I got a personal best. However, what I didn’t write about was what happened an hour or two later because I thought it deserved a post of it’s own.

This had been my first evening race and because it was in Lisburn, it wasn’t a case of being able to go home for dinner first so I thought I had planned out my food quite well for that day. I had my bagel and smoothie as normal for breakfast, my lunch was a Thai curry that Scott had made me the day before and I grabbed a snack at around 3:30pm. I certainly wasn’t hungry so I thought I was okay and I didn’t get hungry until after the race.

We got the train home from Lisburn and while I was tired, I was fine. We jumped on the bus from town to where we live and I started to feel iffy on the bus but I wasn’t sure why. I had eaten some dark chocolate on the way home to have some sugar in my system (The bars they were handing out at the finishing line weren’t gluten free) so I didn’t think food had anything to do with it. My body could have been in shock because I pushed it very hard or because our bus driver was driving fast, that could have set me off.

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Our bus took less than ten minutes to get from the city centre to where we were getting off and I started to feel slightly worse. I couldn’t feel my fingers and my legs became tingly; as soon as we came off the bus, I had to go and sit at the bus stop and the tingling got worse. I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t feel Scott’s hand and my head felt very fuzzy. I had no idea what was happening and that’s when Scott asked me what I had had to eat that day, so I told him and he said I hadn’t eaten enough and my body had used up almost all my energy running that my body was going into shock.

I went from being hungry on the train home to not wanting to touch anything. Once we got back to Scott’s house, he lay me down and got me to drink diluted juice and asked me to eat a Nakd bar. I had one bite of the bar and thought I was going to throw up (I love them any other time!) I could stomach the juice but it was about ten more minutes before the tingling feeling went away. I had never experienced anything like that before in terms of running so I started to panic thinking “was it going happen again?” Scott told me it’s happened to him before and I had no reason to panic but to make sure I eat enough next time.

While it was a scary experience, it’s definitely made me more aware of my food intake before any type of training. If I train in the morning, I’m normally fine fasting but if it’s anything in the afternoon or in the evening, I know that I need to leave around two hours for my food to settle. I possibly should have had a very early dinner at 4pm instead so while the race started at 7pm, it would still be sitting in my stomach.

I’m interested in any tips that anyone has that could help me in the future (apart from eating more, of course) or if you have any experiences around this subject that you think would be useful, please let me know. Thank you so much for reading!