Good morrow to you fine people.
It is I, Nikki. I have returneth’d as promised.
Oops! Sorry about that I’ve been watching ‘Much ado about Nothing’ with my daughter which is one of my favourite plays and the language kind of rubbed off on me. Anyhow, if you haven’t seen it already I totally recommend that you do.
Now, back to the serious blog writing business.
Firstly, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to all those who have read my previous blog ‘How I Took Back My Life.’ I am very grateful for all your kind comments and words of support. They are very much appreciated and really make me feel that I’m doing something worthwhile.
For anyone who is visiting Virgin Veggie for the first time, Welcome. And if you are wondering what this is all about let me give you a brief account of my last blog.
I have a rare genetic muscle disorder. What this means is that for no apparent reason and without warning my muscles go into excruciating painful spasms. I have been suffering from this for the largest part of my life. Now I’m left with chronic pain. I have pain of varying degrees somewhere in my body on a daily bases.
Then just over two years ago I turned that all around. In my blog I’m going to be explaining just how I did this. But if you’d like to read about my muscle condition in more detail check out ‘How I Took Back My Life.’
With that said hold on to your hats because here comes part two ‘What Happened Next.’
So, I made this humongous decision to stop taking any medication at all (even and including milder pain relief such as paracetamol). But I still had the condition. It didn’t just disappear overnight and as I explained in my last blog, there is no cure. I needed to come up with a plan, a plan for how I was going to cope.
My plan was three fold in nature:
1. MEDITATION: Ok, I know what you’re are going to say here. I can see you already shaking your heads, frowning and smirking. It’s not for you, right. It’s weird hippy stuff and there’s no way you’re going to be sitting crossed leg on the floor chanting ‘OM’. And as for clearing your head and thinking of nothing, NO WAY is that happening. You’ve got so much stuff going around your head 24/7. You can’t just switch off. You’d think about things that troubled you even more and go nuts. I know this because these are exactly the thoughts I had.
But what if I told you that when neurologists scanned the brains of people who were meditating they found a definite increase in brain activity in regions directly related to decreased Anxiety, Depression and Pain Tolerance.
Or that we have a default mode network in our brains that is activated when our minds are at rest. Meditation can literally reprogramme our brains. The size increases and it changes shape. These changes can produce higher levels of alpha waves which have been shown to reduce feelings of negative mood, tension, sadness and anger.
After just eight weeks of meditation our grey matter becomes more dense in areas responsible for learning, memory processing and emotional regulation. And the Amygdala, our brains centre for emotions showed decreased levels of grey matter relating to fear,stress and blood pressure.
There are also many different forms of medication which I will go into more detail of at a later date. But I’m sure there’s one out there for you. You just need to find the right one.
Dr Sara Lazer PhD 2011, Harvard University
Professor Willem Kuyken PhD, DClinPsy 2016, Jama Internal Medicine
2.YOGA: Why is yoga so important?
The most important aspect of yoga is that it teaches us about ourselves and our bodies and how to balance the two. Firstly, we must become aware of mental aspects. You need to get deep down and dirty with yourself. Learning about ourselves helps to heal ourselves. As it says at the entrance to the Temple of Apollo in Delphi ‘ Know Thy Self ‘.
Get to know all your triggers, all your strengths and all your weaknesses.
Don’t try and judge your feelings, no feelings are bad.
Become aware of the things you hold onto and why. Why do you think the things you do? Why do you believe the things you do? Why do you act the way you do? Why do you keep repeating the same mistakes? Are you happy? Are you content? Are you grateful? Our relationships. Our fears. Our pain. Our worries. Our grudges. Everything. Open it up and take a really good look at it. It might take a long, long time but there is no rush. You might need some help but there is no shame in that. It’s the end result that is important. And when you have found out all there is to know you can start working on putting it back together again.
Secondly, we must learn about our physical aspect. Mental pain can cause physical pain. And if you are in pain how can you do any exercise? So you have to deal with the mental aspect first. Yoga is the balance between the mind and the body.
In yoga you must aim for full focus on every movement. It is about slow controlled movements.
Because of my condition every movement has to be slow and gradually. I started with very simple movements at home at my own pace. You could join a yoga class but I felt that I didn’t want the extra pressure of working at someone else’s pace and would feel that I would have to do more than I was ready for or could manage.
My simple movements consisted at first of wriggling my toes and fingers two or three times a day then very, very gently my ankles and wrists, focusing solely on each area at a time. I found that I could do this even if I was confined to my bed. I know it doesn’t sound much but at the time it gave me a great sense of achievement. And then praising myself for what I achieved which is extremely important. Every little step no matter how small is a step in the right direction.
When I felt confident with the toe, finger and ankle, wrist wriggling I progress to gentle stretches and gradually very gradually worked my way up. There is no rush and there is no time limit. Always work at your own pace this gives you an element of control.
Now I have a yoga book I found in a charity shop and attempt the exercises I feel comfortable with.
After a couple of years of practising my own form of yoga I feel things have really progressed. I used to be afraid and anxious to leave the house on my own and only went out if a member of my family was with me. Now I go out on my own all of the time and have taken up driving again. Anyone is welcome to come with me if they choose but I don’t find it necessary to have someone with me anymore. I used to walk short distances with a crutch and for further distances I used a wheelchair. But now I go out walking virtually every single day, rain or shine. And the mobility aids? Well, now they’ve been strictly banished to the garage.
I now have my independence back. I have vastly improved the range of motion in my joints. My coordination, posture and body-shape have improved which has greatly increased my confidence and self-esteem. And extra bonus I have a better quality of sleep. Not that I want to spend too much time in bed anymore. I feel that I’ve wasted enough as it is.
3.DIET: Ok, guys I’ve left the best and most important element to last. Diet!!! This is one powerful tool to have in your arsenal and hence the reason for the title of my blog.
To be perfectly honest, I had always considered myself as having a pretty healthy diet and life-style. I made fresh home-cooked meals virtually every day and I didn’t really eat take-a-ways, apart from the occasional fish & chips supper but that was very rare indeed. I had fresh vegetables and fruit, cereal for breakfast, meat, cheese, milk and eggs. I hate fizzy drinks so none of them. And my alcohol intake has always been practically non-existent. My one nemesis however was sugary products, chocolate, cakes and pastries. Which I know is not good. But some days especially bad days they just give you a little boost, don’t they 😉
I’m sure like me you’ve heard that age old saying ‘We are what we eat’ and never really gave it much thought. However, when you have been unwell for a considerable amount of time, with no real answers, no evident cause and no solution you are willingly to try almost anything to gain a better quality of life.
I believe that the universe doesn’t necessarily send us what we want but what we need. My girls truly hate me saying this so I thought I’d add it in, just for them ;-). Joking apart I do however find this has grounds.
One evening I was scrolling through YouTube searching for some inspiring yoga music when this guy popped up. I have contacted him to ask permission to mention him in my blog but as yet have not received a reply. I’m sure he is extremely busy which is probably why, so for this reason I won’t give his name.
My first impression of the guy was that he was slightly smug and annoying and I disregarded him completely. Then one time and I can’t remember for the life of me why (maybe the title of one of his videos caught my interest) but I clicked on the link.
After getting over his annoying catchphrase I begrudgingly had to admit that what he was saying seemed to be making a whole lot of sense. He talks about a variety of different health related subjects on his channel but in most of his videos he talks about food and it’s effect on our health. Of course he discussed the obvious offenders processed food, fatty food, refined sugar, table salt, white bread etc. But,what shocked me most of all were things such as meat/fish, dairy, canned tomatoes, vegetable spreads and tap water.
All of these foods are good for you, right? And an important part of your diet with lots of health benefits. We’ve been told this all of our lives. How can they be bad for you? He must have got it wrong. So, I did my own research.
Never ever simply believe any ones word especially on the internet, not even mine. Always do your own research and take into account who carried out the study and their qualifications. Who has asked for the study and for what purpose.
This is what I discovered:
Studies by the NHS, Cancer Council NSW, World Cancer Research Fund International and WHO (world health organisation all agree that eating red meat (beef, lamb and pork, veal venison and goat) and even more so processed meat (ham,sausages, tinned meats, bacon, deli meats, pates and luncheon meats) significantly increases your risk of developing bowel (colorectal) cancer.
Cooking meat proteins at high temperatures turns them into polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic aromatic amines which are known carcinogens. Carcinogens are now widely linked to attributing to causes of cancer. Carcinogens are also present in many other food products when cooked at high temperatures such as potatoes. There is a great deal of data regarding these studies available online which go into the subject in more detail. I suggest you read a few.
Dr Neal Barnard MD, F.A.C.C https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0X5saVXPcQ
Dr Michael Klaper https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSKVF_NIj80
Estrogen is a hormone naturally found in all humans. It’s primary function is to develop female secondary sexual characteristics ie: breasts and regulation of the menstrual cycle. It is also present in males to help maturation of sperm. At normal levels it’s perfectly fine. But in increased levels it’s extremely potent and in recent years has been widely linked to breast cancer.
Studies have suggested that mammal Estrogen ie: estrogen taken from other mammals is 10,000 times more potent to humans. So much so that the USA National Institute of Environmental Health Science consider it as cancer causing.
It has been widely excepted in the livestock industry to inject cattle with Estrogen to promote growth for meat production. Although it is banned from usage in dairy farming. Instead the use of a hormone called bovine somototropin a natural hormone found in cattle enhanced by the use of insulin-like growth factor. I believe that in the US these hormones are still in use but in recent years all growth hormones have been banned from the EU.
A point to consider is, even though the use of Estrogen is banned from use in the EU, it can still present in milk due to raised levels in females cows after giving birth and whilst they are producing milk.
Neal Barnard M.D, F.A.C.C
What the Dairy Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know – Neal Barnard MD
Michael Klaper M.D https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pW1BnYIioMc
What The Dairy Industry Deliberately Hasn’t Told You! Dr Michael Klaper
IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) is a natural human growth hormone necessary for normal growth in childhood but in adults it can promote abnormal growth, proliferation, spread and acceleration of cancer cells. IGF-1 together with bovine somototropin , as I mentioned before has been used in dairy production to increase the yield of milk for many years and I believe is still used in the US although banned from the EU.
Recent studies by the International Agency for Research on Cancer have shown a correlation between insulin-like growth factor and the growth and spread of cancer.
Dr McDougall MD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHYFOJBU434
Cholesterol is a sticky, waxy substance found in fats (lipids) in your blood. It is needed to build healthy cells but when your have too much cholesterol fatty deposits are left in your blood vessels. This might not be noticeable at first however over time these fatty deposits build up restricting the flow of blood and causing extensive damage.
High cholesterol is one of the main contributors to Heart disease. This is what the nurse told me when I went for my health check a couple of weeks ago.
Animal proteins are high in cholesterol even chicken. However cholesterol is not present in plant proteins.
Foods that contain high levels of animal fats are:
Eggs are so high in cholesterol that in the US they are no longer permitted to advertise them as healthy or nutritious.
Dr Michael Gregor MD, FACLM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMjXNOzZHu0
To prevent metal and other harmful substances leaking into canned products they are lined with BPA (Bisphenol A). This is an industrial chemical used in the production of certain plastics and resins
In recent research BPAs have been linked to causing cancer and as tomatoes have a high acid content they are more likely to react with the BPA in the can lining leading to toxic contamination.
Elana Roumell, Nourish Medical Centre https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Knej6GkCzdc
Hydrogenated oil were originally introduced as a substitute for butter. Butter has a high fat content (saturated-fat) which raises cholesterol. Vegetable spreads are largely made from plant oils (unsaturated-fat) which have a lower melting point than butter. So in it’s natural state is less solid. To make it appear more like butter scientists made it a little more saturated by adding more hydrogen bonds (hydrogenated oils) but to achieve this process high temperatures are used which cause problematic changes to occur. These changes effect how our bodies process these fats lowering (good) cholesterol and raising (bad) cholesterol bringing everything back to where they started.
Some companies claim to be 100% hydrogenated oil free but on recent trips to my local supermarkets I failed to find one that was. I also found that hydrogenated oils were present in numerous other products. So be aware. Check the ingredients.
AsapScience Butter vs Margerine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KG_ybdk1VaE
Annoying as he first appeared after watching more of his videos and doing some research of my own I cut back on all of these foods. Within weeks the benefits were already noticeable. I had way more energy, my pain level had improved, my head felt less foggy, my skin and eyes were clearer and my nails were stronger and less prone to breaking. I generally felt more alive.
I could never express how truly grateful I am to this guy, it’s beyond words and it’s such a shame I can’t mention him by name in my blog. I feel he has been highly significant in my recovery.
But,unnamed guy if you read this thank for sharing your videos and your knowledge with all of us, you are a miracle worker.
So, that’s it. These 3 simple steps helped me to take back my life. I know that seems hard to believe but I am living testimony that they really work.
I will leave you with all this information to digest. Excuse the pun. And I’ll catch you next time. Please feel free to leave a comment.
Love Nikki x
OK, lets get started.
I have a very rare, genetic muscle disorder. Which basically means that for no apparent reason and without warning my muscles go into involuntary spasms. These spasms are so excruciating that I’m literally paralysed with pain. Locked in whatever position I’m in at the time, totally unable to move. They can last from anything up to a few hours, days, weeks and even months.
There is no cure.
And as it’s so rare a condition no one willing to carry out any research into possible cause or solution.
The condition first appeared when I was a child, in my fingers and toes. At the time it wasn’t taken too seriously, mostly written off as growing pains, as is quite common in children. Or maybe I hurt myself whilst out playing and forgot, was one suggestion. But over time the condition slowly progressed to my knees, wrist and elbows which was a bit harder to explain away. Then it began to spread to my neck and eventually back as a teenager/young adult.
On one occasion, I remember I was out shopping in the supermarket, reached down to grab a loaf of bread from a shelf and bam! My neck muscles suddenly went into spasm. Imagine how utterly distressing this would be. You’re stuck in the aisle of a busy supermarket, paralysed by horrendous pain, unable to move, not knowing what to do.
Even writing this down years later causes me a considerable amount of anguish. And am sad to say was not an isolated case.
The only treatments offered are muscle relaxants and super strong painkillers. Believe me when I tell you I’ve pretty much had every prescribable painkillers known to man and then some.
In fact, one time when the muscles went into spasm in my back the doctor had to give me so much morphine (which had zero affect) that she told my husband, “Sorry, I can’t give her anymore because it will kill her. This is how serious it is.
To be totally honest with you if it hadn’t been for my husband and two young daughters I would’ve begged her to give it to me. That is no lie.
After years of enduring these constant muscle spasms I was left suffering from chronic pain. It was like having unrelenting, multiple pulled muscles on a daily bases. If you have ever experienced a pulled muscle you’ll know just how painful this can be. Imagine if it never got better and never went away.
Eventually, I was taking so many drugs I couldn’t think properly. I couldn’t function properly. I was lethargic all of the time. I found it increasingly harder to motivate myself and to this day I still have severe memory problems.
It was all I could do to take care of the girls and do a few bits around the house. More often than not they were taking care of me. I felt like a zombie. I felt I was slowly slipping away. And I hated it! I hated what it was doing to me and even more I hated what it was doing to my family. I didn’t know myself anymore. I had NO life.
Then, one day just over two years ago now I decided I wasn’t going to take it anymore. I wasn’t going to let this soul destroying condition rob me of my life. And I was definitely not going to allow it to destroy my family. No, I was going to fight back. I was going to stop taking the meds. They weren’t really helping anyway, just delaying the inevitable for a couple of seconds longer. And I was going to take back my life.
OK, before I go on, let me make myself clear. I am NOT recommending anyone stops taking their medication. Not by any means! Everyone is unique and their circumstances individual to them. I am sharing with you my own personal experience and knowledge I gained. Please understand this.
I did not make the decision lightly. It took a lot of soul searching and a great deal of contemplation. I was about to jump into the abyss and I was shit scared.
I think perhaps I will finish this post here for now. It has taken a large amount of my energy to write as it is so emotional for me.
In my next post I will explain to you what happened after I stopped taking my meds and how I dealt with the pain from then on.
I hope you’ll be able to come back and join me again. If you would like to leave a comment please feel free.
I love you all.
Welcome to my new blog Virgin Veggie.
Come in! Come in! Don’t be shy now. Everyone is very welcome here.
Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Nikki and the reason why I created this blog is simply because people kept asking me. And I figured, if I could help just one other human being by sharing my experience then the world would be a much better place.
So let’s get started.
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.