My Health Journey

Health Journey
PART ONE - HOW IT WAS:
I first wrote about my story here on the blog in 2017.
I wanted to inspire others like me to 'never give up'.

You can read it here:  
https://miabellapassion.blogspot.com/2017/06/living-with-pain-and-invisible-illness.html

And this is how it WAS for a very long time!
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UNTIL I took control of my diet.
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And then things began to change.
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You are what you eat and drink.
Fact.
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Can you improve your health through diet?
Yes - I do believe you can.
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Because:
I no longer call myself a chronic pain sufferer.
Pain flare-ups due to osteoarthritis are infrequent.
And when they do happen are much more manageable.
I lost 14kg over 16 months to January 2020.
And this made a massive difference to my pain levels and joint pain.
I'm still on a weight loss journey...
I have a goal.
I continue to lose weight.
I want to see if I can get my pain levels lower still.
And my energy levels up higher.
It's not about being skinny!
It's about regaining health and vitality.
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How did I do this?
What lifestyle changes did I make?
How important is the mindset?
What worked for me?
What didn't?
Read on to find out...

PART TWO - THE AILMENTS:
I've called part two 'The Ailments' for you kinda have to have a little understanding of what stress my body WAS under.
Overweight 5 ft 2 and 86kg (size 16)- joints under huge pressure.
General joint pain - osteoarthritis.
Hip dysplasia - with two hip replacements under the belt!
Sugar addict.
Energy drink addict.
'Big' wine drinker!
Sinus and hayfever - to the point of four day 'MAJOR' render one nonfunctional headache EVERY two or three weeks!
Bloating
Irritable Bowel problems
Stomach Problems - chronic reflux, pain.
Multi-Focal Atrial Tachycardia Heart Issue
Mind - STRESSED OUT!

So all those ailments rolled into one equalled one VERY UNHEALTHY, UNHAPPY, PAIN INFLICTED ME!
The crunch came...
I do believe you need a shocking wake up call sometimes.
(Well I did)
I thought I was having a heart attack.
Not once.
But three times.
The chest pain was indescribable.
I thought I was dying!
And it turned out it was not my heart.
Even though I live with tachycardia and have had heart surgery...it was my STOMACH!
That pain.
IT SCARED ME!
I vowed after the 3rd hospital admission to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
So I DID.
It was not an overnight fix.
It took time.
It took baby steps.
It took many, many lifestyle changes.
But I did it.
I'm still doing it.
I'm still learning.
I'm still working it out.

PART THREE - THE BEGINNING OF CHANGE:
And wine o'clock!
Sometimes habits creep into our lives.
And this is what happened to me.
Work hard, long days and weeks.
Have a wine to relax...
Stress.
Have a wine to cope.
Next minute wine is a habit.
A coping mechanism.
A great way to gain weight.
A great way to challenge the health of the human body.
The trouble was - I liked my evening wines.
But when the health crash came it was a matter of;
I simply did not ever want to feel that chest or stomach pain ever again.
So I stopped drinking.
Cold turkey.
It was hard to do.
It took dedication.
It took massive will power.
I love wine.
But I did this for my health.
I did it with the thought that any future wine drinking (when I actually got healthy) would be much more controlled - as in an 'out for dinner glass', or a 'special occasion' mindset.
So in my mind, I was not 'giving up' my beloved wine.
I was just having a break from it and 'resetting' how I was drinking it.
The weight fell off!
5kg in 6 months.
My stomach was healing.
I started to feel 'better' - better than I had in years!

PART FOUR - TO BREAD OR NOT TO BREAD?:
Another thing I love is BREAD!
But I worked out - BREAD did not love me.
I tried Gluten-free bread.
But my oh my - that is not for me.
I tried eating no bread at all.
But soup with no bread is a challenge.
And quite honestly I missed garlic bread so much.
So basically - for a long while, I replaced bought bread with home-baked
savoury and fresh herb scones and muffins.
Perfect with soup.
I then reintroduced some different types of bread.
Like sourdough, naan, flatbread, and ciabatta.
These are bread types I can eat with no bloating or nasty tum/bowel affects.
But they are a treat.
Once a week or fortnight.
Sometimes I just have buttered rice crackers with my boiled eggs.
I don't miss 'toast' at all anymore.
Eating bread and bread products less often led to more kilos falling off!

PART FIVE - LET'S TALK SUGAR AND CHOCOLATE:
OK - so here's the truth.
I ALSO love chocolate.
And seriously if I'm going to be honest...
My sugar habits were the worst!
I would crave sugar.
The more sugar I consumed.
The bigger the cravings got.
I was a BAKER.
A dessert maker.
Every meal ended with a sweet sugary treat!
And at my heaviest and unhealthiest I would do things like:
Make chocolate or caramel sauce and eat it on icecream.
Make unbaked chocolate slice and eat the mixture out of the bowl.
Visit the cafe two or three times a week and have a large caramel latte and cake or brownie.
Buy expensive chocolate balls and eat a packet a week.
Eat a king size block of chocolate a week.
Reading what I just wrote - I cannot believe I actually did that!
But hey - I'm being honest. 
And yes I did do that!
So to stop these unhealthy habits, I did three things.
I ate 'French' for cafe treat time.
I am so very lucky to have French cafes in my town that had healthier fruit/custard tarts, and Pain Aux raisin and almond friands and vegetarian lunch options.
I switched all chocolate to 60% or plus dark chocolate.
And I started making health balls for sweet snacks.
And guess what?
I no longer had that '1pm or 3pm crash need a nana nap'!
More weight disappeared!
And I was feeling healthier and healthier.
But don't get me wrong - I can still have a cake or sugar-sweet treat, on occasion if I choose to because this journey is not about going without.
It's about mindset and about control of unhealthy habits. 
But you know what - once I changed my chocolate/sugar habits, 
I rarely even want to eat those things anymore.

PART SIX - THE MILK AND DAIRY DILEMMA:
What did your mama say when your tummy was a bit upset?
'Have a glass of milk!'
I took that advice to the extreme.
Glass after glass.
LOTS of milk.
Yummy milk.
Soothing milk.
When your tum is sad drink milk...
Right?
Wrong!
I'm sure my calcium levels were AMAZING.
But I drank 6 litres of milk a week!!!
NOT KIDDING!
My sinus issues were out of control.
Prescription antiacid medication plus over the counter antacid use extreme.
Until I:
Addressed what I was eating and drinking...
That is as you know from reading this story what I did!
So I also decided - No dairy at all!
Extreme I know.
And oh my gosh I MISSED MILK SO MUCH.
It took months of 'adapting' to soy milk.
(I didn't like coconut, rice or almond)
But adapt I did.
Switching to 'Lite' soy milk was the trick to an easier transition. It really did take almost 90 days to consume soy milk happily.
I also reintroduced after 4 months of going without,
parmesan cheese and tasty cheese for cooking and salads.
And added goat or sheep milk cheeses.
I just don't have cheese and crackers 'all the time' like I used to.
Moderation is key.
For removing cows milk and reducing dairy consumption has helped my sinus issues.
Not fixed it.
But definitely helped it.
And I no longer use Losec at all.
Antacids very rarely.
My tum is AT LAST HAPPY!

PART SEVEN - THE DECISION TO REDUCE RED AND PROCESSED MEAT:
I have never really enjoyed eating a lot of meat.
And pre stomach scare that prompted this major diet overhaul, 
I was a person that ate red meat about 5 days of the week.
So it was not difficult to change my diet to a 'lesser meat' situation.
Chicken 
Seafood
Vegetables
Eggs
Pasta
Legumes
They are my go tos...
Pork,
Lamb
They are my 'on occasions'.
BIG FAT JUICY STEAK AND CHIPS MEAL
That's my treat!
Processed meat is not a favourite thing either.
I prefer chemical-free or old fashioned style processing.
It does cost a lot more to buy, but that's the healthy choice I make.

PART EIGHT - PORTION SIZE:
I don't count calories.
I don't follow a certain diet or fad.
For health, I believe you are what you eat and drink, 
and eating way too much compromises that.
So this is my mindset on that matter:
Downsize the servings.
Use a smaller dinner plate.
Don't have second helpings.
Leftovers are 'for lunch' the next day.
It really is the - Shall I have one piece of toast with my boiled eggs or Two? mentality.
Think before you eat.

PART NINE - EXERCISE:
I'm not a gym, weight lifting, runner, biker, skater or sporty type.
But I dance.
I walk.
I garden.
I don't sit around for long periods of time.
And I sing.
Did you know that singing actually burns calories?
So find the things that give you joy.
And just do that.

PART TEN - THAT 'FASTING' WORD!
There are many thoughts about intermittent fasting.
Some for.
Some against.
Some people say 'you MUST have breakfast'.
For me - I was never big on breakfast.
I just listen to my body now.
Most days I fast.
(8pm to noon) Some days I don't.
Some days I will have a smoothie.
Or - just a cup of soy coffee.
Or - just water with lemon.
Some days I have eggs for breakfast.
No rules.
It suits me.
It suits my lifestyle.
But for me 'Intermittent Fasting' has been the catalyst to my weight control.
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Here is a link to an interesting read about eating too much and fasting - thoughts about the 16-8 technique where you eat for 8 hours in a 24 hour period.
Which helps improve insulin levels and weight loss according to Dr Andrew Jenkinson.
https://www.sunlive.co.nz/news/234284-bariatric-surgeon-tells-us-why-we-eat-too-much.html?fbclid=IwAR303rBT-eN4CXBufKuKF6UjwFtDHY_lNcI2Oqpte1Uo2W16TcOChMkIgPE


PART ELEVEN - A HEALTH BUDDY AND PLATEAUS:
This journey I have shared has always been a solo one.
I've done it alone.
But recently I met a health mentor. Chris.
It was great.
I had plateaued in my weight loss.
I truly harboured a fear of scales.
And sometimes getting healthy was a lonely challenge.
I'm now in the 'Slimmerman' group on Facebook, which supports us on our journeys.
 Chris the founder, offers positive energetic words and videos.
So I would recommend joining a group.
Find one that appeals to you.
Groups are a neat place to share, get support, see what others are doing and get ideas.


PART TWELVE - THAT FOE CALLED STRESS:
Stress and his best friend 'Worry' have always been part of my life.
I'm a wound kind of person.
I get on a mission.
I won't stop until the mission is complete.
I worry.
I worry about things that should not be my worry.
I'm probably a classic Type A personality.
So what to do about that?
I only really started to address this two years ago.
Because I got 'shingles'.
Another health challenge.
Another wake-up call!
Tackling this part of my journey is ongoing.
I am 70% better, calmer, now than ever before.
But I am 'constantly' working on it.
Sometimes I fall into old stress and worry habits, but try to quickly pull myself into line again.
𑂽
What works for your stress and worry?
For me it is:
Prayer
Meditation
Breathing techniques
Self -talking
Positivity
Gratitude
Mindfulness
Kindness
Focusing on personal growth.
𛲣
And when I do find myself in that cycle of worry, 
it usually is only for a day or two...
not weeks or months as before.
Because I use the above techniques.
One of my favourite sayings is - 'Not my monkey - not my circus'.
I say it to myself then look at the cause of the stress or worry and decide if it really is something I should be concerned about.
Is it a drama that I don't need to be involved in?
Is this part of my life journey or is it really someone else's?
I have learnt to step back.
Hold back words.
Evaluate.
Then react in a calm way - if at all.
The biggest lesson overall for me was to become a master student of self 
learning about myself.
Online guidance is freely available.
For worriers, anxiety sufferers, and for all sorts of personal growth.
You just have to connect with the people who resonate with your soul,
 and make time to learn.
The journey and power to wellness and health begins with yourself.


PART THIRTEEN - ENERGY DRINKS:
Energy drinks are my personal demon!
My addiction.
They got control around 1998 
- when that delish alphabet letter fizz in a bright green can came on the consumer market.
At my worse, I was consuming 3 or 4 cans every day.
(along with all those other bad diet habits)
Over the years I have cut back on how many I drink in a day...
Had 2 or 3 a week not a day...
Said goodbye to them completely too many times to count...
 and then resumed the affair again.
I've read about the ingredients.
I know how awfully bad they are for you.
It is my struggle.
I'm still working on pushing the permanent 'delete button'.
I'll achieve that one day.

PART FOURTEEN -The next steps:
Further experimentation with intermittent fasting.
Here is a link about this subject that you may find interesting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsosxBjCUcE&t=829s

As well as continued consumption of healthier food options. 
Choosing more fresh produce, organic and raw foods.
Further reduction of processed food.


EPILOGUE - And so the journey continues:

May 2020 Update:
weight loss tips
Before the journey began I was a very large Size 16.
I weighed 86kg.
And was as unhealthy as one could be.
Tracey Lee Cassin
Now I am a size 12 and a stable 68kg.
And a much healthier me.
That's a huge 18kg weight loss as at May 2020.

July 2020 Update:
20kg total weight loss and now 66kg.


I look at this belt photograph and remember how proud I was when that first inch was gone.
Now the waistline is 4 inches smaller than before.
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My goal weight is 61kg.
I may or may not achieve that.
Regardless, I am very happy where I am on my health and vitality journey thus far.
Happy that I no longer require a cocktail of prescription medications 24-7 to live day to day life.
Happy I have found an eating regime that suits me and my lifestyle.
Happy I can still have cake!
Happy I can now enjoy a glass of wine!
Happy I can get through the day without a 'nap'.
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I feel like a completely new person.
And other than the fact I need another new hip sometime in the near future because Dysplasia is unfortunately not fixable by diet.
My health issues listed in the beginning are finally under control in a natural way.
I have fewer tachycardia events.
My stomach and bowel are happy campers!
SInus is still there in a minor way, but there are no longer debilitating epic headaches.
I can walk, and garden without suffering horrific joint pain for days afterwards.
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I'm grateful for a lot of things.
It's been 'quite the journey'!
And that journey continues...
I'm thankful for the changes that have happened, 
they have been a life game-changer.
I hope my story inspires.
Will power is an extraordinary thing.
It's never too late to make changes.
Just look at me.

TLee


Lose Weight

8 comments:

  1. I am seriously impressed - you go girl, and keep going!
    Stay safe
    Blessings
    Maxine

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Tracey.

    Totally love your blog.

    I've been under pressure from the coach to do something similar. Would you be willing/able to guest?

    Cheers, Harley :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Harley,
      Thankyou. So glad you enjoyed your visit to Mia Bella Passions.
      And I would love to guest for you.
      -TLee

      Delete
  3. Wow! Such an inspiring read. Good on you Tracey. I’m going to show my girls xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. An ongoing journey but one that will insipre and give hope when it seems impossible - well that is the wish. 🙂

      Delete
  4. Great Post Tracey.
    I've known you for some time now and keep up the best I can as a friend on FB about your life and work and the different you"s that I see, and have been allowed to be a part of with total respect for you as a person who has shared great value and honest openness of yourself and or life in some depth.I think you are a great inspiration to many and have a very loving and caring heart for others in this world we live. As a friend I can say I am very proud of you Tracey and your accomplishments you have made over the years I have followed you from Blogger to Facebook. What's most important to me is you are Happy and that is something that many don't have these days we live in. God has blessed you with many talents and friends to surround you. You are a treasure to me worth more than all the world has to offer I value our friendship and only want the best for your life.
    Thanks Tracy for just being you and sharing who you really are.
    Your friend always,
    Greg Hill

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Greg, thankyou for your kind words. I am humbled. You are a treasure also. Your friendship, positivity and support means a lot. xox

      Delete

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