Thursday, 24 April 2014

Why Petunia is not allowed an opinion.

This could be my record attempt for my shortest ever post, because in summary I could just say “Because she’s a moron”.

One of the things I’ve noticed over time is a seemingly insidious sense from her that she can adapt – clearly in a previous life she was a Galapagos finch. Whatever I try seems to work for a while, and sometimes quite a long while, but it’s as if one day she wakes up having figured out a way to defeat my new strategy and things on the health front will return to the erratic nonsense that is their norm.

There is only so much anyone can take of this before they start to get pretty fed up. She can’t be reasoned with and she can’t be talked round, and each thing I try she manages to work out how to beat it or simply ignore it. Maybe I just haven’t found the right strategy to attempt yet, but I’m running out of feasible options rather quickly.

The real reason for the bad taste left in my mouth about it all is this though; science and current medical thinking would dictate that these things should be working. There doesn’t seem to be a logical explanation for why they aren’t doing so, or at least not on a long term basis. It’s as if she just ups and decides that she doesn’t have to pay attention.

(Except she's not listening. Image from

My latest attempts were going gluten free and adopting a new exercise regime. The switching to a gluten free diet has not been anywhere near as difficult as I was at first expecting. Yet again I have reason to be thankful that my parents (and therefore me when I was growing up) were typically British in their eating habits. Not many things in sauces and a lot of plain but good food. Italian was about as far as we stretched to foreign cuisine when eating out.

Once I’d gotten my head around the mind-boggling array of unexpected items which contain gluten (yoghurts – really?) I actually found the transition to be relatively painless. I’m off bread completely and so not attempting the gluten free alternatives, and only occasionally having pasta for which I don’t mind the alternative at all. I’ve also discovered some lovely supermarket brand gluten free ginger cake slices – unlike most gluten free sweets and cakes they’re not terrifyingly bad for you and they’re just the right size that one is enough to give me a little bit of a treat rush without impacting my otherwise healthy diet very much at all.

Did I mention they’re beyond delicious? I should have, because they are.

Of course the main question at this point is whether this is working. At the moment, after three weeks I can tentatively say yes. There are some definite improvements with bowel symptoms and thereby as a result I have experienced comparatively little bloating and discomfort since making the change. I was expecting it to take much longer for any change to have impact and so for the first week or so of improvement I was understandably suspicious and waiting for the pendulum to swing back.

Thus far, touch wood, it has yet to do so. I still get a certain amount of pain from the same areas as before (upper and lower left quadrants) but the difference is wonderful. By proxy, my diet is probably also cleaner than it has ever been and I’m certainly feeling like I have a bit more energy than I have had in a long time. I no longer have the “food nap” sensation after meals. I still have days where I feel like I’ve woken up with the spoon count already in the negative – negative spoons are a thing, I’ve discovered – but my “normal” level of energy is still noticeably improved.

What about that exercise regime though?

This is the story of when Petunia met Jillian Michaels. They did not part as friends

To begin with, I will just say that I’m not going to go into this write up recommending Jillian Michaels’ workouts to anyone. They’re hard work and very taxing on the body – and I would suggest that would be true for the 100% well let alone those with chronic ill health, so please don’t take my successes with the workout as an automatic green light for you. Most of her workouts are available to watch on Youtube – I really can’t stress enough the need to watch them through before you think about putting them into practice, and if you’re still not sure then you need to speak to your doctor.

There are also parts of the workouts I modify and switch out, purely because (sorry Jillian) she’s absolute murder on the knees in particular. Some of the exercises I watched and knew better than to attempt from the off – another reason I say you must watch them through before you try them. This also helps to ensure you’re picking up correct form, too.  

I would also say that I don’t consider Jillian to be a human being so much as I do a walking and talking embodiment of the “no nonsense” approach. She takes no prisoners at all, and whilst I love the effect the workouts are having on my let-go-a-little-through-winter body, I still expect her to remain a permanent fixture on my hit list.

(This is turning into something of a complex love-hate relationship. Image from

Most of what I’m doing is the 30 Day Shred DVD. It’s hard. However, it does deliver the results promised. I’m about half way through and I can see visible difference and clothes fit better already, so I look forward to the results at the end of the month. It’s also getting me into the frame of mind of exercising most days which I’d like to try and keep up because it does do good things for my energy levels overall. I’m having at least one day’s swimming a week instead of the DVD and at least one day’s rest – ideally you should have only one but there’s no sense in working beyond my capabilities. My body won’t do six days straight no matter what incentive you give it.

At the moment then, I’ve conquered the wild beast and she lies asleep and tame once more. I don’t know how long this will continue for but I’m determined to keep up the mostly gluten free diet (the odd treat to accommodate eating out with friends and what have you) as even if it doesn’t solve the specific symptoms I was aiming for long term, the renewed energy and general feeling of “better” isn’t something to be sneezed at.

Long may it continue.

Definitely not sneaking off with another ginger cake slice, and wishing you all many spoons xxx

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