www.Hypersmash.com Beating Lyme: februari 2013

zaterdag 23 februari 2013

a typical day

In this post I want to outline what a typical day is for me, nutritionally speaking.

I've found that sticking to this way of eating and drinking maximizes my energy and recovery. Recovery both in terms of recovery from Lyme disease and recovery from sports training.

06:00 - Breakfast

My focus here is on fueling up my body for the 38km (24 mile) bike ride in to work and for the day ahead.

I have a green smoothie already prepared in the fridge so I have a large glass of that.

Generally the smoothie (which is enough for 3 portions) consists of:

- Green vegetables such as beans, brocolli, brussell sprouts
- 1/4 cup almonds
- Sprinking of Spirulina
- 1 cup Blueberries
- Fruit such as bananna, pineapple, apple
- a few dates

As well as the smoothie I have one of my home-made blueberry energy bars. These bars are my staple snack food and are great for fueling up for a training ride or for providing energy after a ride.

I blend together the following ingredients:

- 1 cup dates
- 1 cup (frozen) blueberries
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 1/4 cup cacao
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds

After blending the above ingredients together I make about 6 'balls' out of the mixture, wrap each ball in plastic wrap and store in the freezer. They never completely freeze so you can eat them almost immediately after taking out of the freezer.

07:30 - Snack 1

Immediately after arriving at work I eat another blueberry bar and sip about half a glass of green smoothie.

Between starting work and lunch I generally don't eat anything but will drink about 1.5 litres of water (approx 6 glasses).

11:30 - Lunch

I bring my lunch from home. Generally it consists of green vegetables, some meat (usually chicken), a carbohydrate source (usually brown rice) and legumes (lentils, black beans).

13:00 - Snack 2

Usually around 13:00 I'll have a bananna or an apple.

15:00 - Snack 3

This snack is the same as the early morning snack; a blueberry bar and about half a glass of green smoothie. The aim is to fuel me up for the ride home.

Right throughout the whole day I'm drinking a lot of water.

18:30 - Dinner

My wife's a great cook and dinner is pretty varied and always delicious :-)

There's usually lots of veges or a large salad. Usually we have a meat dish such as salmon or chicken.

20:00 - Snack 4

For my last snack of the day I'll take a glass of green smoothie. If I'm feeling beat up after my cycling I'll sometimes have a few more carbs (such as another blueberry bar or a bananna).

So that's a summary of typical day's eating for me. On a typical day I'll ride my bike almost 80km (50 miles) so I need to take on additional calories compared to a less active person.

My diet is continually evolving as I learn more and experiment. I'm interested in pursuing even more of a plant based diet and perhaps cutting out meat altogether.

donderdag 21 februari 2013

What food/drink works best for me...

Over the course of my Lyme disease recovery journey I've found that what I eat and drink has the biggest impact on how I feel. When I eat well I have enough energy, I sleep well and have practically no pain.

When I eat poorly for a few days my energy levels decrease significantly, the quality of my sleep declines and pain, such as nerve pain in my feet, returns.

Because, at least for me, there is a strong correlation between what I eat and how I feel, I'm very motivated to eat well every day.

What I want to do in this post is run through the general guidelines that work the best for me. In my next post I will run through the specifics about what I eat in a typical day.

Note that I'm still learning a lot about nutrition and my diet is continually evolving. I'm tending towards much more of a plant based vegan type diet but currently I'm still having some meat and dairy products.

In general I stick to the following eating guidelines:

I eat (drink) lots of:

- Vegetables
- Berries (personally I eat a lot of blueberry's)
- Legumes (lentils, black beans, etc)
- (Water)... loads of it. I found often when I have food cravings it's really a sign that I'm thirsty and the cravings will go away after a large drink of water.

I eat a fair bit of:

- Lean meat (especially fish and chicken)
- Nuts (especially almonds)
- Brown rice
- Fruit
- Cottage cheese
- (Coffee) - not that I'm advising this mind!
- (Diet coke) - I definitely don't advise this and am in the process of giving up!

I eat (drink) occasionally:

- Cereal
- Bread
- Pasta
- (Wine and other alcoholic drinks)
- (Milk)

I try and avoid:

- White bread
- White rice
- Processed foods
- Chocolate
- Ice cream
- Other foods high in fat and sugar (e.g., donuts, etc)
- (Full Sugar soft drinks)

For me, giving up sugary/fat foods such as chocolate bars was hard. But it was only hard for a few days. After that the cravings wore off and now I don't even want to eat that food anymore.

woensdag 20 februari 2013

Can Lyme disease increase your (sports) pain threshold??

I'm currently training for some recumbent bike races in 2013. Up until today I've been focusing on building endurance and aerobic capacity, primarily through steady, fairly low intensity rides.

But with my first race just over 4 weeks away it's time to start mixing in a bit of speed work and interval training. Today I did my first serious interval training session in years. Actually decades! The last time I did a session like this was back in 1997 and I can still remember dreading it.

Today's session was not easy. Two 5 minute intervals at a heart rate of between 168 - 172 bpm. I had a good breakfast, a good warm-up, psyched myself up and then let it rip... and it was surprisingly easy!

I accelerated until just over 50 km/h (30 m/ph) and then just held it there. My heart rate was in the right zone so I was definitely working hard, but it didn't really feel hard. My form was good, my breathing was fine. In The last couple of minutes of the interval I ramped it up even more, pushing towards 175 bpm. At the 5 minute mark I eased off, but I felt like I could have kept on going. I rode easy for a while to recovery and then repeated the interval with the same results.

I was very happy and curious after the session. Why had it seemed so easy and how will that translate into racing performance when I start racing later in the year?

One good training session doesn't make a season and it could just be that I was having a great day. In any case it was a great session and I'm amping to get out there in a few days and try it again!

dinsdag 19 februari 2013

Tips for creating good habits

When I was trying to recover from Lyme disease I knew that some lifestyle changes, such as better nutrition and more regular exercise, would maximise my chances of recovering. Even though I realised this it was hard, initially, to make these changes a part of my life. At least in terms of good nutrition and exercise I was able to develop positive habits. Once that happened I no longer had to rely upon willpower to eat properly and exercise. Working out and eating well turned into a habit, if I didn't do them it didn't feel right (just like it doesn't feel right if you don't brush your teeth before you go to bed).

Here are some tips that worked for me.

1 - Learn what you need to change and why

Make sure you understand exactly what the benefits are of changing. And what the potential negative consequences are of maintaining your current habit. For example, regarding nutrition figure out exactly what you should be eating to maximise your recovery chances.

In the beginning there will be some periods when you want to revert back to your old habits. In those times I found it powerful to recall the reasons why I was trying to change.

2 - Fit it into your life

I knew I needed to exercise. But with two young kids making time to go running or go to the gym was difficult and stressful. But I found I could bike to work in pretty much the same time as what it took door-to-door with my normal commute on the train. This meant I could get in two hours of quality exerise each work day without any additional impact on time with my family.

For me this was key to being able to develop exercise into a habit.

3 - Get organised, get prepared

I find it hard to be organised. My room and desk are testament to this. But being disorganised was a killer to establishing good nutrition and exercise as habits. What I do now is make all my lunches and snacks for the coming week at one go in the weekend and then freeze them. This takes less than an hour and afterwards I have my lunch and snack food for the whole week sorted.

When I comes to exercise I make sure I get the gear I need for biking to work (clothes, wallet, work access card, etc) packed the night before. I make a green smoothie for breakfast and put it in the fridge. Based on the weather forecast I work out what cycling gear to use and lay it out the night before. Because of these preps, when I get out of bed at 05:30 in the morning it doesn't take any mental energy to get myself dressed, have breakfast and out on the road.

4 - Use willpower to get through the first few days Before I made change to my diet I used to have a fair bit of sugar, fat and processed food in my diet. My diet wasn't awful but definitely I had the more than occasional chocolate bar to fight off the mid-afternoon dip and used to 'help' my kids finish their ice creams, etc. Giving up sugar was hard. But it was only hard for the first few days. It took a lot of willpower to get through those first few days but after that the cravings wore off. Now I don't crave sugary foods anymore.

5 - Focus on one thing at a time

It's easy to get swept away in a 'New years resolution' type fever and find 10 or 20 things you want to change. In my opinion (and experience with my own resolutions!) that's just setting yourself up for failure. What works best for me is to focus on just one thing. One change. Once you embed that and it becomes a habit then focus on something else. But not two things at one time and definitely not 5 or 10.

zondag 17 februari 2013

Starting a 40 day meditation challenge (anyone wanna join in?)

I had my first encounter with meditation back in 1996 when I did a meditation course. The course was something like 4 * 2 hour evening sessions and I spent a bit of time meditating each evening. Basically I just stayed still and focused on my breath. Even though I was a complete novice and was only spending 10 or 15 minutes a day on the practice, meditation had a really positive impact on my life back then.

I felt much more relaxed and at peace and content. A couple of months after I started meditating I moved to a different city and meditation somehow got pushed to one side. That was almost 17 years ago and it's still pushed to one side now! I often mean to try and establish a meditation habit but up until now I've never been able to actually do it for anymore than a day or two.

So this is my attempt to make a 'public' commitment to meditate twice per day for the next 40 days. I say 'public' as I'm not sure if anyone other than me will actually read this but anyway :-)

If anyone out there is reading this and wants to join in this challenge with me then I'd love to hear from you and maybe we can support each other in giving it a go...

I'll try and post on here every day to let you know how it's going...

zaterdag 16 februari 2013

Coping with insomnia

I had many painful symptoms when I was suffering from Lyme disease; loss of vision, arthritis, nerve pain, etc, etc. The worst and most persistent problem was insomnia. For more than two years I battled terrible insomnia. In this post I share what worked for me in dealing with it and overcoming it.

Initially my sleep problems were due to pain. I was having bouts of nerve or bone pain every couple of minutes and these were so severe that there was no possibility of sleeping through them. The first month of so after I started antibiotic treatment was the worst. There were some nights when I didn't sleep at all. Not a minute. There were a lot of nights when I was getting by on 20 minutes sleep a night. For a month or so I never got more than 2 hours sleep in a night.

My coping mechanism at that stage was all about survival. I was on a whole smorgasbord of pain and sleep medication. I used to watch comedy on TV in the wee hours when everyone was asleep. At that time I'd often end up on the floor in fits of laughter - laughing was a pleasant side effect of having 2000mg of Gabapentin coupled with valium :-)

Luckily this horrendous period only lasted a month or two and after that the pain diminished fast. After a few months I was able to stop completely with the pain medication. I had stopped months earlier with the sleep medication. I was, along with my doctor, concerned about the possibility for becoming dependent on it. However even though the pain had largely gone, my problems with sleeping persisted for another 18 months. I tried many, many things in that time. Here is what worked for me:

Nutrition Cutting out sugars, processed foods and alcohol and introducing more fruit and vegetables into my diet. See my other posts on nutrition for more details.

Acupuncture: I had my first acupuncture session after I'd had 6 weeks or so of almost zero sleep. I was desperate and felt on the edge of losing my sanity. The night after my first acupuncture treatment I slept almost 6 hours! Winning the lottery wouldn't have made me happier than that sleep! After that I continued acupuncture for the next 18 months often going twice per week. Generally, but not always, I slept reasonably well the night following a treatment. I had a few different acupuncture practitioners and found that the effectiveness of the treatment is very dependent on the practitioner. If it's not working for you try another practitioner. Don't give up on acupuncture straight away.

Natural sleep supplements Two that really helped me were Melatonin and Valerian. Generally I would not take these together. I found it worked best to have Melatonin each night for a few weeks and then switch to Valerian. Over time the effectiveness of them would wear off but by cycling them in this manner I could maximise their effect.

Taking it easy / minimising stress The problem for me during most of 2011 and 2012 was that insomnia was really the only problem I had. My pain was gone, my vision and hearing were OK. So I felt like I should be back at work and should be being productive. But working fulltime on 2 hours of sleep a night was just setting myself up for failure. Most days I would work but every now and again I would stay home and just take the pressure off. Initially I waited too long before taking one of these sick days but that wasn't the right option. My work and mental health were really under pressure. After a few months I started taking time off before the stress got too much. Generally one day off in 10 was enough to allow me to work effectively on the other 9 days.

Exercise It's hard to summon the willpower to exercise when you're not sleeping but for me it was vital in recovering. I built exercise into my day by cycling to and from work. I found a combination of aerobic exercise (cycling) and weight training had the most positive impact on my sleeping.

Meditation and mindfulness I did a mindfulness course and the techniques I learnt there (meditation, body scan, etc) helped. I found having the self-discipline to do these regularly was very hard particularly if I was not sleeping.

Laugh Those comedies I watched when I was at my worst were a lifesaver. Even though I wasn't sleeping the laughing and relaxation helped tremendously.

Stay positive I had some very dark times when I wondered if I would ever be able to sleep again. Especially when I had setbacks in my recovery. My recovery was not linear, sometimes I would sleep well for a few weeks and then terribly for a couple of weeks. It was hard to remain positive during those times but it was vitally important to see these setbacks as temporary.

vrijdag 15 februari 2013

Setting and achieving goals

Over the past few months I've put a lot of time into working out how I can set and achieve goals. Setting goals (usually written down) is something I've done for the last 20 years. Achieving them on a regular basis is something I've only done the last few months.

Setting unachievable goals. When I first started triathlons back in 1994 I had a goal of being selected for the national team in my first year.

Unfortunately that goal, and many others, were in no way achievable. I was too impatient. It's great to have big dreams but to place an unrealistic deadline on them is just setting yourself up for failure. If I had stuck with triathlons I am sure I could have got into the national team. But because I didn't meet my goal of selection within one year I got disillusioned and quit. In reality I made huge strides in improving my triathlon ability but I got hung up on the goal and couldn't give myself the pat on the back I deserved.

Having only one level of goal In the past I've tended to only have high level goals such as 'be a professional cyclist within 3 years'. I didn't have the small, incremental goals which are vitally important to give small successes along the way to the big goal. And I didn't tie my high levels goals in with my core values. So from both sides my goals were lacking.

My family and I enjoyed a 2 week holiday in the mountains in Italy over Christmas 2012. During that holiday I took a lot of time to reflect on my goals and what I wanted to achieve. Here's the process I arrived at...

Formulate your personal mission statement How do you see your ideal self? For me it was as a great father, husband and as someone who was fit, healthy and confident in themselves. From my mission statement I could figure out the values and qualities that were most important to me.

Work out your one year goals Where do you want to me in a year's time? I had sports goals, weight loss goals, goals for saving money, goals for helping my kids, etc.

For each one year goal list the intermediate goals For me, monthly goals are best. For my weight loss my long term goal is to lose 20kg (44 lbs). Each month I have a goal of losing 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs). Those 2.5 kg are super serious for me. I think about that goal each day. I find it important not to have too many goals at one time. For me I can really only fully focus on one thing at a time if big changes are needed. At the moment losing weight is my primary goal. I also have goals about helping my kids with reading and maths and my own personal goals with language learning but because they require less of a change than the weight loss I can incorporate those into my life fairly easily.

Plan the actions to reach your short-term goals Staying on the weight loss goal, my short term actions are to eat clean, nutritious meals, to log my calories consumed each day, and to consume less than my daily allowance of calories. This level of goals is all about concrete, actionable tasks.

Do it and track progress For my weight loss goal I track calories consumed and my weight each day. That may seem obsessive but for me it works best for keeping my attention on the goals and for keeping disciplined about performing the actions I need to reach the goal.

It's usually not easy achieving any worthwhile goal. But it can be done. And the journey itself can be super rewarding. Good luck!

donderdag 14 februari 2013

Going green...

More than anything else food has had the biggest impact on my recovery from Lyme disease.

Minimising sugars and processed foods and maximising vegetables had the biggest positive impact on maximising my energy and minimising my pain. About a year ago, during a 2 week holiday, I took a break from eating clean and ate whatever I wanted. Which back then was a pile of sugar or fat laden yummy food and lots of beer and wine. What really struck me was that after a week or two of this my energy levels dropped right down and the nerve pain in my feet returned.

For me this was enough motivation to get 'back on the food wagon' so to speak, for good.

Since then I've experimented a bit but generally stuck to the basics: oats for breakfast, beans, brocoli, lentils and chicken for lunch, fruit or vegetables for snacks, and usually a delicious meal cooked by my wife for dinner. Although I generally ate fairly clean I wasn't 100% monk like in my dedication. I enjoyed a glass or two of wine and/or whiskey most evenings and sometimes had the occasional pizza, pasta dish, sneaky ice-cream etc.

With this diet I managed to slowly bring my weight down from 103kg to around 95kg at which point it seemed that the scales stuck and I reached a glass floor I couldn't break down through.

That was the case for most of 2012. In early Jan 2013 I made a decision to really eat clean and try and shed some serious weight (I'll talk about that more in another post). Long story short, in the 6 weeks since then I've slimmed down from 95kg (210lbs) to 87kg (192lbs). One aspect of my diet which has a huge effect on my energy and mood levels has been adopting more of a plant based diet. I first got onto this idea after reading 'Finding Ultra' by Rich Roll (photo below) and listening to some of his pod-casts (which I highly recommend)

A week ago I notched it up a level and headed down to the local health food shop and bought up the ingredients I needed for some healthy bars, green smoothies and fruit smoothies. Sunday was my first full day on this regime. That night I slept super soundly and the next morning I woke up with an incredible amount of energy. That whole day I had energy to burn. Normally I get to about 2:00pm and need a diet coke or two to keep me going to home time. But on that day I didn't think once about needing a diet coke. It was brilliant.

I've now been a week on the diet and am still feeling great. One very positive benefit is that I feel a lot more chilled out, a lot more relaxed about things. Last weekend in my mad plant based diet reading frenzy I began reading the book 'Thrive' by plant based diet athlete Brendan Brazier (photo below). One concept he talks about is food stress. He talks about the stress the body has to go through to get the nutrients out of processed food and how having a plant based whole food diet can really minimize this stress.

My results so far have really validated this idea. I also feel way fitter and am getting much more cut.

I'm looking forward to starting some recumbent and tower running races this year and seeing how I do.....

If you have any questions about starting with a plant based diet I'm happy to help out if I can.