It isn’t easy having any form of IBD, IBS, Colitis, or Crohn’s Disease. It is even harder when you are young, going out with your mates and you have no idea why you are getting cramps, bloated, tiredness, loose bowels, blood and so much more.
This is even truer since I’m a Sport Scientist. I play basketball every day. I was fit and healthy on the outside but felt like I was rotting away on the inside. This was my position at 21 years old: studying to get my degree at university, which was a massive task. A sports science degree isn’t easy, least of all then having bowel problems. I have been to my doctor several times, and the usual “here’s some medication” was the answer. Nothing got better, and in fact, it was getting worse. After a lot of pushing from loved ones, I decided to get a biopsy. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.
My brain immediately went into meltdown. What did this mean? How could I continue my life? How can I make it through each day? What are the long term effects? And on and on and on. Then came the drugs, steroids, immunosuppressants etc. etc. I continued studying, but I started to shut down my life. I went from being healthy to overweight, doing less and less sports and drowning myself in pizza and Chinese takeout.
I didn’t realize I was doing this, but it made me feel good. I went from 13 stone (82.5kgs or 182lbs) to 18 stone (114.3kgs or 252lbs).
My Turning Point
It wasn’t until several years later, when I was 27 years old, that I looked in the mirror which was not something I did very often, least of all naked, and it hit me HARD. I caught a glimpse of my graduation photo, but the person staring back at me wasn’t ME. It was an impostor, someone who had let go of everything.
It was that moment of self-realization that changed me and was my rock bottom. I know, it’s not quite the rock bottom that some people hit but I was lucky. I didn’t hit the drug addicts rock bottom or the alcoholics rock bottom. I was lucky I caught myself before I could fall any further. At that point, I resolved to do something about it. I was a Sports Science graduate. I have no excuse. I have the knowledge, the ability and the reason to sort myself out. NO EXCUSES.
TIME. This is the endless excuse. Thankfully I decided on making the time. I got up 30 minutes earlier and did yoga. I can’t remember if I found it or if it found me but it was a good ‘coincidence’.
I went from yoga to yoga + meditation + nutrition to yoga + meditation + nutrition + running. And I would like to share exactly what I did.
The timings for this routine is going to depend on your start weight. There are many programs, videos, books and materials that can help you understand where to start and the poses you should begin with to promote weight lose. I chose yoga because it is a low impact activity, burns calories, gets you to ‘feel’ your body and focuses you.
1 to 3 months
30 mins of yoga per day
After one month, reduce your food intake. For example, in the past, I would have 1 Large Domino’s pizza, garlic bread and chicken goujons for an evening meal! I decided to remove one of the three and this reduced my caloric intake.
The last thing you want to do is completely change your diet. Your body won’t thank you for it. Slow and steady.
3 to 6 months
40 mins yoga, 10 mins meditation, add some healthy food
After 3 months, you should be levelled off. Now you need to up your game. Add 10 extra minutes to your yoga session. The meditation is optional, however, I found it rounded off my session and made me more psychologically present and stable.
Additionally, add in a salad or something healthy to your meals. This simple substitution can help you get used to eating new foods etc. without shocking yourself.
6 months onwards
30mins yoga + 10 mins meditation + running (jogging, cycling, walking)
By now you may be at a point that you need to add in a more demanding exercise. I still tried to make sure it was something I could do anywhere with minimal equipment. This isn’t always possible for everyone but try to keep that in mind.
Start off slow. The worst thing people do is think they can run for 30 minutes on their first go. Walk a little, jog a little, run a little. Get comfortable. ‘Slow and Steady’ will beat ‘Fast and Heavy’. Your joints will thank you for it.
Nutritionally, you should be cutting out all your bad foods. Salads, chicken breast, vegetables, non-processed food should now become your staples. Take your time and keep swapping bad for good.
My 5 Points to Finding Your Way
- Do yoga
- Reduce your bad food
- Increase your good food
- Slow and steady
- Find your motivations; Something to work to and something to work away from.
- Sit and think; there is normally a reason you overeat, etc. Sometimes it’s something deep in the past, sometimes it’s a comfort thing. Once you understand WHY, you can begin working on your body.
A Tibetan proverb says that we should, “Eat half. Walk double. Laugh triple. Love without measure.”
I hope that this gets you thinking about not just physical medicine, but incorporating a more spiritual and emotional routine into your steps towards complete healing.
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