Eight Weeks and A Major Lifestyle Change
How two grey clouds showed me a silver lining
If you remember my last article, I wanted to highlight this section from it, based on what I was planning to do with my time, after I decided to wind down my coaching business.
Building a More Holistic Approach to Life
Perhaps the foundation for these changes stemmed from my need to move towards a more holistic approach to living, that goes beyond a business and a presence in the digital space.
If the last year has taught me anything, it’s that life is as precious as we choose to make it. We decide where we should train our minds and focus our energies. The subconscious voice in my mind has become louder these last few months and I can’t ignore it any longer.
Life is about caring for our bodies through physical exercise, for our minds through better reading and for our souls through spiritual input. And the only way to do justice to this three-pronged approach is to quiet the number of external triggers in our lives. For me, personally, that means a fairly minimalist digital presence and perhaps moving towards a more hands-on way of living fully in each moment. Life is calling and I think the time has come for me to follow that calling and see where it leads. And so, today, it’s time to embrace change, take that bold step forward and walk the road not taken.
THE KEY TRIGGERS (AUGUST 2022)
I must confess that I didn’t imagine being away for eight whole weeks, but the truth is that things kind of took me by surprise. When I sent out that last email, I was actually in severe pain and agony. In the third week of August, a seemingly innocuous insect bite on my skin triggered an allergic reaction so severe that my body broke out in hives all over.
Those of you who don’t know, I have an autoimmune condition — urticaria — which causes unexplained rashes on my arms and face. For many years it’s lain dormant and has raised its head occasionally. But this particular outbreak was so severe that I had to resort to heavy medication and even that didn’t help for a whole week. Imagine going to bed after applying ice cubes and a wet pack all over your back only to wake up at midnight with a fresh outbreak on your face, neck and calves. It was sheer torture, to put it mildly. My doctor said I had no choice but to wait it out and so I did, with each day feeling worse than the last. And then, 9 days later, the rashes subsided and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Until the next morning, that is. Because now I had a different problem. An acute attack of sinusitis took hold and caused blinding pain in my head, nose and cheeks leading to a high fever. This again lasted for a whole week. I don’t think I’ve ever cried because of a headache until this happened. It took a strong dose of painkillers and nasal sprays to alleviate the pain, with the doctor recommending that I monitor the severity of the pain for the next few days.
The last two weeks of August were among the most horrid ones in my life, health-wise and as a result, I had to cancel a much-awaited trip that I’d been planning for over a month.
But you know what they say — every cloud has a silver lining.
For me, those two grey clouds of urticaria and sinusitis gave me the only obvious silver lining that I needed.
Things had to change. I couldn’t imagine going through this again and I started researching, with great curiosity, about what I could do to help fix my health.
I had heard that autoimmune conditions could only be managed, not fixed. But was that really true? What if there was a solution and I didn’t know about it? My research led me to read up about Anti-Inflammatory Diets and a very strange thing happened.
I GOT HOOKED
Okay, so here’s the thing you may not know about me. In High school, I disliked Biology and everything about it. Give me Math problems or an essay in English any day, but a session on the Human Body? Pass!
Now? I am simply fascinated by how the human body works, both in terms of nutrition and fitness — everything from the gut to the microbiome to ghrelin and leptin to TDEE and Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis and Building muscle — sign me up! I told you. Strange!
So anyway, when this did happen, I realised I had two options before me.
1. Work on my business while studying the human body
2. Take an indefinite sabbatical from my business while learning more about food, nutrition, and fitness
I guess you know which one I chose, given the eight-week silence on the writing front.
FIXING MY DIET & INCREASING MOVEMENT
The first thing I began doing was making small changes to my diet. This could be as simple as eating more fruits or vegetables at every meal and reducing processed foods each week. Another week, I decided to consciously monitor my water intake and started reducing caffeine and added sweeteners. Then I began to look at what I was eating at each meal in terms of a good balance of nutrients and if I was truly hungry enough or just following a mindless eating pattern.
A couple of weeks after fixing my diet, I noticed that my energy levels had improved which inspired me to move more often through the day. So I started incorporating a short morning walk to the grocery store to buy vegetables daily. This ensured I had fresh produce everyday or every other day to cook.
A week after that I wanted to get back to some fun cardio and resumed playing badminton. Two weeks after that it was time to focus on building strength, lifting weights and also incorporate a good, gentle stretching routine every day.
None of my changes were drastic or extreme, to be clear. I wanted to wait and gradually see the effect this would have on my health.
THE CONSCIOUS SWITCH TO VEGANISM
The biggest switch though actually happened about three weeks into this lifestyle.
I went 100% vegan in my diet.
I’d probably have to do a separate post about the reasons behind this decision but honestly, I have absolutely loved the transition and had no trouble with it, whatsoever.
Since I had started studying nutrition, I was also very aware of the various deficiencies that could stem from a purely vegan diet, so decided to fortify myself with extra information in preparation for this.
BECOMING A STUDENT AGAIN
Since early September, I have enrolled in 2 courses on the plant-based diet and am deep in research associated with both. I’ve also signed up for two more courses through November and December on the role of nutrition and fitness. In other words, becoming a student again has given fresh life to my dreams.
In the last eight weeks, things have changed incredibly, for the better. My energy levels have become super-powered on a plant-based diet. There’s more focus and concentration when it comes to work or study. My sleep quality has improved significantly and my snoring problem (which was pretty bad!) has also reduced. I absolutely love, love, love spending time in the kitchen, whipping up vegan dishes every single day and I also ended up getting a YouTube premium subscription since a whole lot of vegan recipes are available absolutely free. (Ad-free viewing is a boon!)
Sometimes it takes a really powerful Why to help us make a lasting change. I’ve found mine and it is my sincere hope that you find yours when the time is right.