Day 9 – Lincoln to Campton (continued)
When you have a chronic illness that brings systemic unrelenting pain (Lyme Disease and Autoimmune Diseases) you tend to withdraw. You tend to isolate and keep to yourself.
You spend hours trying to deny the reality that is your body.
I remember times when I was in so much pain that I’d ask myself if I was really thirsty enough to justify the agony it would take to get up from the chair and walk to the kitchen for a glass of water.
When you are in pain like that it literally hurts to move. Between not getting exercise, medication, systemic inflammation, and eating comfort food to feel good at least once in a while, you tend to gain weight.
Both Griffin and I were well over what was considered a healthy weight.
But 9 days on the road was starting to change our bodies.
Because we had to walk single file and I chose to let Griffin set the pace in front of me, I was the one to notice that his “love handles” had gotten smaller. His legs had lost any pudginess and were now formed of muscles.
I noticed that our belly equator (the hip belt on our packs that cut right across our pudgy tummies) wasn’t as pronounced as it has been when we started our walk.
And I noticed that the swelling in my ankles, of particular concern to me, because it can be an early indication of heart dysfunction – something my mother died of – was gone.
Granted we were walking about 8 hours a day, but I had a feeling that it wasn’t so much the hours spent as much as it was the consistency. If you want to save your body from decay then you have to get out and use it.
Every day. No excuses.
Another aspect of anyone’s health is diet. In my quest to heal both me and members of my family, I’ve tried many health diets. Ketogenic, high protein, low carb, Atkins, Paleo, Anti-inflammatory, I knew that food played a big part in our bodies’ health but it seemed so complicated trying to adhere to only one way of eating.
Couldn’t I just sit down to the table and eat?
There is a saying that goes – when the student is ready the teacher appears.
While we were passing through Lancaster a few days before, we took an unscheduled shortcut though a residential neighborhood that, according to Google would save us roughly .5 miles. Along the way we met a guy, Lance who when he saw us passing by, playing with his dogs in the driveway, drove his mechanical wheelchair out to the road to chat with us.
He had two gorgeous and friendly dogs and initially our talks were about his dogs and ours (two friendly but tiny dogs.) His dogs were so calm, ours were yappers.
Eventually we told him about our trip about our Lyme Disease about autoimmune diseases. About how we couldn’t do many things and yet here we were doing something we hadn’t thought was possible.
Lance told us that he had had Multiple Sclerosis for 30 years and although he was in a wheelchair, he hadn’t gotten worse and more importantly didn’t take any medication for his condition.
No medication for 30 years after being diagnosed with MS? Lance had my attention.
It was, he told us, because he followed an eating pattern called intermittent fasting. He didn’t eat any food from 6 at night until 12 p.m. the next day. He’d break his fast with a large salad with protein. He drank plenty of water (Around 3 liters a day) and ate a clean dinner with additional protein. He abstained from the big four that have been implicated in systemic inflammation: sugar, wheat, dairy and alcohol.
Up to 2 cups of coffee are allowed while you are fasting (along with herbal tea and water.)
Three times a week he did a half hour of cardio exercise, enough to raise a sweat.
That was his secret.” Look it up when you get back,” he told me.
I promised him I would and after a few more pleasantries, we shook hands and left him to continue our journey.
I could tell that Griffin had been intrigued with the idea of fasting. “What do you think?” he asked me.
I have always believed that we have a finite amount of energy to spend each day. If we eat junk food we are wasting more energy than if we ate better quality food. I hadn’t taken that idea any further.
But, if we follow through on that energy idea, if you are constantly putting food in your body (which Americans are known for doing –we tend to graze all day long) then your body is constantly using energy to digest the food. If you are sick and need to heal, you never give your body the opportunity to free up that energy to go toward healing. You are wasting it on digestion.
By fasting for 16 to 17 hours a day and when you do eat, eat only clean food, you are freeing up energy for your body to put toward healing.
It made sense to both of us, but we also agreed that now, on our walk was not the time to try this method of eating. We were using a lot of energy, we still didn’t have consistent food supplies, and quite frankly we ate what we could.
But we agreed that after our walk, when we gotten home, we’d look into the plan and see if it was something we wanted to try.
Months after our walk, Griffin and I continue our intermittent fasting. It has become a way of life for us. It’s not difficult and it gives us the added advantage that we think about our food before we eat it. We now also have more control over what we eat – you might be surprised at how much eating is done automatically without thinking. When grazing is not an option, you have more appreciation when you sit at the table.
It’s the meal plan that I had wanted.
Sure it’s not easy (especially during holidays and weekends when the family is home) to keep to a schedule, but if you fall off, you get back on the next day. I also have no problem eliminating wheat, sugar, dairy, and alcohol because I have long realized that when I eat those foods, my body hurts the next day.
Of course if you are on medication that requires you eat food when you take it then you can’t take your meds while fasting and therefore you shouldn’t follow this plan. But who knows if you fast long enough, you may not need to use as much of the medication. Lance sure didn’t.
Of all the food plans I’ve looked at, intermittent fasting is the easiest to do and even with a return to the high stress of work and school, both Griffin and I have lost weight following it and we feel good.
(Here’s some information on why we took this trip.)
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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