Sometimes you have to go back to move forward. What do I mean by that? Well, have you ever found yourself thinking “if only I could take that trip again, eat that food again, meet that person again, buy that dress again, change that decision, make a better decision”? I think we all have been there, ever so slightly living in the past, and stopping ourselves from being in the present and looking forward to the future.
This is a story about a little journey that I am on at the moment
In the last 10 years I have run 6 marathons, about 20 half marathons, and countless 10K’s and 5K’s. I hated distance running at school, for me it was a time of cold days where you could see your breath leading the way, wearing not enough clothes to keep yourself warm, and finishing with an uphill rather than a downhill. That memory stayed with me for years, and I never attempted distance running until after my youngest daughter was born.
I started running to shift the baby weight and to keep my sanity, and I found that I loved it. A few months after starting I ran my first 10K, and a year later my first marathon.
I use running to keep fit, to make me feel better about myself physically and mentally, to challenge myself and give myself goals. I run when I am on holiday and I have gone on holiday to run. I have completed one of the best marathons in the world three times - Medoc - and enjoyed the wine each time. And don’t just take my word for how great it is, Lonely Planet put it in their Top 10 and Runner’s World rate it as the best party marathon in the world.
Then a series of events happened in the second half of 2016.
First of all, I started a new role that saw me commuting in a way I had never done before. Since I left University I have commuted, in fact I spent several years doing the red eye commute from Scotland to London weekly. But the manner of my commute changed. Before I would have mixed walking with public transport with driving, not solely doing one thing. Now I found myself sitting in a car, normally for 2 hours a day, but sometimes for up to 3 hours, getting out the car at the office door, and unlike the offices I’d worked in before the space was small, so exercise during the day was limited.
Then I picked up an injury, which was no-one’s fault but my own. I skipped my flu jag because I was too busy, and I thought “I’ll be fine”. I wasn’t, I caught the flu and was left with a lingering, hacking cough for weeks. That persistent coughing that I couldn’t shake, and then my stubbornness that I could do the Marcothon was my downfall. I managed just over a week of the Marcothon and had to stop. I had this terrible pain in my chest and no-one medical could work out what was causing it. After many months of investigation, it transpired that I had split the cartilage between my ribs and my sternum. My fantastic GP took up my cause and got me referred for pain management, but it was a 12 month journey.
I didn’t run for 18 months, but I still commuted. I ate badly, seeking comfort, and very slowly I put on weight. Because I didn’t put weight on suddenly no-one commented on it, and because after 18 months I started running again, everyone assumed all was good. Even though I completed 2 marathons, 4 half marathons and a smattering of 10ks since the end of 2016, I didn’t feel good inside or out.
But of course, as is often the way, we need a trigger. Or if we were mapping customer journeys, we would say an event would need to happen that would change the course of what was to follow.
My first event was lockdown. I’ll be honest with you, I quite liked some of the benefits of lockdown. I liked family mealtimes all together every night, I liked not being in a car all the time, I liked being able to have a sneaky wee glass of wine on a work night because I didn’t need to drag myself out of bed so early. I didn’t like the 7 pounds that crept onto my weight.
My second event was my friends Carol and Lovat starting a new diet, the Plant Paradox. Spurred on by another friend, Jo, who embarked on the Plant Paradox a few years ago to manage her chronic arthritis, they were trying the diet to manage pain in Lovat’s hip. I had read a bit about the diet, being interested because I could see what a difference it had made to Jo, but that was as far as I got. It seemed overly complicated, I couldn’t fathom the yes and no lists of food, it just wasn’t for me. I thought the whole ‘plants have feelings’ blurb was a bit off the wall. But crucially, Carol gave me her shopping list to get started, and I did, along with my husband, who hoped it would help his painful knee joint, a week after they started.
The diet has 3 phases – Cleanse, Repair and Restore, and Reap the Rewards.
By the end of ‘Cleanse’ I could have committed murder, my mood was awful, I was hungry, and I was tired.
Now I am well into ‘Repair and Restore’ and my energy levels are returning. I am running and feeling fast and strong. I am doing regular HIT sessions and feeling the benefit. My mood has improved. I have lost the weight I gained during lockdown. I can see the difference in the mirror. I have been strict but not rigid with the diet. You are allowed a glass of red wine and glass of brown spirit per day and I have been saving my weekday glasses for the weekend which you shouldn’t really do.
It is very early days, and this is where I go full circle – sometimes you have to go back to move forward.
A few days ago, we went out for lunch. There was nothing on the menu that fitted with the diet, so both my husband and I decided if we were going to go off piste we would absolutely go for it with gusto. I had macaroni cheese with pancetta lardons and chips, and tea with cow’s milk. I ate it all, but do you know what, I didn’t enjoy it. I immediately felt bloated and the thing that dissatisfied me the most was my tea. I love tea, I drink it all day, and have been moaning constantly about having to drink it without milk. It tasted horrid. I came straight home and made myself a cup of tea without milk to get rid of the after taste.
My husband had a burger with all the toppings in a brioche bun with chips. It looked amazing, but like me he didn’t enjoy it. We were both gobsmacked at how quickly our bodies had adapted and were rejecting our old favourites. We couldn’t eat any dinner, and it took 48 hours for the bloated, unwell feeling to go away.
For the last few weeks I have been craving carbs and tea in my milk. If I hadn’t gone back and tried it, I wouldn’t have been able to move forward. Today as I write this Blog, I know I am going to stick with it, bending the rules occasionally, but by and large making these changes to my diet. For me it is all about rewinding the last three and half years so that I can move forward. And hopefully with all the changes brought about by lockdown, the need to ‘show face’ in an office will have diminished - good for health and the environment.
The Plant Paradox wouldn’t be for everyone. It isn’t an easy diet to follow and stick to. But here is the crux, Dr Steven Grundy who is behind it says, “my mission is to improve your health, happiness, and longevity by making simple changes to your diet.”
If you want to find out more about his mission, then head over to his website – drgundry.com
If you think you might want to run the Medoc Marathon, drinking the finest wine from Bordeaux along the way, then check out their website – marathonadumedoc.com