Fat, Exercise, and Stress

I’m broadening my reading experience and have, in addition to The Wahls Protocol, started reading Gabor Mate’s ‘When the Body Says No’ as well as the latest edition of Time Magazine, titled ‘The Science of Exercise’.  Together, this literature is making me more determined than ever to get off my ass and do something other than work, eat, and sleep.

Firstly, in The Wahls Protocol book, there’s a section that explains fats and why she recommends Ghee as well as Tallow and other saturated fats for cooking rather than olive, avocado or vegetable oils.  Essentially, the bonds in saturated fats are strong and when heated they don’t break.  However, the bonds in other types of fat are weaker or structured differently, which means when they’re heated their structure changes, which leads to the high probability that when we ingest them they will bond with other molecules, e.g. proteins in our body and potentially form a damaging compound that could increase inflammation.  So, effectively, love olive oil and other delicious oils, but use them only cold.  Clearly you don’t want to drizzle vegetable oil on your salad, so that’s not an option.  Also, as another note, vegetable oil, when heated and particularly when heated repeatedly such as it may be in a restaurant fryer (for example) is more likely to form trans-fat (the really bad stuff that your body can’t process).  So, basically avoid vegetable oil entirely.  I’ve been embracing Ghee and Coconut Oil for cooking and it’s felt like an indulgence, so I’m 100% happy.

Now, let’s talk about Stress.  I’ve just started reading this book, but it’s so powerful that I’m addicted.  It’s not a ‘do this and you’ll feel better’ book, it’s more anecdotal combined with science.  It starts by telling stories of people who suffer/ed from chronic illness and it shares some insight to the background of their personal circumstances.  The bottom line is that when diagnosed and then treated by the medical community for their disease, these people did not have anyone ask them about their personal lives and delve into their psychological state.  Now, Mate is a medical doctor, but he’s clearly on the psychology end of the spectrum and his interest in these people and their stories has been and is on how their experience in life could/may have contributed to the onset of their disease: their body saying no.

As I read this book and as Mate says on multiple occasions, it’s hard to believe that your circumstances and not just bad luck or genetics, could have caused your illness.  However, in the cold light of day, it’s as likely as anything else because many of the diseases we face today are unexplained by the medical community in terms of the ‘why did it happen to me’ part.  Mate has come under fire from many in the medical profession for suggesting that someone suffering from chronic illness or disease should or could be blamed for doing it to themselves.  This is clearly not his position: he’s just point out the links between stress on the mind and its potential impact and manifestation in the body.  I’m intrigued and also likely to do some soul-searching as I read further.

Also, it occurs to me that I’ve read somewhere before, or heard from someone who read about how many women suffer from auto-immune issues shortly after child-birth.  I’m wondering, in a ‘curious and hoping that someone else will write about this’ way, whether or not it could be related to the stress of child-birth and the aftermath in terms of the sleeplessness, pain (if you have labour injuries, breast-feeding issues), guilt, weight loss problems, and the inevitable worry that you’re not doing it right.

My own auto-immune issues (RP) first became apparent to me when my daughter was almost 1.5 yrs old, so who knows.  But I guess it’s also not like food poisoning where you know about it within 24 hours.  Also, since 2013 (here’s my public soul-searching) I’ve had the most brutally stressful life: ectopic pregnancy; emergency surgery; loss of a fallopian tube; a surgeon informing me that the other fallopian tube is damaged and likely not working; many invasive investigative procedures to determine the health of said remaining fallopian tube; followed by confirmation that it doesn’t work; followed by surgery to remove it thereby leaving me without the means to get pregnant naturally; followed by IVF (an extremely lonely endeavour that no matter how wonderful your partner, you’re doing it alone); and in between all of this being flooded and displaced from our home for a few weeks with recovery for about a year after; losing our car in the flood (trivial, I know, but still a stressful thing); having severe back pain (necessitating emergency services at an airport… uber embarrassing, not to mention excruciatingly painful); being bed-ridden for weeks as a result; walking with a cane for many more weeks to recover from the back pain; moving to Australia and having a seriously terrible job and reception there with no support mechanism as well as massive guilt about moving my husband to a foreign place with no support network; being pregnant in Australia yet having to prove myself in my role covering SE Asia, which involved travelling 93,000 air miles during a 7 month window whilst pregnant; working all the way up to 3 hours before giving birth; being told I did not have a job just 2 weeks after giving birth; being asked to move to The Netherlands just 4 weeks after giving birth; deciding to take a year of leave; living out of a suitcase and living with family for 7 months; moving back to Canada to a job I didn’t want; losing a lot of money on the move to and from Australia that was not reimbursed by my company; being demoted at work for reasons of cost; being replaced in my role by 2 men, both of whom were in promoted positions; being told that nobody at work “likes” me; being a listening ear to so many people (although this bit is important to me and doesn’t feel like the worst stress in the world); all whilst being the sole income in my household (through choice and a wonderful privileged choice it is that I wouldn’t change for a second); and all the while trying to be a good mum and wife and sister and daughter, as well as trying to manage my disease without looking like it’s difficult; trying to find a way to fit in taking control of my life and disease; knowing that I’m failing in so many areas that are important, including trying to make myself exercise and get more than 6 1/2 hours sleep a night or eat less sugar, drink less wine, be more sociable, grown my circle of friends……  Shit!  It’s been a stressful 4 years.

Yikes, this is a long post…. I’ll keep the next part brief.  The Times edition on Exercise is very powerful and it’s basically telling the reader that some studies are now setting out to scientifically prove the benefits of exercise.  They believe that in the future, Doctors will be prescribing a specific exercise plan for patients rather than a drug.  The thing is that we all know exercise makes us feel and look better: just compare a non-exerciser to an exerciser and it’s an obvious visual confirmation that it’s better to do it than to abstain.  One of the articles mentioned a lab test on mice that involved 50% exercising daily and the others remaining sedentary.  In the post-mortem results, even though it was a blind study, the scientists could tell which mice had exercised and which had not.  The could do this because the proliferation of fat and tumours in some mice as opposed to not one tumour and limited fat in the other mice really gave it away.  Now, clearly we’re not mice, but even if it’s only vaguely close to the truth in the human population (and judging by the cost of medical care and the number of people who are sick and getting sicker) it’s an easy and free investment to try to look after your body.

For me, I spent from the age of 3 to 18 doing A LOT of dancing.  I think I’m fatigued with exercise and also I only have so much will power.  However, I owe it to myself and to my family to do whatever I can to prolong my life as a healthy and happy person.  As such, I will be doing exercise, as well as reading more about it.  I’ll not commit right now to what I’ll do: I need to have a plan to fit it into my life, but by this time next week, I will be a daily (5 days as week) exerciser of some description.  Watch this space……

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