I have turned the big 50 this year, yet I have never felt healthier or felt more 'in control' of my life.
This has nothing to do with luck or good genes as I don't believe in the concept of 'luck' and neither of my parents would be considered good role models as far as health is concerned. My father has had a triple bypass and has had a couple of endarterectomies which involves physically removing plaque from inside the carotid artery.
Both have had their gall bladders removed; both have had kidney stones and my mother battles endlessly with digestive complaints and has high insulin levels.
That is not to say that I never battled with any health challenges as I was diagnosed with grade 3 endometriosis whilst still in high school and battled with a degenerative corneal condition all my life which left me partially sighted by the age of forty.
I had a near-fatal paragliding accident in my early thirties which resulted in a broken neck, fractured skull and numerous other less serious breaks and electrical burns.
In my twenties I felt like a victim to my health conditions; particularly where my eyesight was concerned. I was dragged from specialist to specialist each adding their two cents worth but none actually adding any valuable insights as to what the actual cause of my problem was. That is when I realised that doctors do not always have the answers; how could they?
Doctors are fallible
Doctors only know as much as they have been taught and in reality specialists have a very narrow focus; often overlooking the interconnectedness of the entire body in favour of the one thing they specialise in.
They are great at addressing mechanical faults and are invaluable when it comes to surgery as I can personally attest over the last four decades.
It is unrealistic to expect a human being who has thousands of patients to focus wholly on your personal issue!
Through all the years and the different types of doctors I consulted there were hardly any who asked about my diet. It dawned on me that this is a major flaw in Western medicine. Even doctors who specialise in matters of the gut and digestive system do not discuss diet with you - they refer you to a dietician. It appears as though this aspect of your wellbeing is beneath them and they will rather farm it out to someone else who has no clue.
Your health is your own concern and if you don't look for answers and solutions you can't expect anyone else to.
Of course diet is only one aspect of this complex thing called health.
Exercise is crucial to unlocking your body's potential. Human beings are designed to move; we thrive when we get our heart, lungs and muscles working.
Exercise is not only a weight management tool!
The benefits of exercise extend to keeping hormones balanced, optimising the immune system, keeping the bones dense and improving brain function.
I have exercised for as long as I can remember and the key to maintaining my interest in exercise has been variety. Horse-riding, athletics, yoga, skiing, dancing, swimming, adventure racing, cycling, hiking and gym have been part of my journey through life. I am competitive and have done well at most sports and had it not been for my deteriorating eyesight I may have become professional but that was clearly not my destiny.
Prior to that I followed a low fat diet on the recommendation of mainstream propaganda.
Forget about 'state capture' the entire world was captured by the crazy notion that eating a low fat diet and 'healthy grains' will produce optimal health!
I have never been fat but I always battled with my digestive system and I was constantly bloated and looked pregnant! In fact many active people (many of them professional athletes) have a characteristic 'boep' even though they are thin. This is known as a wheat belly (read Dr William Davis' book by the same name). Human beings are not meant to consume carbs as their main source of energy.
Carbohydrates are the only macronutrient that is not essential to life.
Yes you read that correctly. The food pyramid is driven by multinationals looking to swell their already bloated coffers. That is not to say that carbs need to be completely eliminated from our diets; healthy carbs can be consumed in the correct quantity and this differs from person to person. I can get away with eating quinoa, oats, rye, butternut, lentils and potatoes occasionally, whereas this would send my good friend into a carb coma.
The more insulin sensitive your muscles are the more forgiving your body is when you eat carbs and the only way to do this is through exercise!
My consumption of carbs depends largely on my activity level, the more active I am the better my body can process them; however I do not rely on them for fuel when I am doing endurance exercise. I can work hard without reaching for any food because I have trained my body to tap into its own internal fat reserves.
We hiked to Everest Base Camp for my birthday, a round trek of 180km and a height gain of 2524 meters in sub-zero temperatures. The going is tough, the paths often steep, rocky and of course icy.
I was the oldest female amongst five others (the next 'oldest' was 32), as it turns out not am I really fit but my blood oxygen level was the best out of our group of nine. I also ate the least out of everyone and often skipped breakfast (much to the chagrin of our team leader). Having said that I still consumed more than I do back home (especially more carbs in the form of pasta, potatoes, pulses and simple sugar) . Yet I still lost weight (I managed to burn some really stubborn belly fat which I've had like forever), and I never ran out of steam. I watched the youngsters scoffing bar after protein bar in the name of 'replenishment and energy' yet they couldn't keep up with the old duck.
I am the same weight as I was when I left school, I am strong due to the resistance training I do and I have lower body fat now than I've ever had despite eating a lot of good fat. If that is not proof of the benefit of exercise combined with a low carb diet then I don't know what is.....