Sunday, 19 July 2015


I have recently undertaken a new fitness plan, one that focuses on timing macro nutrients based on unique expenditure. I've been finding it increasingly fascinating since I have healed my gut and am able to do and eat more and more things!
I began a new job in January and with that a new gym membership. I have enjoyed spending my lunch breaks there trying to follow a home made weights plan, using the pin weight machines largely. However, a friend introduced me to The Body Coach and I began reading and following along.
I took the plunge and signed up and I am currently one week into the plan!
It's a tailored nutrition package and a fitness plan spanning 90 days. The plan is split over three phases, called cycles, and each is designed specifically. The first cycle, my current one, is a fat burning phase, consisting of a mostly low carbohydrate diet and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) with carb loading after work outs. I love it!

My goal was to have a bit of fun in the gym and learn about the body's needs fuel wise, however I have set myself a fun challenge! Project Wonder Woman! I have ALWAYS wanted to cosplay (if you didn't know I am a huge geek) and Wonder Woman is one of my most favourite heroines from comics. She's a classic goodie, strong, powerful and wholesome (bit like my gut :p)

Of course I received advice from my nutritionist before embarking on the plan and she gave me some unique-to-me advice on products etc. I would never want to undo the good work I have done with her!

But I am honestly so excited and proud to be able to do this! I think about nutrition and health nearly all day long if I can! It has become so important to me.

Now that my gut is strong, I hope to become strong too! I bought a Heart Rate monitor and it's so interesting and inspiring to track my progress throughout my work out. I definitely work harder now that I have one. I am currently going treadmill sprints and boy are they tough! 30 seconds never felt so long!

Starting biceps :p Must try harder.

I haven't actually chose which version of Wonder Woman I want to be yet! I would love some help. I love the George Perez classic Wonder Woman comics but I was dying to include some armour! Look at these total babes I found! Good grief! 

And this is a cosplayer called Meagan Marie <3 <3 <3

If you want to follow my progress, I'm trying to tag all my posts on Instagram and Twitter with #projectWonderWoman ^_^

Monday, 3 November 2014

Whole 30

Hello foodies!

During the month of October I partook in my first Whole 30 challenge. What's Whole 30?! The Whole 30 is a commitment to 30 days eating only whole foods, listening to your body and keeping hydrated. It sounds so very simple, because it is!
I love the straight down the line language of the rules and the attitude of the creators of the challenge. They start:

Yes: Eat real food. Eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed.

Easy no!? Well, if like me you have already given up sugar and processed foods and eat a strict paleolithic style diet, then yes, it IS fairly simple. But if you are stuck in the western diet, possibly over consuming foods that are bad for you, not making you feel your best, aren't satisfying and sometimes, don't even resemble real food, then boy it can be tough! Many call this is a 'reset' diet. It is designed to really push you within, to question your very relationship with food and search for answers, all over a seemingly unending, agonising 30 days. The creators know how hard it can be and have an extremely helpful and hilariously accurate emotional timeline.

The site has some great resources and a friendly community so you don't feel alone! But don't expect to be wrapped in cotton wool! There is some tough love and some very sobering advice littered across the site!
It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.
I love the 'in your face' nature of the whole challenge and I particularly enjoyed not tracking calories, not weighing myself, listening to my body, trying to figure out what it actually wanted rather than what I thought I wanted. But what I loved most of all was the community. I joined a FB group and we posted our meals everyday and moaned at each other and encouraged each other and cheered each other on!

I found the program easy, as I am AIP anyway. I eat this way every single day through need not choice. But I have come to realise it IS my choice now. I could never go back! I enjoy whole foods too damn much and I enjoy my newly rebuilt and healthy body too much. Sometimes it's hard, sometimes I moan when I have to get up early to prepare meals to take to work or to conventions and if I get caught out I bitch like hell about being hungry and I can't run into a shop to pick something up. Yes it's hard, but it's ALWAYS worth it ^_^

If you are interested in some meals that I ate whilst on W30 you can follow me as 'bintykins' on the TwoGrand app. Here are some handy, dandy collages!
Clue: pulled pork featured A LOT ^_^

I didn't lose any weight throughout the month, but nor did I gain any! It was funny to me to be the exact same weight at the end of the month when I had eaten more food, and particularly starchy carbs, this month than the last two months combined! I tried to eat three good meals a day and listened to my body. I have been a bit of a low carber for too long and I now absolutely love parsnips and sweet potatoes almost everyday! I also didn't exercise very much during the month. I walk to work and run so very occasionally. This month I really want to up my running and incorporate some strength and toning exercises! I want some definition dammit! :D
The Whole 30 is an amazing, health focused challenge and I'd recommend it to absolutely everyone! I don't think there is a single person on this planet that wouldn't benefit from a more natural diet.
The key to winning is preparation, once that becomes second nature there is truly no stopping you. If you can't spare the time to cook yourself good, solid, nutrient rich meals then you are doing life all wrong! Every person in your life will benefit from you having a healthy strong body. I have found this out for myself first hand and I am absolutely in love with life!
And pulled pork.
Join me for next month!?
In other awesome news I successfully introduced coffee and cacao on the AIP! I am over the moon with these additions, as I can now join the rest of the fitness world in enjoying 'bulletproof coffees!' I add coconut oil and coconut milk to mine and blend it thoroughly. A good fat bomb really does keep you satisfied until lunch! ^_^ I tested almonds (soaked and baked) though and reacted quite severely within 12 hours. So sad and at first surprising - but when I really think about it not so much. Almonds always made up the majority of my baked 'cheat' goods - muffins and pancakes and so on. If almonds are a problem for me, it is no wonder that my symptoms lingered until I started AIP. The only way to know for sure is to test them again. I will leave my body for a week and introduce them slowly. It could always have been something else, and so further testing is always recommended. If I react again then there's the culprit! I had negotiated some wiggle room with the schedule my nutritionist gave me in order to bump coffee up the list - I was feeling all sorry for myself after the almonds and coffee being a success cheered me up no end. And now cacao is seemingly fine I can enjoy 100% dark chocolate again and the health benefits of this pure superfood! ^_^
Anybody else have experience of the AutoImmune Protocol? I would very much LOVE to be your friend... <3

Wednesday, 8 October 2014


It's not my birthday... but it has been a whole 365 days since I embarked on this health journey! So I am calling it my Health Birthday!
I really wanted to write a lovely and succinct blog post about my experiences and my happiness but I'm actually just going to copy the status update from my personal facebook account! I think this sums up my elation and leaks my attitude in equal measure! I would apologise for the bad language... but this is me! Enjoy:

Hello friends!
Today is a proper shitting special day but you wouldn't even know it to look outside! Where are my sun beams of awesomeness?! Anyway: IT IS MY HEALTH BIRTHDAY!  
One year ago today I gave up processed foods, dairy, legumes, gluten, grains and sugar. When I first started I didn't think I'd last a week. But I did. Then I didn't think I could get through my first period without Dairy Milk. But I did. Then I thought I couldn't possibly survive a weekend long convention in a hotel room! But I did! Then I thought there's no freaking way I can manage a sugar free Christmas! BUT I DID! Not only did I, but I didn't break plan. Not once. Not ever. I am fucking tooting my own horn because you have no idea how much I sobbed at Ian about Kit Kats. Or cried when one day I woke up and forgot and thought I could just have a normal cup of tea. Or turned down social situations for the millionth time. Or when I first came off carbs I could barely walk as my body adapted from burning glucose to burning fat for fuel. Or how horrifically full of temptations a supermarket is.
But I facking did it for a whole 365 Days! This is a massive landmark for me! I've been aiming for this for a while, I don't know why since it's not about targets anymore, it's about lifestyle. 
I can honestly say it is the very best thing I have ever done for my body. My test results scream it, every organ is happy and on the mend! My bacteria is breeding! I haven't had my usual symptoms - I CAN FUCKING HOLD A POO IN NOW PEOPLE! I am so frigging smug about that it's like a 3 year old going through potty training! I DON'T CARE! I'm so happy! I have found relief in the myriad of good herbal teas available (liquorice and cinnamon is the current fave!) Last night I took chopped carrots and a peach to the cinema. I eat three times a day. I EAT THREE TIMES A DAY! I mean meals! I was so afraid of food for so long even this small thing is a miracle!
I am currently on a reintroduction schedule that focuses on reintroducing things I have missed to see if I find a reaction. Things like white rice, coffee and even dairy is right at the end! If I can have a lifestyle that involves yoghurt I will marry it. (I have had yoghurt dreams for months!!) 
Sorry this is so long, I am just so happy to be here! Ian and I were talking at the weekend and we remembered that I had a panic attack before Nottingham Comic Con last year - I reacted to something, my guts were going mental (poor things) and I begged Ian to help me die. I always said the most desperate things when I was in a state of a flare up. I just couldn't see beyond my symptoms and the problems they brought. I remember getting off the bus on one of my commutes so I could shit in supermarkets because back then I just could not control it. Now, this year, we jumped in the car and drove to Nottingham Comic Con without a peep of nerves from me or my colon! I am so happy!
Eating this way has healed my intestines, healed my pancreas, cured my anxiety and made me smug as arseholes. 
I wish everyone ate this way! You don't know how amazing it feels to have a body that runs on all the exact things it's supposed to! I don't wish it because I think I'm better, or so that I can say 'I told you so!' I wish it because I want everyone to feel the best! It's amazing! I am growing increasingly upset at the state of the nations health and especially those on low incomes, who seem to be well and truly priced out of a healthy choice. It really worries me! I wish our society had a focus on natural, whole foods that come from our land and not the chemical shit storm that is what we're all consuming instead.
Wow I'm sorry if this sounds preachy. Here's my fucking breakfast instead!
Thanks for reading! xxx

In other news, here's some images I've been posting to a great app called TwoGrand, where I have been partaking in a Whole30 challenge as part of a Paleo group on Facebook! It's been SO MUCH FUN so far! The members are really spurring each other on and making me laugh on a daily basis! And if anyone knows what kind of squash this is pleeeeease message me! I bought it and the sign said 'seasonal squash'.. and it is life changingly amazingly delicious beyond anything else I have ever tasted! I love it sooooo much!!!

What IS this wondrous vegetable!?

Perfect night in!

Cinema snacks! :D 

AIP lunch at work!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

One Month AIP! (Auto Immune Protocol)

Hello peapods!
Just checking in, how are we all? I've come to the end of 30 days of the strict Auto Immune Protocol diet, which eliminates eggs, nuts and nightshades, among other things, in order to ease inflammation and support my digestive system. I have actually just started my 9 week re-introduction schedule too!
The first thing I'm testing is egg yolks and I can say it's going pretty swimmingly :)

I have found AIP to slot into my life incredibly easily. By now I am nearly a year (it's so close to my 1 year anniversary! Exciting news incoming for that!) into my sugar free, processed food free, gluten free and grain free.. and what else, oh yes, legume free and dairy free (haha, it's such a mouth full!) that I am used to the routine of cooking for myself and preparing foods for the week. I thought cutting out eggs, a major breakfast food for me, would leave me with nothing but oh no! I have discovered the amazingly life and time saving joy of making my own breakfast sausages in batches and freezing them for when I need them!
I have also gotten so used to having meat and vegetables for breakfast, as opposed to the western norm of sugary cereal/milk/toast/processed carb fiasco, that replacing eggs with another vegetable was easy peasy.
I have cut out seeds and nuts too, which I thought I relied upon way too much before AIP, so I am glad to have these cravings under control. I swear, I ate almond butter, walnuts, pecans and cashews nearly everyday, as snacks or tossed in salads, or as puddings! I am glad to be free of this habit.

Ok, ok, I am no angel. I have to confess to having cultivated a mammoth fruit addiction which I am currently trying to kick (and failing rather miserably..) I seem to have swapped my handful of nuts for a handful of frozen berries. And then another.. and another and oooh I'll just add some in a bowl with coconut milk! Before I know it I've got a major fruit belly bloat and I am feeling all the shame of a relapsed chocoholic.

Oooh chocolate, I forgot to crave that somewhere along the way! Isn't that great!? I haven't been able to eat cacao as it's classed as a seed, but I've only just noticed I haven't missed this at all! So... celebrate?

Anyway: here's some meals I've been enjoying this month! Lots of soups with homemade bone broth, added gelatine, veggies, good meats and more veggies. I can't wait to crack on with my re-introductions. NEXT WEEK: Whole eggs! :D  

Also, this entire month (apart from a little probiotics hiccup) has been SYMPTOM FREE! 
So.. there's that. 
*cries tears of a million happinesses*

Have you ever been on the AIP? How did re-introductions go? I'd love to hear from you <3


Sunday, 24 August 2014

AIP Houmous

My lovely friend Maggie brought a giant courgette into work from her allotment the other day. And I mean giant. I'll be eating courgette for weeks!
Good thing it's so versatile!
I whipped up this houmous substitute when I was craving a strong flavour to go with my baked chicken drumsticks one evening!
If you have the time, remove the excess moisture from the courgette by sprinkling with a little salt and sitting in a colander for about 20 minutes before making this recipe. It'll yield a dryer houmous!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Happy Result!

Hello health peas!
I am delighted to say that I have had the results back from my recent health tests and my subsequent consultation with my nutritionist was probably the happiest hour of my little life this past decade!
The results were staggeringly amazing, I couldn't believe what she was saying. I may have wept! It's a good thing she had tissues handy!
I took my boyfriend along with me as I was so sure I was going to receive bad news. I felt convinced that she was going to say the test indicated that SIBO was back, that I had another strict course of treatment and diet ahead of me and that maybe it had recurred because my small intestine is damaged. Funny what you convince yourself of in times of distress isn't it? I had been living with some distressing symptoms (diarrhoea every day, since trialling probiotics in April until present day) with some varying degrees of control and urgency. I even said to people asking that I hoped for bad news, as at least that gave me the reason behind this.
Well, I take it ALL back!

When she said 'Well, there's no SIBO,' my mouth fell open. I had to look at the graph for proof of her words, I just couldn't believe it. The graph was as flat as a pancake! She said they are among the most normal results she had ever seen! It was at this point that my tears began to fall. This means brilliant things for my small intestine and even more brilliant things for my diet. If I needed proof that a nourishing wholefoods diet was beneficial then there it was. Not only beneficial but healing!
She then went through my other results. We only chose to test the markers that came up in my initial lab tests one year ago, so monitor any changes. The first and most important one is the quantity of my gut flora, my good bacteria. In my original test it was Scant Growth. Unquantifiable.
She said the words 'Moderate Growth' with a big grin and it was then that I really started to cry. I can't believe it. I had reacted with such aggressive symptoms to the probiotics I tried (including leaking! Truly the most embarrassing of all symptoms ever!) that I felt for sure that my body was just rejecting them. I couldn't get my head around that. This moderate growth bacteria colony now presently living in my gut means everything to me! I am convinced this was the problem all along, and has caused everything else including my anxiety and my poor digestion in general. I am over the moon!
My SIgA is up and my pancreatic output is at a normal level! My beautiful, hard working little pancreas is now functioning fully and normally! YOU GO, PANCREAS!
My diet this last year has supported and healed my poor digestive system. It's not even a miracle, it's science!

I have reasons for my recent symptoms: my inflammation marker has budged by only one. This could mean I have a chronic inflammation problem, or it could be a coincidence that I was inflamed for both tests only. So it is this result, and a couple more unanswered questions, that are the reasons that I must now embark upon an Auto Immune Protocol diet. It is a diet that removes some common, inflammatory irritants to give further support and reduce inflammation in the gut before testing each again. Most notable of these include eggs, nuts and nightshades. Nightshades include tomatoes, peppers and aubergines among other vegetables! I am so happy and excited I am not even daunted! Infact, I can't wait to see if this will throw up any allergies or heal my gut even further! Inflammation is the response of the body to an attack, an automatic protection of itself from outside poisons. But chronic inflammation is dangerous, and constant irritation of the inflammation can produce some nasty symptoms, just like I've been experiencing. I can't wait to give my body a break and heal some of this inflammation, I don't mind what it takes! I am more determined than ever!

I have duly celebrated with cuddles from my boy and mango, my all time favourite fruit! I will start the AIP on Monday. I'm going to have to get very creative in the kitchen! ^_^

Friday, 1 August 2014

SIBO Hydrogen Breath Testing

I have recently had a decline in my current health. 
(hence why I haven't really been posting very often...)

For whatever reason, since I tried to introduce probiotics to a system that is dying for it, I have had such a worsening of symptoms that I might as well have not lived through this past year! 
It had taken many weeks of trying different types, different doses etc before I finally gave up. 
My nutritionist thought it best to have lab tests done again. 
This is for two reasons: firstly, it has been a year and this is a great amount of time to find out if any of my markers have changed for the better in that time (my sIgA levels, Lysozyme, Chymotrypsin and my microfloral levels... I don't know what those words mean either!)
And secondly to detect whether or not we are dealing with a particularly stubborn Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth that just refused to die.
This is sad, but also I am hoping so much that the results are 'bad,' just because I feel so awful again! Then we can take steps to tackle it, even if that means a really restrictive diet again! As I remember how hard it was the first time round, I can't say I'm jumping for joy!

However, as part of this round of testing we have included a Hydrogen Breath Test, which detects SIBO in breath samples. Since this is quite a unique experience, I wanted to blog about it! Who knows, it may help someone feel less intimidated by the scary rules that it involves!

After arranging payment with the lab I received my home test kit. The good thing about these private tests is that you can do them in the comfort of your own home. Thank goodness, because collecting multiple stool samples over a week can be quite traumatic for the uninitiated (but hey, that's an entirely separate blog post!)
I was sure to read and read and read the instructions carefully, so I knew exactly what to do. I also had some great advice from my nutritionist about what to include in my diet the day leading up to the test as this is very important! They do provide some documentation but it is very basic, so I was grateful to have an expert to guide me on this. In order for the results to be as accurate as possible you must not eat fibre, most grains and slow digesting foods for the day before and you must fast for 14 hours before the test commences.

Since a 14 hour fast is close to hell for me (my hunger levels have been through the roof lately, coinciding with the return of my horrible symptoms!) I chose to include as much sleep as I possibly could during the fast. I wanted to complete the test before work in order to not book time off, but the test takes 3 hours to complete (which essentially is a 17 hour fast..but who's counting?!) \To fit it in I had to be awake for 5am, meaning a fast beginning at 3pm on the day before! Ouch.

I kept my foods extremely plain the day before the test, taking a roast chicken to work with me for lunch as I knew I would have to last the evening with just water.

It really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be!

It is best to read the instructions really carefully

On the morning of the test, bright and early, I laid out all the bits of equipment in order to be as efficient as possible. The test involves ingesting a dose of Lactulose (a non-digestable sugar) that will react with the SIBO and give off the gas Hydrogen, which is then measured in breath samples taken every 20 minutes for 3 hours. In the test kit were 10 sample 'pouches,' including one for your 'fasting breath,' and the breath test apparatus which you assemble yourself.

Some assembly required

This is a tricky shape, but it will fit into the mouth piece with some wriggling!

I mixed my lactulose with 200ml of water as instructed and laid out my pouches in order. I assembled the breathalyser and waited until 5:30am, as the instructions state to not sleep for 30mins prior to your first sample.

A fasting breath sample is basically a sample taken as you are, before the lactulose, for something to measure the results by.
The little pouches are quite tricky at first as they must be sealed tightly before too much air escapes! It can take a few practices to get your technique nailed, which I thought best to do with the fasting sample before results were involved! You must try to collect the last 1/3 of your breath, the last of the air out of your lungs. I practised breathing before the test started in order to get a feel for when this was. I really pushed all my breath out of my lungs!

Once a fasting sample is collected, drink the lactulose mixture and wait for 20 mins before the first sample is collected. I set my timer on my iPhone every time, it made it so much easier and actually seemed to make the whole process slip by!

With everything laid out in order I was able to get through samples quickly and easily. The instructions say not to exercise, eat or smoke during the collection period and to only resume quiet, gentle activities. I set about making my breakfast and lunch for work, stopping every 20 minutes for the next breath.

Within no time at all the last sample was collected and the test was over! I have never eaten breakfast so fast (which gave me trapped wind all day!! D'oh!)

Pack the samples back in the box when you're done!

You must post the completed test as soon as you can after finishing, by special delivery. 

I am not sure what the effects of the lactulose were, I had a pretty painful day that day but it could have been the fasting that tripped me up somewhat.

I am so excited for the results. I truly hope I can get to the bottom of this health enigma. It is hard not to get upset when you feel like you've followed all the rules and given up so much in order to be healthy, and it seems your body has other ideas! I really hope me and my bowel can be on the same team again soon!
The most frustrating and rewarding thing about this whole journey to wellness has been the treatment of my anxiety surrounding my poor digestion. I am able to separate 'myself' from my 'symptoms' and no longer suffer panic attacks. I go out more and find the whole process of visiting new places easier than I ever have. But in some ways this is sad, because my head is so ready to take on the world and get my life back, but my bowel has not caught up!

As well as this test I also undertook a lab stool test, called an Gastro Intestinal Panel.

I should be getting the results of both tests through my nutritionist in about a week, so wish me luck! And, oddly, wish me some bad news! ;)  

I hope this was interesting, or helped those of you who might be facing this test in the near future!