This is a skill that I have been forced to learn – and boy, has it taken some years. Arguably, learning to listen to your body is the most important step to keeping

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I was completely in tune with my body when I decided to take on the liquid diet. I knew it was the best option for me over steroids.

your body and soul happy and healthy. Yet most people I have spoken to admit they do know their body and the warning signs when things are about to go south – but they struggle to actually do anything about it. Listening to your body is completely useless unless you actually respond to it. Responding is pivotal- and really can work wonders (I am living proof of this!) Let me explain.
What do you mean when you say ‘listen to your body’?
Listening to your body is being in tune with your physical and emotional needs, and learning what you can do to feed and nourish them. On a basic level, this is eating when you’re hungry; sleeping when you’re tired. Yet there are so many levels above this and learning to hear them is a source of great power. It is fact that your body will always give you signs when it is struggling. That niggling cold for example, is the first sign that your body is in distress. Those tears you shed, is a sign that your soul is sad. Equally, it will also tell you when it is flourishing – those endorphins when you see the person you love or the excitement at an upcoming trip or event. Whilst this may seem blindingly obvious – why do we so often ignore these signs? The answer is one word – life.
Life is busy. Too busy. We work hard and long hours. We are constantly tapped into the digital world; social media, work emails, news outlets and celebrity culture. So it is unsurprising that amongst all this noise, our bodies are ignored. It’s boring to rest/take downtime/acknowledge home truths that require unwanted action.
I will hold my hands up and admit I have been the queen of ignoring my body in the past – particularly during university. This has resulted in some disastrous outcomes – including weeks laid up in bed due to fatigue, surgery, flare ups and on one particularly memorable occasion, contracting Mumps (despite having had the jab!!) My body was tired and vulnerable. Unfortunately, that is just through working hard and having a social life. A home truth which I still find extremely hard to acknowledge.
How do I respond to my body?
On feeling warning signs it’s important to evaluate what you can do to stop things escalating. If you have the beginnings of a cold, take time to rest and make sure you get lots of sleep. If you’re feeling tearful – acknowledge why you’re feeling sad and what you can do about it. Unhappy in your job? Find ways to love it or move. Unhappy in your relationship? Address it or leave. Find something that gives you some ME time – yoga, mindfulness, running or cooking. Whilst my examples may be extreme and you probably won’t end up having surgery if you ignore your body, you may end up getting sick, physically or emotionally – and why let it get to that?
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Taking time out on holiday is one my fave ways to unwind and refresh (unfortunately, my bank balance doesn’t allow this to happen as regularly as I’d like!)

I now know that I have to rest when I start getting warning signs – and sometimes I still get it wrong. I have just had to take four days of enforced rest as my body started rejecting all my food – a tell tale sign for me that my body is at breaking point. Utterly exhausted, I knew that if I had pushed through it (which I so often did at university), I would have ended up in a far worse position than just a couple of days off work.
The first step
Is to figure out what makes your body tick and what your body needs to bloom. This could be SO MANY THINGS! It could be a particular diet or exercise. It could be a hobby or spending time with particular people. It could be working a job you love, going on an amazing trip or having a social media detox. In deciphering this – you will also find the things that your body struggles with.For me, it is relentless work and social plans, meaning I have to prioritise how I spend my energy and know when it is time to stop. It is also eating foods that work for me and knowing that my health is THE most important thing. Even more important than the party I really really want to go to!
 
Believe me – I don’t say any of this lightly. It is difficult – but so worth it if you can find your body formula.
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Just one week until I can start eating again and I feel great. It’s funny, people keep saying ‘yes definitely let’s go out for dinner when you’re feeling better’. Although I’m not eating and drinking, I am not ill. I feel the best I have felt in months and it’s really an incredible feeling. Granted, it’s not ideal that this has been induced by not eating and if I’m honest, I don’t know how things are going to go when I start introducing food. But I’ve done three weeks. Twenty whole days of fighting through sheer hunger, foul moods, tears (there have been many), frustration and I’m feeling truly fabulous. (And I’m only really thinking about food 75% of the time now!)

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Feeling totally ab fab

So you’re feeling great sure, but are you symptom free? For now… yes. My symptoms are completely at bay. I haven’t been in pain for days. I feel confident to say I’m in remission now. Take that steroids – I didn’t need you. I did this on my terms!

Today I went to watch the London Marathon and it was honestly the most inspirational day. Over 39,000 people running 26 miles across London for thousands of amazing charities. For friends and family that have been lost, for loved ones struggling with debilitating illnesses. And that’s when I realised where true strength lies. Inspiration and power lies in those 39,000 people who were literally battling through blood, sweat and tears for a bigger and better cause. That is real testament to determination and willpower.

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And that is why I enter the last week feeling great. Next Saturday I will have my first meal (before we all get overexcited, it’ll probably be a plate of easily digestible mash potato) and then I will slowly start to introduce foods, until I find a diet that works for me. This process takes around 4-5 weeks but I feel wholly optimistic I can crack this by being completely vigilant about what I put into my body. If Deliciously Ella healed her PTS and Kris Carr fought back after cancer with diet – why can’t I?! And as my new motto goes, believing is healing!
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In July I will be running 10k for the fabulous charity, Crohns and Colitis UK. It may not be a marathon but is a big feat for me, having literally just recovered from a flare. If you want to put a penny in, please visit my Justgiving page here.
 
 

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Since starting this liquid diet and this blog, I have had so many conversations with friends, family and colleagues – many of whom have said the same thing to me time and time again. ‘Wow. Four weeks not eating? I could never do that!’ I completely understand this rationale – it’s unimaginable to think about giving up such an integral part of day to day life. But I firmly believe that anyone could do it. Absolutely anyone. Because life throws s**t at every single one of us and we deal with it. The human brain is an incredible thing – when you think how much adversity it can process, deal with and compartmentalise, when the right time comes to do so.
I have been completely inspired this week by a book called ‘Mind over Medicine’, by Dr Lissa Rankin. She talks at length about the mind-body relationship, and how our thoughts and feelings can translate into physiological features. She also talks about the stress and relaxation responses within the subconscious mind, both triggered by various elements of our lives. For example, negative thoughts could exacerbate a already raging disease – whilst scientific studies have shown that patients with a sense of hope, belief and positive thoughts ingrained in their deep subconscious mind, are more likely to heal quicker.

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Highly recommend this read for anyone battling an illness or anyone wanting to understand more about the mind-body relationship

Whilst this is just the tip of the iceberg of what she talks about – it really got me thinking about how I’ve approached various Crohns treatments and what I’ve felt during that time. Did I really believe that the medication would work? Did I have trust in my doctor?  Did I truly understand what was going on inside my body? Was I breeding positive or negative thoughts about it all in the very subconscious parts of my mind? The part of your mind that can influence you or affect your body without you even being aware of it…
I think this is a good time to tell the story of how this liquid diet came about. After countless tests since November last year, my consultant discovered I was experiencing a bad flare up. The first actual active Crohn’s Disease I’ve had since I was 13. After trying a mild form of steroid, a drug called Budesonide, which barely hit the sides, the consultant presented me with one option. Prednisolone. A extremely aggressive form of steroid which can result in some really nasty side effects. Extreme hunger, rapid weight gain, mood swings and depression being just some of the side effects I experienced when I took the drug as a child. It is seen as the most efficient and quick working drug for Crohn’s, as it modifies the body’s immune response and therefore decreases inflammation. It was actually me that put the liquid diet on the table. I did it as a child and I knew it worked. I had faith in it. I believed in it and I was dedicated to it. It felt a much purer way to cleanse my body of the disease and despite every hunger fuelled emotional outburst, I still firmly stand by my decision. I felt empowered that the decision over my health was coming from ME. And it’s working – I was right.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that life throws us all kinds of crap. Every single one of us. We are constantly processing and dealing with a mix of positive and negative feelings about all kinds of things. Yet we carry on – we persevere. Believing in something is the first step to making something happen. And that is why anyone could do this – because if you had to, you would.
life is tough darling
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(Betcha didn’t expect a preachy post like that today!)
For more information on Crohn’s and IBD, read Day 13: Let’s get medical

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I’m nearly at the half way point… and I wish I could give some really poignant words at this point about how normal not eating has become. Unfortunately, I am still hungry. And food is still leaving a gaping hole in my life. The biggest pizza shaped hole.

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I still can’t get on board with the fact this is my dinner. And lunch, and breakfast! And it makes a rubbish Insta pic..

Despite this, physically I am feeling so much better. Whilst some of my symptoms continue to niggle, I am barely in any pain. Which really is amazing after spending the past 6 months pretty much in constant pain.

Since writing this blog and opening up this part of my life, I’ve found people have so many questions – what exactly is Crohn’s? Are you really sick? Is this liquid diet a cure? Being such an undignified illness in so many ways, people are often afraid to talk openly about it, but with 300,000 people in the UK suffering from IBD, it’s time to start talking. So I thought today’s blog should be dedicated to all things medical. To answer all the who, hows and whys of Crohns Disease. I hope you come away feeling educated after this post!

What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s Disease is an autoimmune disease. This means your body attacks your own healthy cells during the digestion process. Crohn’s Disease falls under the umbrella of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (often referred to as IBD). The disease can cause inflammation and ulceration anywhere in the digestive tract – from mouth to rectum. The areas of inflammation are often patchy, and can be a few centimetres long to a whole length of the gut (for example, the whole large intestine). Every persons disease will be completely different. Ulcerative Colitis is another form of IBD which you may often hear referred to along with Crohns. Colitis is very similar – the symptoms are almost identical, however Colitis will only affect the colon (large intestine).
What are the symptoms?
Typical Crohn’s symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhoea, loss of blood, fatigue, severe nausea, sickness, loss of appetite and weight. Someone with Crohn’s may suffer one or all of these during a time of relapse and symptoms will range in severity depending on the intensity of the flare up.
Is there a cure?
Crohn’s Disease is a chronic illness, which means it’s ongoing and lifelong. A person may experience periods where they have no symptoms at all, when they are in ‘remission’. A relapse or ‘flare up’ could occur at any time and there are a number of drugs and surgical procedures which can provide people with longterm periods of wellness.
Why do people get it?
Unfortunately, it isn’t known why people get it! Bad pot luck I guess! Whilst scientists have poured time and money into lots of research with no definitive answer, it is thought there may be a genetic predisposition to the illness plus an abnormal reaction of your immune system to certain bacteria in your intestines.
How will this liquid diet help?
The idea of the liquid diet is to give my intestine a rest. At the moment it is tired and inflamed; drinking pre-digested shakes means my gut has to do absolutely no work whatsoever. All the nutrients are being absorbed straight into my digestive walls and into my body, meaning my body has time to heal. Imagine it like a cut on your hand. You cover the cut with a plaster to protect it from the world to let it heal. If you take the plaster off or itch your cut, it gets angry and sore and the healing process takes longer. That’s exactly what’s happening inside my body – this liquid diet is my plaster.
What happen’s once you’ve finished the liquid diet?
To be completely honest… I don’t know yet! I am continuing to take Adlimumab – a weekly injection I have been on for the past 5 years (which has, until now, kept me well!) At the same time I started this liquid diet, I also started azathioprine. A slow acting long term drug – that would, if it worked, keep me well beyond finishing this liquid diet. However, on discovering in the last few days that these tablets contain lactose and being severely lactose intolerant.. I am in a quandary of how things will move forward now. There are a few drugs left I could try…yet, I’m feeling uplifted and excited about the possibility of finding a diet that keeps me well. Whether that is juicing, elemental, vegetarian, gluten free… vegan! If this elemental can work so efficiently, I’m convinced drugs aren’t the only way. This is a another long (and hopefully exciting!) journey I’m embarking on…!

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Need I say anymore!

Here’s a list of resources:
www.crohnsandme.com
www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk
www.crohnsupport.com
www.crohns.org.uk
Keep following my journey, as I attempt to eat myself well…
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No, that’s not a typo. I’m talking about the hunger induced anger – the hanger. It’s probably the most volatile anger out there, when you’re grumpy because you need to eat. And I am experiencing this on another level: specifically around mealtimes. Lunch time or dinner time, I’m one grumpy girl. Hanger is also prompted by delicious treats which make their way into the office.

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I mean… SERIOUSLY!!

Stepping away from delicious patisserie treats, I watched an amazing documentary this weekend given to me by a friend from work. ‘Super Juice Me’ documents 8 individuals, with 22 diseases between them, follow a strict 28 day pure juice diet. Living at ‘Juicy Oasis’, owned by Jason Vale, they underwent a fitness and wellbeing programme to help cure their medical problems. These ranged from obesity, heart disease, asthma to Crohns Disease. Whilst they struggled at the beginning, by day 28 they all looked amazing, felt great and more impressively, were weening off their medication. A young girl, Sarah, with Crohns featured in the film and took adalimumab, like me (a injection widely used by Crohns patients). By the end of the 28 days, she was off the injections and completely symptom free… I think that result speaks for itself. To learn more about Super Juice Me – click here.

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I further started reading up on Deliciously Ella – a huge London food blogger and writer that cured her Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, another autoimmune disease, with diet. Overnight she eliminated meat, dairy, sugar, gluten and any processed foods with additives – and now eats all plant based foods. Over the process of a year, she ate herself to full health, and continues to keep her condition under control with her diet. More about Ella, click here.

It really got me thinking about what I’m going to eat/drink when I finish this diet. I’ve always been aware of what I eat, which is why I completely eliminated dairy, after finding it to be an irritant. As a child, I tried eliminating all sorts, to no particular avail. Despite having 3 major abdominal operations for bowel obstructions, this is actually the first active Crohns Disease I’ve had in my gut since I had my large intestine removed when I was 12. Surely there must be an answer in diet?! Watching the results of Sarah and Ella has filled me with optimism – if I can feel so much better in 7 days, surely there must be a fix that isn’t big drugs with hideous side effects and surgery.

And here’s something really weird… I’m now craving kale, avocado and courgetti!! I have a feeling my journey will continue past this liquid diet…

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To learn more about my Crohns story, click here!

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