Friday, 30 October 2015

Rest Is Training

I'm exhausted this week trying to juggle training and full time working, and my recovery stats are not looking good. I use Heart Rate Variability to check my recovery every morning using an app on my phone. I used to use a heart rate and recovery app called Restwise but I'm finding HRV is a better gauge of whether I should be pumping iron or taking a duvet day.

HRV measures the time between successive heart beats rather than the average heart rate over a few minutes of rest. I record this for 2 1/2 minutes every morning before I get up. The reason it's more sensitive is it gives a view of how the nervous system is working and whether you're in 'fight or flight' (sympathetic) or 'rest and digest' (parasympathetic) mode. My reading today was 4 towards the stressed side of the scale. And it's been the same for three days.

I've put in a couple of good quality training sessions this week, with two days on a work training course in between and lots of travelling. This always tires me out, and it's been worse since my thyroid diagnosis. It's also been an emotional week with plenty of self-reflection and role plays on the course.

I've read that intense activity >70% heart rate can reduce your thyroid hormone production (T3) which is why we're often fatigued the day after a hard session. This is double-bad news for me given my thyroid is struggling to produce hormone at all. I've noticed that a hard run or gym session can take one - three days to recover from, compared to a day previously. I'm learning to accept what I can do, and enjoy the hours with my feet up watching tele or reading a novel.

I'm not the best at putting the 'Rest Is Training' mantra into practice but it's clear that a duvet day is definitely in order, along with a good dose of yoga, deep breathing and healthy food.

Have a great weekend everyone, see you on the other side!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Dropping acid (and other weird diets)

My gut is a confused and hypersensitive place at the moment, so in an attempt to bring some calm to my system I've been trying a few suggestions out;

- Taking Hydrochloric acid with meals... yes I've been dropping acid at mealtimes! The supplement is called Betaine with pepsin and it supports digestion when stomach acid isn't as low as it needs to be. Without the necessary acidity we may not absorb nutrients that well leading to malnutrition. The more tablets you need to take before you feel heartburn, the weaker your acid composition. I went up to 10 pills (about 3.5g!!) which isn't much fun to take three times a day however it's only really for meat, which I still find hard to digest after being veggie for a few years. Fish and veggies go down much easier.

- Herbal gut cleanse. Since suffering a bout of gastroenteritis last Christmas I suspect I may have unwelcome microbiota on-board so I've been trying a herbal gut cleanse. This means taking berberine and oregano oil around every meal. Not seen much of a change in approx. 3 weeks however.

- Dosing with probiotics. I'm regularly eating homemade yogurt and sauerkraut to add probiotics to my diet in addition to a pill supplement. Again not seeing much change.

I'm left a bit confused as to whether to continue. One morning I looked at the huge pill box I was preparing for a day out of the office and thought 'this is ridiculous!'. The latest results from the doctors show that my thyroid health is improving quickly (yippee!) but I now have IBS-like symptoms which are more frustrating than the thyroid fatigue.

It seems that for IBS there is a scientifically-backed diet intervention which is recommended by doctors and dietitians (unlike some of the auto-immune diets) with the catchy title of FODMAPs. It's based on the premise that some short-chain carbohydrates are poorly absorbed and as a result cause bloating and gas in the intestines. It takes out a couple of my favourites such as onions, garlic and avocado but still leaves me with plenty to eat.

On the first day of my trial I had a blissfully flat stomach until 7pm when it ballooned after taking an electrolyte drink for a training session (contains sorbitol sugar). Lesson learnt and this diet is looking promising. You're not meant to stay on it permanently, but rather introduce foods back in at tolerable levels after a month or so. I'm glad for that as a world without garlic seems rather bland!

I've also recently had some blood test results back that show I'm sensitive to yeast and dairy. These blood-antibody (IgG) tests (take it yourself and send to a private company) are not thought to be the most accurate, however with several recommendations from people who had tried it I thought it was worth a go. Although many gluten-containing foods also have yeast in them it may be I can explore adding some flatbreads back in to see what happens. I do miss having wraps and pitta bread but I think pizza might have to stay on the shelf for now. Bizarrely I'm also sensitive to Brazil nuts, cashews and redbush tea.

The yeast is the one that concerns me most as this knocks out wine and beer... nooooo! But as every cloud has a silver lining apparently champagne is OK. Cheers to that!