Are you one of those people who think knowing your blood type is only important in the event of a transfusion?If so, perhaps you should rethink that as research indicates that your blood type can be a a key genetic factor that influences many areas of one's health and well-being.
When it comes to following a diet - and by that I mean how and what you eat - rather than following a set of prescribed rules a la Atkins, Banting, any random 'soup diet' (as examples) - to maintain and / or lose weight. I am of the thought that a little bit of everything, in moderation, will probably do you no harm; combined with some form of exercise that suits your lifestyle, then you're winning in my books.
I like to think I am doing my best in trying to put healthy, home prepared and cooked meals on the table for myself and Chris at the end of each day - there are and will always be a sneaky takeout ordered - but that's an exception, not a rule. I also have a soft spot for woolies chuckles and digestive biscuits. Chris loves his wine gums and potato chips. So invariably these, in some form or another, will always be in the house but I won't deprive ourselves of our little indulgences - what's the point of exercising and eating as healthily as is possible if you can't treat yourself? It makes no sense to me but then again that's just me.
I know I may sound like a stuck record but I am and will always be a strong proponent for trying to exercise on a regular basis - you can follow the strictest diet but if you're not burning more calories than you're consuming - you're never going to lose weight (if that's your goal). Mine is to maintain my weight and yes, I would never have had to lose the - roughly - 35kg's that I put on over the 2 1/2 years after the accident if I had not been in a self-induced funk and pity party of sorts; but for the almost 3 years since I started my first walking session I can proudly say I have managed to keep it at bay. I am certainly not as toned as I used to be, but I will never be that person again, nor do I want to be. I am as happy as I can possible be - right now.
I found walking enjoyable and eventually I returned to yoga. My yoga journey started almost 10 years back - yes, there was an almost 4 year gap in the centre where I didn't practice it - but the accident left my collar bone rather damaged and after the weight gain that followed, I felt really insecure about whether or not I could do it again. Also, if my arm could handle it without hurting myself. I have become so self-aware of my ever recovering injury and how it effects my day-to-day life. At my peak, prior to the accident, I was super toned and had rather good core strength. I had finally found a form of exercise that I loved and that felt right for me. At the time most people were like, 'yoga as exercise? that's so out there, how esoteric of you, that's so new-age, how can bending and stretching - coupled with measured breath - be considered an exercise'? It had me thinking.
I digress though.
Me, doing the hands to feet pose back in the day!
Whilst I was injured and indulging myself, the Atkins and Banting diets started gaining traction and it seems everyone and their dog is either following one or the other. Truth be told, I can't be bothered to weigh out this amount for veg, that amount for protein, etc. I won't lie, and fully admit that I haven't delved too much into the respective theories behind each diet. In the interests of enquiry, I have done some light research - nothing annoys me more than someone who has an opinion on a topic they haven't even read up on - and the one thing I have noticed though is that they tend to focus only on what you eat and how it affects you, as opposed to taking a holistic approach to it. I like looking at things as a whole, instead of in isolation.
I don't believe a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition can work.
Over the last year or so I have started developing an interest in the living - note: not just eating - according to your blood type theory - again, it's just a theoretical approach to a certain lifestyle. I am not saying the one is better than the other - my choice does not necessarily suit yours, but what I do like about living according to your blood type is that it is centred around you as a person and not just around watching what you eat as most other diets do.
Here are a few interesting facts that I have come to learn.
Your blood type may predict your susceptibility for certain diseases.
Various research has indicated that individuals of certain blood types may be at higher risk for certain diseases; studies have found that people with blood type O may have a lower risk for heart disease but have a higher risk of developing stomach ulcers. People who are blood type A may have a higher risk of microbial infections and those with blood types AB and B may have a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Your blood type may indicate how you react to stress.
People with blood type A naturally have higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in their bodies and produce even more in response to stressful situations. Whilst people with blood type O have a 'fight or flight' reaction to stress - which in turn results in them overproducing adrenaline - which then extends their recovery period from said stress as it is more difficult to clear the extra adrenaline coursing through their bodies.
Your blood type antigens (molecules capable of inducing an immune response) are not just in your blood.
They happen to be everywhere in your body - particularly in the surfaces that interact with the environment - think of your digestive tract, your nasal passages and lungs, not to forget your mouth through to your intestines. These blood type antigens are everywhere and they influence how your body reacts to the food you eat through several factors. As an example, the lectins (a type of protein that can bind to cell membranes) in certain foods adheres to your blood type antigen and can cause your blood to agglutinate (just a fancy word to say that your blood cells clump together) which can result in feelings of fatigue, headaches, digestive issues and skin problems - to name a few.
Gut bacteria is related to blood type.
People with different blood types have different gut bacteria and this originated from our ancestors whose digestive tracts developed to accommodate one type of diet over the other. As an example, in blood type A individuals the micro-organisms developed to break down carbohydrates much more efficiently than people with blood type O, who tend to store carbs as fat.
I could go on for a while describing everything - but this isn't a dissertation, it's merely an introduction - below is a quick summary of the different blood types and what best suits them.
Type O: People with type O blood benefit best with intense physical exercise - ideally aerobics, running and contact sports - and on a diet of animal protein. They don't do so well on dairy products and grains, with their leading weight gain factor being the gluten found in wheat products.
Type A: People with type A blood are more naturally suited to a vegetarian diet and tend to be predisposed to heart disease, cancer and diabetes. They also derive significant benefits from calming, centering exercise such as yoga.
Type B: People with type B blood have a generally robust immune and a tolerant digestive system and tend to resist most of the severe chronic illnesses - or, at the very least, survive them better than the other blood types. They fair best with moderate physical exercise requiring mental balance, namely: hiking, cycling, tennis and swimming.
Type AB: People with type AB blood - the most recent blood group in terms of evolution - is the most biologically complex. People in this group fair best a with combination of exercise and dietary habits taken from blood types A and B.
I am type A and Chris is type O, so on paper we are on the opposite ends of the dietary and exercise model for living according to your blood type. I'm suited to a vegetarian diet whilst Chris can handle animal protein better than I can; with exercise I'm more suited to yoga and walking whilst Chris benefits more from a plan that includes physical activities like running. We try and meet someplace in the middle; some meals may be more veggie packed than others and we team up to do our jogging at Parkrun every Saturday and try walking with the hounds at least twice a week - I slot my yoga in and around this schedule.
That's the thing, for us as a couple, it's not about religiously following a diet it's about working one around us - as individuals - to suit our needs and that works for us.
In closing, and totally off topic: I achieved my personal best time at Parkrun this past Saturday, it took me 24min 53sec to complete the 5km course! Well done me!
Until next time,
November used to be the month that I'd reflect on my scooter accident that took place on 3 November 2010 - it may have been the 4th of the month for all I know - it was a blur of Morphine, hospitals, operations, Tramacet, anti-anxiety medication, having my arm in a sling for almost the entire following year and - of course - the associated weight gain that took place.
Last November, the 6th (I think - again, another blur) added another 'I'm going to learn a big life lesson moment' when I was attacked, stabbed and robbed, whilst on my daily exercise walk - all the while in broad daylight with people driving by. Not really caring. Not offering any help whatsoever - I will never forget how I ran all the way home straddling the white, dotted centre line of the road in my socks, sans stolen shoes - it wasn't until Chris pointed out that I was bleeding, did I realise that in the mayhem that was the ambush and attack, I must have put my hand out to block the knife and was stabbed (superficially luckily, but still). Traumatised.
Above is my Big Boy scooter - we still have him - admittedly he hasn't been driven in a while, but he is safely parked and covered and will always be my first mode of transport. He has become a part of the family really.
Prior to the accident, I honestly was under, underweight - at my skinniest, I weighed about 65kg (for someone who is over 6ft tall) - I recall a friend of mine saying once that one could see my hip bones sticking out on my back. I did a lot of yoga - on top of - three times a week, I would go to gym, set the cycling machine on it's highest tension setting and cycle 10km but every time I would try and improve my own 'record', think I managed at my peak just over 10 minutes - not too bad considering I survived on coffee and cigarettes, well mostly.
Then I was involved in the accident, all activities came to a halt - in fact - I had no choice but to just stop. At the time, some people would ask why my collar bone was taking such a long time to heal - I had crushed (think bone disintegrating) it, not the usual snap - so essentially I had a 3cm gap in the centre that was missing. Never underestimate losing the ability to use a limb for a year. Also, just my luck that I'd crush my bone as opposed to a simple break that would've healed in six weeks!
The Titanium plate and seven screws holding it in place - note the gap between the 4th and 5th screw - that's where my collar bone disintegrated - the first operation, my surgeon attempted to bridge the gap with synthetic bone material in the hopes that my collar bone would regenerate - think along the lines of a grit of sand getting lodged inside an oyster and forming a pearl - that in theory - was what my surgeon thought would happen but alas.
Me, shortly after the accident.
The December after the accident, Chris thought it would be a good idea to get away for a few days - so we road tripped down from Durban, ending up at Oudtshoorn. One night, whilst on the trip I woke up in agonising pain - a screw had started to work itself out of my collar bone. Pain. Pain.
After a second opinion, because I was not convinced that my first surgeon knew what he was doing, it turned out that the synthetic material had been rejected by my body and so after 6 months with my arm in a sling - I had to have surgery again but this time bone was removed from my hip to build up my collar bone. All the while, I was being less active, as at this stage I had my arm in a sling, was walking with a crutch and on very heavy painkillers and anti-anxiety meds - which left me no other choice but to turn to the one thing I found (and still do find) comfort in. Food.
The bruising after they removed roughly 3cm of my left hip. The body weight gain was considerable - hell, I was so skinny people would've noticed an extra 5kg but as I don't do things half-measure - I gained over 30kg in that year.
It's sort of surreal looking back at these photos, to think that I had allowed myself to balloon to - at my heaviest - roughly 112kg. What compounded it was the fact that I was originally on the opposite side of the weight spectrum but as I mentioned earlier, all or nothing for me.
I am the first to admit that I allowed it, like I had an excuse - a valid reason - naturally this was distorted in my own mind as I obviously had and still do have self-image issues, as I'd never have been so skinny to start off with in the first place but I reached a turning point - I needed to lose the weight - my 'fat years' were coming to an end.
So after many km's walked - I also eventually found an awesome Yoga Ashram in Johannesburg, which I relished for the last few months of us staying upcountry - the weight started to melt off.
The two photos above represent my 'after photos' - I have managed to keep the weight off (give or take a kg here or there).
Before starting this post, I even climbed onto our scale to see what I weigh. I can gladly say that I am currently 80kg - that means I have lost over 31kg - or 62 blocks of 500g butter.
Yet, the odd thing thing is, if you're underweight you worry about picking up weight, and if you're overweight you worry about losing the extra kg's. It really is a fine line and I empathise with both sides - as I have been both thin and fat.
I like how I look now, I will never be skinny again - nor do I ever want to be but I will never be borderline obese again. Never. Promise. Hopefully!
It is about finding that balance, which is never easy.
Until next time,
PS: Can anyone in Durban town recommend a good Yoga school?