Health Update

Well, what a month! For anyone not following me over on social media, I am now out of hospital, yay!

I was released on Monday 16th March after three weeks in hospital. Although my symptoms haven’t all been rectified, they are a lot better than they were.

Continue reading

January Challenge

Good morning and happy new year! Who else is so ready for 2019? I am definitely hoping for lots more positive and happy experiences this year and am ready to get working for them.

December Challenge

I am pleased to say I completed my Instagram photo challenge last month and am rather pleased with my little self! The prompts were great and definitely got me thinking about everything around Christmas. I also was pleased to discover a couple of other great parent bloggers over on Instagram through the challenge. Thanks for hosting The Granthams!

January Challenge

It sounds cliche, but this year I am starting with a fitness challenge. I was definitely wanting to lose some weight prior to Christmas, but thought waiting till after the festivities were over was the best idea!

I have tried not to over indulge too much and have not been a total pig, but after the years of steroids taking their toll, I am heavier than I am happy with and ready to get down to a version of me that I am more content with.

I know many will look at me and say you aren’t overweight, and I understand that, but I am happier when I weigh a little less than I am now and am looking to get back down to 56/57 kilos.

My Weight Journey

For most of my adult life my weight has been pretty consistent at around 50-52 kilos. A Crohn’s flare in December 2013 saw my weight plummet by a stone in just 6 days over Christmas, but at the time I just battled through it as it wasn’t long after my diagnosis and I thought I just had to crack on, as you do! Prior to my ostomy surgery in 2016 I was down to 40kg and severely ill. As I had been poorly for around six months, I didn’t quite realise how poorly I looked during this time. Now I look back at photos and the skeleton shape staring back horrifies me.

The photo on the right is me in April 2016 weighing just 40 kilos and severely ill

Following my hemicolectomy and ostomy surgery, I began putting back on the weight my body had lost and was feeling much healthier. After being used to such a skinny appearance for so long, I struggled with this though too. I remember sharing a photo of me holding my cousins newborn baby and everybody saying that I looked so healthy and so much happier – I felt huge. The constant yo-yoing of weight caused by my Crohn’s Disease had caused me to suffer with BDD.

I HATED this photo for so long and thought I looked massive

What Is BDD?

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a mental health condition which causes you to worry about flaws in your appearance. These flaws are often minor, or not even noticeable to others. Because I had been poorly for so long and had become used to how skinny and underweight I was, the weight gain I experienced post surgery affected me badly at first, making me think I was hugely overweight. In fact, I was around 56/57 kilos which, although heavier than my usual body weight, was actually very healthy and I now look back on that photo and love it!

Find out more about BDD, symptoms and what to do if you think you have it on the NHS Website

The Goal

Since having a couple of bad flares and rounds of IV steroids, I have developed the ‘moonface’ people often struggle with, as well as an increase in appetite which has caused me to gain a lot more weight. My goal is now to get back down to around 56/57 kilos which was my weight post surgery and where I felt most confident and happy.

Diet

To do this I will be ‘dieting’ to an extent. I eat pretty healthy meals anyway but I would like to stick to a healthier schedule of eating and make sure my snacks are healthier. Having a stoma and Crohn’s Disease won’t make this ease, as I struggle with fibre and have to stick to lower residue foods but I am ready for the challenge and also looking into low FODMAP as a potential thing to try.

Exercise

I have really been falling down on my exercise this last year and this is where I am going to make a concerted effort to improve. I used to walk the children to and from school every day and now don’t have that to do, so I have cut out a huge chunk of my normal daily activity.

I found this on Pinterest and loved the fact it was quite relaxed and you could choose different styles of workouts to fit the theme each day. As I have arthritis many of the workout plans posted are entirely unsuitable, or have certain chucks of them that I have to miss out. I will be swapping the yoga sections fop Pilates as this is very similar and something I already do and enjoy.

I grabbed this from He & She Eat Clean and they do have some workouts for the cardio and strength training days if you would like to have a look!

Would love some exercise buddies, so if you want to join in please pop a comment below – we could maybe start a little chat group where we can keep an eye on how we are all doing and motivate one another. I am really looking forward to this challenge, although we will see if that mentality continues to the end of the month… wish me luck!

What I Eat In A Week (1)

Good morning!  As a mum and ostomate I look for healthy meals for the family which are stoma friendly.  I am a keen cook and enjoy  sharing recipes as you will see under my RECIPE section.

I thought sharing my meal plans with you may help both ostomates and parents alike.  All the meals I plan and post will be kid tested and using a range of different methods, ingredients and inspiration for diversity.  I will also pop up tips for ostomates on making these meals stoma friendly and hopefully avoiding the dreaded blockage!  I may not post every week but aim to do at least one of these posts every month so you can see what we have been eating and enjoying.

Why I Meal Plan

I like to meal plan as I think it is most useful when it comes to shopping.  As I like to try out new recipes, knowing what I am cooking for the week means I can write a shopping list with all the ingredients I need.  Nothing gets forgotten and I also keep to a budget much easier as I am not picking up bits here and there.  I find I have less waste too which is always good.  I also freeze any extra portions, especially when I am cooking for just myself.  These can be really handy for when I am really busy or not feeling too great.  I still have a home cooked meal which only needs defrosting and heating up.

My Meal Plan

Weekly Meal Plan

Monday

Today I made Dublin Coddle for the first time.  I get a lot of cooking inspiration from Pinterest and then just fiddle with the recipes to suit me!

For this recipe you will need:

Packet of bacon lardons

8 sausages

2 bay leaves

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 onions, diced

4 tsps chopped parsley (use dried if you don’t have fresh)

Potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tbsp plain flour

Pepper

1 can Guiness

How To Make It
  1. In a large saucepan, cook the bacon until crisp (about 5 minutes)
  2. Remove onto kitchen towel to absorb the moisture
  3. Leave the oil from the bacon in the pan and brown the sausages.  Remove onto a chopping board and cut into chunks
  4. Reduce the heat to low and whisk the flour into the meat juices
  5. Cook for about two minutes, whisking constantly and then remove from the heat
  6. Whisk in the Guinness
  7. Add in the potatoes, onions, sausage chunks, bacon, herbs and a dash of pepper
  8. Leave on a low heat on the hob with a lid on for around 1 hour
  9. Serve with bread and butter

Ostomates – onion can affect some people’s stomas.  I dice my onions really finely to help avoid issues

Note – I added a tbsp of gravy granules to help thicken it up and add some flavour.  Use if needed/wanted

Note – If you would rather not use alcohol, swap the Guinness for the equivalent amount of stock (vegetable or meat)

1531675063003

Tuesday

This morning I got some amazing news – I passed my degree module this year and am working at a 2.1 level.  We decided that a special breakfast of French Toast was in order – here’s the recipe!

You will need

These can be adapted depending on how much you want to make

8 slices of bread

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon

250ml milk (use whichever type you normally would)

Sugar

What To Do
  1. Whisk the eggs
  2. Stir in the milk, cinnamon and vanilla extract
  3. Dip a slice of bread in the eggy mixture (coating both sides) and place in a hot frying pan (I use coconut spray oil but you can also use butter) on a medium heat
  4. Cook on both sides until golden brown (about 2-3 minutes)
  5. Serve sprinkled with some sugar.  You can also use syrup or honey and I always add fruit too!

IMG_20180717_102103_638

For tea I made another of our favourites – macaroni cheese.  I use the Asda fresh cheese sauce and mix it with pasta and some cut up hotsog dausages (or the Mattesson’s sausage).  I will also often add some peas or some chopped broccoli.

Wednesday

Tonight was another one of the boys favourites.  I have previously shared these on my social media but will pop it here for anyone interested!

You will need

Baked potatoes

Tomato puree

Tomato ketchup

Mixed herbs

Grated cheese

Pepperoni slices

What To Do

  1. Place a wooden spoon handle either side of the potato
  2. Make slices up to 5mm apart along the potato, as far down as the spoons.  Do not cut all the way through the potato
  3. In a bowl mix 2 tbsps puree, 2 tbsps ketchup and a sprinkle of mixed herbs
  4. Spread this mixture over the potato.  Put a slice of pepperoni in each cut of the potato
  5. Sprinkle with cheese
  6. Pop in the oven for around 30-40 minutes (until potato is cooked through)

Ostomates – Be wary of potato skins, I can not eat them and have to remove!

Thursday

We started the day with a treat breakfast again today – I made pancakes!  As with the French Toast I served this with some fruit so the boys were getting a good part of their 5 a day first thing!  We also bought some toffee sauce which finished them off perfectly!  I mix 300ml milk with 100g plain flour and 2 eggs in a jug which makes it easy to pour into the frying pan.

I haven’t had a chilli in a long while and so thought I would give it a go tonight and make a homemade one.  I am not able to share this recipe as I forgot to note down which spices I used (doh!) but it was delicious and I will definitely make another.  Meanwhile, enjoy the pics!

Friday

We went out for lumnch woth my Mum today so I decided that for tea the boys could make their own pixzza.  This is one of their favourite things to do as pizza is one of their favourites too.  Pizza Friday also holds special memmories for me as it isa something my Mum would do with me and my berihter when we were luttle.  It is great for using up leftovers and you can make it exactly how you want it.

I bought two of the basic cheese and tomato pizzas from Aldi.  Both boys added pepperoni which they love!  Leo also added some pineapple and cut up cocktail sausages.  Riley also added some cut up saisages and extra cheese.  They both enjoyed getting to cut the sausage themselves, obviously under my supervision but with a great, kid friendly knife I got from Pampered Chef a few years ago!

Saturday

Today was a busy one so I used this Dolmio sauce I picked up a while ago to try.  I spread it over the chicken breasts and a selection of veggies and put it in the oven – really simple.  I also made some roast potatoes to go with it.

The sauce was delicious and we really enjoyed it!

Sunday

I cannot claim credit for this meal – Ste made it and we invited my Mum and Dad over to share it with us.

Ste marinated the chicken and lamb in homemade sauces before masking kebabs, adding mushrooms, peppers and onions.  He also made flat breads which were delicious.  As there was some left over we popped them in the freezer.

Ostomates – Mushrooms, onions – chew really well!

I hope you have enjoyed my first instalment about what I eat in a week.I would love to hear if you try any of the recipes, let me know in the comments below if you do!  Please do leave a comment and let me know if you enjoy these kinds of posts, and anything you would like me to include in the future,

nat

 

An Interview With Ali Jawad

If you watch The IBD & Ostomy Support Show you will know our August theme has been exercising with IBD or an ostomy.  This can be difficult for many reasons – fatigue, risk of hernia, malabsorption, deficiencies and many more.  There are many amazing people across the IBD community who are actively taking part and even competing in sports.

Ali Jawad is a double leg amputee and he also suffers from Crohns Disease.  He is a British Paralympian and competes in the -59kg class  in weightlifting.  I contacted him through his Facebook page and asked if it would possible to ask him some questions about his Crohns Disease and if and how it affects his career.  He very politely agreed and it was lovely to get the chance to talk to someone who has overcome so many hurdles in life to be so successful in a sport he loves.

1) What is your diagnosis? What age were you diagnosed? What were your initial symptoms? Are you on any medication or have you had any surgery for your Crohns?

I have Crohns disease. I was 19 years old at the time my symptoms started. Unfortunately, at my first Paralympic Games in 2008, I got sick the night before I competed and no one knew what was wrong with me. I had diarrhoea, vomiting, right side pain and a lot of sweating. It took 9 long months to diagnose me. I had surgery in 2010. I’ve been on prednisolone, pentasa, azathioprine and am currently on humira injections.

2) You were born without your legs from the mid thigh down. When you were younger were physios etc involved in your care? Were you given exercises, hydrotherapy etc?

I used to where prosthetic limbs, but I gave them up when I was 11. I used to have to attend physio to learn with different legs. I hated it. So I gave them up as I thought I’m far more independent without them. I love having no legs! I’ve never wanted legs ever.

3) What age were you when you started weightlifting and how did you get into it?

I was 16 years old when my friend forced me to go to the gym across the road. I got spotted by the owner.  He said I had massive potential if I chose to pursue powerlifting, not knowing at the time it would be  the start of a rollercoaster journey.

4) What is a typical day/week like for you with your training?

At my busiest I’ll be in the gym for 12-15 hours a week. But that’s without weekly physio, nutrition meetings, coach meetings and monitoring. Remember being an elite athlete is my whole life so my nutrition and the way I live my lifestyle is optimal for training.

5) How does a Crohns flare impact on this schedule?

My Crohns only impacts me when it flares.  Obviously as my diet has to be optimal, I lead a very strict life to try and reduce the symptoms as much as possible. But at the end of the day, it’s about fighting through whatever Crohns throws at you.

6) How do you amend your diet to coincide with training alongside having Crohns?

My diet is all about anti inflammatory foods to reduce inflammation in the body. Technically, Crohns disease is inflammation, so a diet that tackles this has to be implemented. Also as powerlifting is a body weight sport, I have to make sure I’m in body weight for competitions, so all my food is weighed. It takes a lot of meal prepping! However, this strict approach had to be done for me to be able to compete.

7) Do you take any supplements, vitamins etc to help with your Crohns?

As with any auto immune disease, absorbing micro nutrients is hard. So I take Vitamin D mainly. I try to take the natural approach through food as much as possible. You can’t rely on supplements, but I understand that most people can’t keep such a strict diet schedule like I can.

8) Do you feel like Crohns disease has held you back from achieving any of your goals? How do you motivate yourself to get back on top again if/when this happens?

When I first got diagnosed, I thought all my dreams were over. I was told by doctors no Crohns disease sufferer (not Steve Redgrave, as he has colitis) has ever medalled at any Summer Olympic or Paralympic Games. They told me to retire, as to compete with such a unpredictable condition against world class athletes would be a massive disadvantage. Luckily, I knew that if I put everything I can in place to reduce my symptoms, be mentally tough with whatever comes my way, I may have a shot. It also excited me that no one has ever won a medal, I thought how good would it feel if I was the first? Ironically, I wasn’t the first Crohns sufferer to medal at an Olympics…that honour goes to Kathleen Baker from the USA in swimming. She got her silver medal two weeks before me. The 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brazil were certainly historic for Crohns sufferers across the world with two Crohns athletes winning Olympic and Paralympic medals! However, no Crohns sufferer has won gold yet in an individual event at the Olympics/Paralympics so that is something to aim for.

9) How does it feel winning a gold medal? (My 8 year old son watched the Rio Paralympics with me and thought you were amazing and should have got gold, especially when I told him you had Crohns too!)

I won silver in Rio…however after everything I’ve been through it felt like a gold. I’ve won World and European golds in the past, but this meant more to me as it has always been my dream to get a Paralympic medal since I was 6. Sometimes I look at the medal, and I’m still in shock that I managed it after the struggles I’ve been through. It was a proud moment for me.

10) What advice would you give anyone with IBD looking to get into exercise?

My best advice is that everyone with IBD knows not to take good health for granted. Flare up, symptoms, and daily life with such a condition is hard. So why not live optimally to reduce it? Optimal dieting and exercise is so important, I can’t stress how much it helps, even though the discipline and commitment to it is big. But I promise it’s worth the good health. No matter what aims you have in life…don’t let Crohns or Colitis limit your potential. You can achieve anything you want, don’t use the condition as a excuse.

Unfortunately, Ali is currently in the middle of a huge flare so isn’t competing.  He is looking to treat his flare and make his comeback next year and I hope everyone will be cheering him on when he does.  To stick to an athlete’s training and eating regime is tough for anyone, never mind when you suffer from IBD as well.  Thankyou so much to Ali for taking the time to talk to me and share his story.  I hope it helps inspire people to realise that so many goals are not out of reach, just because you suffer from IBD.

Colitis To Ostomy