If an actor can project emotion through body posture, do you think that the reverse might be true? Can posture affect emotion? I believe that it might. If I look like an older man with hunched shoulders and shuffling gait, will I turn out to be a grumpy old man? There is lots on the internet about posture and pain, and some articles on posture and hormones. An aggressive person has a particular body language and a lot of hormonal activity. So does the victim! Do our genes, in part, dictate our posture, and because of this, our character? And, can we alter our posture to change our character? Are our lifestyles causing more than just aches and pains and the occasional heart attack? Are our lifestyles affecting our basic sense of self? I will be googling this over the months to learn more.
I got into this by accident. You see, I picked up an injury just three days after my last run. It was an insignificant enough event. I was lifting a heavy, bulky load out of the back of the car on a slope. A slight rotation on the right knee as it took the weight. I felt only a tiny twinge. I didn’t even have to stop and recover. It was trivial, but it got worse through the day and was there the next day and the next… Hmm, this was not going to go away. I diagnosed bursitis and took a week off running. But the pain was beginning to get worse. There was an ache at night and swelling in the lower quads. I was starting to limp—a complete disaster. With just three weeks to my last run of this project, I could barely walk, let alone run.
My usual cure for just about everything is to go for a run. Bad back, high glucose, sore throat, go for a run. It sorts most things out. Running is great for aerobic fitness. I also find it remarkably meditative. I can free my mind when running. It is a mobile yoga, as far as I am concerned.
Over the past few months, though, I have been aware of the need to do more all-round exercise than just pounding the streets and paths. Everyone is talking about high-intensity training with weights at the moment. Richard Bernstein talks about it too. I needed to look at expanding my exercise regime.
It must have been one of those moments of just good fortune that I had contacted a personal trainer a few weeks before my knee injury. My first appointment was a week after it. I intended anyway to try to improve my all-round fitness to see what would happen on my 12th and last run of my challenge. I wanted to build on the aerobic fitness of the previous 11 runs. That was going to be compromised by an inability to run. But I turned up at the gym anyway. I am not a gym bunny. In the past, I could never see much improvement after sessions of working out at the gym. Despite all of that huffing, puffing, and grunting, I never seemed to feel that I was improving. But Dave was excellent. He took the time to listen to my needs. These were; that I needed to learn exercises that I could do at home. And to reverse the decline of years of office-type work, which was starting to cause some low back pain. A simple task for him!
Just changing to low carb had improved things enormously concerning aches and pains, but I knew I had a way to go. Dave got me to do a few exercises then diagnosed where I might need improvement. Tight pelvis and hips caused by hamstring and quads being relatively underused because of all that sitting. Over-developed quads, weak shoulder girdle. It was leading to back pain. It all made enough sense for me to want to try it. I had only mentioned my knee as a trivial problem, as I was keen to start all-round improvement.
So, over the next three weeks, I got down to some serious training. One thing was sure. I was going to complete this final run. It was not a severe injury, and I would not, in the long term, destroy the joint. But the issue was, how could I run for two hours when I could barely walk 100 metres? It was painful. I trained at home and went weekly to see Dave, where the ante was upped relentlessly. I was sweating buckets, just moving weights. Far more than if I went running. But the thing was that the knee pain eased on each session. I was stretching the muscles of the thigh and taking the load off the bursa. Okay, they tightened up again later, but it was instructive. My pelvis getting freed up, and I had more flexibility in my hips. I could feel the change over the weeks—that slow re-awakening of the body when it gets the chance. Spring was following winter. I felt energised and lively. I could walk better; my posture was subtly improving. It felt just like the time when I gave up carbs. At that time, my body breathed a sigh of relief. And I recognised the same thing with this training. Just when I didn’t think it could get much better, it did! I am converted!
This is significant. Physical activity is one of the four pillars of health talked about by Dean Ornish. Eat well, Move well, Sleep well. Love well. I was moving by running that was not in doubt. But was I moving well? In my case, probably not. So, I now have to incorporate this into my daily life somehow. Having a sedentary job is not ideal, but there is no way around that unless I change my career. However, there are plenty of opportunities to practice stretching and warm up during the day. I just need to get on and do it. I regard gym work as needing preparation and a dedicated time slot. That is the case, but I know that there are opportunities throughout the day too. After a few weeks, it will become second nature anyway, and I know that it will help a lot. After all, who would say no to improved posture, improved movement, improved happy hormones?
My final run.
I was pleased to have discovered the practice of moving well as I entered my final run. Taking part turned out to be a last-minute decision. I had booked everything and turned up the day before. I knew how to stretch the leg to relax the quads, but I was in pain two days earlier. I was concerned. But as if by a miracle, the pain eased the next day, and I was in with a chance. I had decided to run on maximum pain relief. A knee brace might have been useful, but I never got round to it. I am not a great fan of these sorts of things. The knee was not unstable, but the bursa was inflamed. That was all.
I had injected my usual now only 18 units of ‘designer’ Tresiba. I only use this once a day, and it seems okay. I might one day look at just rapid-acting injections and cut out the background stuff, but my body is not there yet. I think I am talking about the equivalent of a pump.I need to crack the problem of insulin resistance. There is a piece of knowledge still missing. I cannot yet work out how to approach this, but something will come up. It always does if you keep looking. It is something I will try when the time is right.
I was fancying a full English breakfast, so I indulged—500 or so calories from fat and protein. I am now more mindful of protein. Dave, my trainer, likes protein, not too much, but twice my current input. Mind you, where I am lifting a few kilograms here and there, you can multiply it by 10 with him. But my muscles are building, so I might need to increase for a while. My morning glucose was 4mmol/l on waking and went up to 9.6 after breakfast and just before the run.
I am a slow learner. Using a sensor for three weeks when it is only meant to last a week is asking for trouble. And, knowing for a couple of days that this was giving up and needing tweaking, was not a good sign. I never got another reading out of that sensor. It fell off just after the start. I was confident that I would not need to top up with rapid-acting. On many occasions in the past, I had required top-ups of carbs. 9.6mmol/lit was not ideal, but I would have been pleased with that before I decided to go keto. And at this level, I could relax knowing that I would be very unlikely to have a problem with low glucose. I had glucose tablets anyway but no monitor. But I did have good hypo awareness. I was not worried. I was trying to think what it would have been like in the pre keto days, but I couldn’t. I am used to being near ‘normal’ when running now. The bad old days are becoming a distant memory. Nowadays, on keto, diabetes is just a minor irritant that can be largely ignored. Sure, I have to work hard at it, but this diet has become my usual way of eating, I don’t have to think about it. Even if I do get a hypo, it is weedy. Not like a proper hard-core hypo when I was carb counting. In those days, the vision would go patchy, and I would start gobbling loads of glucose in the vain hope that more might act more quickly. And the sweating, the squinting to try to clear the blind spots, and the thought that this might be ‘the one’ that might put me in hospital. Ah, the memories! No, after the last run, when I realised, I had been planning like a diabetic, I decided to get this in perspective. The proper way to treat diabetes is by following a ketogenic diet. Everything else becomes possible then.
Anyway, I had other concerns. The knee needed some attention. It had about 13,000 flexion and extensions to do in the next 2 hours. So, it needed to sort itself out. It did as well. I was fortunate. There was some pain, and it was persistent, but it did not spoil things.
I enjoyed the run. An excellent first half and an equally good second half. My third best time with no training other than the gym. Could it have been that? I think it might.
God only knows what my glucose levels were. I needed no glucose supplements, or at any rate, didn’t take them. I never felt hypo or even lightheaded. I met my nephew afterward and didn’t get the opportunity to check it until 3 hours later. To be honest, I can’t even remember what it was, but I know it was okay. Such is the relaxed way I do things now. So, bearing in mind the lack of training, it was a great end to the challenge I set myself a year ago. At that time, it was a huge personal challenge. Now my perspective has changed. I am no longer a half-marathon person. I reckon anything is possible. I could never have even contemplated saying that two years ago. When I did things according to the guidelines, I could only see a bleak future health-wise. That may still turn out to be the case, but while I am still vital, I get the most out of every day. That, after all, is all I can ask for. I can now look forward with optimism.
This has been a great journey for me. I know that this ketogenic lifestyle is perfect for Type 1’s and will promote this lifestyle at every opportunity. With little expected from the current crop of guideline setters, the change will only come from the ground up. If there is anyone out there reading this, please pass on the information. I discovered keto by total accident, and it changed my life for the better. It may change someone else’s.