I owe you all an explanation.
You might have noticed that I haven’t been posting very much over the last couple months. I’m only publishing two new articles or videos a month, I’m slower to respond to emails, and I haven’t been very active on social media.
The truth is, I’m gearing up for a big life change. The biggest in a very long time: Megan and I are having a baby!
Our first baby to be exact, and we couldn’t be happier…or more overwhelmed. And while I’m excited beyond words to meet my child later this year, this news has affected nearly every aspect of my life in some significant way.
I knew Megan was going to stop working for a while, so I threw myself into my work with an intensity I haven’t experienced in a long time. I took on new projects (unrelated to chronic illness), longer hours, and fewer days off.
I’ve been incredibly productive, but it’s been at the expense of literally everything else, including my health and Meniere’s symptoms.
So today, I want to explain what happened, what I did to fix it, and I want to offer you two challenges to help you bring your life back into balance, too.
Life Out of Balance:
My routines were the first thing to go.
I basically stopped exercising, meditating, reading, and eating healthy. Really, all of the things I do on a regular basis to maintain my health and keep my stress levels in check fell to the wayside. And I paid the price.
First, I stopped sleeping, or rather I suddenly lost the ability to fall asleep. For nearly 6 weeks, I tossed and turned for 2-3 hours every single night before falling asleep. It was brutally frustrating. Sleeping pills didn’t even help. I knew it was caused by stress but knowing this didn’t change anything. I was exhausted all the time and starting to feel like a shell of my former self.
“Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.” – Simone de Beauvoir
My Meniere’s symptoms flared up big time, too. I was experiencing ear fullness every day, increasing dizziness, and even scarier, my hearing began to fluctuate up and down, which is something I haven’t had to deal with in a very long time.
Fortunately, it didn’t progress to vertigo. But I was feeling worse by the day and on top of everything, I was gaining weight. Something had to give. I was about to be a father and my health was falling apart.
It was time to make changes. I scaled back my workload, I stopped posting as much, and I took a hard look at lifestyle. I had to get my stress levels under control.
So, I challenged myself to get back to my healthy habits and routines.
Challenge #1 – Rebuild Healthy Habits:
My biggest problem was consistency. I would meditate every once in a while, and exercise occasionally, but not nearly enough to make a difference.
So for the month of February, I challenged myself to do three things, every single day:
- meditate for at least 15 minutes
- Read for at least 30 minutes
- Exercise or stretch for at least 30 minutes.
And I was going to use the motivational system known as “Don’t Break the Chain”(which just so happens to be a free tool available on Mind Over Meniere’s) to help me succeed.
It’s a simple calendar tool where all you have to do is cross out every day that you complete your goals. This gives you a clear visual of your progress which ultimately helps to keep you motivated and moving forward.
The idea is to get as many days in a row as possible, and as you see the days add up, you feel an internal pressure to not break the chain by missing a day.
I wasn’t perfect, but it got me back on track and my stress levels are back under control.
Now I want to challenge all of you to give this a try! What 3 things would you like to see yourself do every day for the next month?
Challenge #2 – Sugar Detox:
At this point, things were finally going well. I was sleeping again, my Meniere’s symptoms had just started to calm down, and I wasn’t so stressed out anymore.
But I was still gaining weight, even with all the exercise. It had to be my diet. I was still stress eating a lot of snacks and junk food on a daily basis. I knew I needed to make a change, but it wasn’t something I wanted to do.
My next challenge wasn’t as calculated as the first but ended up being far more difficult.
It all started on a whim one day last week. I wanted to see what would happen if I cut sugar out of my diet entirely for a full day. And not just junk food, but all forms of sugar, including refined and processed carbs like bread and crackers, and even fruit.
It ended up being one of the hardest things I’ve done in a very long time. The food cravings were far beyond anything I expected, almost as intense as the nicotine cravings I experienced when I quit smoking. Sugar is a drug, though that was never really clear to me before now.
The next morning, I felt awful. I was exhausted, and I woke up with a terrible tension headache. Apparently, I was experiencing mild sugar withdrawal, which is another thing I didn’t expect, or even know about.
It was all an eye-opening experience to say the least. I honestly couldn’t believe how much it was affecting me. I knew I should keep going, but I was falling apart.
Somehow, I found the will power to continue. And new each day was a lot easier than the day before.
I ended up following a simple protocol suggested by a nutritionist named Brooke Alpert, RD.
For the first three days, I consumed no sugar at all. Instead, I ate a lot of protein, healthy fats, and green vegetables. I then started to slowly reintroduce small amounts of fruit and natural sugar. Moving forward, I’m going to slowly introduce more carbs to make this more sustainable, but I plan to maintain a low sugar, healthier diet overall.
All in all, I’m proud of myself for this one. I’ve already started losing weight and I have to say, I feel pretty good. I have more energy than I’ve had in a long time. And I no longer feel the need to snack all day long.
It’s had a positive effect on my Meniere’s disease too, especially in regard to brain fog. The first few days weren’t good, but now that I’m a week in, I feel sharper than I’ve been in a long time.
This isn’t an easy challenge, but I truly believe that this is something that everyone should experience at some point or another.
So, if you’re unhappy with your weight, experiencing significant brain fog, or even if you just feel that your diet isn’t working for you, I challenge you to give the three-day sugar detox a try!
Despite all of the changes and stress, I’m in a good place now and excited to start this next chapter of my life.
Of course, I still worry about my health. I know the challenges of having a newborn will be more difficult in the face of Meniere’s disease. But I also feel more grounded and resilient, and plan to continue working to strengthen my health over the next few months.
So what does all this mean for Mind Over Meniere’s? Don’t worry, because I’m not going anywhere! But I will probably continue a slower posting schedule for the foreseeable future. I also had a lot of projects planned for 2018, and I know I won’t be able to get to all of them.
But I’m still here. And I will keep writing, making videos, raising awareness, and spreading my message of hope.
Wishing you all a spin free day!