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Exercise, PTSD, Stress and Gluten.

Warning: This post contains some serious, deep stuff. But if you are interested in the role that exercise plays in your life; How Stress, the loss of loved ones and PTSD can trigger health issues, then please read on…

The role exercise has played in my life…

Exercise is one of those vital, core ingredients to a healthy life. I first began to exercise soon after I had my second child at the age of 24.

In my twenties, going to gym was more than just exercise, it was “me-time”. It was time to be completely on my own, to relax and unwind and focus on doing something for myself. Having two small children in nappies only two years apart was exhausting and gym was my escape route. I remember One day someone came up to me and said in an incredulous voice :”I’m exhausted just watching you. You are like a machine!”. Back in those days, I felt like one…Oh to have the energy of a twenty something again!!

I am now 42. I still exercise at least five times a week. But not in the same intensity that I did back then. With age, you learn to be balanced! I have done BBG for the past three and a half years and seen amazing results not only in my fitness, stamina, strength but also in physical appearance. I can honestly say that it is the best exercise program I have ever done. In fact, I have seen more results in 3 years than I did in all the 15 years I went to gym and killed myself. I also am an avid walker and try and walk twice a week and I am a hiker and often go on long strenuous hikes.

I spent my twenties as an obsessive energizer gym bunny

Stress as a trigger

My thirties were marred by a number of hardships including the death of both my brothers and my Dad within the space of seven years as well as by severe health issues that at the time, I thought would never end. It is believed that celiac disease is hereditary and that one is born with the predisposition to it. I can see that stress from emotional trauma seemed to be the trigger that set it off full blown.

Experiencing the death of loved ones is bad enough but when it happens time after time, your body seems to go into some type of shock. With my Dad it was traumatic as I was with him at the time and watched him have a series of strokes in front of me. I stayed with him right by his side at the hospital, until I was told to go home. He died a few hours later of a heart attack and I got there literally within 20 minutes of his passing. I got to say goodbye, as hard as it was. But for two years I suffered with PTSD and anxiety attacks. It was the third time in 7 years I had to go through grief and due to the nature of his death, quite traumatic.

Without the release, our body will store and hold onto trauma. Exercise and various techniques can help to release this stored trauma

our body stores trauma

I was an Endermologist for 6 years. (Endermology is a lymphatic treatment to decrease the appearance of cellulite). I saw how this treatment helped people to relax and de-stress. And like exercise, it can help to eliminate negative energy we store from bad experiences. Exercise releases chemicals called endorphins which helps to reduce stress, alleviate pain and is a great coping mechanism. It also increases heart rate and gets the blood flowing to the body, improving circulation. Endermology has a similar effect in that it improves the circulation of the lymph system, helping the body to release the trapped toxins and excess water caught between cells.

I also studied skin therapy and have a certificate but in my studies I got to see the huge role our skin plays in our health. Health issues are really more than “skin deep” but the skin is our biggest organ and plays a huge part in reducing stress to the body just by being mindful of how we treat it; from the cosmetics and creams we apply, and limiting harsh exposure to the sun for extended periods of time.

Deep pressure point technique I remember the first time I went for a session, I cried like a baby on the table. The therapist was quiet disturbed and kept asking me if i was okay! A lot of people think that this is rubbish, but I experienced it first hand. Our bodies store stress and trauma. The Brain and body are connected. After my session, I was completely exhausted, developed a severe migraine and came home and slept for 12 hours straight!

When we don’t find ways to release trauma or grief, our body will hang onto these things and internalize it causing a variety of illness that will, over time, manifest itself.

Massage, DPPT, exercise and other healthy outlets can help a person not only to cope but also to let go of emotions and work through them instead of ignoring it and bottling it up.

celiac Disease

So coming back to how this all relates…it was also in my thirties that I also discovered I had celiac disease. I went for a blood test that confirmed this and at the time was still eating gluten. I went off gluten cold turkey. I spent years on many regimes, supplements, programs and elimination diets to restore my health and fix leaky gut which was the result from gluten destroying my small intestine. I don’t think anybody really knows what a deep, dark and lonely hole it is when you are in a space where you look fine on the outside and appear to be coping fine with life, but everyday you wake up to another battle with pain and endless disorders associated with food. I remember the hair loss, the weight loss, the endless trips to the dentist as my teeth had no calcium, skin rashes, brittle nails, severe hay fever, and the pain that coursed through my body day after day with no relief in sight. You don’t talk about it, you suffer in silence.

When a person has an auto immune disease such as celiac, it is important to reduce stress as far as possible. While Grief cannot be helped, it should not be ignored. Let yourself grieve. We are all different and all grieve in different ways and for different lengths of time. Nobody has the right to judge you.

The point is whether it’s grief or added stress from lack of exercise, poor eating patterns and the stress we put on our skin through chemicals in and around our home can all add to it. If you have leaky gut or are dealing with a new journey coming to terms with gluten intolerance, try cut out as much external stress as possible by reducing or eliminating chemicals and switching to cleaner options. Reducing or eliminating processed foods and foods high in sugar. As well as starting a regular exercise regime.

tying it all together

I think many under estimate the power of exercise, not only for the physical body but for our emotional well being too. Exercise has been a life saver for me in the years that I battled with the loss of loved ones, PTSD, anxiety and health issues related to celiac disease. Exercise, along with changing many things in my life: changing from using chemicals in cleaning products, body products and cosmetics to eco friendly, biodegradable and skin friendly options. I changed how we consumed food and cut out refined sugar and went back to making our food from scratch. I changed to free range and hormone free/ antibiotic free meats and eggs. I changed from using plastic to reusable shopping bags and netting bags to purchase lose fruit and vegetables.

Over time I could stop taking supplements once my leaky gut had healed.

life after loss and gluten

My take away for you is this: For anyone having suffered with ANY type of stress, loss, health issue and the effects of Celiac disease…there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Take time to clear toxins from your life, in the form of chemicals you use in your home and on your body.
  • Start and maintain a exercise schedule that works for you. It does not have to be going to the gym. Since I started BBG and walking, I have not been to gym in 3 years and yet I am stronger and fitter now then I was when I Did! I can do 20 man pushups in a row for example and I have visible abs that all the machines in the world at gym never gave me!)Exercise will help your body to heal faster and it will make you feel good.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of creativity: find something that you enjoy doing and do it on a regular basis whether it is gardening, photography, reading, music, being in nature, baking, cooking, painting. Studies have proven that doing something creative boosts self esteem, productivity, and helps the brain to stay active and continue to develop new connections.
  • There is life after gluten and from my experience I have learned that things won’t always be as daunting as they are in the moment. As they say “this too shall pass”. Your body will heal, your heart will heal and life will go on.

There is light at the end of the tunnel after gluten…

See this post for a list of things you should avoid when healing a leaky gut

1 thought on “Exercise, PTSD, Stress and Gluten.”

  1. Pingback: How Do I know if I have Celiac Disease or NCGS? – Bonnie's GF Bakery

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