Regaining strength

I never realized the degree of my muscle weakness  until I got onto the treadmill and started walking. My back muscles had become so weak that I was walking hunched over like an old lady. I had to quickly grab onto the support handles of the treadmill to prevent myself from falling off and possibly hurting myself. I had to stop after a couple of seconds. I got off and sitting down on the side of the bed, I started crying out of shock at the deterioration of my overall physical condition, and frustration at the whole situation. I think I reached my lowest point at that moment in terms of physical self loathing. I hated my body and was intensely angry with it for doing what it had done to me, and now on top of everything else,  I had these physical challenges to deal with and enormous obstacles to overcome.

The girls & Goemal

My son and three daughters. This was in mid 2011.

Much to my families dismay, I stomped downstairs and threw a hissy fit in front of everybody, telling them that I was done. I couldn’t do it, it was just too hard. How was I supposed to walk on the treadmill when I couldn’t even keep my body upright. It seemed hopeless. It was an eye opener however and an essential one at that, because for the next few days I found myself wondering what I could do to get myself started again and keep going. There had to be something. I read up on the internet and came across an article about an Indian herb called Ashwaghanda, and how brilliant it was at restoring physical strength and stamina. The way I saw it, I didn’t have anything to lose by giving it a try. That weekend Jaco and I jumped into the car and went in search of the herb. After two hours of searching around town to no avail we were ready to give up and return home with our tails between out legs. That’s when we drove past a very non-descript looking shop. Something told me that we should stop and have a look, so I told Jaco to stop so that I could quickly run in. Good thing I did because there sitting on the shelf were plenty of containers of Ashwaghanda powder . We bought two of them and headed home feeling very proud of ourselves. Little did I know what an acquired taste it was going to be. For the first few weeks or so until I got used to the taste of it, I would quickly throw it back whilst blocking my nose. After getting used to it however, I was fine and could drink it normally. Fast, but without having to numb the senses at least.

A year prior to my relapse, I had been going for horse riding lessons that I was enjoying very much. Cantering along one day, my horse spooked for something in the grass and I was thrown off. This horse and I had actually formed a bond over the months that I had been riding him. He was a tall, lean white speckled horse and so I had further to fall. As I hit the ground I heard and felt a click but didn’t feel the pain straight away. I only felt it when I pinched a nerve in my back and had to go for a scan to see what the problem was. Not only was it a pinched nerve, but I now also had a prolapsed disk in my lower back as well as a cracked rib, which had already healed on it’s own. Since all of this, the doctor had given me a back brace to wear which helped a lot if I was doing tasks around the house such as bending to pick things up or shuffle things around, although the doctor had advised against me overexerting myself in any way. Suddenly it hit me! I would put the back brace on and then start slowly walking on the treadmill and see how it went. It worked! I could only walk for about 15 minutes to start with before I had to get off huffing and puffing, but I was thrilled that it had made the world of difference and that I had finally made a start. I was also getting into a good routine with my diet plan, although it was torturously strict. I could only eat grilled, steamed or roasted foods, no sweets, chocolates or sodium. Everything had to be skimmed or low fat and I wasn’t allowed to touch sauces in any shape or form with a 10 foot barge pole. I could only eat two slices of whole wheat toast a day for breakfast with two egg whites on them (no egg yolk) and no butter or margarine. Carbohydrates were to be kept to a minimum and I had to watch my portion sizes like a hawk.  My food was plain and simple goodness. I was really going back to my roots and after a while, I started to enjoy the wholesome and natural tastes of the food. I was resetting my taste buds and metabolism completely.

Amazingly enough as the weeks passed, I realized that I had more energy and was getting more out of each day, being able to achieve more. I realized that the Ashwaghanda was making a difference. It could also have been due to my exercise routine and healthier eating, but this improvement was quite dramatic. Way beyond what simple walking and nutrition was capable of.

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