Thursday 19 August 2010

Weight loss and exercise: Two dead simple and one off the wall tips that really work

I read this post on the "1,000,000 million People to find a cure for Crohn's disease" Facebook page which hosts some fantastic discussions between Crohnies on a wide range of topics: “So I saw my GI doctor yesterday. She told me I am 15 pounds overweight. What kinds of exercise and diet do you recommend to help me lose that weight? She recommended a low carb or carb free diet. Which foods would be good to eat that are low in carbs or carb free?”:
I started to reply and then realised that I couldn't condense it into a short enough space. Here goes........

I have two really simple integrated lifestyle suggestions that are aimed at requiring least effort and the least amount of motivation and a further off the wall suggestion. So if you feel awful and completely cannot be bothered, the food and exercise tips really work. And if you want to go full out, try the Solar Plexus Charging! (with extreme caution).

First, Food: The easiest thing to do might sound completely mad and patronising, but if take the KIS (Keep it simple) approach - just decide not to eat sugar, bread, potatoes or pasta  - this is a sure way of losing weight that is also super easy. Replace these staples with whatever vegetables you can manage. If the reflex response to this is "Vegetables, you must be joking!", then my first suggestion would be try 'em all - there will be some that are OK if you liquidise them or if that doesn't work, liquidise and strain them. This helps when the problem is caused by the irritation of larger fibrous pieces. If it seems that the chemical component of the vegetables is a problem, then try and combine the pureed veg with something that is tolerable.  And in addition, eat whatever you like! Listen to your body to find out what it wants to eat. After a short while of getting into the habit it’s a no-brainer. This is NOT NOT NOT the Atkins diet, just “Stuff the staples - vegetables rock!” More info if required.

Second, Exercise: I read a great book on exercise myths about twenty years ago and annoyingly I’ve forgotten the author or the title. The author was an expert in metabolism and I think he pioneered the application of BMI (he started by taking a massive bath with him to his demos, filling it with water and getting people to totally immerse themselves. The increase in depth of water provided a measurement of their volume which he used in conjunction with their weight to find their density. The “I’m just big boned” excuse was no longer a matter for debate - someone's fat proportion could now be calculated from their density. Thankfully, it wasn't long before he found a good way of approximating this measurement that didn't require a bath :)).

Whilst this may be very interesting, in my opinion his other research was far more revelatory: He demonstrated which forms of exercise were more effective at burning fat. He found that fat burned at a faster rate when the same amount of energy was expended over a longer period. In other words, it was better to exercise regularly at a lower level for a longer time and using large muscle groups than to exercise in short bursts of higher level activity. He advocated a good walk at a decent pace daily to burn fat and increase metabolism. This would seem to be too good good to be true: all the reasons for not exercising just evaporate – no need for specialist kit, no need to get changed, no need to get in the car and go somewhere, no embarrassment of being seen red faced and staggering when you’re so unfit at the outset, no need for the right weather and no gymn fees! You’re simply just going for a good walk. No brainer. Just one final point on exercise: In his official annual report, "On the State of Public Health", Sir Liam Donaldson, the UK Government's Chief Medical Officer described exercise as “nature’s cure”........If a medication existed that had a similar effect on preventing disease, it would be hailed as a miracle cure.”

Third, speed up your metabolism using Solar Plexus Charging: Now this is rather different from my usual recommendations and it comes with a warning. The yogis that practice this are reported to be seen walking up mountains in sub zero temperatures dressed only in something resembling a sheet, melting the snow with their bare feet. You should only practice this if you are experienced in yoga and preferably if you have a yoga teacher. I am not a yoga teacher. I find this very beneficial, not just for the metabolic effects but also it blows your mind. Even better, you do it lying down :). For further information my favourite is Dr. John Mumford’s, “A Chakra and Kundalini Workbook”  You can also find various references on the internet but be very, very careful, Kundalini energy is not to be messed with. To be safe, read the book and if it interests you further, go to an expert Kundalini yoga teacher.

If you are able to, I would expect using just the food and exercise suggestions you would achieve your target weight in 7-8 weeks. What's more it's completely sustainable. It would be great to hear how you get on!!

Monday 16 August 2010

Pain management Part 1 - Changing your mind about pain

So far, the survey has confirmed my expectation that pain is the factor that most bugs you about IBD, so I thought you'd like me to share this with you....

I have studied various aspects of this huge subject - pain and its management - for many years, both personally and with my clients. I almost never take pain medication, including after a major operation.

When I was in my teens most of my circle of friends had their ears peirced. It was a kind of rite of passage. Parading our newly studded lobes at school after "the big event" we all remarked on how the second piercing hurt so much more than the first. I was so concerned about my second ear that I asked the piercer, whether it was OK. "Oh yes," she explained, "...strangely  the second ear seems more of a shock even though everything is exactly the same."  This started me thinking about the subjective nature of pain, which continues to facinate me to this day.
When you having an injection or a blood test in the UK, the unversally adopted warning appears to be, "Sharp scratch!". Well I don't know about you, but for one thing, the feeling is nothing like a sharp scratch, and for another, I would much prefer the feeling of tight pressure I actually experience than a sharp scratch, any day. As a result, on hearing, "Sharp scratch!", my anxiety levels increase and when the needle is inserted it feels more painful than if I had been told, "Tight pressure". So now I ask them to say nothing or, "Tight pressure" and I hardly notice it. There are many more examples I could give you just like this, where words change the experience. Especially important are those words that influence the attitudes of children for life.
So why am I  saying this? It's because I'm trying to convey how our experince of pain and its impact on our lives depends on many things. How we prepare for its arrival (in the case of anticipated acute pain) and the context in which we experience it, (in the case of chronic pain) can greatly influence its perceived severity.
Most of us know from personal experience that sudden unexpected acute pain quite often only hurts afterwards - like when the heavy file fell on my nose (earlier post). Chronic pain or cold often diminishes when our attention is focused elsewhere. A very painful condition surrounded by the fear of sinister causes can become greatly more tolerable when its source is revealed as relatively innocent. One typical example is  wind. Wind can be the most excruciating feeling imaginable. I know people who thought they were dying of some terrible corrosive illness. After some time, some medical advice (to roll around on the floor in a specific formation) and large volumes of expelled gas, the pain was gone. This doesn't mean that the pain was any less real, but each person experiencing this said that when they were told it was wind, this changed the context or the "frame" of the pain: instead of feeling at the mercy of some malevolent fatal lurgi the pain became information equipping them to locate and relieve the pressure. For all sorts of reasons, this meant the difference between being able to bear the pain and not. Same pain, different mind equals different experience.
I've talked about this for rather an long time now, so I'll save the story about medication "where the painkiller is the packaging" and another one about "how dentists can get it so wrong" for a later post.
I have a number of tools that I use to manage different types of pain that I share with my clients to help liberate them from theirs. If you would find it beneficial I will hold a (free) webinar to share some of these with you. Just let me know in the comments box below. You might like to think which of your friends would benefit and get them to let me know here as well. : )

Saturday 14 August 2010



The challenge is to make a video featuring a "My Crohn's is a pain in the butt" theme makeover" of a popular song. The winner will feature LIVE at the LONDON 2011 CROHNIES AND COLLIES' GRAND DAY OUT. Humour will score well. It must cost LESS THAN £100 ($150) to make - like this irreverent impromptu makeover of "New York".  Please post your entries on youtube and a link on my wall and as a comment in reply to this post . (Please be responsible - videos that are considered unsuitable in any way will be deleted).The competition will close on Thursday 30 September and it will be judged by Crohns Helper FB friends. HAVE FUN!!

Toilet humour

This morning I remembered a quote from someone with a screechingly funny sense of humour. Her job required her to give very demanding presentations requiring a high degree of mental agility. A screw up would be career changing - and not in a good way. She found these ordeals terrifying and was ritually confined to the bathroom for some time before her appearance. Relating this ritual to me she said, "It's not so much that the bottom is falling out of my world......." (you join the dots up).

Friday 13 August 2010

Overcoming lethargy: “It’s done” demystified

OK! OK! I’ll tell you how the “Saying, “it’s done”.” strategy (see post of 11 August) can overcome lethargy.  Really, the most important thing is that it works for you, not how it works. I didn’t anticipate so much interest in this particular post – but I’ve had four emails asking me about the mechanics [Please guys, I’d prefer you to comment on the blog in future so everyone can share in your questions.]

I suspect these emails are all from left brained obsessive advanced NLP’ers wanting to dissect everything. (I hope this is not the approach you adopt when you see a butterfly – sometimes the wonder is the wonder – not its component parts – but here goes...). I have simplified it and taken a few Joy-speak shortcuts to keep you awake.

The bottom line effect is that it changes your sub-modalities. (Sub-what? Some of you will be saying. Most NLP’ers will say “Ohhhhh – I get it” – and that’s all they need to know. The four emailers may be thinking “Yeah, and....” So if you are still engaged, this is for you:
Sub-modalities refers to the way our mind perceives and interprets information. They are like a set of perspectives. These perspectives influence how we feel about those things we perceive. One of the ways we can change the way we feel about doing something is by changing our time perspective of that activity. Words can change our perspectives, including our time perspective. Saying “it’s done” – even when we know it isn’t done yet - changes our time perspective to one of being in the past. This can make is far easier to tackle. Will this work on everyone? The answer is “No”. It will depend on your attitude towards time: This strategy will motivate most people who view the difficult challenges they have overcome as being easy and look at challenges in the future as being less certain. Saying “It’s done” puts the “easy” label on the activity in the future and makes it a no brainer. People with different perspectives around time will need different strategies. That’s more for another day. People with Crohn’s and Colitis that I have treated have all been people for whom this strategy works, but I strongly suspect that this is because people who make a decision to consult me are of this nature. In particular it could relate to the fact that over time their symptoms have led to increased feelings of uncertainty about many aspects of the future.

Hope you enjoyed this. As usual, comments and indications very welcome - Joyx

Wednesday 11 August 2010

A tip to overcome lethargy, lack of energy and demotivation

I was reminded today of how often lethargy, lack of energy and lack of motivation are common problems with Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis. I thought this might be useful:
There's a trick I play with myself that works every time - works equally well with my clients..... When there is something they don't want to do, I get them to think about doing it and as their mental video is rolling I get them to say, "It's done!" and all of the resistance seems to evaporate. It becomes easy and they can even do it on autopilot - leaving their mind to enjoy something else.
Hope this helps. If you try it, I'd love to know how you get on.

Monday 9 August 2010

Webinar for insomnia sufferers with Crohn's Disease

Oh dear, it appears that I haven't explained myself very well. I have successfully treated insomnia without medication for many years - using a variety of processes which are tailored to fit individual's needs. The new challenge I will be addressing on the webinar is to treat insomnia caused or exacerbated by medication. In summary, insomnia which is caused by medication presents more of a challenge however, people with Crohn's that have insomnia unrelated to their medication are welcome to attend. This new intervention will be a more intensive version of the original suite and will introduce some new processes that are highly effective face to face but have not previously been attempted over webinar. It will prove very interesting. As a reminder, if you want to attend this webinar in principle, please leave a comment under the meds related insomnia post and also email me at Sleep is a comment away. Joy x

Saturday 7 August 2010

Medication Related Insomnia Webinar! - Expressions of interest invited

Hi Guys,
I just received a message on Facebook: (My user name is Crohns helper on Facebook). The message was asking where to find my previous post on medication related insomnia. For those of you who are looking for the same post, I posted it on 13 May 2010. You can see this post and others made in previous months by clicking on the triangle next to the month in which it was posted where they are listed (scroll down this pagr and they're on the right hand side). This will expand the folder and you can click on the post you are looking for to view it.

Essentially this post was to see how many people experience medication related insomnia and are interested in attenting a webinar (a seminar over the internet) to give them tools to help them sleep.

It will take a fair amount of work and expense to hold this webinar however I am still happy to hold it if enough people are interested.  If you are, please email me at and tell me how medication affects your sleeping pattern and what would bring you the greatest benefits. This will enable me to gauge interest in the webinar and to understand what aspects of insomnia to cover with you. It will also enable me to invite you to the webinar when I have scheduled a date.

It would be helpful to other Crohnies reading this blog if you could leave a comment below (anonymously if you wish) to say you are interested in attending the webinar, what kind of insomnia you are experiencing and what you would like to achieve from attending the seminar.

Thursday 5 August 2010

When Laughter really is the best medicine - how suppressed emotions appear to be held in the body and their effect.

Some years ago, my very good friend Ted who has mastered more physical therapy "body work" modalities than I can name, (and created a several more besides), related a case history that illustrated both our views of how emotions are held in the body - in the muscles, joints, organs etc. At the time he was using techniques centred on Trager, VHT and similar modalities that work on the  basis of releasing tension held in the muscles and joints, sometimes just by the practitioner holding a limb or making very slow and small movements with it.   As simple as it sounds, and physically it doesn't look very exciting, in fact it doesn't look like anything is going on at all, but mentally and emotionally, to the person on the table this is a huge deal: handing over total control like that can really open the floodgates. In letting go of their limb, the client's mind is agreeing to let go of the issues that they are hanging on to, as reflected in that muscle tension. Ted related how, more often than not, the energetic release of a muscle or group of muscles is often accompanied by a profound  release of suppressed emotions. I can tell you from my own experience of being a guinea pig for some of his body work, when Ted asked me to let go of controlling one of my legs that he was holding, I started to laugh and I just couldn't stop. Whilst he'd never had laughter as an emotional release, it made perfect sense to me: Many times, in circumstances with clients where I felt that laughter would be most inappropriate, I would see things that were very amusing, (or perhaps ironic in the extreme), and would suppress it. Here it was coming out! And of course, the emotion is not the only thing to emerge - the information is very powerful - what a discovery process! My powerful lesson was not to suppress laughter. When I am with clients now and a client says something unwittingly that I find very amusing, I usually bring it to their attention so we can both laugh at it.

This realisation was so valuable. In cases where the suppressed emotion is more sinister than laughter, the effect on the body's structure is damaging, potentially long term; this release can stop the damage and allow the  body to start to repair. The knowledge enables the client to understand what damage these suppressed emotions are creating and hopefully they can be helped to start dealing with their difficult  issues in a healthier way.

The way most body work modalities work demonstrates the impact of emotions on the structure of the body. I believe the same impact occurs, not just at the organ level but at the cellular level of the entire body.

This view has informed my approach to the way I help people with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. It is entirely consistent with the research that has demonstrated the adverse affects of stress on the symptoms of Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Yes it is proven, and most of you will attest to that first hand  - stress makes gut rot worse!

For further reading and references on the topics discussed here, please feel free to email me - Joy x.

The Time Paradox - Philip G Zimbardo

Sanskrit quote (taken from Philip Zimbardo's lecture on The Time Paradox): "Yesterday is already a dream and tomorrow but a vision, but today, well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope."

Philip Zimbardo as far as I know doesn't have Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, but he has gone through a great deal of surgery in the last few years. In his talk he mentions how he now walks his talk and puts many of the philosophies that I endorse into practice.

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Two legs, four legs - who cares, I love my life!!

I was sent this wonderful link - it's an article about a lamb born with 2 legs that doesn't seem to know that he has only 2 legs.... if he were a girl she probably wouldn't care whether her bum looked big or have bad hair days either . How great this is !
As children, I think we start out with this same, "I'm getting on with living!" approach to life  and somehow we forget: In the process of growing up we can shrink down! Time to grow again!

In dealing with Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis, many brave Crohnies and Collies will tell you that this kind of mentality is essential for overcoming their symptoms.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

TED Talks - Jamie Oliver's TED Prize Acceptance Speech - Amazing

Just in case you haven't heard of  the TED site, it is a brilliant resource - inspirational, informative and engaging lectures by amazing people. This recommendation comes with a WARNING, however - the danger is that you go to watch one speech and then spend hours enthralled. Here is Jamie Oliver's acceptance lecture for the TED prize. I could watch it so many times.  Enjoy!! Love Joyx

NB Whilst many people with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis - IBD (as Guy Cohen, for example says in his wonderful book, Your Gut Feeling), having a healthy diet is important, but having mastered his condition he can now eat just about anything without a flare up.

Monday 2 August 2010

Stammering in style

What's stammering got ot do with Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis - IBD? Well in one way there is a similarity. When you can turn into an advantage:

Almost a decade ago, in my well meant naiveté, I summoned the courage to approach a senior project director colleague in an international investment bank about his stammer: I could help him overcome it if he would like to - I had had considerable success with other stammers. Over the next few minutes as he related how he’d lived with it for so long that it really didn’t bother him, I realised that not only was it no obstacle to him, he used it, unwittingly or otherwise, to his considerable advantage. There were several notable aspects of his speech aside from his stammer: He was an extremely quietly spoken man and you had to strain to hear him. In addition he very seldom used terms such as “erm” or “you know” - his words were well chosen and his message compact. When he started to address a meeting the first five seconds invariably consisted of expelled air and the next five, a single word in characteristic hushed tones before he gathered slightly more momentum. You could hear a pin drop. I don’t recall him ever being interrupted. His command of the room was total.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Sunday 1 August 2010

When "Going for the Jugular" avoids a surgical strike!

I received a lovely phone call yesterday from Ian (not his real name), a Crohnie who took my Core Self © programme several years ago when it was far less refined than today. He rang to tell me that tomorrow he was starting his new role as European Operations Director. When we first met he would have found this role impossible to accept as it involves a lot of international travel. Ian has checked the accuracy of this article and I have his permission to publish it.

As in numerous of my cases of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, when Ian asked for my help I had no idea that he had Crohn’s Disease: the reason for undertaking the Core Self programme was not for his Crohn’s Disease but for leadership development: he was a VP of an international corporation and wanted to build better relationships at work. This is the story of our original meeting.

In the course of our initial in depth exploration of his current working relationships (to which he would later refer as my Inquisition) Ian reluctantly revealed that he had Crohn’s Colitis and explained the role that it played in his work and life: I had asked him about the results of his most recent 360 degree review and his reply confirmed my suspicions; it was clear from the remarks of his team members, peers and the directors to whom he reported that although he was seen as very intelligent, extremely knowledgeable and highly efficient, they felt that he was distant and remote, unappreciative and not very supportive. One person even said she felt he was rude, arrogant and dismissive. It was the latter comment that prompted his HR department to invite me in.

I explored with him the strategies that he had built in his work and life to deal with the bouts of severe pain and sudden urgent demands to find a toilet or be on his own. As you might expect, there was no shortage of torturous scenarios – spending as little time as possible in situations where there was no escape; making exits from conversations – sometimes very in depth ones, failing to attend meetings or leaving half way through. All his meetings were as short as possible. He seldom accepted lunch or dinner or drinks invitations with colleagues. Anything that required long, in depth meetings he would delegate ruthlessly so he could leave at any time. The list went on and on. With care, I went for the ‘jugular’ question: “What are the positive outcomes that these strategies have given you?” I always sit a safe distance whenever I ask these types questions - I’m never totally sure whether or not I will be treated to finely articluated anger. Despite the fact that Ian had probably mastered an expressionless face over several decades, I could still hear an arpeggio of emotions including incredulity, denial, pain, affront, anger and all the usual suspects indicating many of the limiting beliefs I had come to expect from this type of control. After all, how on earth could any of unbearable symptoms that STOP him doing the many normal things he wants to do have any benefit? After the restrained outburst, he relaxed into a knowing smile - there was one benefit. (I actually felt on pretty safe ground here as I had spotted several, as probably you have already). “Well, I have learnt to be an excellent delegator for the things that are a problem for me.”

When he realised I was waiting for more, the arpeggios returned before another "aha" smile as he talked about the incredible efficiency of having to hold short meetings and his reputation for getting to the point and “cutting the crap” (no pun intended, he said as we both laughed). His smile continued to widen as the examples started to flow faster than he could mention them and he stopped speaking for quite a while to scribble notes so he could recall them all. It was a wonderful moment of realisation. Suddenly remembering he had stopped in the middle of sharing these with me he continued to talk at a more measured pace about the skills he’d discounted just because he associated them with “cheating” - to avoid embarrassing himself or having to reveal his condition. The list continued apace: He avoided long journeys unless absolutely necessary which meant that those journeys he had to take, really counted. He wasted very little time and so could work less hours and achieve more than his colleagues. He was very definite about what he would and wouldn’t do in order to avoid compromising himself and so people seemed to respect his decisions and offer fewer challenges than others might receive. In order to do this he had to develop strong arguments to articulate what he meant clearly – and there was always a strong argument to support his decision, he didn’t just make up reasons for not doing them. Then I was ready to ask my second ‘jugular’ question, “So would you like to summarise how Crohn’s Disease has affected your career?” In summary he said, “I just realised I probably owe at least my three last promotions to the strategies, skills and other resources I have been forced to learn and apply, to work around my Crohn’s Disease.”

This is what I love. Here is one of the many occasions when two well timed, sensitively placed, “going for the jugular” questions really work - so long as I “get out of the way”, provide the space, and wait in silence for the answers I expect to emerge.

Ian's baptism of fire was complete and he was now ready for our work to begin: The severity of his Crohn's Disease symptoms would be the reflection of how well his programme was going, not the focus of the programme itself. I may tell you more about Ian's journey later, but this post is already too long and Ian is just one of many who managed to turn their life around by focusing on what's really going on with them, rather than on their own often retold story of what they think is going on.

I hope you have enjoyed Ian's story. As usual, please let me know what you think: There is always something for me to learn out of observations from your perspective .

Be well, be happy! Joy x