Monthly Archives: January 2015

My Miracle Morning

sunriseOn 30th December I listened to an Underground Wellness podcast with Hal Elrod as the guest.   The podcast described how Hal had changed his morning routine to include activities that successful people do, and it had a profound effect on his life.  Both his wellbeing, and his success in business.

At the time I had been pondering the wording of  a new year’s resolution that would strengthen my meditation habit, which had almost completely disappeared over the Christmas period. On hearing the podcast I decided that I would try the Miracle Morning instead and see how it went.

The six activities that make up the Miracle Morning are:

  1. Meditation
  2. Affirmations
  3. Visualisation
  4. Reading
  5. Exercise
  6. Journalling – Hal recommends the five minute journal

When Hal originally set out his miracle morning he decided to devote an hour a day to his self improvement, and initially spent 10 minutes on each activity.  He subsequently amended this, so that some activities got more time and some got less.

My first problem was the idea of getting up an hour earlier to do all these activities before the rest of the family got up.  That didn’t make sense to me.  I’ve spent a long time regaining my health, and sleep is an important part of maintaining it.  Instead I decided to interweave the activities into my existing routine, only aiming to fit in meditation when the house is quiet.  So here’s what my morning routine has been for the last few weeks.

  • 6.50 Alarm – get up straight away
  • 6.55 Start Meditation
  • 7.10 Have breakfast, make packed lunches, do laundry, clean up kitchen and all the usual stuff that goes on with 3 kids getting ready for school)
  • 8.00 Affirmations and visualisation
  • 8.10 Shower and Dress
  • 8.25  The five minute journal
  • 8.30 school run
  • 9.10 – return from school run and exercise
  • 9.30 – get on with my day

What I’ve learned from this

  • I can adapt Hal’s ideas to fit my own circumstances.
  • My morning routine doesn’t have to be completed before the school run.  I have the luxury of not working at the moment.  This means I can get the sleep I want and push some of the routine later.
  • With 3 kids morning are a bit chaotic – it’s inevitable.  I can’t change that, but trying to fit in 5 minute chunks of affirmations, visualizations and journalling is achievable most days, and 1 or 2 minutes is still better than nothing if I get interrupted.
  • If I don’t manage to fit any of the above in due to the chaos, it’s not a disaster. I can add it on to the end of my routine after the exercise.
  • As long as I commit to this and prioritise it over other activities it’s very achievable.
  • I am finding it surprisingly enjoyable.  It sets me up in a good way for the day, and I am motivated to get up the next day and do it again.
  • What you do the night before is an important part of getting up the next day, particularly going to bed on time.

I had no clue what affirmations to use, so I took one for self confidence from the free resources section of the Miracle Morning website. I’ve also been using some bedtime affirmations from the same webpage.  After trialling them for a couple of weeks I am beginning to see ways I would like to personalise them, so I will probably alter them over the next few days – I will simply use my 5 minutes a day for affirmations to make the changes.

I had no idea how to go about the visualisation section at first, because you’re supposed to visaulise what you want to achieve.  For a long time my goal has been regaining my health, and now I’ve achieved that I wasn’t sure I knew what I wanted, but I spent 5 minutes on my first morning trying to think of things and came up with a pretty good list, which I added to over the next few days.  I then used a visualisation board app on my phone to make a visual representation of my list, and I simply look at this for the 5 minutes each morning.  It’s really great to spend a few minutes reminding yourself what you think is important each morning.

You might have noticed that I didn’t include reading in my list.  I don’t think reading novels counts here The idea, I think, is to read something that’s going to educate, inform or inspire you.    However because I already do plenty of reading throughout my day, mainly blog posts, I decided I had that covered and it seemed like a step too far to try to add it in to my morning.  For me it’s better to do 5 activities consistently, than struggle with 6 and give up the whole thing.

If you’re in the throes of ME/CFS then you won’t want a morning routine like this.  Instead, why not incorporate some, or all, of these elements into your day?  Affirmations about regaining health and visualising walking or doing an activity you love can really help recovery, and don’t have to be done in the morning.  I’ve blogged previously about how I used to use guided meditation throughout my day – 4 sessions per day, to keep myself in a relaxed, healing state.  Reading recovery stories (and hopefully this blog) can also help build confidence in your own ability to recover.  I’ve also mentioned journalling before.  If that’s not your thing then try the Five Minute Journal.  It’s quick and easy. Exercise is probably best avoided, expecially in the early stages, although some simple yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong may be appropriate depending on your stamina.

I’m interested to hear whether any of you have tried the miracle morning or incorporate any of these elements into your days.  For me, I now need to see if it’s something that sticks long term.  At the moment it feels good, so I’m optimistic it won’t be a January resolution thats forgotten by February.



Weightloss with ME/CFS

It’s the new year and I see several people in the PVF/ME/CFS/ facebook group I belong to setting resolutions to lose weight. Many people with PVF/ME/CFS find themselves putting on weight. This could be due to numerous factors, here’s a few that I thought of:

  • Some of the medication used to control symptoms can lead to weight gain;
  • When you haven’t got the energy to cook it’s all too easy to make poor food choices, a bag of crisps is much less effort than preparing a meal;
  • It’s tempting to comfort eat, the temporary pleasure derived from a bar of chocolate can be very appealing when your whole life has been turned upside down;
  • ME sufferers are a pretty inactive bunch so we can’t use exercise to help our weight.

Over the last 18 months I have listened to, and read, lots of information by Jonathan Bailor, he has a podcast (called at various times The Smarter Science of Slim, The Calorie Myth and now the SANE show). I started listening to Jonathan because I wanted to understand more about why the food I was eating was good for me, because what he was recommending for weight loss was virtually identical to what I was doing for health.

Jonathan was not trying to cure himself, or clients, of illness, but he was a personal trainer and could see the standard advice of eat less calories and do more exercise wasn’t working for many clients. He started reading research papers about diet and exercise and realised that the standard advice from the US government (very similar to the UK government advice), and taught to personal trainers is not based on science and in fact the research shows why this approach does not work.

The scientific evidence he reviewed showed that our weight is controlled by our hormones. When we eat our hormones will control what we store and what we excrete, based on our set point weight, which our body is balancing to. This is a completely different way of looking at weight loss/gain to the traditional calories in/calories out and explains why some people can eat lots and not gain weight and others seem to gain weight even when eating very little.

Over time our metabolism, controlled by hormones, can become “clogged”, and this causes our set point weight to increase. The research led Jonathan to focus on “unclogging”, which would then cause fat loss.

He concluded (from the research) that the way to effect this change is by eating a SANE diet. Where SANE stands for Satiety, Aggressiveness, Nutrient Density, and Efficiency.

If you classify foods this way you end up focussing on a diet with lots of non-starchy vegetables, some low sugar fruits, sufficient protein and some healthy fats. Wow – look how similar that is to the diet I’ve been following to improve my health, and recommended by people like Dr Terry Wahls for improving MS.

It turns out the diet to improve health and lose weight (for the long term) are nearly identical. 

I think hormones played a big part in my ME/CFS.  Although all my blood tests were normal I had several discussions with my nutritionist about how I showed symptoms of thyroid problems, and later symptoms of too little progesterone and/or too much oestrogen.  It therefore makes sense to me that a diet that improves hormones will improve ME symptoms and cause fat loss.

Of course you can lose weight in the short term by going on a low calorie diet, but most people cannot sustain this over the long term. You will be trying to work against your body, whereas, following the SANE/eating for health approach is about working with your body – providing the nutrients it needs to heal itself.

I am applauding all the great dietary changes I see – people swapping crisps and cakes for vegetables and fruits, eating more whole food and less processed food and being more concious of what they are eating. However I wish more people understood that focusing on increasing the nutrient density of their diet is much more important than counting calories.

I am lucky not to have gained weight whilst ill, I’ve changed my diet to improve my health.  If you’re in the position of wanting to do both then I encourage you to nourish your body with nutrient dense foods, not starve yourself on a low calorie diet.  Perhaps 2015 will be your year for better health and losing weight.