Autophagy – The Art of Eating Oneself and Creating Better Health at Midlife

Autogaphy – The Art of Eating Oneself, sounds creepy right? Yet before I being, let me give you a little history. How I got to be where I am today and why the information here may be of value to you. We all have our stories and they give context to how we get to where we are today.

I would like to start with a disclaimer and say that I am not a health professional and what you are about to read is my own personal journey and understanding. If the post speaks to you, please contact your own health practitioner for further guidance.

Teenage Dieting

My dieting started as a teenager. I was always ‘big boned’ like my mother and grandmother before her. Only I wasn’t. My mum had grown up after the second world war. As a member of a working-class family, it was important to show status i.e. be overweight. Flab meant you were beating the rationing system. The belief has been ingrained into the three generations as ‘big bones’.

Grandma used to love to cook and my mum did too. At the weekend as well as the customary Sunday roast there was always the smell of the week’s homemade bread supply, gooseberry crumbles, blackberry and apple pies, blackcurrant jelly, cakes, scones, tarts and parsnip wine – you name it we ate/drank it.

I loved food, being in the kitchen, learning from mum the secrets to home cooking. Slim was not going to be part of my life.

At 16, I began to take diet bread buns that tasted like cardboard to school. In the hope of shedding a few pounds. I had already created the habit and belief that my life would consist of battling the bulge.

Married Life

The word diet became a constant part of my life. Trousers tight, or slack – mainly tight. I did the Rosemary Conley diet, lost weight and then couldn’t sustain it back in reality. Next, I became obsessed with aerobics and loved the class, yet as soon as life got in the way again, on went the weight.

Luckily, I never went to weight watchers or Slimming world – I knew their pitfalls and the thought of being paraded in front of others mortified me.

Later, as a chef on a private yacht again I found myself surrounded by food. I loved to cook for others and see their appreciated faces. Going to markets around the Mediterranean, buying new ingredients, experimenting and creating delicious dishes was my dream job. Thank goodness the shorts had elasticated waistbands.

I married in Gibraltar and later that same year we visited my new husband’s family in S. Africa. I took my wedding outfit to show those unable to attend. The skirt button was typically impossible to fasten. Then I became pregnant with my first child and ate doughnuts. It wasn’t much better with my second child, after all, I was eating for two.

I went back to Rosemary Conley and nothing happened. Then I did the ‘dog food diet’ – long story, it did not work. I changed to getting up early and exercising before the kids woke and skipping meals. For a time I seemed to have won the battle. Yet extra food found its way into my mouth as exhaustion and stress from the early morning routine got to me. The diet was not sustainable and the trousers again size 16+ proved it.

Menopause

Around menopause, everything stuck. No matter what I did the meno-midriff continued to increase. Hubby shook his head, he could not understand why I was not the same size as him – we ate healthily and the same, yet I exercised more.

I listened to medical practitioners from many different fields chastise me and tell me I was a walking time bomb. I too would have heart issues, risk a stroke or succumb to cancer like my parents. Scolding did not help the weight disappear.

These professionals assured me losing weight was easy. All I had to do was eat fewer calories and exercise more. Don’t eat sugar or fat (ALL types), go keto, stop eating meat, stop drinking alcohol, join a gym, count every gram, eat smaller meals more often, you are what you eat. So many conflicting demands yet basically the message was the same – it’s easy fatso! None of them mentioned once, Autophagy – The Art of Eating Oneself.

If there was ever a fat failure it was me. Have you been there? Can you relate?

Inflammation

Many years ago a psychologist told me that when you reach midlife one of the ways you know you are still alive are the aches and pains that greet you every morning. 

I believed her. For the past 20 years or more I have greeted every day in that very way. Some days the aches disappeared after a good stretch and a short walk.

Most days, the pain never stopped. My lower back would seize without warning, or my shoulders would knot and I literally ground to a halt.  

I feared bending down in case I couldn’t get up again – and it happened. Going shopping was full of dread. Lifting the heavy bags in and out of the car became a nightmare. I hated cleaning (and I love a clean home) as I knew the next day would be agony.

The pain killers prescribed and the cortisone injections worked for a while. Until I became totally allergic. 

I tried everything. Weekly massages and visits to alternative practitioners would ease my back in the short term. Eating healthy, de-stressing and exercising helped somewhat too.

Yet the chronic inflammation remained.  Life was hell and I was hell to be with. (Ask my family or friends who have watched me suffer, and been at the end of my anger, tears, and frustration).

The Tipping Point

In April 2021, I really hit the tipping point. Enough was enough. Time to move the pain from the Vent to the To-Do list. I would be a healthy weight by 60. And as always synchronicity plays an important part. Two things happened. I took my lifestyle toxicity to another level and I learned about Autophagy – The Art of Eating Oneself and Creating Better Health at Midlife.

Toxicity


If you want to know about the toxic chemicals in your home, in your cleaning or in personal products and how these may be creating your midriff, read this post and listen to the presentation. It is something we do not think about yet it’s fatal not to talk about it.

I have been dabbling with cleaning naturally, not using makeup and being careful with personal products, for years. Yet, I am human too. I let things slip.

My time on eXXpedition helped me re-focus again. To tidy up our home environment and rid ourselves of plastic and other toxins. The best way is to take complete control and refuse plastic totally. Recycling is not an option for me – only 9% of the world’s plastic is actually recycled, the rest ends up in landfills or the oceans and it is killing us and the planet.

It is not easy to go waste-free and no one is perfect. We have a long way to go. Yet I am noticing the difference. Not only do I feel mentally proud of helping mother earth, but I also notice my body loves the non-chemical lifestyle.

Autophagy – the Art of Eating Oneself

Do you remember reading that I exercised and skipped some meals above? Little did I know that this was the key to longevity. Autophagy is the Art of Eating Oneself. You may have heard of the natural process of Ketosis and its miracle effects upon the body, yet there is a further stage – Autophagy.

It wasn’t until 2016 when Japan’s cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel prize in Medicine that the power of Autophagy became worldwide knowledge. His research paved the way to understanding scientifically how cells recycle and renew.

Incidentally, most religions have practised this cycle of replenishment since their conception. Fasting activates autophagy – simple. No need to count calories, exercise for hours, give up our favourite tipples or treats or stop socializing.

Fasting is not a diet, it is a lifestyle.

A lifestyle that is completely unique to you and this is the key. No one can tell you how to do this. There are simple rules and guidelines, then you decide. It is the art of not relying on others to tell you how to eat and what to eat.

The diet industry is a 71+ billion dollar industry and growing. Imagine if everyone knew about Autophagy? We would have so much money to spend elsewhere, for example, clean water for everyone in the world.

Autophagy – The Art of Eating Oneself and Creating Better Health at Midlife, caught my eye because it targets visceral fat first. VF is dangerous fat stored around your organs and midriff which can lead to diabetes, heart conditions, stroke and some cancers. For many women at menopause, we know it as the Meno Belly. MB is partly due to lifestyle and the change in hormones at midlife as the reproductive system no longer serves. Yet, it does not have to be permanent.

AND a side note – because Autophagy is a recycling of the body’s unwanted cells, miraculously too, it also means your flabby skin gets eaten up (to a certain extent).

Intermittent Fasting

Since taking fasting seriously, I have learned so much about myself. The constant diets and striving since my teens means that I am still re-learning how to tap into my body’s natural autophagy mechanism will take some time, after all, 40+ years of habits do not change overnight.

There are many different ways to see progress. Here are some of my learnings so far

  • Principal Pants/Trust Trousers, as a measure of success. A pair from last summer, now too big, and a pair bought in the sales Autumn last year that were too small and I can now wear. The PP’s are important as scales go up, down or don’t move at all, photos can take time to show the difference and the tape measure often lies.
  • Looks – my hair shines, my nails are strong, my skin looks healthy – love it all.
  • No hot flushes/flashes at night. I sleep extra well, yet probably less.
  • I have a whole lot more energy all day long – no dips! Sometimes I am so energised I don’t want to go to bed or I ping naturally awake early.
  • I can actually go without eating for 19 hours and I don’t die – I may feel a little hungry towards the end of that time, yet I have the power to delay.
  • I don’t have to deny myself anything. If I want to eat something I do. Yet there is one rule – it has to be within my eating window. (Note you will decide your eating window as I am not you).
  • I have suffered from pain for so many years now, I had actually taken it for granted that I would always have pain. Now I don’t. THIS is my biggest takeaway!

Join in the Autophagy Challenge

I am so passionate about this topic, its simplicity and common sense that I could write a book! The title of which would be Autophagy – The Art of Eating Oneself and Creating Better Health at Midlife. I will be running a challenge within the Facebook group Midlife Strategies during September. Come and join in. If you can’t wait and want to know more, drop me a line.

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