Bendy’s Story

 

Here’s my story…

I have been amazed and inspired by some of the stories I’ve read and thought it was only fair to share mine, in case someone else benefits from me opening up.

Why Bendy? It’s just my nickname I’ve had for years. I used to do Tae Kwon Do when I was younger and I was very flexible. So the nickname ‘Bendy’ Benzies just stuck.

We migrated from the South East of England to Perth, Australia in 2008.

My health had been ok up until then but I had suffered from intolerable indigestion and almost lived on Rennies. I practically bought them wholesale. However I had got myself quite physically fit when I migrated as I had to pass a fitness test.

My diet was a fairly average Western diet but I ate far too much take-away, crisps, chocolate and alcohol if I’m honest with myself… and once I’d settled into life in Australia I slowly gained weight. Work always ended with a stubbie (or two or three) and all those white rolls and sausage sizzles take their toll. I was addicted to McDonalds too. They had me dangling on their line. It’s the sauce in the Big Macs I swear…

I had suffered from bouts of diarrhoea quite often but put these down to something I’d eaten or a bout of gastro or a dirty beer glass…

These bouts got more and more frequent and then got worse until I suffered from constant diarrhoea. And I mean constant. I felt bloated and generally ill all the time. I suffered from severe cramping and it was excruciating when an attack came on, coupled with the sheer panic of trying to immediately find a toilet.

My weight crept up and up. I ordered yet another new uniform  for work and just put it down to ‘middle aged spread’.

I took a lot of sick leave as it was just not possible to do my job when I suffering from these bouts but just thought I was prone to gastro bugs.

I tried cutting certain foods out but not with any real conviction as it never seemed to make any difference.

I had a real problem with urgency. If I needed to go I needed to go right then, which obviously caused some horrendous problems. Especially if you’re in the middle of nowhere at work.

I lost control of my bowel a few times in public and had to run up the side of the freeway or down a laneway and I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me in. Once when travelling home with a colleague I had to bail out on the freeway and run up the bank in broad daylight. It was humiliating and there were times when I questioned how long I wanted to live like this.

I had blood in my stools often and thought the worst but I did the manly thing….I just buried my head in the sand and hoped it would go away. I was the proverbial ostrich.

And I drank more. And ate more rubbish. And got bigger. And got sicker. So I drank more. You get the idea….

Eventually it all got on top of me and I braved it and went to the doctors. I was so scared.

I had tests for celiac, bowel cancer and had a colonoscopy, which showed inflammation of the ileum, conducive with Crohn’s Disease. I was told to manage it as best I could, strangely prescribed anti-depressants (which I never took), Prednisone and told to manage the constant diarrhoea with Loperamide. I would take 5 or 6 of these a day at least to stop the diarrhoea and allow me to function. Just about. I was also prescribed Nexium for reflux disease I also suffered with, which was debilitating and often woke me up constantly throughout the night.

I asked if there was anything else I could do and was basically told that its common and I have to take loperamide and just get on with it. That was my lot.

I also suffered from neck and shoulder pain regularly and my knees gave me problems and I would get through a packet of Nurofen a week, just routinely popping them.

I suddenly felt really old. I remember a Billy Connolly sketch where he said he’d become old enough to get the (language warning) “Oh Fuck Disease”. This occurs when you get up in the morning and your first few steps are accompanied by walking really stiffly in pain and you saying, “Oh fuck, oh fuck” until you’ve ‘warmed up.’ I definitely had this disease. And it was getting worse.

I couldn’t even face going on holiday as the thought of flying and needing the toilet and not being able to jump a queue terrified me.

No doctor ever mentioned diet once they’d eliminated celiac. Not one. They just gave me prescriptions.

I actually thought my diet was ok, well not too bad, I tried to convince myself anyway… I ate from the five food groups and didn’t eat fried food often. Mel was a much healthier eater than me and she tried to convince me (nagged) so many times to clean up my act. But did I listen…?

In tears of desperation one day, I asked my doctor if I could be fitted with a colostomy bag, as I felt my quality of life would improve. At least then I wouldn’t spend all my life worrying where the nearest toilet was.

Work was becoming unbearable. Often I had to run off and my colleagues would text me to see where I was and I would simply answer, “Crohns”. They were great to me but this couldn’t go on forever.

Throughout all this Mel had suffered some serious health issues with a brain infection and had watched her mum die of pancreatic cancer, caused by poor diet and smoking. Read her story here

She decided to go on a real health kick and get fit (she was already in pretty good shape even after her health scare). Mel had always been a healthy eater and a bit of a hippy chick and had been a vegetarian most of her life.

She started off with a group of friends doing fitness workshops and progressed into long distance running (something she’d never done before).

I was really jealous of her new found fitness achievements and to be honest I thought we would drift apart. I didn’t feel part of the circle. She’d made a new group of friends and they were all into running and fitness. I was invited to be part of this but I felt like I was the fat bloke that would hold everyone up and that I would be suddenly running for a toilet in the middle of nowhere.
I desperately wanted to be part of this new world but I was drowning in my own ill health and self pity and I couldn’t seem to reach the lifebuoy.

I had put on weight mainly due to inactivity, Prednisone and poor diet, coupled with excess alcohol and was sitting around 91 kg at 174 cm (14 stone 3 at 5ft 7”). I felt fat, bloated and couldn’t run as this exacerbated my bowel condition and I was petrified of having issues. I also had terrible G.E.R.D. (reflux disease) and took medication for that every day. Without it I simply could not sleep or function. I was lacking in energy, I was unmotivated and I was often short tempered. I was looking down the barrel of a heart attack and knew I was only just coping. Only just.

But one day, borne out of sheer frustration of being left behind, I put on my old running shoes. It was hard to even do the laces up. However I ran around the block. I really thought I would embarrass myself and would fart and follow through. But I’d got sort of past caring. When I got back I was totally out of breath and realised just how unfit I’d become. Where had that once fit, lean young man gone to?

But it was a start and from that day on my spirits lifted.

I knew that I was a fat, steroid-affected sick person. I’d become old and infirm.

So right then and there I made a deal with myself that I wasn’t going to let this beat me. I’d found a voice inside screaming for the real me to emerge again.

I started to research health and nutrition, even the ‘wacky hippie stuff’ I’d previously looked down my nose upon, thinking I knew better…

Even though I was cynical, I arranged for a series of hypnotherapy sessions to help with stress and help me to deal with the stomach issues. I cannot believe how relaxing these were and how they helped me develop strategies to cope and believe in myself.

I also started a course of chiropractic therapy to improve my body’s balance and posture. I was really round shouldered and I’d heard great things about chiro and thought I’d try everything. I figured that I needed a more holistic approach rather than being full of the doctors’ pills that were just a band-aid over a gaping wound.

I’d heard about this ‘caveman’ diet a friend told me about and I started to look into it all.

But it was Pete Evans who really brought it into my home. He had championed the way of life and was looking great (after being a bit tubby before…sorry Pete!) and I loved his new energy and positivity. I was hooked. Just him being him sold it to me. How could anyone not want a part of that?

We bought the books and I then started to read. And read. And read.
And then I read some more. And then I watched every You Tube video on the subject. And another one…you get the picture….

And that’s when it all started. We adopted Paleo. Not full-on at first (I still drank coffee with milk and still drank alcohol) but I made big changes.

At that time I was still drinking red wine but the food was pretty strict.

The main thing for me was cutting out all wheat.

Everything; pasta, bread, cereals, biscuits, cakes, pastries. I felt so much better almost immediately. I only ate organic vegetables, grass fed organic beef and lamb, organic chicken and wild caught fish and pasture raised eggs and studied nutrition. I read everything I could and soaked up all this new knowledge. I still do. Every day.

I thrived on learning and strangely found myself remembering facts and figures and made myself an expert.

In no time at all the weight started to literally just drop off me and I had to buy new clothes as the others looked ridiculous.

My symptoms all but stopped. Just like that. I felt well and alive. I felt lighter and so energised. I was sleeping great and had no reflux issues. It just vanished.

I started to exercise more (because I could now) and started to cycle and do high intensity workouts I found on the internet. I did push-ups and dips and squats and with alarming speed started to notice the change in my body.

Others started noticing and their comments spurred me onto to keep it up.
And then I stopped taking all the medication and I was fine. I was still nervous about journeys to work and managing to get there without having to stop at a service station in a panic en-route and I still had to get my head in a better space but I was coping. Everything was beginning to click.

The weight kept falling off and I had to buy new clothes yet again. I loved it as I actually began to look good in clothes again.

People started to comment on how I looked. All the time.

My wife had, by now, built up to running her first ever half marathon. I had built up to my first organised 5 km race which I did with her in a reasonable time and I was ecstatic that I finished with no ‘toilet issues’. It was one of those moments in life where you just know things are only going to get better.

We attended the Paleo Way Tour in Perth and sucked in Pete’s enthusiasm, heard Dr Libby Weaver talk about nutrition and the way in which the body works and heard Helen Padarin telling us about regaining our health and it all just seemed to make sense. I spoke to Pete in the interval and then he made my day by mentioning my story on stage later.

The penny had finally dropped. A light went on. 

From then on it has just got better. I now weigh 69.5kgs and have gone from 32% body fat to 13% (A total weight loss of 22.5kgs or more or less a bag of pool salt!)

I am leaner, much more muscular, fitter, have heaps of energy and life is good. I reckon I eat more nowadays but I just eat better.

I now have a complete wardrobe of new funky clothes that are the same size I was in when I was 19. Probably way too young for me but I just don’t care.

I have been promoted at work and can now cope with working shifts again without any real detriment to my health. I am thoroughly enjoying work again. I prepare and manage myself better nowadays.

I have gone from a ‘large’ to a ‘small’ or an ‘extra small’ sometimes, have lost 12 inches from my waist and it’s still slowly coming off. I used to buy size 38-inch pants (96.5 cm) but I had an ugly muffin top. Now I’m comfortably in size 28-inch (71 cm).
I am much more muscular and do basic tabata and Crossfit routines every day and have seen very quick results.

Mel and I bought decent bicycles and enjoy them on our days off too. We started playing tennis and enjoy veggie gardening together now and grow a lot of our own stuff.

I feel about 20 years younger but I’m actually fitter than I was back then.

My relationships are all better and I am happy. I realised just how unhappy (probably technically depressed) I was.

I haven’t taken ANY medication for well over 18 months, not even one Nurofen. I simply don’t have the niggling pain in my neck or shoulders and my knees aren’t buckling under an extra 22.5kgs! My posture is so much better which probably helps my organs function better. I’m actually a centimetre taller!

I still get compliments every day from people I haven’t seen for a while. One friend didn’t recognise me at all and walked past me at a local theatre.

I did Pete Evan’s ‘The Paleo Way Ten Week Challenge’ and completely came off alcohol, caffeine and stuck to the ‘program’ religiously for ten weeks. I thought I’d have a real issue going without grog but I did it! It completely reset my bad old habits. I was in pretty good shape again when I did this but I cannot recommend it enough. $99 for ten weeks of real support, science and motivation. It got me ‘moving every day’ as I had committed to it and I have never really looked back. No calorie counting, no scales, just good advice and common sense. I’d already seen amazing health befits by going alone but somehow the program redefined me. I can’t really explain it other than to say it fine tuned my life. I’d got it back in tune before but this was better. Much better.

I’m drinking socially again but only in real moderation nowadays and only on days off, high days and holidays and then just red wine. The beer has gone.  The whiskey has gone. The gin and tonics have gone. I cannot believe I haven’t had a beer in over 18 months. Believe me, this is big news.

Sometimes I just don’t know how I’ve done it and how I’ve completely changed my life around.

In every way I am better. As I look better I feel better, I’m more confident and just because my gut is healthier I don’t have the stress of wondering where the nearest toilet is all day, day in day out, which wears you down and is debilitating.

I’m afraid I have lost lots of respect for some so-called expert gastroenterologists who told me that diet cannot change the outcome of Crohn’s. Very closed-minded people in a closed-shop who are more interested in sending you their bill and playing golf than your health. I’m sure there are great doctors out there, but sadly I’m yet to meet one who is onside and looks outside the box. If anyone finds one please let me know.

I’ve realised a lot of the doctors are simply winging it with a holier than thou attitude and they often don’t keep up with modern science that’s been discovered since they were at med school. Sad but true.

Even my GP who was previously supportive, states the reason for my good health and excellent blood results now is simply losing weight. He still thinks things like coconut oil should be used sparingly as it is a saturated fat and “They’re not good for you.”

The best thing about all this though is the sheer number of friends and colleagues who have approached me and asked me what I’ve done. Also the friends I’ve made through this lifestyle.

I’ve been able to guide them in the right direction and some have completely wrapped themselves up in the lifestyle and seen major changes in health and lost serious amounts of weight.

I have friends who are diabetic who are almost completely off medication and loving life again, one friend whose asthma has been suppressed completely and others who’ve seen massive changes in blood pressure or cholesterol issues.

And they then spread the message amongst their friends and family and on it goes.

The other great thing is being part of a fledgeling movement that really is ahead of its time and one which others will follow in due course. We have met beautiful people we’d never otherwise have met who have similar aspirations for themselves and the planet and its great surrounding yourself with like-minded people.
So I hope you can help to spread our message and help your loved ones regain their health and be the best version of themselves they can.

I’d love you all to become Paleonutters!

Bendy X

 

22 thoughts on “Bendy’s Story

  1. Anne Reply

    Hello I found your story as I am looking at trying the AIP TWP for my Ulcerative Colitis I ended in hospital with very sever pan ulcerative colitis and put on high dose of hydrocortisone it helped reduce going from 30 BM to 10 BM I was on mix of hydrocortisone and then prednisone back to hydrocortisone for 6 weeks unfortunately the hospital I was in didn’t have a GI so it was not until I was transferred to another hospital I had a scope even on all this medication I had sever Pan Ulcerative colitis and only slight improvement then started remicade and imuran. Unfortuantely for me I have not been in remission and have had active colitis. I have looked at diet but I am not good at sticking to it the tiredness and fatigue one gets with UC/IBD stops me to preparing meals, and the healthy vegetables just don’t sit well for me and goes though me, but I want 2017 to be the year where I get my health back. I am now on Entivyio and methotrexate injections and if these don’t work may have to have a colectomy/illostomy. so I seriously want to start and hopefully get encouraged to change my diet to an AIP paelo and pray that it helps thank you for your story it is very encouraging to read that it has helped your with your Crohns. in good health

    1. Admin Reply

      Oh Anne I feel for you. But it was all getting me down so much I really had no quality of life. I knew if I was going to try and make changes to heal I had to be strict. Super strict. ou can’t do this part time. You need to cut out wheat,dairy,grains, legumes, caffeine, alcohol and sugar COMPLETELY to heal in my opinion. You might be able to re-introduce some things later if your body accepts them but why would you? It was difficult at first but ot as difficult as the way in which Iw as living if you could call it living.

  2. andrea Reply

    Hi Bendy, I stumbled across your blog through the rabbit hole that is the internet. I love your story! I have battled with ulcerative colitis for over a decade now, which I’m sure you know, is very similar to Crohn’s. It was very manageable initially, but it became progressively worse. It hit me in the height of my fitness (I’ve run endless road races, including two marathons–but have lately gone to fat). After years of protest, I finally agreed to take Humira. It seems to keep the majority of the horribleness at bay, but I would love to ditch it altogether. I also love my wine and my carbs. I ditched sugar and carbs for six weeks, then progressively got back into my bad habits.

    You never mentioned what meds you took for your Crohn’s. I was just curious if you were ever on Humira (or Remicade). I’d love to hear about someone successfully getting (and staying) off these meds.

    I’m off to explore the rest of your site.

    Thanks!
    -andrea

    1. Admin Reply

      Hi Andrea, I was on Prednisone but suffered really badly with diarrhoea constantly and urgently, sometimes 15 times a day. I also took Nexium for intolerable reflux and Loperamide in really high doses to try and control the diarrhea.

      I never took Humira but have heard horrendous stories about it. I think the secret to all this is completely cutting out grains, dairy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine and legumes for at least ten weeks to allow your system to heal. Eat organically too. You might be able to reintroduce some things later ( I have the odd glass of preservative free red wine now). But so many people only go into this in half measures…they don’t allow the body to heal properly as they still have the odd chocolate bar or slice of bread. For some that can set the body back a full blood cycle – 3 months – so they never really get anywhere. Gotta be strict in my humble opinion.
      Once you’ve healed and you’re on top I think it’ok to have the odd indiscretion if your body tolerates it. I’ve had the odd chunk of hard of hard cheese without problems. We’re all different though.

  3. PrimalPlum Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story, Bendy. I love reading about how people have used good sensible nutrition to heal themselves. We truly are what we eat.
    For those of you who are frustrated by partners that do not support you, I want to share a teeny bit of my story. I have been mostly paleo for about 3 years now. I didn’t have a lot of health issues to “fix,” just menopausal, a bit too heavy, and headed down a path I did not want to take. Hubby is Type 2 diabetic, overweight, high bad cholesterol and triglycerides. I try to set a good example in hopes that it will wear off on him eventually. I prepare all of our meals, which means I pick recipes where I can have a paleo version, and a more SAD version: grassfed beef burgers (without the bun for me), bolognese sauce (with zoodles for me), and so on.
    Then about 2 months ago, his doctor told him that he was maxed out on oral meds for his blood sugar. The next step was injectable insulin. This got his attention. In addition, he’s started to have trouble with his feet and his vision, HUGE diabetic warning signs. I saw my chance, and asked him to please read The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. He did. And finally he agreed to do the 21-day reset with me (essentially Whole30 but for only 21 days). We are currently at Day 14. He’s already reduced his meds by half and lost 10 pounds. He’s still a bit fatigued because I can’t get him to understand that it’s not the calories but the type of calories and he needs to eat more than he’s consuming now. It will remain to be seen if he will stick with this after the 21 days. I know I will because it does control my arthritis in my hands and hip. And I just have crap tons of energy, which is awesome!
    It is easier when both partners are walking the path, but do what you need to do for your own health. By setting a good example, you never know the effect you may eventually have on another person.

    1. Admin Reply

      Superb! Love Mark Sissons and feel very honoured that he featured me on his blog, Marks Daily Apple. Hopefully this is the short sharp shock your husband needed to regain his health. We all need a start point. Good luck and thanks for sharing!

  4. Therese Reply

    Hi Bendy, your story is very inspiring. I too was told by a gastroenterologist that reflux could not be cured by diet, I didn’t believe him especially when he went onto say that we don’t really need stomach acid 😳 Unbelievable. I walked out thinking this bloke is on crack & then got stung for an inflated bill.
    Anyway I have done the TWP (released so much weight, I had to eat more- but I wasn’t hungry) but slipped back into old habits as hubby is not the least bit interested. Support of your partner is vital.
    I have just bought myself a bicycle also & plan to firm up too.
    Thanks for sharing & well done.

    1. Admin Reply

      Hi Therese, thanks for reaching out. Love hearing other people’s stories. Such a shame you can’t live this way together. But maybe, like me, he’ll get to a point in life where he has limited choices. All the time my health was ‘ok’ I never really had the motivation to have a look at myself. When I was in the black hole I only had two choices, climb up or fall back down. It is incredible fun when you do it together too and I realise how lucky I am (although I’d say Mel is the lucky one! 😉 ). Keep in touch and pleas’ Like’ us on Facebook to get all the updates. If you’re in Perth, maybe you could convince him to come to our event on 7th May and it might sow a seed….

      1. Therese Reply

        Hey Bendy, where is your Facebook link. I just did a search of Paleo Nutter but another page came up.

        1. Therese Reply

          Oops just found it way up the top 🙂

          1. Admin Reply

            🙂

        2. Admin Reply

          Sorry, I see you’ve got it now! All one word. Please’Like’ and ‘Share’! X

  5. Jan Jopson Reply

    Wow what an inspiring story, I’ve followed you on the Paleo tribe site although I haven’t dont the TWP, probably should have. You’ve always been such a positive person. It must have been hell for you back then but onwards and upwards for you and good on you. I’m not 100% Paleo I have little slip up’s to be honest and kick myself for it but get back on the horse. Dropped 10kg and could lose another 5kg keep moving daily as can’t run because of back operation and limited movement but walk as much as I can. Like you, out of the blue one day just thought to myself I hadn’t taken any Ibuprofen, my painkiller of choice and no ganckles or headaches, joints so much better which helped the walking. Wish I could do more to be fit but happy in life and know life is so much better for it. Thank you for sharing your story. I love to share stories like your’s to encourage others. Enjoy your happy and healthy lifestyle

    1. Admin Reply

      Thanks Jan. It was hell at the time. There were often very dark moments when I couldn’t face going out and couldn’t see any light at the end of my tunnel. But once you glimpse that light it just keeps getting bigger until you simply bathe in light. That’s where I am now. Cannot believe the difference in the quality of our lives. 10kg is great! I picked up a bag of pool salt the other day that weighed 25 kg and found it quite heavy to lift from the car on the drive to the back yard. Then I realised that was more or less what my poor knees were carrying all the time before. Unreal. Now I feel light but strong and feel much younger than my years. My aim now is to drop dead healthy and not for at least another 40 years.

  6. Amanda Reply

    Hi Bendy. We started the Paleo way at the same time and I used your posts to help my husband believe in himself that he could make a change for the better. And he did! He looks more amazing than he did on our wedding day! You know how it goes…. You get married, have a baby, life changes… You spend more time at home than you ever did before. You eat more chocolate, drink more booze etc.
    we feel so much better than before. I have loved watching your transformation and the transformation of your family. Just also wanted to say thanks for being amazing!

    1. Admin Reply

      Ah that’s great Amanda! It’s so heartening to know that my little journey has inspired someone else to make the changes.I’m really not amazing. Just a normal dad who works full timing was very sick and wanted a change. I’m lucky as I have Mel behind me too.
      It makes all the difference doing this as a team and I truly believe it strengthens your relationship too.

      Thanks for reaching out.

      Don’t forget to “Lik and share’ us on Facebook for all the updates. X

  7. Pauline Reply

    Hello bendy…wow. such an interesting read for me. Just shy of forty single mum and diagnosed with crohns 8 yrs ago. Probably had crohns since my teenage years. Not sure if im having a bit of a mid life crisis but im feeling like i need to make some big changes in my life. On a concoction of meds that are slowly increasing. No surgeries yet! Time to research paleo. Thanks pauline

    1. Admin Reply

      Hiya Pauline,

      I’m 50 on the 20th April and hope to be unveiling six pack abs. I’m in better shape now than when I was 21. And if you saw me 18mths to 2 years ago you’d have been placing bets on how long I’d last.
      Food really is medicine. Please research and read, read, read. The low fat diet and ‘healthy grins’ the food companies and government agencies have been teaching us to eat were all based on flawed science.
      You really can have this too. Just cut out wheat and sugar first. Everything with wheat and sugar in. Look at food labels. Sugar is in EVERYTHING. Do just that for two weeks and come back to me and tell me how you feel.

      Good luck.

  8. Nicky Reply

    Love it! Ex-copper here who understand the stress and pressure, well done for staying strong and looking after yourself!

    1. Admin Reply

      Thanks Nicky, so glad you like it. It can be a tough jon on occasions but I manage everything better now as I’m in a much better place. Hope you’re well and enjoying life. Please like and share us on FB.

  9. Ross Reply

    Moving story Gary, never knew things were that bad for you (obviously!) Well done mucker, get out there and inspire 😃

    1. Admin Reply

      Thanks mate.

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