For ex wheelchair top athlete, paralympic gold medalist wheelchair table tennis in Barcelona in 1992, Jolanda Paardekam (52) from Rotterdam, The Sit Smart Diet has been a “way of life” for a few years now. “I am very happy and grateful that I have regained control of my body and health with this way of eating.”
According to my rehabilitation doctor, my health complaints were unfortunately an inevitable part of my disability that I had to accept.
Jolanda Paardekam is a wheelchair user since 1979, and can therefore – just like Annemarie – rightly be called a “sitting veteran”. That a 100% sedentary life leads to many health complications, she began to feel more and more in recent years – after an intensive and successful top sport career. “As a wheelchair top athlete, I have always been able to rely on my body and was top fit for years. I had to, because I traveled all over the world, I lived from my suitcase. But I lost that confidence in my body more and more”.
Bladder and bowel problems
Like many wheelchair users, Jolanda suffered from more and more pain and fatigue, poorly healing wounds, and bowel and bladder problems. “I often had – as I call it- ” migraine in my belly “. When I ate a pizza point, the following hours were terrible. ”She also had more and more trouble making transfers, and she was increasingly afraid of going out alone. “I also did not dare to be alone with our daughter, or to drive a car, because my stomach complaints were so intense that sometimes I almost fainted and could no longer see and react well”.
If I had listened to the dietician, I would have gained unnecessary weight. If I had listened to the gastroenterologist, my abdominal complaints would have remained, and if I had listened to the rehabiltation doctor, I might have thrown in the towel.
The doctors and dietitians that Jolanda consulted could do very little for her. Like most wheelchair users, she also discovered that medical professionals display large gaps in knowledge regarding nutrition and the secondary complications in SCI. “That they don’t even know that your calorie intake should be much lower if you lead a sedentary life and don’t use your legs, was a big shock to me. If I had listened to the dietician, I would have gained unnecessary weight. If I had listened to the gastroenterologist, my abdominal complaints would have remained, and if I had listened to the rehabiltation doctor, I might have thrown in the towel.
I was prescribed pills to slow down the activity of my intestines in order to reduce my abdominal pain. I was advised by the gastroenterologist to eat brown bread sandwiches with cheese twice a day, an apple in between and in the evening potatoes, vegetables and meat. According to my rehabilitation doctor “my health complaints were unfortunatley an inevitable part of my disability”, a fact that I had to accept. he told me that I had to realize that I was at the end of my rope and just had reached my limits as a woman who lived already for so many years with spinal cord injury”. And my dietician told me that I ate too few calories. Well, with advice like that, who needs enemies? Fortunately I am stubborn and have a will of my own and didn’t listen to the advice I got, and followed Annemarie’s Sit Smart nutrition guidelines instead. Thank God. Because my life is só much better now. “.
Too much inner fat
After Annemarie’s first nutrition book for sedentary people (“The Sitting Chef was released, Jolanda had been eating Sit Smart for about two years. That was before participating in the “Sit Smart Challenge” (a pilot project, initiated by Annemarie and her team in 2017 with 10 wheelchair users who got to eat whole food plant based and wheat-free for a few weeks). “Our body composition was measured beforehand with the BodPod. As slender as I was, I turned out to have a much too high inner fat percentage (31%). That was a bit of a shock, because this was not visible from the outside (as is true for most wheelchair users). Therefore, weight does not say it all, wheelchair users often suffer from “invisible obesity”.
It was only after a few weeks that my inner fat percentage had dropped to 28%. “So I first fell into a risk category for, for example, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, but after that not anymore! Before The Sit Smart Challenge, I ate about 90-95% Sit Smart. It struck me that there was still a great deal to be gained with those ‘few’ extra percentages . It was really noticeable in terms of vitality. And also in weight, by the way. I now weigh 50 kilos”.
No more traveling with antibiotics
Jolanda is now fully enjoying her life again. “I am so used to feeling good now, that I can hardly imagine how bad I felt before, and how my health affected my quality of life and my happiness. When I go on vacation, I no longer have to travel with all sorts of antibiotics and I dare to go out again”.
The Sit Smart Diet also has an incredibly positive effect on her psyche. “I am also much happier and more positive than before. About 3 years ago I did not even dare to dream aboutthis, because I often did not even know how to get through the day – let alone how to get old, I didn’t even knew if I really wanted to. So I am very happy and grateful that with the help of Annemarie I was able to take back control of my body and health”.
Read more experience stories here from people who dramatically improved the quality of their lives with the Sit Smart Diet.
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