For quite a long time I have suffered with some chronic health issues. Essentially, I haven’t really felt “well” since October 13, 1999, when I was in a serious car accident. What prior to that had been a very active life, became a life guarded by pain where I’d been injured and then later diagnosed with some additional, painful and debilitating issues.
Some of these issues have no cure, so I am left to manage symptoms with varying degrees of success. I’ve become fairly adept at managing to do what I want to do, and much of the time people don’t even know that there’s something wrong unless they are present when I hit one of my limits head-on. But, I’ve always wondered if there was something more I could do to feel better.
It was a few years back that my publisher, Nadim Najm at SYM Group, started talking about a complete change in lifestyle he’d made that was just producing incredible results for him. I didn’t realize then that this lifestyle was about more than “diet and exercise” in the traditional American sense of “eat a low-fat diet and exercise a lot and you’ll feel great and drop weight.” You see, chronic pain and exercise don’t generate much in the way of incentive. I did eat a fairly healthy diet and I was as active as my pain permitted (sometimes more than that, actually). So, I was happy for Nadim and the results he and the others were seeing from their changes, but not terribly interested.
It’s amazing what a difference a few years and some research can do. There are foods — foods we all think are good for us and part of a healthy, low-fat, widely-recommended diet — that make what ails me worse. They cause inflammation, immune system reactions, and more — any one of which could have contributed to my pain. So, when Nadim and about 40 other friends decided to do the Whole30 Challenge, I convinced my husband (no easy feat!) to give it a go with me as a part of the group.
You can have all the details of this dietary change by clicking the image above, or by reading It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways [affiliate link] but I’ll summarize. I’ve had lots of food that isn’t grain, dairy, legumes, or sugar. I also had something of a head start because I’d given up most carbs for Lent, and I haven’t had coffee since before I went to Haiti in April because my brain would not get behind drinking it black. I did make myself a ‘regular’ cup of coffee this morning (after 6 weeks without it), drank about a third of it, was underwhelmed and gave up drinking it.
By the sixth day, I received the biggest benefit of my entire 30 day adventure. Four years ago, I suffered some nerve damage which took away much of the external feeling in my hands – it’s hard to describe, but think of it like wearing gloves all the time. There was a point early on, when the damage was new, when I couldn’t tie my own shoes or do anything like tie a sash behind my back. Muscle memory kept me working, but on that sixth day, I could feel the keyboard keys under my fingers. I can pick up small items cleanly, deal with thin plastic bags, and more. Major, major gift.
In addition, I started sleeping more soundly and waking up awake. If you know me, you know this is a huge difference! I also dropped 15 pounds, mostly around my core.
So here I am. Day 30. I have had LOTS of food. I’ve not felt deprived. I feel clear-headed. I have clear skin. I’m not sleepy at 3 pm every day. I feel my fingers! Tomorrow, I’m looking forward to my physical. I’ve always had high cholesterol — maybe I don’t anymore?
I finished my Whole30 Challenge. I’m not stopping.