Running and Racing: A Test of Strength and Endurance!

It seems that I have taken on a new activity. It began as a test of my fitness with my first race, the 2019 Vancouver Sun Run in April, which is a 10 km race with 41K+ participants this year, I believe. I had never run 10 km, not as a youth nor with my dogs. The maximum I would run with my dogs at any point was 8.5 km, but even then reduced that to 5 km to keep us all running and walking more often. It seemed more rest and days off were required for our older bodies if we ran too far. But from the way I train on a regular basis I believed I had the strength and endurance to run for an hour, which is what I thought it would take, given my experience with running my dogs.

AS the date of the race approached I was struggling with my allergies to grass and cherry tree pollen. Due to my excess mast cell activation I was struggling to breathe at times as a result. Rather than withdraw; however, I sought out a mask that was designed for running and that would both filter the air while allowing me to breathe sufficiently. I was fortunate to find an excellent mask from an excellent company, the Respro Ultralight; with a hepa filter and valves built specifically for running, which I ran with once prior to the race. And it worked well and made the run possible!

In addition to the pollen in the air, I knew body heat from running could become a major issue for me. I react to excess body heat with excess histamine release and mast cells dumping chemicals to call on my immune system, causing a host of issues including inflammation, which for the 10 km distance could become a major problem for me. Fortunately the weather was on the colder side (In fact I started in hail and cold rain) which enabled me to keep sufficiently cool throughout the race to keep running for 10 km.

My First Race

So when I set out to run the Sun Run I figured I would run to the 5 km mark as I always did with my dogs. Fortunately it was a good cool day and I felt pretty good when I got there. The plan after was to just run another 5 km, 1 km at a time and setting a target of each 1 km marker along the route. That strategy played out very well for me and I ran the first 5 km in just under 30 minutes and the second 5 km took just under 31 minutes . Very close times and a fairly even pace over the entire run. I finished the race in 60:53, which was an excellent time for my first go at racing and running 10 km!

To follow that up my friend Karin in Calgary, who had recently take up running and was being coached by her daughter Lynsey (and who placed 1st in the 2019 Scotiabank Calgary Half Marathon), suggested I run the 5 km race at the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon on May 26th. For a while I considered running the 10 km race as it started early in the morning, but never having raced that early in the day created a whole st of challenges I was not ready to face so I decided to risk a warm race day and noon start to the 5 km race. A few weeks before the race I committed to running the 5k and registered.

I had learned a lot from my first race, including to start as far forward as I could since I spent a lot of energy in the 10 km Sun Run running around people. The whole race I ran sideways to get around people, sometimes in groups even holding hands as we crossed the Cambie Street bridge in the last kilometer heading to the finish line. Just before I started the race I realized I should be at the front of the group I was starting in, but I should have been starting a few groups forward as I ran around so many people.

For the Calgary race I started up near the front and had a goal of 26 minutes based on the shorter distance, more actual training prior to the race and the fact that I would not be spending so much energy running sideways. I Was a little concerned about the higher altitude, but I didn’t let that dictate my strategy at all. The race went very well; I had a good start; ran strong throughout the race. I did not have as much energy to push faster as soon as I had hoped approaching the finish line. The race was mostly flat with the exception of an underpass in the first and last kilometer of the race.

Fit and Strong; Running Man!

That was quite the draining experience and the dry air and growing grass actually caused substantial swelling in my throat, which made sucking in enough air difficult and created a challenge to swallow. I couldn’t swallow for a short while even and looking back probably should have been wearing my mask and carrying my own emergency supplies, my epipen specifically. But as I approached the finish line I Was able to push harder for the last few hundred meters and was completely drained when I stepped on the finish line.

Finished!

But on the good side, I began to recover almost immediately and felt really good shortly after finishing. I felt great after the race knowing I had run as hard as I could and was completely happy and a bit surprised by my results. My running time was 26:13, official time 26:19 (from the starting horn); I had met my goal time!

And to my surprise I finished 3rd in my class out of 37 men 55-59 years of age; 104th overall out of 2022 participants. And that is how the addiction begins. The result was pleasant surprise. The outright effort to put everything into it was the actual addiction. Pushing as hard as I could for the entire distance and leaving everything I had on the course was very rewarding and a great test of my strength, which is my ultimate goal.

I have never run for the sake of running and I don’t think I compete for the sake of running, but I do like how hard it is and how hard I have to push myself. I love the challenge of putting everything into it for 26 continuous minutes of effort. 5 km is an excellent distance for me it seems. I don’t know if I will run longer distances, although I do plan to run the 2020 Vancouver Sun Run and set a new personal best in that race. And I will let the future decide which challenges I use to test my strength and endurance.

I do know that race led to the next 5 km race at the Sotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon and 5k this past weekend. I immediately jumped at the suggestion to run the race with a charity team; running for Cassie and Friends; a Foundation for children with Juvenile Arthritis and other Rheumatic Diseases. Once again pushing myself to the limit! And that I did once again.

But I’ll save that story for my next post!

Rowing: Keeping My Back, Shoulders and Hips Working For Me!

Like for everything else I do, it seems that my obsessive need to learn is showing itself when it comes to the work I do in the gym. Spent my evening tonight learning more about rowing in particular. Dumbbell and barbell rows, cable rows too.

I started with Tony Gentilcore’s post: “5 Dumbbell Row Mistakes and What to do Instead.” And that led to “The Best Way to Row, Period!

But of course this also means other back and core exercises are required for creating a strong core and back that is necessary for the heavy lifting I like to do (“Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?” and  “Exercises to Save Yourself From Low Back Pain“). And both my shoulders and hips are critical and I work on them regularly. Flexibility and strength  in my hip hinge (“Master the Kettlebell Swing“) is particularly important for the lower back exercises, like dead lifts and squats.

So far my hips feel great and are strong and have good flexibility. And my lower back is strong. I plan to keep them this way and paying attention to technique and my form is important toward that goal.

As I continue to add weight and push myself harder; it is critical that I utilize proper form as injury can be just one sudden mistake away. I always practice my form as I warm up so I know I am ready when I add the real weight I want to push or pull.

One thing I like about strength training though is the total focus on the task at hand. Another is the detail and precision required. Both are traits I excel at.

I am not doing exercises simply to look good while doing them or to be throwing the heaviest weight around; but to make the most of the work I do and become stronger. So far so good, but my work is far from done!

Joint Pain and Inflammation with Mast Cell Activation Disease (MCAD)

Everyone deals with joint inflammation at some point and most certainly it is fairly common knowledge that heat causes it to increase and cold can cause it to decrease, or stabilize.

So many times it just happens. All of a sudden a joint doesn’t work as it should. Yesterday it was my left hip. Sudden pain, can’t really move my leg while trying to pick up sour cherries off the ground. Usually this behaviour is equivalent to a deadlift or squat one would perform in the gym and it was very likely directly and indirectly related to “leg day” the previous Saturday. Third day following is usually the day when the muscles are sore and tight. Inflammation in the joint is the cause, but it is not because I have injured myself in this case.

It is just what happens to me and something I have to be careful of. It can spring up in any joint any time. Last time it was my right knee. But I am careful to monitor my body and especially my joints as I follow my post workout rest routine. And although this can occur to anyone; it is much more common in my body and those like me with Mast Cell Activation Disease (MCAD).

Irritation of some sort; heat alone or in concert with irritation or injury cause inflammation. Exercise causes inflammation and is one reason why we need recovery.  Cardio work with repetitive motion is an obvious cause we deal with. The building of muscle through strength training intentionally injures muscle so it is rebuilt stronger. Joints involved in every case do experience overheating and irritation during exercise and daily life.

Mostly it is unnoticeable until there is an injury or soreness, pain. For me it can just spring up anywhere. What is fine one day can suddenly be painful, with or without getting swollen, then be gone again shortly afterwards. There is no doubt that the running of my dogs and the exercise I do in the gym pushes this on me. But there are other significant factors in my case.

My understanding of the uniqueness that is me has enabled me to become fit through regular physical exercise now despite the fact that it has disabled me repeatedly in my past. Unlike most people, my mast cells are anything but normal. Mast cells are the cells throughout the body that detect injury and respond to repair it; referred to as the innate immune system.

If you bang your knee, the bruise is triggered by mast cells. If you cut yourself, the pink that begins to show is from mast cells responding, they gather at the site of the injury and dump granules filled with chemicals that signal the immune system to repair the damage. This is the inflammatory process. In my case those mast cells over react to everything that stimulates this process.

Normal activities, even non strenuous activity can and does stimulate them to respond. They over react in my body and degranulation is excessive causing many things to occur. Some part of this reaction impact systems throughout my body through Histamine receptors of a variety of types. H1 receptors in skin and cardiovascular systems, H2 receptors in the GI tract, H3 receptors in the Central Nervous System and H4 receptors in Mast Cells, which unfortunately act to stimulate and amplify the over reaction.

In addition to Histamine there are a number of other chemicals involved in the degranulation that impact a variety of structures and functions. This is not well understood for the most part, but it does lead to what has been referred to as food sensitivities.  However; they are not sensitivities! They are allergic reactions stimulating degranulation and the immune system inflammatory response, without the mediator, Immunoglobulin E, which most Doctors consider necessary. They are wrong!

Things I am allergic to; both IgE allergies like grass that is currently the culprit, and non-IgE allergies like cherries and nightshades plants, cause a spike in the reaction of my mast cells which results in a highly amplified level of degranulation and a cascade of responses to occur throughout my body through all types of Histamine receptors. This has meant many unusual and unexplained symptoms I have mentioned to my doctor previously, but have generally been ignored until this past year.

Now that these allergies are under some control thanks to my newfound awareness; it has enabled me to see the result of combining them with the excess body heat I create during exercise. Not that I have intentionally done so, but the grass grows and I cannot stop breathing the pollen as of yet; although I do have masks and can filter some of it as it is creating a massive one-two punch in the effects of my mast cell over activation and degranulation.

Histamine release and mast cell degranulation occur with increases in body heat in everyone. But once again this is massively amplified in my body. Exercise causes it and I have to be careful to manage it. I control how much I exercise, how long, how much weight I push, how long I run, even how big the muscles are that are doing the work all influence how much heat I produce and the degree to which my mast cells degranulate. I have begun to understand this process and how it impacts me.

Now the combination of the two, excess heat and an allergic reaction, produces even more spectacular changes that most do not have the pleasure of experiencing.  In my case it causes sudden and unexpected joint pain for one. I can’t work through it at all. This will, and certainly has in the past, result in injury and permanent failure. No, I don’t push through it. I manage it; I stop working and often utilize one of the many ice packs at my disposal.

And if I do manage it and wait and rest, it will disappear as quick as it came about and I will be back in action once again. If I push through it; the problem gets worse and I break!

But it is the combination of my over active mast cells, my allergic response of those cells to something I have breathed in or eaten (or absorbed) and the increased degranulation and inflammation that results from exercise that combine to throw my body over the edge without what would seem to be any corresponding event to cause the sudden pain and mobility issue I might experience in one of my joints, when there were no signs previously.

Hard Rules Required for Good Health!

There is no way I could have succeeded in changing my behaviour, that is to change my diet, increase my exercise and lose weight without defined rules. I simply could not manage vague criteria and come out with a concrete result.

A little candy or chocolate? I always had trouble with that. Just one cookie, or one cookie occasionally or a few chips occasionally? Nope! It does not make sense either. Without definition, your behaviour cannot be defined. What exactly is a little or occasionally? Why not define it? Maybe commitment is still lacking.

Losing weight is difficult work. Lack of definition simply makes it harder and lowers the probability of success. It provides a connection to the reasons why one gained weight to begin with, but one needs to let go of the past behaviour that led to the weight gain initially. I am sure one cannot simply just change without reason or cause, or a plan for that matter. And the less defined it is, the harder it will be. It shows a lack of commitment and lacks the substance necessary to make the changes required to succeed.

I no longer eat artificial dyes and flavours. Dyes poison me, some of which I am allergic to. Artificial flavours entice me to eat food that is not good for me. They make it harder. They make the food unhealthy. I don’t need them, I don’t want them so I won’t eat them anymore. This rule eliminates most fast food and all candy.

I quit drinking. There was nothing good about alcohol and health. Some issues are specific to me, but regardless, it did not fit for either my mast cell disease, nor my goal to be healthy. None is the only answer and it has been much easier than drinking just a little.

There are many foods that cause an allergic reaction in me and cause gastric, cardio pulmonary, dermal and cognitive problems in me so I don’t eat any of them. Not a little, none at all once I know.

Histamine in food causes me trouble, but this is not an absolute. Histamine is a part of life and cannot be eliminated. Managing it keeps my GI tract, brain and the rest of my body healthy enough to eat and exercise. They are necessary. Once again I have an easy rule. No hi histamine foods and careful management of others. This is not directly related to weight loss, but overall health, which in my last post I explained.

I don’t eat cane sugar, as I get headaches from it. Sugar is not good for me so I eat as little as I can and nothing that sugar is the primary ingredient. I don’t eat chocolate, for example. Cocoa is also high histamine so none. For more on my Mast Cell Activation Disease (MCAD) and diet restrictions specific to this, please see The food I eat and the Poison I don’t.

I currently do not eat filler carbs. No rice, potatoes (allergic to anyway), or pasta. Once I reach phase 4, I may add some carbs back but they will always be managed and determined by how much exercise I am doing and how high my metabolism is.

I do eat bread, but only sprouted grains, no processed wheat flour, but because of artificial flavours and sugar content, there are few I can eat.

I do get carbs from dairy, but I choose higher fat dairy to balance my diet. Ingesting fat is not my enemy and does not make me fat. Excess carbs taken in are stored as fat. It is difficult to maintain. Fat is a more stable fuel source in actual fact.

Another rule for my diet is variability. Anything I do eat I try not to eat excessively and make sure to mix up foods so I am not eating a lot of any one food all the time. This is important for my health, but may not be as big a deal to others.

Everyone will have unique rules they require. But it is the definition that helps one change and guides future choices. These rules make it easier to make choices. No thought is required. Less fortitude is required. Having definition removes future rationalization and debate with oneself over how much of something bad is allowed.

And in the end, I have actually changed what I see when I look at things I have eliminated. If  I simply try to reduce them, I admit they always have that attraction to me and that they are acceptable as food in my diet. And that is not true. Most of these things have no nutritional value and do not contribute to health and in fact subtract something from our health. This acceptance of them provides the avenue for craving s to be maintained and I prefer to eliminate them, making my diet choices easier.

So make some rules to follow, or wait until you can before you attempt to change your diet, get healthy and lose weight. Wait until you are ready to commit to some rules that will guide your future path.

Healthy and Fit Is and Always Was My Goal!

170 pounds (77 Kg) was only my target and not the Bullseye!

For a month now I have oscillated around my target weight of 170 lbs, one of the targets I set for myself along the way, but this was not the final goal! This was simply an estimate of the weight I was trying to achieve as part of my health plan and was based on an idea of who I was when I was a teenager and young adult. Obviously I have lost muscle mass since then so the difference will still be fat.

But since reaching 170 lbs and completing phase 2 of my health plan, weight loss is no longer a component. At least for now, maintenance of this weight while building muscle through exercise is the plan. I will continue to burn fat as I gain strength and muscle mass, which helps maintain my weight as I burn, but I don’t plan to burn all of the fat.

As someone who goes through periods where I cannot eat and now has a very high metabolic rate, burning calories constantly, I need to maintain a healthy layer of fat I can use if necessary when sick and eating is not possible. Healthy is and always has been my goal. Weight loss, muscle mass, fat content all need to be in a balance that is healthy for me. I enjoy working out and lifting weights and the work and fortitude required so I expect I may need to adjust my final target weight up a bit possibly.

Achieving 170 lbs, although a target, was never the goal. I think this is critical to understand. An artificially determined, desired weight is not sufficient as a goal and is a likely reason most people do not maintain what they have lost. The behaviour that led to the weight gains is still there. Nothing has changed. That is not going to work. And although weight is a significant factor in many ways, appearance does not seem to be a sufficient factor in motivating permanent change.

Setting targets helps for sure! To have a specific milestones you work towards and are rewarded by when you reach them is extremely important. But what happens after you reach them is even more important. If the goal is to be healthy, nothing changes but a few specifics. All along the changes in behavioir are intended to be permanent changes. Permanent change in what you eat, the way you eat, the way you exercise, how you sleep, what you do to handle stress, are all a part of being healthy.

Weight loss must be a component of a bigger plan if it is your goal to make a permanent change in your weight. I customized my health plan with great care to what I now know that is unique to me and begins with what I eat. Changing what I eat was not just about losing weight, rather it was about clearing my head and body and making me stronger and healthier in order to achieve the ultimate goal of good health.

Changing what I ate was about putting the right foods in me to keep me strong in both mind and body. Changing what I eat was also about creating a healthy environment for losing weight. Maintaining an appropriate amount of fat is necessary so I can exercise; go to the gym and walk my dogs the way I like to, with a lot of energy for my dogs and I. Losing weight was not about appearance. It was about being healthy and being able to enjoy exercise, my life and my dogs.

Losing weight was not easy. It was a lot of work and it has been very rewarding and critically important, but it is but one piece of the pie. An important piece for sure, as exercise for me is not possible carrying so much extra fat, which creates extra work and heat and insulation trapping that heat inside me. It also puts a lot of stress on one’s body while exercising and makes that exercise harder.

I see this in the gym where people are pushed by trainers too hard too fast and do things they are not ready for. I know where that goes, burn out, or hurt. I have been there! Most recently earlier in 2017 and in 2014 as well. I have been careful in each phases to make sure I am pushing myself, but that I am not over doing it either. Every step has been a carefully planned step. Each phase has had goals that when reached result in further changes to my behaviour.

Phase 1 was changes in diet combined with moderate exercise and weight loss. This phase was focused mostly on what I ate and how much. In addition to my 185 lb goal weight, keeping my intestines working and my brain working was critical and required very specific changes to what I eat. Learning what works and what doesn’t work. Knowing that when I began pushing myself physically, that this would be critical in order to feed myself sufficiently to maintain the mental and physical fortitude that would be necessary.

Phase 2 required increased and regular exercise, including very intense periods of determined work along with slower weight loss. Losing weight in combination with building strength and muscle is challenging and more difficult. I needed to make this task easier (dropping to 185 lbs (82 Kg) first) and be ready mentally, which meant a diet capable of feeding my brain and keeping it healthy and feeding muscle growth while allowing for the burning fat. I definitely added protein but still restricted how many calories and carbs in particular that I ate in order to keep metabolism high and burn fat both while exercising and while at rest.

Phase 3, my current phase, no longer includes weight loss at all, having reached my goal of 170 lbs, but I am not done. And in fact this phase has involved increasing how much I eat. How much protein, fat and carbohydrate I eat has changed and I have added more of each to my diet. At this point 170 lbs is the minimum weight I want to maintain, but as I put on more muscle, and I have increased strength about 40 % so far, maintaining a good balance of fat may mean my goal weigh actually needs to increase. I won’t see that as slipping. Slipping would have to include eating crap, or gaining weight when not intending to.

I have always known that in order to maintain my weight loss, there would have to be more than simply losing weight as my goal. I would need to make permanent changes to myself and my behaviour. I may not have known how drastic those changes would have to be, or even what was behind some of them. But I always knew permanent changes to my behaviour would be required.

Once I achieve a level of strength, muscle mass and fitness that I see as healthy for me and that I am comfortable with, phase 4 will be about finding a balance of diet and exercise that maintains a that healthy body mass, strength and fitness. A permanent change in behaviour from my past that will result in a constant and healthy weight and fitness and a healthy mind throughout my future.

I love my new diet. I love my new weight. I feel great. I don’t really miss anyting. I don’t crave the things I have cut out. I actually see much of it as simply toxic, just like I see eating canola or corn laced with RoundUp / glyphosate. I no longer see food in chocolate bars and jujubes, cookies…

There is no substance in the artificial chemicals that are added for flavour. They simply drive hunger for something that is not healthy or good for us. They drive us to eat more of food that has no value, or more likely a negative value in our attempt to lose weight and become healthy. And there is no regard for the health value from those who have created these foods to dominate our diet.

Whether it is artificial flavours, or dyes, fillers, thickeners, preservatives, whatever; there is little health value in any of it. I avoid it all. My diet change was about more than weight loss. It was about my cognitive and mental health. It was about my strength and energy and desire and happiness. Weight loss was simply one component of a much bigger plan.

A plan to be as healthy as I can be. Healthy despite my mast cell disease. Healthy so I can enjoy each day. So I can do the things I want to do like run and walk with my two amazing dogs. We generate dozens of smiles as we cruise through town and my dogs and I work hard. We go as fast as we can and have as much fun working hard together as we can. I can enjoy my time with them and in the gym now and I don’t burn out. I have the energy and I am having fun!

The Cost of Preventative Health Care

My goal was not just to lose weight, but to be healthy. Not easy to do and certainly not cheap either! I feel much better now than I have in many, many years because I do eat healthy and exercise regularly.

In Canada one can pretty much get most drugs covered by health care, at least after a deductible is reached. Doctors who prescribe drugs for treating symptoms too, no problem! But this method of dealing with our health is not healthy. It is reactive and without forethought and in many cases, without effort.

But try and eat right. It’s not cheap!

At least my gym membership is very reasonable at $4 per week and I do have to mention and thank Trevor Linden and Club 16 for this. I spend at least 8 hours per week using a variety of equipment and weights they provide. Can’t beat $.50/hour. Complemented by my intense dog walks, I have no issues with the exercise side of my proactive health care.

I don’t really want to eat anything special though. Just meat and vegetables, legumes, grains, maybe some dairy – all natural and nothing more. I would like to maximize my health benefit and to be able to eat the food I can eat and nothing else.

50 or 100 years ago it was possible and probable since we ate what we grew and there wasn’t a lot of the great new farming practices nor the processing and ingredients we use to make and ship food all over the world.

I cannot eat artificial dyes. I may also react to artificial flavouring, but even if I don’t, I do not want it in my food so I don’t have to deal with future issues, or with “idiopathic” issues – that is issues of no known cause (as long as you ignore what we put in our food, that is).

I want to eat healthy so I want the natural flavour of food to guide my palette and not man made, money motivated, enhanced flavouring added to so much of our food to help us want more. Well I don’t want more. I simply want what I need. My world is a  minefield of over reacting mast cells and allergic reactions. I need clean food!

In order to avoid many food additives I have no choice but to eat organic food. Almost all non organic bread contains artificial flavours. Obviously this is so we eat more. But I don’t want more simple carbohydrates in my diet. I am okay with complex carbs and I get enough bread from the sprouted breads I do eat.

I cannot eat genetically modified foods either. There is no way I put glyphosate and the other toxic ingredients from Roundup and other weed killers they are designed to absorb and concentrate into my body. There is so much wrong with this idea for everyone, but for someone who is reactive to extremely minute quantities of natural pesticides (anti nutrients) in food; I  think it is likely a good idea for me to avoid the arrogant practice of lacing our food with “harmless” and “safe” poison.

The way we use antibiotics and hormones too is another group of sad farming practices. Motivated solely by monetary gain; bigger animals from both antibiotics and hormones, more get to market. Good for farmers, but not at all healthy for us. I am sure this was not Mother Nature’s plan.

Another lovely North American practice I choose to avoid is the fact that we maximize yield of our crops by spraying them with weed killers that do kill them, just prior to harvest. This makes all the plants sprout just as they are harvested for “maximum yield;” however again we are just poisoning the food for many and who knows how much damage is really caused to everyone.

I was not healthy eating that way. I cannot eat that way! I can only make myself sick and kill myself that way.

I am healthy now but I avoid most man made processes and practices and food additives. These things are motivated by money and sales and not health.

I pay extra for that. And I mean a lot extra. Since the only way to avoid it at all (and maybe I cannot truly avoid it and simply choose to minimize it) is to eat organic. For years I ate organic, but threw in a lot of fast food and other non organic food whenever I felt like it, candy, sugar, carbs… and I loved the artificial flavours in my fast food.

To the tune of 230 lbs! And it is not just man made toxins I react to. Who knows where my issues with mast cells and my allergic reactions to food comes from; but even in eliminating them, I cannot eat a healthy diet of what is actually good for me by just avoiding those foods I am allergic to. I have to cleans all toxins that I can.

The pesticides we add, the artificial dyes and flavours, preservatives, thickeners, the sugar and much more; all are deadly and are a considerable factor in what makes living healthy an almost impossible task.

If I eat the crap and stay totally sick, I get free and subsidized medical help. But I have to feel like crap, sick, overweight, headaches, cognitive difficulties, psychological challenges…

If I want to eat healthy and be healthy, I have to pay! And I am sure I pay double at least for the right to eat clean food.

I find this a very sad state. Proactive health care is costly, but beneficial to me and to society in reducing health care costs. As a behavioural specialist, I am pretty sure I know the benefit of treating illness as a preference, rather than preventing it. Reactive health care is big business. Proactive health care is small business.

There is huge money in feeding us crap and getting us to eat crap; making us fatter and unhealthy as we go. This creates a very significant stream of cash for some. Forcing us to pay so much to eat healthy makes it very unlikely that we all will do so and can afford to do so. I hear this all the time.

But there is nothing more important to me. And changing my diet is the most important thing I have ever done.

I am not free from illness but at least I feel I have some control over my health, whereas I did not before. As long as I can afford it, I will continue to eat healthy foods, free of pesticicdes where possible, free from artificial dyes and flavours, free from other additives and preservatives, free of antibiotics and hormones!

I figure I’ll pay either way so I choose to pay for clean food now and have fun while I can.

My Fitness and Health: In the Beginning

In 2017 I was determined once again to find a way to lose weight and exercise and find my way to a healthy state. I did not know that many of the healthy foods I was eating were actually making me sick and preventing me from achieving my goal.

Back in May 2017 I had been trying to eat more healthy, but really was not getting anywhere. I just did not have the mental fortitude nor the right diet at the time despite eating a lot more healthy vegetables. Turns out they were the wrong vegetables.

More baked potatoes, more bell peppers and tomatoes, lots of spicy foods, cayenne too, supposedly great for digestion and of course lots of intermittent fast food when making my own was not convenient. Too much alcohol, too much sugar, too many empty carbs and too many vegetables and fruits I was actually allergic to.

Plants contain many different anti nutrients, substances like sapponins, lectins, salicylates, oxalates, phytates, and more – natural compounds to make eating them less likely, toxic to insects.  And of course, heavy metals like nickel too. Although most people can tolerate these anti nutrients, there seems to be a significant number of people who do not.

As it turns out that since my separation and divorce that I changed how I ate. Partially the batching process of making large pots of stew, chili, spaghetti sauce and more became even more common once my dog Dylan became seriously ill and I had no choice but to stay home with her for long periods. Unable to just run errands, I ate big pots of food I made, unfortunately containing mostly nightshades plants, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers in particular, continuously for days, even weeks at times.

As it turns out, now that my memory is much more clear and the brain fog I experienced has lifted, the effects of eating these plants it turns out I am allergic to, primarily caused serious cognitive difficulties including complete memory loss to the point that I could not recall words or memories and could not form new memories. I could not maintain attention on anything, losing my train of thought hundreds of times in a day.

So many different symptoms from migraines and other headaches, visual aura’s, to memory and attention loss, mood swings, depression, manic episodes. Gastrointestinal, cardio pulmonary symptoms, itching and burning in my hands, feet, face and elsewhere. Inflammation in joints, my spine in particular. Needless  to say, the start of any health plan must begin with a healthy diet, both to make sure proper nutrition is maintained, but also that metabolism is maximized and mental strength is capable of the fortitude necessary to uphold the new diet and exercise regimen.

Once I straightened my diet out for my unique requirements, my mind finally began to gain strength and clarity. With some simple, but absolute rules and a basic diet of meat and vegetables, no artificial dyes nor flavours, no fast food, no candy, no filler carbs, no alcohol. It turns out I have some very specific and unique restrictions. For more details on food I react to, I maintain a separate post of my current diet and the many reasons I eat or restrict specific foods.

Food I eat and the poison I don’t!

After starting my new diet at 230 lbs back in Aug, of 2017, I have successfully navigated the first two phases of my health plan.

For specific reasons that heat and the histamine and chemicals released as a result that cause me trouble; and I release far more of these than a normal person does, I needed to lose weight first. I needed to lower my weight so that when I did exercise, there was less load to carry and in fact less insulation which would prevent the heat loss I need when I exercise.

Keeping as cool as possible is essential for me since it causes increases in histamine which translates to signalling my mast cells (cells of the immune system that reside all over the body) to dump their contents and signal an immune response that occurs throughout my body, including within my central nervous system (CNS). This response creates the symptoms I have struggled with that have led to failure of every other previous attempt to exercise.

I am allergic to exercise, but thanks to my new knowledge, once I dropped to my first goal of 185 lbs, having lost 45 lbs, I began working out. My next goal was 170 lbs, but I new that with exercise this would be a slower process. But as I did in the first phase, I have been able to significantly increase my bodies metabolism.

In the first phase of weight loss only, this meant varying the amount of food I ate daily. Some days I would eat very well. Some days I ate small amounts all day long. Other days I did not eat at all. Also in that phase I only allowed moderate exercise. This allowed my body to heal in many ways now that I was no longer ingesting food that my body could not tolerate. But the variability in calories ingested and activity levels was still essential.

If the body believes we are not going to get enough food, it will shut down metabolism and conserve resources. This is the opposite of what we want. We want it to feel free to burn fat. To do this the body must believe it will get food at some point. Although activity was required, I found it easier to resist eating and endure hunger if I did not overdo exercise. And enduring hunger was required and why my regained mental fortitude made it possible to succeed.

Once I reached 185 lbs, I started doing longer and harder dog walks for cardiovascular exercise. My dogs pull hard and we walk fast. Once again my unique situation means I have to be very careful of creating extra heat, but this knowledge has helped not to manage my exercise and I have grown these walks throughout the 2nd phase to where in one hour I walk about 8 km (5 mi), running a good portion of it, average pace of 8 km/hr and a maximum pace of 15+ km/hr (~10 mi/hr).

My work in the gym I limit the duration of my workouts and keep them shorter than I have in the past. But once again my plan has been to get metabolism going as much as possible and varying the intensity of my exercise from killer pushing to my limit and exhausting myself in shorter hard working bursts, followed by more moderate levels of activity, but never really resting.

I have been successful in this as I feel my body burning calories all of the time. My body burns not just when running, walking or pushing weights. It burns calories while sitting and while sleeping. And I continue to vary what I eat, except that throughout the second phase and currently now that I am no longer trying to lose weight (3rd phase), the goal is to feed exercise and muscle growth with higher levels of protein in particular. when activity is lower such as on rest days, I reduce what I eat and can allow fat burning as needed.

Phase 2 – Exercise and weight loss.

At this point I don’t know what my final weight will be. My goal is to continue to reduce body fat, although I do plan to maintain a healthy layer. Given that I can get sick and stay sick and that GI symptoms can prevent eating. Exercise itself can cause stomach cramps, bloating and heartburn and even leaky gut to a level that prevents eating and further activity.

I intend to continue to build muscle and improve my cardiovascular fitness. The latter is going to be essential in order to maintain exercise this coming summer when heat will begin to  be a major issue for me. I may not get as much benefit, but I will be able to walk long distances without generating as much heat. Summer is likely to be more of a maintenance period. Excessive heat disables me. It has caused failure of my fitness plan in the past, but once again the knowledge I now have will help me manage my health and fitness much better than any time in my past.

I am looking forward to continuing on this path. I am not worried about regaining weight as I don’t ever see myself ever being able to nor wanting to go back to my old ways. This was a permanent change I am enjoying immensely.  Some are worried I may become obsessed with losing all of the fat on my body, but I also know that won’t be the case.

My goal is and always has been better health and fitness. It has never been just about weight loss and body fat. And I am going exactly as planned.

Richard
https://facebook.com/dickdorf/
@dickdorf

 

Food I eat and the poison I don’t!

Here is my diet, mostly in point form below. Please note that this is a document in progress!

One cautionary note I want to share about making changes in one’s own diet is that by removing foods that you have become desensitized to and currently tolerate, you may in fact cause them to become resensitized so foods that used to bother you only a little or not at all in small quantities may cause a severe reaction when reintroduced.

I strongly suggest caution when removing food you may want to continue to eat and suggest you remove suspected minor irritants after major irritants have been removed, or that you remove something only for a short period initially. This will provide a cleaner slate to measure the effect of removing other food that may not be a major problem.

Most of my diet takes this into account. When I first learned of my Mast Cell Activation Disease, anti nutrients, my nickel allergy, histamine, etc.; I wanted to remove all bad things on the many lists; however if one looks at Oxalates, salicylates, Phytates, Lectins, Saponins… (more on these to come in future posts) one won’t be left with much to eat and many things you could eat you might no longer be able to eat if you remove them and resensitize to them.

It is very important to continue to make choices that provide healthy nutrition and not just eliminate things you might be afraid of. This is a common problem driven by fear and it can lead to significant deterioration in overall health, even beyond what is currently a problem.

Total elimination diets and reintroduction of foods may be necessary in some cases, but my opinion remains that one should try to structure removal of foods in a worst first method. This does not work for everyone.

Much of the info on Histamine diet and foods I refer to and my guidance when it comes to histamine in my diet came from http://mastattack.org.

However I also combine the approach I have maintained for the care of my dogs and myself for many years that stresses providing good nutrition even when sick.  I just did not know the difference between food that is generally good for you and intolerance to certain nutrients that modifies that condition. I also found this approach espoused very well on http://healinghistamine.com.

In some cases a complete cleans may be necessary, but I would not choose to do so unless it was.

This should only be determined with the help of a health care professional, Medical Doctor, Naturopathic Doctor, etc. And my personal caution is that I would first need to determine if that health care professional had any knowledge of mast cell disorders, actual nutritional value, anti nutrients etc.

In Progress:

At the moment I have three categories of food that are a problem:

  1. Food that poisons me and causes an allergic reaction in me and influences every histamine system; Skin, GI, Cardiopulmonary, CNS, immune system – Everything. And I do not yet know exactly what it is that causes these reactions.
  2. High histamine since I produce a ton more than I need and everything that produces higher histamine levels causes my baseline symptoms to increase.
  3. Nickel allergy that requires me to reduce overall nickel intake.

Food I eat:
-Water
-Coffee

-Squash (butternut, acorn, zucchini)
-Rutebaga
-Celery
-Cabbage
-Cauliflower
-Brussels Sprouts
-Arugula
-Parsley
-Boc Choi
-Sweet Basil
-Onion
-Garlic

-Apples (have not tried all types yet and some are high in other anti nutrients)
-Pears
-Mango

-Eggs
-Beef
-Chicken (limit intake due to higher inflammatory properties)
-Turkey
-Whey Protein
-fresh caught fish (within 30 minutes, unlikely)

-Butter
-Fish oil
-Coconut oil
-Canola oil
-Safflower oil
-Sunflower seed oil
-Olive oil

-Peppercorns
-Cumin
-Tumeric
-Oregeno

-Dairy (not fermented, listed below)
-Butter
-Cereal cream
-Ice Cream
-Mozzarella cheese
-Almond Milk
-Coconut milk

-Maple Syrup
-Pure jams and jellies (of acceptable fruit)
-Apple butter

-Baking soda
-Baking powder

Food I eat, but limit because of high nickel levels:
-Almonds and Almond milk
-Hazelnuts
-Sunflower seeds
-Pine nuts
-Sesame seeds
-Oats (also high in phytates I control with soaking in acid and Rye flakes)
-Chic peas
-Parsnips
-Carrots
-Kale
-Broccoli
-Romaine lettuce
-Rice crackers

Food I limit frequency and amount due to high histamine, other anti nutrients:
-Dairy (fermented; small quantities only)
-Greek Yogurt (not sure anymore)
-Kefir (not sure anymore)
-Parmesan cheese (small quantities)
-Cheddar cheese (medium, very small quantities)
-Bread (sprouted whole grains; however still investigating)
-Strawberries (flavouring only, not sure)
-Raspberries (maybe not, not sure/flavouring only)
-Blueberries (flavouring only, not sure)
-Lemon juice in small quantities (exception to Citrus)
-Mayonnaise**
-Cesar Dressing**
-ranch dressing

Food I limit for other reasons:
-Coconut sugar (very little)
-Simple carbs

Stuff I don’t eat ever and that poisons me:
-Nightshades including tomatoes, potatoes, peppers (both sweet and spicy), egg plant
-Cherries (not a true nightshade but carry many of the same anti nutrients)
-Peanuts
-Artificial Dyes
-Asparagus
-Gum of Arachia
-Malt in bread etc
-Cane sugar (headaches in particular)
-Brazil Nuts
-Artificial Flavours
-Artificial sweeteners
-Alcohol
-Chocolate

Food I don’t eat due to high histamine levels:
-Beans
-Peas (green, sweet or sugar)
-Spinach
-Avocados
-Pumpkin
-Unpasteurized honey
-Chocolate
-Cocoa beans
-Cocoa
-Mushrooms
-Walnuts
-Pecans
-Pickled products
-Canned products
-Sauerkraut
-Dairy (fermented, some I love listed below)
-Aged chedder
-Sour cream
-Cottage cheese
-Cream cheese
-Soy
-Yeasts, yeast extract,
-Flavored gelatin
-Vinegar of any kind (minor amounts in some foods like Mayonnaise or even mustard I will eat)
-Citrus Fruits
-Berries, including cranberries, blueberries (not sure), blackberries, gooseberries, loganberries, raspberries**, strawberries**
-Stone fruits, including apricots, cherries (poison me), nectarines, peaches, plums, prunes; bananas, grapes, currants, dates, papayas, pineapples, raisins.
-Dried fruit of any kind
-Shellfish
-Processed meats
-Leftover meats (must be frozen for left overs)
-Dehydrated meat (eg. beef jerky)
-Raw egg white

Food I don’t eat due to High Nickel levels (I am simply trying to reduce overall nickel levels and eliminate only the worst offenders):
-Cashews
-Chocolate
-Spinach
-green, brown and white beans
-canned foods
-shellfish

Food I don’t Eat for other poisonous reasons:
-GMO anything (Corn, Canola, Soy, etc)

Food I am yet to test (may or may not be be high histamine or high in other anti nutrients):
-Other squash
-Tea
-Low histamine fruits I have not tried: Melons including Watermelon, Honeydo Melon and; fig, kiwi, passion fruit, rhubarb, starfruit, longans, lychees
-Fish (high histamine)
-Unfermented Cheese I have not tried; Mascarpone, ricotta, panir
-Pure, unbleached flour or grains (not high in histamine but Nickel or other anti nutrients may be an issue), but I have not tried many of these as of yet
-many forms of rice (not sure if brown or white is better, conflicting info to be resolved on Nickel and histamine, etc first
-pinto beans, white beans, navy beans, black eyed peas, black beans, lentils, split peas (all are higher in nickel and need to be regulated)
-plain gelatin,
-cream of tartar
-pasteurized honey (have not found any I would eat)
-Products that use baking powder for leavening like biscuits, soda bread, scones and muffins.
-Crackers without yeast are allowed, as are cereals if they don’t contain excluded ingredients.

Guidelines for Histamine:
1) Anything fermented should be avoided. Fermentation produces histamine as a side product. Some are only sensitive to yeast fermented products while some find that fermentation from any organism is triggering.
2) No preservatives and no dyes.
3) No leftovers and nothing overly ripe. This is one of the harder parts of this diet, but I find it very important. Fresh or frozen products seem okay. I have mixed success with thawing frozen meat, but lots of people do it successfully. The key is to not cook something, put it in the fridge and eat it three days later.
4) No canned products.
5) No pickled products.

* Allow small quantities
** Exception used in small quantities for flavour

Mast cells: Bad press or lack of circulation?

I wonder why we, people in general, don’t know much about mast cells?

For cells that exist throughout the entire body, including the brain, it comes as a bit of a surprise to me that the doctors I have sought for help, don’t really know anything about them.  I even asked my very well educated veterinarian about them and the only thing she really knows and the first thing that comes to her mind is mast cell tumors, which are relatively common in dogs.

The immunologist I saw in the course of my seeking help did not care anything about the mast cells that are the key to all of my health problems.  Some of these problems I know well and some of which I thought were just a normal part of everyone’s life and some others I didn’t even know of.  For example, despite not being allergic to peanuts or tomatoes; they can actually cause anaphylaxis, anaphylactic shock and even lead to death if not treated quickly, despite a negative result on standard allergy tests.

Mast cells are the key immune cells that reside throughout the body; in all tissues of the body. They are the sentries on duty; their sole purpose to defend our bodies from any invader and to signal the response team to go to work and fight off any evil doer! They only exist in the blood stream for short periods of time as they travel from the bone marrow, where they are grown along with all of the blood cells to their destination in the lungs, skin, GI tract, CNS, etc.

Unlike the blood cells however; which remain in circulation ready to respond to the call of duty and speed to their destination to fight any invader or protect the body from invaders in times of trauma, mast cells move out of the blood stream and into the tissues of the body, ready to defend us.

Mast cells exist in our skin, in our intestines, lungs and even our brain. Any place on us an invader can enter, or something can hurt us, they sit quietly waiting. Their life span is like that of most blood cells so we are constantly in need of making them and replacing those that die and we have mechanisms in place to regulate them, grow them and clean up after them when they die.

The spleen, once thought to be a vestigal organ, not used for anything (a perfect example of the arrogance we human beings have and a perfect example of why mast cells remain virtually unknown), cleans up all dead blood cells and all dead mast cells as well.  It is a very important organ when it comes to blood cells and mast cells.

So if the mast cells are so critical to our immune defense, why do we know so little?

The neurologist I sought help from due to ringing in my ears and itching and burning in my fingers and cognitive dysfunction, memory loss, etc, said to me: “9 times out of 10 we don’t know what causes itching or ringing in the ears!” REALLY? Unbelievable that he could be so ignorant of such a key cell. Many of my neurological symptoms I have experienced most recently and throughout my life are directly related to the mast cells in my central nervous system (CNS).

Mood swings, manic episodes, anxiety, panic attacks, memory loss, loss of attention span and ability to focus, the list of real deficits is long. Neural degeneration is what I feared most. Glad someone else could help me eliminate this possibility and help explain the brain fog and cognitive loss of myself and many people I have since met, I am sure. Maybe left untreated it actually becomes some form of neurologic degeneration and maybe dementia. For sure we don’t know what causes many of the neurologic diseases we see.

My cardiologist sees my endurance and cardiopulmonary system as fit and healthy, but cannot explain the fact that my heart rate and blood pressure do not recover after exercise like normal individuals. I can easily explain this now yet he shrugged his shoulders and ignored what he did not know. Unbelievable! I will explain this in another post when I go into some detail on exercise and how heat changes me and my mast cells.

My gastroenterologist was no better. With him I simply had a chat. It might as well have been at Starbucks over coffee. He didn’t ask anything, or say anything about mast cells possibly causing my Gastro Intestinal (GI) symptoms of bloating, heart burn, etc. Yet I have found that I now have some control over them and what I cannot control I believe is something in my immediate environment that I lack control over as of yet. Although one of the suspects, the air I breathe, is on my list and I have researched air filters for my home and for on my face as I travel. At some point I may need this to survive, as others I have met more recently with mast cell disease do.

And my immunologist was the best of all! Fixed in his beliefs and on the verge of retirement. Along with him comes the super book smart intern who knows everything. Been taught everything, passed all his tests with flying colours. Nothing exists outside of the boxes he has been so carefully taught by other doctors. Immunoglobulin E is the centre of his universe, just as it was and is for the soon-to-retire doctor. They do the same old test they have done over and over with everyone they see. Yes I am allergic to dust mites and grass, but not tomatoes or cherries or peanuts.

But they are wrong on three of them. Both hands and arms they do their tests on go red up and down, something I have never heard a person who had these tests speak of. Yes I got a bump from histamine, dust mites and grass samples. But just like the cardiologist, neurologist and gastroenterologist, he just ignores what he cannot box up and ignores me when I ask about it. Thank you very much! NOT!

Unbelievable! Really? None of them know anything about mast cells?

How is that possible? All of my issues make sense to me now. All of my past fits with what I have learned recently. I can predict and control symptoms. I have no doubt I have found the answer.

These doctors cannot put me in one of their boxes and my symptoms are simply not severe enough for any of them to even care one iota about doing something. In the end, none of them solved a problem and all of them basically ditched me with excuses and simple minded blame.

I find the memory loss and cognitive dysfunction completely debilitating and prevents me from working. I do complex tasks and solve extremely complex problems that others cannot solve. And I am very good at it. Thank goodness, because with a few clues from friends and some help from a more knowledgeable Naturopathic Doctor, I now have the problems well defined and solutions in place where possible and they are helping immensely in dealing with it.

For the last thirty years, every problem I have sought help for through our medical system has been ditched. I have had simple dogma and propaganda thrown at me repeatedly. I have been given pills occasionally to counter  a few symptoms, even when the drugs are dangerous and addictive they are provided as the only answer. This would never fly in Information Technology and business! Actually solving problems is required! You cannot just shuffle things about and pretend!

But the only person to really care enough to solve my problem was and is still me!

Fortunately I have convinced my family doctor (GP) that I am right. That what I have been telling him for 25 years is right. I am right! I know I am right. Everything fits! One thing I know from my work in Information Technology and my life with my dogs: When I know I am right, I am right.

I have been wrong about many things; I have changed so many things in how I care for my dogs because of what I have learned. I know when I don’t know the answers. I know when I am guessing or hypothesizing. I can observe objectively and know the difference between subjective and objective experience. This is critical for problem solving! Humility is necessary. Arrogance and expectation are huge problems that prevent learning the truth and finding solutions.

Unfortunately this a total paradox for doctors as they seem to have to be narcissistic uncaring individuals just to survive all the pain and suffering they see and their inadequacy in being able to help most of them. They carefully do their tests to put you in one of their little boxes. If symptoms are severe enough they will give you a pill for it, or cut it out if possible. But they know so little about one key cell that can explain so much!

Mast Cells!

Unfortunately they don’t do any tests for mast cells. They don’t circulate in the blood stream and the changes they cause are not easily measured in samples of blood. Only the overflow shows up and if you don’t know of them, you explain things without them, or you shake your head, shrug your shoulders and ignore it. Been there, done that! All of my doctors I have seen, including two other GP’s, fall into this category.

They make excuses and point fingers of blame to other things; you drink too much, you smoke too much, you eat too much, you sit too much, you don’t exercise enough… Once they have pointed that finger, good luck on getting a fair thought and help.

I did it on my own! I did it with the help of friends who cared. I found a doctor who knew something and seemed to care. I have since found that my GP does care. Unfortunately for that to happen, I had to solve the problem myself and prove it to him. But I am still glad he had the balls and strength of character to admit it. Most doctors don’t. They put the label on and they don’t see how inaccurate or wrong they are.

Everything that follows is just in your head according to them. They don’t understand cause and effect. They don’t understand the difference between symptoms and cause and often assume symptoms are the cause. This sucks for people that don’t fit into simple boxes. I am also sure it sucks because if you lack a certain key piece of information, everything you do is wrong!

I could never exercise and get fit and lose weight with exercise. I have made myself sick so many times trying in the past. What I lacked was the understanding of how my mast cells are involved!  Enlightenment has enabled me to control the environment, my body and my mind.

Knowledge of mast cells and how they trigger inflammation and immune responses and how mast cell disorders impact that process. Combined with knowledge of food, nutrients and anti nutrients and other environmental factors that influence them, the problem has become clear. The solution is more obvious, clarity, not cloudy!

Heat, histamine, lectins, sapponins, salicylates, oxylates, phytates… All are relevant and unknown to my doctors. Unknown to me they caused me to fail in every previous attempt to lose weight and become healthy and fit.

Seeing that I have lost 50 pounds, quit drinking, completely changed my diet and basically changed everything that was bad on my own as a result of my new knowledge; made it so my long time GP could see beyond the excuses and the blame that had been the foundation of the past. He could not ignore the result and could see I was right and that I did have a real problem! He now writes everything I tell him in my file now, unlike the past (been telling him my back problems were due to waves, or periods of inflammation for 20+ years, which he simply denied and ignored). He has always known I am an intelligent person, but now he treats me as the only expert in my health and is fully behind me and supporting me. This has been the biggest step forward so far.

The results prove me right! They cannot be ignored!

All of this struggle could be a lot easier if mast cells would just get a little more from the press and better circulation!

Richard

Back at it and writing again!

Finally I am getting back to writing! As usual, I really don’t know who will read what I write, but I have been asked by several people if I am going to write about the significant events and discoveries of this last six months of my life.  I have been working hard on many important aspects of my life recently and finally do have a few things figured out. I think I can finally focus a little time on my writing.

At the moment I am not completely certain of where to begin. So much has changed recently. Like the rest of my life, I feel that substantial changes are due in my writing as well. Like my recent weight loss and drive to change my health; I feel this time I can sustain the changes I am making.

Everything does come down to my health it seems.  This is something that uncertainty and confusion have plagued as much as anything when it comes to my former status: Overweight, inactive, antisocial, uncertain and anxious and unable to achieve any goal or even really know what i desire. Solving my health issues went well beyond simply going to doctors and taking pills and I had no idea how far down the rabbit hole I was.

I have never really understood the full significance of diet to ones health it seems. Sure I know you need to eat nutrients of a variety of types for a variety of reasons. I thought I knew enough; however, I had no idea to what degree what you eat can impact so many aspects of your health. No idea to the level to which a poor diet could impact thinking and behaviour, or how many ways it can derail your health, both physically and cognitively.

Yes I always knew there are things we can eat to improve thinking and memory and that there are a lot of good things you need to sustain good health and some bad things you need to avoid; but what I did not really understand is that what is good and what is bad to eat cannot be generalized by simple rules.  What is good or bad is absolutely unique to each individual.

When I refer to diet, I’d like to be very clear that I am not talking of some recipe in a book that you follow, rather I am simply talking about what you eat, when you eat and how you eat. As a person, you always have your unique diet. My previous diet was killing me in so many ways.

The harder I tried to eat what was good for me, the more I poisoned myself and disrupted my thinking and as a result, my behaviour.  So many aspects of my day-to-day life were centered around dealing with the unseen stress my diet was causing. Even when the stresses were visible and even severe enough to warrant seeing doctors of all kinds, the relationship to what I was eating was not there.

Fortunately, with some good luck and some good help I finally discovered a few of the keys to unlocking my brain and my body from the chains that were preventing me from actually becoming healthy. Chains that I believe have bound me unknowingly in some way since I was young.

Unfortunately the rules and recipes that generally work, or rather that seem to work for some, don’t and won’t ever work for me. That is tried and proven to fail in every attempt. Nutrition and health are not new subjects to me.

The specifics of my latest attempt to change my life and become a healthy and fit individual comes from a position of enlightenment.  New knowledge and a new plan. And the proof is in the the result. The result is that I have lost 53 pounds (25 Kg) to date and I am exercising 10 times per week, or more. I am able to walk my dogs and get the hardcore cardiovascular exercise I need. I am able to go to the gym and do my weight training routines.

I no longer have the spinal problems that prevent it. I am no longer suffering from soreness, back problems, headaches, or the other symptoms that have plagued me in the past. I plan to detail here in my blog; the knowledge that has enabled me to finally achieve my goal of being as healthy as l can be and enabled me to lose the weight I wanted to lose. It also made it possible for me to exercise regularly and gave me some control over the health issues that have derailed and prevented success in the past.

I do have unique health issues, but everyone does. For some they are more significant and more difficult to overcome, but the challenge is really the same. How do we make the most of what we have? How do we get the most out of our effort and our body?  The goals are unique and specific to each of us; the challenges we face are unique to each of us, as is the path to achieve those goals.

As I have learned previously when it comes to behaviour;  the best result is achieved by working to manage and learn the intricate details that are specific to the individual. Shape the individual. Making the most of yourself is not about following someone else’s recipe. Knowing what works for others is helpful and valuable. Knowing your own choices and how to navigate through them is just as valuable, if not more so.

Maximizing the result is about building your own system, dealing with the uniqueness of the challenges and building the changes within oneself to overcome those challenges.

Richard