Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Organ meat

I finally got around to eating organ meat last night. In addition to my grilled chicken breast and romaine, I also ate what I guess was three chicken livers. As far as I know, it was the first time I've ever eaten liver (or probably any kind of organ meat). Although I didn't particularly enjoy eating the liver, it really wasn't too bad. It's not like it made me gag or anything. Hopefully that means I'll be able to make myself like it after eating it a few more times.

Regardless of whether I think I'll be able to make myself enjoy eating liver, I'm gonna have to keep eating it at least once a week. Especially considering how well I've disciplined myself since beginning this diet. It's my 20th day on this diet and I still haven't cheated. I think I'll probably cheat sometime next month, though, at least to see how my body will react. But who knows? Maybe I won't.

There are some things I'd like to say about whether or not I'm improving physically, but I'll probably wait until the beginning of next month to say anything about that. Yes, I think there have been some physical improvements, but right now that doesn't matter. The one thing that really matters right now is that this diet has made a huge impact in my brain. I think more clearly and I have more motivation to do things I should be doing, in addition to many other positive changes. That alone is worth the effort it took for me to do a 180 and follow this diet strictly, without making any bullshit excuses like "I have to ease into the diet so I don't go through gluten withdrawal."

If you're gonna do it, then do it. If MS is kicking your ass like it has been kicking mine, and if you can't take it anymore, then you'll do it. No more talking about it. No more excuses. Just do it. Your brain will thank you after as few as three days. And once you know how it feels to have a profoundly healthier brain, you won't allow yourself to make excuses for eating gluten or dairy or whatever it is that you've convinced yourself your body is addicted to. Once you know how it feels to make yourself better just by eating right for a few days, you will have the motivation to take the next step and the next step, and so on. Just like what you've read in my last ten blog posts.

Take it from someone who, in 39 years of life, has never eaten right until this month. If you want to feel how you've always thought people are supposed to feel, just do it.

One last bit of insight: Smoothies have been the key for me to consuming a lot of the foods I probably wouldn't otherwise eat, while also keeping me from eating foods I shouldn't be eating. Even though I like strawberries and blueberries, I wouldn't be eating many of them if I had to eat them in any way other than in a smoothie. And there's no way I would consume mushrooms at all if not for my twice daily smoothies. Nor kale. Nor carrots. Nor flax seeds. Nor turmeric. Nor other things I haven't started adding to my smoothies yet. So if you need something to help you ease into this diet, start with smoothies twice a day. That alone will make everything else much easier.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Walking journal (treadmill), February 2013

I'll update this post after every time I walk on the treadmill, to show the progress I'll hopefully make with my exercise. Also, there's no way I would have started exercising if I hadn't first begun the Wahls diet. Before beginning the Wahls diet I had no interest in exercising and no energy to do it.

February 14, 2013
Distance: 2 miles.
Walking time, excluding breaks: 49:22 (2.4 mph).
Actual time: 2:13:00.

February 15, 2013
Distance: 2 miles.
Walking time: 50:02.
Actual time: 1:33:00.

Already a little sore from yesterday's exercise, particularly in the right hip flexors, today's goal was to complete 2 miles in less than 2 hours. So to have done it in 1 hour and 33 minutes (40 minutes faster than yesterday), I'm pretty blown away. Especially because I had a difficult time motivating myself to get up and do it. My body didn't want to do it, but I ended up pushing myself much harder than I originally intended. The hardest part about exercising like this is making the decision to get off your poor crippled ass and start doing it. Each day, once I motivate myself to start walking, it's easy to keep doing it.

I want to make it very clear that my time improvement from yesterday to today is quite an anomaly. If you have progressive MS and are just starting to exercise, don't expect such a huge improvement on just the second day. And if you don't see an improvement, don't be discouraged. It'll probably take a little time to get your body working again. However, if you do see similar improvement, then consider it a bonus. It'll just give you more motivation to keep exercising. But realize that right now I'm hurting pretty bad because I pushed myself harder than I should have. I'll probably keep pushing myself this way, though, because that's just how I am.

Also, the main reason I was able to walk 2 miles in 93 minutes today is because I had something to hold onto with both hands the whole time. There's no way I would have been able to walk 2 miles in 93 minutes if I had been walking down the street, rather than on a treadmill; with or without a cane.

February 16, 2013
Took the day off.

February 17, 2013
Distance: 2 miles.
Walking time: 50:22.
Actual time: 1:29:00.

February 18, 2013
Distance: 2.5 miles.
Excluding breaks: 1:02:35 (2 miles at 50:04).
Including breaks: 1:46:00 (2 miles at 1:22:00).

I may have been wrong about what constitutes great treadmill music. As I listened to Radiohead's In Rainbows while walking today, I was sucked into the music, and it completely took my mind off of walking. That's good. (My point is that Radiohead is nothing like System of a Down or the other hard rock/metal bands I've said give me energy to keep walking.)

February 19, 2013
Distance: 3.25 miles.
Walking time: 1:20:11 (2 miles at 50:02).
Actual time: 2:22:00 (2 miles at 1:15:00).

Normally for the first two miles I walk four legs of half a mile each, which means I take three breaks over the first two miles. Today, though, I only took two breaks (first after 3/4 of a mile, then after another half-mile). This is how I was able to finish two miles today in seven fewer minutes than it took me yesterday. Also, I pushed myself really hard today. Consequently, hours later I'm feeling it in my lower back.

February 20, 2013
Didn't walk today, then dropped a piece of firewood on my right big toe. Don't know if I broke it, but it doesn't feel good. Hopefully it will feel better within a couple days, but right now I have the feeling I won't be able to walk on the treadmill for a while.

February 21, 2013
After sleeping on it, I'm pretty sure I didn't break my toe. I think I may be able to get back on the treadmill today, but I haven't been on my feet enough yet this morning to judge how the toe is doing. I'll surely update later (which I did below).

Distance: 3 miles.
Walking time: 1:14:24 (2 miles at 50:02).
Actual time: 2:06:00 (2 miles at 1:13:00).

Thankfully the toe clearly is not broken. Still hurts, though. It will probably be back to normal before long. Today I started off by walking 7/8 of a mile before stopping for my first break. The time it takes me to walk 2 miles keeps going down (because of fewer/shorter breaks), but I really don't feel like the improvement has shown up much in my walking when I'm not on the treadmill. I still have to lock my knees with pretty much every step, or else I risk falling. Hopefully I'll start seeing some improvement in that department soon.

February 22, 2013
Didn't walk.

February 23, 2013
Distance: 2 miles.
Walking time: 48:15.
Actual time: 1:09:00.

The main reason I've been walking less the last few days is that I've also been chopping some wood. (If you saw me doing it, you'd probably call it something other than "chopping wood," but the end result is that I have plenty of kindling to get fires started.) Chopping the wood has been more of a workout than walking a few miles, so naturally I have less time and energy available for walking on the treadmill. One bonus of chopping wood is that it's making me use my lower back muscles, which I assume will aid my ability to stand up correctly and do things that require being on my feet and having good posture.

February 24, 2013
Didn't walk.

February 25, 2013
Didn't walk.

February 26, 2013
Didn't walk.

February 27, 2013
Distance: 2 miles.
Walking time: 48:08
Actual time: 1:10:00

February 28, 2013
Distance: 2 miles.
Walking time: 48:02
Actual time: 1:06:00

I'm getting real close to being able to do 2 miles with only one break, at 2.5 mph. However, I can barely move when I'm done doing it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What a difference three years makes

Today is an interesting day and an important date in my life. On this day three years ago, I began a coast to coast walk at the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California, which I completed 210 days later (September 12, 2010) at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, on the beach near the Cyclone roller coaster. Today, on my 14th day of the Wahls diet, I think I'll start walking again. Except this time it's gonna be on a treadmill, without a backpack, and today I probably won't be able to walk more than a quarter of a mile at a time. Today the only reason I'll even be able to walk as far as a quarter mile straight is because I'll be able to use the "arms" of the treadmill as an aid to maintain my balance.

Speaking of balance: I think lack of balance is probably the biggest crippling factor in MS. And it all starts in the hips. You may think your legs are responsible for your ability to walk, but they're not. Walking is mostly a function of the hips. If, like me, your hip muscles and lower back muscles are unable to hold up the top half of your body (and keep you balanced), your legs won't work. But if you have something to prop up the top half of your body and keep you balanced (like a cane or something else to hold onto), thus freeing your hips to focus on their interaction with your legs, walking becomes much easier. At least that's how I see it.

A lot has changed in the three years since I began my walk. Beginning on February 14, 2010, even while recovering from a concussion for a couple weeks (after tripping and slamming my head on a tree root while carrying 68 lbs of gear, which was more than half my body weight at the time), I quickly transformed myself into an unstoppable machine, both physically and mentally. Through the first 30 days the walk, I walked 600 miles. That's 20 miles a day. But 7-1/2 months after I started my 3,463-mile walk--almost immediately after I finished the walk--that machine broke and has remained broken for the last 2-1/2 years.

A large bump on my head the day after I fell and
slammed my head on a tree root.

So after almost two weeks on the Wahls diet (with no cheating), has anything changed? Have I improved? Have I declined? Have I stayed the same?

My brain is definitely better. Those horrible mood swings I was experiencing a few weeks ago are gone. I'm more focused, too. For example, I read Minding My Mitochondria in basically a day, even though the font makes it harder than hell to read. I've done a lot of reading on the internet, too. And heck, just look at how much I've written on this blog since I began the diet. I couldn't have done that before beginning the diet. I simply didn't have the motivation or the clarity of thought to do it. So this is all good, and it most certainly is not a placebo effect.

But am I any better physically?

The answer to that question is not so clear. There are times when I feel like my physical condition has improved a little, mostly in terms of improved balance, but there are also times when I feel it hasn't changed at all. So I'm really not sure if the occasional feeling of improved balance is real or if it's in my head. Also, my optic neuritis has not improved. Fortunately, I also can't say I think my condition has declined in any way. However, I have felt tired a lot over the last week or so.

Even though I haven't cheated on the diet, have I continued to consume the full 3/3/3 cups of green/sulfur/colored foods?

Yeah, I'd say I'm either getting all that stuff or I'm coming really close, in addition to eating plenty of fish or chicken every day. However, I haven't eaten any seaweed or organ meats yet, unless shrimp counts as organ meat. (I read somewhere that it does, but I'm inclined not to believe it.) I gotta get with it in that department.

Anything to add?

Yeah, it seems like I've had very cool, interesting dreams since beginning the diet. I'm really not sure right now (because you know how dreams always seem to quickly disappear from memory), but it seems like I've spent a lot of time in a very cool dream world. Also, as of the last couple days, the constant hunger seems to be going away. Monday I ate three full meals, two smoothies, and several ounces of steak my mom didn't finish, but Tuesday and Wednesday I almost had to force myself to eat a second meal because I felt full. Once I decided to eat these meals, though, I didn't have any trouble scarfing them down.

What have I learned during this three-year span since I began my walk?

One thing I've learned (beginning after my body stopped working but before I even considered the possibility that I might have MS) is that exercise helps. A year and a half ago I could barely walk. Then I walked 350 miles through New England, with about 40 lbs on my back (in the span of about a month). It wasn't easy, and even after gradually building up to 15-20 miles a day, my body mechanics still weren't the same as they'd been for most of my life. Still, I felt a lot closer to normal than before I began the walk. Unfortunately I don't know if that improvement would have continued after ending the walk prematurely, because after walking 350 miles I spent the next 16 days rotting in a Rhode Island jail cell. By the time I got out, I wasn't the same person.

* * * * *

I wrote the remainder of this post later in the day, after going downstairs to use the treadmill.

5:00: After lunch I wasn't sure if I'd actually do it, but I finally got my ass downstairs and onto the treadmill. It wasn't easy, but I started off at 2.3 miles an hour, expecting to be able to make it about a quarter of a mile before having to take a break. I ended up doing half a mile before I could barely pick up my left foot, after 13 minutes and 8 seconds, with Motley Crue's Shout at the Devil jammed into my ears. 2.3 miles an hour is one full mile an hour slower than my cruising speed of three years ago. My arms actually got a workout from holding myself up. After this, I took a pretty long break.

Here's the deal with walking music: Many different kinds of music are good when you're walking around all over New England, dodging cars and cops. But one kind of music seems to be most useful when you're stuck on a treadmill in a lifeless basement, trying to force yourself to walk several miles to nowhere. (I didn't have music when I walked across the United States.)

Good treadmill music is music that makes you want to hit things. For example, anything from System of a Down (but especially Toxicity), Motley Crue's Shout at the Devil, and other music I don't have in my phone (like perhaps Megadeth or Metallica's Ride the Lightning). On the road, that stuff is good, too, but the music that reminds me most of my walk around New England is Radiohead (Insomniac, Kid A, In Rainbows), Frou Frou, Appetite for Destruction (GnR), Blizzard of Ozz (Ozzy), Comfort Eagle (CAKE), and other stuff like that.

Did someone say 'hit things'? Maybe next time.

Horrible walking music: U2's Joshua Tree (even though 'Where the streets have no name' is my theme song).

End digression.

5:55: Finished walking another half-mile, then took a break. Excluding the time I rested, I walked one mile at 25:41. For this second half-mile, I bumped the treadmill up to 2.4 MPH. I'm surprised to have walked another half-mile because when I used the treadmill regularly last fall, my foot drop (or drop foot) would kick in sooner with each subsequent session.

6:25: Finished walking another half mile, then took a break. Total so far is 1.5 miles in 37:47 of walk time. For this last half-mile I set the treadmill to 2.5 MPH, with SOAD's Toxicity giving me some extra energy. I probably don't want to go over 2.5 MPH for now.

7:00: Walked my last half mile at 2.6 MPH. At this speed, the last lap was killing me, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, so I did.

I did two miles in 49:22 of walk-time (or 2 hours and 13 minutes of actual time). Not bad. (Actually that's a lot better than I expected.) However, in two weeks I bet I'll be laughing at what I've done today.

Now I'm gonna go resume my old habit of doing crosswords, sudokus, and crypto puzzles, which I'll continue to do every day because these puzzles are good for the brain.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Minding My Mitochondria

[Edit: I'll eventually rewrite this post because the current version may seem more critical than I intended to sound. The message I ultimately want to convey is that Minding My Mitochondria is a fantastic, helpful book.]

My copy of Minding My Mitochondria arrived in the mail today. If you're not already aware, Minding My Mitochondria is Dr. Terry Wahls's self-published book about how she used diet to overcome a number of crippling effects of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.

My first impression of the book: Misspelled words. (But read this entire post because the most important stuff is at the end)

Even though I haven't opened the book yet, I've already noticed three misspelled words. In fact, the second word on the back cover is misspelled, along with at least two other words on the back cover.

What does this mean? It doesn't mean anything, necessarily. Still, it's sloppy work--very sloppy work--and it's the kind of thing that would have taken almost no effort to correct before publishing the book, considering the misspelled words are neither big words nor homophones. Rather, the misspelled words that I've noticed so far are "practicle," "electical," and "strenghen." And these three misspelled words occur within the span of 63 total words. These specific misspelled words do not fool spell-check. Furthermore, they're on the cover of a book that cost 38 dollars!

The remainder of this post may seem harsh and overly critical. That is not my intention. I'm just sharing my first impression of the book, as well as some concerns my first impression elicited.

To me these misspellings are a sign of extreme carelessness and a rush to publish. And yes, it does make me wonder if I can trust the words I'm about to read. Not necessarily because I expect the information in the book to be wrong, but because the information may be presented in a similarly careless manner as the cover; because poor communication might render good information functionally useless, or even counterproductive. The misspellings suggest pretty clearly to me that this book is a rough draft.

I don't want to say these things, but they are legitimate concerns. In fact, before I even had the book, I already had an issue with the imprecise way the specifics of the Wahls diet are expressed (i.e., measuring food volumetrically rather than by weight). This kind of stuff matters to people who are serious about trying to replicate Dr. Wahls's results, and I'm growing more frustrated every day because I can't do it if I can't interpret the information that's being presented to me. No one can.

What I've just said may sound selfish, but it's not. I know Dr. Wahls is trying to help people like me. I know she wrote this book more to help people than to make money. But the effectiveness of her communication is at least as important as what she's trying to communicate, and her communication seems extremely ineffective sometimes.

If you go read every blog post I've ever written, throughout three different blogs, I'm sure you'll find a few misspelled words. But that's out of tens (or hundreds) of thousands of words, and I've never asked anyone for money in exchange for my words.

There's a reason why you won't find misspelled words in the things I write, and that reason is because it matters to me that my communication is presentable and as easy to absorb as possible. Usually whenever I publish a blog post, I read the post over and over to make sure it says exactly what I want it to say, using correct spelling and correct punctuation. I feel like if people are going to take the time to read what I have to say (which they don't, mostly), it's my responsibility to present the rhetoric in a way that makes it as easy to read as possible.

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect the same standards from anyone with "Dr" in their name. In fact, most people hold them to even higher standards than they expect from the general population. So I think it's time to raise the bar here, Dr. Wahls. And I mean raise the bar by a lot.

Nothing personal.

Actually, I look forward to reading the book and hopefully finding some of the answers I've had a difficult time finding without the book. Like whether kale is a green food or a sulfur food.

* * * * *

Here's something I noticed as I was getting ready to proofread this post: Apparently my copy of Minding My Mitochondria was printed on February 3, 2013. That's 8 days ago. At the very least, these misspellings on the cover surely could have been corrected before printing another batch of books, right? Is that not reasonable? Because I'm sure someone pointed out the misspellings to Dr. Wahls long ago.

Update (later the same day): Having started reading this book, I see that the text is very large. Regardless, it's difficult to read, probably because the text is in a sans-serif font. The words just don't stand out like they're supposed to. After giving myself a headache from trying to read this book, I flipped through another book, printed with a normal sized font with serifs, and it was a lot easier to read than Minding My Mitochondria.

The font and layout of the text in this book NEED TO BE CHANGED in future editions (which I now know is every new order of the book, as a new one is printed every time someone places an order). Right now it feels like trying to read a checkerboard (with red squares and green squares), and that's just not easy to do. This not my opinion; it's just common knowledge in the publishing industry.

Like so many others with MS, I have a hard enough time reading already because of the optic neuritis in my left eye. Due to the layout of this book, I have to shut or cover my left eye when I try to read it, which solves some problems but creates other problems. If there was more spacing between the lines, maybe the large sans-serif font would be OK. But there's not more space between the lines.


Update (the next day): After reading 50-some pages, I'm much less worried about the misspelled words on the cover (and what they may have indicated yesterday). In other words, the inside of the book is much more well written than its offensive cover. The size and font of the text is still giving me problems, though. If not for the text, I could probably have read twice as much by now.

Update (another day later): After reading Minding My Mitochondria, I have to say this is a good, helpful book. Yes, there are 10 or 20 typos/misspellings throughout the book, and they are a distraction, but it's not too bad. And yes, the font makes it very difficult to read. However, I was able to adapt enough to make it through the book. (Still, these things need to be fixed with any other future editions or new books.)

In the end, the things that stand out most are:
  1. That Dr. Wahls genuinely wants to help people.
  2. Dr. Wahls admits when she doesn't know the answers. Instead of pretending to know everything, she's real. And that's worth a lot to me.
  3. Dr. Wahls comes off as a true expert to me, rather than a typical doctor. Unlike most doctors, she knows what she's talking about, not just what she's been trained to believe. Consequently, she has surely done a 180 in a lot of different ways to reach this level of knowledge, rather than worshiping the pharmaceutical gods and keeping people sick, like most doctors do.
First do no harm.

It's been a long time since I've seen a doctor who followed that advice, and that's probably a big part of why I have multiple sclerosis. It's also why I mostly don't go to doctors anymore. Yes, I do see a doctor for my MS, but only because my mom wants me to. I don't blindly follow the doctor's advice, though, and I don't take any medications for MS. I never intend to, either, because I already know they will do me harm.

Thankfully Dr. Wahls takes those four words seriously. Even though I may express doubts about some of Dr. Wahls's communication skills, I trust her. I know she has her own doubts about some of the things she advises, which is why she's always rewriting the rules. I'm sure if she has read any of the criticism I've expressed, she's taken it seriously and used it as an opportunity to learn.

If you have multiple sclerosis, or even if you don't, I recommend reading Minding My Mitochondria and following the Wahls MS diet.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

An alternate explanation for the cause of Herxheimer reactions

I like some of the things this page has to say, even though I may not have agreed with it before I read it. I especially like the part at the bottom about the pile of manure. Makes sense.

Actually, most of what's said in the first 2/3 of the page seems kinda kooky, but after that it starts making a lot of sense. Regardless of whether the page's rhetoric is on the mark, it's worth thinking about that stuff. (This post is basically just a way for me to remember that page without bookmarking it, so don't take it too seriously.)

Even though I've done some things that are said to cause Herxheimer reactions (like the anti-Candida diet and the Wahls diet), I have never experienced a Herxheimer reaction (or die-off symptoms). That is, unless what happened to me four years ago is considered a Herxheimer reaction. Four years ago I took two courses of antibiotics, which led to a couple months of misery and ultimately inspired me to create this blog. The way I see it, though, that misery was simply a result of antibiotics destroying my insides.

I guess the reason why I was thinking about Herxheimer reactions is because I've been a little more tired than normal the last several days. I thought maybe it could be from a Herx, so I did a little reading about it. Aside from the fatigue, though, I can't think of any other Herxheimer symptoms I've experienced, so I'm inclined to think the fatigue is just part of the MS.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A sample daily menu

Here's everything I've eaten today:

10:00 am - 22 oz smoothie (recipe below).
3:00 pm - 6 oz of grilled chicken breast* and 3 oz/85 g of romaine.
6:30 pm - 22 oz smoothie.
7:00 pm - 6 oz of grilled chicken breast* and 3 oz/85 g of romaine.
7:30 pm - 1 orange
10:00 pm - Large handful of pecans.
*Chicken weight is prior to cooking.

All my ingredients are organic or grass-fed whenever possible.

This menu is pretty typical of how I've been eating for the last 9 days, except I usually eat fish instead of chicken, and I usually eat spinach instead of romaine. One night I weighed my large plateful of raw spinach, and it was about 4 oz.

I'm probably not getting the full 3 cups of color foods or sulfur foods, but I'm definitely getting well over 3 cups of green food, as well as plenty of meat. Since I make a smoothie twice every day, I'd say I'm almost surely getting over a cup of both strawberries and blueberries. Which means if the orange counts as a color food, then I think it's safe to say I'm getting the full "3 cups" of color foods. (Update: Accocrding to page 8 of Minding My Mitochondria, oranges are a color food.)

I'm not sure if kale is considered a green food or a sulfur food. If it's considered a sulfur food, then I'd say I'm getting the full 3 cups of sulfur food each day. But even though I know it does contain sulfur, I think it fits more into the green food category. Hope I'm wrong.

Aside from the smoothies, I only drink water. Here are the ingredients I use for smoothies, including the ingredient weights in both ounces and grams:

4.3 oz/120 g BANANA (1 banana)
4.0 oz/112 g STRAWBERRIES (6 strawberries)
3.5 oz/100 g BLUEBERRIES (a couple handfuls)
1.0 oz/27 g of COCONUT OIL (heaping tablespoon)
2.5 oz/70 g KALE (large handful)
0.3 oz/8 g FLAX SEEDS (a couple teaspoons)
3.3 oz/94 g COCONUT WATER
2.0 oz/56 g MUSHROOMS (probably 2/3 of a cup)
2.0 oz/56 g CARROTS
1 clove GARLIC
A cup or two of ICE

Water can be substituted for coconut water. I use coconut water mostly just to aid the blender, but also to liquify the smoothie a little so it will be more drinkable.

I don't actually weigh many of the ingredients when I make smoothies. I just weighed most of them today so I could share the exact ingredient weights of a smoothie that's very representative of the smoothies I make twice every day. I do always weigh the mushrooms, though, because I don't like mushrooms and 2 oz is about all I can handle in each smoothie.

The smoothie is really good if you leave out the garlic and mushrooms, but it's still not bad even if you include the garlic and mushrooms. The reason I include those two ingredients (particularly mushrooms) is because it makes it easier for me to consume more sulfur foods than I would otherwise eat. Aside from garlic, there are not really any sulfur foods I'm willing to eat in a more normal way. I've never been willing to eat mushrooms at all until the last week, nor have I ever been willing to eat most of the other sulfur foods. Hopefully I'll get more used to those kinds of food as I continue this diet.

I also take some supplements every day:

8,000 I.U. Vitamin D3
100 mg Ubiquinol softgel
1 Schiff MegaRed Krill oil softgel
2,000 mg Cinnamon capsules

Friday, February 8, 2013

Food measurement problem

One of the basic ideas of science is that measurements must be precise and repeatable. If the original measurements aren't precise, then no one can set up repeatable conditions and no one can expect repeatable results. Even if they could get repeatable results without repeatable conditions, the results would have no clear meaning. And if no one can expect repeatable results because no one can repeat the conditions of the experiment, then no one even tries.

Only a week into the Wahls diet, there's one thing that really bothers me about how Dr. Wahls describes the specifics of following her diet (at least on the internet): She expresses food measurements volumetrically (in cups), rather than as weight measurements (ounces or grams). This bothers me because there's no way to accurately measure most types of food volumetrically; particularly the kinds of food that make up this diet.

For example, exactly what constitutes "one cup" of onion? I ask [rhetorically] because a diced onion takes up a lot more volume than the same onion before it's diced. If I'm measuring one cup of diced onion, am I supposed to pack the pieces of onion tightly into the measuring cup? Or am I supposed to eyeball the whole onion and go, "Uhh, that's about a cup"?

Even if I know exactly how Dr. Wahls intends for me to measure, the diced onion will still occupy considerably more volume than the same onion before it was diced. Or if I slice the onion instead of dicing it, it will occupy an even different volume than either the same onion whole or the same onion diced. Also, when measuring volumetrically, every "one cup" of onion will be at least a slightly different amount than every other "one cup" of onion, even if identical prep methods are used for every cup measured.

I'm very experienced in food preparation and food measurement, yet I have no idea what constitutes 3 cups of any of the foods I'm supposed to be eating, because volumetric measurement of food cannot be done with any kind of precision. And this matters to me. The precise amount of any certain food I'm supposed to be eating is something I need to know because I want to do this right. And I probably haven't been doing it quite right yet, specifically because I have no idea if my volumetric measurements are in any way similar to Dr. Wahls's volumetric measurements.

This is important stuff here, and hopefully Dr. Wahls will see this post and use it as a tool to better communicate the specifics of her diet. Or maybe she'll even recruit me to do it for her. Regardless, once I start writing posts about how I apply the diet, I will express my food measurements in weight (ounces and grams), not volume.

Measuring food by volume is one of the least insightful things humans do, especially in an age where accurate digital scales are widely available for as low as $20 and not more than $30. The way one person measures 3 cups of greens might yield the same amount of greens that someone else considers only 2 cups. That's a huge disparity, yet it's a very realistic scenario. So whose measurement is correct? Neither of them, because there is no such thing as 3 cups of greens. And Dr. Wahls needs to address that problem.

Here's some good news.

All of this confusion can be eliminated by simply using weight measurements instead of volumetric measurements. It's impossible to mismeasure or miscommunicate with weight measurements, as long as you use the scale properly. If you measure food by weight, an ounce of spinach is always an ounce of spinach, regardless of who measures it or how much volume it occupies. And 100 grams of onion is always 100 grams of onion. It just works.

Almost every kind of food you buy at the grocery store is priced and sold by weight, not volume. There's a reason for that: accuracy. With almost every type of food, it's simply not possible to measure accurately using volumetric measurements.

If you're serious about using food to heal yourself (or even if you just want to become a more consistent cook), I urge you to buy an electronic kitchen scale. It'll be one of the best purchases of your life.

A pain in the butt

Last night I began feeling an unusual sensation, but I didn't think it was worthy of sharing on the blog. Having slept on it, I've changed my mind.

Yesterday or last night I started noticing muscle pain in my buttocks, which I still feel. This isn't the nagging, dull pain I had already been feeling almost constantly in my upper legs, hips, and lower back for who knows how long. Rather, this is the kind of pain you feel when you carry a 60-pound backpack 20 or 30 miles in one day. This is the feeling of sore muscles, which I haven't felt in a long time because I just haven't had the energy or coordination to use any of my muscles enough to make them sore. The location of this pain is in either the piriformis muscles or muscles near the piriformis muscles, and it's on both sides. (If that wasn't clear, the soreness is in what seems to be the muscles that help me stand up, since it's most noticeable when I get up off the couch.)

I can't say I have felt this type of pain in at least a year and a half. I suspect this is at least partly because when my brain sends messages to these muscles to do their job, the messages never arrive, which means I never really use the muscles.

So what does this soreness really mean?

I think it means messages from my brain are making it all the way to the muscles in my buttocks when I stand up and walk. If so, then I think it means this diet is already doing something other than helping me think clearer. I can't say my ability to walk has improved at all since I began the diet, but maybe it's about to. Hope so.

Also, the nagging pain in my upper legs, hips, and lower back seems to have disappeared the last few days. I don't know if this is a result of the diet, but it's at least worth mentioning.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Does the Wahls diet actually help with MS?

Or is Dr. Wahls's incredible recovery a result of something else?

Having spent most of my time lately trying to learn about the Wahls MS diet, I've read a lot of criticism from people who tried the diet for a couple weeks, as well as criticism from others who claim to have been on the diet for months or years with no results. Some of these people reveal that they haven't followed the diet strictly, while others whine about how it's too hard to give up all the bad foods at once. Some attribute their hesitance to "gluten withdrawal."

Gluten withdrawal? Really?

All I ate for five months before starting the Wahls diet was deep dish pizza. I'm not exaggerating. Excluding Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving, and the day of my aunt's funeral, I ate a pizza every day between mid-August 2012 and mid-January 2013. There were some days that I ate another small meal (that wasn't pizza), but for most of that five-month period I ate one meal each day, and that meal was a 9" deep dish pizza. So if there's such a thing as gluten withdrawal, I think it's safe to say that I should know all about it, because I'm one of the biggest gluten junkies there has ever been.

So it must have been really hard for me to stop chasing the gluten dragon, right?

No, it wasn't. I just flipped a switch in my mind, and I stopped eating pizza and almost everything else that's not part of the Wahls diet. And within a week of flipping that switch, I jumped fully into the diet. I haven't cheated yet, either. And if that's not enough, I now regularly eat several foods that totally disgusted me a week ago. And there are more of those foods on the way.

I had been thinking about trying the Wahls diet for a couple months before I actually started. During those couple months, I never tried to trick myself into believing I was actually on the diet when I wasn't. I didn't tell anyone I'm trying to change my diet, or even that I intended to change my diet. Rather, I just wasn't on the diet yet, and I wasn't sure if I'd really ever have the balls or discipline to actually start the diet, because I love pizza and because I love teaching myself how to make better pizza, which you can only do by making a lot of pizza and eating a lot of pizza.

Even after I stopped eating pizza and started eating mostly foods that are allowed on the Wahls diet, I still didn't trick myself into believing I had actually begun the diet. Because I hadn't. You're either on the diet or you're not, and if you eat a bowl of Corn Flakes with milk every couple nights after your stomach starts growling for a snack, you're not on the diet. And the way I see it, even if you never cheat, if you don't eat enough of the three or four specific kinds of food Dr. Wahls advises, you're not on the Wahls diet. You may be on a caveman diet, but the Wahls diet is different enough from the caveman diet that, to me, they are very different diets.

Truth is, like every junkie who wants to quit being a junkie, I wanted one more pizza fix. But unlike every prospective ex-junkie, I knew I was going to continue taking my full pizza dosage each day for a couple more months before I'd actually consider giving myself that final pizza fix. Not because I was physically addicted to gluten or any other component of pizza, but because sometimes you just need a little time to prepare yourself mentally for anticipated major lifestyle changes.

I said goodbye to pizza a couple weeks ago. It wasn't very hard to do because I was in misery, which was probably a direct result of my undying love for pizza. In fact, I intended to make three more pizzas before beginning the Wahls diet, since I still had enough mozzarella for three more pizzas. But I just didn't make them. For some reason, instead of continuing to eat what I love more than anything, I started eating more like humans are supposed to eat. Not completely, though.

Even after I started eating better, I never set a date to flip the switch and begin eating right full-time. Rather, I just realized one day that the time was right. In fact, I started the diet before I actually made the decision to start the diet. And that happened a few days earlier than I expected it to happen. I started the diet last Friday.

So after following the Wahls diet strictly for 6 days, is my MS cured? Of course not. Are any of my symptoms better? No, I can't say for sure that I'm physically any better yet.

But here's what I can say for sure: I can say that my brain started working much better after only a few days on the diet. I have much more motivation to do the things I should be doing, like researching this diet and preparing my own meals. A week ago I had to rely on my mom for my meals because I just didn't have the energy to cook and because my brain couldn't put everything together. A week ago I also looked several years older than I look right now.

A week ago I felt defeated. I was having major mood swings and I had a lot of obsessive thoughts about some girl who's been stuck in my head and my heart for over eight years. Not now.

Yes, I still think about her every day, but it's not the same. I don't feel crazy anymore, and I don't really care if she responds to my most recent email. Yes, I'd like her to respond and I'd like her to keep being friendly with me, but it's just not very important to me anymore, or at least right now. She knows how I feel, and she's known it for eight years. She knows she was my main inspiration for walking 3,500 miles across the United States. She knows more than she should be allowed to know, and the only explanation I can come up with for all of this is that I must love her. (She knows that, too.)

But like a healthy person, I'm starting not to care that she doesn't seem to feel the same about me. I'm starting not to care that she doesn't seem interested in my friendship, either. And it's all because I've started eating what people are suppposed to be made of.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

A lot of people seem to think this diet is supposed to be some kind of hit-or-miss magic trick or something that was discovered by accident. They seem to think you can just follow part of the diet (and ignore the rest), and everything's supposed to get better. They think if it doesn't cure you in two weeks, the diet must be a bunch of BS.

That's not how it works. This diet is merely implimentation of what should be common sense or even instinct. We are what we are specifically because of what our ancestors ate. Once upon a time, people who chose a different diet died young, without reproducing. Their genes and their genetic predispositions died with them. Because of how our ancestors ate, we are exactly what we're supposed to be. If we keep eating the kinds of things they ate, we will stay healthy and we will survive. Unfortunately, most of us don't eat the kinds of things our distant ancestors ate. Most of us eat almost entirely food that isn't actually food, and most of us are sick in one way or another precisely because our food is not food.

You are what you eat, and most of us eat shit.

Do you want to be made of shit, or do you want to be made of person? I'm already made of shit--or as doctors say, I have multiple sclerosis--but I want to start being made of person instead of shit. That's why I began this diet, that's why I started eating foods I've never wanted to eat, and that's why I haven't cheated on the diet. I'm not cured or even fixed yet, but I'm already seeing results.

It took me a lot more than a couple weeks to destroy my body, so naturally it's gonna take a lot more than a couple weeks to repair myself.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A new purpose for this blog

As of today, this blog is now primarily a multiple sclerosis-related blog, rather than a Candida-related blog. For those of you who are here because of what I've had to say about my struggles with Candida overgrowth, don't go anywhere. I'll be fighting MS through diet as well, using the Wahls diet. The Wahls diet is very similar to an anti-Candida diet, but it's more restrictive in a lot of ways. When it comes down to it, the Wahls diet is probably much better, even for Candida sufferers (especially when compared to how I implemented the anti-Candida diet). It's basically a modified caveman diet. (Sorry, I can't really explain it all right now, because I'm just beginning to learn about it myself.)

Today marks my first official day on the Dr. Terry Wahls diet. If you don't know who Dr. Terry Wahls is, here's a little backstory: Dr. Wahls has MS. Several years ago, after years of steady decline, she had become pretty well crippled by it. The medications didn't help, just like nothing else helped. So eventually she took a new approach to treating her MS, changing her diet to include only foods that provide the vitamins and nutrients her body seemed to have been missing. Long story short: She walks without a cane now and leads a pretty normal life. There's way more to it than that, though. If you want to know more, you can start by watching this YouTube video. Or check out this page of Google results.

I don't think I've said much on this blog about MS or what it's been doing to me, but it's been kicking my ass for about two and a half years now. Ironically, it all started almost immediately after I finished my walk across the United States. (I wasn't diagnosed until less than a year ago.) It's been all downhill ever since it began. No relapses or remissions; just steady decline. It's to the point where I almost always need a cane when I walk, even around the house. Pretty much the only time I don't use the cane is when I only need to walk a few steps or when I have something to hold on to, to keep me from losing my balance. Even though my problems became very noticeable almost overnight a couple weeks after I finished my walk across the United States in fall 2010, I now realize MS started kicking in maybe halfway through my walk. In fact, there were signs (or small relapses?) going back at least as far as 2006.

I get worn out very easily if I do any kind of physical activity; even cooking. It's not the same kind of worn-out as when a healthy person gets worn out, though. My balance is crap, too. Regardless of whether or not I'm active, I don't have much feeling in my feet, and I've also lost a noticeable amount of feeling in my hands. My legs (particularly my left leg) feel like they weigh a couple hundred pounds each, even though I only weigh about 160 lbs. Going to the bathroom is not very easy most of the time, in one way or another. I've had optic neuritis in my left eye for almost two years now. (It seems the optic neuritis has slowly been improving, but I can't say for sure that it has.) Also, lately I've been having some scary mood swings that seem completely unnatural to me. They feel artificial, and I don't like it.

Other issues or symptoms that affect me include:
  • Constant pain in my upper legs, hip muscles (particularly hip flexors), and lower back. It's not really a lot of pain, but the pain is pretty much always there, which makes it worse than experiencing a lot of pain for a short time.
  • Cold feet (and cold lower legs). This has not been too bad for a while, but it's not good, either. My feet are pretty much always kinda purple, with small raised white spots (stucco keratosis & pictures), all of which I assume is a sign of poor circulation.
  • My knees sometimes give out on me. Usually my knees stay pretty much locked when I'm on my feet, but sometimes they don't, and sometimes this causes me to hit the ground.
  • Very difficult walking up and down stairs. It's harder walking down than up. When walking down stairs I have to be very careful to hold on to the hand rail with one hand and use the other hand to use the opposite wall as a second source of support.
  • Not much sex drive (nor much feeling in "my thing"). Obviously this is at least partly a neurological issue, but I suspect it also has a psychological component, which doesn't really bother me right now because 1) I don't have anyone, and 2) sex is very low on my list of things that really matter right now.
  • Low energy and motivation.
  • Lots of stomach/fullness issues. I usually don't eat all day (until about 7:00), and the empty stomach doesn't bother me. But once I eat, I feel hungry; painfully hungry. And after eating, I never feel full. Sometimes I do feel a sensation not unlike being full for a short time, but when I do there is also a very present feeling of hunger at the same time. And "hunger" is not necessarily the right word. It's more like a sharp pain in my stomach that feels like hunger but probably isn't. Also, sometimes I feel like I'm full within a couple minutes of beginning a meal, when I know I'm not full. As I keep eating, I begin to feel hungrier. This is all very frustrating.
  • Shaking. I guess this is probably all in my legs (while I'm using them) and it probably results from having to use "supplementary muscles" that are not intended to do the things my brain asks them to do.
  • Other things I hope this diet will improve, even though they are not considered MS symptoms: Excessive scalp regeneration and itchy scalp (which I wouldn't call dandruff), toenail fungus, and a bump in my inner gums, near the salivary glands (which disappeared shortly after beginning the anti-Candida diet a few years ago, then returned).

I ate the first salad of my life two days ago, which means I have now eaten three salads in my 39 years of life. As some of you already know, I am a very big fan of pizza and a very knowledgeable pizzamaker. Up until a few weeks ago, I had made pizza all but four days since early last August (five months). I haven't made or eaten a pizza in a week or 10 days now, and I may never eat another pizza. It's hard to make the kinds of changes I've already begun to make, but it's even harder being crippled.

I know I haven't had much to say here for the last couple years, but I'll make an effort to write frequent new posts, sharing the secrets of what seems to work for me if this diet ends up making the kinds of differences I'm hoping it'll make.

One more thing to add: I have never taken any MS medications, nor do I ever intend to.