Enjoy what is

Decreasing stress is one of the components of the Dr. Wahls Protocol. Stress is known to be a catalyst for illness. My own experience proves that. I was under a great deal of duress building up to becoming sick. Life happens, sometimes it isn’t pleasant. I’m stating the obvious, but its important to look at the truth of that. I have learned over the years due to a different illness I have that relies on the practice of gratitude to stay in remission, how to live in the moment, to look at my part in relationships and mistakes, to do spot check inventories, to make gratitude lists and to enjoy what is. Like anything these habits require a commitment and daily practice. I have had years of successfully applying these practices to my life and I’ve had times when I let them go and let old negative habits creep back in to the detriment of my serenity.  It was during those times that I got sick and running scared, made bad decisions that made the situation ten times worse then it had to be.

How to practice serenity is to be grateful for everything. To remind myself to live in the moment. I like these statements, “God will only give you what you can handle in one day.” and “I have all the money I need provided I die at 12 midnight tonight.” That doesn’t mean that I don’t plan for this or that. It means, I make the appointment, research the information, jot down the idea, then let it go, putting it out of my mind till its time to deal with it. This takes practice and is sometimes easier said then done. However, like anything, practice makes it easier to do, then the rewards flood in from the practice.

Sometimes to get down to a free flowing serene state, I must look at unpleasant truths about myself, especially if the same set of calamities or repeated mistakes happen over and over again. That’s usually a sure fire sign that the fault is mine. Somewhere, there are deep rooted issues that must be unearthed, amends made, myself and others to be forgiven and then, if the work is earnest and sincere then peace for this situation or relationship happens. Other people are usually necessary to help with this, such as support groups, advisers, counseling, religious practices for some people, etc. Food for thought, the smartest and most powerful people on Earth have advisers, the more responsibility they have the more advisers they have. It is, paradoxically, not a sign of weakness, but of strength to seek advice and assistance.

Meditation is the practice of being in the moment. To be aware of all five senses, to quiet the mind, concentrate on breathing, build a deeper communion with a Higher Power if one so chooses, or to feel a deeper connection with the Earth with sounds of nature and thoughts of ancient trees and pathways thru the woods or how the Earth feels on your hands when you plant something. We can do quick, in the moment meditations with everyday mundane activities, like concentrating on the warm sensation of sudsy water as I clean the plate, listening for the sound of clacking silverware when I drag the bottom of the sink for silverware to clean. Or we can do long prepared meditations. Set the scene, a favorite spot in our home that we create the space for. Burn incense maybe, light candles, play serene music or sounds (I like the ocean) or listen to a guided meditation. Exercise and jewelry making are both deep sources of meditation for me. I am completely focused when I create, colors, sewing, the feel of beads in my hands, or exercise, I’m off in my own world. When exercising, I am completely riveted on the teacher, the movement I’m doing, the feel of the water, the weights in my hands, the flexing of the targeted muscles, my breathing. When I do these things, I am not thinking about the bills I need to pay in two weeks, or the appointments I have tomorrow or even in two hours, I am completely in the moment. This is one of the reasons I love doing these two activities. Anxiety, fear of the unknown, causes the body to do certain things, increases heart rate, gasping for breath, racing thoughts of fears and over dwelling on negatives. Meditation is the practice of clearing the mind, deep thoughtful breathing, bringing one’s thinking back to the present moment and the realization that one is safe in that moment. Many fears are of bogeymen that are not happening right now and in most cases may never happen. And if there is a difficult loss occurring, job, family, health, then the practice of these above can make them easier to handle, more manageable by making it possible to take the situation(s) piece meal.

To enjoy what is are all these practices, that is the goal for me. That and humor. A sense of humor can cut stress in half and help keep a heart light. There is always two ways to look at any situation. Most of the time there is something good to consider even when it feels unfair. Here’s a silly joke:

Four men from Boston meet every Sunday to play cards. Clancy, Taylor, John and Ian have known each other for decades. John is the upbeat positive chap in the group. No matter what anyone says he always answers, “It could be worse.” This always rubs Clancy the wrong way. One Sunday, only Clancy, John and Ian show up. Ian, visibly upset, breaks the news to Clancy and John that Taylor is in jail after coming home Saturday night and finding his wife in bed with another man, he shot and killed them both. To which, John says, “It could be worse.” Clancy yells back, “That’s the last straw! You drive me nuts, how could it be worse John, two people are dead and our good friend is in jail, how could it be worse, you tell me that?!” John replied, “It could be worse because he could’ve come home on Friday when I was there.”

It could be worse.

 

Bonne Sante

Hup, two, three, four….

I am in the process of rehabilitating with the goal of hopefully weaning off of disability and going back to work full time successfully for the first time since 2004. Is it possible? I believe it is. What do I want to be when I grow up? I am an impassioned and driven individual. I hope to have a job that further’s public knowledge and access to these answers that truly work in arresting autoimmune illnesses like nothing else out there. Diet, physical therapy, meditation and decreasing stress, supplements and natural household and personal care products. Someone mentioned today that I should take a break mentally from the seriousness of working the Protocol. To do well at anything difficult, it requires commitment and a great deal of energy. If a person decides to become a doctor, build a business, tackle alcoholism or reverse MS, it requires a huge commitment if one is to be successful. This is what I believe. If I am given a way out of a devastating illness, I feel responsible to do something about helping to get the word out to others. I would like that to be my job.  I have the skill set and experience for it. My strongest skills and experience are sales, organizing events, public speech, writing, coaching and enthusing others, tenacity and hard work.

If this sounds obsessive to anyone, well sit out of life for twelve years and then be given the against the known odds opportunity to dive back in and work. Like the person cured from terminal cancer or one who has lost his family and then given a new one ten years later, its a rising from the ashes. That’s dramatic I know, but so is this. When I got home today to my apartment building, I ran into a neighbor that I see from time to time. We don’t know each other, but we are always cordial. I have not seen this particular neighbor for months. I got my mail and got on the elevator with her. I was carrying two laden bags filled with frozen meat. She looked and looked again, then blurted out, “You can walk! I thought I recognized you, but didn’t realize it was you at first because you can’t walk. What happened?” I briefly explained that I was on a diet for autoimmune illnesses and that I had MS and it was healing me. Almost daily I am hearing comments like this. Who doesn’t want a job that makes a difference. Further, I have the added flexibility to work both Canada and the United States. The plan is to go back to work after one year on the Wahls Protocol, that is in four months. How this will play out, I’m not sure yet. In the mean time, I will keep working to rehabilitate.

I’ve decided to work back into nutritional ketosis. I did feel better on it. Its true, it isn’t as flexible as levels I and II, but, there is a big difference in how I feel on level III versus level II. Its worth the added planning to make sure I have what I need to stay in ketosis during the financially lean second half of the month. That is what has been tough for me. The meat purchase I made today will help. I bought enough meat for two months from a high quality butcher in Strathmore (forty-five minutes from Calgary). Something I planned and put aside money for, knowing that we had a planned trip with a friend. Butcher shops are the way to go. I can’t believe how much cheaper they are. This one is cheaper then anything in Calgary, because it doesn’t have to deal with the high, high rent of being in Calgary. For example, same high quality bacon as what is sold at the natural market from local farms. Difference is $10 in Calgary, $6 away for a pack of bacon. Everything was priced this way. I also need to make arrangements to get the second carpal tunnel surgery done. Ugh! Call me a big baby, but I don’t want to go through that again. I think after Christmas will be best. Exercise tomorrow!

Marching on…..

 

Bonne Sante

 

Picture by Pexels

 

 

 

 

A carrot worth fighting for!

Today is the day I switched back to Wahls Paleo level II. I’ll go back to level III when I am in a more flexible situation. Talking about tackling the Wahls Protocol with limited funds may be an unpopular or uncomfortable topic, however it is a very real problem that others wishing to transform their lives with the Protocol will need to face who have the same issues. Many people who have this illness and other devastating autoimmune illnesses are disabled. I don’t have to be a genius to figure out that there is more poverty among the sick than the well. My goal is to get through this first year on a limited income so that I can devote all my energy to rehabilitation, then start working full time. Some of my blogs are going to be about that struggle. It is a real one, it is a difficult one and it will be ongoing. It requires a great deal of juggling, problem solving, creative thinking and constant sourcing. It forces me to pick and choose what I can do and what I can’t according to what is most beneficial because of lack of funds. As I find answers and ways around this problem, I’ll document everything I learn. Maybe I can make it easier on the next person. I’d like to think so.

I don’t speak of this to discourage anyone from trying who may be facing limited means. Instead, I hope to prove its possible, though not easy. My health is leagues better from when I began. So much so, that I can’t wait to go to the Calgary Zoo in the spring. The Zoo has been an annual gauge of how much sicker I was from the year before. I didn’t bother trying last year and the year before was horrible. I spent most of the visit sitting it out in the air conditioned Cafeteria completely fatigued even though I had a rented motorized scooter.

The Protocol is a carrot worth fighting for. It is not elusive and it pays off every single day. That pay off is what makes it possible to stick with this, because it works and is doing the formerly impossible. That is what fuels my resolve to stick with it. So, I will continue to juggle, problem solve, research and source. It is a huge mistake if I start working now, I know that and it goes against the original blue print of beginning work after one year on the Protocol. If I work before I am ready, I can and probably will jeopardize everything I’ve worked so hard for this year by piling on a complicated schedule making it impossible for me to rehabilitate, keep appointments, exercise and take the time needed to prepare the foods I need. Whereas in five months, I should be finished with all rehabilitation appointments, not including exercise, which is the same as breathing oxygen. I will have five more months to gain strength and heal. I will have had career counseling with employment offices, counseling with a MS psychiatrist and MS social workers who will help assess my skills versus my physical disabilities thus insuring the best possible chance for a successful shot at returning to work and having the ability to continue to follow the Protocol faithfully.

At the end of this, it may be prudent to have to stay on disability and work part time. I have to be prepared for that possibility too. However, I listen to people going to back to work because of their own incredible healing online, but all of them have a second paycheck in the house to back them up. I’d love to speak with someone in the same vulnerable situation I am in that has successfully gone back to work after years on disability without a second income backing them up. That is another good reason to document all this, so that future people in my shoes, who may trip across this blog, will have me to be inspired by. In the mean time, this is a pep talk for me.

 

Bonne Sante

 

Picture from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/carrots-juice-162670/

Waking up to the possibilities

I feel weighted down with the financial limitations I have due to the extra money that it costs to keep this way of life going on my limited income. I’m looking at my calendar, I’m counting days to the next pay (13 days to go), I’m looking over the veggies I have and I know that I don’t have the components necessary for each day, but I’m not starving either. I just won’t have the right balance of foods for a short time. I have $18.00 to split between me and my cat. She needs her Fancy Feast and I need greens. I’ll spend the money on Fancy Feast and greens. I’ll take it a day at a time, which is all any of us really have anyway. I had a friend who said once as he watched a hearse go by followed by a funeral procession, “I wonder what that guy was worrying about last week?” I think of that when I start worrying about too many days at once.

My father died from Emphysema at age 61. He said, “Don’t do what I did, I worked hard all my life waiting for the day I could retire and really live.”  He worked three jobs in his 20’s, two full time jobs till he was forced to stop early at age 45 due to his illness. He spent the next 15 years on oxygen, progressively getting worse. He told me this two years before he died. One thing I did do that he just couldn’t, was quit smoking. Addictions are the primary killers in my family. Smoking, drinking, and obesity. My mother and her sister both died from type II diabetes in their early 60’s due to their weight and eating habits. My maternal grandfather died in a drunk tank in the 50’s, most of my generation on my mother’s side have had problems with drinking. Oddly, not my only brother, it jumped over him like a tornado takes down a street of houses, but skips over one. My paternal grandfather died from Emphysema and my father followed in his footsteps. All of them died around the same age, between 60 to 64.

I had it in my head that if I could deal with all the addictions, having smoked since the age of 11 and I am an alcoholic. I stopped drinking in 1991 and quit smoking in 1996. I kept my weight down with a combination of exercise and weight watchers. I never saw it coming when I was blindsided at age 42 with not one, but two major neurological conditions. What happened to all my plans. My plan had to do with the fact that my maternal grandmother was one of 16 and they all lived to the ages of 96 to 104 (no addictions in that line), that was going to be me. We never know what tomorrow could bring. I can prove that by looking at yesterday. Raised in Massachusetts, did I dream I’d be living in the places I’ve lived. Here I am in Calgary away from the swarthy Irish, Italian working class heritage I miss sometimes. Don’t get me wrong here, I love Calgary, great people here. No, did not plan this.

The best way to deal with my life, if I want peace, has got to be one day at a time. I can lay plans, I can have goals, but then, I have to get back into the day I am in or it all gets stressful fast. The actual possibilities available to me are upon waking each morning to the new day ahead of me, if only I don’t squander it unnecessarily on that which I have no control over, tomorrow and yesterday. Most of the time these days, I am fairly successful in doing that and most often I am a light hearted soul. But, there are those days.

The financial fear has to go. Here’s the truth:

  • I have a roof over my head and my rent is paid
  • I have decent clothes on my back
  • I have two children who are healthy
  • I am sober and smoke free
  • I just lost 35 lbs and I am a full two sizes smaller then I was
  • I no longer need walking aids as yet another person asked me just yesterday what happened to your walking (referring to how well I walk now), when you got here you were in rough shape.
  • I have hope for the future
  • I have the food I need today
  • I have medical support helping me get back on my feet
  • I have the Dr Wahls Protocol and the willingness to keep at it
  • I have two neurological conditions that do not define who I am nor do they decide what my future will be, anymore

This is shaping up to be a hell of a day!

 

Bonne Sante

 

 

 

 

Rise Above It

I use many ways to over come adversity. Life has its up and downs. I didn’t ask for MS, but it happened when I had two children depending on me as their main provider. Placed on temporary disability, I set to work finding other employment options. I went to college and excelled. Halfway through to a Bachelors in business, I suffered a particularly horrific MS attack that took my daughter away and caused my teenage son to lose the stability of his home and I became near homeless, bankrupt, and my car, which I could no longer drive due to cognitive damage was repo’d. I didn’t ask for that either. We all survived it though. My children are 17 and 27 now and have grown into responsible adults. We are all very close. It sounds simple (or maybe it doesn’t), but these set backs took years to settle. Its hard to describe in one paragraph what we had to do to overcome all of this, but we did and were stronger for it.

This is one of the strongest aids I have. I seek winning stories of others overcoming adversity. I seek people who inspire me to do the same. I seek their stories and examples in the media, in movies and books, in history and in everyday people I meet. What is important for me with these role models is to not see them as better or different than me, but rather to see them as ordinary people who have risen above their hardship and to let them teach me the method for their successes by observation. In every case, hard work, perseverance, a clear objective, and inner reflection were the ingredients that brought them through.

One of my favorite examples of this is the movie Cool Runnings about the first ever Jamaican bobsled team. Their first year in the Olympics was right here in Calgary, AB in 1988. I wasn’t here then, but I knew about them because of the movie. The movie itself is more fiction than fact, but no less inspiring because of it.  In the story, everything is running against them. Each must overcome some personal issue in order to push past all the naysayers and do the seemingly impossible. When they make that turn of attitude, they play a song in the movie titled Rise above it by Lock Stock and Barrel. I have sung that song many times in my head or out loud and it always works to cheer and bolster me up. Its a wonderful and very entertaining example. Now’s a good time for me to remember this one. Whereas I am working towards resuming employment, but before I do, I need to deal with the abject fear I have over the vulnerability of my situation, hence the MS psychiatrist and MS social workers I will be seeing.

Cool Runnings came up in conversation earlier today with a good friend. I have Netflix and looked it up and was excited to see that they do have it available to watch right now. That’s what I did, I watched it again and again, it inspired me deeply.

Rise Above It lyrics from https://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/coolrunnings/riseaboveit.htm:

Rise rise rise rise

Well, if you’ve got a problem, you’ve got to rise above it
When you face a challenge, you’ve got to rise above it
When you’re back against a wall, only way to go is up
Rise above it, come on and rise above it!
When you think you know your mind is really made up
When your dues have already been paid
Gotta know where to go where angels fear to tread
Only you and me against the world, against it all
If you’ve got a problem, you’ve got to rise above it
And when you face a challenge you’ve got to rise above it
When the sea bubblin high, all around is running dry
Rise above it! Come on and rise above it
When the road seems very long and narrow
Better make the shot go straight just like an arrow
To watch the movie, try Netflix or a movie ordering service on cable.
Bonne Sante

As A Man Thinketh, So Is He

Super busy day today. Did a lot, got a lot done. I’m tired, but happy that I am well enough to be busy and just be tired, not dying. Of course I may be singing a different tune tomorrow, I am looking forward to exercise in the morning and coffee with a friend after. On a different note, I am going to physio on Monday, I want to ask if there is anything that I can do to improve the vertigo balance issues I have. They are neurological, can’t change that except to hope that what I am eating and not eating will improve it. When I am tired, the tight rope feeling is markedly worse. Before, when my walking was so bad, I noticed less the balance problem. I knew I had the damage, but now that my walking is so much better, I notice the vertigo much more. Therefore, it is not a case of it getting worse, just more noticeable due to other neurological problems getting better. I’m wondering if balance exercises could counter an off balance teeter with muscles that control balance might be a temporary answer. Other than that, I practice the belief that I am healed. From the beginning of my Wahls sojourn. The first thing I did was return to an old habit of burning sage morning and night and saying that I am healed as I draw the smoke over me and then “think” abundance.

As a Man Thinketh is a literary essay and book by James Allen,  published in 1903.           It was described by Allen as “… [dealing] with the power of  thought, and particularly         with the use and application of thought to happy and beautiful issues. I have tried to         make the book simple, so that all can easily grasp and follow its teaching, and put               into practice the methods which it advises. It shows how, in his own thought-world,           each man holds the key to every condition, good or bad, that enters into his life, and         that, by working patiently and intelligently upon his thoughts, he may remake his               life, and transform his circumstances. The price of the book is only one shilling, and           it can be carried in the pocket.” [1] It was also described by Allen as “A book that will         help you to help yourself”, “A pocket companion for thoughtful people”, and “A book         on the power and right application of thought.”                                                                                                                                              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As_a_Man_Thinketh

I was introduced to this book 24 years ago. It is a small little book with a big message. Emmet Foxes’ Sermon on the Mount and Around the Year with Emmet Fox are books that have greatly influenced me as well. Emmet Fox was a Christian Scientist who was a founder of The New Thought movement in the 1930’s. I am guessing that he and others were partly influenced by James Allen’s book above. I believe in this, when I start to shred myself and think impossible, then yes, the possible does become impossible and when I think that the impossible is possible, well then the impossible does become possible. I believe that this is what Jesus meant when he said, “The Kingdom of God is “within you”. “Within” means inside, “The Kingdom of God is [inside] you.” That, to me, is a clearly stated and unmistakable directive. It doesn’t mean that we are God, or that we are the Kingdom, it simply means that I have the Power of thought, which when rightly used (positive love) can build up and when badly used (negative fear) can destroy. If I am seen on the outside as strong, respected, educated, whatever, but on the inside I think that I am nothing, then I am nothing, because I will act like nothing. But, even if I am born on the outs, projects, uneducated, disrespected and prejudiced against, the outside world is telling me that I am nothing, but I believe that I am worth something, then I will be worth something. That is the Kingdom of God that I believe that Jesus was teaching about. If the Kingdom of God is inside of me, then I am with God everywhere when I remember to tap into it. I tap into it with thoughtful prayer and follow thru with hard work. “God will help you dig a hole, but you better bring shovel.”

On a side note it is important to explain that I do not consider myself to be religious, but spiritual. There is a big difference, while I respect other’s beliefs whether they be rooted in one religion that works for them, or they be atheist or agnostic, I practice the freedom to pray where I want, with whom I choose and in anyway that moves my Spirit. I have moved freely within many different churches, faiths, cultures and morays. I respect them all, they all had something to teach me, if I close my mind to only one way to reach the “inside” Kingdom of God then I will rob myself of the lessons I can learn from other walks of life and belief systems. What I described above, the power of thought, I am thinking day in and day out that, “I am healed.” And I am backing that up with action to heal myself. And its working. If I did the Wahls Protocol with the constant thought that, “This won’t work” or “this isn’t working” or “I say it is working” to myself, but I don’t believe the statement, then I am still thinking that it isn’t working and so it won’t. Because, you see, I really am what I think.

 

Bonne Sante

 

Picture from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-of-hand-over-white-background-316465/

 

 

 

A day for reminiscing

Its a crisp fall day on a Saturday in 1971. My brother and I are sitting with our feet tucked up under us on kitchen chairs in front of a small TV on the kitchen counter. In our hands are big bowls of cereal in milk. I have Cheerios with enough sugar added that I can scrape up a teaspoon of sugar with every bite and my brother is eating Cap’n Crunch which has a teaspoon of sugar in each crunchy shape. Jacked up on sugar, we squeal when we hear the first strains of, “Scooby Dooby Do, where are you? We got some work to do now.” Saturday was the special cartoon day when cartoons played from early morning till twelve noon on the big channels (ABC, NBC, and CBS), the little channels were PBS and UHF. After, we played outside all day till we heard my mother’s two finger whistle you could hear through the neighborhood calling us in for dinner and later to come in at night time. We did eat badly in those days. Dinner was probably shake and bake chicken with mashed potatoes and canned corn in cream, lunch would’ve been sandwiches on Wonder bread or Campbells soup, my favorite was chicken and stars with saltines. In between snacks might be apples, Fudge-0 cookies, or Lays potato chips.

What we did better back then was play. We only marathon watched TV Saturday mornings, otherwise we were outside playing. Our neighborhood had a call we’d make that any kid from our neighborhood knew and would echo the call back. We’d meet up in the direction we heard the call. We played hard, baseball, tackle games at night, tag, running, biking, sledding, swimming, climbing trees and walking all over the neighborhood. We didn’t make appointments to visit each other, we just showed up at each other’s doors. It was the norm to do that. Late at night before bed was TV time. Which amounted usually to one hour. We’d watch the Brady Bunch or The Partridge Family or Walt Disney World on Sunday nights on the big console TV with our mother, (Dad was working nights and days). As young children, none of us had special interest classes after school. That would start with maybe one thing like Little League baseball, Scouts or for me it was gymnastics. I started that at ten years old and attended class once a week for two hours. We had homework, but not a ton of it. My homework in Grammar school was done in thirty minutes or less, if we had any at all. We had our chores we had to do, like dishes, cleaning my bedroom and dusting on Saturday. Otherwise, we were outside most of the time.

Aside from that, we spent a lot of time with family and our parents. They rarely went anywhere without us. For example, if we went to an adult house party, we went in our pajamas and played with the other kids in their pajamas. These were not falling down drunk parties. These were normal social occasions. My father was a musician and so a lot of these were “guitar” parties. I loved sitting with the adults at the kitchen table because they were so funny. A lot of laughter, lot of humor. We took vacation for two weeks in the summer and stayed in a cottage on the beach. Vacation was spent together. My parents would jump waves with us, we went to the movies on a rainy day and the amusement park at least once. Summer outings were drive in’s, ice cream and on really special occasions, we’d go to a restaurant. Winter outings were, ice skating and once a year a special show like the Ice Capades or Ringling Bros and Bailey Circus.

Family visits were on the weekend. My mother entertained the family at our house often, mostly summer picnics, usually if we did this it was on Saturdays. We had a big yard and a pool. Most Sunday’s we visited family for four hours or more. Holidays were fun. My mother made sure of that. My family on both sides are funny, loud and laid back. No strict morays, no shaming, no sarcasm. They’re mostly dead now, mostly from various addictions, but, they were not mean spirited people. My brother resides these days in Ohio, we don’t talk much anymore, he’s a busy guy. I am in Canada. My son lives near me, my daughter on the other side of the country, but we are in touch weekly. I’m spending the day with my son tomorrow.

But, I will always feel fondly about those days.

What does any of this have to do with the Wahls Protocol? Absolutely nothing. I just wanted to take a moment and meditate on the happiest days of my childhood just because it feels good. This is my way of dealing with my recent homesickness. I find that the best way for me to deal with that is to embrace it and celebrate it by sharing it with others.

 

Bonne Sante

 

Picture of my brother and me on the steps of a cottage we rented for two weeks near Horseneck Beach in Massachusetts. Picture taken around 1968.

 

New/Old Concepts Reunited

Eons ago, it feels like, I worked at a Fish restaurant called Fishland. In the kitchen, sometimes my duties were to prep before we opened. While the cooks prepped the chicken for landlubbers, I made homemade tarter sauce, which was simply equal amounts of relish and mayonnaise. We had two dishwashers from Jamaica. They exclaimed, when the cooks threw out the chicken bones, skin, fat, and innards, “Why are you throwing out half the chicken? That’s all good!” I thought, but its just the bones, icky innards and everyone knows that the skin and fat are bad for you. All these years later, here I am, learning that we were wrong and they were right.

Interesting to me, in the early 90’s I worked with a nurse who’s daughter was in the Peace Corp in Africa (I don’t remember where). Alice would go to Africa for a month every year to be with her daughter. She told us about an odd (to all of us) cultural situation her first time visiting this place in Africa. Out to the best restaurant in the area, Alice ordered Filet Mignon, which turned out to be the cheapest cut of meat on the menu, because, the more fat was in it, the more it was worth and the better it was, Filet Mignon is one of the leanest cuts.

My grandmother was from Calabria, Italy, she immigrated through Ellis Island around 1920 to Worcester, MA. This was her tomato sauce or as my father called it, gravy not sauce.

  • 2-28 oz can tomatoes, 4 cans tomato paste, 8 cans water
  • Chopped garlic and fresh parsley
  • Olive oil to lightly fry garlic before adding the other ingredients (fat)
  • Oregano, basil, crushed red pepper, and bay leaves, salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese (preferably Reggiano)

Meatballs (she didn’t brown them, just dropped them in) (fat)

  • 1 lb ground pork (fat)
  • 1 lb fatty hamburger (fat)
  • 2 eggs (fat)
  • fresh parsley, garlic and Parmesan cheese (fat)
  • 1 tbsp fennel seed
  • Bread crumbs or soaked and torn up stale bread, the same volume as the ground meat
  • salt and pepper

Italian sausage (these would’ve been handmade from D’errico’s Market) browned drain the fat. (fat)

Pig Skin Braciole: Stuffed with Parmesan cheese, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper, rolled up and tied with string. We kids fought over this, much like the salt pork in homemade baked beans. (fat)

Simmer, uncovered four to six hours, stirring occasionally. Serve with fresh Italian bread and more Parmesan cheese.

My mother made this every Sunday for my father. My grandmother taught her, so she could cook it. My mother was Irish, she loved my father’s mother. I never got to know her, I have vague memories of her, she died when I was five years old. We called her Nonny. Note all the (fat) in this. My father showed me a slice of Capicola, he called it “Gabagool”, he pointed out the ribbed fat. This was from D’errico’s, so it had huge slabs of fat through it. He explained to me, that the more fat, the better it is.

That’s what my father taught me, that and that organ meat was everyone’s favorites in the family as children. Then society taught me this:

food-group-the-first-food-pyramid-was-published-in-sweden-in-1974-musngt-clipart

This is the Dr. Wahls pyramid that I am learning to follow:

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In her book she has three levels of diet. Wahls, Wahls Paleo and Wahls Paleo Plus. The last listed is a Nutritional Ketosis or Hunter Gatherer diet. Each one has its own pyramid. In each chapter is a wealth of research, and information about each food and its benefits along with the science of each level and why this heals more than that. Most important to note is that this in no way takes the place of the book. I wouldn’t be able to adequately follow this diet without the book, which is inexpensive to purchase on Amazon. It is a reference guide that I turn to over and over and have had to reread to completely understand all these new/old concepts, depending on how you want to look at it.

My Dad would’ve loved this diet, except for the no Italian bread, no cheese and no “macaroni” part. I get homesick sometimes, lately I’m talking a lot about Massachusetts and thinking about my family. Most are long gone. Ugh, a blue note. I don’t want to end in a downer. Whenever I share my grandmother’s sauce, I honor her memory and I relive half my life eating that sauce. I could have it on the Wahls Protocol. I have to omit the cheese and I would need to substitute the bread crumbs for maybe ground hemp hearts, or ground almonds, or ground flax seed. Something like that. On Wahls other two levels, gluten free bread is a suitable substitute. And on level’s I and II, gluten free pasta is okay, level III, no pasta. But, this sauce is so good, you don’t need it.

Mangia!

 

Bonne Sante

 

Picture of my father in the late 1930’s around four or five years old.

Wahls food pyramid taken from my copy of The Wahls Protocol “How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine by Terry Wahls, M.D.

A puzzle worth solving

It can be very complex being your own doctor. No longer do I blindly give over my life to the medical system while I take no part in learning how my body works.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been my own advocate since 2004 from the first time I fought that statement, “Its stress.” To the final time, this past winter, a MRI, once again, gave proof that it wasn’t just “stress”. Though I’ve said repeatedly how I wished it was just that. Of course, paradoxically, stress is a big contributor to disease. My worse physical attacks have been while under extreme duress. The difference I speak of here, is where my answers are coming from, namely other sciences and unconventional doctors. So, in a way, still from Doctors just not the normal route. These Doctors require, so that I can be most successful, that I know my body and the sciences that govern it of nutrition and environment.

I’ve followed the Wahls Protocol as closely as I can for it is very precise and extremely detailed. There is volumes to learn. I don’t want that to sound discouraging, it required that I put the same amount of energy that I had put into living disabled into a changed mindset of getting well. I just needed a route that could be effective. And this was it. No longer hopeless, I had hope. No longer did I have to sit idly by and be a victim. I could actually do something about this and not wait for the day I would be bedridden. As I follow this, there is always something else to work on. For example, I’m still largely adjusting to living on a Nutritious Ketosis diet. The most recent issue, which I’ve blogged about as it was ongoing, was feelings of depression and overwhelming sleepiness. After a couple weeks of this, I finally found an article which I gave a link to on that particular day on my blog. The answer was that I wasn’t eating enough fat for my body’s energy needs on the Ketosis diet and I wasn’t eating enough protein, the bare minimum was all I was having. Since increasing both, my energy is increasing, my depression has dissipated and the sleepiness has completely lifted. So, that was it. It required me to do research, find what I was missing nutritionally, thanks to Dr. Wahls and my willingness to learn forming a base knowledge of Ketosis from which to start from, having read Wahls book several times, articles on the net, other’s experiences on the Wahls Facebook group, I found my answer.

At present, I am working on figuring out why I am losing so much hair. I have thick hair and woe to the person who lives with me, they gotta deal with that too. I’ve always lost a lot of hair and incredibly, my hair remains thick. But, this, is too much and unusual, and coming right from the roots. My intuition says it is the Ketosis diet, I am lax on a few things as I had mentioned in a previous blog, one of which is bone broth, another seaweed and still another organ meat. I feel the answer probably lies with one of these, or a supplement I need to take, like Q10. I will research what could cause hair loss nutritionally, then go from there. No longer is it a call to the Doctor, or just do nothing at all. I am my own Doctor and I am responsible to find the answers. The good news? The answers are out there! If its there, being the tenacious sort that I am, I’ll find it.

I do crosswords daily. Its one of my cognitive exercises and something I enjoy doing. I was intimidated by crosswords for years, I’d try one every now and then, and unless it was super easy, I’d give up after a minute or two. See, on a harder puzzle, I would suspect the answer, but have no confidence in my choice, then give up. Until I lived with a friend for two years who is an avid crossword enthusiast. You know the type, does the Sunday New York Times puzzle, one of the those. I started doing some of the medium puzzles lying around the house in books that had the answers in the back, and I began to realize that those answers I suspected, were nine out of ten times correct, but weren’t proven yet by the “crossword”. I changed my attitude. I filled in the word with what I felt was probably it even if I couldn’t prove it yet, and I began solving crossword puzzles. I’m still not great, but I do the medium ones with ease now and can do half of some hard ones.

This is like that, trust your intelligence, trust your intuition, do the foot work and you’ll reap the rewards. You just have to want it bad enough.

 

Bonne Sante

 

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Passed!

Where am I coming up short on the Wahls Protocol and where I am doing well. I need to reflect on this often. This is medicine for me, so it is important for me to assess and reassess my progress implementing the protocol into my life. Am I still vigilant, am I slacking off. Where am I at with it.

Vegetables: I am doing well most days with my vegetables. I need to eat equal amounts of sulphers, colored, and greens. From there I need to vary them. Dr. Wahls suggests that we should be eating over 200 species over the course of a year. I vary them well, but I can get into a rut with that. For example, greens, I eat a lot of spinach and mixed greens. There’s a whole lot more. Sulphers, I think are most varied for what is available. Colors, medium. Next, how am I doing in regards to raw versus cooked. It is suggested on Wahls III level for nutritional Ketosis that more raw is better. I am doing well here, everyday, I have two servings of raw veggies, either in the form of a smoothie, salad or Cole slaw. Final word on veggies, organic vs not organic. I am doing as well as I can afford. I can’t go all organic, but what I do do is shop using the clean 15 list/dirty dozen. Good article with the list here on Global News: Global News 2017 clean 15/dirty dozen  Grade: A (increase varieties in some categories)

Proteins: I need between 6 to 12 oz per day. I just needed to make a readjustment here, I was eating the bare minimum and often less than that. It is suggested to eat clean meats, whole, no antibiotics, growth hormones, grass fed, free range. I do the best I can with what I can afford. I worked hard to source the best prices and quality. I buy wild caught fish, I should be eating mostly salmon and other oily fish varieties, however, not a big fan, I eat cod, shrimp and canned tuna several times a week. I need to revisit salmon and try to make a better effort. What I am doing right, I eat fish two to three times per week. When I started this, that number was zero. Grade B+  (better with the fish)

Fats: I have completely eliminated whole butter and vegetable oils. I use coconut oil, saturated fat like bacon drippings, ghee (clarified butter) and extra virgin olive oil for drizzling (not to be cooked with). What did need to be adjusted due to level III, was I wasn’t eating enough, I need to eat a lot of fat on this level. A+

Nuts and seeds: 4 oz a day. All nuts and seeds are included except peanuts. The other stipulation is that they be soaked on levels II and III. So, I’ve done good in that I have completely given up peanuts and peanut butter in favor of almonds, walnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts and butters made from almonds or cashews. I have flax seeds, chia seeds and sesame seeds. I soaked them once. Almonds. And they were fine, Soaked eight hours, dried on a towel, pan toasted, making them crispy again. Its the habit, I have not gotten myself dedicated to yet. On the list. C (need to commit to soaking)

Fermented foods: Suggestion is one serving a day. I am doing well here. Although, this one took me some time to understand. Per day I have one of the following a 1/2 cup Kombucca tea, homemade coconut milk yogurt, fermented pickles in brine, nutritional yeast in my smoothies or sprinkled over cooked food. If I run out of fermented foods (money issues) then I supplement with probiotics I only use for that, they last months that way (less expensive). A+

Organ meats: Technically listed in with proteins. Suggested amount is 12 oz a week. This has been a tough one for me. I tried them, my valiant try was liverwurst. Not much of a try if I am to be honest with myself. I settled on desiccated liver pills. I bought one bottle, lasted me two months. Ran out two months ago. Let that go over money. Eating it would be better and cheaper. This has to be worked on, because it is an important component. I am failing organic meat. F (Need to work harder at trying to learn to do this)

Seaweed/algae: Daily. I’ve worked on this. I bought Hawaiian Spiralina capsules to take with water. This worked out best for me. Something else, I am not a fan of eating. They are expensive, so I invested in loose Spiralina powder. That bag would’ve lasted months, but yick. Did not work for me, I’m looking to capsules or I may bring myself to try Nori snacks. Working on a solution. B (for on going effort to incorporate).

Excluded foods: Dairy, Gluten, and on level III all forms of sugar. I am doing great here, I am very strict with these. Sugar was hardest on coffee, which I love with lots of cream and sugar. I have learned to drink it black or with full fat coconut milk. Coconut milk is the only milk I can have on Level III. I’m doing well with that. I’m okay without Gluten. I eat cooked sweet potatoes that I should, technically twice a week with a lot of coconut oil, I eat them probably four times a week on average. I’m okay here. Otherwise, its all good. Although, I do miss bananas and sweet fruits. I can only have one cup of berries a day. I mostly miss the sweeter fruits in smoothies. I need to work on finding a better smoothie mix. The one I make isn’t far from green sludge. More research. B (I am not 100% compliant on on the occasional eating out situations, always compliant with Wahls, but, slack off a little on level III, maybe have a white potato, or forgive the fact that the oil is probably Canola oil and use it anyway on my salad).

Supplements: This is an area that I have had to work ridiculously hard to understand, source for quality and creatively figure out ways that I can purchase the most important ones, If I can adequately figure out what those are. I give myself an A+ for the constant hard work I put into this.

Water: I don’t drink enough, never have, old bad habit. I’m lucky if I drink three full glasses per day. Needs to be more. And it needs to be filtered. Which, I am not doing, yet. I need to invest in a filtering system of some kind. Its on the list. In the mean time, I am trying to talk myself into drinking tea later in the day and I can include the coffee, which I haven’t, I have one to two cups a day. D (increase and filter)

Natural products versus toxic: I am progressing here, slowly, but surely. I gave away my microwave (Wahls is against them). I am old enough to remember living very well I might add, without them. The transition was easier than I expected. I like the counter space it freed up. Got rid of Teflon pans and replaced them with ceramic and stainless steel. As used up the cleaning supplies and personal products, I have been replacing them with all natural. I can’t afford to through everything out I have and replace at once, this taken the last seven months to do, but I just about there. I switched to a fancy “all natural” toothpaste which has a ton of ingredients and is $8.00 a tube. Finished that off and am doing what Wahls suggested. I keep a jar of coconut oil next to a jar of baking soda. Next to these is a bottle of Peppermint essential oil. Drag brush in oil, then dip in baking soda  and a drop or two of Peppermint oil. That’s it. Its not bad. This is working well. This is the latest habit I incorporated. A

Electrical Stimulation and Physical Therapy: This is one that I have written a lot about as of late. I have worked on this since July. Long and short of it, I have the machine and am waiting for physical therapy paper work and bureaucracy to go through. Soon, I think, hopefully in the next three weeks. In the mean time, I have the machine and need to incorporate the habit of spending at least 20 minutes with a day. I have incorporated the three exercises into my workouts that are specifically for this. A (working hard on this)

Exercise: I workout four days a week, religiously. It wasn’t hard to talk me into this, I love to exercise. Its my anti depressant and I thoroughly enjoy it. I swim and circuit train. With that, I take walks. A+

Stress Relief: I am lucky here as well, I am already in the habit of meditation, group support, and working gratitude into my life daily and I have a personal relationship with a Higher Power that I rely on for strength and guidance. B+ (can always work at being better at this)

Further Detoxing: I take Epsom and sea salt baths and I use the steam room at the gym twice a week to help with this. B (not as vigilant as I should be)

Overall grade: I give myself an average B

I think, all considering, that that’s good. We’ll call this my mid term exam and revisit towards the end of my first year.

 

Bonne Sante

 

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