Imagine taking care of your family and doing the best you can when all of a sudden you collapse. You do not remember what happened, but you are in the ER with your family around you, horrible metallic taste in your mouth, and an IV in your hand…Turns out you had an unexpected seizure of unknown causes. You get all the tests done and your GP says you need to change your lifestyle. Your Testosterone dropped to 12, good cholesterol is at 18 while the bad is soaring at 160% too high. On top of all this, your liver and kidneys are about to shut down.
A few weeks go by, you end up having more seizures and over the course of 6 weeks, you have six. The cause of which is still not known and you are left scratching your head about what else to do. The Dr. puts you on a statin drug to control your cholesterol and does nothing else.
After talking with a neurologist, we decided that there really was nothing else to do. I suffered an injury to my neck damaging several disks in my thoracic and cervical spine. The X-rays also showed bone fragments from C-4, 5, 6, and 7. I was diagnosed with scoliosis as a kid, which explains why I now have nerve damage in my upper back. Later on, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and the repeated beatings of life just kept on going. With all this, I went into a deep dark depression in which almost cost me everything I cared for.
You can ask yourself, was it diet? Was it my weight? Maybe it was a result of my back injury…To be honest; I think it was a mixture of all three. I would also add that is was food additives and sweeteners. My weight at its highest point reached 280. Granted that is not bad considering I have seen people that are 300 plus. The strange part of that is, I know a few personally that have worst diets than I did and do not have these health issues. This is what is perplexing to me. However, this is not the purpose of this article; it is getting away from things that are designed to kill us. Do not take this the wrong way; I am still working on this myself. I am working on getting away from many things. I am finding it to take time, discipline, and a ton of education and dedication. For those thinking that you can just jump in and easily make these types of life changes, believe me, it will not work. Take a step back and evaluate your entire situation. Look at your lifestyle along with everything little thing you put in your body. From there, slowly take steps to remove the ones that are harmful and replace them with a real healthy alternative.
Through the research I have done throughout the last year, I am finding that simply starting to exercise is not only dangerous but, in many cases, it will not work. Do not listen to people that tell you that you need to get active. This too will come in time. You have to slowly build your body up to there you can handle certain activities. Due to my injury, it took me close to a year before I could get up and go for a half mile walk. Today, I am up to 2 miles a day. I took the time to work my way up to avoid serious injury to the connective tissues and soft tissues in my joints. This is something you have to keep in mind while you are trying to be healthy.
Also, understand that your diet will have a lot to do with your health and maintenance. I have actually become obsessed over calorie counting. I find myself getting upset because everything out there is so bad for us. I get frustrated because it seems I cannot enjoy food anymore. This is not the case either. I will from time to time take a day for myself as a reward and cheat. I will cheat like bloody hell on that day. I will still incorporate my daily activities, but I will eat whatever my heart desires. I recommend doing this once a month but no more than every two weeks. I find that this will confuse your body and break the routine of constant calorie counting. This will also help once you reach that weight loss brick wall. For me, this was at 225. For the life of me, I could not drop below this number. I decided to have a cheat day and make a plan to ramp things up at that point. I was already feeling better at the 225 mark. Therefore, I decided to get a bit more active and walk the 2 miles instead of my normal mile I had started with. I also added more house activities as well. Now get a little irritated if I see my wife doing the dishes (playfully said). I will not let that be “her place” if you understand where I am coming from.
I had tried to loose weight before and did a decent job of it. The problem I had was the weight bench I had at the time, caused some pain then the further injury to my spine occurred after a fall. This time it was life or death. I think that can be a huge motivator to change, most likely the best there is. I understand that we all die and we only live once. I get the mentality; I was one of those people too. Now I have changed my attitude and I really do not want to suffer from the issue that these things can and will cause.
During this time, I was even a pack a day smoker. I had tried to quit several times with no success, even using Chantix I could not make it past the third month. This time, however, with the aid of Chantix I have made it for 8 months. This time I only used Chantix for 6 weeks. It is all about mindset. With death looming or seemingly looming you will change your habits.
Now let us talk a little bit about what I do eat and drink. First off, no soda at all. This includes anything that has high sugar content. This includes sports drinks, soda, and lemonade, all of it. Save it for a cheat day (or meal) if you choose. For me, all I drink is water or unsweetened tea. I will splurge at times and add lemon if I am feeling saucy. At first, this seemed like a curse. I was so hooked on Mt Dew that I went through some of the worse withdraws of my life. Headaches, dizziness, disorientation, mental confusion, the list can go on. I also went through this with the diet change as well. I switched many foods that I would normally eat with preservatives to freshly made from scratch ingredients. This change also triggered serious withdraws. From this point, I changed what I was eating altogether.
Today, I will not eat processed foods, fried foods, high sugar foods, refined carbohydrates, or even certain meats. Even on a cheat day for me, there are limits. I will eat beef from time to time. I will also eat pork in heavy moderation. Mostly the protein I get is from fish, nuts, and very lean meats. The majority of my diet is now roughly 90% vegetables. From time to time, I will have other foods. If I have a video planned where I will have to go against my diet, I will plan for it by arranging certain food items or amp up the physical activity.
After I started these changes, I found I had to buy new clothing. I also decided I did not want to wear Cannibal Corpse shirts or other graphic Ts anymore. I still have them and I still wear them on certain occasions; however, I needed to be taken a little more seriously. With the life turn around, I wanted to reward myself for making the changes and sticking with them. I now only wear my jeans or military pants and shirts when I am filming a video or out rattlesnake hunting. For my average dress, I will prefer jeans and Henley or even a V-neck. I will even dress up and add a nice button up shirt with a good leather belt. If you do this, remember that your shoes should always match the belt, Not only in color but also material. It looks fantastic! For shoes, I like kicks like Vans or Nike’s. I even wear Fila and Dr. Martens.
I do not think I am any kind of expert by any stretch of the word. All I am trying to do is show you what I have done and maybe you can do the same. I know many of us have an issue with the computer; my problem is that is my livelihood. My days are spent on the computer writing, taking and editing photos or doing videos, fixing issues with the websites, and even posting on my many social media pages. This puts me in the mostly sedentary class. Even with this, we can change the way we eat and ultimately change our health and our medical future. It is all baby steps, but they will lead you to a much better future. I am still working on it!
Update 2/22/17: This is a photo of the full progression of my diet. I am still fighting and trying to keep the weight off. I now exercise regularly (when the weather allows) and try to maintain my diet. The sad part, however, is the hole that all this left. It is like a void that I am trying to fill. The things I used to do, do not do it for me anymore. I am looking into new prospects and trying for new adventures. Considering where I live, that could prove to be easier said than done.
My walking took me up to 6 and even 8 miles a day. I will be returning to this in the spring and summer. Fall and winter, however, is not my friend at all. I have had the worse fibromyalgia flares in my life due to the constant change from warm to cold. Low-pressure systems even tend to flare it. I developed a butterfly rash that appears on my face during times of heavy fibromyalgia activity. This takes its toll on all of my activities. My video production stops as does my full exercise routine. On good days, when the weather is warm, I hammer out my 100 pushups and situps per day. I will do this as well as many other exercises, but these are the most important to me.