3Looks like you have stumbled across my blog! One in a million I suppose and I guess I am a little late to the party, but hey you gotta start somewhere. I am fascinated by health for many reasons. From the complexities of the relationship between physiology and psychology to even how economics and politics influence our thoughts around health are endlessly interesting to me. This post is about my background and what has led me to where I stand today
My Family Background
Born into a family of five and raised by a single mom in near poverty, I would say my initial exposure to health could be considered interesting. We were raised vegetarian almost by circumstance because meat was likely too expensive. In addition to that my absent father was a Rastafarian, which adheres to specific eating requirements that may have influenced my mom’s cooking style. I’m not too sure really. The government was gracious enough to help put a roof over our heads and provide a paltry stipend of around 300 dollars per month. Not surprisingly this does not get you very far especially when spread between 6 mouths.
Nevertheless, my mom Michele did an amazing job of making sure we were fed healthy whole foods for the most part. Seating for dinner at our house was pretty much free range. It was very rare that the five of us could be corralled long enough to consume an entire meal together. The idea of sitting and eating rather than doing two things at once, did not suit my hyperactive personality. When my mom could manage to get all five of us in the same place it was either fireworks or a comedy show hosted by my brother accompanied by my farts! It was great times really looking back, even though my mom really had to scrape together what she could. The excess that is being consumed in the country right now was not even on our radar.
My personal relationship with food: an introduction to Sugar!
My personal relationship with food has been a sorted affair. Despite being shaped by the context provided above, I never felt a lack in the area of food. As an innocent child I was in no way aware that others may have had more than we did. I just carried on farting away loving broccoli and canned beans. As I look back a few key moments stand out in my personal food history. The first was my losing of innocence. My mom was very careful not to expose us to sugar. From my clarity on the topic now it is obvious why. We spent a lot of time at my Aunt Kathy’s house and she let a little more slide. I believe she used to drink Pepsi and she even had sugar in the house, which was pretty extreme compared to what I was used to at my house. I always noticed it sitting atop the refrigerator tempting me.
One day, when I was three years old, my curiosity got the better of me. I asked about the bag that seemed forbidden because of it’s placement, “What’s that?”
“Sugar” Kathy replied.
I knew that was something I was not supposed to have, but of course being a three year old, that is all I wanted. I believe this moment shaped my life all the way up to now.
My first taste of sugar was an entire spoonful. I swear to you it was like how the heroine addict describes taking that first injection and flying to the moon. Everything was right in the world. I can honestly tell you I have been chasing that high in one way or another ever since. It was my first exposure to an altered state. I generated a world around getting sugar. By the time I was 8 or 9, I would traverse all around town collecting cans. Then I would return them to at the local Dari-Mart and buy assortment of nickel and penny candies. Next I would get home and eat as many as I could before I got sick. That served as a break from what I was increasingly becoming more aware was a dysfunctional home.
Sugar addiction, an Unknowingly Progressive Disease
This was a progressive habit that followed a typical addiction progression paradigm. By the time I was in college I was eating an entire “It’s It”, and snickers bar, a bag of skittles and a bag of chips all in one sitting. Because I was so physically active, this behavior didn’t really catch up to me as far a my physical appearance is concerned. What I was not aware of is what was going on internally. By the time I finished college and entered the real world working as a personal trainer, I had no idea that the way I was eating could cause some problems to my health. At the time my major concern with food is that I seemed to always be hungry. I would choke down some breakfast then 2 to 3 hours later I would need to eat again. This cycle aggravated me for several reasons. First, as a personal trainer my schedule can be kind of odd. At times I would not be able to eat for 6 hours and let me tell you, you did not want to be my client if I hadn’t had a recent feeding. I pretty much lived my life like a newborn baby: crying and grumpy if I hadn’t eaten recently.
“Well that’s ok” I would tell myself all I need to do is eat on a regular basis and I would be fine.
And then came the skin issues. It’s about to get a little gross so skip ahead if you are squeamish. All of my life I had problems with the skin on my back. I never knew the source. I tried various medications, but they always came with warnings that I could not be in the sun. I couldn’t do that so I rarely took them. Besides, I always had an aversion to taking any medication. More recently, about 2 years ago, I started to notice some odd marks on my legs. They look almost like there was something eating my skin in a centimeter diameter space. There would be like 4 or five clustered in an area. They would last for a while. I had sores on my back that were pretty much always there and now some weird flesh eating virus. I went to the doctor to check out the latter and they knew nothing. This was typical for me. I would go to the doctor with a problem and they would say something to the effect of “we don’t know what that is, you are out of luck, now give me 200 bucks”
I would leave frustrated with no answer on how to address my symptoms. Of course they never asked me any questions about what I eat or did any blood any panels for me. I think they see me as lean and fit and figure that is not the problem. The problem is that my symptoms kept getting worse. Finally I had that crazy out break over about 60% of my body of this itchy rash. I went to the dermatologist and they told me that I am allergic to myself and was essentially attacking myself. Later I would learn this was a form of autoimmune disease. Still no answers. They stuck me with a cortisone shot and sent me on my way. This time I spent about $600 on various creams and dr. visits, to still have no answers.
On the Pathway Towards the Answer
It wasn’t until I met my beautiful partner Colleen that I got some access to the light!
I am a man of science. My B.S is in Exercise Physiology. When someone claims efficacy for anything, my response in the past typically was “show me the proof”
I would ask, “Where is the data to back up that claim? Have there been any peer reviewed studies on that topic?”
I now know how severely limited that belief system those questions originate from is. Those questions left me reliant on a massive machine (big-pharma, the government, university studies) for answers to questions that the machine might not be asking. And it is likely the machine does not have my best interests in mind. (Please note that I have not rejected science in any way.) I am not some crazy conspiracy theorist blaming the government and big pharma for all of the problems people face in the interest of profit. I don’t care about that. It’s likely just a coincidence anyway. Also, I am not going to waste my time looking into the intentions of a system that is clearly flawed.
Instead I will focus on what I can do to take my health into my own hands. Still if I recommend anyone do anything there is either a study to back it up or underlying physiological theory that is as close to law as possible or I will say it’s pure speculation. I’m not one of these people that does not agree with the scientific method. But I am open to trying new things, even before a study has been conducted about it. That is a pretty big stretch for my old self. At any rate, Colleen told me that I need to put oil on my skin, eat a lot of cilantro and have my final mercury cavity removed. I did all of those things and my rash went away. That was the start of a journey in which I completely lost faith in a system I have come to trust and believe in. I started asking new questions. I made it my goal to always try to remove what is ailing me, rather than try to treat the symptom without changing my behaviors. The result is that I am healthier and happier than I ever have been.