We discuss in this interview:

  • Lori’s first RA symptoms in her early twenties
  • Breastfeeding and RA
  • Exercise and dietary mistakes
  • Antibiotics and RA onset
  • Difficulty in correctly diagnosing RA
  • How being presented with a mix of drugs led her to further research
  • Progressive improvements with the Paddison Program
  • Adding Bikram Yoga
  • Lori is now completely med-free
  • Strategies to come off medications
  • Using an instant pot

Clint – Welcome back to the Rheumatoid Solutions podcast. If you are a new listener to this show, then what we do is provide information that is science-based and anecdotal, and community-based and personal, all aligned towards reducing inflammatory arthritis symptoms. So it could be rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, and all of the variations of pain that present as joint swelling in an autoimmune sense. And many times on the show, we bring on guests who share their stories with the Paddison Program for Rheumatoid Arthritis, something that I evolved to around about 9 or 10 years ago after recovering from my crippling rheumatoid arthritis. Today we have a guest who’s going to share that story. And so much more today is going to really, really enlighten you about how you can make this sort of lifestyle work in a family that doesn’t all eat this way. We’re going to talk about antibiotics. We’re going to talk about non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. We’re going to talk about the onset of RA after childbirth. And my guest to do all of these things is such a wonderful human being. Her name is Lori and we met at a live event that I put on in Anaheim back in September 2017, before COVID, and when everyone could just go to a hotel and set up a bunch of chairs and do a presentation without any concerns. And since then, we’ve remained friends and she’s been part of our rheumatoid support community online during that time, and she’s now inspiring others with her story of recovery from rheumatoid arthritis. She was going through some really, really, really challenging times. She’ll explain those in just a minute and so much more. So, Lori, it’s been a long time coming, for this podcast. Thanks for joining me.

Lori – Thank you so much. It’s definitely an honor to be here.

Clint – Now, Lori, give us the sort of the before and after, the 62nd clip that we can then share online, so people get excited about this episode. Like just give us like a real quick couldn’t do this, now I can do this, and then we’ll get into the details.

Lori – Okay? In my late early twenties, I would say I, starting from then, have always had some sort of body aches and pains, mainly my knees. And eventually, it snowballed, you know, over various reasons into an autoimmune condition, which I later learned was rheumatoid arthritis. And basically went from in my early twenties feeling like I was trapped in a body of an 80-year-old woman. You know, I always used to say that. I always used to say I just don’t feel my age because I always woke up with aches and pains. To my low point I had, I had to have two surgeries on both my wrists. There were times when my son would want to hold my hand and I couldn’t hold his hand and imagine picking him up, playing with him, taking them to the park, different things like that. Just going from being a very capable, strong person to kind of being completely unable to do anything. To now where I’m off all meds, I have so much energy all the time, and I’ve never felt better. And so just night and day, I would say.

Clint – Oh, no doubt about it. Did you ever reflect on what may have actually triggered this? I mean, did you go back to look at childhood years like were you, for example, a cesarean birth, lots of ear infections, lots of antibiotics, and then milk, milk, and then artificial milk. I mean, there are some connections that you’ve made about what may have been the trigger at such a young age.

Lori – Like Steve Jobs says, looking back, you could connect the dots. And for me, it’s very clear, and it’s funny, you said the breast milk and the cesarean because I remember when I first signed up for your program, that was a question that was on your survey. And I was very interested as to why you asked that, so it’s a topic I really looked into. But yes, I was a cesarean birth and my mom was hospitalized immediately after my birth. So there was no breastfeeding, no skin to skin, none of that. And then my childhood, when I look back at how I ate, looking back now, although we eat a lot of nutritious home foods, a lot of it was high in fat, high in oil, dairy every single day. You know, I’m Middle Eastern, so we love to cook and it’s very flavorful and very delicious. But a lot of times it’s not the most healthy. And the difference for me, I was always very athletic, I was very sporty, I was always playing basketball and volleyball. So I kind of got away with eating terribly, you know? And I never had a weight issue, never had. But I would eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I never restricted myself in that sense. And the problems didn’t start until after high school when all of a sudden I stopped being active and stopped the exercise. I would say around 19, 20 is where, you know, I still was eating the same way, but nowhere near the same amount of exercise. So that’s kind of when the issue started for me.

Clint – Yeah, it’s a great illustration of a phrase that I like, which is exercise forgives dietary mistakes.

Lori – 100%.

Clint – Yes. And so this is, for example, a great little side note about something like the paleo diet or the keto diet. And the people who I see managing to uphold that diet and keep symptoms sufficiently controlled are using a tremendous amount of exercise in their life and therefore, which is a wonderful thing and therefore in some cases are able to still maintain the negative impacts of meat of which there are countless. And I’m not saying that it’s a smart strategy at all, it’s not. But exercise forgives dietary mistakes, but it won’t forgive the majority of people who have rheumatoid arthritis and allow them to get away with eating meat. Was there any additional trigger? Like, was there an additional dose of antibiotics prior? I think it was after your first childbirth, right?

Lori – No. Kind of like you, I think you had antibiotics you took for acne. Yeah. And like, I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Have you seen that movie?

Clint – Oh, a long time ago. Yeah.

Lori – Yeah. Okay. So the dad in that, like, every time something’s an issue, he says, oh, put Windex on it, you know? And my dad, it was like, take an antibiotic. Like, no matter what you had, it was taken an antibiotic. I kind of grow up in that in that world of take Motrin, take antibiotics, take this. So aside from that, I had some acne issues as well. So I had antibiotics when I was maybe 16 and I would just refill them, I didn’t even have to go see the doctor I would call it in, and they would refill it. And I think I was on it for 2 to 3 years.

Clint – Oh, there you go Lori, bless you. You and I what did we do to ourselves?

Lori – Like knowing what I know now about antibiotics. I’m just like, that’s why I said you could connect the dots, right? Then when I started working, it was right out of high school. So I was eating the same way I was eating, we would have pizza contests, pizza eating contests at lunch. And then, I was on my feet 8 hours a day I was working at the bank as a teller. So my knees would be in awful pain, awful pain. And now we’d have to take anywhere from like 9 to 12 Motrin a day, you know, at 18 or 19. So and again, I never thought it was so bad. You know, it’s on the warning label. But I was just like, oh, my mindset at the time was just, you know, whatever you got to do, I didn’t put priority on my health or my body. It was just get what you need to get done, basically. And then I went through a lot of personal stress in my life, 2007, 2008, 2009 and then. So I think that played a big role, knowing what I know now about stress and leaky gut and just the role of the mindset. And then it didn’t all kind of come together until after I had my first son. I got into great shape prior to having him. I found cycling, which pretty much cured my knee pain, it was amazing, but it was intense every single day. Then once I got pregnant at around five months, I stopped exercising. And then I had my son and then my issue started a few months after him.

Clint – And in an episode with Dr. Richard Matthews called hormones and rheumatoid arthritis, if you go back through the show listings on our podcast. We talk about the hormone changes through pregnancy and the impact that this can play on autoimmunity. And Dr. Matthews talks about a lovely, lovely I love this word, he calls he says the precipitous as in falling off a precipice, change in hormones in the female body after childbirth. And so you’ve got the most extraordinary change of hormonal activity as the body readjusts from being in a pregnant state to back to a regular nonpregnant state. The changes are so fast and sometimes that is a very high-risk position for symptom exacerbation or developing rheumatoid arthritis. And so you’ve got these two classic scenarios in terms of what caused this. You’ve got the classic taking antibiotics a lot as a teenager for acne, which is my story in so many others. And then you’ve got that, unfortunate circumstances after childbirth. So at least as you say, there are a lot of dots to connect there.

Lori – Yeah. I’m very interested in labor and pregnancy and the hormone changes I’ve studied, and my first birth was completely different from my second birth. During my first birth, I stopped exercising at five months, mainly because everybody scared me, I just didn’t know any better. And my last month, I was pretty much on the couch or in bed because I had sciatic pain. I didn’t know the yoga poses you could do when the, you know, different things. And I really wish I stayed more active, I think that would have helped. Also a lot of people don’t realize that labor itself is I had some I heard someone say it’s like trauma to the body because of what your body goes through during that. If you have someone who has that already recipe for disaster broiling, I mean it makes sense how it kind of pushes it off the edge. Even things like getting an epidural versus not getting an epidural or the hormonal changes that go on in your body that naturally help you cope with labor may not be happening. So definitely, I think the hormones play a big part. It’s also the physical aspect, just what you go through and then the demands of the newborn, as I’m sure you know. So it kind of just presents the right circumstances.

Clint – Thanks for expanding my comments into a much better, better summary. There’s way more to it, isn’t there, than the hormones. All of those extra things you talk about they’re going to play a huge, huge role. So well done. Thank you. My limited statement has definitely improved. We’ve got so much to cover here, you’ve got some great insights to share and all these wonderful things I want to talk about. So in terms of your story, let’s just talk about really like where were you suffering the most? Where was it hitting you? What limitations did you have? And then let’s move straight into transitioning after we met to lifestyle changes, what you did, and then we’ll share a whole bunch of tips and so on. So let’s, let’s talk about the struggle time, so if you don’t mind.

Lori – So for me what was hard is that it didn’t present itself very clearly with blood at the beginning. So that was one of the first things my doctor did. Oh, let’s do a rheumatology panel and it came back negative, so he just ruled it out, I never went to a rheumatologist at that point. So I was always referred to orthopedic, orthopedic, orthopedic. So it was very much the approach of let’s wear splints, let’s do cortisone injections, let’s do an MRI. So I went through after my son, my wrist got really bad to the point where I couldn’t pick him up or put him down, get him in and out of a car seat, it was just really bad. So after trying a lot of the therapies that were available, we did MRI and found out that I had tendonitis and at that point, I was starting to get numbness in my fingers and a lot of tingling to where sometimes I couldn’t feel my fingertips. And so we did nerve tests and things like that. That’s where they recommended surgery to take care of my tendons. And then once I did the surgeries, I didn’t get better, you know, all of a sudden now I was getting pain in my elbow and then in my shoulder and then my knees were always a problem.

Lori – So my surgeon, my orthopedic surgeon, he said, I think what’s happening is biological, I think you need to see a rheumatologist. So this wasn’t until well into I think my son was two and a half at that point that I saw a rheumatologist. Finally like started to think for the first time that this was an autoimmune type of condition. Since I wasn’t showing the blood markers, she kind of did this approach where it was, let’s see what drugs you respond to and that it’s like a process of elimination type of thing. So I went on Plaquenil first, then that did nothing for me. I went on Sulfasalazine which helped a little. Then she put me on colchicine and then I had a bad reaction to that, and then she wanted to put me on Humira. So this was about 10 months from when I saw her. At that point she said, you have what I think your symptoms present themselves as RA, so I’m going to treat you for RA. When she recommended Humira was when I was getting lots of calls from her office like, so you’re ready to take the Humira? And I said, Well, let me look into this, I want to know what this is. And when I researched Humira, I didn’t like it, I didn’t want to go on that. And I told my husband at the time, I said, it’s okay if I have to go on this at some point, but I don’t feel like I’ve explored all my options. I want it to be like my last resort, I don’t want to okay just get on this pill. Because at that point I was learning about the I think it was when I had discovered I had just discovered your program and medications and I just didn’t want to go that route without trying other things, and that’s when I found you. At that point, I was in a lot of pain, I couldn’t cut my own food. I couldn’t do anything for my son, really. I would breastfeed him and then my husband would have to come and put him back in bed, things like that to that extent. And at that point, I was taking whatever medication I was on at the time, plus the 12 Motrin a day just to get through the day.

Lori – Once I started your program. Gosh, there’s so much that goes into it. But after that started getting better, slowly, gradually. When I started your program it was right in that period of starting Humira. I didn’t want to start it, so I didn’t have any medication when I first started. Looking back, I probably should have gone on medication but for the first year I would say I tried to do it without medication. And that was tough because there are flare-ups and things like that, and you want to keep the inflammation down. I think that’s one of the big things with your program, I would flare up for something and then it would take me a long time to get back to where I was. So yeah, I did your program and about a year into it, I was feeling really good. I started your program September 2016, and then I started Bikram in January 2017 and literally tried to follow your program textbook and it worked really well for me for so many years. And now I’m at the point where, like I said, I’m off all meds. I think I took my last dose of methotrexate in maybe April of 2018.

Clint – Wow. So you did go on methotrexate for a period of time.

Lori – Yeah. Going back about a year into your program, I had hit a wall where there was a little bit of inflammation and I couldn’t. There are so many variables, I think, as you know, with obviously, you know, with the program, it’s not just the food, it’s how much sleep you’re getting, how much stress you’re under, the weather, just so many different variables that it’s so hard to control. And I think that’s why I made the decision to go on the methotrexate along with my rheumatologist, who just to keep those variables to where if I wasn’t perfect with the food or if I couldn’t do something, I wasn’t having to take so many steps back. I wasn’t having to fall behind so to say.

Clint – I love it as a strategy, and in only recent times I’ve been repeating this a little because not everyone sees everything I do. But methotrexate has been shown to reduce leaky gut. So this is something that’s only come to my attention in the last 6 months as I’ve seen the studies, and I’m confident about this now. And so, it’s a supportive strategy to take methotrexate in our journey towards trying to heal naturally. It’s it’s not a natural thing, obviously, it’s an artificial medication. However, it helps us achieve the goals of our natural strategy. And what’s interesting as well is that the mechanisms that I believed as to why it reduces leaky gut is purely because it lowers inflammation. Inflammation is the number one cause of leaky gut. The intestinal wall is hyper sensitive to local inflammation around the gut wall.

Lori – Yeah. And to me, it was like I experienced that firsthand because once I would have a flare up, it was so hard to control. It was like this fire that you’re trying to put out and then and then it kind of snowballs, right? Because then your mind plays a factor and so it’s kind of this whole snowball effect. And what you taught me early on, that inflammation causes more inflammation, and then so I learned it the hard way. And I think you did tell me to get on some meds at the beginning, but I was very interested in having more kids, and methotrexate scared me because you can’t have children when you’re methotrexate. But then it came to a point where this is going to help me heal faster, and it did. So I did get on methotrexate and it was hard because it causes a lot of fatigue and drains your energy. So, I didn’t love being on it, of course, but it did help me, I think, get that final piece of inflammation down to where now I can recover.

Clint – It’s interesting, isn’t it? I had the same love hate relationship with it. For me, it reduced inflammation by about 60%, but I was in an extremely bad way. So my situation when I started methotrexate, let’s say that I was an 8 out of 10 of pain. Multiple joints, chest, jaw, fingers, wrists, ankles, feet, God, you name it, and of course the knee, I was a mess. So to lower that by 60%. Thank you, Lord. You know, that’s wonderful. I thought it was going to take care of everything. I waited so long, I thought, okay, take the meds, get rid of the pain and it didn’t. And that’s when all hell of the mind is like, Oh, my God, even with this drug I delayed so long, even now I’m still in a lot of pain. Still 40%, 9 out of 10 is still a lot, right?

Lori – Yeah. And now I remember before the methotrexate it was prednisone that I was using to control and I didn’t do well at all with prednisone, it was very it was hard on me. So I think the methotrexate drained my energy a little bit of nauseous. I mean, it wasn’t as bad as the prednisone was for me as far as the experience in taking it.

Clint – Yes, yes. So you’ve managed to get off that and I presume that you worked with the rheumatologist on that and they said, fine, you can come down based on numbers. You can correct me on that in just a moment. Then then I’d like you to walk us through how symptoms were after that. And then we’ll talk about maintaining our health and and so on.

Lori – So I think when I started coming off the methotrexate, at that point, I had almost a year of consistent, stable results where I was feeling so good, I didn’t have pain, I didn’t have that roller coaster of flare ups. Like, whereas the first year I would have this up and down, it was just a very consistent stable experience with the pain and the flare ups, it was very predictable. And I was ready to get off of it, I was ready. There’s a there’s a fear in you, of course, where you’re like, okay, is it the methotrexate all this time or is it everything else? And so I did slowly start lowering it. And I think at the time it was also that fear around. As you know, with this program and just everything, there’s so many different faces to it. It’s like you have the exercise portion, you have the food portion, you have the mindset. So it’s almost like once you get it down, you’re scared to move away from that. You’re like, Yeah, like, I know what I need to do and I don’t want to move from this, I don’t want to get out of this box because, I’m safe in this box. And so I think at one point, I was starting to feel better to where I felt like I didn’t need to do all the little things I was doing, but I was at the same time really scared. And my husband said something to me where he said, If it’s stressing you out, doesn’t it defeat the purpose? That kind of clicked for me, it kind of clicked that like, okay, I need to just take a step back and not be as regimented on everything and see what happens. Because even if I take a step back, I know how to get back to these levels, I know what to do. So it was almost like, you know, you’re letting go of your mom’s hand for the first time and just kind of seeing if you’re going to survive. So we made the decision, I talked to my rheumatologist and slowly came off of it. Luckily every dose I went down, nothing changed, and to where I took my last dose, I remember when it was and that was it. I never had to get back on anything, not even Motrin, not even anything. That was July 2018.

Clint – You’re a superstar. And we just chatted about this before we started recording here. Yourself and I, who you see inside our rheumatoid support community, of which you are now a coach, we’ll talk about that in a minute as well. We see other people all the time doing so well with their health and making recoveries, getting off medications. Literally last night someone’s like, I haven’t been off medications. A new member been following the program, haven’t been on medications now for like six months. I’m like, okay, great. I was like, well done and having no pain and so forth. We hear it all the time and we can often become the what’s the word sort of like complacent, if you like, about the amount of insane achievement that it is. I’m not referring to the achievement of coming off drug, I’m showing the achievement of becoming so asymptomatic, getting rid of so much pain that the rheumatologist says you’re good. I mean, what you’ve done is unbelievably awesome, and it must sometimes dawn on you how far you’ve actually come.

Lori – Yeah. And I think, like, as we chatted before, it’s like you almost forget all the things you couldn’t do. And there are times and it happens a lot when I’m with my kids because, the simple things that I couldn’t do where to people it might not seem like a big deal, like taking your kid in and out of the car seat or putting your own groceries. Like when people ask me, do you need help at the grocery store? I say, no, I want to carry my own bags because that’s a big deal for me. There was such a long time where I couldn’t carry my own bags or two weeks ago, we’re at Disneyland and my son just wanted to be held for an hour and everyone was like, you’re going to be tight. And I said, no, I’m fine. I’m so good that I could do this and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. So you get these little reminders, but there are times where I really forget how bad it was. And I don’t know if that’s just your mind blocking it out, but there were times my husband had to braid my hair so I didn’t look like a mess the next day. And I’m sure you have countless stories like that. So just being able to do the little things and not have pain, it’s the best feeling in the world.

Clint – Yeah. You’re carrying the groceries example reminds me, when I’m at airports and you’re moving around from terminal to terminal and there’s long walks and so forth, sometimes, particularly at Sydney Airport, there’s some stairs here and there and there’s escalators. Of course, those travel ladders that take you up and down so that so that our Western society, God forbid, ever have to take the stairs. I always try and take the stairs as much as I can. And on cruise ships, cruise ship, I used to perform on cruise ships all the time as a stand up. I used to go in there and there’s everyone’s jammed in the elevator and the stairwell is empty. The only people on the stairwell are the kids who love running up and down, and it’s me and the kids on the stairwell and I love that. Because I mean, come on, we all can’t think we can take the damn stairs. Take the damn stairs.

Lori – Yeah. And I think it’s one of those where you don’t know the value of something until you’ve lost it. For me, there was a period of time where I felt so like, incapable and so hopeless. I felt like I lost my life, I lost my identity, I just wasn’t the person I was before. So now it’s like I’m back, better than I was before and able to do things I never thought I’d be able to do.

Clint – Yeah. It is awesome. You’ve been well, in inverted commas or basically, no pain and just living a normal life again, in inverted commas for so long you’ve created an Instagram page and it’s PB and J living and you’ve got lots and lots of lovely recipes on there. And so what we’ve established inside our support group again, is that you are helping people who are having trouble trying to do some of the basics with food preparation, how to plan 2 meals in case the loved one doesn’t want to eat this way. Can you talk about how this evolved? How come you’ve become so good at food preparation? Is it something that you love or is it basically a necessity because of all the changes you’ve made? And talk to us about that this whole food preparation and making it work in your family.

Lori – So I’ve always loved food. Like, I love eating it, I love making it, I love I just love food. And so for me, cooking is one of my favourite things to do. My husband and I, even when we were dating, we would get together and cook together. So we both love cooking, we’re in the kitchen all the time. When I first started the program, it was very hard, it was very hard. The biggest thing was dairy because I love cheese and a lot of what I ate had cheese and dairy. So I completely had to change how I ate completely, and it was very much the food I’m eating, but also a mindset. I come again from a Middle Eastern family so food is a big part of our social construct. I mean, everything revolves around food, any celebration. The social aspect was very hard, but over time it shifted my mind to the whole live to eat versus eat to live, it was very much eat to live. Everything that I put in my mouth was for a purpose, either feed your disease or starve it. I didn’t want to put anything in my body that shouldn’t belong there. And when you first start out and you learn all these things you want to tell everybody and you want everybody to eat the way you eat because, yeah, you’re like, where was I all this time? And how come I didn’t know any of this? And so at first, I tried to tell everybody and soon realized as we talked about before, it’s a very personal choice, it has to come from the person. With my with certain family members, they didn’t completely all switch over to how I was eating, but they minimize a lot. So no fast food, no soda, pretty much cut most dairy, my goal was to put in more of the good stuff. So, green juices, and green smoothies and probiotics and things like that. So luckily, I love making food, I love coming up with new recipes. And actually, in our culture, we do have so many plant-based type of meals, it’s just sometimes they have a lot of oil, you have to modify it. A lot of the women in my family are great cooks, it was taking those recipes, asking my mom or my aunt or whoever it is, what goes in this and how can I modify this and what can I take out? What can I change? And even they would be surprised that I would make something without certain ingredients or modify it, and it wouldn’t change the taste too much, it would still taste pretty good.

Lori – For me, there was a time when I was just very okay eating the same things, I got kind of comfortable because you change your mindset to eat, to live. It’s not like you’re not looking for fancy foods, you’re not looking for flavor profiles and things like that. It’s just give me the nutrition to nourish my body and that’s all I need. But when you’re talking about feeding other people and I think this happened to me when I was pregnant with my second son, is I wanted the variety. And that’s kind of when I started exploring different flavors and different tastes. So that’s really where a lot of my recipes come from, is from family recipes, dishes, and things that I love, always have loved eating and just modifying them. I found a way to make pizza, I found a way to make nacho cheese. I’m now getting to a point where I’m having my friends and family eat these foods and they love it. You could make this food tasty and nutritious and not bland and boring. I just love that aspect of it.

Clint – Yeah. Your foods pop off the screen like they look really vibrant, there are lots of colors. You have a way of photographing them that make them also sort of look really just desirable. We have to utilize not just the fact that, hey, this food is going to help you improve your microbiome, that can only convince so many people. There is going to be still a portion of the population that just say, I want it to taste awesome and it needs to look good. I want my eyes and my taste buds to all align. That’s what you bring that I have always been hopeless at, I am hopeless at making the food look good.

Lori – I mean, for us, it’s like it’s the same mindset. It’s like, I don’t need it to look pretty, I don’t care for that. And honestly, I feel like the more you add to it. I mean, you want to eat the food in the most whole basic form, right? So the more you do to it, I don’t know, it kind of now we’re in this culture of the food has to look so like beautiful and some crazy things for it to be desirable, but it kind of loses what it actually is and that’s to nourish your body. But with that note, there are so many options when it comes to plant-based, whereas you have meat, you have chicken, you have fish, that’s it. Where in the plant-based world, there are so many things. So when people say, oh, you’re so restricted, and I’m like, no, there are so many options, like there’s so much out there. There was a time when I didn’t know, I never used kale, I used lentils, but not that much or beans, it was always like a side dish. I would buy a bag of salad and it would sit in the fridge for a whole week. I mean, I would go a whole week without eating salad, which is crazy to me now because I eat so much leafy greens and things like that. But it was just completely changing the mindset around food and how I cook and just working with what I had. I feel like I still haven’t even scratched the surface, there are just so many recipes I want to try. And it’s just a matter of time at this point, just cooking those elaborate type of dishes do require more time than just putting rice in the instant pot.

Clint – So you have an instant pot?

Lori – Yes. I can’t live without my instant pot.

Clint – We have one, too, and very highly recommended. Melissa now has worked out the trick, it took us too long, we should have got one earlier, but we’ve only had one for about 12 months. Melissa just chopped up the food, chop, chop, chop, chop, chop. She throws it all in the instant pot, puts the lid on, hits go. And then we can go and do something. You can leave the house and then you come back and the food’s ready.

Lori – That has been crucial to me where I work and I have to prepare something ahead of time. And that’s the kind of hard thing with this diet, is you don’t want to be stuck where you’re really starving and you have nothing to eat because sadly, depending on what phase you’re in, there aren’t going to be too many options for you. So the instant pot is a lifesaver, the Vitamix is a lifesaver. I mean, I’ve gathered so many kitchen gadgets in the last 6 years, but, they all kind of serve their purpose. 2 years ago, my husband got me an ice cream maker and I make delicious ice cream, and that has been big for me because I love ice cream. So, and I can make ice cream for my son and he could have as much of it as he wants because it’s healthy.

Clint – What do you put in it?

Lori – So my favorite is chocolate.

Clint – But what’s the main

Lori – I make it with coconut milk, dates, Cacao, a little bit of almond butter, and a little bit of salt. And then you blend it up in the Vitamix, and then you put it into the ice cream maker, and 30 minutes later you have ice cream. And before I used to do, I used to do nice cream. You’ve heard of ice cream? In the Vitamix, you need frozen bananas and it needs to kind of be certain consistency. But with the ice cream maker, you could just put anything in the blender and then put an ice cream maker and it becomes ice cream.

Clint – I love it. Gosh. Okay. Now, I’m sure the husband eats that, but he doesn’t need a lot of the other meals that you make. So what are your tips for people who are doing their own thing at home and the husband or wife is doing something different? The kids don’t like that. Give us some insights.

Lori – My husband eats a lot of the foods that I make that are not just like plain rice, I’ll make lentil dishes and things like that, he actually eats a lot. But then you just kind of modify where for me, my dish might be my main meal, it might be his side meal. And he might want a protein next to it like a grilled chicken or meat. He has completely cut back on the amount of animal protein he eats, but he hasn’t fully cut it out. I think it’s Dr. Greger who said that you can be 100% plant-based and 80% plant-based and you kind of achieve similar results, I mean, in a general sense. And so for me, if he’s cutting back a lot and he pretty much cut a lot of his sugar and his soda and all that and then giving him all the greens. Even if you’re eating a burger, you’re going to have an avocado in it, you’re going to have a big salad on the side, and you’re going to have the green smoothies. So it’s just adding those little portions for the other people in your family who aren’t eating that way.

Clint – Yeah, it’s vastly different if you’re only having meat and some oily vegetables, and that’s optimistic for a lot of people. I mean, the Western diet is often just pizza at night and then in the morning you might have some kind of crap bagel with cream cheese and then you might with coffee, and then at lunchtime, you might have some horrible ham sandwich with cheese on white bread. So what he’s eating is, that he deserves a pat on the back, given how healthy that sounds.

Lori – Yeah. And he’ll have quinoa salads at lunch or a rice bowl. If you can’t completely eliminate the bad, try to compensate with the good. Even my eldest is very picky with food, when he was born, I wasn’t eating the way I’m eating now, so I didn’t get him off to that start. But even with him, it’s just adding as many vegetables and fruits as I can just to kind of offset whatever the bad is. But they don’t eat junk food, so it’s to a minimum even then. And I think you said early on to once, which I do with my kids, if they go to a birthday party or if they’re out with friends. You could have the pizza, I don’t go to that level because when I look at the stuff I ate when I was growing up, they’re way better than I ever was, so I don’t feel bad about it.

Clint – Yeah, it’s true. I grew up meat three times a day, that was our family on a farm. My dad, he loved self-help books, but the only dietary book he ever read just happened to say, you got to eat lots and lots of meat. And I don’t know why books get published like that. But anyway, he read that book and that was his whole source of knowledge on the topic. That’s what we did, convenient on the farm. Anyway, likewise, our kids Lori, they’re eating far better than we did growing up.

Lori – Yeah. And I think with my family, it’s still a little odd because it’s very much meat-heavy. Like if you’re not eating meat, you’re not healthy, that’s very part of the culture. So it’s just kind of shifting that mindset around what’s healthy, you know? And I’m very grateful to have at some point I think people that have gone through this kind of experience that where you’re kind of grateful for the disease in a way. I don’t know if the disease is the right word or just the experience, because I can’t see how my life would have gone if I kept going the way I was going. And there was a time when I was in college and I remember I would get out of work, I would have a Diet Coke, and then I would go to college for 4 hours, and then on my way home I would get a large pizza that I would eat on my own, and that went on for a couple of years. It wasn’t a good trajectory at all, it was not. So I’m very grateful and I’m always grateful for the options that I have now for food, and I feel like there’s a lot of variety. There’s definitely a lot of variety, and I never feel like I’m missing out on something.

Clint – Yeah, we noticed that recently. We just getting out and about and doing things again, sort of as the city here opens up in Sydney and we’re out and about and I’m finding so many options of things that I can eat, things that don’t have oil left, right and center. I don’t mind like a little bit of a sort of almost unavoidable oil in a bean burrito, for example, or a little bit of unavoidable oil at a restaurant, say, an Indian restaurant, where they say serving dahl and rice and so on. That’s not concerning to me but it’s lovely. And I should say at this stage for people listening, you should be cautious if they do not sort of at that stage. But didn’t even have to go to that, didn’t even have to do that. I mean, there were places around I’m seeing in the city that wasn’t there last time I visited that were offering, great options.

Lori – I see more options coming up, I feel like it’s kind of moving in that direction where people are offering more restaurants, more options. There is a restaurant I found in San Diego that’s completely oil-free and it’s a nice restaurant. They’re opening one local to me, so I’m really excited about these options to eat out because I think that’s the hardest part of all this, is being able to eat out or having two kids and a job and having to cook all your meals it’s very time-consuming, it’s difficult. So I’m very much looking forward to more options for eating out. And the oil is the hardest thing to avoid because even in vegan restaurants there, it’s just because it’s vegan, it’s not healthy. And a lot of times they’re covered in oil. So I feel like, within the last two years, I’ve loosened up a lot about my oil where I allow myself to eat out and eat those dishes. But if I’ve had enough of a cushion to where I’m willing to take the risk. If I feel like if I do it too often, and I kind of have inflammation or pains that come up or I feel it in my body and then I have to go back.

Clint – Exactly my experience back a few years ago that I explained in the summit that we did had that complacency set in. I thought I was bulletproof and I ate out at a restaurant, it was an absolute oil fest and I suffered from it. And so we can never get away from the fact that we have this, I want to say maybe like just this tiny, tiny, tiny little ember that maybe simmering deep below the little sticks on the fire. And even if the fire is not visible and the blood tests don’t show anything’s wrong and our body doesn’t feel like it’s got problems other than damage that happened in the past. That tiny thing, if we pour some gasoline on that thing, it will fire up again, it will.

Lori – I 100% agree with that. Like, it’s just almost like you described it’s like you may not see it, but it’s there. And it’s just that like the what is it the straw that broke the camel’s back or what? I don’t remember saying, but it’s that one final bit and then, it’s this big fire. It’s almost like in quicksand, it’s like the more you sink in, the harder it is to come out.

Clint – So true, that’s a great metaphor. I always love these metaphors. Quicksand, is it? That’s it.

Lori – That’s how it feels to me at least. Like, if I don’t get it, if I don’t nip it in the bud, it just becomes really difficult to control.

Clint – I love it, that is so true. In terms of time can you just give us some quick bullet points of things for people who are familiar, maybe with the approach that we’ve both taken and they’re doing the Paddison Program or they’ve made some choices. The most important things to you, they might be big things or small things. Is there a list of things or some you can think of that you would say, make sure you emphasize this or that?

Lori – I would say don’t cheat, like don’t take the little bits here and there. I think I did that a lot at the beginning where, it’s just a little bit of this and a little bit of that. But like, it’s like that ember that it just kind of turns into a big flame. So, try as much as you cannot have those because it will set you back. Exercise for me was and is still one of the best tools like you said, I don’t remember how you said it, but you said it kind of helps you get away with what is it?

Clint – Exercise forgives dietary mistakes.

Lori – Yes. And I think even in my life, I have friends who may have an autoimmune condition, but they exercise a lot, so they do get away with a lot of the food choices. I think when I was doing Bikram, there was a point I was doing it 5, 6 days a week and I was at the best I ever felt. To me, exercise is if you can do whatever form you can do, that’s a big one. And then just lots and lots and lots of greens, like even till today, and I think early on I had a really bad flare up and realized that I was just had to up my intake of greens and just doubled everything. Everything I was eating, I just doubled the greens and it made such a big difference, and even days where I would have big flare-ups, I would have two big green smoothies and then it would be gone. So to me, greens are very powerful and I think they get you out of those really dark, dark moments. The third thing, which I think would be the biggest thing, is the mindset. I think the mindset is a big factor. It’s a huge factor in how fast I think people recover. And just seeing people through the journal over the years and their experiences, I think mindset plays a big, big, big role.

Clint – With your mindset, have you ever struggled with this, particularly in that, for example, has it ever gotten to the point where you felt, I can’t do this? I feel like giving up? Or have you always had a sort of a sufficient level of come on, Lori, you’ve got this? I mean, where has that gone from Lowest to highest?

Lori – Oh, I think I’ve definitely been to where like, I can’t do this anymore or I don’t want to do this anymore. Even before I started your program, mentally, I was in a really bad headspace. I was always very much in that, why me? Why is this happening? Just almost angry at the world, where I was, and what had become of me. And I felt like this just, I guess anger is the best word to describe it. And so I had to completely shift where I was focusing my mental energy of, okay, you’re in this spot now what? Now, what are we going to do? It’s just kind of accepting where you are at every moment and not fighting against it, but working towards it. I found through the last few years with, I found people like Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Jolie and just they’ve completely helped me change the way I think, and where I spend my mental energy is focusing on the things you can do versus what you can’t do. There’s so much you have to do as you know, in the healing, where it’s a lot, it’s almost like a full-time job. And for me, I had put everything into it because I wanted to get better so, so badly. And it’s very time-consuming, it’s a lot of work. But the podcasts really helped me, the form really helped me. And I think if those two things weren’t there, I think I could have seen myself easily giving up.

Lori – But just knowing that there are people out there who did this and are now on the other side gave me that hope and gave me that motivation. So I would have days like that, but it wouldn’t last very long. I wouldn’t stay in that mindset for too long, it would just be like a day or two and then I would bounce back. But then once I found those authors and those people and watched a lot of their videos, I didn’t dwell on those things anymore. I knew that I could do it and things like Bikram and things like this program, kind of showed me that now I can really do anything I kind of put my mind to. So it was very powerful in that sense, especially the Bikram because when I first started I decided to do the 30-day challenge. I did 30 days and then I said, okay, I’m going to do the 60-day challenge. I did the 60 days and I did it. Those winds that you get help you realize you could do it, you could do other things. I Definitely had the dark days, and I’m sure there are people out there that do have the dark days and just know that just keep doing what you’re doing, just one day at a time. Don’t think about, I’m going to be like this for years. Just that one day at a time.

Clint – Yeah. So it’s normal, I think, to go to those really low places. It would be weird if someone didn’t with this disease and especially when they say, okay, I’ve got this disease and now I’m going to climb Mount Everest. Like metaphorically in that I’m going to now try and eliminate as many symptoms as I possibly can using these strategies. And I’m going for it, that’s a hard thing to do. It’s hard.

Lori – Yeah. And that’s why I’m always amazed at you that you did it without anybody to, like, look to you. You just did it of your own motivation where I find that just remarkable.

Clint – There were a few things in my favor and it was a unique little mix. One is that I was working as a corporate entertainer, which meant I would get a week’s salary by doing one half an hour show every week. Okay, so I was working half an hour a week and like writing a few jokes and showing up for the event and leaving, so let’s, let’s call it like 7 hours a week I actually had to work. Okay. So that was one thing. Number two is I studied laser physics at university, I was a super nerd and then I was a high tech nerd, so I had a very problem-solving brain. Despite my career at that time, I lost my job because of a tech boom collapse. I lost my job, so I was unemployed that’s why I was doing comedy full time, I never wanted to. And then with that as well, I had a wife who’d been plant-based her whole life. She’s now guiding me in that direction, and we bought lots of books. Dr. McDougall was the only person who wrote stories of recovery from rheumatoid arthritis. Then another gentleman, Dr. Jerome Scheiner, who is a gastroenterologist. So I put the two together and thought, okay, it’s got to be plant-based because these two people and no other success stories. Barbara Allen had written a book called Conquering Arthritis, and so I was doing consultations with Barbara. And we got to a point where I kind of, you kind of get to a point where you’ve kind of exhausted that sort of avenue. And she was wonderful, but I still had my symptoms and so on. So the journey began and then we wanted to have kids. I had to get off methotrexate, so the stick behind me hit me was very big, etc. And so the discoveries began.

Lori – I think before I found you, I had found Dr. McDougall. And yeah, he was one of the ones that had success story, not just for RA, but other things. And for me, when I heard your TEDx talk, it was very clear like it was, it’s almost like the light bulb went off. It’s like, okay, this is what’s wrong with me. So I was very much convinced, but yes, the day-to-day going on and continuing to do it.

Clint – That was Melissa and I together. And Laurie, he’s the absolute truth on this is I thought, I guess the sort of like the first person who ever discovered a piece of gold and realised the value of it and then started to dig and found there was more and thought about the that this is not a metaphor about money. This is just like the metaphor about the potential of what’s beyond. Because when I realised that if I don’t eat, I feel like basically normal, pain wise. Then I saw the studies that show this is the same for everyone with rheumatoid. And once you know that, that if you don’t eat, you feel perfect and it happens with everyone, then it’s a gut issue, it has to be a gut issue. There’s no other explanation.

Lori – To this day, like the periods where I don’t have food in my system, I was the best I ever feel, it’s to this day. Sometimes I’m like, I wish I didn’t have to eat because it’s like, if I didn’t have to, it’s not only will save me so much time. But unfortunately, we do have to eat. I never feel as good as when I have gone long periods without food. And I think for me during the program that was very beneficial is when I stopped eating my dinners by like 4 or 5. And I would say that’s another definitely benefit because I would wake up, that’s the best I would ever wake up is when I started finishing my meals very early. So those long periods of fasting and just not having food and just letting the body heal, it’s like the light bulbs, right?

Clint – It is, so that’s right. Another way I used to cheat on that if I was eating like a little bit later, you can also do an enema and an enema will clean out your bowels.

Lori – Oh my gosh.

Clint – This toxic reabsorption or like, cross barrier from the contents of your colon.

Lori – I did the coffee enemas for quite a bit, I did. I know we didn’t talk about all that stuff, but the feeling from that is just unlike any other feeling, that was very helpful.

Clint – The things we do Lori.

Lori – I know. Oh, my God. It’s like. Yeah, looking back, there was a lot. And I think that was where the fear was, is if I stop all this, how am I going to be? But I think there is that portion where you have to do you have to keep it disciplined and you have to do everything that I mean, everything you suggested or other people suggest, I would try it. Every time I’d watch a podcast or something, I would do it, I would incorporate it. So I think it definitely was helpful in my healing.

Clint – Let’s get you back on down the track. I think your kids start school, you said in September. So why don’t we look at something around that time frame? And I’d love to have you share your kitchen, how you set it up for your plant based eating. The tools that you use, I think would be great to see and just give us a little bit of a sort of a walk around and how you make all this tick so beautifully. That would be a great thing we can do down the track. If you’d like to connect with Lori, she is on Instagram at PB and J living over at Instagram, and she’s in our rheumatoidsupport.com platform where we’ve got hundreds of members. We’ve had over 1500 people come through this platform in the last seven years, all of which I love to work with, get to know. And in our case, Lori, we met in 2017 that was organized through our community, so come join us. You can join month to month or join year to year, and take part in all of the healing collaboration that we do as a community. Lori, thank you so much for sharing with us today, for being a friend, for being an advocate and for doing all that you do.

Lori – Thank you for having me on.

Clint Paddison

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