We discuss in this interview:
– Lori’s long term experience with RA since she was 12
– The side effects of prednisone on young people
– How relying only on drugs prevents from a real understanding of the dynamics of the disease
– Her experience with biologic drugs
– Integrating drugs with a holistic approach
– The key role of nutrition
– How Lori is able to decrease drugs intake after two years on the Paddison Program
– Learning to listen to our own feedback system
– Boxing as a healthy form of exercise
Get To Know Lori
Clint – Today, my lovely guest is Lori, and she is currently in Florida and I’m back in Sydney, so if we’d have done this just a few months ago, we could have done it in person. But now we’re a long way away using Zoom. And she has a fascinating story that we can all learn from. She has been on all of the sorts of typical medications that the rheumatology community advise for rheumatoid arthritis. And she’s going to talk about each and every one of those experiences that she’s had from the disease, modifying drugs to biologic drugs. And she has had this disease since she was 12 years old, originally diagnosed with JRA these days called JIA typically, and she’s now 36. So that’s quite a lot of time to experience what it’s like to have at first juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and now adult rheumatoid arthritis. And she and I are speaking today because her biggest improvements throughout that entire time of having this disease have not come from the medications. She’s going to explain how it was her lifestyle changes across to the Paddison Program for rheumatoid arthritis that finally enabled her to not just make some improvements, but regain her life and get off the dreaded prednisone after much, much long term use. And it’s a really, really inspiring story that we’re sitting on here. So let’s unpack this story with Lori, who’s here with me today. Thanks, Lori.
Lori – You’re welcome and thank you for having me.
Clint – You have been through so much. You have experienced it all from such a very young age. Before we talk about the challenges, the struggles, and the really dark days and how you got through all that as a young teenager and then into adult years. First of all, let’s start on a really happy note. Tell us, how much better do you feel by changing your lifestyle and following the Paddison Program just in the last couple of years?
Lori – I feel like an entirely new person like I’ve been so long, kind of stuck in a certain place, and now all of a sudden now I feel lighter and I have some freedom back and it just feels absolutely fantastic.
Clint – Well, it’s great to see you smiling, because from what you’ve been through, you would be entitled and forgiven to be really, really sort of the, I don’t know, upset or feeling like life’s dealt you a harsh blow, an unfair blow. Because from age 12, you know, that is a young age in which to develop this condition and perhaps take us back to what happened, and just give us the sort of the highlights or if you like, that the low lights of that period there when getting diagnosed and what treatment you went through and your emotional reaction.
The Side Effects of Medications on Young People
Lori – When I was first diagnosed, it was, you know, because I’m so young, you know, we don’t know any better, you know, and you kind of go through a very significant part of your life realizing that this is actually your new normal. So you don’t view it the same as when I look back on my earlier days, I don’t see my life prior to my diagnosis. And I don’t see the comparison because of the bulk of my life, it’s been with arthritis. So I’ve had to create a new normal. But I mean, it’s been some very challenging, especially at that young age, and as we mentioned earlier, before we started recording the high dose of prednisone and take that with teenage hormones, and you have a mess.
Clint – Yeah.
Lori – And it’s an absolute disaster. I remember sitting in class and having a teacher just look at me, and I would just burst into tears for no valid reason, I was just an emotional mess. I would just start crying for no reason or I would feel myself getting very angry, which I know is from the steroids. So being older, I understand now but when I was 12, 13, 14 years old, I didn’t know any of this, I don’t know to read side effects. And that’s one thing that doctors just tell you, well, there’s some side effects. Well, thanks.
Clint – And other than the high doses of steroids, which you did mention were very high, you know, upwards of the typical sort of 40 or 50, but even up to maybe 80 milligrams per day to get you under control. These enormously high dosages that you had at times. What was the long term approach in parallel to the antiinflammatory steroid use? Was there a disease-modifying drug that you were put on as well?
Lori – I was put on Remicade and I remember being placed on that for a while, and that worked very well. The problem was, like anything else, as you know, we started to get older and get our insurance. Now you have a battle with insurance companies. So who’s going to cover what medication? So then it becomes OK, well, we’re going to switch you from this to another drug, and then what happens again? Insurance changes. OK, we’re going to try Remicade again, which, you know, increases the likelihood of ineffectiveness and side effects. So there comes a battle of medications that the first biologic I recall was the Remicade. And at the age that I was in for that time period that was going to work, but it wasn’t teaching me any lifestyle changes. So if I were to review my life back then to where I am now, I could probably guarantee you if I didn’t have the lifestyle change. That would have been what would have happened anyway, no matter the medication and that’s just my true belief in that.
Clint – So are you saying that if you hadn’t have changed, maybe just rephrase that, my brain didn’t work that one out,
Lori – In my opinion, if you know, whatever medication it was, whether it’s Remicade or Orencia, any type of biologic, the downfall to that is you get no lifestyle coaching with it and you rely so heavily on the medication. So when it starts to work and you’re feeling a little better it only helps you for the duration you’re taking it. And it’s not teaching you something, you’re just treating yourself with the medication, not understanding why it’s working. When it’s just simply masking it’s not curing anything, it’s holding your symptoms steady instead of actually truly fighting what it is your body’s going through.
Clint – Yeah, now I get it loud and clear and I completely agree. I think that that is the danger of this disease is that. We have inflammation on our joints, it is an alarm signal going off. It is the siren saying something is wrong I am out of balance, I’ve lost my homeostasis, and my body is not well. And that alarm system is there for a reason, and it’s telling us something you’re doing isn’t right now might not be something you’re doing right now. In my case, I took five years of antibiotics, and then later when I went to the Middle East to entertain the troops, I then took three more months of the exact same antibiotics and developed symptoms five months later. So I believe that there’s a historical factor as well as a cumulative effect that’s going on. So but that needs to be addressed and things that we can put into place, as we’ll talk about, you know, can tend to slowly reverse that damage we’ve done in the past. But if we’re on medication and I don’t feel the symptoms, then yes, that’s wonderful our life is restored. But if that medication then begins to fail or that side effects means you have to come off it, you’re back at square one, you haven’t learned how to address the underlying cause.
Lori – Right, and that’s part of the problem because I’ve been to a few different rheumatologists and the one thing not a single one of them ever brought up was nutrition. It’s always been medication, medication. Well if this isn’t working well, we’re going to put you on a new medication instead of really trying to figure out where it’s coming from in the first place. You just going to push another medication. I know there’s a problem, it would be nice if we knew where it was coming from before you started pumping me full of meds. You know, it seems to me it serves no purpose if I’m not understanding where it’s coming from or where the problem is, if I know the problem is bread. Well, then tell me not to eat bread and I won’t. Instead of giving me a new medication just to mask the symptoms only for me to have the same problem if we switch medications or decrease, I haven’t been prepared. You know, I haven’t been given the skills in order to make it more long lasting. Instead, I’m focusing on a very short term plan instead of focusing on the bigger picture.
Clint – Yeah. Look, normally I would, in these interviews, go back and have you walk through and develop further your story and we might do that, but I’m still so fascinated by what we’re currently talking about. I just like you to list all the medications that you’ve been on, see if you can remember every single one. And then I want you to give us a little bit of experience if you can recall the detail of each drug, because that I would think would be very interesting to people.
Lori – When I was little diagnosed around 12, I was on the max dose of prednisone, which I recall to be about 80 milligrams. With that, I was on the max dose of methotrexate and I was a miserable child. The methotrexate made me nauseous all the time. I remember hair loss as being pretty significant, but more importantly, I can deal with the stomach upset. But it was the emotional side of it that was more of a kicker because at that age is no true understanding of what’s actually going on with these medications. As I move through adult life in my late teens, I’ve been on Remicade, I remember taking Zantac because it would just tear my stomach to pieces. I’ve been on Orencia, Xeljanz, Humaira, Enbrel, if I didn’t say that one already, and now (inaudible). Of those medications, the least effective was the Xeljanz. And when I began taking that, I would say the first month I was OK. And then when my previous medication was out of my system and the Xeljanz took over, my body just went in the progress. Whatever I had was taken away like I had instant joint pain, I had a lot of swelling inflammation and that just was truly not an effective method for me.
Lori – So when I’m thinking about all these different biologics I was on, you know, that’s telling me that whatever problem is within my body is not going to be treated with these medications. And when your doctor tells you, well, your only option is another medication, when at that time there’s probably what maybe three more biologics in the system or FDA approved. There’s not that many more in comparison to how many I’ve already taken. And to have a doctor tell you, well, well, we don’t know what the problem is, but we’re just going to keep trying a medication until we find one that works with the side effects just get worse and worse. It gets to a point where it’s very easy to give up. And that’s the unfortunate thing when you have these medical providers kind of pushing these meds on you and they truly don’t know why people have arthritis, they truly don’t know the reason all they can do is prescribed medications to make you I’m going to call it comfortable. It turned into a very dark area you know, you just start to lose hope and you start to lose the big picture you have in your head of a normal life, whatever that is that you see for yourself. And you start realizing, well, now I’m going to have to give up a lot of things and possibly a career because I’m not getting the answers I need or I’m not making any progress. So of those medications, I would have to say side effects, I only had one bad one from Humaira and that was lymphoedema. I had that in my left hand and right foot, and I was treated for that. And it was just such a weird symptom to have. And even after that medication, I was still having lymphedema related issues for probably a year or two. But otherwise, across the board, I’d say all the medications I’ve been very blessed to have not had any noticeable side effects, at least at this point in my life. Now down the line, may there be some damage? Possibly, but I’m not going to live in that type of mindset because I truly don’t know. But none of them really treated me very well. They allowed me to kind of maintain and they only maintain me for a brief period of time before they started to taper off. And then my progress was again set back.
Lori Still Feels the Symptoms Even on Medications
Clint – So when you said able to maintain whilst on each of these biologics would in general terms, that you’d say that you were still experiencing some symptoms of inflammation in the joints?
Lori – Oh, yes, quite a few symptoms to the point where I never felt like it was truly gone. I still had a lot of inflammation, my joints were extremely hot, and it was just difficult moving, a lot of fatigue. So I think it made it tolerable to the point where I can perform normal activities of daily living and maintain jobs. But outside of that, it was still very difficult. As far as if I sat there and said I felt like this medication helped me, the answer would be no.
Clint – Wow. But then as we experience, certainly I witnessed this and was aware of this myself as I was tapering off methotrexate at one point and then I was experiencing some more symptoms. I then reluctantly had to come to terms with the fact that the medication was doing more for me than I had thought it actually was. And I think you gave an example when you shifted across to, in your case, Xeljanz, you noticed that that medication was not as effective as the one that was on just prior. And so then you feel OK. So that prior drug was actually doing more for me than perhaps than you were aware of.
Lori – Right. Yeah, I would have to agree with that. There are some improvement and benefits that the medications do offer in the sense that it takes you from what could be your worst day. And it gives you a little improvement so you can do more than what you could have before. But being where I am now and looking back at where I was then, I can clearly see that those medications were clearly not even touching what I would have been capable of had I been guided into a more natural or naturopath. So it does offer people who are being severely impacted some treatment to get started, you know, a lot goes with the medications and how we’re feeling. And when we start to feel a little bit better, we feel capable of doing more and we feel like we’re more in charge. And that’s a wonderful feeling to have but it’s also very easy to become what I’m going to call it because I’ve said it to myself. It’s very easy to become complacent and you tend to forget there are other methods to also treated at the same time that offer more longevity because medications at some point in time, your body will get used to it and it will become at some point, whenever that is, it will become ineffective. That’s my personal experience with medications. And you’re only going to be as good as you can be on the medication for as long as a medication decides that.
Nutrition – A Magical Added Tool
Lori – So it’s just nice to have different tools and not just solely rely on, as I call it, a magical, you know, something that you can take and thinking, OK, well, this is it. I can oh, look, I can move around again. Well, that’s great. You’ve got yourself started, now what? And that’s where it’s missing in the mental community, and now what? Unless you get to where I was, my very dark corner going, well, now I have no options left except these horrific medications. And I started Googling everything I mean, everything I drink, every God awful drink you could think of. And you learn that the simplest, most realistic thing was there the whole time, and that’s nutrition. And to think about it, it’s kind of almost a kick in the butt. You know, like this whole time I could have just been doing make a lifestyle change and it could have been going so much better for me while on some of the other medications. And instead of finding this out later in life because of the other medications failure. So it’s just interesting how it all kinds of falls into place.
Clint – Yeah, probably one of the most important things that we also did discuss before we hit record, we briefly just said, how mind-blowing is this situation. You’ve had this condition since you were 12 years old, 24 years. And I want to say a dozen different medications over that time. And you told me that not one doctor asked you about your lifestyle and what you were eating, not one in twenty-four years and not one question about that. And it is mind blowing to think, well, what would have the course of your disease looked like had you had made these changes at age 12? I mean, come on, our kids eat a plant-based diet with no oil, but the littlest one is two. So if you have the knowledge around how to do it properly, because there is a lot of bad ways of doing it, of course. But if you do it properly, you know, just imagine where things might have gone instead. But look, I don’t think we’ve done any bias or injustice, I think we’ve provided a great balance to the medication path that you have experienced, it clearly stopped you from otherwise having a much, much worse outcome. And I think that both of us are very grateful for the medication experience that I have had and who knows if I might need it in the future. I’m glad that there is a rheumatologist with a cabinet full of staff in case one day I might need that again. And I’m sure that you’re grateful for that, too. But at the same time, let’s now move into this direction that you’re leading us and tell us, you know, what should be the message to folks with inflammatory arthritis? What should we be doing in parallel to the assistance of the medications as we need them?
Lori – I think what needs to go hand in hand is clearly nutrition, and that’s something that, again, the doctors don’t necessarily promote. Not because they don’t know about it, but their mindset is medication, their field is medicine. And it’s just difficult because there are other options out there that will provide the same benefits. And it’s just unfortunate that they don’t bring it up as frequently or if at all. If a doctor told me when I was 12, eat fruits and vegetables and stay away from all these different things and that maybe not necessarily cure, but it would help improve quality of life. Then, of course, I’d be eating fruits and vegetables but, you know, here we are. You know, but I just wish that there was a more parallel type of conversation with the medical in combination with the nutrition, you know, I don’t think it’s only one over the other. I think some people, including myself, at some point in life, were dependent upon both. I don’t think people should just start taking medications and just be vegetables. And live in an unrealistic world going, OK, well, if I stop one and just eat my food, I’m going to be fine. I do think there is a safe way to do it. And that’s, of course, with a doctor, the rheumatologist I have now he is fantastic in the sense that he’s listening to me and the fact I do not want more biologics. And he allowed me to explore a lifestyle change, which is how I found your program. His role was as long as I see progress, so we can keep going on that same path. But if there’s no progress, as you know, the more a condition is left untreated especially inflammatory, the more damage that comes with it. And it’s irreversible in some cases, especially joint deformities. So there is such a thing as working together to kind of make sure that it’s balanced. You can’t have too much of one thing and not enough of the other. It’s going to be on balance. So I do think that the parallel comes from just having those conversations with the doctors so they know where their patients, such as myself, is trying to go. Where do I see myself? I see myself understanding there’s more to this condition than, what medication can treat. It’s not just the medication, it’s what am I doing. I remember on some of my more painful days, in following your program and then looking back at how I was eating at the time of my worst days, I can tell you that it was what I was eating. I was eating like I was a normal person because normal people can eat what they want, wake up, and feel fine. And I was eating how I would have when I was a teenager. And clearly, that’s not going to benefit me because I eliminated all those foods and then I started regaining my life back. So there’s a lot to be said between the two, you know, medical and nutrition kind of merging together and hand in hand.
Clint – Yeah, I love that, two things that I thought to add to what you’ve said there. One is a question and I’ll get to that which is coming next. First, a comment and a request for feedback from our audience. I am actually I’m well on my way to is through writing my book. And it’s trying to blend those two hemispheres together. And what I’m trying to create a book that rheumatologists will be happy to pass to patients. However, the book is written for patients. The book is written for you, for me, for everyone with this disease. And what I’m aiming to achieve is to walk that fine line between, you know, everything that you’ve just been speaking about is, yes, here is the safety net and the set of crutches that we are entitled to with the medications. But here, all the things that we can do, almost like rehab to help us get off the crutches or maybe just to need one on one side of the body or just a cane. So that’s what I’m trying to achieve with the book. And I guess my question to our audience is, you know, do they feel that that’s a good idea? And I’ve got a chapter in there about medications that I intend to have co-authored by a rheumatologist. So, yeah, any feedback on the book would be welcomed once we’re in the midst of a discussion on this merging of these two. Not so necessarily overlapping areas when we see our doctor. I’m now trying to create an overlap there in one source where we can all agree upon to say, look, here’s the scientific evidence of all the natural changes we can make. And he’s obviously the standard approach and sees if we can all walk together hand in hand. Now, the question I wanted to ask you is? I might say, oh, that’s all good, Lori, sure. You know, now you’ve changed your diet and you’re on that path. But how do we know that it’s working for you? And I want you to give us this evidence that your rheumatologist is asking for. How do we know that you’ve improved by doing this change?
Lori – Well, I’ve been using not only how I feel, but, again, if I’m going to talk to anybody else, a friend, or a stranger on the street, you know, I can convince anyone that I’m feeling better. Knowing that’s there is the feeling provable, but my blood work speaks for itself. My C-reactive protein went from over 1.2 down to less than 0.2. So it’s all in the blood workup and it’s funny that you say that because my doctor actually said the same thing to me or something similar. Well, how do I know you’re not just telling me this so you don’t get more medications? Because he knew I was starting to dislike them or I’ve been changing my views as I get older, I’m changing my views of medications in general. So I think that has something to do with it. And I simply just told them, well, you have my lab work, you tell me. Tell me what my blood work says, and I used Quest, I pulled it up on my phone and I said, if you don’t have them, I do. And I said it’s right there, I’m feeling amazing. You know, I even shoulder my joints, I said, they’re not hot but, they’re a little inflamed. You know, it takes time. But there’s been such a marginal, measurable amount of progress and that’s just based on my lab report. So the lab reports support how I’m feeling, which is provable to people who may feel a little skeptical or they may not be in a place at this particular moment to take, as I call it, a leap of faith to know that there is a little bit there are things such as nutrition changes that can help. It’s not going to be an instant fix, but it’s going to have overall benefits, it just takes time for me. It’s been a two-year battle that I’ve taken to get off prednisone, to get stabilized again, decrease again, and start making all these changes medication wise. Because, with every change of medication, my numbers would be thrown off again because my body just starts to go crazy. So for a little bit, it would improve, and then my results would change then I would improve my results for a change. And as I stayed off medication longer, it became more, something more, that I could prove more to my doctor saying, OK, well, this is working now because we decreased, I got stable and here we are. I’ve been off the prednisone since March and I’ve had not one issue and now I’m decreasing my biologic. And in that duration, the only thing that changed was my diet.
Clint – Just to clarify, you’re spacing the biologics further apart, correct?
Lori – Yes, Kazora is one dose bi-weekly, and to space it out now, I’m taking it once every three weeks instead of once every two. Of course, with my doctors or it is under a doctor’s supervision I decreased that or spread it out. The dose is the same I just increased the length of time in between doses.
Clint – Thank you. I just wanted to clarify that. Now let us not brush over the extraordinary achievement of getting off the prednisone, which you had been on for two years and you had been taking in the past enormously high doses. Could you tell us how like, how many years were you on versus off prednisone over those 24 years? And then also tell us how hard it was to get off it now for good, hopefully.
Lori – When I was little, I was on from the age of 12, which is about the end of 5th grade, all the way through probably through my sixth grade and into high school. And on the eighth grade is when I stayed on the high dose and then began tapering down. As a younger person, I don’t remember the struggles I might have gone through if any. It’s been so long and a lot of things have happened since then. So it’s difficult to know about tapering off at that age. But I remember recently getting off prednisone as an adult, my body was just so dependent on it. So while I was on 20 milligrams and it took me a couple of years just to taper down because I would decrease it by five milligrams, as my doctor told me, that was too much. So we had to put the dose back to the original prescription dose and then decrease and he suggested one milligram. And the problem I had is I had a decrease of a milligram and I had to give my body a month or two, sometimes three months for my system to catch up. I know I tried decreasing it, as my doctor said, and it just backfired. My body was just going into I wanna say shock, but I was having such an inflammatory response. Because the decrease is too fast for my body for how long I was on it for. But I found not rushing it because sometimes you start making progress and you’re like, yes, I got this. Then you start going and going and then you’re going too fast. So it was bittersweet in a way it kind of woke me up to slow myself down and to remember to take my time, because it’s not a race it’s about getting off the medications. So it took me about two years to officially get off the prednisone as much as I was decreasing it. But if I went too fast, they would just set me back way too far.
Clint – And you probably had to do some half milligram doses at times as well, I imagine, as you got near the end.
Lori – Yes, towards the end I tried doing the one milligram and it just didn’t go very well. And as I got to the lower doses I found doing the half milligram being of good benefit for me because it let me go a little bit slower. And initially, I thought it was me like a not a placebo effect may be like, OK, it’s one milligram, well what’s the difference? You know, that’s not a big significant change. You would think that’s like, OK, I know I’m decreasing so it’s me and I know it’s happening. So in my mind, I’m feeling all this joint pain and stiffness. And, you know, it took me a little time to understand that my body was, in fact reacting even though it was such an insignificant dose change it was very significant to my body. So it took me a little time to find that out the hard way, you know, and realizing that such a small dose does have a big impact. And it just became another reminder that it’s one of those things that takes time. You know, we have to listen to our bodies and let our, I had to let my body kind of dictate to me when we were ready for that next step.
Clint – Yeah. Very, very insightful and great listening to your own feedback systems. I’ve only learned about these techniques via my support community where this is discussed on a regular basis. And we’ve got really solid guidelines now for how to reduce prednisone. And what you’ve just described is the very foundation of the approach which is taking time, smaller doses towards the end. And some of our members to say reduce it by one milligram, but then take it back up a half milligram the next week and then down again in one minute and then back up and have these interesting configurations. But generally slow, just slow and listen and don’t make too many other changes at the same time. I mean, we don’t want to be reintroducing a whole bunch of new foods and testing them while we’re trying to get off prednisone at the same time. It can get very complicated and discouraging. So that’s all amazing. Tell us to imagine now that none of our audience knows it and knows anything about the dietary change that you made. Just tell us, as if I was a stranger. So what did you do? How did you make yourself improve like this?
Lori – I improved because I felt that I had no other option, and I felt like if I didn’t find other alternatives, that whatever expectancy I was looking for in life, I felt like I was going to be very reliant on medications and I didn’t want that for myself. I wanted to have some freedom and not rely on having to take medication every day or every other day or once a week. So my calendar. OK, it’s medication day. I just wanted to break free of having to be stuck on medication, because I know it’s possible. Because I’m doing it right now, you know, and that’s a great feeling to know that I consider breaking through all of these, you know, heavy weights that weigh you down, all these things that were preventing you from standing upright. You have a new sense of freedom and it’s amazing when you felt like you’ve lost that for so long to finally regain that. In my mind, I don’t really try to convince other people of anything. You know, I walk around going, I’m living it, I’m walking it, and I’m doing it for me. And if you get something out of it, that’s great, because I’m living it so you can believe it. You know, I hope that you do. I know a lot of people that I’m working with that I around have other autoimmune issues. And I try to tell them, you know what? I was you. I was waking up miserable, I was complaining and then I try to kind of share with them, you know, I’ll look at their meal. I’m that person that will look at their meal and sit down with them and I’ll say, OK, what are you eating today? And it’s just KFC fried food and I said, ok, and you wonder why you’re feeling this way? So I try to point things out and have those conversations and say, you know what, you might be feeling miserable now, but at some point in time you’re going to have that light bulb go off and you’re going to start feeling like your life is coming back, but you’re not going to know it until you start doing it. So it’s just a nice feeling, you know, to kind of hop around and show people, hey, I’m having a good day.
Clint – Yeah, that’s beautiful. And let’s say let’s go back in that picture where you’re sitting down with someone and they’re eating that deep-Fried, you know, unhealthy meal. What’s Lorie’s top five suggestions to that person if they say, OK, Lori, what should I do? What do you tell them?
Lori – I tell them that if it’s one of those things where you can’t force people to make such drastic changes. Because it’s not realistic for them to stick to it, so I usually look at what they’re eating and I’ll suggest a healthier version of it. So fried chicken with cranberry sauce, potatoes, the whole nine. I would suggest something like a salad with grilled chicken and dried cranberries in it, and water with some fruit in it, like an orange or lemon. So it would be, you know, if you’re going to suggest someone to take something away, you have to offer something similar in exchange and then from there, you progress. You know, it’s thankfully, I love salads and I love vegetables. So for me to switch to something plant-based, it’s a struggle. Because I like my chips, I like my dip but at the same time, there are healthier ways to go about it. But you have to be in a place to accept it without feeling like everything’s being taken away and now you can’t eat anything good, and that’s the line I get. You know, it’s like, well, now I can’t eat anything good. No, you can use that for every unhealthy thing. You probably have three to four different recipes for that same thing, but a healthy version or something similar. So I always encourage a salad and if it’s meat, something grilled and hopefully, they kind of listen to that and give it a chance. That’s the other thing I tell people is to give it a chance to see some results. It’s not going to happen in one day. We have to give it a chance to kind of show you what nutrition and diet can do, you know, not just try it for one meal and say, well, your salads not working. Of course, it’s not working you only ate one salad. So I try to always offer something in exchange for instead of just picking at somebody’s meal. If they truly want to know, then of course, I’m going to share with them kind of everything I’ve learned, especially from the mistakes I’ve made. And I’ll share that with them so they know. OK, well, I’m not telling you this because I’m picking on you. I’m telling you this because for me, this is part of my story and I’m sharing it with you and hopefully it works for you.
Clint – Yeah, beautiful. And we know that, as you said, if they just did that one switch, that would be a transition to the path that ultimately turn into a narrower and a little bit more challenging path. But it’s on the right path for them. And now for you and your personal journey. What do you consider the key components of your daily habits with your diet? One of the key things that you would feel anxious about if they were removed, whether it be a green juice or whether it might be lots of leafy greens as a salad, as you said, Are there some things that you feel must remain in your daily habit so that your symptoms continue to dissipate.
Lori – I would say cucumbers. I love cucumbers because they’re versatile. I could put them in salads, I can mix them in dishes, I can do some. So for me, I have to say, you know, I can live on cucumbers because you can make simple pepper and salt, some easy herbs and seasonings. But I’d have to definitely go with, you know, that being a staple that I follow.
Clint – Yeah, okay, love it. And have you been able to transition through the program so that you are not as dependent on the early baseline foods and are you now able to eat more of a diverse, plant-based diet with, say, potatoes and rice and corn and bread and so on, or you’re somewhere in the middle?
Lori – I have to be very careful with bread, I’ve reintroduced it, but I can only have it on occasion. But everything else I found with the potatoes, rice, and corn, I can have that with absolutely no problem. What I do find is if there are fruits that have higher sugar content, that’s where I tend to have a little bit of an issue or if I try to incorporate too much honey, then I started having an issue. So in this process, I’ve also learned that I have more of a sugar intolerance than I do anything else, which I found interesting. And I found that out because I was using honey to make some dressings and I was using honey and tea, and I was overusing honey a little bit. And that’s how I found out because after I did that, I went up having some joint discomfort for a few days until I removed honey. And then I realized, OK, I went too heavy with honey, I have to monitor how much I consume of that. But otherwise, I found with many of the different foods I have reintroduced and I’ve been doing very well in the variety, which is nice.
Clint – Fantastic. And how are you with most fruits though? Are you generally able to eat most fruits?
Lori – Yes, in moderation, though, I can’t have too much, so I try to focus on more greens and I might do some sliced strawberries in my salad to kind of add some flavor to it. But I do try to be careful with the amount and just focused mainly on greens. So if I have, I can have about a handful or a nice big bowl of fruit, but then I have to make sure I balance it the rest of the day with some greens or a lot of water. Just something to balance that but I can have all different types of fruit, which is give me a chance to use in different cooking methods.
Clint – Yeah, absolutely, I’m a huge fan of fruit. I just think that it offers so much for us in terms of our energy needs, our fiber needs, it’s rich with water, and all of the wonderful vitamins and minerals. It really is just a sensational food source. I was listening to one of the live Dr. Gregor videos that he does, I think, monthly, and he takes questions for half an hour live on YouTube. And it was a suggested video for me and I just watched the first few minutes of a recent one. And the first question came from someone about she wants to do a plant based diet, but she didn’t want to do grains, is it possible? And he pointed out that grains and fruits, an insufficient intake of grains, and then an insufficient intake of fruits. And number three, highest causes of mortality, dietary related mortality, the number one cause of dietary mortalities, too much salt intake, which we get in huge spades in a Western diet, everything is salted again. So it’s just at an enormously higher level than what we can do if we’re eating a Whole food plant-based and just put a little salt on our main meal is entirely different than eating, say, for example, a KFC chicken meal. But the point of this story or recollection is that third place or it might have been second place, second or third was that lack of fruit intake. You know, it was his top three, so we need to eat a lot of fruit and it worth emphasizing we need to get into our grains as well. We need to be able to consume the rice, brown rice, you know, the basmati, if we’re in a little hurry and trying to transition from buckwheat and quinoa, again, considered pseudo-grains. But healthy plant-based foods that prolong life and give us health. So, exercise, and we’re going to wrap up shortly. You mentioned to me offline that you are boxing again, is that right? You’re now boxing, tell us about that.
Lori – Yes, I box four days a week and that includes one on one time with focus mates. And what I like is I’m also working towards my next goal of going into the ring to do sparring sessions. It’s high-intensity and I’m telling you, even on my worst day, I always made sure to go to the gym. I may not have the same intensity as better days, but it was important for me, one to get to the gym and to do my best just to keep moving. But now, with all these improvements I’m finding, I can do a whole lot more and I’m really enjoying that. I feel lighter on my feet, I can move around more, I have more energy to sustain myself for the duration of the boxing session. So it’s just fantastic to be able to be in the ring and partake in that activity, it’s a good feeling.
Clint – You certainly don’t come across as having any built-up, anger, or frustration. You come across as having a very balanced and calm personality and persona. However, anyone would have some degree of desire to have an outlet, to hit, to punch, and to kick. And if, like all of us with some kind of frustration with some damaged joints or some inflammation or some imbalances because of having the disease brings. I think boxing is just so fabulous as a way to get that out. You know, so many times in my highly inflamed years, I would say to Melissa, I just want to punch the wall, but I can’t because that would kill my elbow, or kill my knuckles, or kill my wrist because everything hurt. But I would still sometimes just go and the pain was not through the contact point. It was all the other joints that got so upset, but so much frustration and anger just wanted to come out with punching. I can totally I’m there with you with just that feeling of like a release. It must be so euphoric to punch stuff and feel much better by doing so.
Lori – It is, you know, and I have my primary job is extremely stressful. So it’s very much also a stress reliever for me to make sure that I let out my daily stress, bring it to the gym, leave it at the gym and move on with my day. Because I do know that stress does also kind of cause me to have some more inflamed days. And it’s unfortunate, but I always know my stress, my stress levels up, and I can and I feel it the next day. And, you know, that’s one of those things that I believe mind over matter. You know, it’s a little positive self-talk and just making with everything I’ve been through and all the pain I’ve been in, I highly doubt there are other significant issues that kind of trump that, you know. So I mean, I’ve been to all kinds of places mentally. And if I’m going to let one day ruin me, you know that that’s a shame, you know? So I bring it all to the gym, let it go, and move on with my day.
Clint – Yeah. You know, some expert coaches I’ve listened to over the years say that when we go through extreme life challenges like this, you know, the rest of our lives, we’re empowered by those experiences to have a unique perspective on being able to handle especially little stuff, you know. Yeah, you’ve been through so much and experience all these things from such a young age that, you know, a power bill falsely charges you twice. I mean, that’s nothing compared to what you’ve been through. You know, you can handle that and the concept of being able to handle what life throws at you after being able to get through what you have. It’s a powerful concept and I think that that’s what we can take from having such challenges in life. If life has dealt us this kind of crap, well, we can handle the little things much more.
Clint – So, look, you have been a fascinating conversation, and I’m really, really grateful, just a couple of little takeaways on that exercise before I forget. I just want people to know the studies really support the anti-inflammatory power of high-intensity interval training, which is what boxing is. It’s really, really high intensity, high heart right activity for smaller bursts of time. And then literally you have a break between rounds in a professional boxing fight. Your high-intensity, if you have high intensity have a rest and the same thing with Bikram yoga. You do a posture, you have the twenty-second rest throughout the floor series. You do it, you have a rest is like swimming a few laps, taking a break, swim some laps. This high-intensity stuff and there’s a lot of studies coming out that I’ve become recently really engaged with and passionate about that I’m putting in the book that if we can just set aside even a few minutes to just go hard, if we can run go for a sprint, if we can only have 20 minutes to do some exercise, then make it high impact, make do what we can within the physical confinements of our joint limitations. But let’s get that heart rate up. The studies are very, very, very consistent and that’s going to reduce inflammation. So that was a really fascinating thing for me, that that you’ve incorporated that and that’s helping you. You’ve done all this great stuff. So what’s next for you? Where are you aiming for? What level of physical capacity are you hoping to achieve?
Lori – I’m working well, my goal is to be phase out the Kazar again, and I feel that my body is holding strong with where I am, with the first change of dose or the change of the dates in between each dose. So my next goal is to hopefully take it maybe once a month after I talk to my doctors. The next step and I have been adding some sprinting to my boxing routine to increase my speed and agility. So I’ve been working on that. And that’s something I shied away from because it would just hurt so much. But I’m finding that as I start improving, it’s one of those things where I just feel like I want to run and then I start to do it and I think to myself, wow, I’m running. So I’m finding that I’m incorporating jump rope again. And whereas before I’d to shy away from it because it was too much for my ankles and my knees and at one point, one hip I had inflamed. So I’m finding I can do jump rope again. So my goal would be 15 minutes of jump rope, whereas before I would shy away from it. So it’s taking things that would normally shy away from and now challenging myself to get through it and do it. I may not be good at it, but I’m certainly going to give it my all because now I’m giving myself the credit, I’ve earned my space, I’ve earned everything from decreasing my medications, and I’ve earned that. So now my next step is proving to myself that, OK, I know I can run and break the mental barriers where I would otherwise think I can’t do it because I couldn’t before. So now I’m challenging myself to start doing things that perhaps a little bit more uncomfortable, you know, instead of thinking about sparring. Now it’s time to get in the ring and spar. And with that comes increasing my ability to do more power boxing round, you know, and taking my rest and working on speed round. So I’m starting to go into those places where I would otherwise be uncomfortable. So now I’m treading in that direction. So that’s my next step as far as goals.
Clint – I love it. I love it. Absolutely love it. I recently listened to the audio version of a book called, Can’t Hurt Me by David Gorgons and anyone who doesn’t mind a bit of foul language. But he’s interested in a wonderfully inspiring story of defiance. Going listen to that. If you feel a little sorry for yourself, go and listen to that. If you need some motivation to get off the couch, go and listen to David Gorgons. Again, a little warning there’s a lot of language in the content of that book. But when you’ve been through a lot of stuff, sometimes the language reflects your emotional outlet of how that stuff impacts you and how it felt at times. So I’ve listened to that and, you know, to highlight what you’ve just said, if we can get away from comfort, we’re all just too comfortable. Comfort does not help us live the highest possible life we’re capable of. Comfort does not make us the best person we can possibly be. And comfort certainly doesn’t help reverse information. Comfort is the enemy of progress and we have to get uncomfortable. We have to do things that we know are good for us, even if they make us feel uncomfortable. In fact, because they make us feel uncomfortable and so you’re doing that. And that’s why I loved having this chat with you. And I’m really glad that we connected. You messaged me on Facebook Messenger and told me that you were doing so well on that program. And that’s how we connected and I’m grateful and I hope our audience have enjoyed this conversation. So thank you, Lori.