Lara’s health has improved tremendously since starting the Paddison Program for Rheumatoid Arthritis. In this interview we cover:

  • Lara’s journey with many types of drugs after being diagnosed with RA at the age of 2
  • Balancing social life and personal needs
  • How she was able to effectively reduce pain with the Paddison Program
  • Prejudices about losing weight
  • The importance of a supportive rheumatologist
  • Medications as a safety net
  • Bikram positions for hurting knees
  • Managing peaks and hiccups
  • Finding compatible restaurants
  • Some diet tips

Clint – Here we go again with another guest who is going to inspire us and make us really pumped. She’s going to talk about her experience with the Paddison Program for rheumatoid arthritis. Also, how she’s been able to make tremendous progress with her inflammatory arthritis. She’s all the way from Western Australia. Good day, Lara!

Lara – Good day, Clint! How are you doing? I’m happy to be on the podcast.

Clint – What a treat to be able to have an Aussie on because we haven’t had an Aussie for a while. You’ve got a story that you’re going to share with us today. You also said you’ve got some questions for me and I don’t know what they are. With that, we’re going to do those as we go. We’ve deliberately not had any discussion about your improvements. We’re going to keep this all real and fresh on this podcast. Why don’t you tell me your before and after, and then we’ll get into all the details.

Lara – I started the program earlier this year and it was March or April. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was 2 years old. I had quite a different diagnosis experience than most people in terms of experience. I can’t really remember it and don’t really know life without arthritis. I was basically on quite a lot of drugs as a young kid, as you can imagine. I think basically it was like methotrexate for the whole portion of my childhood. In combination with joint injections pretty frequently and I had 9 affected joints at one stage. It was pretty bad and my experience attain when I started biologics or when I started Enbrel probably in 2008. I’ve been on Enbrel for about 10 ish years or a bit over that now. Once I started the biologics, I just basically had no symptoms and let a really rich life in my teens or in my early 20s. I’m 26 now and I’ve kind of been progressing with the Enbrel. Well, I’ve been really lucky to have responded positively with that. But just trying to look at other alternatives to basically get off my medication and try supplements in my lifestyle. Over the past few years, there have been definitely more flares and breakthrough flares on the medication. With that, it is something that inspired me to start the program but it was quite a hard process. I think coming to terms with starting the Paddison Program and I was saying it for months. Then all my friends were being like, you keep talking about it and just do the thing. I guess I was just trying to come to terms with the fact that it was going to be a huge lifestyle change. I’m a pretty social person like a lot of my social life revolved around drinking, going out, and eating really rich meals at restaurants in Perth. With that, I knew that I have to change my lifestyle for the better. It was actually a conversation I had with my best friend at a dinner. Wherein, I was talking about the program and basically trying to get some inspiration from her to just start it. She just said something that really stuck with me. I was talking about it in the context of people are going to think this and it’s going to be annoying when I go to restaurants. Then she said that, people don’t actually mind. Also she said, if that’s the way that you’re going to think about starting, that’s how you’re going to live your life. She also said that it’s not going to be for you and it’s just going to be for others who’s losing at the end of the day. You hear it all the time on the podcast with people with arthritis like we often are the perfectionist type personality. They are people who have a lot of hobbies, doing a lot of things, and almost burn out in a way. I think a lot of the time, that’s the personality that’s associated with an autoimmune disease. I read a book by Gabor Mate called The Body Says No. I think a few guests on the podcast have talked about the book and basically it spells out personality types. People with autoimmune illness and rheumatoid is one of them, as he mentions in the book. I think it was this huge waking moment for me just to be like, I actually need to do this for myself. I also need to slow down and take the time to check in with my body. The program was started in that lap.

Clint – You work as a lawyer and because of COVID you’ve transitioned to home. Has that also been a blessing in some ways for you? To be able to spend the time getting into this in more detail, being able to prepare the foods, and being able to even look at exercise. Of course, I don’t know how much you’re doing that and we’re going to get into all that at the moment. You’ve got that career that you’re trying to preserve. But moving it to a home-based job has been really helpful for a lot of people.

Lara – I think it was definitely part of that last year being like this. Also, a lot of guests on the podcast have said the same thing. For example, you have all the opportunity to do the prep for the food at home as well and that made it much easier. I guess coming out of a really social time in my life to get more downtime. Also, being able to rearrange home life on the program and that has been very helpful. At the same time, I think there were a few times that the Bikram studios would close and you couldn’t go to yoga. I find it quite hard to do that at home and that was kind of like the downside to lockdown as well.

Clint – Yeah, don’t we all? I think the number of times I’ve actually gone start to finish at home doing a Bikram sequence on my own. I’m actually doing Bikram yoga on the honeymoon with my wife. We’re going around Hawaii for 3 weeks and we went just sightseeing around Hawaii. With that, I did the full sequence twice per day on my honeymoon and that’s a lot of time involved. I mean, not the ideal way to spend a honeymoon, but that’s been our relationship. We’ve had to accommodate arthritis as part of our relationship and it’s like the third member. But anyway, your friend gave you a wonderful way of looking at this. In which is, are you going to be on the outside or are you going to be someone who one day has a positive story to share?

Lara – Exactly.

Clint – It’s only been what like six months or something as we’re recording this since you actually started. You decided to start, jumped in, and how did you experience the inflammation after you got started? It is because you said that the Enbrel wasn’t quite holding the condition at bay as much as what it had in the past?

Lara – When I started last year, I had tried to go off my medication. There have been periods where I’ve been off medication for like 2 years at a time. I’ve gone into remission on the Enbrel and I got off it for a period of time. Then I started again when there’s been like an out-of-control flare. My rheumatologist is really good at that in terms of her specialties or with pain management. If I’m not in any pain and she’ll be like, let’s come off Enbrel. I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve never had any antibodies develop and it’s been fine when I’ve gone back on it. I came off it at the beginning of last year, I was just really flaring in my knees, and it started to get a bit out of control. I had it in my elbow and shoulder but never in my hands or feet, which has been quite lucky. The big joints like the elbows, the shoulders, the knees, and I got really bad in my hips as well. I guess that was kind of like this really disappointing part or point in my life. It is because I always kind of assumed that I could control it once I’d gone into remission. There have been periods of long remission and that was a really short period. It was just devastating going back to the rheumatologist. Then she was like, let’s start you back on Enbrel. Then I was like, I thought I was fine and I was thinking of what I did to be back on this medication. The base came back and I just felt like I never really got back to normal after that flare. It is because my knees have been funny ever since. The Enbrel wasn’t getting me completely back into remission, which I usually had. I started the program wanting to deal with all of those issues. With that, I pretty much had instant success and within 2 weeks my inflammation reduced a lot. When I started, I’d actually had a recent infection and I got my wisdom teeth out. I wasn’t taking Enbrel at that stage because I wasn’t allowed. I had three weeks off the Enbrel, my knee was pretty inflamed and I couldn’t really bend it all the way up. But with the 2 days of the juice cleanse, I was able to have a full range of motion in my knee like it was insane. People were like, this is not real and this is amazing. It is when you show them photos of like, this was yesterday and this is today. With that, they were shocked and that was like a pretty good indication that I should keep going.

Clint – It always gives me such pleasure and delight when I think back to my first experience. It was an accident with food poisoning and I essentially was not able to eat for a day. Also, cleansing myself from both ends and after all that was out of my body. Like in your case, it felt like an instantaneous miracle cure. Also, not eating is like the ultimate miracle cure for our disease.

Lara – It’s like if only we could survive with not eating.

Clint – Whenever they’ve studied this on any different animal and they restrict calories. With that, they don’t give them quite as much as the animal wants to eat. Those animals live longer and have less disease than their counterparts, who can just eat as they want and so forth. Under eating is one of the greatest longevity strategies that we have. It’s just they’ve never done the study on humans because no human ever wants to undereat.

Lara – It’s probably that our society is built around food. It’s always going to be difficult to adjust to a new diet. I remember when I started, I lost weight pretty quickly and it made people around you pretty uncomfortable. Even though I felt so good in my joints and it was the best feeling that I’ve ever felt. People around me were like, why are you losing weight? They are also asking, who is this guy and what are you doing with his program? It’s a weird thing to come to terms with that helps so much. If I do a two-day cleanse now, it just resets me and I feel really good. If I need that it’s always like a tool that you can use going forward.

Clint – Especially if just for 2 days, you don’t really need any medical supervision or any kind of additional care put in place. As long as someone’s around you and someone is keeping an eye on you. Also, it’s just for a couple of days and it wouldn’t take long. The fact that we do have the green juice that you’re drinking in addition to eating some plain salads. There are things moving through to eliminate waste. I prefer that and it’s just a preference just to keep things moving a little bit. I just found that worked for me, and that’s why it is in place. You’ve had that immediate in your story or your immediate reduction in symptoms. Also, your swelling is going down in the knees, you’re able to get more range of motion, and you’ve reintroduced the food. How did the pain levels in 3-4 weeks compared to how they’d been prior?

Lara – When I started, I was still off the Enbrel because I really wanted to have my natural body’s response to the program. Before I started the program, it was a weekly dose. By the end of the week and I’d be like, I really need this. It got to the point where it was like kind of four days in and I’d be like, I’m in so much pain and I need another injection. Then I lasted, 7 weeks on the program without needing any. In the first instance, the pain was there but it was low levels of pain. I loved it because I could really tell when I ate something like what the pain response was. I feel like if I was on the Enbrel, I wouldn’t have been able to kill. I wouldn’t have had that experience and not advocating for anyone to take matters into their own hands. I think my rheumatologist was always really supportive of just take it as much as you need it because you know your body. Even to this day, she knows I’m not taking a weekly dose and she’s quite supportive of me just taking it when I need it.

Clint – It’s enormously liberating to have that approval from your doctor. This is the relationship with a rheumatologist that we all are striving for. A doctor that could say, the evidence is there to support what you’re doing and it’s not my area of expertise. Also, I can tell you in my area of expertise, which is all of the medication side of things that whilst you don’t develop antibodies. With that, it sounds that you are able to intermittently use that biologic. While you are not having any negative sort of consequences from my perspective. I just love the way that you’ve interacted with her and how she’s gone about this thing.

Lara – She’s really supportive of the Paddison Program and she’d never heard of it before, but I told her about it. Then I said to her that this program is interesting. Then she noticed that my fingernails looked anemic and I was like, I’m low in iron, but I’m going to get an iron transfusion. Then she said, there are also ways you can get iron through plants on a plant-based diet. It was kind of like the first time a health professional had ever not scared me for being vegan. You don’t get that response from a lot of health professionals where it’s like, a diet can help you. I got told once from a GP, you have to eat a room full of mushrooms to ever get enough iron from a plant-based diet? But that’s not the only way you can get iron. It was really enlightening, I have a lot of respect for her, and she’s super supportive. It took a bit of time to reintroduce foods, but I think I had the safety net as well as with the Enbrel. If I kind of knew that if I ever introduce something that I had a massive flare, I still had my medication. For that reason, I got back into the fat after I introduced the avocado and it took me 2 months. It was fine, but still don’t have a lot of fat. I do notice if I ate lots of fat, especially with nut butter. I can’t have too much and I do the sprouting of the nuts before I eat them and that seems to help me with digesting.

Clint – Nut butter and sprouted whole nuts are entirely different foods. You’ve got a nut butter and it’s immediately oxidized because its outer shell is broken. You’ve got a massive cross-sectional area exposed to oxygen and you’ve just got instant oxidation like when you bite into an apple. You see it with the apple and you don’t see it with the sprouted whole nuts, especially if you’ve bought it. If you didn’t do it yourself and you’ve bought this product, how many months has that become an unrecognizable food by turning it into sludge and putting it into a jar? If you’re soaking raw nuts, then you’ve pretty much just taken something directly from the way it would have been in nature and its own package. Its water has come from the skies and these things would have been eaten in our biological history for as long as human beings have been walking around. All of the reasons that we go into in the book about why the soaking also reduces the inflammatory process. Yeah, that’s all interesting. Where are you now with regards to this fine dance between Enbrel doses and the way you eat or exercise? How do you or what’s your little balance at the moment?

Lara – I also did Bikram a lot when I started the program. I think that really helped in terms of reducing inflammation. It was kind of like the perfect exercise for where I was at that time. I guess I wasn’t really feeling like being in the gym or doing much cardio. I’d lost a bit of weight and just really wanted to focus on getting my knee back to strength. I was doing physio and Bikram, and it helped me to be able to pace out the diet. I think it’s been about 8 weeks now since my last 50 mg dose. I’ve listened to the most recent podcast and I think it was with Melissa. It’s kind of like this emotional attachment to the meds and I think I have the same. It’s almost like a safety net and I don’t really know if I need it. I think there are times where I have a bit of a painful day and I’m like, it’s time to take the medicine. But it’s probably just like mentally and I’m a bit anxious to be completely off the medication. But I’ve done a lot of research as well and I think it’s the 3 month mark that you start to have no amber left in your system. I’m hoping to get there soon and maybe see if I notice anything really different.

Clint – It’s interesting and I do not know the data on that, I know that one of our guests around about 8 months ago. I think her name was Cara, she was on Humira, and she was going from every 2 weeks. Then after she’d been on the Paddison Program for several months, she was able to stretch to like 3 weeks and then 4 weeks. Also, her rheumatologist was exactly like yours and I think that’s just coincidental. You’ve got a female patient, a female rheumatologist, on biologics, everyone involved, happy to spread the doses and keep an eye on the antibodies. When I spoke to her, she was on a 90-day interval at that point which is 3 months and the same as yours. With this 3 month mark, the data might be around 3 months for the body to completely clear from the subject.

Lara – I’ve not been able to find a definitive and on the internet it says different things in different studies. But in terms of anecdotal evidence, most people I think flare out after three months. Yes, it is certainly something that I just get nervous that it’s going to happen. I just feel like I’m in so much control right now and I’m not in a rush to get completely off it, but I don’t feel dependent on it anymore. It’s just crazy that I was literally going week to week not feeling like it was enough. For example, some of my friends would look at my kneecap now and they are surprised. They’ve said, your knee has never looked good. Yeah, this has always been a problem. With that, I’m doing like single-leg squat and it’s really insane.

Clint – I feel like saying a prayer or I just feel like saying thank you, God. It’s just that’s how I feel right at this moment and just give thanks to God, that is just incredible. Single leg squatting, I also find lunges really good too. What I mean is, do not change what you are doing right now. Most leg exercises that work are all variations of the same thing. If you think about a squat, a single leg squat, a lunge, and step-ups, they’re all just the same exact action. It is just a simple forward movement with the quad contracting, lifting up the knee, and then pushing back down again. You don’t need to be a genius to work with your knees, right? By contrast, just about every other thing that is not that stirs up the knees. Also, things like hamstring curls and things like that. I have to think hard because those are things I don’t have in my life. I already remembered and it is leg presses at the gym when you’re inverted. Just remember, anything that’s just not what we’ve just been talking about tends to stir stuff up. I’m sorry, you were going to say something?

Lara – I think the hamstring curls don’t do well for me or anything with like pressure on the hamstring. I actually found Bikram when I was doing it regularly. The single-legged poses like the bow and even like forehead to knee. If I was putting too much pressure on my knee, it would really hurt. I think it was in the hamstring where I could feel referred pain and it would irritate the knee. I think because my knee is so sensitive, that joint has had so much inflammation over my life. They don’t do well, but I’m working on strengthening it.

Clint – It sounds like you’ve got your little perfect Lara routine for your knees and that’s working. Then, when we have that it’s precious, right? With that, it is your custom little routine that each of us has to find. You’ve got questions like, what are we emphasize within that range of knee sort of activities and what is it that works best for us at that time? Then you sound like you’ve got that nailed in. I can tell you right for me what I like to do at this moment. It is because I was never able to do this very well and I like doing this now. At night, I’ll just kneel in front of my bed and just say a short prayer. I’ve been doing that for a very long time and it’s very simple, but what I do is I am still leaning forward over the bed. I then lean back as if I’m going to get into what Bikram terms you’ll know as a fixed firm pose. For those people who don’t know, it’s just basically attempting to sit in between your heels. You’re trying to sit down on your heels, but your feet are just out a little bit to allow room for your bottom to sit on the floor. Now I have never and I don’t remember far back enough to ever remember if I’ve ever been able to sit on my heels. I just can’t remember the feeling of sitting on my heels. I’ve touched my bottom to my heels in Bikram before, but I’ve never been able to sit down. What I do is I just attempt to do that each night for a little while. I don’t use my hands, so I get a really good burn in the quads and the connective tissue above the kneecap. Those connective tissues and tendons are just hanging on trying to hold me in that position. I’ll hold that for 30 or 40 seconds and then release it as I stand up and do a quad stretch. Those little things just feel like good little maintenance things. I don’t use my hands, I just hold and sometimes I get to do a full camel.

Lara – Yeah, I love the Bikram. It’s just so enlightening and you can really feel your body’s limits. Also, not every exercise gives you that sense of checking in with your limits while doing that alongside the program. I can see my improvement, range of motion, and strength. Now I’m like swimming, back in the gym, and I’m not doing regular Bikram anymore, I still do Yoga class here and there, I’m swimming and doing my gym workouts, which I feel like I’m really ready for now.

Clint – That’s amazing! Would it be fair to say that you’ve gone through this process in the most convenient way? You’ve started out and you’ve had a little bit of weight loss. Then you’ve maintained pain reduction even though you’ve reintroduced safe foods. It is because those foods are strategically selected to keep inflammation low. You’ve then been able to utilize exercise in a way that you weren’t before. It is because your symptoms are lower and you’re able to do more. Also, it has contributed to more healing, more confidence, and then you’ve been able to put the weight back on. Also, you got strong again and your arms look very strong. You don’t look like someone who has anything other than their ideal body weight. It does seem like everything is just going perfectly in the way that it’s sort of expected. We’d love it for it just to be no pain, no effort, no exercise, and you just get there. But there is this sort of process that the body has to go through.

Lara – Yeah, it’s so funny. I think whenever I have a little hiccup, sometimes it’s like 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. My knee feels a bit weaker after 1 week and I’m just like, I need to take a week off. Then at the same time, I often think I’ve reached my peak healing and I feel so good. Then the week after that, I’ll just feel so much better. Then I’ll be like, I feel way better and it just keeps going. It’s like you plateau and then there’s still more healing that’s being done. You’re just not conscious because it’s just become normal now. I was saying to my partner, like probably a few months ago when I had to do the Enbrel. I was like, I’m just so disappointed and I get really sad when I feel like I have to do it. Then he was like, you made so much progress and it’s been not even a year. Then he also said, taking a step back and look at how much progress you’ve made. Then I was like, I do constantly just feel better able to introduce more foods. I think I just found a really good balance of knowing when I’ve pushed it and it’s intuitive now. I don’t really have to do the reintroducing and I just know if I eat something different. I’ll just have a sense of like, I overdid that or I’m triggered from that food. It’s not as strict as I was in the beginning with the program. I think you kind of learn to just listen to this intuitive sense of what is and is not good for you.

Clint – I remembered the four stages of competency, but the later stage is an unconscious competency. It means that you basically got it. For example, you understand how to speak the English language when you are little and you develop it. Then it doesn’t become something that you may have to think about. In the same way, you just develop this relationship with the food, exercise, and with every joint there’s a relationship. You know what it likes and what it doesn’t like? You build this routine or a life routine that supports that joint and supports your overall strength. Also, being able to also accommodate going out at night to restaurants and just you make it or you make it work. How has your social interactions been as a result? Was it like your friend said and eventually they’ll understand your friends will just run with it?

Lara – Yeah, I think it was really hard in the beginning. It is when you can’t really go out to restaurants. It wasn’t that long, but it does feel like you’re always going to be eating such a restricted diet when you started. You can’t imagine getting to where I am now very quickly and it doesn’t happen quickly. I found that really hard, but now my friends are so supportive. Obviously, the people that aren’t supportive, but no one has not been supportive and I’ve been really lucky. I just go to the restaurants that I know can accommodate, which I find is like any Asian restaurant. They serve steamed vegetables, rice, or sushi and I go out for that a lot. Then I’ve also had, like some times where I cheated and had a bit of oil, but still vegan food. I definitely feel it and it’s definitely not something I want to get into the habit of doing. I’ve had the tools to just get back on the train after I’ve had a little flare up from it. I posted on Instagram a photo of this salad I had at one restaurant and it was like a Brussel sprouts salad. But it was actually just deep-fried Brussels sprouts and I had five of them. Then I was like, I can’t eat this and it’s just going to be terrible tomorrow. After that day, it was painful and like my elbow blew off. It probably took me about a week, which isn’t that long, but a week to get back to normal pain level. There are definitely some places where I just have been too lazy to check the menu before and have gone there. Then I’ll be like, there’s nothing here I can eat or I’ve thought a salad was an actual salad. For example with the deep-fried Brussels sprouts, I should have just asked. But I’m still getting there and I still feel like a bit of a hassle.

Clint – I’ve heard of other people in our community who have shown me requests that they’ve made at restaurants. With that believe me, you’re not a hassle. There are so many more extremes that you could take it. To be fair, it’s not just folks who eat a plant-based diet. There are so many weird and wonderful combinations of dietary modifications that chefs must get these days and it must be awful to be a chef. For example someone comes in and says, I need it to be gluten-free and I can’t have any of that because I’m allergic to shellfish.

Lara – I’ve worked in hospitality and I know what they’re saying behind the counter. I think it’s probably just a revolution that our society is making now where they’d have to be more accommodating. With that, every restaurant has vegan options now. I was vegan actually back in 2016 or 2017, and I found it more difficult then to eat out than it is now.

Clint – Y0ou mentioned a couple of good places and Japanese is always a staple. I used to always order the steamed rice and then some miso soup. It is where I got the idea to develop my mega miso soup meal. It has rice, you put on dulce seaweed, miso paste and mix it all together. Also, that was developed on the road while I was entertaining on a cruise ship somewhere between Korea and Japan. The cruise ship traveled between those destinations and I was performing on the cruise ship. Then I was getting off and thinking, What do I eat? It is because you can only take with you a Tupperware container of food for so long and you have cruise ship food. When we were docking at ports, where can I go? I mean, I’m in an Asian world and I need to work this out. I was just going to restaurants and just ordering heaps of steamed rice and miso. Then I was just mixing them together, and that’s how it came about. The kids are into it now because they’ve develop a taste for it.

Lara – I was having miso paste on rice crackers the other day. My boyfriend was like, what is that? I was like, it’s like Vegemite and it’s so good. I think it’s definitely a process of getting back to restaurants. But I definitely want to stress that when you’re in those first few weeks of the program. If you’re starting out, it’s not going to be like that for a while. Then you become much more flexible and you just get used to the different food.

Clint – Do you find your local restaurants, as you’ve done? For us, it’s Mexican and we’ll eat at Mexican restaurants. Then, you can just eat beans and rice at Mexican restaurants. They don’t cook their beans in pig fat, which surprisingly more than just a couple actually do. But if they’re vegetarian beans and it is served with rice. For an Indian restaurant, I always have the yellow daal or the yellow daal tadka. Most of their daals are often with lentils and then with spices added. But some have a little ghee and some are cooked in the little oil. Well, you crossed that bridge once and you can graduate to that level. If you’re fine with the ghee and If you’re a strict vegan, maybe not. I don’t mind to add little bit of ghee here and there because it enables me to eat with my family. It also has a ratio of 1 -1 for essential fats between Omega-3 and Omega-6. I’m not saying go and eat it deliberately. I’m saying if you might find it fine and that’s good. It’s better than oil if we’re talking about fatty acid ratios. We did talk about again, the Japanese restaurant. Those three options can always pick up some cucumber rolls or whatever that it is that is available. Yeah, that is not the problem.

Lara – Another tip that I found as I was listening to a podcast and I forgot her name. I really was sad that I couldn’t have oats for a while because I loved oats and I was getting really stiff from them. It probably took me about 2 1/2 months to recover. But a lady on the program was saying that she drinks her green juice straight after she eats her oats. I started doing that and it was like next-level work. I could just have oats from then on and that’s a big tip. If anyone, just try to find things within the program that work for you. Also, listen to the podcast because there are so many tips.

Clint – That is fantastic, was that on our podcast?

Lara – Yes, I forgot who it was. I was like, I’m going to try it and it worked.

Clint – Well, I’d forgotten that one. Just drink green juice or celery cucumber juice with or just after the oats. With that, it will help the oats become less active. We know there are so many benefits to the microbiome from eating oats. With that, I call it cheat in the foods that we want to eat somehow. Then at a particular time when I was at the airport and it’s hard when you are traveling. I used to eat french fries and cheat them with baby spinach, which is the weirdest flavor combination. Sometimes you do these weird things when you’re trying to make sure that you don’t get inflammation.

Lara – Yeah, definitely. There’s always a way that you can modify your food.

Clint – How does life feel now, given that you were party Lara and now your health advocate Lara? Tell me what it feels like to be you now compared to before.

Lara – It’s very different and the same with my attitude towards life. I feel so much calmer and just way more grounded. I think that just comes from a sense of knowing myself a bit better. I’m just really taking that time to focus on my body and my health and I feel like I’ve really slowed down. I think that’s probably a product of not being hungover or going out, staying up late, and all those things. It is where you do them when you’re young and you can do pretty much anything. My mom is very healthy and when I was a kid she was really into the holistic stuff. For example, she would do acupuncture for me and I went to quite a lot of naturopaths. It kind of felt like this life cycle is coming back and I felt that it was always a part of it. Then, when I’ve gone back to where I always felt like I needed to be, does that make sense? Like, I always really wanted to be focusing more on my health. I never liked the idea that I had to be on medication like I’ve never felt comfortable with that.

Clint – You were diagnosed at the age of 2 years old and you have just been through the wringer. It reminds me a little bit of Katie who, you would see her story if you did watch her podcast. She was diagnosed at the age of 1 year old and was also on methotrexate from age 1. She went through exactly like yourself and got to her teenage years on methotrexate before becoming one of the very first adopters of Enbrel. She just turned 30 and she may have been on her Enbrel just maybe 2-3 years before you did. She would have been about 15 years ago or something like that she started and put it that way. You’ve only known arthritis. You’ve only known, you know? Yeah, yeah. But you had many years.

Lara – I think in a way, maybe it’s been easier because I’ve heard these diagnosis stories. It would have just been so confusing not knowing. It is because I think a lot of the symptoms of arthritis are different or they’re not textbook. A lot of people’s experience is so different from others and you hear these stories of misdiagnosis. I just would have been almost like not knowing any different has helped. Obviously, I don’t remember the traumatic parts of the diagnosis. I think for a lot of people it would have just been hard to have my own life without it. Then just have to do this huge adjustment and grieving process, whereas it’s kind of always been there for me. I don’t know if it’s easier or just different.

Clint – I admire that viewpoint. I think that you’re being kind by adopting that viewpoint. I think that it shows a wonderful aspect of your personality. I feel like I’m just getting to know you more and more as we chat, while this being the first time. It is because what it tells me is that your interpretation of the stack of cards that you’ve been handed. In some ways, not necessarily worse than someone who was diagnosed as an adult. Also, it takes a very special human to at least even entertain that could be a possibility. With that, hats off to you because that is a helpful, supportive insight or interpretation, and it’s healing. As I said, a healthy interpretation because you can’t go back in time and change it and you cannot change that. Just say to yourself, there are some benefits of having this and it’s very admirable. Also, I think that all contributes to a happier life.

Lara – Yeah, definitely! Your perspective is on point and I don’t think that the victim mentality helps at all in this disease.

Clint – Exactly. The way that I got through that was to say, there’s got to be a reason and that’s what I hung on to. I never and have never fallen into the victim. I have always thought, what the hell caused this and how do I stop it? A very logical mindset approach and applied all my energy towards that, which has helped me. If something’s wrong, fix it take action and that’s been my whole way of dealing with it. It is because all of us could easily say this is the crappiest disease in the world. As you go through the no cure, it’s lifelong, and you can keep symptoms down, but then we could stir them up. We have to eat in a way to keep them down. It is because the drugs and the disease are nasty. We can spend time there, but does it help? In which, it doesn’t and we just need to say, we know that’s the truth and we know that that exists. But we also can focus on our energy somewhere else and just not spend time there. You see a lot of people spending time there on these free online forums. Then, they go there and then someone comes along and says, I just changed and I’m doing really well. Then you get the long-term rheumatoid miseries coming in and then I know they don’t watch this podcast because this is too much. You can say, you can take responsibility here. Also, there are some things that you can do and that don’t appeal to a lot of people.

Lara – There are lots of people that you can tell haven’t really made peace with their disease. I would see that so often on my Facebook groups and it’s a hard thing. If you’re stressed about the disease, that’s just going to create more of a feedback loop in your body. You really have to teach your body a different way of thinking.

Clint – There’s an element of fake it till you make it going on. There is a situation where when you feel good and you think you’re improving. You’ve convinced yourself enough from the evidence that you’re experiencing with your inflammation, that you’re actually getting better. Also, it has a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way that’s unquantifiable and unscientific, but it just somehow helps. When we think we’re getting worse and we’re worried about it, just like you said, it plays out. It is why we got to celebrate every victory even though they are just small victories. My elbows feel a little bit better this week than last week and that needs to be the focus of our thoughts, what we talk about, and we’ve got to build that. Just let the universe know and our mind know that it’s the direction that we are going, and we want you to deliver.

Lara – It’s true of like when you’ve had a bad week. For instance at work, I’m just that little bit stiff for the next week and my mindset is a huge part of it. I think when I’m stressed, I noticed I get stiff on more pain and that’s something part of the program for me. I was really enjoying yoga for that reason as well. You have to set aside time for the meditating and the positive affirmations as well. I like to often say when I’m feeling so good and I have no symptoms like, I don’t have arthritis anymore and what’s that like? You just try to push it as far back as you can. It’s easy to do that when you have no symptoms and then you kind of forget that you have this disease. It should be that way because I think the more you think about it, the more likely it is to be obvious.

Clint – There’s a really good conversation with Dr. Nisha Manek at the summit that we’re about to have. I think it was one of the only things we talked about briefly before we hit record here. She talks about how we can create our future and this concept of focused intention, which can manifest the outcomes that we want. This is all the wonderful discussion that I have had with Dr. Manek, the Rheumatologist. The focused intention is a healing process and that’s fascinating. It just supports exactly what we’ve been talking about here. Has your relationship improved with your mother, your boyfriend, and others? Can you tell us about that? Have your relationships mostly improved?

Lara – Yeah, definitely. I think my partner and I have become much more of a team. He’s been so supportive and I work full time, so he’s worked from home. If I’m having a busy week, he’ll make the juices for me and prepare dinner. Also, he has been doing pretty much the program with me. Like he’ll eat all the same meals as me and he is really enjoying it too. I think everyone’s just happy for me to see me doing so well like with friends and family. Everyone’s just yet surprised as well and a lot of people are like, that’s insane and they can’t believe it. In short, it definitely improved relationships. Like any change in your life that just brings you to like the next chapter. I think it’s just been this real big change that’s kind of like it will do over the course of how I live in the future. I think your relationships obviously change as a result of personal changes.

Clint – It’s great. You had some questions for me and why don’t we take care of those. After that, then we can bring this to a close.

Lara – Okay, great! I kind of just wanted your advice about fermented foods. How often do you think is prudent to be eating those? I noticed when I’m having sauerkraut in my salad every day, I experience a little bit of stiffness but I’m not sure. I often can’t put it down to the sauerkraut, but I’m wondering if there’s such thing as too many fermented foods. With that, I’m struggling to find consistent information online. But in your experience, is there any advice?

Clint – There’s an answer that I want to give and there’s an answer that is what I have to give. The answer that I want to give is that there is scientific evidence to show that the consumption of fermented foods improves the diversity of our gut bacteria. Therefore, we should eat them freely as often as we like. Given that the ingredients in the purest form are cabbage or maybe some other plant and some salt. There’s nothing in there that is concerning, worrisome, or anything that we should avoid. Unfortunately, I cannot just give that answer because working with so many people over so many years. I hear the same story that you’ve just given, which is attempting to add fermented foods frequently or daily to eating patterns. With that, it tends to cause a little bit of reaction and I can’t explain it. I don’t know why and I don’t think the use of salt is excessive in these particularly locally made naturally produced fermented foods. It is because it’s complex and we’re talking about how those foods interact with each individual’s gut bacteria. Then, you’re going to have a different interaction with every individual. It is because no 2 people have the same microbiome. I eat fermented foods frequently and there’s a locally made one that we love it. The ingredient are cabbage, cumin seeds, salt, turmeric, and that’s it. I just thrive on that and I like that, except it tends to create a little wind. It’s a bit gassy after the sauerkraut and that’s the only side effect that I noticed. But it just comes down individually, right? With that, try a different brand or try a locally made one. You’ve got to be careful and this is for our folks in the US. There are some really famous brands that appear to be perfectly 100% traditionally homemade that have been flash heated. The enzymatic activity that we’re so hopeful of getting into us has been destroyed. I won’t mention brand names, but just try and get something that’s small volume made or locally produced. It is because it’s always going to be the best.

Lara – Yeah, cool. I have another question for you that I would like you to answer. When eating packaged foods that are still unprocessed. They’re processed, but they don’t have additives or preservatives and I’ve noticed there might still be a reaction. For example, with the buckwheat rice cakes type stuff, bread, salad or bread from like your Coles or Woolworths. Then, you look at the ingredients and there’s nothing suspicious in there. But you feel a little bit like this and it just makes me feel a bit stiff still. I’m just wondering how that kind of processed nature contributes to information, even though the ingredients might only be like buckwheat and salt?

Clint – It’s a good question. I can recall going through this period where I was trying to get onto the snacky sort of thing. I was sort of talking about snacks now and I don’t eat them anymore. It is because it’s been a while since I was trying to move through that sequence. Also, I experienced the same as what you have, which is they just don’t quite assimilate as gently and as impactfully as the natural version of the same foods. I found other snacks like whole foods that are delicious, can be transported, and carried around easily that aren’t processed. As specifically, why something like a cracker that is just made out of foods that you can already tolerate that has no apparent preservatives or additives or whatever? Why does that seem inflammatory for the body? All I can speculate is that maybe the fiber has been removed from the food. If we look at white rice, it’s still processed food, which has had a lot of the key ingredients removed from its original brown rice. With that, a rice cracker is probably made from white rice and it’s already missing half of its goodness. Then how do they make it? Obviously, there’s a lot of heat involved and any kind of heat-sensitive plant materials that your body is used to are not in that food. I’m just searching for an explanation that ultimately is going to come down to a summary of being and it’s just somewhat foreign. It’s just not a food that your body can say, I recognize that because it’s biologically compatible. If we’re otherwise healthy and we’ve never had an autoimmune disease, the body is just like a big grinding machine and grind down everything. But when we’re hypersensitive with an autoimmune disease, anything that enters the bloodstream could irritate the heck out of us. With that, we’re going to be really cautious about it. In the future, you might be able to eat those without a problem. But right now, if you’re looking for some snacks to get your bite. I like dates like and I”m just getting some Medjool dates. The only downside with dates like is just a dental problem. There’s no negative impact of eating lots of dates, except they can really destroy your teeth enamel and you’ve got to watch that. If you’re worried about weight gain, which most of us aren’t, but just covering everyone if someone’s a little overweight. There are about 60 calories in a single date. If you’re looking at Medjool dates, which are the ones I eat, they’re quite delicious and big. You can eat quite a lot of excess calories if you’re eating them all the time and it’s the only downside. I was reading a read a very long article from Ocean Robbins. In which, it went through all the studies just the other day, hit my inbox and I read it enthusiastically. It is because I’m like, I want to know if there’s anything bad about dates. He didn’t even mention the enamel and I worked out the enamel the hard way. It is because I did a raw food diet for 8 months. When you eat that much fruit, you’ve got to watch your enamel.

Lara – That’s true! Those are the two questions that I had in my mind.

Clint – Any other strategic questions? I love questions and we’ll finish up with a strategy question.

Lara – I actually did have another question. What is the effect that you’ve noticed if any of eating like vegetable glycerin? I see that ingredient and not in oil, but I think it’s a process processed fat that comes from vegetables. I see it in a lot of pockets, but I don’t know if it’s wearisome.

Clint – The answer is I don’t know anything about it, but Google tells me that is a form of sugar alcohol that your body cannot fully absorb. With that, consuming too much alone or through foods may lead to gas or diarrhea. If it’s low in fat and it’s derived from vegetables. Then my first response without studying it or knowing about it is I might be fine and I’ve not looked into it at all. If it’s very small quantities made to make food look a little shinier or whatever it’s designed for. like a rice cracker, then. If it has a very small quantity, I think that I might be fine, but I don’t know. This has been awesome and it’s been just fun chatting. I hope people have enjoyed listening to our conversation and we’ve gone over several different things. From mindset, manifestation, Bikram yoga, knees, different exercises, and so on. I hope it’s been helpful.

Clint – Thank you so much for sharing. I know that you’re still in a maturing phase of where your healing journey is at. You know more than anyone knows that this is literally a life disease that you’ve had for as long as you can remember. In that sense, your new journey is just literally still at the starting line. It’s exciting to see where you’ll be in a year or after 2 years. With that, it’s certainly really exciting.

Lara – Yeah, it’s super exciting. I like thinking about all these girls that I have. I definitely want to make a recipe book like the Paddison Program. It is because I love cooking and that’s something I’m going to try and work towards in the next year or so.

Clint – What about this then, given that I’m in the goals? Why don’t you put together some examples for us and then we’ll do another podcast together. Then, you show us how you’ve made some of the foods, or even if you just have those foods available. Then we can look at the foods, talk about what’s in them, and how you made them. Then, we’ll showcase just a couple of the meals that you’ve made. With that, it will start to manifest this recipe book, which will be awesome. Have you read Iida’s book, which is a kitchen fairy tale?

Lara – Yeah, I’ve got it at home.

Clint – It’s beautiful. She’s had great success with that book and it’s so needed. It is because Melissa’s looking after three kids and I can’t cook to save my life. All the foods that you’ve seen in my program are so simple, right? So between the two of us, it’s not exactly on the need to-do list. With that, more food please and more recipes definitely would be great.

Lara – It’s so inspiring and I just love cooking. I think as well at the beginning of the program, to be able to see the types of food that you end up graduating to that might help people. It’s not all like steamed potatoes forever.

Clint – Absolutely! Please do that and I’ll support that by spreading the word. Then collaborating with you however you would like and that would be great. If anyone doesn’t have Iida’s book, a kitchen fairy tale, go and grab it. It’s fantastic and she’s been a huge supporter of our work. It sounds like, we’ll be doing some great stuff together as well. Thank you so much for coming on today, Lara. Keep up the great work!

Lara – Thank you so much, Clint! Thanks for all your help! It’s been so amazing and your journey is the biggest inspiration. Thank you so much.

Clint Paddison

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    1. Hi Clint, for intolerance to the fermented foods and the processed products, have you considered that ot may be a histamine intolerance reaction. While you can get respiratory reactions due to histamine. I believe you can also get muscle stiffness and pain as a reaction

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