With the right mindset, a setback of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can become an opportunity to improve our life under many aspects.

We discuss in this interview:

  • Eshita’s setback with massive knee inflammation, and how she has been able to recover from it
  • The importance of taking immediate action
  • The power of meditation
  • Consistency and the help that came from the Paddison Program for Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Physical effects of meditation
  • Deep breathing techniques
  • Subconscious stress and personality types
  • Personal agenda and seeing the big picture
  • Diet and lifestyle changes
  • Exercise advice

Clint – We are going to chat today with Ishita, who’s been on the podcast 13 months ago. She’s back to give us some insights. We’re going to talk about how she had a setback. We’re going to talk about the things that she changed and the things that she has emphasized to get her out of that setback. It includes mindset, meditation, diet, exercise, and some other great things. So, Ishita, welcome back all the way from India. How are you?

Eshita – Thank you, I’m so happy to be here and I’m doing well. How are you?

Clint – I’m doing great. We’re in Florida at the moment and I’m enjoying a change of scenery and environment. I was looking forward to hearing about the modifications that you’ve made. It is because when we last spoke, you were doing great. You were able to even run again for the first time in many years. You shared this inspirational video of you on the beach. It was so wonderful and so many people commented about that and how inspiring it was. RA is such a beast and we’re living in a Life of Pi situation. If something goes quite a little bit off, then the beast can attack us. It appears that it happened to you and I want to hear about that. Then, we’re going to talk about what you’ve done and focused on to recover back out of that.

Eshita – Yeah, sure. The beast definitely came back almost immediately after our podcast. I think it was at the end of November or something. I ate something outside, although I’m super careful, something triggered and I had a massive flare-up in my knee. My knee is the weakest joint, so I had a massive flare-up. I went back to like, maybe 1 or 2 on the scale, and I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t walk down the stairs and all of that. Then, I had to go back on steroids and painkillers, maybe just for a couple of days or so. I weep a lot thinking I’m going back on medication, and I don’t like this and all of that. However, that’s when I realized that medicines are not the enemy. As you say, pain is the enemy and I had to do it all over again, but it wasn’t for too long. I just did the steroids and the painkiller for a week or so, and then the inflammation came down. Regardless, it took a while to kind of get back to what I was. It was a hard time, but I think I learned that I need to be mentally a little stronger to kind of work. I had to kind of convince myself that it was going to be all right. I’ve done this before or this has happened before. Thus, all I need to do is follow the diet and go slow on the exercise in the beginning. Eventually, catch up to where I was and I did exactly that for the Paddison Program has always been the foundation for me. So no matter what happens, you can go back repair yourself, and get back to what you were. I think having the program in my hand gave me the confidence that I could do it. I’ve done it before, so I can do it again.

Clint – Yeah, that’s one of the same thoughts that I had when I was on my own before we had a community. I was going through this, and I was just thinking. If I just go back to the basic foods, I can get rid of my pain again, and I’m just going to keep doing that whenever I need to. It was a process that I repeated over and over again as I tried new foods and I couldn’t eat them. I went back to having that confidence as a safety net that you can always fall back to is massive. When you have a disease, you can often feel out of control and that’s great. Now, I also appreciate the immediate panic that can set in when we have a setback. I know that panic immediately. As soon as you feel like something’s not right, you panic.

Eshita – Yes, you’ve done it before, but yet you’re just gone. I’m like, what am I going to do next? Then, that’s when the mind kind of tells itself that, it’s okay because you’ve done it and you can repair yourself.

Clint – I think we panic quickly because we know the scale of the problem that we’re dealing with. That’s true. We know how life-changing the implications are if we don’t get that inflammation down.

Eshita – Yes, we are immediately scared as to how bad it’s going to get or how aggravated it’s going to get. Thus, that’s always a question mark as to what is going to happen. So whatever it is, I think we have to deal with it. The cure for the pain is in the pain. Thus, we have to kind of sit with it and kind of get through it. So I think, there is no option but that.

Clint – The sort of phrase that I like to use is, when the house is on fire, don’t let it burn, like immediately throw everything at it. If that means some medication, throw it at it or throw everything at it. Let’s get the inflammation down and just take massive action. If ever something is not quite right with me, I think what’s my intervention? How do I interrupt this process immediately? Thus, it might look like a green juice or a green smoothie. It might look like some antioxidant supplements a trip to the gym or a walk in nature. It might also just mean getting away from the computer where you’re sitting at your desk all the time, whatever it might be. We have to do something, don’t we?

Eshita – Yes. Taking immediate action, I think, is the number one step.

Clint – Yeah. Love it. Okay. Now, let’s talk about the mindset. I think this was the main focus of why you reached out. I’ve learned some new ways to handle this condition mentally. I’m interested because this is something we can all benefit from.

Eshita – First, I started meditating every day. For me, sitting for two minutes was impossible or my mind was all over the place. Even the thought of sitting in a place wasn’t going to work. I started meditating about three years ago. Now, I just kind of sit or I need to sit by myself every day for at least 15 to 20 minutes, which I slowly want to stretch up to an hour or so. It’s a long way to go, but I at least want to sit with myself for 15 to 20 minutes. That’s when I am solely by myself and I’m listening to myself to you get solutions. When you are kind of sitting and just being in the stillness doing stillness, that’s what it is. I think you can just listen to yourself and tell things to yourself. It is when I realized that you need to become one with you. As in, your mind and your body have to come together because there’s any way conflict happening outside of you. There’s always conflict even inside of you. There is a conflict because of which there is the pain. I think to kind of nullify the conflict, you need to come together all by yourself. There is this saying of AA, where you control what you can and let go of what you cannot control and have the wisdom to know the difference. I strongly kind of stick by that. I have to let go of things I can’t do and control. It is really hard to adapt, but I think doing this resolves struggles inside you, and that’s what has happened to me. If I let go of things, I know I cannot do anything about it. I just let go and just be grateful for what I have, and that’s about it. I’m just grateful for everything that I have all of my joints and all of my body. It’s struggling so hard, fighting so hard every day to keep me alive. Thus, with all the gratitude and everything that I have generally, I think that was a big change. It helped me strengthen my mind and I kept doing all the work that I could. As you said, I always take action every day. It’s like I take action every day and I don’t miss a day. I stick to my discipline because you would need to have discipline. Otherwise, I don’t think you’re going to come out of it, to be honest. Consistency is everything. Consistency in your work, food, exercise, and mental work. I think you shouldn’t look for motivation because motivation is not going to come. You have to do it no matter what and do not wait for motivation. Stay consistent and just do the work. This way, your mind gets stronger because you get confidence.

Clint – Yes. Did you notice any symptomatic improvement from implementing an increased amount of meditation? Was it purely that it benefited you in terms of your emotional and mental state, so that you could then make better decisions, and that in turn helped you?

Eshita – I think it’s both ways it goes hand in hand. The more I sit and think about that, it’s going to be all right. There are going to be crappy days or bad days. However, sitting through them knowing that there’s going to be a better tomorrow or having hope and working on it, I think they both go hand in hand. The more confident you become, the more work you do and it’s all a circle.

Clint – Yes, I agree with that too. Studies have shown that sitting in meditation and doing mindfulness and deep breathing exercises. Thus, all of the above increases glutathione, which is an antioxidant in our body. It is crucial for reducing inflammation because we generate so many free radicals due to the autoimmune inflammatory process. We know that it decreases the stress response, which is linked to a leaky gut. Thus, it is one of the main mechanisms of the disease. There’s a direct pathway to inflammation reduction via meditation. However, that’s not the actual reason why I think you might even recommend it. It’s to be able to manage the condition because we need to have our mental and emotional buckets filled. Thus, we can then handle the physical side that’s required and the actions that we have to take, don’t we?

Eshita – Yes, absolutely. This is not something that you can just give up on. It’s not working out. I can’t, but this is something you have to do regardless of how you feel. Whatever. Even if you don’t feel like exercising one day, it’s not an option and that’s how it is. It is because you lose a day. I think also being in the present and dealing with it and not being in denial basically, and not accepting. If you just deny your feelings, it’s not going to work. You cannot deny your emotions and you just need to accept your emotions. Sit with your emotions and be in the present. It is a big thing that I’ve learned to be in the present because thinking of the past or worrying about the future is not going to give us anything. I think just being in the present has been a game changer because I also sketch. I’m an artist, so I sketch every day. I am in the moment when I’m sketching something, and that puts me in place and it helps a lot.

Clint – Yes. Let’s also stay on the meditation topic for just a little bit longer. Another fascinating study was done a comparison between biological therapy and the relationship. I should say, the association between the parasympathetic nervous system, which is related to your vagus nerve, and your stress levels. Okay. They could predict with over 90% accuracy. People before they went on the drug as to whether or not the drug would help them achieve clinical remission based on how stressed they were at the beginning of the trial. Those who had quite a high level of stress, which is low vagal vagus nerve activity, failed the biological treatment. If anything we can do to bring down stress levels and this is the classic meditation is the classic. We should wrap that into the mix too because this is one of the big ones. I want to ask you, how have you felt with your stress response doing your increased meditation?

Eshita – I don’t have stress unless I’m angry. Sometimes I do, I don’t stress out on anything because it comes back to that. I don’t try to control anything and I let go of things. So again, the stress is not present and even if it’s there, I quickly now can analyze it. I’ll be my therapist, basically analyzing it. If it needs to be worried about, I will worry about it for a bit, find a solution, or just let it go. Even while meditation, I think long breathwork is really helpful. I’ve started practicing the Wim Hof breathing, which I do every day and it’s beautiful. It’s just wonderful to just do it, where you take 30 breaths and 30 fast breaths. Then, you hold your breath for about a minute and a half or two, however long you can. Then, you do this repeatedly, five, six times, or how many other times you can, and that kind of energizes you. After that brings down your stress levels and you have energy throughout the day. I have energy through the day, because of which I’m tired by the night and I get a good night’s sleep. Thus, it’s everything is a circle.

Clint – Agreed. A couple of things there that I want to contribute to as well. I do my meditation right before bed. This is just before I’m about to like it’s the last thing I do. Often I’m sitting up meditating with earplugs in, leaning against, the board in my bed so that it supports my back in a cross-legged position. Sometimes I’ll only do five minutes. When I’m so tired, I just then slide down under the covers and I’m asleep quickly. It’s helpful for rest to transition into sleep. The other thing I wanted to touch upon that you mentioned, which is so awesome, is the deep breaths. The way that we can activate our relaxation state is the exhale portion of long, deep breaths and that’s how we stimulate the vagus nerve. It is how we can reduce this stress response. So deep breaths and then long slow exhales. You’ve touched upon that as well and you know it’s that’s also sensational. So for people, I’ve just described how I do it. How do you do your meditations? Can you answer this from the point of view of a skeptic, who just is in too much pain or just kind of agitated like maybe on steroids or just the whole it’s just difficult to sit and be quiet in the brain and the body hurts? How would you speak to someone who’s listening in that situation?

Eshita – You should just probably concentrate on the breath and not anywhere else. Just take long breaths, and concentrate on the breaths. Maybe just count, do 20 once, and give yourself a minute. Then, do again another 20 or 30. So I think that’s the best way to kind of be in the moment. Like, concentrating on one thing which will let you just be in stillness so that your mind is calm. All your attention is on breathing. I think that’s the basic thing we can do even when we are in a ridiculous amount of pain is just breathe. I think just being able to breathe in the moment and concentrating on that should be a good solution.

Clint – Wonderful. Is there anything that we’ve left out about your mindfulness, meditation, and new regime? Are there other things that you could share with us?

Eshita – Yes, there is one important thing. Last year when the pain came up bad, I read a solution online where you put 2 or 3 drops of, uh, sesame oil or coconut oil in your belly button. It is where all the nerve endings are there. You just put a few drops there and you just sleep. Next thing this morning, you’ll feel a lot better. I was like, this is not gonna you know. I’d like something that easily cannot work. I tried it and it was magic. The next morning I felt amazing. I could see like I could see an amazing change right in the next morning. I did it for a few months, I think for at least three or four months. I did it regularly every night and that was amazing. The consequence of that is that I know maybe there is a connection. I don’t know, but all my inner emotions, feelings, past, and a few memories just started surfacing. I don’t know why because of all the nerve endings in the belly button, because of the umbilical cord connection. It was an opportunity for me to deal with a few unaddressed memories in the past. When they came up, I realized maybe it was for a purpose. Maybe it’s happening for a reason and that was a good chance for me to learn what was happening. Also, why it happened and kind of deal with it, and let go of it. Many people came into my life, and so many happenings happened that I didn’t want all those memories. When they came up, I thought maybe they had come and I had to just let them go. It was a way of forgiving myself and forgiving everyone else who came into my memory and just moved on. I think that helped me jump a huge rock of emotions and pain and get to the other side. Thus, I think that was big for me.

Clint – Wow. I’ve got nothing to contribute there other than to share my interest in learning something new. I’ve never heard of that technique before. It sounds like you also benefited from stuff coming up and then clearing it, and that’s good too. This past emotional trauma or carrying past stuff. We don’t know how much that plays into our health because I guess you would put that in the category of subconscious stress. I suppose we’re not aware of it. We’re carrying this running this dialogue, maybe in the background that’s causing us to have this anxiousness, and that’s all interesting as well. Is there anything else before we then just touch upon any dietary and exercise strategies?

Eshita – I think because of all this, what I realized was that people who have rheumatoid arthritis, I think they have a history of a personality trait. Like, you are a people pleaser and you blame yourself for everything that happened. You want to make everyone happy and you don’t care about your own emotions or it’s so true that which is why you have these pent-up feelings. It’s shown in your joints. After all this and the meditation, oil, and all of that, I now am no longer a people pleaser. I don’t give the f-word. If I don’t like something, I don’t do it or I just simply don’t do it. If it doesn’t bring me joy, I don’t do it. I am true to myself and I think being true to yourself kind of aligns you. If you have something in your heart and do something against it to please someone else, there’s already a conflict within yourself. You’re doing something, but you don’t want to do it. I think those little things have a huge impact on us, especially when you’re in so much pain. I think eliminating all those little things has led me far. Realizing that I don’t need to do certain things at all just to please someone else. All this has led me to unlearn certain things and realize what I don’t want in my life. It may be people, it may be things. It may be things that I do that don’t contribute anything to my life. I know what I don’t want more than what I want, and I think that is important.

Clint – Uh, gosh, that was well said and very insightful. I can relate to that too. With regards to the concept of other people’s agendas and your agenda. I forget the quote, but I read years ago that if you don’t have a firm agenda for yourself each morning, you will soon find yourself on someone else’s agenda.

Eshita – Oh yes.

Clint – This could be an email that comes in that says, you haven’t responded to this. I need that back in the next day or two when you’ve just woken up. Today, I’m going to do this, but now someone else wants me to do that. This can create a lot of like, as you put it, conflict in the mind and it’s just an email or it’s just a phone call you need to return. I think that putting this into a practical term. I think it’s when we’re firm in our mission, goals, purpose, and our big picture in life. It can come from moments of silence, stillness, and solitude, in which we can promote self-awareness and our kind of connection to our big purpose. Then if we don’t have that, we get caught up in other stuff and we go through life, but we’re not actually sort of getting anywhere. However, if we have that big picture, then we know that we can deflect those emails. Those come on, return my phone calls, you can quickly respond and say, I’ll get back to you. I don’t want to do that anymore. I wish you all the best and we can deflect it.

Eshita – Yes, you just get the confidence and strength to deal with anyone. If you have your priorities right or if you know what you want, I think you can deal with any kind of situation. I think this disease has made me a stronger person. Now, I know this disease didn’t happen to me but it’s happened for me. I think if when something massive happens like this, I think it requires a massive change, which is why it is happening. I think we need to be alert to the cues.

Clint – Ah, be alert for the cues. Thank you. Eshita, that’s a beautiful quote. Was there anything more tactical physically with the body or with the foods that you did? Did you just follow through Paddison Program standard kind of stuff again or did you need to emphasize certain aspects?

Eshita – I started having juices, but I made sure I was having raw green juices in the morning. I used to eat cooked spinach at one time, but then I switched to raw juices in the morning and that was helpful. I started having fermented millets, which is a probiotic where you kind of ferment your millets as they are without adding any dairy or anything to them. You just grind them up, soak them, and cook them and by morning they are fermented. It is a good probiotic, and it was proven to be a good probiotic and extremely healthy. I eat it at least three times a week. Even food-wise, I’m a little more confident than before and I don’t see it as a limitation anymore. I figure out my recipes. As long as there’s no oil and dairy, I think I’m fine. Yeah. When I mostly eat at home, I know what I’m eating. Also, I make sure I make my food creative, colorful, and interesting for me so that I don’t get bored. I’m happy with my food. The more I connect with my food, I love what I eat, and I think I’m happy. It heals me every day and I’m thankful for what I eat. I know it’s healing me and the thought is enough. As long as you know you’re eating right, I think it’s all a mind game.

Clint – There is something that I just realized is back before the availability of endless options. A variety of foods with instant gratification, back in sort of pretty much the entire evolution of humankind except for the last 2 or 300 years. We didn’t think of food as some kind of like. Crazy portfolio of flavors, salts, sugars, preservatives, and all this stuff. It was just sustenance and survival. Then, those sustenance and survival foods that we could access were inherently healthy. You’re just eating in a way that we kind of traditionally evolved as opposed to the common way, which is to think of it as some kind of explosion of fireworks in the mouth every time you put something in.

Eshita – A lot of people believe it’s a lot of spice like pizza and cheese, and that’s real food. Some people have even asked me, are you going to eat like this for the rest of your life or is it just for some time? I’m like, it’s a lifestyle change. It’s not a diet, you know? It’s holistic and not many people get it. They feel we are losing out on something, but we’re gaining. I feel sick even if I eat something or by mistake, even if I put something in my mouth and I feel sick. The way the immune system responds is just brilliant. The body is just amazing, the way it heals itself and kind of responds to what we want. Also, what we are doing is just brilliant. The fact that we can manipulate the immune system gives us all the confidence. I think that’s a big achievement for us if we can manipulate the immune system, and I can’t say that enough. It’s amazing how I think if we have that power, we can conquer anything.

Clint – I think we’re getting close and I don’t mean to overstate what we do in our program, but inherently. If you are changing your microbiome and creating more mucus to protect the single cellular layer of the gut wall, therefore reducing the amount of inflammatory molecules such as lipopolysaccharide. Touching or getting to the gut wall triggers an immune response. Then, we are influencing our immune system like we directly are doing that. There are pharmaceutical interventions that modulate the immune system. We can do it naturally as well and we’re doing it right now. Now, let’s wrap this up with anything that you’ve learned or anything that you’ve evolved with your exercise. Can you give us some insights about what works for you with your exercise?

Eshita – Yeah. After I started running, I ran one more time. Then, I realized that I had never been a big runner before. I just ran because it felt liberating. I just ran again, and I felt a little pain in my ankles. Then, I’m like maybe I shouldn’t push it or maybe this is not for me. Then, I just stuck to my usual stretches and the routine. Then, I also tried a bit of yoga, going to a yoga class, but even that didn’t work out pretty well because most of my joints were deformed. I don’t want to do something that may lead to something worse. I didn’t want to take that chance. I even tried ATG or the knees-over-toes guy method. I even went for a session because someone is doing that here, right here in my city. The session was amazing and it was very interesting. But yet again, I couldn’t do a lot of things because my ankles and my knees had worn out quite a bit. However, I have adapted to backward walking, which means the improvement is almost immediate. You feel amazing immediately after you do it, immediately you can see an improvement in your knee. Then, I do backward walking on the road sometimes and sometimes on a trampoline, and that has been amazing. Other than that, I’m also trying backward walking on a treadmill. I’m sorry. Other than that, I do have a trampoline at home, so I run on it, and that’s the only way I can run. I bounce on it, I run on it and I do my stretches on it a bit. So that way it has kind of strengthened my thigh muscles, which has in turn led to better knees. My left knee is a weak one, so strengthening the muscles around it and behind my thigh has helped me improve my knees. Now, I can just walk down the stairs quite easily before I just do it, just to feel happy. I just take the stairs down just to feel I can walk down the stairs and that is amazing. Thus, I do all this so that I can just walk down the stairs. Maybe one day I will run on a concrete, I don’t know, maybe after a year or so. Let’s just see.

Clint – Let’s see. You never know with your level of self-awareness and ability to make discoveries to connect dots and to get improvements. I trust that if anyone can do it, you can do it. I just want to underline something you said there at the end, which is that you’ve built strength in your muscles, legs, and your knees feel better. If people skipped over that, I want to underline this, your way out of your knee pain is to build strength around the knee. The studies are so consistent in connecting glutes, calf muscles, and quadriceps. I want to even take a stab probably somewhere I haven’t seen it, a connection with hamstrings. All stronger muscle groups in those areas are associated with less knee pain for osteoarthritis patients, which is where the bulk of the studies have been done. You’re on the right path. Build strength in the glutes, the quads, the hamstrings, and the calves. Thus, this will reduce the knee pain. Well done Ashita and I’ve loved our conversation. You’re so inspiring, positive, ambitious, optimistic and you get great results. So what a great session we’ve had and I’ve really enjoyed it.

Eshita – Thank you so much. Also, exercise is the best prebiotic you can ever find. It improves your gut almost every day or as in if you say consistent, your gut is fine. I think including movement every day is very crucial. Even little things, even when you’re doing laundry, you pick one by one and do the laundry, squat down, pick up the clothes. You can include movement throughout the day and I think that is really essential.

Clint – Love it, thank you so much. I look forward to seeing you again in the future Eshita on another episode.

Eshita – Can I add one more thing?

Clint – Of course, you can.

Eshita – Many people believe that there is no one formula to fix everything. There is no one-size-fits-all when it’s healing and everything. Maybe it’s true, but I feel Paddison Program is the ideal thing to do. To start with, because you’ve done the research and many people have had results. It’s just easier to believe that there is a formula for everyone because there’s already so much going on. Why don’t you just believe, this is going to work for me and just simply do it? Just the blind trust that it’s going to work because they’re all simple foods. You don’t have to eat something so massive or something you don’t believe in to make big changes. It’s all in the simple foods. Why don’t you just give it a shot? Just believe. Yes, this is the formula. Just go for it. A plus B whole square is equal to whatever, and this is it. Just just do it an this is the formula. There is no other way, just trust yourself, and just blind faith I think is what we require.

Clint – That’s also really insightful. I got two things on that. Sometimes we get people who are not from English-speaking countries who aren’t as fluent and they just get the program. They don’t question anything because of a language barrier or some other. They just do it. Some of these people get the greatest outcomes because they’re not googling late at night trying to cross reference this with every other random diet that’s been from. They just trust the process. As you said, that commitment to it is sometimes the formula for success and for people who have made it this far into our conversation and are still wondering. I will heavily address this when I launch my book. However, what about these other plans like so and so on? Social media is saying this carnivore diet or this X diet or paleo diet and even some medical professionals say there’s no one diet for rheumatoid arthritis. However, here is the answer to that. There is one human diet to optimize the microbiome. But if you can’t eat that yet because your microbiome is so messed up, you need to transition slowly onto the ideal diet for the human gut. If that means that at the moment you can only eat a little bit of fiber because fiber stirs you up, then that doesn’t mean fiber is bad. It doesn’t mean that eating more meat is a healthy strategy. You cannot get away from the science that that sort of lifestyle is going to lead to an increased risk of all sorts of diseases in an early death. Thus, what we need to do is we need to slowly bring in the foods that we know scientifically heal the gut and not complain that the process is slow because if you do it right. You only have to do it once, and then you’re on a healthy diet for the rest of your life.

Eshita – Yes, healing is slow. Healing is a process you have to get through from A to B, you have to go through the path. You cannot just have an overnight solution that it’s not going to work. If it’s an overnight thing, it’s not going to work.

Clint – That’s right. I think that was a valuable insight. Thank you for your conviction in what we are doing and what you’re doing. With time, it will become more the default and the other temporary non-scientific approaches will start to fade into the rear vision mirror. Nevertheless, thank you so much again. I am going to be excited to share this with everyone. I’m looking forward to seeing you again soon.

Eshita – Yeah, sure. It was great speaking with you again. Thank you for the opportunity.

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