One of the great benefits of having been diagnosed with a supposedly incurable autoimmune disease is the sense of empowerment which comes from curing yourself of said incurable disease. Fuck you very much doc, I fixed this myself!
The most wonderful things can happen when you stop believing what people are telling you and start asking questions. I’ve documented here in my story about how I began to question my doctor’s advice about treating ankylosing spondylitis almost immediately. Maybe it’s because I’m such a stubborn bastard with a mild aversion to authority (stop laughing, Mom) that my gut reaction to being told, “do it this way”, is to immediately ask, “why? Says who?”.
So many of our beliefs about the right way of doing things are simply regurgitated common knowledge that we never question and simply repeat as rote when challenged:
Of course being a vegetarian is BETTER than being a carnivore. Eating meat is cruel!
Running hurts my knees. Maybe I just don’t have the body to be a runner.
Whole grains are the cornerstone of a healthy diet! I mean, just look at the US Food Pyramid
I’ve got a disease. My doctor says these are my treatment options. Period
Where to begin? Well, I began my journey with the last one- follow doctor’s orders. Thank God I didn’t listen. The other assumptions listed above are examples of common knowledge which I found myself questioning over the years. Having had success with finding my own alternative treatment for AS, I felt totally qualified and empowered to question, research, and come to my OWN conclusions regarding these other assumptions.
A Healthy Diet
Diet is a very controversial topic. It’s up there with religion and politics for eliciting emotional and violent arguments from otherwise sane people. I admit to having some vegetarian tendencies in my DNA. I even tried going strict-vegetarian for 2 years in my 20′s . But after embracing the NSD I noticed some changes: aside from a reduction in AS-associated pain, I also felt healthier. I was slimmer. I had more energy. I felt less bloated.
From my early days on the NSD I discovered Paleo and Primal dieting thanks to my wife and CrossFit. Amazing how closely related NSD and Paleo are, so it really wasn’t too much of a stretch for me to embrace this type of eating. But the science behind Paleo (see Loren Cordain, Robb Wolff, and Mark Sisson) was very compelling, and it changed my attitudes about eating meat.
Enter Lierre Keith and The Vegetarian Myth and I was completely relieved of my vegetarian leanings. Not because someone said so, but because I felt better first, saw great results, and then read some compelling arguments as to WHY I was feeling those results. Maybe a little assbackwards, but it worked for me.
Is Nike The Devil?
Not for me to decide;-0 All I know is that I used to love to trail run but gave it up after my umpteenth knee injury. Enter Christopher McDougall’s wonderful article in Men’s Health about some amazing indian runners down in Mexico. Which lead me a few years later to McDougall’s book, “Born to Run”, which I bought for my wife because she had a case of plantar fasciitis, and which I ended up reading within a few days. After experimenting with barefoot and minimalist running for a while I noticed my knees didn’t hurt any more. So it wasn’t padded Nike shoes I needed, but the bare feet that God gave me and a new stride. Problem solved.
The lesson for me with all of these shattered beliefs is to just keep reading, questioning, experimenting and coming to my own conclusions. Just because someone has a Dr. in front of their name doesn’t make them an expert on all things health-related. Learn to question and experiment for yourself. You just may surprise yourself with what you discover.