This is a post from My Health Journey, an ongoing series where I document my health progress. Follow along to see, month after month, how I implement my recovery protocol, handle stressful situations, eliminate food sensitivities, incrementally train my nervous system to handle more stress, and ultimately, how my method continues to allow me greater and greater freedom, happiness, and health!
April was the best month I’ve had in over 25 years! I had zero symptom flare-ups and have gone six months without any interstitial cystitis or other autoimmune symptoms. I also had barely noticeable pain from any of my workouts, which was pleasing to see since I bumped my workouts to three times per week instead of two. The most important new development of the month is that I had one day without pain despite not having done an extended fast or gotten a massage. I detailed that in a previous post.
Reviewing the month, I didn’t make many lifestyle changes, but one dietary tweak was significant. I upped my protein intake to one gram per pound of my body weight. The muscle gains and lifting progress have been dramatic. It also led to me already achieving my weight gain goal of 12 pounds for the year with eight months to go! It seems that I’m still capable of quickly building muscle like I did when I was last regularly lifting 17 years ago before my disability. I don’t appear to have put on any bad weight either, so I’m going to aim to gain another 10 pounds and reevaluate. I added 20 pounds to my squats and deadlifts in the past month and 10 to my bench press and all other accessory lifts. A family member who hadn’t seen me in almost two years said that I look “enormous,” and received similar descriptions from other friends and family who hadn’t seen me in three months. But I think those descriptions are comparative to how underdeveloped my body was after so much idleness. I needed to add a great deal of mass just to get back to a normal adult male build after all the atrophy I endured over the years. I suspect I’m another 1-2 years away from my fitness goals.
Late in the month, I traveled to stay with my parents. I had no lasting notable additional symptoms before, during, or after the trip, so that was more progress. Each of the previous three visits left me feeling somewhat run down and like I needed to rest for several days. This time, I was extra careful not to work every minute I was there and burn myself out. I felt so good the day I left that I could’ve had an excellent workout lifting weights if I had time. The other behavioral change is that I exercised three times while I was away from home. It seems that my pain is simply better when I exercise, and I pay if I get away from it.
During the trip, I found that I am sensitive to eating poor-quality food. I ate the best options I could find at some fast-food restaurants while traveling, and each time, I felt inflamed and had a surge in nerve pain. None of it lasted beyond a couple of hours since I didn’t keep eating that way and kept all my other activities in balance, but it was obviously the cause of the symptoms each time. I guess that it’s some combination of problems from the industrial seed oils and not eating grass-fed meats and mostly organic vegetables like I usually do. I’ll try to find better options in the future.
One important health insight arose this month from an unexpected source when I found my grade cards from elementary school. I am surprised to find that in kindergarten, one year before I thought my health problems started, my teacher wrote about me: “Christopher uses his ‘ills’ as an excuse for performance.” So it seems that some symptoms were present one year before I remembered them being a significant problem. This jogging of my memory has me realizing that I didn’t have much time at all in my life where I didn’t feel poorly.
By contrast, I feel wonderful almost all of the time now! It certainly is a testament to the body’s resilience that I’m now healthier at age 41 than since I was a very young age. The terrible past decades of ill health I had didn’t mean I couldn’t become fully healthy in the future. It surprises me that I don’t have more residual symptoms and dysfunction after all that I’ve been through. My experience has caused me to be bullish about the prospects of others with lengthy health struggles as well. The body has a tremendous capacity for healing in the proper circumstances. Without question, I am the fittest that I have ever been and generally feel the best that I can remember from before my symptoms became chronic when I was 16.
I hope the next month results in more muscle gains and perhaps a trend of pain-free days without fasting. My symptoms are very low, and my pain is seldom going over a three out of ten now. With how well I feel, I think it will be a highly productive and good feeling month. I have a goal of not having a symptom flare-up for the rest of the year. With a month like this last one, I’m on the right track!
Here’s a photo from one of my walks in Austin.