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!
Ding dong, the parasites are gone! I am thrilled to write this monthly health update! Finally, after several more weeks of struggling through the anti-parasite protocol I detailed last month, I had a breakthrough with it and no longer have even a trace of any bugs. This is yet another victory for me in my journey toward my best health!
The successful protocol was the most significant development during this period, but there were other positives as well. For this health update, I’ll start with the end of my war with the parasites.
A Farewell to Worms
I felt lousy for parts of nearly every day of the month. The worms kept getting larger and more plentiful to the point of some horror movie stuff. It was difficult for me to believe that I could have many worms of multiple species. I can only wonder how much they’ve been negatively affecting me and for how long they’ve been a problem. I may be able to figure it out once I’ve had enough time to evaluate my health without them.
Each time I passed a parasite, I felt worse from the die-off reactions. I had headaches, lethargy, and brain fog. It hampered my productivity until the last week when I paused taking the supplements due to travel. At that point, it looked like this health update would be the first one without any positives. Then I received and used a Doctor’s Data Comprehensive Stool Analysis with Parasitology stool collection kit mid-month to see if I had gotten rid of all the parasites. If I hadn’t, I wanted to find out which kind I had so that I could seek a prescription anti-parasitic treatment to hasten the protocol.
Thankfully, the test came back negative, so I’m in the clear! The results showed that my gut health was remarkably healthy. It was a bit surprising to me that there were no parasites left because I was still passing some questionable things at the time of collection. But it turned out that what I was seeing by then were worm look-a-likes that were mucous threads. That said, I am sure that I did have worms prior to that. Several obvious visuals and characteristics of worms and potent die-off reactions daily have me and my doctor convinced me that I was dealing with parasites. By the time I write my next health update, I suspect that I’ll see some improvement in my symptoms that will be further evidence that they were present.
Interestingly, the test turned up only one problem amidst my flourishing gut health. I have an overgrowth of the bacteria Klebsiella oxytoca, which can cause GI and joint symptoms and contribute to autoimmunity. This excites me considering my history with autoimmune diseases and near-daily aches in many of my joints.
To combat the strain, I’m now taking uva ursi and grape seed extract for the next two months, which should take care of that bacteria. If this bacteria is indeed causing my regular joint aches, I suspect I will unlock a new level of strength-building potential. It can take me half an hour for my joints to loosen up and stop aching when I exercise, and some days it doesn’t go away at all. I think this is one of the more promising avenues for progress that’s arisen for me in quite some time.
Exercise, a Weighted Vest, and a Lifting Anniversary
I continued my pause on weightlifting due to the rigor of the anti-parasite protocol and am about to resume. Despite my rest from lifting, I stayed active as best I could. First, I switched back to calisthenics so I could keep strength training. I had great results doing circuits of pushups, squats, chin-ups, pullups, and dips. I set the following new one-set records:
- 91 pushups
- 69 squats
- 16 chin-ups
- 5 pullups
- 65 dips
Second, I changed up my daily walk routine. To try and get my heart rate up but without the impact of running, I bought a weighted vest from Rogue Fitness, pictured here, and began using it. I got the 40-pounds of plates but swapped them out for lighter ones as I work up the max amount. I used 23 pounds last time out, and my heart rate gets up to 140-150 from a fast walk. To this point, I have found that I have far less knee and lower back soreness from these swift weighted walks in comparison to how I’d feel with unweighted jogging or running.
August 18th was my one-year anniversary of starting to lift weights on the Leangains program, so I’ll post my progress for all ten of the exercises that I do each week. The gains were pretty surprising to me! I knew I was doing well, but typing it all out gave me a great sense of accomplishment!
Below is a list of the increases and the most recent amounts I lifted.
Bench press: +50 pounds; sets of 135
Squats: +85 pounds; sets of 160
Deadlift: +125 pounds; sets of 183
*Pendlay rows: +52.5 pounds; sets of 100.5
Standing press: +46.5 pounds; sets of 81.5
Calf raises: +105 pounds; sets of 220
Biceps curls: +28.5 pounds; sets of 71.5
*Weighted chin-ups: I went from 65-pound lat tower pulldowns to 10-pound weighted chin-ups
Triceps kickbacks: +27.6; sets of 42.6
Chest flys: I wasn’t doing these yet, and am up to sets of 20.6 pounds
* I was doing bent-over rows this time last year until I concluded Pendlay rows are superior
** I was doing lat tower pulldowns this time last year due to the pain I used to get from chin-ups, but I no longer get any noteworthy pain from them, so I switched because I think they are a superior exercise
Those are much greater gains than I expected in one year! No wonder friends and family keep telling me that they can see a visual change in my body composition. Granted, there was a lot of room for improvement, considering I was lifting lighter than my capacity for many months. I was doing this to tease my pain, a tactic I describe in this article. When I began lifting, I would get nerve pain spikes in my shoulders and face into the 4-7 range each time I lifted for the first five months. Then I discovered that taking an ice bath after significantly calmed the rise in pain, and I could more rapidly increase the weights I was lifting.
I still have a long way to go to reach my strength goals. I don’t expect the rate of increases to keep at this pace. However, these gains have me optimistic that I can achieve my body composition and lifting benchmarks by the end of 2023. I’m aiming to get down to 8-12% body fat (depending on what amount I feel best at), to bench press sets of my weight (I’m currently 162 pounds), to squat sets of 1.5x my weight (243), and to deadlift sets of twice my weight (324).
I will lower the weights somewhat when I return to lifting after this hiatus since there’s bound to be some drop-off. But I’m excited to get back to regular lifting. The possibility of not having to deal with joints aches in the future is tantalizing! Future health updates could be thrilling.
Onward and Upward
Last of all, after I was off the anti-parasite herbs, I went bouldering for the third time this year, and it went the best yet! My previous record was climbing eight walls. I managed ten walls this time, and six of them were unique, also a personal best. One of the walls was around eighteen feet high and involved a difficult, twisting path. Dropping some of my bulk-up weight helped, as did having a week without any anti-parasitic herbs had me feeling like I had plenty of strength.
The past two times I climbed, I developed some wicked soreness about two days after the exercise. I only felt minor soreness this time. I didn’t need an ice bath for shoulder nerve pain after, which is also a first.
The experience is becoming more enjoyable as more of the walls become viable for me. I love the exercise combined with the puzzle-solving involved in bouldering! I eagerly anticipate next time.
The Future: Debugged
It felt great to keep making physical progress and to finally get rid of my parasitic infection! I think conquering this challenge and addressing the Klebsiella overgrowth will unlock even better health for me.
I’ll see you all at my next health update!