I know some people are dealing with much more serious health stuff, but I felt like my body was disintegrating. And I was only 41. How was I going to make it to 50?
My 9 pre-paleo health issues:
- Chronic neck pain that no amount of chiro, massage or acupuncture could assuage;
- Carpal tunnel that required a wrist brace with steel supports so I could sleep;
- Plantar fasciitis that necessitated orthotic arch supports for my shoes, making it difficult to walk any distances. I even had to stop wearing flip flops, which was actually (I know this sounds overwrought) heart-breaking;
- Anxiety. And it’s good buddy Ativan;
- Periods so heavy we could have made a slasher movie;
- One wiry black hair that grew out my chin. I joked that it was my beard (but only to Matthew, because I was actually quite self-conscious about it);
- Insomnia. I took increasingly large doses of ‘sleep vitamins’ every night for years;
Wow. Writing that list I’ve just been struck by how much less work my daily life is now that I’m no longer managing a dilapidated body. And how much money I’m not spending on supplements, drugs and therapies. And people critique paleo for being time consuming and expensive!
Actually, being unhealthy is time-consuming and expensive.
My health changes didn’t happen immediately, but they’re old news now and I’m not yet 43, so in retrospect it was pretty rapid.
After a while I realized that I’d been peering at my chin for weeks, tweezers in hand, ready to pluck my lone black chin hair, but it just wasn’t growing back.
Over time I noticed my neck, wrist and foot pain was gone. So I got rid of my wrist brace and orthotic shoe inserts. I wore flip flops all summer this year and I’m still wearing them (sometimes) in November, here on Vancouver Island. I’m euphoric about that.
Some issues healed gradually and others transformed overnight. After 7 months of paleo life I was at work one morning when I noticed an odd feeling. And it wasn’t the familiar pre-paleo mid-morning feeling: I need coffee and a muffin stat! so I don’t perish right here on my keyboard. It was an absence of fuzziness or a lack of greyness, sort of like I’d misplaced an itchy sweater I had become accustomed to wearing. It was an unsettling sensation until I realized that what I was experiencing was well-being. For the first time since I was ten (31 long years) I didn’t feel depressed.
That’s when I understood that pre-paleo my depression had become so much a part of me that it didn’t even register unless it got severe enough that I had to hide in my bed. If I could force myself out of bed and keeping rolling the gigantic boulder that was my life uphill, no matter how slowly or ineffectively, then my awareness of my depression faded. That was my normal. Over the next few weeks I rummaged around in the cupboards of my psyche looking for my misplaced depression but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I think it’s just gone.
And I haven’t taken anything to help me sleep since July.
And my Ativan has fallen into disuse at the back of my underwear drawer.
But it does take time. 30 days isn’t enough. The more complex and severe your health problems, the more time they might take to heal or abate.
I’m not suggesting paleo is a cure-all. Many of my health issues resolved because I lost weight. But I lost that weight, and have maintained my new weight, by being paleo. It’s a stormy Saturday morning in November and I’m about to go out for a 10k run in the rain and there is nothing I would rather do. That’s an indicator of wellness I just never experienced before.
So I’m feeling pretty fantastic. Better all the time, actually. 17 months into this paleo experiment I’m feeling finer than I ever have before.