Thanks for joining me!
I hope this post finds everyone well. This writing marks the maiden voyage of my site, Steele Back Your Health. As I sit on my back porch looking at the deep green of the forest in High Falls NY, I just realized how much that title means to me and what it actually means.
I met my wife, Elizabeth, in middle school. We are both 24 now and have been married since October 28, 2018 Everyone is always amazed (and frankly a little weirded out) that we decided to go the whole long run with the first person we started dating, but sometimes you catch a break. I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world in this regard.
When we were younger, we both ate what would be called a SAD (Standard American Diet) diet. This would be your typical 3 meals a day and many snacks in between. Plenty of processed grains, sugary juices, meals coming out of boxes, and “healthy” low- fat food. This isn’t me trying to blame a sub optimal diet on our parents or anything, this is just what conventional wisdom dictates what is healthy. I suffered from at times severe acid reflux and IBS symptoms for most of my childhood up until about three years ago after some dramatic diet change. Elizabeth never had any symptoms of a sub optimal diet, nor do a lot a people upon a quick glance.
After moving to the beautiful Hudson Valley region of New York, I entered college to start my undergraduate studies in music, eventually graduating from SUNY New Paltz with a Jazz Performance degree. Up to this time the only consideration we had given to healthy eating was dabbling with vegetarianism off and on for the last 3 years. Even though I am a devoted cook and focused on eating locally sourced veggies and tried to stick to whole foods, we inevitably would fall off the wagon from just feeling generally weak and more sick. None of the many things I tried which included a juicing based diet, detoxes, veganism/vegetarianism, ever came close to helping my chronic digestion problem and lack of energy.
The semester I was due to graduate, we were hit with life changing news. Elizabeth was diagnosed with Non-Hodkins Lymphoma at the age of 21. Needless to say this threw a wrench in our life plans. Were engaged at the time with an 8 week old puppy, she was in a program in Kent State University in Ohio, and I was in New York planning my senior recital and trying to figure out how to make a living as a musician. We had to cancel plans for the wedding so we could focus on the battle ahead, Elizabeth had to drop out of school, and I had to prolong my graduation a semester ahead so that I was able to care for her.
Chemo started immediately. I remember asking our oncologist if there was anything we could do from home as far as diet goes, and he looked at me like I was crazy, saying “it literally doesn’t matter what you eat, as long as we are consistent in the treatment”. He also looked at me like i was crazy when i asked about the new New York Medicinal Marijuana Program. His comment regarding medicinal marijuana, “Go ask Joe on the corner about that”. He was a brilliant oncologist that dialed in every detail that had to do with the chemotherapy, but it went to show how disconnected most of the medical community is with alternative and “functional” medicine. Needless to say i felt like it was up to me to find out what other options were out there to integrate into our everyday practices.
We ended up having to find a doctor and pay out-of-pocket to get a script written for Elizabeth to get a medical marijuana license. This ended up being invaluable with pain and nausea management. She doesn’t know what she would have done without it. Unfortunately, my research into nutrition fell to the wayside almost as quickly as it began. We were quickly consumed by doctors visits, general health decline, and running around to different treatments that were hours away.
Six months later we emerged with Elizabeth achieving total remission. We felt like we could breath for the first time in what felt like years. However, while the cancer had been eradicated, Elizabeth’s general health was in shamble. Elizabeth had lost around thirty pounds and was very weak. Now that I had graduated college and the nightmare was over, I had time to dig into the research and try to see what we should be eating and doing to make sure this never happened again.
A friend recommended I check out Mark Sisson’s blog , Mark’s Daily Apple. This ended up being our gateway drug into the paleo world and beyond. I was immediately hooked reading about how eliminating sugar, grain, processed foods, and replacing them with healthy plants and animal foods could dramatically lower inflammation, increase energy, and make weight maintenance effortless. It took us a while get on track but even after just getting rid of all grains and processed sugars, my digestive issues and acid reflux immediately went away. Beth was able to put on much of the weight she had lost in the form of lean muscle mass. We both had more energy than we had in memory.
After nailing down the basic tenants of the Paleo diet, I stumbled upon the Ketogenic way of eating. After reading a lot of the research by Dr. Dominic D’Agostino and Travis Christofferson, MS, I was sold that this was one of the most effective ways to turn our bodies into fat-burning, anti-inflammatory, cancer fighting machines (In future posts ill being going into the specifics of Paleo and Ketogenic diets). After both of us got into a Ketogenic style of eating, all of the positive effect of the paleo diet were multiplied ten-fold. That is what we are currently doing, and we can’t imagine going off of it just to indulge in a quick sensory pleasure like eating something sugary.
Healthy choices and habits are now a central part of my life. I didn’t know feeling this good was possible. I forget how powerless it felt to be depending on someone else to tell you whats wrong with you, only to prescribe a medicine that will likely cause other problems and only fix surface symptoms. I stole back my health. Elizabeth battled hard to take hers back. Now i am on my journey to become certified as a Primal Health coach to help other take charge of their own health.
Thanks for reading, everybody. Check back for weekly posts!