All those ugly, painful, low energy things you thought were just part of aging—they’re not! They are what happens when the delicate balance you were designed for gets out of whack. And that includes the biggies like cancer, heart disease, arthritis and weight gain! The good news is it’s a self-healing unit—if you give it what it needs and quit giving it what it doesn’t.
I think I was in my 50’s when I first
met Ellie. I had been swimming at a gym and wanted to expand my exercise
routine. I talked to a couple of the young trainers and they scared me more
than anything else. They had no idea what to do with a woman who was menopausal,
or how anyone in their 50’s should exercise.
Someone pointed Ellie out to me and I
knew we were close in age. She looked great, tall blonde, slender and well
muscled. She moved with confidence and I liked her look. We introduced
ourselves and she became my trainer.
Even now more than 16 years later I can
walk into any gym in the world and not be intimidated by the grunting of the
muscle-bound men. If I run into a situation I don't understand I'm comfortable
asking questions. In other words, Ellie taught me how to be comfortable with
exercise equipment of all types.
I had begun to pick up a little bit of
weight and she urged me to work at dropping it. We talked about proteins and
carbohydrates and she suggested I work toward eating more protein and less carbs.
She gave me a ratio which I don't remember right now But did tend toward
fewer carbs and more protein after that.
It was about 10 years later when we met
up again both of us a bit embarrassed by our weight but glad to renew the
acquaintance. Although we were both in San Diego we weren't geographically
close to each other so most of our more recent relationship was done via email
and phone now and then. We got together for coffee from time to time and I
think we visited each other's homes once or twice.
Ellie had had both her knees and hips replaced
and I was struggling with quitting smoking. Ellie wanted to get back to a small
farm where she could raise goats and garden.My writing career continued with
reasonable success and some six years ago, using nicotine – anonymous phone
meetings I was finally able to quit smoking.
I had no idea how difficult it is for
postmenopausal women to lose weight so I ate most of California until the
nicotine cravings became manageable and eventually went away. By this time I
was close to 200 pounds which is a whole bunch for somebody with my relatively
small frame and 5 foot three height.
Although my breathing eased for a
couple of months maybe even six months or a year after I quit smoking, it
became apparent to me that I had done more damage than I had understood.(By the way, if you're still smoking one of
the biggest surprises was how badly cigarette smokers smell to non-smokers. I
knew I smelled from cigarettes but it wasn't until I quit tobacco for a month
or more than I was able to detect just how strong that odor is. If you're still
smoking maybe that will give you some incentive to quit and you can find
nicotine anonymous at www.nicotine – anonymous.org).
I figured out that I probably had COPD
but in truth I didn't want to admit it. I
must've told Ellie because she began to urge me to get off wheat.Fortunately Ellie has the patience of Job for
I ignored her for ages. One day, however, she challenged me to try to get off
wheat for only 10 days and see if it made any difference in my breathing at
all. I reluctantly agreed and went to my
kitchen and almost wept.
In that moment I wasn't thinking about
bread or pasta or cookies so much.But partly
through Ellie's influence I had been reading food labels for a long time and I
knew that wheat was in just about everything. I remember standing in my small kitchen
wondering how in the world anybody could ever get off wheat. But I had promised so I began.
I took several boxes of cereals to a
neighbor which was more symbolic than anything else. When I moved the last time
I had a very stale box of Cheerios or something similar, I don't remember –
some sort of cereal that I finally just threw out.
I actually managed to stay wheat free for
that 10 days or darn close to it and there was no denying my breathing had
begun to ease. Not a lot but enough to make me think it was worthwhile to stay
off wheat. In fact it became easier to stay off all grains, except popcorn
which is another story, than to try to figure out what grains might be okay for
me. I did try one batch of store-bought gluten-free biscuits. They looked good,
they tasted awful and when I read their label and saw how much sugar was in them
I realized that I was better off just going grain free.
For months I allowed myself to have one
cookie a week, when I was having coffee with friends. Every time I ate a cookie
I enjoyed it and I also felt my breathing begin to clog up. But I wasn't willing to go into a feeling of
total deprivation so I had one cookie week for many, many weeks.
Ellie moved to Oregon and we continued
our friendship via email. She introduced
me to MarksDailyApple.com which is a site that advocates a paleo diet. I transitioned to a mostly paleo diet.One of the things I like about Mark's
approach is he doesn't recommend striving for perfection. He suggests aiming
for 80 or 85% and that I found quite achievable and in fact have gone beyond
I stuck with the paleo diet even though
I didn't lose any weight or not enough to matter. But my breathing was
gradually slowly almost imperceptibly improving. I finally gave up popcorn and
thought that might help weight come off - it didn't. I did start walking and stretching with some
regularity and if I kept that up the scale would slowly drop maybe three
quarters of a pound a month. I'm disciplined about my writing but not much else
so it was a slog and I finally gave up worrying about my weight it had leveled
off at around 189 or so and I remember emailing Ellie telling her I was just
not going worry about it anymore.
But when you hang out with Ellie even
by email you get health-conscious because she is, and she always shares what
she finds out. She was concerned about
my breathing and COPD so some of her research included links to articles about
how vitamin D can help and other hints that I mostly followed or at least experimented
with. For example she suggested I quadruple the fish oil I was taking for 10
days or so. She's convinced as I am that most if not all of physical ailments
we have come from inflammation. Omega 3s are known to reducing inflammation. So
for 10 days I took massive amounts of fish oil. That experiment didn’t seem to make any
difference for me but I hear it’s particularly effective for folks dealing with
Somehow along the way, at Ellie’s
iurging, I decided to experiment with a low carb diet. I hoped it would help me
lose weight - it didn't. But I did like
the way it made me feel so I've mostly continued. I probably average 20 to 30 grams of carbs a
day. Sometimes I'll feel the need for additional carbs and I have an extra
vegetable or potato or something. I'm almost completely sugar-free. If I'm
making a sauce or something that seems to need sweetening all add no more than
a rounded teaspoon of raw honey and that doesn't happen very often.
Every now and again I do some research
online on COPD. One of the things I noticed was that more than a few articles
pointed to an amino acid called NAC as being helpful for people with lung
problems. I found some articles just on NAC and discovered it's relatively
cheap – you can find 100, 600 mg. capsules for around $10. I ordered some and
began to take one or two capsules daily.
It didn't take me long to realize that
it was helping my breathing. I did more research and discovered that the
maximum dose is considered 1800 mg, although there was some indication 2400 mg
would be okay. So I began taking it three times a day.
NAC has made a huge positive difference
in my breathing. This reduced my inhaler use by half. I can walk for several
blocks even slightly uphill in reasonable comfort. If I leave my emergency
inhaler at home I don't have to rush back to get it because I know I'll be
okay. None of this was true before the NAC.
It’s Ellie's theory that somehow this
particular amino acid is balancing out my metabolism because after six weeks of
taking NAC pretty regularly I got on the scale and I had lost five or 6 pounds!
I was amazed, 90 days of Weight Watchers, six months of overeaters anonymous, a
year and a half or two years of paleo and I had not managed to lose more than
five or 6 pounds. As it stands right now I've lost 11 or 12 pounds in about 3
I've developed my own theory, and
that's that most people probably are lacking in one amino acid or another and I
got lucky and found the one that is helping me. I have a male friend who has
some breathing problems and he also felt the NAC helped his breathing right
away. So who knows.
As you might imagine I'm grateful to Ellie
as well as enjoying her as a good friend. Plus she has a ton of amazing helpful
information on wellness – she’s been digging through research for years.