Of joy and pain (Hilton's journal)
My name is Hilton, brazilian, born in 1976 to a family of heavy drinkers, heavy smokers, heavy carb (and meat too, can't deny the point :-) eaters, many of them obese and loaded with diabetes and hypertension.
As a kid, one could say I had the same body type a frog does: skinny arms and legs, big belly - and my diet was probably the source of the problem: brazilians' main meal is lunch, and classic brazilian lunch is rice, beans, meat, french fries and tomatoes, always sided by soft drinks or very sweetened juices.
At 15, noticing how little success I had with the girls (oh, I stutter a little too, and use glasses), I decided to gain some muscle - bodyweight exercises (pullups, pushups and abs, mainly). Although the diet was the same, it worked - still the skinny arms and legs, but damn they were strong. As for the belly, it vanished - hello, six pack!
I only learned to eat veggies in my late teens, for a matter of money: as a college student, short of cash, I had to stick to the meals offered by the university restaurant (much cheaper than regular restaurants, much easier than cook at home - which I didn't knew at the time, anyway). And it was really good for me, no hard feelings :-)
But besides the new feeding habits, there came beer, parties and junk food. Loads of each. So I said buh-bye to the six pack, and put on 27 lb in a single year (1995).
'96 came, and I decided to drop that load again. Became a vegetarian and joined a capoeira (brazilian martial art) school. Worked like a charm: by the end of that year, I had my six pack back. Reintroduced meat to my diet in the beginning of 97, and kept training capoeira (6 times a week), running (3 times) and swimming (3 times).
By the mid of 99, I got a knee pain. After some x-rays and MRIs, no lesions were detected - so I was sent to physiotherapy. Dozens of sessions, and the pain was still there. I quit capoeira and running, and stuck to swimming (most of the time, using only my arms to avoid hurting my knee). Then the pain "spreaded" to the other knee, and then to upper back - the dark times had arrived.
Hundreds of physiotherapy, accupunture and reiki sessions (money was not an issue after I graduated and had no kids :-), and a truckload of homeopathy later, I had pain on shoulders, elbows, upper and lower back, and knees. On average it was not incapacitating, but prevented me to exercise hard (under the price of having some 3 or 4 days of excruciating pain after). Sleeping became somewhat an issue too. I kept swimming VERY slowly, just to maintain my stress under control. Weight started to build up again...
In 2001, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The rheumatologist told me I had a mild case (and given the amount of pain I had at the time, I can only gape at how people with severe cases live on day after the other) and prescribed cyclobenzaprine (which made my thirsty and somewhat groggy). But more important, he suggested that "since I had a mild case, I should accept pain as a constant in my life, and focus on being fit". According to some studies, fibromyalgia pain seems to decrease when you are strong and stretched.
So I came back to my beloved capoeira, stuck to medication, avoided too much sugar or fat, ate lots of veggies. It hurt as hell in the beginning, but it paid. By mid 2002, I was back to exercising and had a strong body again - still skinny, but strong, six pack again. Everything was fine...
... until december 31st, 2007. While bodyboarding, a wave threw me on the shallows, and I hurt my right shoulder badly. Had 2 surgeries to fix it, but I had lost some cartilage and part of the joint movement was lost (although people who don't know me hardly can't tell how much of amplitude I have lost. Since I had above-the-average stretching thanks to capoeira, even limited as I am, my right arm looks normal - but I can't do a handstand or a cartwheel anymore, or keep heavy weights with arms fully extended...).
Since the accident, I have been gaining 5.5 lb per year, steadily - I still practice capoeira, but without using the arms (and always afraid of being taken down and hurting the shoulder again), I keep it to a minimum (15 minutes each 15 days). Lots of ice cream, pizza, snacks and chocolate have found their way to my cabinets and fridge and I ate them all, for the last 5 years. My six pack ran away again, and left constant heartburns in it's place...
A friend mentioned paleo diet a few months ago, and I thought it was worth a reading - but only adopted it last week. In exact 4 days, I've dropped 3.3 lb. My meals are more expensive (and now money is an issue - one daughter and a bigger house to keep), healthier, slower and tastier. I have craved for bread from time to time, but no cheating up to now.
No heartburns since then - and believe me, in the last 4 or 5 months, I had one everytime I ate carbs at night (don't ask me why - carbs in the morning or evening were "fine"). My fibromyalgia pain has lessened a little bit, but I don't want to believe it's a direct result of the diet for now.
Still have some 22 lb to loose, muscle to gain (six pack included!) and a lifetime eating habit to change, but the first steps were taken!