In July 2005, at just eighteen years old I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. At first I suffered just a few sharp sternum pangs, but a couple of months later this spread to my lower back. I was prescribed Diclofenac to ease the pain. Unfortunately over time both the pain and subsequent medication increased. In July 2010 I was suffering from pain in my sternum, lower back, upper back, right shoulder, wrists, feet, heels and legs. My body was constantly throbbing with pain and in the crueler winter months I had been known to use a walking stick on occasion to assist me around the house. I was unable to run, walking was always met with pain and life was becoming more painful and less enjoyable. The restriction in movement and exercise, coupled with the inflammation of the joints, meant that I put on about three stone (42 pounds) in weight from 2005 until 2010. This exacerbated the situation and didn’t do much for my self confidence. At this point I was taking an all time high amount of medication. Each day I would take a cocktail of two 200 mg Celecoxib tablets and eight 30/500 mg Co-codamol tablets. This was supplemented with a weekly 20 mg injection of Methotrexate – a drug that is used in larger quantities as an anti-cancer drug.
I have always been relatively health conscious and the increase in pain and weight had not gone unnoticed. I had always gone along with conventional wisdom’s idea of a balanced diet and didn’t really understand why I was failing to shift any of the excess weight or where it had came from in the first instance! In May 2010 after reading an article linking arthritis and meat consumption (this link is unfounded and utter rubbish) I decided to give the vegetarian diet a try. At this point I felt there was little to lose and everything to gain. Whilst I didn’t notice any less pain I managed to lose three or four pounds in a matter of weeks which was a reasonable start – although there was no further weight loss for the next two months.
In July 2010 I decided to research various ways to increase my protein intake. A vegetarian mainly gets this from cheap meat substitute products like Quorn and tofu. Unable to find anything that looked nutritious or appealing I made the decision that I would introduce fish back into my diet. The vegetarian diet was something I had tried and whilst it had yielded reasonable results initially, it was clear that the benefits were short-lived and largely unfulfilling.
I don’t exactly remember what search terms I used whilst looking for protein sources on the internet but somewhere along the way I stumbled across MarksDailyApple.com. I had seen a lot of diet websites, but there was something a lot more sincere about Mark Sisson and The Primal Blueprint. Firstly, many websites ask you to buy the book for the diet or pay a subscription charge. Mark’s philosophy is wholly different to this and in fact the whole ethos and spirit of The Primal Blueprint can be captured without having to purchase The Primal Blueprint. After reading MDA for a day I decided to abandon the vegetarian path entirely and take the plunge into the Primal lifestyle, after all this path promised “rapid fat loss and major health improvements.”
I didn’t realise how much rubbish I’d been eating until I started investigating the Primal way of life. No longer do I eat cereal or toast for breakfast, but rather I eat bacon, eggs and black pudding (blood sausage) or smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Initially this took my stomach some time to adjust, but now that it has I look forward to breakfast so much more than I previously did. For lunch, rather than a nutritionally depleted sandwich I enjoy a salad, usually of the fish variety packed with lots of healthy Omega 3 fats. Dinner is my favourite meal as I indulge in lots of vegetables, a huge portion of meat with healthy animal fat and for desert, fruit with a helping of cream or organic probiotic yoghurt. In addition to this I take a few supplements; a multivitamin, vitamin C, vitamin D, fish oil and glucosamine sulphate. I do not believe that the vitamins are the reason for my success as I only introduced these after the positive results from primal living.
Not only have the results been positive but they have occurred incredibly quickly. In a way it’s almost difficult to believe how amazing the change has been. I started the Primal lifestyle on July 11th 2010, a month later I had stopped taking Co-codamol tablets. This meant that I was taking eight tablets less each day. I only continued taking my Celecoxib because I had an important forthcoming examination and I didn’t want to risk the possibility of my health taking a knock. After the exam was out the way, towards the end of August, I stopped taking the Celecoxib and booked an appointment with my GP to see if I could stop taking or reduce the dose of Methotrexate. Given the serious nature of the medication I didn’t want to make this judgment call myself, despite feeling in much better shape due to improved diet, exercise and sleep. In early September after a consultation with my GP I was drug free for the first time in five years!
After I started up the Primal lifestyle I found that I started losing the excess fat I had gained over the previous five years incredibly quickly. In addition to this I can run for the first time in five years and it doesn’t hurt to go out and walk. In fact I embrace walking and usually enjoy a two hour walk every Saturday, this is a round trip to the butchers and grocers – I always feel it’s very Grok-esque when I’m striding back from the butchers with heavy bags of meat! As things stand I hardly feel any pain at all from the arthritis, I have taken no prescription medication for months, I am the leanest I’ve been in five years and I actually have a waist and body fat percentage that I haven’t enjoyed for even longer than that! The energy I have is boundless – it’s great to come into work for 8 am refreshed whilst everybody else clutches their caffeinated drinks with baggy eyes and melancholic expressions.
The Primal Blueprint is the best lifestyle choice I have made and one that I will be keeping for life – a special thank you to Mark Sisson for helping me achieve a pain free life once again. Grok on my friends!