Are you motivated by the dream, maybe a vision of how you want to feel every day?
Or, are you more motivated by avoiding the "nightmare", symptoms you absolutely don't want to be feeling?
For me, it's been a combination of both.
Let me tell you my story.
I've always valued being healthy, and just feeling great.
In fact, the main reason I started jogging daily, on my own as a fifteen-year-old, was so I could feel really good.
To be honest, even as a fifteen-year-old, I only slept well when I had run that day.
And my system actually worked pretty well for around 40 years!
Fast forward to about four years ago. My knees had started to hurt, and it was starting to concern me.
I was actually wondering if I'd be able to walk!
As I explained, my entire "system" for being healthy and feeling good revolved around an activity that required my knees to be in perfect working order.
I was starting to see a problem here!
How would that make you feel?
Have you ever focused much of your efforts, and even your hopes on a particular strategy to enjoy a desired outcome?
If you’re like me, you’ll do practically anything to feel good!
A lot of my patients over the years have struggled with various symptoms, whether persistent pain, or fatigue, insomnia, or even brain fog.
It can be frightening when it feels like your own health is out of your control!
The good news is, many of my patients have discovered how to reverse their disease process and regain control over their health.
You’ll be inspired as you hear their stories, which I cover in my classes and in my blog.
But let me return to my own story, because I know what I've gone through can give you hope.
Around the time my knees begin to hurt so severely, I found my own Integrative clinician, who diagnosed me with Hashimoto's thyroiditis, a very common autoimmune condition.
You probably know someone with Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
If they take "thyroid pills", that's probably their diagnosis.
What many people don't know about Hashimoto's thyroiditis, is that it frequently is associated with many troublesome symptoms.
It's fairly common knowledge that thyroid issues can cause fatigue.
But did you know that thyroid disease can also be associated with insomnia, depression, anxiety, brain fog, digestive issues (including constipation and heartburn), difficulty swallowing, muscle weakness, limb numbness, muscle aches, joint pains and even inflammation of the liver?
By the way, some of these thyroid-associated symptoms improve when thyroid pills are started.
But unfortunately, the majority of these associated symptoms don't improve as much as we’d like with thyroid hormone replacement.
In my own case my thyroid hormone levels never became low, so I was never required to take thyroid pills.
The only clue that my thyroid was inflamed was positive thyroid antibodies on a blood test.
When thyroid antibodies are present, it is an indication that your body's immune system has begun to attack your thyroid!
I realize that sounds pretty dramatic.
If the "auto-immune" process (which is the medical term for your body's immune system attacking your body's own tissues) against the thyroid continues long enough, the thyroid becomes "burned out".
There aren't enough functioning thyroid cells to produce enough thyroid hormone for the body, so the doctor generally prescribes thyroid replacement therapy at that time.
As I may not have said previously, I'm a big believer in thyroid replacement for patients with low thyroid levels on a blood test.
In fact, to illustrate what thyroid replacement can do, let me tell you the story of one of my long-term patients.
This young man was diagnosed with hypothyroidism within the past year.
It's interesting how we made his diagnosis.
In a routine blood draw, his liver enzymes were high enough to be concerning.
It certainly got his attention!
How would you feel if you went to bed at night knowing your liver was inflamed?
When the blood tests we typically run to detect the causes of liver inflammation all came back normal, we had to run some other blood tests that reflect more unusual causes of liver inflammation.
One of those tests was for thyroid hormone level.
Sure enough, his thyroid level was in the BASEMENT!!
I was actually amazed he was able to function at all, let alone work full-time as a professional chef!
At any rate, he filled his thyroid prescription, and within four months his liver enzymes were completely normal.
Of course, it was gratifying clinically to see such a brisk response of the liver enzymes to needed therapy.
Unfortunately, many of the symptoms associated with thyroid disease don't usually respond nearly as well.
Take my own situation.
Remember, my knees were so painful, I was beginning to wonder if I'd be looking at a wheelchair.
And I had been a runner for 40 years!
By the way, did I mention that anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen didn't help the knee pain very much?
That's actually typical of the "non-thyroid" symptoms we see with thyroid patients.
These symptoms often don't respond to "a pill for every ill"!
As a result, like many thyroid patients nowadays, I began to search desperately for answers wherever I could find them.
Of course, I was already familiar with the "conventional" medical literature on Hashimoto's, most of which didn't apply to my own symptoms.
At that time, many online sources of information about nutritional and other biological approaches were beginning to appear, many of them appearing credible, even to a skeptical physician reader like myself.
Certainly, not all the answers I found were of the highest quality.
But I had to admit, when I began to avoid gluten completely (despite sideways glances from my family!), the knee pain did start to let up.
Since the knee pain was still a problem, however, I kept looking for answers.
I kept running into statements from various Integrative medicine sources suggesting that the casein molecule (one of the proteins found in dairy) is best avoided.
By that time, I had given up milk; that wasn't too difficult.
I had even walked away from ice cream (mostly!).
But have you ever been "emotionally connected" to a particular food?
In my case, it was cheese.
I wrestled with whether it made any sense to stop eating my beloved cheese.
I honestly didn't know whether I could "survive" without it, even if it would help.
Meanwhile, my knees just kept getting worse.
Like Dr. Carly Hudson describes in her blog, the "red light" just kept on shining!
I often use that same great analogy with my patients.
Many of us have had some experience with "looking the other way" when the red light came on!
Wishful thinking rarely makes the red light go away!
Have you noticed that as your symptoms intensify, you become increasingly motivated to find the solution?
In fact, one thing I've noticed in 30 years of medical practice, is that people are generally not willing to make significant changes to their lifestyle unless they are convinced they have to!
Let me drill down a little more on that.
Most people have to be facing significant pain or potential disability in order to possess enough motivation to dump their favorite comfort foods.
Sorry to be blunt!
You see, I found that I'm not doing you any favors to "sugarcoat" the answer to reversing your chronic disease process!
People really appreciate when I'm clear with them about what they need to do to feel better.
I've found that people need hope that somehow they don't have to live with these symptoms.
How about you?
As a clinician, let alone as a patient myself, I've noticed that not everybody is ready to move forward with their health, especially if it involves changing daily routines.
I get it!
If I could count the number of times I thought about quitting my "cheese habit" I'd tell you.
I'm not proud of it, but I’ve lost count!
Would you like to know what I finally ended up doing?
I said "uncle"!
To be transparent with you, I wasn't convinced that giving up a food item that had never seemed to give me any trouble would help my knees.
By the way, I eventually found some of the studies Integrative practitioners were basing their apparent dislike for anything dairy.
Remember the red light on Dr. Carly's dashboard?
Yes, the red light (my knee pain!) kept flashing.
At some point, even though I wasn't aware of any scientific evidence at the time, I became so frustrated that I decided to "take a chance."
I definitely didn't have much to lose!
The good news is that quitting the cheese opened the door to a whole new level of health.
How about you?
What would you like your health to look like?
Would you like to have enough energy to not have to "drag yourself through" every afternoon?
Would you like that persistent pain and stiffness of your joints to go away?
Or maybe you suffer from migraines and you can tell every time one is headed your way.
Maybe your "Achilles heel" is a digestive issue, whether constipation (that's pretty common, by the way) or heartburn or abdominal cramps.
Or maybe you'd love to just get a good night's sleep.
Or maybe your doctor told you that you have a classic "autoimmune" disease, such as lupus, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis or even celiac disease.
By the way, I'd like to say something about many of these most bothersome conditions that I see people suffering from.
In my conventional medical training, we learned that many of the treatments for chronic illness actually have a pretty limited benefit to the patient being treated.
Take chronic migraines, which means recurrent migraines over a period of 3-6 months.
We do have some fairly good treatments for an acute migraine (which basically means a headache that started in the last 6 to 12 hours).
In fact, one of my favorite acute conditions to treat over the years, whether in my office or urgent care, is acute migraine.
For the really tough ones, I'd have my nurse put in an IV line, and then we'd give the patient a "cocktail" of several intravenous agents.
The result was really like magic!
The patient would generally drift off to sleep and we'd let them "sleep it off" in the treatment room, and when they'd wake up, the headache would be gone!
Unfortunately, most of the chronic diseases we see don't respond so dramatically.
Let me give you a couple of examples.
If your blood pressure is running high, I can write you a prescription and in the vast majority of cases, bring the number that represents your blood pressure within the therapeutic goal.
If your number is pretty high, I may need to use two or three medications, but it's actually not that difficult to achieve optimal control in most cases.
Or we could use the example of blood sugars if you're a diabetic.
We have fairly good agents available to bring your blood sugars into the therapeutic range, especially if we use insulin.
Let's go back to chronic migraines for a minute.
As I mentioned, we have very effective treatments for the majority of acute migraines that patients get.
However, if you have chronic migraines, our best "prophylactic" medicines reduce debilitating migraines from, let's say, five or six per month to "only 1 or 2" debilitating migraines per month.
Of course, every chronic migraine patient responds differently to chronic treatment.
Some respond a little better than our example above, but some respond even less vigorously.
Other chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus often have fairly disappointing results with "conventional" treatments.
I should probably point out that there are a number of chronic conditions that respond quite vigorously in the short-term to medications like prednisone, which is a steroid.
Autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and even some cases of multiple sclerosis are among these.
Unfortunately, steroids often have very troublesome, even dangerous in some cases, side effects that render them much less useful for long-term use.
Of course, there are a large number of chronic symptoms and conditions which are well-known to frequently resist conventional approaches.
Conditions like back pain, chronic constipation, non-migraine headaches, brain fog, fatigue, some cases of spastic colon and fibromyalgia, and others.
Or knee pain, which I was experiencing for the first time in my life.
As I was sharing previously, I made some decisions that seemed pretty hardcore at the time.
I mentioned my battle with giving up cheese, which I eventually did.
It actually wasn't too difficult once I made the decision, especially when I saw my results.
I had previously given up gluten-containing foods. (Gluten is the protein found in wheat and barley that makes the dough “sticky” when you add water, and gives baked items that “fluffy” consistency.)
I had even given up all “industrially” processed foods and all grains, including rice, corn and oats.
Unfortunately, I eventually reached a "plateau".
My knee pain improved to a point, but I was still "stiff" enough that simple things like breaking into a brief "trot" to cross the street was painful!
Can I be transparent with you for a moment?
As much as I respected and appreciated my own very smart Integrative clinician, even he didn't have the answers I needed.
Maybe you've found yourself in the same place with one or more of your own symptoms!
I suppose I could have stopped trying to get further improvement.
After all, I've had many patients over the years who had suffered from much worse knee pain than me for many years.
I don't know about you, but I just couldn't give up on my vision of feeling good in every way!
In fact, you could say that I've based my life on an old Yiddish saying.
It's posted right above my desk.
It reads, "When one must, one can".
To be honest, when I first read this saying, it "scared the wadding out of me".
It threatened to take away every excuse I was trying to hold on to!
Fortunately, I have always been driven to understand how biological systems work, particularly the human system, along with what causes diseases and how to fix them.
And now I was staring down the throat of my own chronic illness!
You'd better believe I dug into the latest research and clinical advances.
I took my own scholarship of the Integrative medicine field to the next level.
Remember the old Yiddish saying?
When I had to, I was able to learn natural biological strategies to reverse my own chronic illness.
In fact, it turns out that, in the course of learning how to reverse my own knee pain, I learned how to detoxify my own tissues at the molecular level.
Detoxification on a molecular level is something I now use for my patients.
By the way, what I'm referring to here is not the "detox in a box" that you see people throwing into their grocery cart as they're waiting in line to pay for their groceries!
Molecular detoxification is a process that requires medical supervision with laboratory monitoring of several blood levels.
The good news is, not everyone requires this level of medical input to have the health they want.
For this reason, I make available to the public the very same resources I offer to my own integrative patients with the single exception of the detoxification protocol.
My experience is that many people will experience sufficient levels of improvement in their symptoms simply utilizing the resources on my website!
I'd encourage you to print out a copy of my Food Guide as a compass for your personal health journey.
If at any point you feel "stuck" in your journey, feel free to click here for a complimentary 15-minute Discovery Call.
I invite you to Like the Great Health 365 Facebook Page, or to connect with me on LinkedIn.