Saturday, December 31, 2016

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

I Poisoned Myself...Again!

I had quite the year - after a 7-year remission from Multiple Sclerosis, I averaged two massive attacks for 2016.

The first attack earlier this year was by far one of my worst attacks, requiring me to take six weeks of medical leave from work.  To learn more about that attack, click here.

To learn about my journey with MS, click here.

My second attack came six months later - just as the last of my lingering symptoms from attack number one were finally clearing.  Then WHAM - I went down again!  This attack wasn't nearly as worse, but it was making life rather difficult.  I was confused; I had been so strict and overly cautious to avoid any animal derived ingredients both in my diet and health & beauty products.

I contacted Dr. John McDougall and wanted to know if a 2.5 year tooth infection could have been the cause of this attack or if it was a continuation from my earlier attack.  (The tooth infection went misdiagnosed/treated incorrectly multiple times and I finally had it removed to avoid any further complications.)  McDougall said he couldn't comment on any of that or diagnose the problem without seeing me, but did give me the clue I needed to determine why this attack happened and what likely made the previous attack so severe.

He sent me the link to his latest opinion on MS, from his August 2016 newsletter.  One little line caught my eye..."The research paper reported excellent adherence to the McDougall Diet with those following the program reducing their fat intake from 40% of calories to 15% of calories, and maintaining this reduction for a year."  

Fat....FAT!  It's was the fat!

When I originally met with McDougall in 2012 to discuss a dietary approach to treating my Multiple Sclerosis, we had a long conversation about how my body was reacting to animal protein and thus causing myelin sheath damage and therefore causing MS attacks.  It made total sense and I have been completely committed to avoiding eating animal protein/products ever since.  What we didn't discuss was the role of fat in MS.

Let's take a step back.

When I was diagnosed in 2009, I immediately implemented Dr. Roy Swank's dietary approach to MS and he advocated a reduction in saturated fats to 15 grams per day and that unsaturated fat (oils) should be kept to 20-50 grams/day.  Being the overachiever that I am, I dutifully documented my daily fat intake and aimed for less than those recommendations.  I did this for many years, but a few years ago, I got complacent - stopped the documentation and started "treating" myself to vegan bakery, vegan cheeses, vegan processed foods and many restaurant outings.  But the "treats" weren't treats at all; they had become weekly and in some cases daily rituals.

When you contact McDougall he has a very unique way of determining if you're adhering to his guidelines, he asks you what you weigh.  No talking your way around that one.  At the time, I hadn't weighed myself in over six months and I told him I was around 160.  It wasn't a total lie, I had been ramping up my exercise since my first attack and my clothes did seem to fit better, but the question got me thinking and I hit the scale....180!!!  What the what?!?

According to McDougall I'm supposed to be at 127, I was going the wrong way!  I was inching my way back to my SAD weight days!

But how could this be?  I was exercising daily, more than I ever had before, eating only vegan foods...

Fat....FAT!  It's was the fat!

McDougall nailed it again.

I know that, "The fat you eat, is the fat you wear." - Dr. John McDougall.  But what does fat have to do with MS?

I thought as long as I avoided animal fat, that aside from my waist line expanding, my MS would remain dormant.

Then I came across this tidbit from the PCRM group (ahem...check out the author):

"One theory holds that the MS attacks are caused by a decreased supply of blood to the sensitive brain tissues. Dietary fat can have this effect. It enters the bloodstream and coats the blood cells. As a result, the cells stick together, forming clumps that slow the flow of blood to vital tissues. The blood does not form clots (as in the case of strokes), but in many blood vessels the clumping becomes so severe that the flow of blood stops and the overall oxygen content of the blood falls.3,4 Tissues deprived of blood and oxygen for long periods of time will die"  
 
Source: http://www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/treating-multiple-sclerosis-with-diet-fact-or

Dietary fat, not animal fat, but rather fat in general.  I did it once again, I poisoned myself or rather had been poisoning myself for quite some time.  

I could say I "experiment" and take one for the team so you guys can avoid my mistakes, but truth is, I'm human, this is a learning process and I clearly don't know everything about this disease.  I share my stories so you can avoid my pit falls. 

Back on track and committed more than ever to the McDougall dietary approach to MS, my first and second attacks have fully resolved, my weight is slowly going in the right direction and I am looking forward to a MS-free 2017!


The moral to this story, to Beat MS - keep it whole-food, plant-based, oil-free, low-fat & starch centric!

Beating MS!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I Think I'm Wheat Intolerant



I was thinking I was gluten-intolerant, but then the Internet exploded with articles claiming that "a group of proteins found in wheat can cause symptoms of such inflammatory health conditions as multiple sclerosis (MS), asthma and rheumatoid arthritis to worsen, and may also promote gluten sensitivity."

I don't know how this new revelation is going to play out or what the new name for this condition is going to be, but as far as I'm concerned, I need to stay away from anything containing wheat and/or gluten in order for me to feel my best.

Recently, I decided to eliminate gluten (and therefore wheat) from my diet in an attempt to rid myself of an annoying, not so glamorous symptom that has been plaguing me for years - phlegm.

That's right, every morning upon waking, I gracefully rose and let out a sound of an 80-year-old man trying to clear something dead from his throat. But, it wasn't even just the morning; this phlegm would stick with me throughout the entire day.  Some days were worse than others and I could not figure out what the deal was!

I knew that dairy was a big culprit in phlegm, but I have been vegan for years, so that was out.  I reached out to the holistic community and it was suggested that I might be having an issue with dust mites; so I sealed my mattress and pillows in dust mite covers.  No improvement.

After talking with someone with a confirmed gluten allergy and realizing that we shared some of the same symptoms, I decided to try an elimination diet to see if gluten was in fact the cause of my "issues."


I had done this once before, many years ago and didn't see any changes in my overall health, so I went back to eating gluten like a glutton, because I realized how much better food was with it.  Back then, the gluten-free scene was bad and it was a real challenge to choke down any gluten-free products.  But, that's all changed - now it's hard to tell if something is gluten-free or not - we've come a long way!

After a few days on my elimination diet, I started seeing improvements, but not just with the phlegm, but also with what I thought were unrelated issues.

Adios gas, finally I was flatulent-free! Did not see that one coming!  :)

The little chicken skin bumps on the back of my arms disappeared!  Woo hoo smooth skin!

A reoccurring rash that no doctor could accurately diagnose or treat, vanished!

But, the most eye-opening symptom to resolve was my joint pain.  I had long thought that this was just a perk of the MS, but then suddenly that too disappeared - completely!

Wheat intolerance, gluten sensitivity, wheat protein allergy - I don't care what label you put on it, avoiding wheat and therefore gluten has helped me out tremendously!  Sometimes resolving your issue can be as simple as trying an elimination diet.  If nothing else, it's a good place to start.

Beating MS!







Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Little Can’t Hurt...

It's the holiday - what's the harm?!?!

It’s very tempting to think that a little bit of ice cream or a little bit of bacon or a little bit of any animal product can’t hurt. Right?

People with multiple sclerosis are allergic to animal protein - period. When ingested, any food derived from an animal causes an auto-immune response that can only be stopped when the food poisoning itself is stopped. While we don’t have an immediate reaction like anaphylactic shock, our reaction is delayed and can come in the form of numbness, loss of vision, muscle weakness, fatigue, etc. much later, in my case months later.

If I were to hand you a glass of crisp, cool, refreshing water with a teaspoon of cyanide in it, would you drink it? It’s just a little bit of cyanide, what’s the problem?

Bottom line, a little can hurt and it can have dire consequences for us.

I learned this lesson the hard way. Four years into this lifestyle, I got a little lax. I started frequenting some restaurants, always doing my due diligence by stating that I had food allergies, etc. Then came time for my yearly MRI, after four straight years of no activity at all, six new mini lesions popped up. They were so small on initial review, my neurologist missed them. When they were found, my neurologist dismissed them. His lack of concern didn’t calm my anger, distress, concern and every other emotion consuming me.

I was so faithful to the diet, what happened - why wasn’t it working?!? Four months later came the attack. By my previous attacks, a very minor attack, but let’s face it, when it comes to MS, an attack is an attack.

Little by little the truth started coming out. The restaurants I had been frequenting were slipping me animal products. Egg wash on veggie dumplings, milk in pizza crust, eel sauce on veggie sushi, etc. No one maliciously slipped me these things. They simply didn’t know how the food was prepared and my due diligence no matter how diligent simply wasn’t enough. So I did what any logical girl would do - I banned the restaurants.

We don’t have the luxury of an attack, any attack could lead to permanent disability.  Now I ask you, do you think a little can’t hurt?

So this holiday season, when well-meaning friend or family member or your brain pushes you to just have a little; remember, that holiday ham or Christmas cookies won’t seem so great when you’re dealing with an attack and loss of some bodily function that you’ve come to rely on.

Keep it legal this holiday season!

Beating MS!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hoff's Savory Stuffed Squash

Hoff's Savory Stuffed Squash
Serves: 2
meat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free

Ingredients:
  • 1 Acorn Squash
  • 2 cups Whole Wheat Israeli Couscous
  • 2 1/2 cups Veggie Broth
  • 1 cartoon sliced Mushrooms
  • 1 cup Shredded Carrots (rough chopped)
  • 1 small-medium Sweet Onion (chopped)
  • 2 Garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 tbsp. Almond Butter
  • 2 tbsp. Braggs
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • Sea Salt

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cut Squash in half and remove seeds
  3. Place Squash face down in a baking dish with about an inch of water
  4. Cook until soft for about 40 minutes
  5. Season Squash with Sea Salt & set aside
  6. Meanwhile, bring Broth (Nutritional Yeast added) to a boil, reduce to a simmer, stir in Couscous, cover & cook for 15 minutes (fluff with fork when done)
  7. In a non-stick skillet, sauté Onions, Mushrooms & Carrots in Braggs & Seasonings, adding Garlic during last 30 seconds of cooking
  8. Stir in Almond Butter until melted and well combined
  9. Combine with Couscous & fill each side of Squash

Hoff Thoughts: You will have leftover stuffing, that's a bonus in my book as it's delicious!  But, if you insist on being precise, cut back to 1 cup of Couscous and 1 cup of Broth.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dr. John McDougall's Curing MS Resources

https://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/health-science/hot-topics/medical-topics/multiple-sclerosis/


"Too few people are told that within 10 years of diagnosis, even with the best treatments available, nearly half of those with Multiple Sclerosis will be wheelchair bound, bedridden, or dead. Given this hard look at the reality of Multiple Sclerosis, more people would be interested in a treatment that is cost-free, side-effect-free and stops the disease in over 90% of those people with early disease. The low-fat diet treatment for Multiple Sclerosis was developed by Roy Swank, MD, former head of the department of Neurology at the Oregon Health & Science University. He has treated more than 5,000 people over the past 50 years and the results are remarkable."

Click here for Dr. McDougall's Health & Medical Center free online resources regarding Multiple Sclerosis and diet.

Beating MS!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Recolor App For Stress Management

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/recolor-coloring-book-for/id1027352017?mt=8Expanding on the coloring trend for stress reduction, I present you with the Recolor App available through iTunes.

Why do I love this app?

Because some of us aren't into arts & crafts (raises hand).  I personally love technology, so when I discovered this point and click app that allowed me to create pretty pictures with as little or as much time as I had, I dived right in!

Having this app on my Smartphone allows me to use it anywhere, anytime.  Whenever I find myself with a few minutes to spare, I whip out my phone and start coloring.  Ah Zen... (Where is that doctor?!)

Best part - it's FREE!

There is a paid monthly or yearly subscription if you feel so inclined.  Personally, I find the free version provides me all the instant stress management that I am looking to achieve.

No matter what your stress management technique is, be sure to practice daily.

Beating MS!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

WWXD?

We are inundated with health advice every day from well-meaning friends and family to media “experts.”

One day something is good for us, the next day it isn’t. It’s enough to drive you crazy.

This barrage of health & wellness advice will never stop, but there is one thing you can do to cut through the noise - align yourself with an expert such as a doctor and then filter new information through their ideology.

Pick someone who you fundamentally agree with, respect, trust. Then whenever you hear the latest and greatest information, ask yourself, “What Would X Do?"

My personal "X" factor is Dr. John McDougall. He is a well-respected, longstanding general physician who believes in and practices medicine through diet & lifestyle changes, turning to medication and surgeries as a last resort.

I have read many of his books, have seen him lecture and have even had one-on-one consultations with him. I believe and trust his approach to health & wellness.  I also admire and respect the work he does; so whenever something new hits the presses, I ask myself, “What Would McDougall Do?"  I like to think of this as running information through my "McDougall filter."

Luckily for me, McDougall is a rather outspoken health & wellness proponent and has commented on just about everything you can think of and continues to do so.

I recently fell into the marketing trap when I read the Wheat Belly book by William Davis M.D.  I had forgotten my own sage advice and started making dietary changes to align with the logic presented so convincingly in the book; even though it went against everything I had learned up to that point.

Luckily, before I got too far down the rabbit whole, Dr. McDougall published a paper debunking the Wheat Belly book.

I had a close call and that’s why it is so important to vet new information through a trusted source before jumping on the "blind sheep bandwagon."

So, next time you’re confused about the latest and greatest health advice, ask yourself, WWXD?

Beating MS!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hoff's Basic Stuffing

Hoff's Basic Stuffing
Yields: about 4 servings
meat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free, soy-free

Ingredients:
  • 7 slices Multi-grain Oil-free Bread (cut into bite size cubes)
  • 1 small Sweet Onion (chopped) 
  • 1 cup Veggie Broth
  • 2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Bake Bread on large cookie sheet, 8-10 minutes until toasted
  3. Meanwhile, sautee Onion in a medium non-stick pan over medium-high heat until translucent
  4. Combine Onions, Bread & Seasonings in large bowl
  5. Add a little Broth at a time until Bread is moist but not soaked (all liquid may not be needed)
  6. Transfer Stuffing to large glass baking dish
  7. Cover & bake for 25 minutes
  8. Remove cover & bake for additional 15 minutes to crisp the top

Hoff Thoughts: Add more Broth or Water if you feel stuffing is too dry.  Experiment by adding Raisins or other dried fruit, even Mushrooms!  My best stuffing has resulted from fresh bakery bread, not shelf-stable bread.  Any oil-free, vegan bread will work, I just really like the multi-grain.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Alphabet Ankles

As a kid, I was constantly rolling my right ankle.  It wasn't that there was anything wrong with my ankle, I was just doing typical kid things - running around, jumping off things, being wild without a care in the world.

But all that spraining took its toll and as an adult, I found myself with a weak ankle.  An ankle  that could turn just by walking on any uneven surface.  Who rolls their ankle walking in grass?  Me, that's who.

So, when MS targeted the right side of my body, my weak, right, ankle became a constant source of concern.  Whenever an attack would hit, it naturally brought on foot drop and I would worry about breaking my ankle due to the increased weakness.  That worry became so incessant that I took to wearing an ankle brace, just in case.

Then one day, I started drawing the alphabet in the air with my feet.  At first, I just did capital letters, A-Z and then I worked up enough strength to do a second set, but in lower case, a-z.  I would practice this exercise every night, usually while lying on the couch, watching TV - it became a habit.  I think it was just an OCD thing at first.  But, overtime the weakness in my ankles became less and less and I realized that I had stopped rolling my ankle.  I was able to walk on any surface with no fear of turning my ankle, and even more, no fear of breaking it.

What this daily 1-2 minute exercise had done was strengthen both of my ankles, which hadn't even occurred to me was possible.  I suspect the same exercise could help with weak wrists.

I stumbled upon this life changing fix by accident, but it taught me that if I'm experiencing a problem, any problem with my body, that I shouldn't just live with it.  That there is a solution - big or small and rather than ignoring the issue, doing a little research or consulting an expert just might change my life for the better.

Beating MS!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hoff's Pumpkin Head Peppers

Hoff's Pumpkin Head Peppers
Serves: 4
meat-free, dairy-free, egg-free

Ingredients:

  • 4 Orange Peppers
  • 16 oz. Whole Wheat/Gluten-free Spaghetti
  • 1 24 oz. jar Prego Light Smart Traditional Spaghetti Sauce
  • 1 15 oz. can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Zucchini (shredded)
  • 2 Veggie Burgers (chopped/optional)
  • 2 tbsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 tbsp. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder

Directions:
  1. Bring a large stock pot of water to boil, season with Sea Salt
  2. Meanwhile, cut the tops of the Peppers off, like you would a pumpkin & de-seed
  3. Cut jack-o-lantern faces into each Pepper
  4. Add Peppers to boiling water & cook for 5 minutes, remove Peppers
  5. Add Spaghetti & cook according to the box (al dente)
  6. Meanwhile in a medium stock pot, warm together Spaghetti Sauce, Tomato Sauce, Zucchini, Veggie Burgers & remaining Spices
  7. Combine Spaghetti with Sauce, stuff each Pepper with Spaghetti, allowing to ooze from the top of the "head"
  8. Happy Halloween!!!

Hoff Thoughts: Not into processed Veggie Burgers?  I don't blame you, substitute a can of Black Beans instead.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My Story...

It all started when I was 21 years old.

I had just gotten home from working the closing shift at a local toy store. I was having a snack and watching TV, when suddenly an electrical wave washed over me – from my neck to my feet, for lack of a better word, I went numb. I remember thinking, “this can’t be good.” But I did what any logical person would do; I ignored it until it went away.

However, the feeling did not go away and after about a week, I couldn’t take it anymore and hit the Internet for answers. “I got it – I have anemia! I just need some iron.” So, off to the doctor I went. He examined me for about 20 minutes, asked me a few questions, and declared that the problem was all in my head. Seriously. Left to figure it out myself, I had another epiphany – issues with the nerves cause numbness, I must have pinched nerves! Off to the chiropractor I went. I had six pinched nerves and after a month of numerous adjustments, I was back to normal.

Over the next several years, “pinched nerves” would plague me as well as several new symptoms that seemed relatable at the time. Each time I would return to my chiropractor for a month of treatment, followed by a month of personal rehab to get my strength, endurance and muscle flexibility back.
Fast forward six years and my reprieves came less frequent, my symptoms were getting progressively worse, and eventually I was having “attacks” multiple times a year. I was on a steady downward decline. Everything stayed isolated to my right side, I was experiencing greater numbness, my muscles grew weaker and my balance and stamina were failing me. I was having memory, hearing, sight, and speech issues. “Pinched nerves” were slowly consuming my life.

I kept pushing through it until 2009 when I experienced two attacks back to back, which had been the worst attacks to that point. You name it, I had it: muscle spasticity, foot drop, and numbness. I could barely move the right side of my body, half of my face didn’t move, I couldn’t get a sentence out clearly, I was running into things because I had no balance, and walking any short distance was exhausting.

Eight days and two hospitals later, I knew pinched nerves weren’t my only problem. I had Multiple Sclerosis. I didn’t know what the disease was, but I didn’t think I wanted it. I felt my life was over before it even started. I was afraid of losing my independence. To make matters worse, I was told I would never recover, and would probably be in a wheelchair, bedridden, or dead in 10 years.  I was only 32 years old!

I was angry – I declared war on my MS!

The day I was finally released from the hospital, I started researching. I immediately found Dr. Roy Swank and the Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book.  It took me two days to read his book cover to cover.  Dr. Swank believed that saturated fat fed MS; so I immediately purged my kitchen of any offending food.  As far as I was concerned, saturated fat was killing me and it therefore became the enemy.  I started the Swank Diet immediately and never wavered.  But, I didn’t stop there…I kept researching.  I wanted the latest and greatest information on MS…and that led me to Dr. John McDougall a protégé of Dr. Swank.  After studying McDougall’s information, I quickly converted to a starch-based diet, free of all animal products.

In the meantime, I landed at the Cleveland Clinic’s Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis, a state-of-the-art facility and one of the largest, most comprehensive programs for MS care and research worldwide.   When I asked about Dr. Swank and diet, both were immediately dismissed as nonsense.  All I was offered was a list of MS drugs (with a longer list of side effects) to choose from.

While in the past it had only taken me one month to recover from an attack, it took me six months to recover from the attack that lead to my diagnosis. In the meantime, out of fear, I had also started Copaxone, an autoimmune suppressant drug for MS.

I stuck it out for three years until I decided that I wanted off the drug.

I decided that I had to talk to McDougall face to face, look him in the eye, and see if he was full of…well you know.  I attended McDougall’s 10-Day Live-in Program and asked McDougall to explain to me step-by-step, in layman’s terms, how MS worked and what was going on in my body – something I had been unable to uncover in all my research.  When he was done, the answer was clear – it was the food.  I stopped taking Copaxone that day and have never looked back.

Nearing seven years later, still in remission and drug-free, I have no doubt that it’s McDougall’s starch-based diet that stopped the MS in its tracks.  While I was initially determined to get rid of the MS, I have learned that I can’t – it’s just how my body works now.  But, I can keep it from “waking up” by controlling what I eat – and that is better than any drug!

By learning the right way to eat, I have my life back.  I am no longer waiting for the next attack.

While I still think of it daily, MS no longer consumes my life.  The last question I asked Dr. McDougall was what I should do next (to help with the MS).  He told me to go live my life…I took his advice to heart immediately.

Since getting my health and life back, I have become a plant-based health advocate in my own way.  I started the Healthy Hoff, a holistic health & wellness blog dedicated to the vegan lifestyle.  I published my own whole-food, plant-based, oil-free cookbook  and I am now a certified Health Coach dedicated to helping others Beat MS.

Thank you Dr. McDougall.  You not only changed the course of my life…you saved my life.  Thank you for all your hard work – never stop fighting to get the truth about food out to people so that you can help the next person.

Beating MS!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles

http://www.amazon.com/Wahls-Protocol-Autoimmune-Conditions-Principles/dp/1583335544I recently read The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles by Terry Wahls M.D. and Eve Adamson with my McDougall filter on. 

That means I kept the teachings of Dr. John McDougall in mind while I read the information presented.  This helps me from straying too far from my core understandings of MS and overall health while ingesting new material.  Which is exactly why I read this book, I was looking for little nuggets of new information.   

I am happy to say that I found this book MUCH easier to read than Wahl's first book, Minding My Mitochondria 2nd Edition: How I overcame secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) and got out of my wheelchair.  That book was as complex as the title. 

But, as you can tell from the title of that book, Terry Wahls is a doctor who developed MS and beat it.  In fact, she fought back from secondary progressive MS that left her confined to a tilt-recline wheelchair.  How could you not be curious as to how she did that?!?

Wahl's approach like McDougall is primarily dietary-based.  She believes that MS and other autoimmune diseases center on the mitochondria, a component of our cells.  As a result, she has created a protocol, actually three protocols designed to feed the mitochondria with the most nutrient dense diet in an attempt for the body to heal itself and prevent future damage.  

While this book tackles several autoimmune diseases, Wahls pulls primarily from her own MS experiences to get her points across and includes several anecdotes from MS patients who have followed her program.  So, while this book doesn't solely focus on MS, you still get the feeling that it was written with us MS'ers in mind.

Again, I was only able to pull nuggets of information from this book.  Based on my McDougall teachings, I don't agree with her Paleo diet approach, which includes organic, grass fed organ meats and heavy supplementation.  I think it's the emphasis that she places on greens and other vegetables that makes the difference.  But again, she pulled off an amazing feat, so she must be doing something right.  

What I did take away from this book is a greater appreciation for seaweed, which I now consume weekly instead of the odd occasion that I eat out at an Asian restaurant.  This book is how I learned of the cognitive improvement ability of Lumosity.com, which I practice daily.  And it also got me monitoring and working on my Vitamin D levels more earnestly.  

For those reasons and her incredible, inspirational story, I keep this book in my Beating MS Library.

Beating MS!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Socialcizing!


It can be difficult to keep in touch with friends/family when you're a vegan and they aren't.  Our societal culture have been built around food.


Special occasion?  
Eat.

Holiday? 
Eat.

Good news? 
Eat.

Bad news? 
Eat.



The first thing that comes to mind when people say "lets get together," is - "for brunch, lunch or dinner?"

This year I've taken it on as a personal challenge to break that cycle.  And I'm doing it in a way that benefits both me and my friends - not to mention my MS.

Exercise!

Or socialcize if you will - socializing while exercising.

I've been implementing socialcizing in various ways.

Getting groups of friends together by signing up as a team for various 5Ks around town.  I aim for at least one per month.  Some of us walk, some of us run - but we all get to hang out at some point.

Or, I'll drop in on one of my friend's yoga classes or invite a friend or two to my regular kickboxing class.

Even if it's just once, I've been checking out classes with a friend - cycling, Zumba, indoor rowing.  Anything that looks interesting - you never know what you'll gravitate towards until you try it.

For those who aren't that inclined to get out there and work it, I suggest a leisurely walk in a park.

When the weather turns, I'll take things inside - a nearby gym or rec center and more classes!

Exercise benefits MS tremendously.  The old advice was to do nothing while undergoing an attack, the new advice is move it or lose it - safely.  Whatever your current abilities, get out there - your future self thanks you. :)

Beating MS!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Who Is Your Health Advocate?

If you don't already know the answer to this question, you better put some thought into it.

A health advocate is someone that you take with you to your important doctor's appointments.  I don't mean standard exams, but rather the ones when you are receiving a diagnosis or treatment information - the appointments that have the potential to be overwhelming to the point where you don't get the information straight.

This is where your health advocate steps in - it's their job to take notes, ask questions, verify information and help you get your facts straight so that the doctor can get a clear picture of your situation.  Then after the appointment, you discuss what just occurred and most likely, you're going to find that you didn't hear or process all the information correctly.

This is normal, you're under a tremendous amount of stress and frankly overwhelmed.  It's also human nature to hear what we want to hear - that's why you need an impartial second party with you.

I myself have been in need of a health advocate and have been a health advocate for others.  I was grateful to have someone there for me and I was honored to be there for someone else.

Don't try to be stoic - you'll just end up hurting yourself in the end.  Make adding a health advocate to your wellness team a priority today.

Beating MS!





Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Train Your Brain!

http://www.lumosity.com/You've heard it before...I learned it when I was diagnosed - MS makes your brain shrink.  Scary thought.

"Problems in attention, memory, verbal fluency, and information processing can be common in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), with difficulties reported in finding the right words and keeping up in conversations, or trouble remembering routines at home or work. According to the researchers, these problems are thought to be associated with volume loss and atrophy in the brain’s grey matter."1

If only there was something we could do to stop this from happening.

Oh wait, there is!  Challenge your brain! Better yet, train your brain...

"Training your brain will increase the brain growth hormones your brain needs to repair damage, build new connections and grow more brain cells."  - The Wahls Protocol, Terry Wahls, M.D.

Lumosity is an online program consisting of games geared towards improving memory, attention, flexibility, speed of processing, and problem solving.  Scientists and game designers have combined talents to turn common cognitive and neuropsychological research tasks into fun, exciting games.

A training session only takes less than five minutes a day and is accessible via a computer, tablet or smartphone.  I love being able to do it anytime, anywhere, on any device.  Makes waiting for the doctor a lot more productive...

Many of the games adapt to a player’s ability level, ensuring that you are challenged to the full extent of your abilities.  But the best part, is that these games are fun!  The graphics and the sounds are awesome - it feels more like play than training.

While this is pay to play model, you can access three games a day for free!  Personally, I took the free version for a 30-day spin to ensure I would stay engaged. Then guess what, 25% coupons started coming my way.

I really enjoy the Lumosity games and make it a priority to train my brain daily as one more way that I Am Beating MS!


Beating MS!

Source: 1 http://multiplesclerosisnewstoday.com/2016/04/26/home-brain-training-program-ms-patients-reported-improve-cognitive-skills-29/

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Donate to MS While You Shop!

http://smile.amazon.com/gp/aw/ch/aboutDid you know that you can donate to charity at no cost to you every time you shop at Amazon.com

The key is to shop AmazonSmile.  On your first visit to AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com), you will be asked to select the charitable organization of your choice to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping. Your selection will be stored in your Amazon profile and then every eligible purchase you make at AmazonSmile will result in a donation!  The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases.

https://www.drmcdougall.comWhile there are nearly one million organizations to support, I like to make my donation work for me by donating to a non-profit foundation with a history in studying the affects of diet on multiple sclerosis. 

Specifically, the foundation started and run by Dr. John McDougall; a physician and nutrition expert who teaches better health through diet and  has been studying, writing, and speaking out about the effects of nutrition on disease for over 30 years.

The McDougall Research & Education Foundation has funded a study on the dietary treatment of
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) with the Oregon Health & Science University. Their second ongoing project is the measurement of artery wall thickness changes that occur as a result of the McDougall Diet using ultrasound measurements (CIMT).  Additionally, some of the foundation money goes towards the education of medical students and medical residents from the US and around the world to learn how to practice diet-therapy.

We all shop, we might as well help out others while we do it!

Beating MS!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Recovering from Multiple Sclerosis: Real Life Stories of Hope and Inspiration

http://smile.amazon.com/Recovering-Multiple-Sclerosis-Stories-Inspiration/dp/1743313810/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1458233155&sr=8-2&keywords=george+jelinek
I read Recovering from Multiple Sclerosis: Real Life Stories of Hope and Inspiration by George Jelinek & Karen Law during an attack and found this book very helpful during that trying time. 

The book tells the life stories of twelve very different people who Beat MS through the diet & lifestyle changes prescribed by Jelinek.  It's an interesting mixture of backgrounds, symptoms and journeys - all of which provided me with nuggets of new insights.

I've made this book part of my Beating MS Library because sometimes we need a little inspiration.  We need to hear about others who are going against conventional western medicine and are Beating MS!  Sometimes it helps to know that we are not alone in this battle; that there are like minded others out there and that doing well.  Sometimes stats are not enough - we need to be able to put a recovery story to a real person.

Dr. George Jelinek is a doctor who overcame his multiple sclerosis and went on to establish the MS support website, Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis.  While this book hints at Jelinek's protocol, to get the full detail of how he overcame MS, you'll need to read Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis: An Evidence-Based Guide to Recovery.


Beating MS!



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book

http://smile.amazon.com/Multiple-Sclerosis-Diet-Book/dp/0385232799/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458232666&sr=8-1&keywords=roy+swankThe Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book, by Dr. Roy Swank was the very first book on MS that I ever read and I am so grateful that it was, for it sent me on my journey to Beating MS.

While this book was last published in 1987 and the author has since passed on (at age 99 from following this diet despite not having MS), I feel that it still provides a solid foundation into the understanding of MS as an autoimmune disease and how significantly the role of diet has on the disease itself.

I read this book in two days and immediately adopted Swank's low-fat diet approach to MS when I was initially diagnosed.  I credit it for ending my attack at the time and for getting me back on my feet.

I have since evolved my diet to eliminate all animal products, but still revisit this book from time to time.  I think it's an invaluable addition to one's Beating MS Library.


Beating MS!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Culinary Rx — An Online Cooking and Nutrition Course

https://plantrician.rouxbe.com/


Culinary Rx is an online instructional cooking and nutrition course that healthcare professionals prescribe to their patients for prevention, treatment, and lifestyle health. The goal of the course is to empower patients through their transition to a healthier, whole food, plant-based way of living.


Taught by leading chef educators and medical professionals, your Plantrician Culinary Rx course, powered by the Rouxbe Cooking School, delivers detailed video cooking instruction, and nutrition fundamentals to home cooks and patients that want to change their health through food choices and cooking. Completing the course will provide you with the starting tools, resources and culinary confidence to take control of your life through food and cooking.

Online Course Highlights
  • 60 day online cooking path to better health
  • Self-paced online learning & instructor support
  • Over 25 instructional videos focus on key techniques
  • Step-by-step supported learning
  • Over 40 delicious plant-based, whole food recipes
  • Fun interactive knowledge quizzes
  • Practice activities that will build your confidence
  • Private student community access
  • Access to special "Ask a Doc" live online events
  • Earn a "Certificate of Completion"


The cost of the program is $99.99. 

For a limited time - receive 50% off by using the coupon code: TastyLife.

Having been a past graduate of Rouxbe’s Professional Plant-Based Certification Course, I can attest that Rouxbe will instill in your the culinary skill and knowledge development to be confident in your own plant-based cooking.

So if you're having trouble switching over to a whole-food, plant-based, oil-free lifestyle to Beat MS or are just looking to sharpen your cooking skills, check out Culinary Rx.

Beating MS!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Long Walk To Recovery

"I've got 99 problems & protein ain't one"
You may recall from the post, "I Poisoned Myself," I have recently suffered an MS attack - one that I can now classify as my worst attack.  Upon discovering what caused this attack, I hope my last.

But, with every attack comes recovery - more specifically rehab. Something I am quite familiar with given my many, many years of unknowingly living with MS.

This time around, I hit the treadmill to rehab.  I had just gotten into the habit of walking prior to the attack and I was mad that my new found activity was abruptly taken from me.

This attack left me with substantial muscle atrophy, so getting on a moving machine was a bit scary, but I was determined.

I set my realistic expectations and began my long walk to recovery.

Day 1, I did a stellar 1 mph for 3 minutes & was exhausted.  I know that may not seem like much, but after being bedridden for four weeks, it was an amazing accomplishment and I was proud. 

Day 2, I was able to do 1 mph for 5 minutes...getting there!  Day 3, still walking 1 mph for 5 minutes, but not giving up.  I walked every day and as the days progressed so did my mph and my time until I was walking 4 mph for 30 minutes!  It took about three weeks to reach that goal and I was happy there, until...

Until I was asked to participate in a 5k to benefit The Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland.  Completing a 5k has been on my bucket list for a while, so I "jumped" at the chance.  Mind you, at the time, I wasn't walking anywhere near 3.1 miles and running was not even a consideration.  I was still experiencing symptoms from my attack - fatigue, numbness, and vertigo.  To anyone else, this would have seemed like a crazy thing to consider.  But, to me I thought it was an excellent opportunity to push my body into recovery using my mind...  I had one month to work up to 3.1 miles.  I had no idea if I could do it or not, but just having that mental goal kept me trying. 

The mind is a very powerful tool and my theory was by concentrating on a specific date to physically compete, my body would come along. 

And come along it did!  On May 7, 2016, I completed my first 5k.  Sure, it took an hour, but I crossed the finish line on my own and kept on going!

I win!

The moral of this story is to have a goal and pursue it.  There were many, many times that I could have said - this is too hard, it hurts too much, my body won't let me do it - but I pushed through all that.

Originally, my goal was just to walk again, but then it became so much more and there's no going back.

Beating MS!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Coloring For Stress Relief?

http://smile.amazon.com/Adult-Coloring-Book-Relieving-Designs/dp/1941325114/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460029397&sr=1-4&keywords=adult+coloring+books+best+sellers
Coloring isn't just for little kids anymore, there is a trend emerging with the big kids - adult coloring books!  But these aren't your typical childhood coloring situations - these are more sophisticated. 

And, there's something for every interest- only want to color cats - try this, into tattoos - try this, just need to swear - try this.  Or check out Coloring Page For Adults - a site that offers free downloadable pages on just about every topic you can imagine.

Coloring is a great way to de-stress and helps relieve anxiety and tension.  Coloring can bring you back to your childhood, a time when stress wasn't even a word in your vocabulary.  For those of you still struggling with meditation, this is a great way to quiet the mind and be in the moment.

You can use whatever medium you like - I prefer a combination of Brush Tip Markers and Gel Coloring Pens for the fine detail work.  But feel free to break out your good ole Crayola 64 or colored pencils

To truly reap the benefits of this relaxation technique, you'll want to set the mood.  Turn off the TV, your cell phone, anything that can cause a distraction.  Turn on some relaxing music - jazz, classical, Motown, Buddhist chant - whatever gets you Zen.  Pick a comfy spot and let your imagination be free!  Color for as long or as little as you want.  There are no rules here, you don't have to finish a picture in one sitting - this is your time. 

When you're done, proudly display your masterpiece on the fridge! 


Beating MS!