I Cheated: Coming Clean

It’s quite the strange feeling to have the urge to tell someone else about my not following my own protocol straight away after it happens.

It’s been almost six years since I started feeling the excruciating pain and experiencing the never-ending bathroom visits that Ulcerative Colitis brought to my life. This is actually an interesting segway to “Don’t Quit! STOP” since it was right after I stopped smoking that these symptoms and their friends started to show up. I won’t get into all of that right now, but fast forward seven months of this hell and my life as I knew it was about to change some more.

While doctors threw their generic meds at me, I didn’t know which way to turn, let alone figure out what to eat. I did enjoy cooking (whenever I infrequently did), so here comes my therapist to the rescue, ”Have you looked up any recipes online?” Well, I’ll be damned! I was so debilitated on a daily basis that I couldn’t even come up with that one.

It was the first thing I did when I got back home. I researched for the next three days and found much more than a recipe. This is when I began understanding that for me, taking care of my health was literally a matter of life and death. The fact that up to a year prior, I spent the majority of my life killing myself, here I was feeling some serious results of that incontinence.

I found a whole diet to address my chronic illness, which is under the big bad umbrella of IBD (Intestinal Bowel Disease). It’s called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and you can find the official site here. This will most definitely be useful for anyone who has any kind of gut, bowel, intestinal issues and then some for sure. It can even be extremely beneficial for people with autism.

Of course, I went straight to the “fillet mignon” of the diet, not realizing there was a certain process to it. I did see progress within a few weeks, but I was on a see-saw for quite a while until I finally started following directions. I enlisted the help of a health coach who was able to guide me implement the diet properly.

Since then, I have been in remission with the exception of one incident about four years ago. It is a pretty strict diet. I don’t eat any processed foods, no bread, sugar, pasta, potatoes, dairy, corn, rice, flour, only certain kinds of cheese, I make my own yogurt,and I limit salt and spices. I cook a few times a week for the family and myself, I take lunch to work and I ask whatever questions I need to at restaurants. I would say I stick to all of this about 98% of the time. Once in awhile, I will get an order of meatballs, which no doubt have some breadcrumbs, but this is an every now and then kind of thing and it’s pretty minute so it doesn’t affect me. I have slightly tweaked the diet to include a bowl of oatmeal a few times per week. This has enabled me to be medication and symptom free for the last four years.

This was a HUGE change from the guy that thought “natural” peanut butter on “nice” whole wheat bread on the run was a healthy meal. I would eat two or three of them a day. I live a normal life now as I have stuck to this new and GREATLY improved lifestyle. In continuing the mindset I spoke of in my last post, I don’t think of what I can’t have or that I’m missing out. I do think about how much healthier I am and how freeing it is to not be chained to the toilet.

I have a friend who has a similar issue to mine. He was in remission for over two years when he decided to have “Pizza Thursdays”. Within six weeks, he was dating the toilet and hanging out at the Doctor’s all over again.

There are as many ways to deal with health issues as there are people. It’s up to the individual which path they want to take and how they want to travel it. For some people, taking medication or going through periodic medical procedures is easier than changing their lifestyle. Change is not easy for anyone, regardless of who you are. It happens when we decide that enough is enough and we take action. Often times, it will be exacerbated by undesirable circumstances, various interventions or events in life that demand drastic measures. This might look like someone getting hurt or hurting someone else while under the influence, hearing about your declining health at your doctor’s office, getting a final “warning” at your job, an arrest, being given up on by your family/friends, lost relationships or just being tired of being on the same merry go round year after year. Whatever the scenario, “needing” to change isn’t going to cut it. You have to want it and do something about it. No one else has the ability to do this for you.

I treat this just like my addiction. I’m not a person of moderation. I’ve never had just one drink, one hit, one bite of chocolate, one strawberry, one cigarette, one serving, one anything! Today I understand that for me, it is easier to not do something than it is to moderate it. I have what I like to call the “disease of more.” If it feels good and tastes good, I want MORE.

I was at a seminar for a few days this week in a town that I’ve never been to, so I thought that I would go out on my lunch break. There was a quaint little Main St area that had a few food choices. I saw a Thai Restaurant and thought that a salad with shrimp would be nice. I usually ask them to steam veggies and hold any type of sauce, using lemon and sometimes pepper for dressing. I saw that they had fried banana with sesame as a desert. It sounded really great as I imagined pieces of banana crusted with sesame seeds. I took the order to go.

When I opened the package up back at the seminar, I saw that it was actually a fried filo dough type of thing. In the back of my mind, I was like.. “ohhh maaan!” I took one bite to check it out and that’s exactly what it was. It was this fried filo dough, which was pretty thick, with a piece of banana in the center and a few sesame seeds sprinkled over it drizzled with honey. There were six of them evenly lining the bottom of the styrofoam container. I proceeded to devour them in the next two minutes. It was a blissful, flaky delight. Then it hit me, “NOT good.” It’s been a few days, and I’m OK. Now, here’s the thing. I knew right away that I would want to tell on myself in order to make me accountable. It’s too easy to not do so and hide it. That would set me up for another blissful delight next week and the week after, and then it would be twice a week. Before you know it, I’m on a date with the toilet, curled up in a ball, hoping that someone will roll me over to the Doctor’s. Talking about it defuses the power it can have over one’s thinking.

Obviously, I’m not perfect by any means, but if I don’t remain honest with myself, it’s a rapid downward spiral. The important thing is that today I have a point of reference that I keep tuned into. I have a mentor, a support group and the willingness to keep making progress.

Making yourself accountable could save your life. Being honest with yourself can save your soul.

If this resonates with you or feel it may do so with someone you love, go ahead and hit the share button, leave a comment and tell your friend about your new accountability factor. Love Life Today. THiS ReCoVeRY LiFE.

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