Open the Door and Let In Some Light

The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind. ~E. B. White

This is kind of a mini-rant that really has not a lot to do with weight loss but I think it has a lot to do with keeping a healthy positive attitude.

Backstory: I went to a Catholic high school and yes, some of my teachers were nuns and priests.  One of my favorite teachers was Sister Patrice.  She was a tiny woman, probably only about 5′ tall on a good day, and she probably weighed all of 100 lbs soaking wet, but (like the stereotype!) she was tough! You didn’t mess with Sr. Patrice! But as tough as she was (she dealt with teenagers all day long!), she was also very compassionate and very easy to approach if you had a problem.  One of the things I remember most about her is that on the last day of class for the seniors, as they turned in their final exam, she gave each of them a paper butterfly she had made with their name and a positive trait she had noticed about them over the years.  It was a little positive take-away for them as they grew up and went out into the world.  I remember that mine said “open minded” and it is something I have tried to foster in myself and others over the years.  (I lost that paper butterfly and I deeply regret it!)

For me, being open minded means not being prejudiced or judgmental of others and other points of view.  It doesn’t mean that we have to embrace everything that comes down the pike, but until we take a look at it and give it a fair shake, don’t judge it or dismiss it out of hand.  This attitude has served me well in my lifetime (thank you, Sr. Patrice!) and it has been to my advantage once I started losing weight.  Rather than focus on the “traditional” weight loss protocols, I kept an open mind and considered others that were still a little on the fringe, like Paleo.  Although it has been growing in popularity since 2009 (I think it began to plateau sometime around 2014-15), there are some who think of it as a fad or something untested.  My mother was one of these people.

Once I did a little research and decided I was going to try eating Paleo, I made the mistake of telling my mother, who promptly dismissed it as a fad and fly by night and unhealthy and whatever else “un-” she could come up with.  She tried selling me on some other diet books by other “experts.”  They may be legitimate experts, but these would be the diets I mentioned in other posts where I’d have to cut out all of some foods, eat only certain things and/ or smoothies for a week or so, do these exercises for x amount of time and then move onto the next phase, where I only eat these foods and smoothies and do only x exercises for x amount of time before moving onto the next phase! Hello- has she met me? I’m not going to stick with a program that regimented; it’ll be irritating and inconvenient and I certainly won’t enjoy it! Incidentally, when she tries programs like that, she doesn’t last either!

She pretty much pooh-poohed my Paleo idea and kept pushing other diets at me and I just went ahead and did it anyway.  The rest of my family and friends were very supportive (I think I get my open mindedness from my dad- his pov is generally “try it and if it doesn’t work, try something else”). So, even though I was having success with Paleo, it didn’t get her “endorsement” until Dr. Oz got behind it.  She kept going on and on about how Dr. Oz said it was good and he said it was effective and he said it had merit.  He wasn’t saying anything I didn’t already know, since I had researched Paleo and had been eating Paleo for several weeks by that time, but now it was “official” since Dr. Oz had given it his approval (eye roll).  For weeks after that, any time something about Paleo popped up in the news or social media or anywhere she saw it, I got a text telling me about it and how great it is!  No offense to Dr. Oz, but I don’t particularly like him or his show.  I have watched it and I’m sure he has some great medical credentials, but I can’t get behind a show that give you 10-15 minutes of information about a topic and then moves on to the next one.  I’m sorry but if I’m going to be trying whatever health fad he’s talking about, I’d like to know a little more about it! I don’t just want the highlights!

One of the reasons I’m having this mini-rant is that since I’ve become more attuned to the fitness and nutrition community and Paleo in particular, I’ve become more aware of different view points and avenues of health care, like ancestral health, functional medicine and the mobility movement (yeah, it’s the “movement movement”).  I listen to a variety of podcasts in these areas which opens the door to lot of people specializing in these fields (among others).  I am by no means any kind of fitness expert, but I would like to think I am an informed consumer.  If I come across a topic or an expert through one of these podcasts or websites, I like do a little research, see what it entails and what options it provides.  For example, there’s a lot out there on fermented foods, which are supposed to be good for the microbiota in your gut biome (this is biospeak for the good bacteria living in your intestines that allow you to break down and absorb certain foods). A lot of these experts offer advice on making your own kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha because it is so beneficial to your bacteria friends. It’s the same idea as taking probiotic supplements- it keeps your intestinal friends happy and healthy.  Bottom line for me after my research: I am definitely NOT making any of these things at home (with my ineptitude, I’d probably poison myself- I’ve killed sourdough starter)! But, I do eat more of these than I used to because I believe they are better for you than popping a supplement that’s supposed to do the same thing.  Do they actually work? I have not noticed anything bad happening and my body seems to be clicking right along so I’m sticking with it, especially since I like sauerkraut and kombucha (not so much the kimchi).  I’m sure my mom would say it’s all a placebo and it really doesn’t do anything.  Maybe, but let me tell you a little something about placebos.

Way back in the day, shortly after ibuprophen became widely available, I started taking it to sleep at night.  Those of you who have read some of my other posts know that my sleep patterns have been jacked up all my life (I really think I am a nocturnal human being) so sleeping at night has always been difficult for me.  But long before they came out with “Ibuprophen PM” with a “sleep aid” in your pain reliever, I used to take the regular ibuprophen when I had trouble sleeping: not having pain, but just having difficulty getting to sleep.  Within 20 minutes, without fail, I was deeply asleep.  Maybe I was feeling a little achey and the pain med took care of it, or maybe it was just a straight out placebo effect: it worked because I believed it worked.  I don’t know and I don’t care.  Does it work? Yes.  Does it hurt me? No.  Did I keep doing it? You bet! My goal in taking the ibuprophen was to get to sleep and it worked with no side effects.  Did I tell myself I was taking a pain reliever for something it was not designed for? Oh, hell no! Frankly, this is how we end up with a lot of medications: doctors prescribe it for one thing and it has a beneficial side effect and so it is approved for treatment of something else.  (I think that’s how they discovered rogaine!)  Maybe this is why years after I figured out the sleep benefits of ibuprophen the manufacturers made it “PM.”

For those of you who don’t know, my mom suffers from a couple of autoimmune disorders which cause chronic pain and difficulty moving.  Some of the medications she takes have unpleasant side effects but so far, they seem to be working.  In my podcast wanderings I came across the Paleo Solution episode with Eileen Laird of Phoenix Helix.  She has a website and podcast about the Paleo AutoImmune Protocol which helped her tremendously with her rheumatoid arthritis (which my mom has).  One of the medications Ms. Laird mentioned was Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) which has been beneficial for a lot of RA sufferers, so I mentioned it to my mom.  I showed her how to download the podcast (which she has not and likely will not listen to) and I gave her the name of the drug, which she looked up and promptly pooh-poohed as being endorsed by a quack.  Apparently, RA is NOT one of the primary conditions this drug was developed for and LDN is not normally prescribed for RA and that was pretty much the end of the discussion.  Other than the doctor who first discovered it was beneficial for RA/ autoimmune disease was a quack and not a “real doctor.”  Apparently, he is one of those doctors who believes in herbs (eye roll)! OMG!!! Excuse me, but didn’t most early medications begin as herbs?! Isn’t that where aspirin came from?!   Acetylsalicylic acid is a compound found in willow tree bark and early HERBOLOGISTS recognized that it’s effects on fever and pain and so, years later, TA-DA!! We have aspirin!!

So, my mom is probably not going to mention LDN to her rheumatologist and I will have to go on listening to her complain about her pain and problems moving and the not so fun side effects of her current medication.  It’s unfortunate, because the LDN might work for her, but since it came from an alleged quack, it’s being dismissed out of hand.  She’s the only one being hurt by her close-mindedness.  (FYI: she was also unimpressed with another doctor I mentioned whom I thought had a lot to offer about type 2 diabetes and obesity; and there was the other doctor who was only a PhD and not an MD even though he’s also making big breakthroughs treating type 2 diabetes and obesity with diet.) I had hoped that she would at least discuss it with her rheumatologist but I guess I should be happy she at least googled it.

I personally think the world grows through having an open mind.  I reminded her that one of her favorite doctors (Mark Hyman) would have been considered a quack 2o years ago if he had put forth his high fat low sugar diet back then, but now, it’s considered a breakthrough and innovative.  In fact, Robert Atkins did put out that idea back then and he was considered a little wacky.  Now he is considered a pioneer.  It’s kind of ironic, because my mom has always been such a science geek: she was the avid Star Trek fan, a fan of new technology and even of trying exotic foods.  In some ways, she is very open minded, but new discoveries aren’t always based in hardware and before “science” was science, it was magic and alchemy.  It was as ephemeral as a vapor and as unexplained as a quasar.  Science is full of pioneers who used to quacks and crazies until time and experience proved them wrong.  Galileo was a heretic for proposing that the earth revolved around the sun and Joseph Lister was a quack for proposing that surgeons operate in antiseptic conditions.  Now their theories are considered fundamental science! It takes a lot of guts to sit on top of a thousand pounds of rocket fuel and get shot into space, but it also takes a lot of guts to drink a new elixir to cure your cold.  You never know what you’re going to learn and who you’re going to learn it from, but if you keep your door shut, no one is going to have the chance to walk in.


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