All I can do is tell you what I did. I’m not a doctor, and although I did a lot of testing and structured experimentation, I didn’t do any official form of clinical study. All I know is that today I’m medicine and pain-free, and I feel better than ever. If you haven’t seen it, take a look at my talk at TEDxEast on the subject for a quick overview.
First, it’s important to make a distinction between being cured and being in remission. I have received criticism for claiming to have cured myself of this disease, but I stick by it.
The definition of cure is the relief from symptoms of a disease. There is no time limit on that interpretation or an implication of something temporary.
Illnesses like Crohn’s and other inflammatory disorders put you in a constant battle with yourself because everything you do can have either a positive or negative effect. It’s really easy to throw in the towel when it seems you have limited information or options.
I am cured of this disease because if it were ever to rear its ugly head again, I would be able to attack it with confidence and I would overcome it.
There is no doubt in my mind that any attempt the illness might make to take me down again would be utterly futile. I am wise and calm; which means I have the power. I do not consider this remission. I have won.
I tried testing everything I could think of with the hopes that it might have some correlation to how I was feeling.
My doctor had run lots of blood tests, colonoscopies, endoscopies, barium transport studies, CAT scans, and sonograms (surprisingly the only test that had me weeping on the examination table).
Most of these were performed under conditions of inflammation, meaning there wasn’t a healthy version with which to compare. When I started my own testing, I began with the most obvious, food.
The problem with food tracking when you have an illness like Crohn’s is the amount of variety. I know a Crohn’s sufferer who can’t eat chocolate and another who couldn’t handle ice cream.
I was never able to find a specific trigger food for me, and the hunt is compounded by the fact that environmental and emotional factors play into your levels of inflammation. So was it the spicy food or the fight with your girlfriend, it was always hard to tell.
I tracked sleep, exercise (which was restricted by how weak I felt), mood, bowel movements, and even urine for a little while. Then I went more clinical and had gene testing done, a DEXA scan, semen analysis, and personal blood testing with InsideTracker.
The resulting data takes up several hundred pages, and I was able to find several correlations that helped me, but I also concluded that no two Crohn’s patients are alike.
I was weak when I started, but I began with yoga thanks to my wife. Vinyasa yoga was a perfect mix of strength and flexibility. The overall process was very calming to me which I believe was it’s most important benefit.
The best thing you can do for a disease like this reduces stress. However, it also provided beneficial twists and inversions which massaged internal organs and invigorated the abdominal nervous system.
For cardio, I tried the Insanity DVD series and lost 24 pounds in just two months. I started Krav Maga, the Israeli Martial Art. The level of brutality involved was an essential release for the “internal rage” caused by a constant battle with my own body.
Eventually, I turned to triathlon training and found that endurance sports made my body a furnace for any food that I might put into it. Ironman France was the hardest thing I ever went through, not even my worst Crohn’s attack lasted 14 hours.
We realized that I needed to reset my body and clean it out. I went entirely vegetarian for three months. I was eating a lot of greens and whole grains. I never went gluten-free, and I don’t believe there was ever a gluten issue for me.
Eventually, I reintroduced fish as my primary source of protein. Now my diet is pretty well rounded with 95% of my meals prepared at home. I don’t avoid milk and cheese; I just limit it.
- Whole grains,
- lots of leafy greens,
- a ton of good fat (grass fed butter, olive oil, avocados),
- and no processed sugar (maple syrup, honey, agave are ok in moderation).
Also, I have found that the timing of meals has a significant effect on how I feel. I have run the gambit from eating six meals a day to eating two and what I’ve found consistent is that when I try to concentrate my meals towards the center of the day, things go much better.
I always work out in the morning before I have breakfast so I usually won’t have my first meal until about 2 hours after I wake up which gives my metabolism a chance to get going. I also try not to eat after eight at night, so my body has a couple of hours to digest before I go to sleep.
I get a custom vitamin pack made by VitaminsOnDemand.com. It’s cheaper, automatically ships to me, and is neatly divided into daily packs with what I need. You can get your supplements anywhere I just find this the most efficient. Every day I take:
1) Krill Oil 500mg
2) Prescript Assist Probiotics
3) Cat’s Claw 500mg
4) Garlic 60mg
5) Adrenal Health from Gaia Herbs
6) Iron 30 mg
7) Vitamin B Complex
So many conditions have a stress component to them, and many people can attest to having some stressful event result in a pit in their stomach. Sometimes those pits become ulcers, sometimes they become irritable bowel disease, and sometimes they even become cancer.
I could get very philosophical right now about how we have one life to live, and it’s about the moments that take your breath away, etc., etc…but this isn’t on a bucket list.
It is about understanding our bodies responses to stress and then training our nervous system to mitigate those effects. If you don’t think the body can be trained to be more resilient just ask a Navy SEAL.
People are not born with the ability to sit in silence in a jungle without moving or speaking for two days, killing an enemy from 1000 yards, then sleeping through the night shortly after that.
Behavior like that needs to be trained. Your body can handle nearly any level of stress if it doesn’t consider it to be stress.
In Krav Maga, when you train, even at a beginner level, you will get hit in the face and other parts of your body. The first time, it’s kinda shocking. Honestly, the 10th time is pretty shocking.
Then something unusual happens, the next time you get hit you don’t even notice until you’ve delivered your “response” and your opponent is lying on the ground. Only then do you feel a tinge in your jaw, but instead of describing the sensation as painful, you smile because it reminds you of what you just did.
The head of my Krav Maga school would say “No matter what happens in a fight, you are both going to have a medical bill, the idea is for yours to be smaller than theirs.”
When I was readying myself for Ironman France, I was incredibly nervous about the swim. I had done the distance many times, but triathlon swims are very aggressive. People just keep paddling and kicking no matter who or what is in their way.
So when the buzzer went off, I started swimming as fast as I could and spread myself away from some other people. 300 yards into the swim I was feeling pretty good, and then a guy hit me square in the back of the head with a closed fist just as I was coming up for a breath. In that instant, I remembered two things.
First, I’d been hit before many times, and I was fine. Second, my swim coach had me end every session with hypoxic training, swimming underwater with shorter and shorter breaks to come up for air so by the final lap you were either blacking out, or your lungs were ready to pull the eject handle.
It made me just swim harder and faster, climbing right over the guy that hit me and possible kicking him in the goggles as I passed.
You can train for resilience through stress acclimation, meditation, and heart rate variability training, or just get in a boxing ring with someone bigger than you. If you want to hack your resilience through heart rate variability training, check out the Stress Doctor app.
Oh, and something has to drive you to want to feel better, pain is enough to do it, but it’s better to have something more.
Time and again we’ve heard, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” An infinite number of people may be familiar with it, and sadly few believe it. Many people just give up hope and blame others.
Others, step up, take responsibility, and try to find a solution. When it comes to humans and more specifically human health, every individual has it in themselves to fight their battles courageously, to push forward in spite of stereotypes and associated stigmas.
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, which is a chronic inflammatory condition (one of the two major types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease besides Ulcerative Colitis) in 2006. It’s an ‘incurable disease’ that I managed to beat into submission.
A lot of people remain bewildered about it how I did it, but that is the least of my worries. Those who believe in Fate might consider mine as an opportunity to help people diagnosed with this disease; given a chance, an atheist and freethinker would join the discourse only to argue the opposite; a skeptic would have had their own doubts.
Yes, it might have been a fluke, a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of opportunity, Leprechaun luck because there were times that I did not know myself whether I would be able to survive it all. However, to say that would be an injustice to the efforts of my family, my doctor, and me.
The book is mostly about my battle against Crohn’s and the fundamentals that need to be incorporated.
Some of you might be offended while skimming through the topic “Crohn’s Disease: Description, Symptoms, Complications & Medication” because as parents to a Crohn’s child, having a spouse or a close friend as ‘crohnies’ had led you to do some research on your own too.
I respect that.
This serves merely as an introductory session for those new to the topic.
It’s natural for you to be in a state of disbelief over the notion of a complete recovery.
But if you do want to know the details in depth, which is, I assume, the reason you’re reading this, then I suggest you bear with me for a few more pages.
My Life Before
It wasn’t always about “Less Doing, More Living.” I’ve been in and out of various projects as an entrepreneur by the time I turned 21. I dabbled in website design, started an online menu resource service, and a technology consulting company.
Maybe the rush helped me do brilliant work because I never had more than three hours of sleep a night. You know the kind of people workaholics are? Well, that was me; always pushing my body and myself, always working.
Therefore, it wasn’t something unusual for me to get stomach aches. I didn’t talk about it or go to the doctor.
Those kinds of things just happen, right?
I mean maybe I ate something my body wasn’t accustomed to?
And since it crops up once every couple of years, it would just embarrass me to complain about it, don’t you agree?
The medical data says people at any age get Crohn’s disease, although people between 15–30 are more likely to succumb to it. I was in my teens when my cramps first hit the excruciating level. They would last as long as one to several hours. But because of the attack, as unpleasant as it was, was an infrequent visitor, I paid very little attention to it.
The College Years
I remember distinctly one episode during my sophomore year at The University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School of Business). The pain was unlike any of the previous ones.
Considering where it was, I believed and so did the doctors that it was appendicitis.
As the pain ebbed away, my concern for it did too.
There were so many other things to worry about. The doctor said that if it were to be an issue again, he would remove the appendix.
After college, I was working approximately 15–18 hours a day on a construction site, where we were renovating 1880s warehouses. I was learning new trades and pioneering loft living.
But the combination of 15–18 hours work + junk food + drinking + smoking was poison.
Some months after meeting Anna (my wife-to-be), in 2005 there was another major attack. I underwent a CAT scan. It showed general inflammation. My case was given to a gastroenterologist.
The GI stuff is unpleasant. A gastroenterologist, a specialist in the digestive system, is trained to take symptoms such as heartburn, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation as severe indicators of an imbalance in or otherwise poor digestive health erupting from either common conditions or rare disorders.
The procedures were useful for my set of circumstances, but the colonoscopy and endoscopy were ego deflating. Four days later, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
What It’s Meant to Me
Three simple words: it’s not easy. It’s surprising how some parts of the world still think of serious problems, take STDs for example, as taboo subjects.
But guess what?
There are issues in our part of the world too that no one’s comfortable discussing either. People would rather keep secret ‘sensitive’ topics like their bowel problems than share it within their communities.
I blame my naivety on why I thought running to the bathroom within 15 minutes of finishing my meal, every meal since college, was because I had a speedy metabolism.
When I was told the diagnosis of my recurrent pain, quite honestly, the most that I knew about it was as follows. It’s a young person’s disease.
Yes, that’s it. No one wants to talk to their friends about their stomach habits or poop habits. Not you, not me either. Unfortunately, it’s the basic initiator for most cases, especially for diseases like Crohn’s. I missed that, missed because there was a friend in my list of acquaintances who had Crohn’s too and I didn’t know until I started writing about it on social media.
To add insult to injury, the doctor who was kind enough to check the results of my stool sample (the one I had been referred to after the agonizing episode and who sent me home to check it out) wasn’t exactly compassionate in his method of delivering it. He left me a voicemail of the result and the dosage. To say that “the results came back and you have Crohn’s disease … you will need to take these eight different medicines, (16 pills a day), and call me if you have any questions” is not my idea of consoling in any way.
When you get that kind of message, it should be in person, even if it’s direct and lacks empathy.
It was inhumane. I was astounded. I was depressed. I did not know what to do.
Crohn’s Disease: Description, Symptoms, Complications & Medication
As the most recent of my little trips to the doctor must have indicated, Crohn’s is a disease that attacks your gastrointestinal tract and makes any part of it from the mouth to the anus, typically the ileum and the beginning of colon, swell.
Seeing the statistics of the number of people being diagnosed with this disease per annum can make you wonder why doctors can’t spot it earlier. Most physicians would say your abdominal pain means you are not eating properly; that it’s an eating disorder perhaps, an intestinal parasite, lactose intolerance or appendicitis. The list is never-ending.
Yes, it does delay the treatment for months or years subsequently, and yet they cannot be blamed for not taking every case of abdominal pain to be Crohn’s, considering its symptoms as something more acute. That’s because they are likely to be more noticeable at the time the disease flares up. Then again, it’s not your job, so DON’T self-diagnose if you suspect it’s Crohns’ and there are no symptoms such as misplaced abdominal pain and diarrhea and pain that subsides after consuming bland food items for about two days consecutive to point in another direction.
An important distinction to make is between Crohn’s and Colitis. For one, the former it is not restricted to the large intestine or, in rare cases, involves the terminal ileum only. It affects the full thickness of the bowel wall and is inclined to “skip” and leave patches of normal areas between the somewhat inflamed intestine(s). The inflamed areas are red, swollen as in ulcerated or marked with sores, and unable to function.
Talking about the disease itself, well, there are five types of Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s Colitis — it affects the colon only
Gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease — it affects the stomach and duodenum
Ileitis — it affects the ileum only
Ileocolitis — the most common of them all, it affects the ileum and colon
Jejunoileitis — it affects the jejunum and ileum
While symptoms are usually are based on the part of the GI tract that has been affected, some of them, including their treatment options, remain common to these subtypes.
Patients can suffer from fever, rectal bleeding, chronic diarrhea, and formation of fistulas, abscesses, increased gas, frequent and urgent bowel movements, feeling of incomplete evacuation, and ulcers around the anus.
It can result in constipation and bowel obstruction, loss of appetite, anemia, weight loss, nausea, night sweats, fever, persistent fatigue, vomiting, and cramps in the middle or lower part of the abdomen.
It means stunted or delayed growth while other complications, generally involving gallstones, kidney stones, arthritis, skin ulcers or rashes, inflammation of mouth and eyes, and liver disease, are also a common feature for some children. Women who have it can expect to have a disturbed menstrual cycle.
In time, the disease is said to follow any of the following three patterns. It can be a fistulizing Crohn’s disease wherein these abnormal channels are developed with a medical treatment being no guarantee to stop a recurrence in most cases. A second type is the luminal Crohn’s disease that is concerned with the bout of inflammatory episodes in the intestinal tube or lumen. For these patients, a low activity record for any given year indicates that there is an 80% chance they are going to be symptom-free for the following year too whereas a person who has had high activity would get a 70% of it having to recur the next year. A third division is for luminal-fibrostenosing Crohn’s disease in which a person has a chronic cycle of flares and remissions, characterized by a narrowing in the intestine.
What are the Causes?
It can occur in both genders equally, and while there is no age limit as has been mentioned previously, the disease prevails prominently among young adults and adolescents.
What’s been talked of so far in this regard is that it may be aggravated by stress and diet. There may be environmental and/or genetic factors (approximately 5–20% of the affected usually have their parents, siblings, or child at risk with Crohn’s disease) contributing to it too. The chances for a person developing it will significantly increase if both parents have it.
As far as the environment is concerned, multiple studies that have been conducted show it as common among those from a European background as well as African Americans. People on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, oral contraceptives, and antibiotics have been shown in some studies to be a strong risk of Crohn’s.
Other causes include a problem with the person’s immune system that leads it to attack the healthy bacteria in the gut and cause inflammation, a previous infection that may have contributed to the abnormal response of the immune system, and smoking habits leading to a more severe Crohn’s.
Now, we can argue that such theories can be based on mere coincidences or we can take it to the next level and see how to not only fight them but also overcome the disease in due course.
What are the Options?
With no specific causes to entertain, it’s inevitable that there’s no prognosis for Crohn’s patients. Studies are suggestive however that they have the normal life expectancy with happy, productive and disease-free periods that last for decades even for about the 20% who have been diagnosed at the chronic end of the Crohn’s scale.
Seeing as there is “no cure” for the disease, treatment measures rely on drug therapy with a bottom-up or top-down approach that can minimize symptoms and maintain long-term remission. These can be categorized into anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, and immune system suppressors. The treatment eventually depends on the location, severity, and the associated complications as results begin to show improvement from as early as 2–4 weeks and as prolonged as 12–16 weeks of the initial dose for patients.
Two drugs that commonly used for Crohn’s are Corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone) and the Oral 5-aminosalicylates (e.g., Azulfidine Pentasa, Asacol, and Lialda). The latter are usually perceived as ineffective, especially since they are typically helpful in case the colon has been affected. Some of their common side effects are headaches, nausea, abdominal pain, heartburn. Still, they can effectively reduce inflammation from almost anywhere.
It does not mean that Corticosteroids don’t have numerous side effects. These include a puffy face, insomnia, diabetes, glaucoma, and high susceptibility to infections, and aseptic necrosis of the hip joints if it is used long term. Children who use this medicine can stunt their growth. Bottom line, it does not suit everyone, which makes them something like a last resort for patients who do not respond to the 5-ASA whether rectal or oral.
On the other hand, one corticosteroid, Budesonide, which has fewer side effects, can be used for specific parts of the bowel. Plus, to use corticosteroids with an immune-modulator is to have more success in inducing and maintaining remission.
Immune System Suppressors
They target the immune system to inhibit the secretion of the substance that causes inflammation. A doctor has the liberty to prescribe the following alone or in a specific combination: Purinethol and Imuran (most widely used); Cimzia, Remicade, Humira; Rheumatrex; Hecoria, Asragraf XL, Neoral, Gengraf, Sandimmune; Stelara; and Tysabri, Entyvio.
They require regular follow-ups with your doctor due to the associated side effects that may occur. Moreover, TNF (tumor necrosis factor) drugs, i.e., the Remicade, Cimzia, and Humira, can prove harmful to health plus they have to be considered for use only if the doctor believes the patient developed a fistula or has contracted a severe form of Crohn’s. To use drugs like Tysabri and Entyvio patients will need to register with a restricted distribution program.
They can force the abscesses and fistulas to heal as well as lessen the amount of drainage that’s caused by Crohn’s. There is some evidence too for some to believe that they can activate the immune system of the intestines, which is reducing the inflammation there. However, having prescribed Flagyl and Cipro to patients is more about augmenting the net effort of the other medications as well as to reduce the chances of an infection.
Biologic response modifiers are a recent development in the field. The antibodies containing anti-TNF agents grown in the laboratory are used to treat people who have been unable to respond to other, conventional forms of therapy. Humira, Remicade, Cimzia, and Tysabri among others, work quickly and efficiently to bring on remission.
The severe yet infrequent side effects of using these approved medications in decreasing intestinal inflammation include higher susceptibility to infections, especially tuberculosis, to occur and a toxic reaction to the other medication you would be taking.
Since this part is about treatment through medication, other options can be the pain relievers (e.g., Tylenol), anti-diarrheal (e.g., Metamucil, Citrucel. Imodium) as prescribed by the doctor, Vitamin B-12, and supplements for iron, vitamin D, and calcium respectively.
What if the Drugs Are Not Working?
Some doctors would proceed to work out with you a particular diet plan to be fed either through intravenous injections or a feeding tube as a treatment for Crohn’s. It might appear and feel uncomfortable, but it does help give the bowel a well-deserved rest and thus reduce inflammation.
The recommended modifications can include a low-fat diet, a low-salt diet, high-calorie diet, a lactose-free diet, and a low-fiber diet. A low-fiber diet in this form is usually meant as a short-term, pre-surgery tool to get people in better shape if the other therapies have failed to keep the symptoms in check. You have surgery — small bowel resection, proctocolectomy and ileostomy, and subtotal colectomy — to remove the damaged part. The downside to this is it’s not the end of the disease, and the person still has to continue the medication to stop frequent recurrence.
Apart from the conventional therapies, your doctor may also suggest counting the benefits of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). The good thing about CAM is that they are often safe and do not interfere with the other, ongoing medical procedures. Its four domains of Biologically-Based Practices, Mind-Body Medicine, Energy Medicine, and Manipulative and Body-Based Practices aim to improve your feelings of well-being, minimize pain and provide you control over the symptoms, boost your immune system, and overall improve your quality of life.
The variety includes acupuncture, herbal and other nutritional supplements (boswellia, omega-3 fatty acids, bromelain, cat’s claw, slippery elm, and marshmallow tea), and fiber-rich diet or supplements. It can also be homeopathy, massage, probiotics, hypnosis, and the more popular guided relaxation, meditation, tai chi, and yoga.
The underlying trick to make whatever technique you try or are advised about is to continue with your general health maintenance and live your life comfortably. It is imperative then that you do not shy away from support groups to make the time of your diagnosis less difficult and stressful. I know this because a disease like Crohn’s, with a frequent need of having to run to the toilet, can take an emotional toll as well.
The first few moments after having received my diagnosis were, quite unremarkable and yet for a different reason, the most upsetting ones, I went ahead to consult with my general doctor first who, admittedly, had no way to confirm it since he was not a colonoscopist. Fortunately for me though, he knew the name of one Mr. Bart Kummer.
So, he did confirm the previous diagnosis (in person), and he did show concern, which made me feel reassured despite myself. Maybe it was because I was not being asked to have blind faith in consuming 16 pills a day and, following reason, was taking one pill at a time to see if it was working. They weren’t. Looking back, this seems to be a good thing as it allowed me at the time to consider an alternative perspective, namely to adopt Plan B.
I was sick of having to jump to and forth different meds like Pentasa just because I maintained my stance and reported feeling poorly on every single one of my scheduled visits to the doctor. Couple that with having to draw blood for cultures every 4–6 weeks, things were going sour. I was eventually put on a course for 6MP that is, in precise terms, a strong, rough, and very effective in my case a leukemia drug. Along with that, I was required to take separate meds for iron, vitamin D for my ever-increasing anemia besides Entocort (a steroid specifically for bowels) and Prednisone (stomach steroid) to overcome my flare-ups.
The downside to it all was, of course, were the side effects that made me aggressive on the inside and puffy and pimply on the outside. My attempts to displace and ease out of this frustration with weight lifting were futile.
When I evaluate the recommended diet too, it seemed flawed as well primarily because they sort of all push a person towards low residue meals that end up doing more harm than good. The food items don’t attack your system, don’t augment the frequency of obstructions, but they don’t provide the digestive system anything to process and make itself strong either.
If you remember well the bits and pieces I introduced earlier to familiarize you with my lifestyle; I hope to use them for another purpose here: I am not a doctor. However, I did have a kind of fascination with medical science, and biology in particular. To know that I didn’t take this route earlier is somewhat disconcerting (a pointless regret no doubt but normal if we take my depression into account) because it gave me a newfound connection with my body during a time when my life seemed to be falling apart, except, again, for Anna.
I was wasting a lot of my time. Stuck in between playing video games and having had no luck with the diet and suffering in spite of it with obstructions, I had no idea what was happening.
Not unlike the information above, my obstructions were from scars in my digestive tract that was getting narrower with time. And despite that even, going through pain beyond my imagination whenever my food got stuck and my feeble desperate shots at it to push it through, I surprisingly never had to opt for surgery for which I am utterly grateful.
I am grateful to the doctor who was considerate of my pain irrespective of it occurring at 3 or 4 in the morning, and who prescribed muscle relaxers before I got addicted to morphine.
One such episode that stands out happened in 2007 when, after being rushed to the hospital after an enormous meal, I remember the doctors asking me one important question namely what I had eaten at the time. To tell you the truth, I have not been asked that question on any of my visits, and when it came to light that the iceberg lettuce was to blame, it left me panicking every time I saw greens. Point to note; I was bereft of essential nutrients for these few months.
The next episode that influenced my life-altering decision later happened on a golf course where I dehydrated on a hot day; my doctor advised me not to eat anything. That made sense; what did not make sense was NOT allowing me anything to drink either for the obstruction. A couple of medicines later in the hospital and on the drive back home, I was feverish with a 105 temperature. Fever is a common symptom too for Crohn’s patients. What made mine scary were the hallucinations that accompanied it. And while they may not look that frightening in hindsight, they are. I got really scared. The silver lining to this cloud was it made me anxious enough to start thinking about my fitness seriously.
Stressing Less Is Important
It wasn’t an easy task to get my body back into shape. I began with WEFIT program to start losing the 40 pounds of obesity I had gained over the last few years. It worked great. In fact, having to work out at home made me enjoy it even. In due course, however, the program became useless for me. It would have been a disappointment, a chance to procrastinate again believing that all good things come to an end, but that’s just admitting that you are not determined enough. It was natural for me to try another course along with a plant-based diet.
I had never worked out that way before in my entire life. When it worked, it was nothing less than a miracle for a person like me who was overweight that is and yet weak and not active, unable to enjoy the things people in their mid-twenties are supposed to be achieving. This is where it all mattered.
I was a vegetarian for three complete months: there were lots of whole grains and greens. I never had to skip gluten though.
I was losing weight (24 pounds in 60 days to be exact), healthily because I was eating well. More importantly, I had fewer need to resort back to the meds. Working on my own concerning the meds, I began with Entocort and Pentasa, to later overcome even 6MP all in 4 months. It may have been wiser to go about it a little slower, to avoid risking the withdrawal symptoms, but it still served me for better. I was free of their side effects, particularly the morning sickness and hair loss that came with the leukemia drug. The only one that I was still hooked on was Prilosec, an anti-digestion drug.
Interestingly enough, it brought me another opportunity for my attempts to be cured of this disease. I started on the supplements — I got off Prilosec too with the support of a high-dose garlic supplement — as well as EMT sort of medication.
I interpreted my vegetarian diet, the smoothies, having tried different supplements, having my wife as a yoga instructor and being able to teach INSANITY at her studio too as just the leading edge to a more holistic living. I became a strict pescetarian for two years. Fish was my primary source of protein.
Considering my diet at this point, I’d say it was pretty much well-balanced (the same as we are taught early in our childhood). The dairy products were consumed in limited amounts; I preferred lots of good fat too like that found in olive oil, grass-fed butter, and avocados. Eating processed sugar in any form was an absolute no-no except for the honey, maple syrup, and agave when taken in modest quantities. Homemade meals constitute 95% of what I consumed on a daily basis. I was moreover enjoying the fact that alcohol was no longer a part of my life. Testing with meal times as well was a good option: for every six meals, I managed two in sufficient quantities, timing them around the center of the day to facilitate my metabolism.
My pack of daily supplements was made up of 500mg Krill Oil, 8Bn Units of Probiotic Complex (Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactobacillus acidophilus), 500 mg of Cat’s Claw, 60 mg of Garlic, 1.08mg of Ginger Root, 30mg of Iron, and Vitamin B Complex.
If you can just see where this is going, now that I was feeling good, I was able to concentrate more on my fitness. From the INSANITY workout, it was competing for the Mighty Montauk just two months after I was entirely off the meds. Yes, I was undertrained; terrible at swimming, okay at biking, but the thing was that I was able to show myself (only) that I could do it. Completing it gave me the confidence that I needed.
It was like indulging a voracious appetite. I needed a mix of flexibility and strength, a smooth massage and yet the brutality that comes with training. My list had VInyasa yoga and the Krav Maga besides the INSANITY. Come April of 2011, two months after my mother-in-law died, I attempted the half Ironman in New Orleans; in June 2011, it was the Ironman France. The endurance sports, the triathlon training, they became my thing: my body, the abdominal nervous system, and the internal organs in particular, benefitted from the twists and inversions these provided. The strenuous routine that I was making myself go through had one huge benefit. My body eventually realized that I was not kidding about “scaring it into submission” and not just trying to beat the disease for the time being only.
While all of this may seem to be entirely out of place, I was, as stated earlier, turning out to be more efficient at fighting my symptoms. I started taking every test related to Crohn’s to track a correlation among the data. I even became an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) besides the yoga instructor title I had earned at my wife’s studio to increase my knowledge and understanding of the human physique.
My curiosity was triggered by a single factor that nearly none of the infinite number of tests that my doctor had performed on me had a healthier counterpart with which to compare. That is, it was only when I had an inflammation episode was I asked to sign up for CAT scans, colonoscopies, sonograms, as well as blood tests. I picked up from there. Having an attempt to hunt down an environment, emotional and/or food triggers, that are additionally compounded with issues like the hours you have slept and the frequency of your urine and bowel movements, not to say your mood swings, I switched to the more serious clinical tests.
From the earlier colonoscopies, blood tests, and sonograms, it was now barium X-ray (upper GI series), DEXA scan, genetic testing, semen analysis, and saliva tests, basically, every test that could be done on my body.
I discovered several correlations. What was more incredible to note however was the way I managed to complete the last of the barium X-ray in just about fifteen minutes where it had taken me over three hours to get the stuff through my body for the first time. Not to beat around the bush, the test helped us to understand that my gut was healing! The scarred tissue was repairing itself despite being labeled ‘incurable.’
To conclude these results, upon the doctor’s affirmation that “they could no longer find any scientific disease in my system,” it seemed I had won at getting my diet (including the supplements that I was taking) and fitness regime right.
A less obvious fact was that I was still NOT a hundred percent productive person. Which made me think of that whatever I have been doing so far — the diet, testing, exercise — that they were the natural part because I was still amiss of another process, another factor, that was controlling my body.
This I attributed to one inflammatory agent: stress. I’d never forget the extent of the pain my body had to put through all this time. It was such that I had already given up and embraced the possibility of death. And if I reminiscence correctly, my life hadn’t been smooth since the diagnosis; the part was just the beginning of the ride downhill for my business and my body, so it was natural that I was stressed out! To throw in another piece of evidence, I had taken the liberty to attribute earlier episodes where the autoimmune therapy for asthma had failed to cure me, for the stress.
Now that I experienced a change, started to feel and look better, a new idea started budding inside me. That of a new system of productivity, to be later christened and as “Less Doing.”
Why stress? It is a powerful reaction that, besides keeping us alert and active, can have deleterious effects. Any and every stressful episode can give us that pit in the stomach. Dealing with these panicky situations is an innate quality, better known as the “fight or flight response,” even if it does not save us from having irritable bowel disease, ulcers, or cancer. But relying on a cumulative production of the natural stress hormones alone would be a folly for it can lead to disorders of its own. Plus, seeing how the perceived threats changed with time and how we may be unable to control the triggers consciously, we can improve how we tackle them and be better overall as physical and mental beings, by playing to our strengths and performing to the best of our abilities.
OPTIMIZE, AUTOMATE, & OUTSOURCE: 3 KEYS TO ACHIEVEMENT
I developed a system that allows people to reclaim their mind and their time. The best part of this program, aside from the package of tools is the way it challenges people from all walks of life to think differently. We complain of having so much to do, and somehow we are never able to get stuff done. Well, we need to streamline the process. You have to develop resilience, to train your nervous system and coping mechanisms to ward off the harmful effects of a ‘stressful’ life. The head of my Krav Maga school described it best, “Logic allows you to consider losses for both opponents, but the ideal would be to ensure yours are fewer than his.”
I’m not expecting it to be easy, not suggesting that you’d make progress at a head start pace or won’t get hurt. The first fight is always going to hurt. So will a couple of them down the line until you reach the ‘turning point’ where you will grimace, but it will be short-lived. More importantly, it will be after you have delivered a response, which is something you can applaud yourself for.
I took in the basics from what my disease, the greatest teacher of all, was and evaluated on how every person can use it to save wasting precious energy over hollow matter. For each of the following, there are smart tools available in the market to assist your journey.
Apply the 80/20 Rule
An 80:20 ratio is not an accurate measure of how specific activities get to influence individual cases. However, it’s an estimation that concludes that as much as 80 percent of your achievements are a result of 20 percent of your inputs. These can be anything from financial rewards to everyday task distribution. Whichever of these components can contribute to your general well-being is to be treated as the primary concern. The principle is not just about being smart about your work; it is to make you choose wisely and work on the right things only.
Prioritizing then is a central principle that can apply to every dimension of our lives. But you must know what constitutes that 20%, what little jobs such as negotiating with a client don’t make you busy, or may not even be high-skill tasks but they do enable you to close the deal. The metrics may not be precise, but they can reflect how a minority of your resources result in most of your revenue.
Speaking at the micro level, you should be looking at your daily habits to find which of these are offering you the most productivity. Focus on them and you will find your money time. Alternatively, you can stop living a lifestyle where 80% of activities hold little meaning or satisfaction for you.
Using this principle, you will be able to maximize your performance, be more efficient, retain your focus, and avoid unnecessary distractions.
You want to lose weight, fine. Do it the 80/20 way. Unlike the fad diets that exist, this one will feel more doable and lead to sustainable weight loss in the long run. You can break the rules 20 percent of the time to grab a delicious, guilt-free cheat meal while the rest require consistency with healthy choices throughout the day.
Talk about relationships with people, and you can recognize that the 80% of the optimistic energy you need to thrive comes from the love and support of only 20% from among your colleagues, friends, and relatives.
Judge the amount of energy you devote to your work and your passion. If my guess is right and you have a full-time job and only indulge in your hobby afterward, you need to change it. Your passion will not stress you out or exhaust you.
A complete revamp will be complicated, and there’s like a ninety-nine percent chance that you’ll be afraid of making that change. People get accustomed to monotony and prefer to stay away from the unknown. But the fact that I was able to modify the health plan, to keep myself healthy in addition to being happy and free of depressing thoughts, I advise you to do the same. That is, by avoiding the drive that is part and parcel of the society we live in, you will, in fact, allow your needs to overcome the insurmountable number of wants. No one is denying you the right to question and be a skeptic though. You can at least work for a few days to see how things turn out for you, letting it filter out what’s valuable for you.
So even if the economic part constitutes an essential phase for the big picture, you may want to take it slowly. You can do this by continually adjusting and readjusting the ratios according to your requirements to support growth (both personal and of trade). Only 20% of the things you’ve done would matter the most so use them as a reminder to ensure that if you are going to let slip something among your tasks today, it will not compromise the 80% of your result.
To make it even simpler, one sign to show you are putting this time management principle to good use is that you’ll have begun hiring people for the tasks you are not able to handle or don’t prefer doing. You’ll also be doing things that will make you feel great about yourself (probably the ones you wanted to do forever). You do things that aren’t exactly matching your preferences, but you do them for the fact that they are a part of and help you with the bigger goal. And finally, you’ll be smiling.
Create an External Brain
Some people believe that to be able to recall everything is a great skill to bring to the workplace. From passwords to reminders and notes, you’ll always have something to show off your long-term memory, wouldn’t you? That is all right with us if you are okay with being inefficient at your work though.
There’s an age-old saying that asks us not to bite off more than we can chew. Why then take a selfish route with your brain and burden it with all that waste when you have tools at your disposal ready to help you out? Don’t you think it is stupid not to take advantage of all these advances in technology when they can free you from stress?
If you remember the last time that you wasted hours in completing a new project because you felt overwhelmed by the idea of all the knowledge you’d have to look for to get it done, to check what works with what, only to end up a failure, you’d probably say yes to this note.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a personal chore or something your colleague had sought your help with because you had attended a related seminar recently. As humans, we are trying to exceed our limitations and serve multiple tasks simultaneously. We multi-task, which is a good thing if you see it from another angle. But for our purpose, let’s stick to the notion that the more we are driven to complete them on time, we will get stuck eventually. The best way out? Proper planning.
If the statistics I’ve read favor me still, then you are bound by nature to forget 50% of what you’ve read so far in two weeks’ time, and more regrettably, 90% of it in two months, unless of course, you have a photographic memory. Does the notion present itself as a dilemma to you now? Wouldn’t you like to search for options to conserve your past experiences, anything that may be functional, usable for you at present and in the future? Then all you will have to do is access the system to retrieve that information and regain balance.
To draw upon the psychological aspect and to better understand the way our brain operates, it’s important to understand three stages– encoding, storage, and retrieval. These allow us to process any form of information whether sound, image, or meaning to shape memory. You will feed the information to your brain repeatedly either through an acoustic presentation or a visual one till they are stored in your short or long-term memory. You may form associations too. But the real test is stage 3, i.e., retrieval, and you are asked to deliver that information, distorted already by the type of storage it has been forwarded to by your brain, influenced by how much and for how long you have stored the specific type of information. Even for something as natural as this, research experiments have documented that organizing information expedites the process and gives it meaning when you have to interact with others, make critical decisions, and use it for problem-solving.
My point with having an external brain is to stress the importance of removing the stress from your life. You have to admit to your brain’s shortcomings. Plus, it’s not like using AI for your purpose is going to leave any harmful effects. To list a few benefits, it’s smart, it requires minimal assistance from our part, it’s super-fast, it never runs out of space, and the best part is it will be all backed up!
Integrated into many technological products, it is already making benchmarks with users worldwide by note taking and consequent archiving leaving you to utilize your skills to make an impact where it matters. Some of these apps are aimed to aid you with smart decisions by extrapolating from these experiences and understanding you better.
If the idea of an external brain still frightens you, think of it as your notebook, only better. You have it with you all the time and with all the relevant details too; the difference will be that your brain will feel lighter. As a bonus, you get to plan tasks for the next day, ones that you won’t forget overnight, and that you can add to any spontaneous idea that comes to your mind, including the not-so-related to tasks insights. Record the work, the conversations, the thoughts to have a source at hand that you can consult reliably instead of fretting about forgetting a fundamental idea you had meant to revisit later. It doesn’t matter whether they are useful for your life or not. You’d just be at peace that you have everything in a single place to refer to, to share, to cash on and a mind map for your convenience without wasting time, energy, and paper resources.
I know how hard it is to keep chanting things till you believe you’ve got it figured out or stored in your brain to stressing your mind unnecessarily in due course. The lists keep your life organized and reduce stress. Like a professor once said, “Of course it is happening inside your head Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
The next time you have a client to attend to over a project that you have collaborated on for a couple of months or the next time you are going out to follow up with your grocery list, you can always find your external brain at your service.
Popular trends dictate for people to be into anything that comes with an option to personalize. We are a global nation who loves to customize things to suit our preferences. A little too materialistic don’t you think?
Not quite. A trait that all successful leaders exhibit is the ability not only to differentiate but work upon fulfilling needs. It saves you both money and time when you have a solution at hand because then you will be avoiding what you don’t want automatically.
Mine was a path less taken. Yes, various treatments options do include the typical tests, diets, exercise, not to forget the medicines. But what they had failed to do was complement me as an individual.
You need to strive for the sort of customization that instills feelings of pure joy, such as wearing a dress that complements your figure.
You initiate by planning, and that automatically gives you the upper hand in the situation to understand the pros and cons that are linked to it. This, in turn, enables you to take a more effective course of action in future by reassessing the choices, questioning the process too maybe, acquiring new skills, revising your style, figuring out the opportunities you can have.
From ordinary, everyday accessorizing to choosing the outsourcing market for your business to ask for the dietary supplements you need to take for Crohn’s, you have to remember to make yourself count and to customize to your needs.
Choose Your Own Workweek
A workweek is the total number of regular hours you’d be working in a week; alternatively, these may also be fractionated out as the number of days you are required to work for determining factors like your pay and of course to show that your are complying with institutional law.
Conforming to rules, to set-boundaries dictated by others living or dead by now, is a load we are asked to take repeatedly every day just to be considered among the ‘normal.’ In other words, you have your lifestyle already designed and set by others; your responsibility is to follow it. That’s a nice gig, and that’s coming from someone who was once, if you remember, a workaholic.
Some may find the transition sudden; some may have had slowly and gradually becoming accustomed to such existence because, hey, if you don’t live that way then surely you are living a useless and wasteful life and are not yet a ‘professional’ adult.
As natural as the arrangement for work seems, it instigates a whole culture of entertainment and other convenient shopping, favoring in the least wholesome activities like exercising and meditating. Why? A usual reason is that they cost time instead of money.
So, while you may be willing to and even be ready to devote a greater part of your time to obtain the desired results, it may not, however, be entirely helpful. The only solution may be to work less to have more leisure time to spend, to ensure that you live a fulfilling lifestyle because apparently producing more work in less time due to the advancement in methods and technologies didn’t help in the first place to give you shorter workdays. You can blame it on the greedy industry or your overly ambitious desires to outperform your latest target, it nevertheless remains there, and you will be still dissatisfied with your life.
Set a time aside for your business contacts to interact with you. This can leave you free for the rest of the day to complete what you wanted seeing as how some people work at their optimum best at different speeds, different times of the day. Once you have that setup running, incorporate proper equipment to help you.
Even the extreme workouts that I was reaching out for during my training period were made possible this way. I did not second guess myself whether it was the last thing I wanted to do as soon as I woke up or before breakfast, on a weekday or a weekend.
To say that it doesn’t look like a fantasized world and that we don’t love a well-balanced routine in our lives that is helping us improve our standard of living would be claiming a lie. But then to refer to Parkinson’s Law for this purpose, the more time you devote to a task, the more time you will need to finish it. Whether it’s twenty minutes or all afternoon, at the end of the day it’s your choice; what I’m asking you is to make your schedule flexible not to stand out as an anomaly but to let your work have a positive impact over your life. Think of something you wanted to learn, do daily, think of a place to visit and leave some time in your workweek for that.
Say No to Errands
Expanding on the previous topics, another thing that crops up concerning priorities, both job-related and personal, is that you should quit treating yourself as a machine. Don’t stress yourself out to complete things you just don’t have enough time for.
It would hardly come off as a surprise to know that not many of you are acquainted with the economic principle of “comparative advantage”. It’s not something everyone reads about lest they are students to an introductory economics class after all. Anyways, like the other tenets, it emphasizes how for every ordinary, nonproductive and especially tedious task that you attempt to do yourself, you lose an opportunity to something productive.
For many again, DIY is a theory worth investing in whereas the alternate such as hiring a chef or a babysitter is a luxury may waste your money. Well, the next time you pay another person to do the grocery as a trial to appreciating this theorem, bill him or her on an hourly basis and spend that extra hour doing other work that increases your chance for a promotion for example. Contrary to popular belief it may be morally harmful too, especially if you are not a workaholic and are using the time for leisure. This is an advantage in the end even if the happiness comes from doing household chores like knitting. They make working tolerable; there’s no excuse to make you say you ‘can’t live this way.’
Your work should be about you. Track down the 5% of the tasks from among the list that you can trust to another person. Let them remain your strong points and keep your focus on them only. The others you can eliminate in due time by using means to automate or outsource them. You get time to utilize and polish your skill set; you get time to be more efficient.
Report Your Finances
The next time you have an urge to tell a friend that money is the solution to all your problems, check your sources. Even the wealthy are immune to this type of stress.
According to mental health experts, economic worries have been feeding stress issues in more cases than one. The individual situation may differ whether it is debt or job insecurity, but it often leads to insomnia, high blood pressure, or the more common irritability. While these may be alleviated by smoking, being inactive, gambling, etc., they pose significant problems over time for your health and “ironically, more stress” as one reputable psychologist says. Doesn’t matter then if you call it a temporary bout of emotional distress, the changes in the way you think and feel and in what you do respectively are red flags for stress.
A more effective approach would be by first identifying the problem. The reasons can be (a) you are living hand-to-mouth (b) that the expenses exceed the income © that the amount of debt is increasing and you feel trapped and (d) they are out of your control. To be able to recognize when it is that you are stressed, the stressors that those feelings, to understand what money symbolizes for you, will be an achievement in itself.
It doesn’t matter then whether you are into numbers and statistics or not because you do need these figures to remain calm and prepared, improving your general sense of well-being. There’s a rich assortment of tools out there that can allow you to see how your money is being handled.
This is because managing finances by organizing and not just having more money will reduce your stress and let you be happy. Access your accounts online to keep track of your spending, include your family in the budget plan as motivators to stick to your goals. Set these reasonably (don’t exaggerate problems in your head) as you sit down and focus on how to deal with those that are manageable at present. Like diet plans, it’s OK if you occasionally slip on this one as well. In addition to taking control in this manner, you may feel more relaxed when you meditate, exercise however you want and talk about it to someone.
Your mind is a unique machine. From dominating your perceptions and emotions to manipulating your actions.
Most of us are unable to feel that we have achieved anything worthwhile — hence the stress — because we haven’t been keeping specific, measurable, realistic goals. Period. Take time out to think about the accomplishment.
Start from the very basic; Set the big picture first and take it from there, without over or underestimating yourself.
A pile of dirty laundry can cause you the same level of stress as anything else. Keep a stock of unpaid bills or keep your workplace/home messy and you won’t be feeling so calm. Needless to say it affects the quality of your life too. How? Well, a cluttered desk will have you looking frantically for your set of keys at the last moment. You can’t pretend to enjoy life with unnecessary chaos.
The more you try to remember everything from where you kept that grocery list, your appointment car, the utility bills, the more you are overloading your brain, coaxing short-term memory loss each time until it hits the highest point and you get those anxiety pangs. There’s no way that you can think about agreeable things if there’s a constant guilt and struggle for finding more time in your schedule to tidy it up. If you have roommates or other family members sharing that space, the conflicts will be even uglier. Combine that with delayed decisions to clear the clutter, and you will feel it draining your energy.
So, what can you do? You don’t postpone it to ‘Monday’ or the next week. You begin today, begin now by placing things not according to the convenience of the moment but in boxes and cabinets. You can work multiple applications on your tablet to save time and sticky notes for creating reminders.
Get rid of useless things; learn to say no everytime someone asks you to do a favor. Plan, plan, plan to not risk any loose ends and keep your time organized, and have some left for yourself every day to minimize stress. You have to stick to these limits to avoid getting frustrated. The process will keep your life stress free through organization. It requires patience, time, and for you to keep a check on yourself.
It’s not something entirely new. Indeed, we do bring together similar tasks especially when working under pressure. Maybe it’s instinctive, but it’s there and it gets your work done efficiently. So wouldn’t it be great to make a habit out of it?
As a form of time management, batching can be quite helpful. The idea of dividing time into blocks for similar tasks, batching is known for reducing procrastination, fatigue, and stress while simultaneously improving mental clarity, creativity levels, and overall productivity. You streamline to complete the group of similar activities and, as a result, you ensure that there are zero distractions during that time so that you can refocus your attention.
It takes 15 minutes on average to regain focus entirely once you have been distracted. You are unable to give it your best shot and be as effective as you could be both because you are, unintentionally, responding to a distraction that’s inflicted by others.
You can batch according to the time at hand, which one is essential (priority), availability of resources (context) and the level of attention you can give (energy). Plan, set practical timeframes, and take a break. Repeat the process. For every nth block that you complete, give yourself an extended break.
The more energy and time you allocate to similar tasks, the less inclined you’ll feel to jump from one to another. This will allow you to complete tasks quickly and efficiently. The more time that remains, the more you can consider doing things that are important, just not urgent enough to list above.
As examples, you can process emails or return phone calls at specific times, schedule meetings on a specific day, spend time with family and friends.
The whole concept may seem troublesome if you are impulsive. It would be hard for anybody. Not to have that freedom to choose tasks as you go may be difficult but you can perceive the boundaries as a structure your busy life.
When you make a conscious choice to have a fulfilling life, your have, according to WHO,‘wellness.’ It is more than merely an absence of disease and includes aspects such as intellectual, physical, spiritual, social, environmental, emotional, and occupational health.
Wellness is a crucial part of our life, so we need to maintain an optimum level of wellness too. It’s a complete circle because what we do and feel happens to constitute our well-being while the fact that we are in fact living well influences those very actions and emotions. In other words, you need this factor to ensure you have constructive interactions, fewer chances of falling sick, and more importantly, to be able to discipline the stress inside you.
What I suggest for you is a balance in life in connection with your sleep, nutrition, and fitness. A constructive approach will cover a positive, upbeat attitude and healthy eating habits to increase not only physical stamina (healthy weight, immune system, etc.) but also mental and emotional states too. Besides this, as much as 20–30 minutes of walking can provide you with relief both as short and long-term stress management. A third thing to focus on would be about knowing which relaxation techniques — meditation, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, drawing & coloring– suit your need of the moment (productivity, concentration, overall well-being, healthy relationships, and your management of time and money).
My health problems were present for many years, but, it was after I was diagnosed in 2007 that I started this tremendous journey. Crohn’s is painful, embarrassing, and incurable. But it made me improve my lifestyle. It was the hardest things I had ever done in my life: change in nutrition, sports, yoga. Everything. However, the change in perspective enabled me not only to stop depending on the medicines but also to beat the disease out of my body. I still have the letter stating, “[t]here’s no evidence of active inflammatory disease” in my body.
Some people will contend that I’m just in remission. I disagree. Because if and when the disease does attack my body, I’m prepared, I know exactly how to deal with it, and I’ll overcome Crohn’s again. In the meantime, I have my nine fundamentals of stress management to continue feeling strong and healthy.
I wrote this in the hopes of helping others. I figured out that self-tracking and self-experimentation is the key to dealing with my problems. My perspective has radically improved the quality of my life because it reduces physical pain, increases my productivity, and lets me be happy.https://upscri.be/6892b4?as_embed=true
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