Chapter 3: The Body | A Self Healing Mechanism
The notes I was keeping proved to be very valuable. It enabled us to adjust our nutrition and training programs to yield the maximum results. By keeping track of everything, it made it easier to see what was working and what wasn’t.
At 44 years of age I was 235 pounds of solid muscle, could bench and squat over 300 pounds, dead lift over 400 pounds, while only carrying about 10% body fat.
Lynda’s progress was just as remarkable. She had the tight sculpted body of a 30 yr old fitness enthusiast, sported an impressive set of guns (biceps for the uninitiated ) and could do chest presses with 60 lb DUMBELLS in each hand!
However along with the increase in strengths , came the increased risk of injury. We each had our share of strains and sprains, but I was the first of us to get a more serious injury.
One day while doing squats, I actually heard my quadricep muscle tear. Sounded like a rag ripped inside my leg. Luckily I always worked within a safety rack, so those bars allowed me to drop the bar and escape serious injury, only suffering a partial tear. Fortunately, the courses and books we read had sections devoted to healing and rehabilitation of injuries. With the proper combination of exercise, food, and supplements, I was back to full strength within four months.
My next test would come from my lower back. It gave me a stark reminder one morning as I tweaked it just getting out of bed, that you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Mine proved to be my lower back. I obviously hadn’t paid enough attention to it, and it let me know. After a visit to the chiropractor for x-rays and an exam, I made adjustments to my training, including more stretching and flexibility work. I eventually made my back an integral part of my core foundation, creating a solid trio of abdominals, back and legs.
Lynda and I both took courses in training and nutrition, eventually becoming certified personal trainer’s. Through these courses we gained more insight into supplementation and the difference in quality between brands. As we became more educated it was clear that the most popular brands of vitamins were poorly absorbed, and contained sub standard ingredients. We devised a supplement regime to complement our training and nutrition to bring our overall health to the next level. We were a stark contrast to most of our friends, relatives, and business customers.
The next event that challenged my perception of the efficacy of our medical system, was the continued health struggles of my dad, who was nearing 70 years old. Due to his ineffective ways of dealing with stress, less than stellar nutrition, and decades of cigarettes smoking, my dad was starting to have serious circulation problems. He had also had problems 20 years prior with his thyroid, which culminated in its removal.
In retrospect, I wonder if it had anything to do with his time in the army during World War II, and the possible toxins he may have been exposed to while in combat, but more on that later. As a result, my dad was not only on thyroid, but Cholesterol, and high blood pressure medications as well. He was also on an aspirin regime.
On top of that, his diet was loaded with unhealthy trans-fats, processed foods, fake butter and eggs, just the right amount of bourbon, and a few mini candy bars thrown in for good luck. I knew this was a bad combination of things, but didn’t realize just how much damage had been done.
My wife was one of the first to notice that his left leg seemed cool, and suggested he see his doctor soon. The doctor ordered A Doppler to test the veins in his leg, which showed seriously compromised blood flow. He underwent bypass surgery to try to correct the problem, but the damage to the veins and capillaries was too significant for repair. He would have surgery within the next few months, to have an amputation of his lower right leg.
Unfortunately the stump wouldn’t heal properly, which necessitated a second surgery, bringing the amputation to above the knee. BAM! Talk about a wake up call, this was a huge life-changing moment for dad. He was still working in his own business at the time, doing interior design, making draperies, and selling furniture. He was banking his retirement on building the business up to a good enough point, to sell it and have some extra money to supplement Social Security, and retire.
This medical situation totally changed his plans, as it took months of physical therapy and adjustment before he was mobile again. As a result his business suffered terribly, and he was no longer in a position to sell it. I didn’t have the breath of knowledge that I have today, but I knew he had to make serious changes if you wanted to save his other leg, and communicated that fact to my dad, but he was certain that would never happen.
He now had a new diagnosis, type two diabetes. So along with all of the other medication he was already taking, he needed another one to control blood sugar as well. He was also prescribed a drug to help modify the amount of pain he was in. But my dad was of strong spirit. After being fitted with a prosthesis, and had his car modified to operate the gas pedal with his left foot, he was out and about in no time. (He only drove through the garage door once. )
I persuaded him and my mom to join a gym. It did both of them a world of good. The additional strength he gained made it easier for him to get around, it was just as good for him socially as well. But there were still no real significant changes to his nutrition. While his doctor did set up a few consultations with a registered dietitian, the focus was mainly on switching to sugar free goods, which meant artificial sweeteners, supposedly heart healthy foods, ie: margarine and egg beaters.
Well he did listen to some of our advice, but it was hard for him to go against what the conventional recommendations had taught him for the last 20 years. As a result he would lose his other leg within the next five years. While my mom fared much better, her years of smoking and nutritional habits, it’s causing her some issues as well.
At 78 years old, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She had a successful surgery which not only removed the cancer, but also her ovaries and a number of lymph node’s. Fortunately for my mom, her pride and the thought of losing her hair, made her decline chemotherapy and radiation. After consulting with the oncologist, we all determined that the consequences of the treatments would far outweigh any possible benefits.
My mom and dad would continue to live in their own home, relying on each other to help them through the day. She was the legs, he was the eyes and resourceful mind that would continue to help them make the best of their situation. They would continue to do this tell my dad passed away at the ripe old age of 88.
In his latter years, he found ways to get additional benefits due to his veteran status, and certain social programs available to him and my mom. At his death, my mom who was 92 at the time moved in with my wife and I, at Lynda’s suggestion. We cared for her the last 5 1/2 years of her life.
The first thing we did when she moved in, was get her off of her cholesterol medications and aspirin regime, and switched her to the diet that Linda and I followed, and provided her with a good array of high quality vitamins, including fish oils, CO Q 10, and vitamin E. She also ate all organic food as we did, ate plenty of high-quality cheese and butter, even started eating salad again, which I’m sure head my dad rolling in his grave LOL.
On top of that, she greatly reduced the amount of processed foods she ate. Her cholesterol not only dropped from over 300 to about 185, but her carotid artery which had been 90% blocked, had started getting healthier. While she lived to 97.5 years old, her years of smoking, use of cholesterol drugs, had a negative effect on her eyesight and memory.
I also believe that herself self imposed withdraw from a social life had a major impact on her mental health. She was a proud woman, and was embarrassed by her declining eyesight and hearing. She protested for years the idea of hearing aids, but finally agreed with a little friendly coercion from Lynda and I.
While it brought us much joy on a spiritual level caring for her, and gave the grandchildren many wonderful memories, it was a huge change for Lynda and I, but the full ramifications wouldn’t become clear to us for a few years yet. What was clear, was the improvement in my mom’s overall health, with a dramatic change in diet and lifestyle.
Here was the woman that at 92 years of age, with decades of less than ideal nutritional habits, and years of smoking, could have such marked improvements in blood work and overall health by simply changing the way she ate, and adding a few supplements.
This was just another indication that our shift in consciousness was valid, and our ideals about the body’s ability to heal had merit. But there were other factors at play that were still way beyond our knowledge base at that time. We took our hard work and gains for granted, and instead of banking that in a health “safety deposit box”, we squandered it through lack of sleep and an excuse to have a little too much fun. We still had much to learn.