Challenging Multiple Sclerosis with Primal Blueprint Health


I have a confession to make.

For the better part of the last year, I have been sweating the concept of “going primal”. And I have spent the better part of the last year half-assing it.

It’s time to end the pretender madness, honey. Today…it begins. Today…is the start of my 21-day Primal Blueprint Total Body TRANSFORMATION.

Ayla from ChronoTrigger

For some reason, my hair looks blonde here.

My first encounter with the primal/paleo concept occurred shortly after my MS diagnosis in January 2012. I was hitting the internet hard for information about my “new” condition (although I experienced at least one relapse as far back as 2008 – no diagnosis was made then). I was desperate for an answer and some hope that this unpredictable and  seemingly inexplicable disease could be made to just “go away”.

And if it wasn’t going to go away, I was determined to just ignore it.

The relapse that led to my diagnosis seemed to deepen as a response to my resolve. Numbness and tingling led to severe urinary hesitation. I lost the ability to button my shirts and sweaters. I developed some stupidly frustrating aphasia and would say things like “months” when I meant “weeks”, “hours” instead of “minutes” and “wife” instead of “husband” (this last one elicited a rather interesting reaction from a new coworker).

I went into hyper “me” mode and pummeled the internet for more answers. There were several sources that claimed a paleo diet is effective in managing the progression of the disease. Some even claimed (and personally testified) that going paleo can send MS into complete remission. Granted, there were other diets out there making similar claims, and supported by plenty of anecdotal evidence. They all seemed to make sense, and I wasn’t sure which way to go.

About a month into my research I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Terry Wahls at one of her talks about her own experience with managing and then resolving her own secondary progressive MS. Dr. Wahls went paleo and recovered. Her story was riveting. And I would be a liar if I said that I didn’t feel like I had come face to face with a guardian angel when she took my hand in both of hers and said “Rachel, doctors don’t know what they are doing when it comes to MS. Trust yourself and your body. Healing comes from the right foods.”

An angel backed by sunlight.

Yes, it was that goddamn dramatic.

I was sold.

Right away I ordered Minding My Mitochondria and after identifying all of my food allergies (yes, I went to an actual allergist and didn’t just fucking deduce this shit) I revamped my diet. My husband and I went full on free-range and grass fed with our meat. Only organic for produce. Fridays were for wild caught fish. My mother bought me a Vitamix to help me down all of the greens I was eating. In accordance with the Swank diet and what most paleo-ites were encouraging, I restricted my saturated and unsaturated fat. The progression of new symptoms halted, but I was still plagued by a persistent, soul-crushing fatigue and heat intolerance and rendered me mostly useless by 3 p.m. The fatigue magically dissipated overnight after I finally convinced (two different) doctors to give me a B-12 shot. One of those doctors has “allowed” me get a shot once a month since then. (Don’t get me started on that B-12 shot drama…)

While I love Dr. Wahls and the work she is doing, her book leaves something to be desired as far as organization and readability goes. I went in search of information to supplement what she had provided. That is when I found Mark’s Daily Apple.

Mark Sisson is a damn good writer. He is a fine researcher. His website provides reams of good information on the dangers of the SAD and why we need to take it back to the old school. And interestingly, what he was encouraging wasn’t exactly paleo.

Long story short, Mark’s reasoning made complete sense to me. I bought The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation and read it in two days. A happily embraced olive and coconut oils again. I regularly had four egg omelets for breakfast.

But I also cheated. A lot.

I refused to give up Trader Joe’s Three-Layer Hummus, had a big bowl of rice noodles swimming in chicken pho a couple of times a month, happily heaped rice on my dinner plate and snacked on carb-y gluten free snacks. Once a week the hubby and I split some gluten-free rice pasta with bacon and marinara sauce (at least there was bacon in it).

Despite my reluctance to skip the pasta this week, I think it is time to draw that line in the sand.

It is time for me to go full primal, children. It begins…today.

I’ll make an update every day on what I’m eating and doing for exercise. Today I lifted some weights and now…time for me to go pan sear some steak to go with my mushrooms.