It’s a lame excuse since I don’t have any goats. Why am I doing homework at age 66? Beats me. But last August, I was desperate. I had two gout flares ups in a row with a week intermission. The guy at the VA hospital said, “I’ve shot, stabbed, thrown out of helicopter, but there is nothing worse than gout.”

So I went back to school. Well, that’s not exactly true. I first went to see my doctor about my condition. She wasn’t sure it was gout, she thought it might be another type of arthritis. But the lab tests confirmed I had elevated uric acid. So she did what doctors do, she offered me medicine to lower the uric acid. I asked a simple question, “What are the side effects?” “Oh, it might cause another gout flare up. But it’s okay, we’ll give you a strong anti-inflammatory.” “Okay, well let me think about it.” It’s really not funny but we are so accustomed to prescription medications that are meant to help but have detrimental side effects that you have to figure out which is worse, the condition or the treatment.

Next stop, was a Naturopath. No, insurance doesn’t cover ND visits, so being that I didn’t want another gout attack, I decided my credit card could handle $200 for the consultation. After listening and assessing for 2 hours, she gave me the news. She could work out my issues in about 8 visits for $3000 and there would be extensive testing, about another $1000, maybe a little less.

Now, naturopaths need to pay bills, rent for their offices, have mortgages, kids in college. I get that but that would be a big plunk on my credit card.

Now, gout is painful and believe it or not, that is a good thing. When your body starts giving you messages that involve intense pain, it might be a good idea to find out why.

I went back to my roots in health coaching and reach out to Jodi, who is a trained functional medicine health coach. If you don’t know what functional medicine is, that’s okay. Not many people do. But it is a movement among practitioners to change the dynamics of health care. Instead of treating downstream symptoms, they spend time with the patient and learn the complete history of the patients life, eating, sleeping habits, and begun to map out the upstream potential causes of the downstream symptoms. It’s called puzzle piecing.

Getting to the true root cause can have the effect of changing your entire life. Is there testing involved. Yes. But the cool thing is that even without testing, a large number of cases can be solved with fixing lifestyle and nutrition issues.

Jodi said, “I’d probably have to charge you about the same, but Garey, you are a health coach. You can take the functional medicine courses and figure this out yourself.” The bill for a year of study was $2700. So that’s what I did.

Just signing up and gaining access to the School’s library, I was able to take action immediately.

1. I lost weight through intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting can be done in many ways but the end results is that you lose weight. I lost 24 lbs. My method was simple. I just stopped eating at 8pm (okay if I really needed a night time snack, I substituted an apple for the Talenti ice cream.)

Why is this important? Losing weight solves soooo many problems. In our Standard American Diet with fast food in abundance and such, we consume way too many calories that are empty calories, lacking in nutrients. Think package food with preservatives. Think junk food. Think high glycemic sugary crap foods.

I began my day with black coffee. You hear about dairy being hard to digest and that some people are lactose intolerant or worse. Instead of testing for it, I just gave up the half and half. To my surprise, I enjoy black coffee with stevia. Drinking black coffee doesn’t break the fast. IF I had used milk, it would have broken the fast. Instead of allowing just 8 hours to digest from the day before, I was determined to fast at least 14 to 16 hours, allowing my system to fully process what I had eaten the day before.

So that meant I would only eat a meal around 12 noon. Since I work in the mornings, I stay pretty busy and occupied and don’t really notice any deprivation or what we might call hunger. If I were to get to the point of “hunger” I would make a cup of green tea or herbal tea. This actually staves off hunger quite easily, but there is another psychological trick I used.

I just changed the meaning of what I was feeling. If I say to myself, “I am really hungry, in fact I am starving,” then I’d probably have to eat something. Because I don’t want to die of starvation. However, truth be told, I wasn’t really starving. That’s just a story to go along with “oh, I am really working hard dieting…” Also not true. The new story I made up was “wow, I am really losing weight, I can feel it. I am getting stronger and I can see those six pack abs right now.” Of course, I was leaning into my new reality and supporting myself with a better philosophy. Noon comes quickly enough. Now what am I going to eat.

I knew much of this for many years but I sometimes we have to relearn things. We forget.

Our digestive system is sometimes called the second brain. We get “gut feelings” about things, even intuitions. Those are real. The digestive system communicates directly to our brains at the rate of twice as much as the messages the brain sends to the gut. It’s part of our autonomic nervous system. We create endorphins in our gut. Our gut has colonies of bacteria that number in the trillions. Some good, some not so good. The idea of eating and feeding is to provide nutrition and fuel to power our bodies. Here’s a key. If you feed the good bacteria, it tidies up the place and keeps everything in order. If you feed the bad bacteria with junk food, sugars and garbage, they don’t tidy up. In fact, they turn the digestive system into a sludgy mess. They throw parties, have sex, multiply and begin to tear down the house. It’s like a never ending frat party. Too much booze. No one does the dishes, no one takes out the garbage. Eventually the house gets condemned and has to be torn down. We call this IBS, Chron’s, Leaky Gut among other things.

So what to eat? Highly dense nutrients, packed full of goodness for the good bacteria, and satisfying to me too. It’s called a smoothie. With a whole lot of good stuff. Yesterday, the smoothie I made was delicious, thick and full of goodness. I could only drink a cup of it, then went for a long walk, and finished the second cup on my return: 

smoothie ingredient

Seems like a lot, right? So what are all these ingredients. I’ll  tell you in a minute. What’s not in the picture is the Oat or Almond Milk and the Whey Protein powders. I’ve tried a lot of them. I like the Keto from Orgains probably the best. I also use Ashwaganda occasionally, and I always put 7 Brazil nuts in. (Selenium – which is nutrition for the thyroid.) 

Oh, and lots of frozen berry fruit of all kinds, including cherries, blueberries and much more. That gives it a beautiful color and makes it seem like I am eating ice cream! 

The flax, beet root, maca root I consider to be a diet for my microbiome, to make sure my GI tract stays in good shape. Those little bugs just love fiber! I also put in an apple sometimes. 

Suffice it to say, it is  filling without any bloat. Generally, I won’t get hungry until dinner at which time, I’ve reformed more habits. I now love those kale salad kits you can buy in the supermarkets. I also eat what I like as long as it’s 500 calories or less. Trader Joe’s had great Indian frozen dinners that I can rotate through and enjoy thoroughly. With a basal metabolic rate of 1600, I thrived on about 1000 calories during the time of my weight loss. Now at 163, I can maintain it easily as long as I stay away from junk. I don’t do burgers or fries any more. I snack on raw almonds or trail mix occasionally. 

It’s eating clean and I’d rather get 1000 to 1500 calories of real food rather than eating 3000 empty calories of junk. 

Psychologically, always have something to look forward to: morning, I look for the black coffee. At lunch (my breakfast) I look for a treat of a smoothie that rivals any ice cream sundae. If I need a snack, raw almonds. Dinner anything I want that is healthy. Salmon over salad. Lamb Vindaloo. It’s super satisfying and it’s nice to have lost my gut. The key to eating less is to make sure you are eating well. The other key to eating less is to learn to eat slowly. You get satisfied with less consumption. 

I don’t have a goat, I don’t have homework to turn in. I have to pass tests though to make sure I am really learning. If you enjoyed this story, please let me know.  

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