This is going to be a long post, but it’s necessary. The last 3 years I have battled one of the nastiest chronic diseases out there, Lyme Disease, and have conquered it. How? Persistence, positive attitude, an incredible amount of research, stubbornness, complete lifestyle changes, and a whole lot of commitment and patience. You’re going to discover that I am an avid believer in naturally healing from disease. However, you will also discover that I have been through some antibiotic treatments as well. Some of that I regret, some of it I don’t. Since going public with my journey I have had hundreds of people reach out to me looking for a solution. I wrote a Lyme eBook, but so much has changed since then and instead of writing another book I thought it would be much easier to direct people to a blog post. My intentions with this post is to share what I have done to heal and hopefully provide information and hope for others to heal just as I have. I am not a doctor, but a normal guy who never gives up and just wants to help others. In no way do I benefit from anything I link out to in this post. Today I am back to my normal lifestyle, very rarely have any symptoms, and can enjoy life once again. I work out daily, am very active, snowboard, dirt bike ride, mountain bike, play with my kids, all things that I wasn’t physically capable of doing for well over a year while I was very sick.
**Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. Everything I share from this point forward are changes that I have made and treatments that I have done that have worked for me. Before making any changes yourself, you need to make sure you check with your doctor.**
In early 2015 I traveled down to Mexico for a business/luxury rewards trip I earned for the success I achieved in my business from the year before. While down there, I didn’t think twice about the buffet food I was eating because it was a 5 star resort. However, when I got back home I became extremely sick for about 5 days. I knew I had picked up some intestinal parasites. The sickness ran it’s course and that was the end of that, or so I thought. A month and a half later I started developing some very strange symptoms. At first it was terrible pain in the back of my head on both sides where the neck meets the skull. Then came the fatigue. Every morning I woke up I felt like I had not slept. Then came the stomach problems, nausea, and night sweats. All day every day I felt like I had the flu. Not too long after I started developing some additional symptoms. Extreme dizziness and breathing problems set in. These symptoms progressively got worse as time went by. I became so dizzy on occasion that I couldn’t stand up and the breathing problems became so bad that I landed in the ER. I was having a terrible time catching my breath, almost like I was experiencing an awful asthma attack. And as a fitness coach, even though I was sick I wanted to try to work out, but every time I worked out I became even sicker. I had to stop working out all together because my body just couldn’t handle it. Not too long afterwards I started developing some very serious and scary cognitive issues. I started slurring my speech and couldn’t concentrate on anything I was doing. I had to step back from helping others and mentoring my team because I just wasn’t physically capable of doing so. I also began having memory problems. Last came the worst of it all, the anxiety and panic attacks. Because I was misdiagnosed so many times (I’ll get to that shortly) and was so sick every day, I started having terrible anxiety. “What is wrong with me?” “Why is nobody helping me?” “Am I going to heal?” “Am I going to die?” “Will I have to deal with this for the rest of my life?” “How can I be the father and husband I want to be if I’m so sick?” All of these questions consumed my mind daily. I couldn’t shake the negativity. All I did from that point on was worry. As someone that is extremely analytical and dealt with OCD issues as a kid, constantly worrying is not good. I had to figure this out or I was going to find myself in a darker place than I already was in.
When all of those symptoms above began, I didn’t just sit back and let them happen. I immediately went to my family doctor and explained to him what was going on. I told him about the trip to Mexico and how I believed I picked up parasites. He was sure that I didn’t have parasites, but instead of trying to dig deeper and find a root cause of all my symptoms, he tried to get me on anxiety medication and pain killers. He basically told me that it was all in my head. Of course I refused the medication. 7 different doctors later I still didn’t have an answer. We did a lot of testing, but each test we did came back negative for anything serious. Each of their solutions was to get me on anxiety meds and pain killers. None of them wanted to take the time to figure out what was going on with me. Obviously something very serious was happening.
At this point I stopped going to conventional doctors and started doing a ton of research on my own. I was tired of spending money and not getting answers. It was time to stop relying on others and take matters into my own hands. After much research, I narrowed it down to two possible culprits: lyme disease or serious intestinal parasites. Based on my Mexico experience I instantly thought I still had parasites and sought out help from a kinesiologist in California based on a recommendation. He was the first person to actually listen to me. We then began a detox and parasite cleansing plan. I went through multiple treatments and actually expelled a lot of parasites, but my symptoms still persisted. In fact, they got worse. Since I still had symptoms, I figured the only possible explanation was that I had lyme disease.
I then started digging even further into understanding Lyme. Everything I found matched what I was going through. I talked to my kinesiologist about my thoughts and he agreed that it could be lyme and that I needed to get tested. I went back to my family doctor and demanded a lyme test. He very reluctantly agreed and I took the test, but it came back negative. It didn’t make sense to me and then I discovered just how inaccurate the typical Western Blot test was. I then decided to seek help from a Lyme Disease specialist. Within two minutes of meeting with him he told me I have lyme. Of course I told him I wanted to get properly tested using the iGenex test to make sure, but he was sure that’s what was going on with me. He told me that Lyme can lay dormant in your system for years until some sort of stressful situation or sickness breaks down your immune system allowing it to flourish. When I was a kid I was bit multiple time by ticks. The parasites I picked up from Mexico must have weakened my immune system just enough to let this disease take over.
I took the test (along with having a lot of other blood work done) and it came back positive for a few bands of Lyme. On top of that, though, my blood work showed some very concerning issues. My adrenals were shot, I was extremely deficient in most vitamins (normal issue with those who suffer from Lyme), I had thyroid problems, my cholesterol and triglycerides were high, my eosinophils were through the roof, other white blood cell counts were high, my liver enzymes were very high, and my creatinine levels were high. It was blatantly obvious that I was dealing with some sort of very serious infection or disease. After progressively getting worse for 6 months, it was a relief having an answer, but I knew this was the beginning of a very long journey to get better.
My Lyme Specialist thought it was best to get me on antibiotics right away. The first one he started me on was Clarithromycin. I took that antibiotic for 6 months and saw a little progress, but it wasn’t enough. I was still pretty sick. However, I could at least function again. Later research taught me that it was because the antibiotics forced the Lyme to change to a bleb form and “hide” from the antibiotics. However, as soon as I stopped the antibiotics I became sick again. He then got me on another antibiotic. However, I had already started doing an insane amount of research on how to naturally heal from disease. I read multiple books, watched a ton of YouTube videos, and read countless articles and discovered a ton of changes that I needed to make. I will get to those changes here in a bit. But in my research I did learn about some very powerful herbs that were shown to combat serious bacterial infections like Lyme, such as Cat’s Claw, Sarsaparilla, and Japanese Knotweed. Looking into those herbs led me to an herbal plan called Vital Plan Restore Program and I started it right away and took it every day along with my antibiotics. I also began understanding the effects that antibiotics had on the body and immune system and started questioning whether or not I was making the right decision by taking them.
I also joined a bunch of Lyme Disease forums, but quickly found out about the negativity and depression that was rampant in the forums. Here I was staying positive and convinced that I was going to heal while there were thousands of others who were convinced that there was no way to heal from this disease. I read countless stories about how people were sick for years and years and years with no end in sight. They were depressed, on a ridiculous amount of medication, and lost all hope. Quite frankly, it was extremely depressing reading everyone’s posts so I decided to leave. It was important that I surrounded myself with positivity and leaving the forums was the best thing for me. First, though, I found a guy who was just like me and was sure he was going to conquer this disease, so we started communicating outside of the forums. His name is Ed. Ed and I started doing even more research into healing from Lyme and came across a forum called “Cured of lyme in 60 days.” At first it looked like a bullshit scam, but I quickly discovered that the guy who “cured” himself was an absolute genius. He is a chemist that contracted Lyme and decided to create his own antibiotic protocol. He claimed that he healed himself in 60 days. Every piece of information he shared he backed it up with sources and other proof. He went into extreme detail about why normal antibiotic therapy for lyme fails and created a pulsing protocol that targets the various forms of lyme. It’s a 60 day plan, where you take 2 antibiotics, Minocycline and Tindamax, every other day. I could go into detail about the plan here, but I’d rather you read it directly from the source (link above). There are a number of things that he suggests to do and Ed and I followed everything to a “T” for 60 days. At the end of the 60 days, we were both about 60% better.
Before I started that antibiotic protocol, I promised myself that was the last time I was going to take antibiotics regardless if it helped or not. After doing an insane amount of research on healing from disease, I knew that the only way that I would truly heal was if I built back up my immune system so my body could fight this off on its own. No more chemicals were going into my body. Now I’m going to go into great detail about EXACTLY what I have done naturally to heal from Lyme and get myself to where I am today.
The immune system cannot function normally if there are built up toxins in the body. Cancer and diseases such as Lyme occur and flourish because the body is not strong enough to fight it off on it’s own from the toxic overload within the person’s system (among some other factors, such as obesity, leaky gut, and parasites). Things that most people don’t think twice about are poisoning their bodies on a daily basis, such as deodorant, toothpaste, laundry detergent, fabric softener, dish soap, bath soap, shampoo, and even those wonderful smelling candles. That’s not even mentioning the amount of chemicals, toxins, and dyes that get into the body from what you eat and drink. I’m going to go into detail about each of the things that I did to detox my body and reset my immune system.
Infrared Sauna – When I first started my antibiotic treatment I learned that it was very important that I detoxed regularly to eliminate all the dead Lyme bacteria out of my system. If I didn’t detox, I could have some very serious Herxheimer reactions. I did have some reactions because of the die off, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been because I used an infrared sauna every single day. After research I learned that infrared saunas were one of the best ways to detox the body so I went out and bought one. Infrared saunas are different than traditional saunas in that they detox at the cellular level. Traditional saunas heat up your outside causing you to sweat. Traditional saunas work, but aren’t as effective at detoxing as infrared saunas. One thing I noticed while using the sauna was the strong ammonia smell of my sweat. After research I learned that it’s a normal smell from the bacterial die off.
Parasite Cleanse – It’s very interesting how I went through multiple parasite cleanses before I knew I had Lyme Disease. This was something that I needed to do anyways. Parasites wreak havoc on the immune system. And guess what, you probably have parasites. Most people live with some sort of parasites in their intestines or liver. It’s crucial that you do your best to rid yourself of parasites. The one I followed was Dr. Clark’s Parasite Cleanse.
Colonics Treatment – Just a warning, these are extremely uncomfortable and not too fun to talk about, but if you’re suffering from lyme, you’re past the “eww that’s gross” stage and are willing to do whatever you have to do to get your body and life back. When my kinesiologist recommended that I get multiple colonics treatments while going through my parasite cleanses, I was less than thrilled. Colonics treatments are enemas on steroids. Normally it’s about an hour long session and a tube is inserted into the rectum and shoots warm water into your intestines. The water is then expelled along with anything else that has been sitting inside there, mainly an ungodly amount of feces. It cleanses your system and hydrates you at the same time.
The Ultimate Reset – I was hesitant putting this in here because I do sell this as a fitness coach, but it is something that I used to detox. Basically, this is a 21 day plan to gently detox your body. It consists of slowly moving to an all vegan plan that’s very high in fruits and vegetables (fiber and nutrients) and contains a few different detoxing supplements as well. Because I want to make sure that you understand this post isn’t to benefit me in any way, if you’re interested in it, just go to the Beachbody website. I will not benefit in any way if you purchase it from there.
Apple Cider Vinegar – Every single morning I have a shot of Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. I mix one tablespoon with a cup of water and chug it as soon as I wake up. Not only does this cleanse the body and kill bacteria, it aids in digestion and helps alkalinize the body as well.
Ginger Tea with Lemon – While going through treatment, every morning with my breakfast I would have Ginger Tea with fresh squeezed lemon. Ginger tea helps calm the stomach (it calmed mine when I had all of those stomach issues), but also aids in digestion and absorption of food. Lemon is an incredible detoxing food as well. Not only does it aid in digestion like ginger tea, but it flushes out toxins as well.
Detoxing the Home – I mentioned above that most people don’t think about the things they put on their body, surround themselves with, and breathe in. Every single day the majority of people are absorbing a ridiculous amount of toxins into their bodies and don’t even know it. It’s time to detox your home. Everyone needs to do this, but it’s crucial for those who are dealing with some sort of chronic disease. I mentioned chemicals and toxins in household items like toothpaste, soap, deodorant, but I didn’t even mention other normal items like make-up, perfume or cologne, or cleaning wipes. Like it or not, whatever you touch or put on your skin is absorbed into your body. Most household items anymore are loaded with toxic chemicals. Before I dealt with lyme, I was guilty of being ignorant about what I touched or put on my body. I just didn’t know better. I used deodorant that had the best TV commercials. I used cologne that smelled the best. Once my eyes were opened, my wife and I went through and detoxed our entire home. We threw away or donated anything that we felt was toxic to our family and replaced them all with non-toxic items. There are two main brands that we use for most household cleaning items. The first one is Seventh Generation and the other is Method. Both are natural based and non-toxic. When it comes to soaps, toothpaste, deodorant, there are a number of different brands out there that are non-toxic. A simple Google search will point you in the right direction.
This is going to be a long section because there is a lot of information to cover. If I look at the progress I made while on antibiotics compared to the progress I made when I stopped antibiotics, there is no comparison. I only started to truly heal and get my life back when I focused on eating the right foods, detoxing, and using the right supplements and vitamins. I believe the last antibiotic treatment that I went through (the 60 day pulsing plan) was effective enough to kill many of the bacteria that were in my system, but it didn’t kill them all. I knew that my body had to take over afterwards and finish off this nasty disease. If you would ask me today if I it was worth going through about 8 months of antibiotics, I would tell you no. I would have never went through the antibiotic plan that my Lyme specialist recommended for me because it wasn’t effective. However, I would still have gone through the 60 day pulsing plan (which is only 30 days of antibiotics).
Antibiotics are interesting. Yes, they are a medical marvel and are very effective at killing off most unwanted bacteria, but they completely destroy the immune system and can lead to the emergence of super-bacteria that are antibiotic resistant. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way. When I finished up my pulsing protocol, I instantly started focusing on healing the gut. The thing about antibiotics is that they destroy all bacteria, regardless if they are good or bad. Our immune systems stem from the gut. Believe it or not, our gut is LOADED with good bacteria that play many important roles in our bodies, especially with our immune system. Taking antibiotics, especially long-term, destroys all of that, leaving you susceptible to other illnesses. The 3 months after I stopped antibiotics were not good. I felt better, yes, but developed MRSA (a very dangerous antibiotic resistance super bacteria) twice. Normally my body would fight it off on its own, but my immune system was so weakened that it wasn’t able to. Fortunately, I recovered fully each time and have been able to stay relatively healthy because of all the work I’ve done rebuilding my immune system back up.
Now that you understand the benefits and side-effects of antibiotics, it’s time to shift to all of the nutritional changes that I made to heal my gut, strengthen my immune system, and fight off this disease. What you have to understand is that if you want to heal, you have to commit fully. There is no “I’ll eat good today, but eat a large pizza and fries tomorrow” type of deal. It’s 100% pure commitment to consuming things that are only going to benefit your health. Will it be hard? Absolutely. The toughest part about all of this is the patience you have to have. You won’t eat well today and notice a difference tomorrow. However, over time of consistently consuming the right things daily you will slowly get better. It’s confusing to me how many people I talk to and try to help that can’t commit to a true healthy lifestyle. What’s the alternative? Progressively getting worse, being sick every day, slipping into depression, not being able to enjoy life, that’s the alternative. I made a choice back in 2015 to commit fully to healing and not look back. I have busted my ass every single day since then and have been greatly rewarded for it. There was no other option for me. I refused to become those people I constantly saw in the Lyme forums. I made all of these changes that I’m about to go into detail about and it’s the biggest reason why I feel like I am where I am today with my health and life.
Sugar is evil. Most of the health issues you see today, including obesity, disease, diabetes, and cancer stems from sugar intake. It’s not really something that you hear about in the news, but it’s a major problem. The daily sugar consumption here in the U.S. is out of control and people are clueless about what exactly it’s doing to their insides. In an article I was reading by a natural doctor that I follow religiously named Dr. Mercola, he mentioned that those who consumed 25% or more of their daily calories from sugar were three times more likely to die from heart disease (Dr. Mercola’s article). But sugar severely decreases the immune system and the ability to fight off sickness as well. When you are trying to recover from a disease like Lyme, obviously you don’t want to do anything that’s going to weaken your immune system. Drastically reducing sugar intake was one of the very first changes I made back in 2015 when I discovered I had Lyme. I found out that there was a lot of hidden sugar in most of the foods that I was eating, such as breads, pastas, pasta sauce, condiments, fruit juices, etc. I made the change so that the only sugar I was consuming came from organic fruits and vegetables, that’s it. In addition, I drastically decreased my overall carbohydrate intake. For one, it wasn’t necessary to consume a lot of carbs because I wasn’t able to be active throughout the day from being so sick. Second, I purposely increased my healthy fat intake (which I’ll get to shortly), so I had to eliminate some calories I was getting from carbs. I went from consuming about 40% of my calories from carbohydrate sources down to about 15% – 25%.
Here is a list of healthy carbs (fruits and vegetables) that I consume. So that I don’t have to mention this again, any food that I eat is organic, so when you see a list of my foods, automatically assume it’s organic. The reason is because non-organic foods are normally loaded with toxic pesticides and contain higher levels of nutrients. Again, when you’re trying to heal from a disease, you have to eliminate as many toxins as possible from your life.
Lyme causes inflammation. That’s why there’s a lot of pain associated with this disease. The reason inflammation occurs is because the body sends white blood cells to battle the infection site. Because of it, there is an increase in blood flow to the area and swelling and pain occur. So the pain is just from the body trying to fight off the infection that’s occurring. While doing research online and reading many books, I discovered that I needed to drastically increase my healthy fat intake to help battle the inflammation. I went from consuming about 20% of my daily calories from healthy fat up to around 60-70%.
Here is a list of healthy fats that I consume.
There are also certain foods that cause inflammation in the body. If you’re going to boost your anti-inflammatory foods, you have to also eliminate the inflammatory ones. Once I was diagnosed with Lyme I eliminated all gluten and dairy from my diet. That means that I stopped eating bread, milk, cheese, butter, etc. However, after later additional research I found that there are health benefits to some dairy foods, such as butter and yogurt, and added some back into my diet.
Processed food is just not good for you, period, and you should avoid it completely. Processed food normally contains additives, chemicals, artificial coloring, refined oils, and a number of other things that just aren’t good for you. With meat, the animal is usually fed an unnatural diet high in antibiotics, GMOs, and hormones.
Here is a list of some processed foods.
What you drink is just as important as what you eat. Water is the most important. Most people are unaware of the amount of crap that is in normal tap water, such as chlorine, lead, fluoride, PCBs, and arsenic. I shouldn’t have to tell you that it’s not safe to consume these things, but most people are doing so on a daily basis, which can lead to immune system breakdown and major health issues. Once I understood that the water I was drinking wasn’t good for me, I purchased a reverse osmosis system and installed it under my kitchen sink. The one I use is made from a company called Homemaster. Drinking highly filtered water (and enough of it daily) is a very important step to take in healing from disease. What about bottled water? I used to be one of those people that thought that bottled water was better than tap water. Not so much. After really digging into it, I found that many bottled waters contain just as many toxins as tap water. Again, your best bet is to find a good, high quality water filter system that you can install under your kitchen sink.
Now I want to talk about probiotic drinks. Every day since 2015 I have drank a fermented tea called kombucha. When I finished up my antibiotic treatment I knew that I had to restore the healthy bacteria in my gut. I started taking a probiotic supplement along with drink kombucha, which contains a ton of healthy probiotics, every single day. Over time I have effectively restored healthy gut bacteria, which plays a big role in immune system function. The brand that I normally use is called Synergy, but you can also make your own. Other than drinks, you can also eat fermented foods to get healthy probiotics, such as sauerkraut, kefir, miso, kimchi, and yogurt.
There are a number of healthy teas that you can drink as well. I already mentioned that I drank ginger tea with lemon every day, but there are some others that I drank/drink that have a ton of health benefits. They include green, chamomile, hibiscus, and echinacea tea. Those last three are herbal teas.
The last drink that I want to mention is bone broth. I have been drinking organic bone broth every day for the past 5-6 months because of all the health benefits. I wish I would have learned about the benefits while I was going through treatment, but hindsight is 20/20. It aids joint health, boosts the immune system, boosts detoxification, and helps repair a leaky gut. Leaky gut syndrome is actually fairly common and a major cause of a lot of chronic illnesses. Your gut has a lining that keeps out microbes and toxins and lets in important nutrients. Leaky gut is when the lining is ineffective and lets in those microbes, toxins, and large food particles into your system, therefore causing inflammation and diseases. Bone broth is extremely important to drink if you are battling some sort of disease or chronic inflammation to help strengthen that gut lining and keep the bad stuff out.
What about the wrong types of drinks? First and foremost, avoid soda. The majority of sodas contain an unbelievable amount of sugar, but also chemicals, toxins, and dyes as well. I cut out soda from my diet while going through lyme treatment. To say that soda is detrimental to your health is an understatement. Second, avoid alcohol. I stopped drinking alcohol entirely while I was going through the bulk of my treatment. For some reason, the effects of alcohol are massively increased in those who suffer from Lyme. I experienced this first hand before I knew what was going on with me. The alcohol hit me quicker, but I got extremely sick as well. It was like an instant hangover that lasted for days. Not only that, though, alcohol beats down the immune system and affects immune response time. If you want to heal, stop drinking alcohol.
There are a number of supplements, herbs, and vitamins that I took (and still take) while healing from this disease. Everything that I started taking and still use to this day was decided upon through extensive research and is of the highest quality. Quality is crucial when it comes to supplements (and food). There are a lot of supplements and vitamins out there on the market that are poorly made with terrible quality. Just remember, everything that you consume either helps you fight this disease or makes it stronger.
Vital Plan Restore Program – This herbal and vitamin protocol consists of taking 12 pills (3 each of 4 different kinds) twice daily. The 4 kinds are Adaptogen Recovery, Prevention Plus, Advanced Biotic, and Mitochondrial Support. All of them have a concoction of different herbs and vitamins. I started using this program about 5 months after I started antibiotic treatment and have been using it ever since. I could go into detail about what exactly the herbs do, but it’s much easier for you to check it out on the Vital Plan website. I have now cut back to a maintenance mode, taking only one dose of each pill daily.
Vitamin D3 – Helps boost immunity and battles inflammation. Most people who suffer from Lyme are D3 deficient. I take 4,000 IU daily. The brand I use is Garden of Life Vitamin Code D3.
Vitamin C – Promotes a healthy heart and supports the immune system. The brand I use is Garden of Life Vitamin Code C.
Vitamin B12 – Helps with energy, immune function, and neurological activity. The brand I use is Kind Organics B12 spray.
Glutamine – Helps with immune response.
Cats Claw – Helps inflammation, lowers high blood pressure, and boosts immune function. I took 1 capsule (500 mg) twice daily. The brand I used is Green Dragon Botanicals.
Japanese Knotweed – Supports a healthy immune system, promotes a healthy microbiome and liver function. I took 1 capsule (500 mg) twice daily. The brand I use is Green Dragon Botanicals.
Organic Raw Aloe Vera Juice – Helps balance body PH level, helps digestion, and contains important vitamins and minerals. I drank one cap full on an empty stomach daily. The brand I use is Herbal Aloe Force Organic Aloe Vera Juice.
CoQ10 – Protects the brain, nervous system, and joints from inflammation. Can also help with fatigue. I take one pill (200 mg) with my Omegas. The brand I use is Garden of Life Raw CoQ10.
Omega 3 – Battles inflammation, helps lower cholesterol, and helps with anxiety and depression. I take 2 pills (1000 mg each) of the brand Nordic Naturals daily.
Magnesium – Most people who suffer from Lyme are also deficient in magnesium because the Borrelia bacteria uses it up. It helps with anxiety, muscle twitches/spasms, and helps battle inflammation. Take 1 300 mg pill daily.
A lot of people undermine the effect of essential oils. I am not one of those people. I firmly believe that essential oils have an incredible amount of healing properties. Instead of burning candles in our home, we run essential oil diffusers almost every day. Here is a list of essential oils that we use.
When I started getting sick, I physically was not capable of working out. No matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t do so without feeling awful during or after the workout. This is very common with those who suffer from Lyme. Unfortunately, I had to stop working out completely for about 9 months while I went through treatment. That’s a very tough thing to deal with as a fitness Coach. In that time span I lost about 17 lbs and became very weak and skinny. However, even though I couldn’t work out, I still tried to be somewhat active throughout the day, normally by walking. Looking back, I wish I would never have stopped working out because it could have helped me heal quicker. Working out helps with detoxification, boosts energy, improves circulation, lowers body fat, and keeps you strong and flexible. Once I finished up with my last round of antibiotics, I immediately started an intense weight training routine and ended up gaining about 11 lbs of muscle in 90 days. I have been working out every day since and I’m a firm believer that it’s played an important role in the incredible progress I’ve made over the past year or so.
I want to spend quite a bit of time talking about the importance of mental strength and positivity while battling a chronic disease such as Lyme. Chronic lyme is awful. Unlike most illnesses that can be cured in a week or two, Chronic Lyme requires a unbelievable amount of time and patience. I believe that most people who have Lyme, especially those who were recently diagnosed, look at it the same as they look at a common cold, that they can take a few antibiotics and it will be knocked out of their system quickly, but they have to start looking at it much differently. Healing from a chronic disease is a long, drawn out process and only happens with the right attitude and treatment plan. In addition, they have to be prepared for constant ups and downs, wins and losses. The right formula for healing is this: Positive Attitude + Commitment + Patience + Natural Treatment (and possibly some antibiotic treatment) = Results.
Patience has never been my strong point. Whenever I have to wait more than 10 minutes to be seated at a restaurant I would rather go somewhere else. When I was diagnosed with Lyme I knew that I had to learn how to be patient because it was going to take a long time to heal. And I thought I was ready for the constant ups and downs, but I don’t know if anyone is ever ready for it. The mind games that are at play when healing from Lyme are enough to drive anyone insane. One day you will wake up and feel great, the next you feel like death. Sometimes that “death” feeling lasts weeks. Sometimes it lasts a half a day. You just have no idea when you are going to feel well and when you will feel awful. Before I started treatment I felt like death every day. There were no good days. In fact, I just kept getting worse and worse. I honestly believed that I was not going to be around a year from that point. It scared the living hell out of me. Then we found out Melinda was pregnant with our boy Brody. It was at that point when I decided that I was going to do everything in my power to get better by the time he arrived. There was no way I was going to allow myself to not be the father I wanted to be for him. My attitude shifted and I amped up my research and found my Lyme specialist.
When I first started treatment, I would go about 3 weeks of feeling awful and a few days of feeling OK. As each month passed, the amount of time I felt like crap decreased, but very, very slowly. At the 6 month mark I was having about 2 weeks of feeling terrible and a week of feeling OK. I think that this stage was the toughest for me. When you finally begin to see light at the end of the tunnel, start to feel better, feel some sort of relief, but then it suddenly gets ripped out from right underneath you, it’s a tough thing to deal with. Like I said above, I thought I was ready for this, but I really wasn’t. You can try to be as optimistic as possible, but when you feel good for a prolonged period of time and then start to feel terrible again, it instantly deflates you. It happened to me quite a bit. However, I finally began to understand the process and came to expect the constant ups and downs, so when they did happen, I didn’t get too upset about it. I just kept telling myself that “it was all part of the process.” All I could do was stay as positive as I could and do the things that I needed to do to heal, such as take my herbs, vitamins, supplements, and eat right.
One thing that I am extremely thankful for is the amount of support I received from friends, family, and even people on social media. I can tell you, though, that you quickly learn who your true friends are when you deal with something like a chronic disease. There were people who reached out to me that I would have never expected to, but also people who I expected to be there to help me that weren’t. But having support is crucial to healing. I’m someone that likes to keep things to himself. I’ve always been that way. But I was dealing with so much mentally and physically that I absolutely had to talk to someone about it. Just having someone there to listen to you is a big time help and relief. My wife is absolutely incredible and was my rock through this entire process. I will be forever grateful to her and all of the others who were there for me in my darkest hours. If you’re dealing with some sort of chronic disease, don’t try to tackle it on your own. Find someone to talk to. If you have to see a therapist, do it. There is no shame in doing so.
One thing that I suggest that you do is keep a symptom tracker. When I first started treatment I wrote down every symptom that I was experiencing. As each month passed I wrote down what symptoms I was still experiencing and which ones were getting better or had gone away. This is a great way to track your progress and keep you optimistic. If you’re doing the right things, your symptoms should begin going away. Slowly but surely, one by one my symptoms began to disappear.
The year mark is when things finally began to really shift for me. This is shortly (2 months) after I completed my last stage of antibiotics and started focusing on building back up my immune system. I had started working out again after not working out for an entire year. I had lost a LOT of weight and became very skinny. I was finally able to get in a good workout without getting extremely sick afterwards. At this point I was going about 3 weeks of feeling great (yes, great) and one week of feeling OK. That 1 week of feeling OK consisted of a few symptoms here and there, such as a little fatigue and pain in the back of my head, but it wasn’t enough to slow me down or stop me from being active and working out. 6 months later I was going about 2 months of feeling great and maybe a few days of feeling OK. Today, I have gone about 5 months of feeling great with just a few symptoms appearing very rarely.
I’ve always been analytical. Whenever something happens in my life, I analyze it until I figure it out. I’ve always been somewhat of a perfectionist and worrier as well. Combine the two and you get a lot of OCD behaviors. When I was younger, I developed a lot of OCD type odd behaviors and it did get out of control for a while. However, one day at about 12 years old I woke up and decided that I was done worrying about the little things and that was that. I literally stopped my OCD cold turkey. But being over analytical has always been a part of who I am and sometimes that has led to worrying. Personal development has allowed me to keep my worrying under control, though. I’m a big believer in reading personal development books and have been since the age of 15 when my father introduced “The Magic of Thinking Big” to me. He made me read the book because I couldn’t stop worrying about my failures in baseball. For example, if I struck out the first time at the plate, I would normally have an absolutely awful rest of the day. That was because I overanalyzed what went wrong and kept worrying about the fact that I failed and that I would fail again. I was always in my own way, but “The Magic of Thinking Big” taught me how to replace negative thoughts with positive ones and control the worrying.
I went a long time with a very positive mindset and kept the worrying at a minimum. I’m not saying that it didn’t creep in a time or two because it did, but for the most part it was under control. I kept it under control until I started dealing with Lyme. Lyme caused a shift in me mentally and rightfully so. I went months and months of feeling awful and progressively getting worse while doctors were all telling me I was crazy. When you don’t have any answers, feel like you are dying, not sure what to do next, it’s common for anxiety to set in and that’s what happened. It’s very common for those who suffer from a chronic illness. The anxiety got progressively worse and I started having panic attacks. Panic attacks are not normal for me. I’ve never had one before. The first time it happened was an absolutely awful experience. From that point on it was downhill. Once I had a panic attack, all I could think about was my anxiety and having another panic attack, which of course, led to more panic attacks. It was a vicious cycle. So not only was I having anxiety about not knowing what was going on with me and being extremely sick, I was worrying about worrying. My days were filled with worry. Negative thoughts absolutely consumed my mind. I couldn’t do anything without the thoughts of worry controlling my mind. All I wanted was for the worrying to stop and to find an answer as to what was going on with me.
When I finally got diagnosed with Lyme it was a huge relief. Instantly my worrying decreased because I now had answers as to what was going on with me. However, it didn’t eliminate all of it. I understood that if I wanted to heal, I had to control the anxiety. Stress makes things worse. You cannot heal if you’re stressed. I knew that. Just like with everything else I started doing a ton of research on how to control anxiety and stop worrying. There was no way I was getting on medication and wanted to tackle this on my own. I was confident that I could figure out how to control it. The first step was understanding what anxiety is and what the triggers were. Just knowing that you’re not alone is a relief in itself. There are a ton of people that battle anxiety on a daily basis. Sometimes you feel like you’re the only person in the world that is going through this. You’re not. I then figured out the different type of things that were triggering my anxiety. Interestingly, it was certain feelings I got or places I had been when I had the panic attacks. Whenever I would be around those places or get those feelings, instantly my mind began to worry about having another panic attack. Once I began understanding my triggers, I began to control the anxiety. I didn’t avoid those feelings or places, though. Rather, there were times I forced myself to experience it so I could teach myself how to calm down and control it. This might sound silly to some, but one thing that I did when I started to feel anxious was tell myself, “Control your thoughts.” Instead of letting those negative thoughts creep in, I thought about the progress I was making, my family, or something I enjoy doing, like snowboarding or dirt bike riding. Through practice of being confident, replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, I was able to stop the anxiety and panic attacks all together.
I’d be lying, though, if I told you that there weren’t a few times over the past few years where the negative thoughts and anxiety tried to creep back in. When I was experiencing all those panic attacks and was extremely sick I was in a very dark place. Sometimes I experience some sort of PTSD from that time. There are certain things that remind me of what I was like during those 6 or so months and it’s hard to fight off the demons and negativity. It was the scariest moment of my life, not understanding what was happening to me and wondering if I was going to die. However, understanding anxiety, being healthy, I am able to get my mind right back where it needs to be rather quickly, whereas in the past it would get out of control. I just remind myself how fortunate I am to be healthy and to be able to heal from a debilitating disease. There is no reason to worry anymore.
Why did I share that? Because I know that a lot of you that are dealing with Lyme experienced or are experiencing the same thing. It’s OK. You’re going to be fine. Stay positive and truly believe that (1) You will heal from this disease, and (2) You can control your anxiety because you absolutely can. I know what it’s like to be in that dark place. I know how it feels. It’s terrible. But you have to remember that the only way to heal is if your mind is in the right place. If you haven’t done so yet, read “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz. It will help. Or do what I did and hop online and read articles and watch videos on how to control your anxiety.
Not too long ago I had some blood work done to find out my current numbers. After 3 years of dedication to healing, every single one of my numbers normalized and were perfect. I sent my results to my naturopath to check out and she told me, “Josh, you’re numbers aren’t just OK, they are literally perfect!” All the liver, kidney, thyroid, and other issues were gone.
There is nothing else that I have done to heal from this disease. My process has worked for me and I know can work for you as well, just as long as you have the right attitude, fully commit, and have some patience. Lyme disease is one of the nastiest, toughest diseases to deal with. But you can heal. You will get better. What you’re dealing with right now is just temporary. Soon you will be able to get back to a normal lifestyle like I have. Just remember, though, that this will probably be the toughest journey of your life. It will be one full of ups and downs. Eating 100% clean and organic is hard and not cheap. Using supplements and herbs is not cheap. Staying consistent day in and day out with your nutrition is not easy. Staying mentally strong when you feel terrible is not easy. But again, what’s the alternative? Being sick every day. Being depressed. A few short years of hard work and sacrifice is worth a lifetime of being healthy, right? It absolutely is.
If you have any questions, you are more than welcome to reach out to me on my Facebook Page or email me at CoachSpence8@yahoo.com.