If you are sitting at home feeling helpless and defeated because you’re suffering from a condition you think you can’t overcome, please read this story. Obviously, some conditions can’t be changed, but you can learn to live a vibrant life regardless of them. You are YOU, not your condition. And you are stronger than you think! Many conditions can be changed, improved, or even reversed if you take the steps to make the change happen!
My Humble Beginnings
I started my wellness journey in November of 2006, weighing in at a paltry 450+ pounds. I have told this story many times; you can read about the rest of my wellness journey here. Today, I’m telling a different part of that story, one that has not been shared with my friends and readers.
Everyone knows I advocate a healthy, mostly plant-based diet because it’s crucial to our health. And like you, I love my NutriBullet!
Today, however, I want to tell you how cycling (the greatest form of exercise for total health, in my opinion) gave me my life back. I started in March of 2012 with a whopping 1/2 mile bicycle ride! Truthfully, I was beyond elated that I could do it.
In May of 2010, I was diagnosed with Guillain–Barré Syndrome, a form of temporary paralysis that affects the Central Nervous System (CNS). In addition to severely weakening the muscles in the arms, hands, legs and torso, GBS also affects pulse, heart rhythm and blood pressure. Doctors do not know the exact cause of GBS, but it has been tied to a bacterial infection caused by undercooked poultry, as well as viral infections. There’s also a correlation between ingredients in vaccines and GBS, but cases are very rare.
I was admitted to the ICU, where I spent four days because my pulse, heart rhythm and blood pressure were going crazy and wouldn’t stabilize. The doctors told my wife, Gwen, that they didn’t know if I would survive. Eventually my levels stabilized enough to move me out of the ICU. GBS kills a small number of people it touches every year, but there were other plans for me!
GBS was the worst experience of my life. It left me feeling helpless and hopeless. I had to relearn the simple things we do in our everyday lives, like walking, tying shoes, eating, buttoning a shirt, bathing and putting clothes on. Additionally, the pain caused by the nerve damage was unbearable at times. It took me three years to recover 95 percent of my normal functionality. GBS was the biggest battle of my life and I was determined to overcome it! I was frustrated that I had worked so hard to get the weight off and get in great physical shape, only to be robbed of it all in a three-week period. I was determined to not let GBS keep me down! I’m a fighter and it took everything I had to overcome GBS. I wasn’t going to just sit back and become a statistic.
Two Years Later
Gwen and I bought a couple of run around town bikes a year or so earlier, but we rarely took them out to ride around our beautiful little South Carolina town.
After two years of recovering from GBS, I was walking again, but my strength and balance were still poor. I wanted more from my exercise - I wanted more from my body! Prior to GBS, I was in great shape and spent a lot of time walking, hiking and exercising at the gym.
I decide to pull the old bike out and see if I could even ride it. I was very nervous because my balance wasn’t very good; GBS greatly affects the small muscles that are essential for balance. As I took the bike out of the shed and dusted it off, I remember mumbling, “Okay, here we go, let's keep this thing upright!” Picture a child learning how to ride a bike. I was all over the place when I first pushed off, handlebars swaying left and right, but I was upright and moving forward. It was a struggle to keep the handlebars straight because the GBS left me with some hand tremors and weakened arms, but I made it 1/4 mile to the end of the street. I stopped with tears in my eyes, turned around, and headed home.
I can do this! Yes, I can do this! Something inside told me that combining cycling with a healthy diet was the recipe for my full recovery. I know that the body adapts to the demands being placed on it, so I needed to demand more of the nerves in my arms, hands, legs and feet to improve my condition. If I didn’t, they weren't going to improve as quickly or as much, or at all. My body needed to be told what to fix and cycling was going to send the message.
Over the past four years, I have moved through four bicycles, upgrading each time to meet my body’s physical improvements! My ability to ride longer and tougher routes increased each year. In 2015, I road my bicycle for over 6,000 miles! I climbed numerous mountains, went on a dozen rides that were over 60 miles long and completed a 100-mile long ride. I participated in over two dozen charity cycling events. We even took part in a summer charity event called A Ride to Remember, where we rode 252 miles across the state of South Carolina in three days to support the Alzheimer’s Association.
Out of the horrific condition called Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a team of more than 30 cyclists, who ride together at every given chance, blossomed. We cover all adult age groups and sectors of life. And we all share the same passion for cycling and peddling our bikes to help others in need.
Keep cranking out those smoothies every day, but don’t forget to be active so that your body knows what to do with all of those great nutrients you’re consuming.
To a long and healthy life!