Things change as we age. My body just changed a lot faster than I ever imagined. I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). AS is a degenerative rheumatic inflammatory disease that is similar to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) but instead of affecting the joints, it targets the spine. And unfortunately it can travel all over the body.
Why am I telling y’all this? To be honest, I never ever thought I would post about this, much less tell my family (my parents don’t know) or my friends (only a few know). There are two reasons I felt the gnawing need to share for some months now. One, I realized that there is so little awareness of this disease. I started to think of all the people and patients I’ve worked with over the years that should have this on their radar. Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons has been one of the first to share his story with AS and hopefully others will be helped by getting diagnosed earlier (which can help prevent damage), and I hope to do the same. People that have an IBD (Crohn’s or UC) — even if they have been in remission for years — are much more likely to get AS. But anyone (even kids) can be diagnosed. Unfortunately, because of a lack of awareness it often goes undiagnosed. If you have lower back pain, consistant muscle stiffness (and weakness), and fatigue that has lasted for more than 6 months then you might want to mention it to your doctor. There are more people affected by AS than MS, CF and ALS combined. Here is more information if you’d like to learn more about ankylosing spondylitis.
The second reason I am sharing this is more of a confession, I guess. Personally, it is very hard for me to admit to myself that I have AS. When I was diagnosed, I was a little embarrassed. I felt like a phoney for always claiming to control my body with diet and exercise, and, in turn, telling others that they can do the same. To be clear, I haven’t a stomach flare in almost 10 years and I don’t take medication. Diet has radically changed my life for the better. Much better. But now I always feel like I should add the caveat, “but I also have AS and it sucks every single day.”
Then I realized that clients aren’t paying me to hear about me, but I don’t want anyone to ever think I’m being deceitful about the issues I do have. And see…I am owning it. Because you know what? I do have some control. If you know anything about AS, then you’ll know I’m doing pretty damn good. For the people I work with or anyone else, you CAN take control of your health. I believe that with all of my heart (it helps that science is on my side) and live it every single day. I will continue to workout and go to yoga, get labs to make sure I am balancing my hormones (and nutrients), and of course, I will continue to nourish my body with good foods because that, more than anything, has changed my life for the better. My doctors have said, “thank goodness you eat the way you do or this AS could be a lot worse.” Thankfully, I LOVE the way I eat. I really do! Now….I just have extra motivation. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
On to the food…
Who doesn’t love tacos?? This amazingly delicious and easy to make taco casserole (by Paleomg) was a hit over here. And even though it’s low carb, it feels carb-y (with the Siete tortillas) and is super satisfying. I hope you all like this casserole as much as we did!!