The Natural Evolution Podcast

Season 2

Episode 10

S2E10 – The 4 Pillars of Conquering Chronic Health Problems and Pain with Christopher Blakeslee, Part 1

After suffering from intense autoimmune diseases for 34 years, and being disabled for 15 of those, Christopher Blakeslee took his health into his own hands. He searched for cures across a wide spectrum of medical resources and eventually created an integrative view of mind and body, finally being able to say his conditions are in remission. 

From his studies, Christopher Blakeslee found the four pillars of wellness, leading him back to resilient health time and time again. He became an ADAPT-Certified Functional Health Coach and a National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coach to help others who are struggling with chronic health problems. Like he was, many of his patients are tired of taking pills to get through the day and have tried numerous conventional and natural remedies for chronic pain with no success. Christopher is ready to help you reclaim your life.

In this 2-part series we discuss the integrated approach that led to his recovery by walking through the four pillars of wellness, how he applied the four pillars in different stages of his recovery, and the most important changes in diet & lifestyle he made.

To hear more about Christopher’s story pre-recovery, check out Episodes 13 & 14 of Season 1.  

To book a free 90-minute consultation call with Christopher Blakeslee visit https://balancehealthcoach.com/work-with-me/ 

Head over to https://rebelhealthtribe.com/kit to get a free download of our loaded quick start guide to help you along your healing journey.  If you like us, subscribe, review, and share us with your friends, and come join our Rebel Health Tribe group on Facebook.

Click Here to listen to Part II with Christopher Blakeslee.

Listen to Episode #10

Christopher Blakeslee dives into explaining the 4 Pillars approach with Michael. He introduces us to the integrative approach that led to his recovery, how he applied them in different stages of recovery, and the most important lifestyle changes he made that lead him to where he is today.
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Christopher Blakeslee

Christopher Blakeslee

About our Guest

Christopher is a conqueror of autoimmunity and an ADAPT-Certified Functional Health Coach who helps people with chronic illnesses and chronic pain. He lived with autoimmune diseases for thirty-five years.

For fifteen of those years, the symptoms and excruciating neuropathic pain from them disabled him. Now he is completely healthy and on a mission to help others with chronic health problems to achieve their best health. Christopher is currently writing a book with former Mayo Clinic doctor Jim Lemons about how lifestyle changes, mindset work, pain neuroscience, and Functional Medicine form the best approach for dealing with chronic health problems.

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SE02E10: The 4 Pillars of Conquering Chronic Health Problems and Pain

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Podcast Transcript

Michael Roesslein: All right. And we are live again with my friend, Christopher Blakeslee. Christopher, thanks for coming back.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Oh, it’s great to be back on, Michael. Thanks for having me and for your generosity last time with your time last season.

Michael Roesslein:

Oh, yeah. We talked for a long time. For those who didn’t catch Christopher’s, this is his second time on the show. So go back, episodes 13 and 14, we made it a two-parter because Christopher’s got quite the story. And in season one, we were focused on healing journeys and stories. And I still have to say at the time, I hadn’t recorded the whole season yet. But I said this then and I’ll say it now that I have recorded the full season. Christopher’s journey is probably the most incredible that I’ve heard and we went into the whole thing. So it’s a solid two episodes. There’s a lot to hear. It’s completely remarkable. And for those who have listened to episodes 13 and 14 and heard Christopher’s story into the point where he was up until then, which was about summer 2021 when we recorded it, we’ll have a couple updates he’s got for us.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Yeah. Good stuff.

Michael Roesslein:

And then we’re going to learn, this is season two, where we’re talking more about education and information, and we’re going to get a little bit more into what it was that really moved the needle for him and what he saw change his health dramatically. Whereas before we talked more about the story, now we’re going to talk more about what to do and where to start and what he saw move the needle. So before we get into it though, I want to introduce Christopher to the audience, to anybody who didn’t catch the previous episodes. He lived with autoimmune diseases for 35 years. And for 15 of those years, the symptoms and excruciating neuropathic, neuropathic?

Christopher Blakeslee:

Neuropathic.

Michael Roesslein:

Neuropathic pain, nerve pain from them disabled him. Now, he’s completely healthy and on a mission to help others with chronic health problems to achieve their best health. He’s an ADAPT-certified Functional Health Coach, which is Chris Kresser’s organization. And as of yesterday, National Board Certified Health Coach who helps people with chronic illnesses and chronic pain. He’s currently writing a book with former Mayo Clinic Dr. Jim Lemons, about how lifestyle changes, mindset work, pain neuroscience, and functional medicine form the best approach for dealing with chronic health problems. So a lot of practitioners will say, “I got into this because I had to,” and I don’t think anybody can say that more strongly than you.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Yeah, it was definitely out of necessity. The only way I was apparently getting out is if I fixed it.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. And we’re not going to get back into the story. I really encourage everybody to go back and listen to episodes 13 and 14 and listen to Christopher’s story because it is remarkable. And he says 15 years disabled him, full years and years and years spent unable to get out of bed. I remember you telling me that you couldn’t watch TV because the TV triggered nerve pain and any amount of stimulation triggered pain. It’s a difficult story to hear and an inspiring one to hear at the same time. So let’s give a couple updates. So we talked last summer in 2021 and you were on your second day ever with no pain. And you had started a client practice. You were working with some clients. I think that’s where we were at and maybe fill in people, what’s happened in the last six months since we last talked?

Christopher Blakeslee:

Sure. It’s wild to me because of the nature of the body and giving it what it needs, that I’m now almost five years in to my recovery, that I’m still getting better in. So day two, wow, that was it back then for pain free. It’s 25 days now. And the crazy thing is I got a bunch of them over like Thanksgiving holiday whenever I got away from weight training because I know that that irritates my nerves some, but interestingly, the further I got away from the weight training, it started coming back again. So I needed the endorphins from the workouts, but it’s wild now. I’ve been 13 months of remission from all the autoimmunity. I was telling you I almost accidentally ran a 5K the other day. Which is saying a lot for Mr. Exercise-induced asthma who coughed and wheezed through gym class and couldn’t run under a sub 10 in minute miles since I was nine years old. And I was on an 8:30 pace when I was just going for it. So that’s cool.

And after my bulk up period with weight training, I’ve dropped about 15 pounds. Now I finally figured out how to lean out and I can lift more than I ever could on everything. Except my bench is only two and a half pounds off, but I can do 20 pound weighted chin-ups now. And I’m really proud of that. So that’s the health side of things. And then I guess thinking about the client side of things, it’s still going great. I’ve done, let’s see now 42 consultations and it’s going great. I won’t say that every… The last time I said that a 100% of the clients that had some degree of improvement that I’ve got so many right now that it’s a new batch that I can’t really say, but the ones that are six weeks in the past, they’re all doing super, at least to have some kind of improvement there.

And the long term coaching ones, that’s where I’m really seeing the awesome changes. That weekly work together of trying to figure out what’s holding them back. What behavioral patterns are there on top of the knowledge. So it’s all going smooth and I love it. Love every minute of it.

Michael Roesslein:

That’s great. And it’s just such a dramatic change from where you were at five years ago. So it’s… Yeah, its last time I’m going to say it, but go back and listen to episodes 13 and 14, and then come back and check out this one, if you haven’t. So this time though, and we talked, I don’t know, probably close to two hours last time about your… We went through the whole story and we touched a little bit on some things that moved the needle, some stuff that you did that was helpful, a doctor that you worked with, Dr. Lemons and things that didn’t work or reasons you couldn’t do certain things, but we didn’t really get into a lot of details about the what. And it was more just the experience itself of going through what you went through.

And so today, I’d like to focus on what actually happened, what did you do? Because I know a lot of people after they listen to those other episodes, they’re going to be curious. And even if somebody doesn’t find themselves in the same level of severity of pain or conditions that you did, there’s still a lot that can be taken from this that could be applied to a lot of different conditions or a lot of different situations. So I guess I would start with what were the biggest needle movers? What were the most important changes that you made that actually started gaining some traction? Because from what I gathered you tried a lot of stuff and you were all over the place and trying to all kinds of different things. And then you met Dr. Lemons and you started doing things a little different than you had been. So what were the most important diet and lifestyle changes that you implemented where you actually saw and felt a difference?

Christopher Blakeslee:

Okay. And yeah, I agree with you that, from what I’ve seen this framework, it seems like it works with everybody that I have worked with. So I think even though everybody’s got an individual journey and their context is so different. And that’s part of what I want to go into is just how this framework, which you already touched on diet and lifestyle medicine and the second one’s mindset work. And I’m going to really weave those two in to your first question here and then pain neuroscience will get to that in a bit. I’m not going to talk so much about the functional medicine side, because I think confirm your audience is really familiar with a lot of that stuff. And I think there’re direct practitioners that are great for talking about that. So the needle moving stuff really it’s… Because I started my recovery, it was nine months before I met Dr. Lemons.

So there were some things that I did get going on the right track of things. So a lot of these, the diet and lifestyle and the mindset things, I really want to focus on those because they’re not the sexy type of topics. They’re not all that interesting to people, but my experience is 80% of that time. That’s all anybody actually needs, even when it’s really, really bad in a lot of cases, that they can get through it, just with these things. A lot of this is free. So I really love able to share this and I’m so buzzing with excitement, because the fixing part is the awesome part of getting into it. So the needle movers at first, and this is how I approach everything in the book that I’m writing is there’s six things that always came up. Six categories and I lump diets supplementation pretty much in together, but I’ll separate them out just a little bit for this.

So it’s a little more coherent. And then I throw stress and mindset together because there’s so much on that subject. And then exercises on its own and then the sleep and sunshine component, and then lumping together the stuff that can go wrong, that you don’t expect. The infections, and then the environmental toxin sorts of things. And last of all would be the medication reduction. So I’m going to break down just some of those things from each of those that help me, I’ll break this down in three stages. So stage one will be years, zero to one for my recovery. And I think this will really help people see that. A lot of my clients seem to think it’s going to be one thing that you do, and you’re just going to keep doing that forever. But your body changes, you may find something else is under the surface after you’ve addressed something.

So then I’ll go into stage two where I call it, I still wasn’t fully human. It was years two through three, where I couldn’t fathom working still, but I was having more moderate pain than high. And then stage three is years four to present where it’s remission state, because I still, I got to do a lot of stuff, but it’s effortless now. So starting at the very beginning. All right. Well, just to set the context a little bit there is where I was not moving at all. And I was on the immunosuppressant drug that stirred me to the core because I thought maybe I’m going to die here finally with the symptoms that I’m getting, the black spots, I’m shaking like crazy. And I think I have to go back to this root cause thing I tried seven years ago, that seemed like it was on the right track, but didn’t fully work.

So I’m going to try and start moving. So I had a goal to get off of. It was naive at the time, all of my medications. I was on-

Michael Roesslein:

What was the most medications you were on?

Christopher Blakeslee:

It was 15 simultaneously. Yeah, I think. My brain isn’t the most clear during some of those, the 10 years of narcotics years. But I know that whenever I turned it around, it was 15. And I just made the goal as abstract improvement of what might happen, because I thought, “I’ve doomed myself before by making this really specific and then it doesn’t happen.” Like, “I’m going to walk so far and my pain’s going to be down.” And unfortunately it did not work that way for me and it doesn’t work that way in a lot of cases. But I just had that in mind and said, “All right, I’m going after the six categories.” And here’s how I did it at the very beginning. So diet, Sarah Valentine, thank you so much for autoimmune protocol diet. That is absolutely what I needed.

I had the raging autoimmunity in my body and I locked into it. This is one of those listen to your body things. Intermittent and fasting, because I was so inflamed that if we had this interview five years ago, I would’ve told you Michael, I react to every single food. Because every time I ate my pain was worse for good two, three hours afterward. So I thought that I had some kind of sensitivity to things and I did have a lot of sensitivities, but a lot of it was simply the GI tract was just so inflamed that I couldn’t handle eating. So narrowing the window at first.

Michael Roesslein:

And inflammation, this actually I’m picking up tidbits, so that recording this season is all education. So I’m talking to some pretty smart people. And I picked up something yesterday in a conversation with Dr. Peter Kan that I knew but I never thought of is that inflammation never happens only locally. So if you were eating something and when your gut is super inflamed like that, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a food allergy or sensitivity to this protein or this food. It’s just, any food is going to cause an inflammatory state in the gut, but the cytokines and the other inflammatory cells and things that get kicked up in that type of storm, they go everywhere.

They aren’t just there. So he even said that people with autoimmune conditions that are in a remission, not in a big flare but they still have antibodies and things. If they get a significant injury of some kind, like they break their leg or their arm, or they have some sort of trauma that causes an acute inflammatory state for the injury. And a lot of times it will actually kick up a flare of the autoimmune symptoms because the inflammation is systemic, it’s not local. So that makes stories like that one make more sense if it’s professed like that.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Absolutely. I love nerding out on getting the validation from science whenever it’s like, I lived this and I see this in things. And it also explains I had autoimmune flare up whenever I injured my back deadlifting last year where it’s like, where… “Okay. That stuff’s back.”

Michael Roesslein:

It’s because the cytokines, the inflammatory cytokines will circulate through the whole body.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Yeah. So that makes a lot of sense there.

Michael Roesslein:

I didn’t mean to derail you, it just popped in there, it’s very irrelevant.

Christopher Blakeslee:

No, that’s cool. I love hearing it. Yeah. So just thinking a little bit, a couple other things on diet. Also, there was so much wrong that I needed my daily grass fed liver. I was having at least an ounce of that every single day. And I noticed something versus supplements on that. And I always have, whenever I have tried that, and I absolutely, I did the hardcore version at the beginning because I thought I’m so bad off, I don’t get to cut any course. So I did all grass fed meats and all organic vegetables. I wouldn’t touch anything that wasn’t. And I excluded every single spice and curiously still the two only foods that I have a problem with are pepper and onions. And those are the only things that I absolutely said those are not on board, no matter what. I tried them a couple-

Michael Roesslein:

Black pepper?

Christopher Blakeslee:

Yeah. Black pepper.

Michael Roesslein:

Okay.

Christopher Blakeslee:

I apparently have never really tasted what it’s like from what people tell me, my tongue just instantly is so on fire. And I feel that to a such a degree it’s like, I can tell it’s like-

Michael Roesslein:

Not worth it.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Yeah. Not worth it. So that’s the diet side of things. And supplements, I know that I mentioned that supplements are huge for my recovery, but one of the things I don’t think I’ve actually said this on a recording before is that I did a five month supplement fast at the beginning. Because I thought [inaudible 00:16:22] I am Frankenstein personified of all these drugs in me. And I was trying supplements for years before that. For over 10 years, I’ve been trying all sorts of things. So I did an actual supplement fast there for five months. And supplements is one of those things that I don’t really like going into that much because it’s so personal and individual. And almost everybody says, “Oh, I’m going to go try what he did after that.”

I was like, “Well, what I did worked for me at that time.” And one of the reasons I’m going to going through the stages is I will list what I did here, just so people can see that it shifted quite a bit. So some of my favorite brands that I got whenever I did start taking supplements after five months, I like Seeking Health, Thorne, the Pure brand. I think its Pure Encapsulations. Those are all some really good ones. And just don’t have to worry about fillers on those sorts of things, that can be the sneaky person in the room that are causing some symptoms sometimes.

And so I really started once I had gone off of one of my two narcotics, because I was on the long acting short acting thing. And I started trying some things like probiotics. I did the Primal Probiotics is the first one that I tried out. It seemed pretty innocuous, didn’t really do too much good or bad. And so many things with me at the beginning is I truly had no idea what was working. I felt so bad all the time and I would push the envelope every time I felt the least bit better, had some increase like, “Well, I’m going to push further because I got to extend my boundaries here, because I’m living in this trapped 150 step a day thing.” I also tried a gut supplement called Prebiogen that Chris Kresser was selling at the time. And I saw some stuff from him on general autoimmunity.

So a lot of this is general autoimmunity stuff is Liposomal Vitamin C and Liposomal Glutathione. So it’s in that little fat bubble we get past what might be in your gut, interfering with your digestion. Vitamin K2, even though I was eating my liver, I went for it because I was pretty deficient in a lot of things. And there was this one supplement, Revitalizing Sleep Formula that always helped me get to sleep some. I took that one for quite a while, I actually am still on that, now that I think about it. I’ve almost weaned myself off though, because I don’t really need much help anymore. Another thing for cortisol that was called [inaudible 00:18:52]. I’m not even sure they still make that anymore. And CoQ10 and then Methyl-Guard and 5-MTHF from Thorne, because hello methylation problems in me.

And this was lab based stuff, I was not just throwing darts blindly, I wanted to make sure I actually needed to address this stuff. So that was the supplement side of things. And then looking into stress and mindset. I really think that this is one of the things that got me going more than anything else, because I was in such a dark place before and thinking all of the terrible thoughts and we’ll get into some of that and the pain neuroscience stuff, because it absolutely connects into that. But thinking through that traumatic night, whenever I thought I was going to die. That was one of the step one, because you and I were talking about this and I didn’t realize how traumatic that actually was at the time. And I’ve went off and especially watching some of the stuff that [inaudible 00:19:55], the course is on in Aura about trauma.

It’s like, “Oh man, I had some trauma too.” When I think about it. Thinking I’m going to die, it’s a pretty big thing. So I had actually, and I didn’t mention this last time. I had about six episodes like that. It started in January, it went through about September, where this toxic soup would build up on me again and I’d start shaking. And it was, “Oh no, it’s going to happen again. Do I need to go to the ER? What’s happening?” So I needed to think differently about it and truly the things that got me through it were, when it started to come on deep breathing and not having assumptions about what it meant. Not assuming this was some other yet another progressive state, thinking that, okay, I lived through it once and once I lived through it the second time, it was only about three hours of shaking that time.

I thought, “All right, I’m going to wait and see what happens. And I’m going to breathe through this.” And what do you know? It was pretty fear based and they magically went away and that was pure thinking. I don’t think anything really changed all that much chemically. I think the mind got it calmed down to whatever was going on chemically couldn’t cross that line anymore.

Michael Roesslein:

And the mind changes the chemicals.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. You get the endorphin release whenever you’re feeling better. You don’t get adrenaline, which hyper sensitizes you to pain, gets you going in such a way. You don’t get cortisol. You don’t get catecholamines, cascade of inflammation. So yeah, lots of stuff there. And then some of the other things that were really crucial and I see this all the time in who I work with now is stopping the avoidance behaviors that I developed to get away from being present with how I was. Because what I did was I sort of, and I think I did mention this last time I was in a bit of a frenzy of staying busy so that I didn’t notice that I’m screaming on the inside all the time, because this pain’s an eight right now and I’m still trying to read or do something to stay busy.

And that was really hard to just slow down and say, “All right, it’s here.” And to come to a place of acceptance with the fact that it’s going to be here, I don’t know if it’s ever going to go away, but running from it didn’t work and was causing me all those chemicals too. And it was causing a lot of habits that I would just stay busy. You mentioned TV was painful. Well, I’d just be on it all day, hurting myself, trying to stay away from it until, “Okay. I can’t take it anymore.” Well, I had to get out of that loop. I had to not flare myself up through the behaviors. And part of that was definitely narcotic induced. I’ve never been bouncing off the walls like that in my life mentally. And I also had to make peace with myself because I had a ton of guilt coming out of this, that I had-

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:23:04]

Christopher Blakeslee:

… Because I had a ton of guilt coming out of this, that I had that three year period, 2014 to the beginning of 2017 where I pretty much got so doped up is what I think it was. In retrospect, whenever I got pneumonia and said, “I’m going to do something instead of hiding in my room all the time.” And then I never ever remembered to stop indulging for three years straight. So I felt really bad about myself about that. And I had to come to peace with the fact that I was in a really hard situation and I should give myself a bit of a break. That it was impossible to, well, it was not possible to me. I don’t know. Maybe somebody could do it better, but it wasn’t possible to me to just have this heroic focus on getting better all the time. It’s too much, so I had to-

Michael Roesslein:

I think that’s important for people to hear because there’s a guilt involved. A feeling of guilt, like I’m sick or I’m in pain, or I don’t feel well. And I know there’s these 117 things I’m supposed to be doing right now are not doing or whatever the list is that is the current things that are, “Good,” for you to be doing. And then there’s the things that are bad for you to be doing like the TV and whatever. And I’ve worked with people and then I’ve talked to people who were on the, “Good side,” of that line about 90% of the time.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

And then they would beat themselves up because two weeks ago on a Tuesday, they didn’t go do the thing they were supposed to do. So they don’t deserve to get better. They’re never going to get better. They don’t deserve to get better. And nobody can be 100% on all the time.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Right.

Michael Roesslein:

And everything you’re doing when you’re in a state like that is harder than it would be to do…

Christopher Blakeslee:

And the brain’s not even on your side at that point, because it’s in the… The neuroscience will tell you that it’s robbing the areas of your brain, of your ability to think clearly. You’re back in monkey mind and whatnot. You’re not able to focus. So, absolutely needing to know that you have to give yourself a break. And there’s so much to be said around about how you contextualize your self-esteem whenever you can’t do anything. And that leads directly into the next thing that was huge was cheerleading myself; my strengths and accomplishments. Like I walked an extra minute today. I’d write that down. And then I started telling my parents about it too, so they could see that there was some progress here to celebrate those wins, and I could keep the fuel going. If I forgot, I could look back and see…

Michael Roesslein:

I can tell you still do that.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Yeah. All the time.

Michael Roesslein:

The wins are just bigger.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Bigger than you would’ve been able to imagine then, but…

Christopher Blakeslee:

Yeah, it’s funny now I get five massive ones in a week and it’s just off the charts compared to what I get. And I think that’s another reason my pain’s even lower.

Michael Roesslein:

For sure. But it can be easy once you’re not in such a disease state, once you’re not in so much pain, once things aren’t so hard.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

People can take it for granted to be able to do the things that they couldn’t do before. And then there’s no celebration and there’s no acknowledgement. And then it’s still, the thing I can’t do is the focus.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Right.

Michael Roesslein:

Like right now you said you almost accidentally ran a 5K.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Was it yesterday or this week or sometime…

Christopher Blakeslee:

Yeah, it’s this week.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. And that’s amazing. And you probably couldn’t run 20 miles.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Right.

Michael Roesslein:

And so people tend to always focus like, oh, I ran three miles, but I can’t run four. And it’s like, you didn’t even used to be able to walk 0.1 of a mile. So, I think there’s something evolutionarily where we’re kind of wired for the negative or the danger or the trouble, but it’s so powerful when that can be flipped. And I just want to acknowledge that I see that a lot in how you speak.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Well, thanks. And I think it’s one of the best things about my personality is that I’m never letting go of that. I saw that that was my lifeline. And I really have a bone to pick with positive thinking and that’s a whole other topic. We can’t even go down that road because it’s so big. I just say, get yourself on values, where what’s promoting what’s good in life because sometimes everything sucks and you can’t just smile through it. But there’s another thing on the mindset that’s really important too, is I address the fears that I could deal with. And I didn’t address all of the fears that I couldn’t because I just had to tell myself, not now, whenever it came into my mind that it’s like, I’m bouncing off the walls with fears and such about if I can get better.

And then things come in, like you’re reliant on elderly parents and what happens if something happens to them? I just had to say, not now, because I couldn’t handle that at the time because I had no way to fix it. So there was really no point to dwelling on it. So I just let some stuff go for a while and said, “I’ll get to that at some point.” And that relieved me quite a bit because I made the mistake at first of trying to fix everything and had a panic attack one day. I wrote every fear that I had on a page and I just said, “I’m never getting better because of this.” So I had to learn not now and it’s okay to be overwhelmed because it’s really easy to think that you need to be on and fixing yourself all the time.

And then just value based communication with my parents, that really helped quite a lot. And I had a section in my book on communication because I think that it’s a new language to talk to people whenever you have something chronic and other people don’t. And I haven’t seen it done to my liking out there. So I’m writing a lot on that too, but it helps. And then I think I mentioned this one, my little game I developed whenever I was in morphine withdrawal and was in real danger that I called it the Benevolent Universe Premise game, where I thought I need to think about the fact that we, as a species have been around for millions of years surviving. So the universe is not this place where just death and danger around every corner. So I’m going to look out the window because I couldn’t really get out of the house during morphine withdrawal.

And I needed to improve my vista before long because I ran out of stuff to look at. But I looked out my window and would name what was valuable about whatever I saw. And it was really easy on a beautiful flower bed, but it was not as easy on the garbage, but I still pointed out that we have a civilization that can deal with this in some degree. They take it away at the very least. So stuff like that and going in with the mindset stuff change too, for sure. I should mention this right now. Whenever I met Dr. [Lemons 00:30:02], got into that program and on day two, the physical therapist explained neuroscience to me. I had my, this is it moment where this is where I’m fully on board with not just the protocol I’d made for myself, but that was the missing piece to where my stress level dropped immensely after that.

And I was the smiley guy again, that I was whenever I was younger. And it definitely came in and the deep breathing that I did around that, because I had to do deep breathing for… And I put that in stress management because it’s broader than that, but I think it really applies. I had to do hours a day of deep breathing at the beginning because if I had a bowel movement, I would hurt for hours afterward. It would just be like, I wanted to cry. It was so bad and weird flares and such. So that’s the stress and mindset side of things. And the other things are briefer than that, that were the game changers in that first year. The sleep and sunshine stuff. It’s funny because the stuff that I talked to you for like two hours the first time and what I still forget, because it was so many things. Like I told you, everybody says, “What’s the one thing you did to get better?”

And I say, “Oh, it’s 30 things simultaneously.” A client said to me, “I’m allergic to the sun.” And I was like, “I’ve never heard of that.” And then I was like, “Oh, wait, that was me. How can I forget that?” But I wasn’t getting outside the house except to go to the once a month pain clinic appointments when I was disabled. Because the sun, I would hurt so much more and it felt like it was just this degree of hotter in a way that’s just not possible. It felt like it was under my skin to be out in the sun. So I had to slowly go out for five minutes, sweat and try to stop audibly groaning and then go in and take a cooler shower afterward. So just starting to get that. And I think I may have mentioned this, but it always is worth mentioning that for people with auto immunity, whenever you get some… If you don’t have the cortisol awakening response imbalance, then your thymus in your brain is not killing off autoimmune cells.

And you can help reset that by going out and getting in the sun, but people say, “How much?” And I say, “Anything’s better than nothing. It all counts.” So if you can get out 20 minutes, that’s great.

Michael Roesslein:

Especially right in the morning.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Yeah. Right at the very beginning. Yeah. And the other thing that’s a part of this is part of the dog and pony show of my recovery was that I was awake on average 30 hours a day due to the pain there. And I had to get myself on a circadian rhythm. And that was one of the hardest things to do because psychologically I told myself it wasn’t possible due to the pain. But it was more possible than I realized as soon as I figured that out about slowing down and facing the symptoms because I was just pushing the baseline up so high all day by staying busy that I couldn’t wind down.

Of course, I couldn’t. So the circadian rhythm was huge for making a change. And I think it even helped my weight loss, because I dropped about 30 pounds in three months just by doing AIP, whatever. And I think I mentioned this, I was around 242, my weight because I’d quit weighing. I don’t actually know the weight and I never had the moment that yeah, I’m getting better. So here’s what I weigh. Here’s my weight, but I think the sleep helped with that too. And then the environmental toxins and things like parasitic infections. Year one was mostly, it was the little bit of gut stuff. I didn’t really want to go down that rabbit hole because I thought I’ve got so much wrong that I don’t need to add detox reactions right now. I need to just get on my feet and actually move again.

So what I did was change up the personal care products. Like I started using Mother Dirt stuff: microbiome, skin microbiome, healthy products. And there was the big project of removing all plastic from the kitchen to make sure… And knowing from my genes that I had problems with heavy metals, getting that out of my deodorant, using Native deodorant. I still use that. I love that stuff. And I began brushing my teeth again because I stopped due to the neuralgia symptoms in my mouth would hurt so much that I can’t believe I still haven’t had a cavity. I’m so fortunate, but that’s that side of things for the very beginning. And then the medication side of things. The reduction went pretty well. I got off of half of them in half of a year, but I don’t recommend the way I did it because it was the crash course of it was motivation by fear.

I was doing that because I thought I saw all the micronutrient deficiencies. I knew what they were doing to me. Once, I think it was mytavin.com that I looked that up on, seeing what all they were causing. And that’s M-Y-T-A-V-I-N.com. And seeing that, I wanted off of them as fast as I could. And I thought they were probably what held me back in 2010 whenever I didn’t get better when I tried root cause approach. So if I could do it over again, I would’ve done it slower because I got a lot of nasty symptoms of it. And I wasn’t quite ready whenever I pulled off of the first narcotic, because I mentioned this last time that whenever I met Dr. Lemons, I got off the second one, no problem. I booked a trip to New York three days after I was off because I knew it was just not going to be a problem.

So I wish that I had the extra support and tools that I had developed later, but it mattered. It mattered a lot. Strange symptoms, like just feeling like my spine would twist whenever I would eat. That just stopped happening as I got rid of things. It’s a very curious feeling to feel like you’re turning internally like that. And just the vibrations in the body, things like that. And the weird sudden flushing in my upper left arm, in my ear, whenever I take a shower, whatever the heck that was. And that’s another reason why whenever people come to me with their labels, they say, it’s like, “The symptoms aren’t all that important all the time. Just keep going after what the body needs from this evolutionary perspective and the functional medicine perspective. And it’ll pretty much start fixing itself.” So, that’s the summary of stage one. Any comments on that?

Michael Roesslein:

No, it’s just incredible. No, I don’t have any comments.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Okay.

Michael Roesslein:

Just kind of what I chimed in with, but I think there’s just important points there about not being perfectionist, always rewarding little victories, not trying to do everything at once. And that sometimes less is more. You said you went on a supplement fast. You took certain things out of your life. You stopped doing as much and started doing more focused things and then just really being present, it sounds like is a big thing to it.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Absolutely.

Michael Roesslein:

And not doing things to avoid the reality of the situation, which then often leads to creating a worse of the situation. And I think that applies no matter what to anyone all the time.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Right. I think so too.

Michael Roesslein:

So no, I’m ready for round two.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Okay. So in this latter part of that year one, I’ve met Dr. Lemons, and I know that things are going to be different from now on, but I understand how pain works. I understand that why I’m hurting, even though my bladder doesn’t look bad on a cystoscopy anymore, it looks fine. So I understand that I now have ways to think, move and breathe. And like I said, we’re going to get into some of that here in a bit about how I can change the pain responses. But as I mentioned earlier, the pain didn’t change that much at first because what changed was my ability to do more. My pain didn’t hardly go down during that first year. And so we go into stage two, the years two and three. Like I said, I still couldn’t even think about working. Just wasn’t a thing that was on the table.

But I still consider this intermediate recovery for me because it was objectively so much better. And I had hope all the time now, and oh my gosh, was that powerful medicine. To have that hope where there wasn’t this brain cloud of what’s around the corner anymore. And one by one, I start defusing these other fears that I couldn’t deal with. So the big things that I learned, because that’s the thing and the beauty of life. I know that I have a lot of knowledge on health. I’m still learning more. And this is whenever I found out about how big Mast Cell Activation Syndrome was and histamine was for me. And it was weird because I always wondered why I’m this guy and we’ll go into the diet now again. Why do I get sick when I have bone [inaudible 00:39:26]? Everybody says I have to have this in my diet and I make stuff in the instant pot and okay.

I’m kind of weird whenever I eat it, if it’s been in there longer, like all day. I’m like, all right, that’s kind of weird, but if I have leftovers, oh my goodness, it’s diarrhea. It’s headaches. It’s my mouth burns. It’s my nerves are on fire, but it took me two, two and a half years to realize that because everything felt so bad all the time that I just couldn’t figure out what it was. And it’s hard to draw the conclusion whenever you’re worrying about the histamine, the histidine growth on proteins in your refrigerator that you just don’t even really think about at the time. And whenever it doesn’t happen, I should say, it’s easy to explain away whenever you have the natural ebbs and flows of pain and symptoms, that it’s just, well, that just happened. But there was actually a causal relationship there.

So I got off of the autoimmune protocol finally, and that was really two and a half years in. I think it was actually close to three years now. Oh my gosh. Yeah. I’ve got that wrong. Yeah. I was closest to three years that I was on AIP, which I now think is way too long. And you don’t get choline because you get no eggs. I wouldn’t add anything in. I was still scared because I thought I’ve got some improvement, I don’t want to have a setback. I don’t know what all’s done this. It’s kind of magic to me, but then I decide, all right, it’s going to be a paleo diet, like 80/20 type of thing. Seems like it’s better for me at this point, but I’m going to go low histamine and I’m going to go low sugar too, because I also noticed there’s a causal relationship.

I was so sensitive in the peripheral neuropathy, particularly that if I ate blueberries, even that was like a sugar bomb that set them off. And I had a doctor who told me, and they’re wrong that I would never get over that and I can have fruit now. I’m good. I can have sugar back in my diet, and I’ll talk about how I got to that, but that was awesome to be able to get through that. So I reintroduced spices and man that made a restricted diet so much less so. People now tell me because I spice bomb, but they say to me, it’s like, “Oh, you live on a restricted diet.” I’m like, “Not at all. I don’t feel deprived in any way,” but…

Michael Roesslein:

People say that to me too. And I don’t have that many things I don’t like, other than it’s more food quality for me than anything. I don’t eat processed foods and fast foods and things like that, but I don’t eat much gluten. My wife doesn’t eat gluten and then I don’t eat a ton of dairy and a couple other things. But even that to the common American eater like, “Oh my God, what do you eat? How can you eat?” I’m like, “Dude, I promise the food that I eat tastes better than what you eat?”

Christopher Blakeslee:

Yeah. I promise it too. You can get a long way with vegetables and spices and throwing them together.

Michael Roesslein:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Christopher Blakeslee:

And so the other thing, oh, my gosh, on diet is this is when I discovered extended fasting because before I thought, well, okay, that sounds like horrible deprivation and you’re just suffering for the sake of suffering. But then I came across some research that said that it’s the only way that you can make stem cells in your body. So I started doing monthly, extended water fasts, and we can talk about how I did too, because that’s a nuanced and not for everyone thing to do. It’s absolutely contextual just like all this stuff is. And really the time was right for the extended fasting. I think my body, the stress had come down enough that where I could actually put myself through more because it’s a pretty acute stressor there to not have food. I was doing it five days, every single time. So the supplements, this is pretty easy to go through and quick.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Because it was just histamine based things. I also finally discovered the merits of CBD, but at the time I was just trying all sorts of stuff. And now, I’ll just go ahead and say the now stuff, just because it’s on my mind. The Mellowment Beverage Enhancer is really good, but I kind of fell in love with NuLeaf Naturals now. That really works great for me. And I found CBC oil through them, which is amazing for a headache apparently versus nerve pain, so that’s really cool. And I should mention, I do have an affiliation with them now. I love them so much. If people put in BHC at checkout, they get, I forget how much off. But something or other. I think it’s 20%, but the supplements that I did for histamine and other sorts of things. I also found N-acetyl Cysteine at that point, which I know is hard to get now.

Zinc. I also started a kelp supplement. I also was eating sea vegetables too, but I saw so many good things that I wasn’t getting from them and I started taking that. And then the histamine stuff, I did the ProBiota HistaminX and HistaBlock, which is like the stop gap that you do to try and eat stuff and survive and not feel as bad. It doesn’t really fix anything at all. And grass fed beef organs. Yes. On top of my organ eating, I went ahead and added a supplement for that because I saw that kidneys could be really good for, and I didn’t particularly care for the taste of kidneys, that kidneys could be good for histamine.

And then French Maritime Bark Extract, copper by… I heard that one pronounced. And then a quercetin supplement called Quercenase. And then I went deeper into some gut stuff, but still not that deep. That’ll be in the newer part. I started taking GI Revive, which is a really expensive gut supplement that, oh man, that thing helped a lot. A lot of digestive stuff. And suddenly I was regular for the first time, since I was 10, whenever IBS showed up. So, that’s the supplement stuff. And then the stress and mindset. There’s not quite as much there. The starter kit was the most important. I just was adding layers on [inaudible 00:46:01] if you want to go the other direction…

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:46:04]

Christopher Blakeslee:

… adding layers on POR if you want to go the other direction, peeling layers of the onion. My decision in that period of time, I decided I was going to write a book, to help other people out of this and realize that I might have something that’s valuable to help other people out, because I started helping out at the Lemon’s Center and seeing that I could have a profound effect on the people that I was talking to about behavior change. And then also the science side, the functional medicine, all these other things. That elevated my spirit and I noticed my daily pain went down, about a number two, I started having days where, “Oh, wow. It was a four, actually got a four. I can do things where it’s not that bad.” Those spiritually fueling values like that were huge for me.

And that’s when I also decided I’m going to pursue getting a coaching certification through Chris Kresser ADAPT Academy. And having that, it gave me a future for the first time. Suddenly the depression type things are not really there anymore because I can think there’s a future where I’m going to work and now I’m going to be able to support myself and such. That was really huge. Also, one of the other big things was I dialed back big time on the breathwork. It became automatic for me and I needed far less because I was having a pretreat before, whenever I would exercise and post treat with breath work, in order to try and get through things and suddenly, okay, I only need it after now. And it just became less and less as my body kept getting better and I got into better shape.

Then exercise and I didn’t mention on the first thing Dr. Lemons gave me a lot of neurosciences based movement things to do, nerve glide, Tai chi. And I was already doing qigong, three moves, my whopping workout. I’m kidding, it lasted two minutes.

Michael Roesslein:

A little bit of qigong can go a long way.

Christopher Blakeslee:

Yes. And like I said earlier, any is better than none. And it’s so good for the nervous system. The neuroscience stuff became not quite so necessary during this period. And I stepped up from there to actually doing exercises with the TheraBand’s. They got me started at the Lemons Center, but it was the yellow one, which is nothing. And I got super max on that, I hit the top on that, in time. And I got to where I was now walking 5,000, sorry, 10,000 steps per day, five miles, roughly five miles. I wasn’t quite to that yet, but I was getting mad every day because I had pushed up to 3000. I should have mentioned that in the stage one part.

And the other huge thing I found was standing up 75% of the time relieved a lot of the nerve based pains. A lot of them were temperature, surprisingly. Just having my belly fat overhang while sitting, was causing neuropathic burning in my waist. Standing up a lot like that made a huge difference. And suddenly a lot of the IC stuff started getting better. My urinary urgency and frequency were getting a lot better. The nerves were just crazed from all the sitting that I did. That was the exercise side of things.

And then the infections and environmental toxins, real simple now. I got myself an AquaTru reverse osmosis filter and put everything through that. And then I got myself a near infrared sauna, from SaunaSpace and started using that five times a week. I could only use that for a few minutes though. At first, it was just too much. It would cause a nerve pain flare up or I would get too dehydrated or something. But I eventually got up, I was doing that five times a week for 45 minutes. A whole lot of sauna in there and then the medication…

Michael Roesslein:

That’s what I miss the most, we just sold and got rid of all of our possessions…

Christopher Blakeslee:

Oh wow.

Michael Roesslein:

… for the move that we’re doing. And I had an infrared sauna for three years and I went in there at least four times a week for the whole three years. And it was my little sanctuary. It was the thing I looked forward to everyday and I felt great and now it’s going to near the top of the list of the things I’m going to replace when I get to where we’re going.

Christopher Blakeslee:

I can see why, it’s one of those essential self care tools that I didn’t realize how valuable it is, because I thought detox. But then there’re some things about the red light stimulating and healing nerves. And on top of that, there’s the mitochondrial stimulation for your energy, so there’s a lot of good stuff there. And let’s see, the last thing for stage two of my recovery is the medications, I got all the way down to two of them. And that was just my sleep medication and then the nerve thing. Amitriptyline that helps turned down nerve intensity pain, rather than actually being a pain reliever. And I did that through just pretty steady titration, because I did it much slower now that hair wasn’t on fire, to get off of all of them. That’s the picture of that.

And you can start to see that, “Okay, some of this is different and then some of it is just adding extra layers.” It’s interesting how the context shifts on all these things going into just now where I feel great most of the time in stage three.