Erika Knows No Bounds

*Note from Sarah: Jason Seib is back with an incredible story about one of his clients, Erika, and the power of living a paleo lifestyle.  (Not to be confused with Everyday Paleo college student contributor by the same name!!)  

Read and enjoy!

Erika Knows No Bounds

Sometimes we make excuses for why we don’t have the results we want.  If you are someone who makes more excuses than progress, you might want to stop reading this right now.  There’s a good chance that the obstacles you face are about to seem really trivial.  Especially if you erected all of them in your own path.

Erika has been a member of my gym for a little over a year and she is a monster.  See for yourself.  Here are some of her numbers.

Deadlift – 285 lbs (current gym record for the women)
Back Squat – 220 lbs
Shoulder Press – 95 lbs
Bench Press – 115 lbs

Here she is with a 275 lb deadlift.

And here she is locked out at the top of a 105 lb push press.

Okay, so Erika is strong and that’s impressive, but there are lots of strong girls out there, why should you care?  Because Erika is in a very elite class of strong girls and few can hold a candle to her drive and motivation.  Erika has Multiple Sclerosis.  She is supposed to be losing her ability to move her body.  Instead she is consistently increasing her ability to lift weights at loads that most women will never approach.  Before you assume any of this was somehow easy for her, check out her story as she described it to me in a recent email.

“I was diagnosed just before Christmas 2007 when I was 16.  In March 2007, I ended up in the hospital for two weeks because my whole left upper body was severely numb, and they were having a difficult time figuring out what was wrong (it took nine months.)  I could barely use my left arm or hand…I was put on harsh steroids for a month or so after my hospital stay, then when I was diagnosed, I started on a weekly injection called Avonex (interferon).  After about a year, my left torso returned to normal, but there was still quite a bit of numbness in my left arm and new numbness of my right leg, random muscle spasms, and fatigue (I would take 2-3 hour naps most days.)  After a MRI, my neurologist deduced that the medicine was not working because my brain lesions were progressing faster than they were supposed to.  So, I was upgraded to Rebif which is three injections a week (terrible side effects from these, by the way.)  I started paleo shortly after you spoke to our class in October 2010, but have only been very strict since summer 2011.  I had a check-up a while ago, and my neurologist said I have no clinical symptoms of MS; the MRI is the only proof.  My numbness, muscle spasms, and fatigue have disappeared.  On rare occasions (probably when I’m over-stressed) my left hand will feel a little numb, but it goes away within 24 hours.  I am due for another MRI next month, and we’ll see if there’s any improvement, as I have been trying my best to comply with Terry Wahls‘ protocol and have been off my immunosuppressant injections for a few months.”

March 16 marked 5 years since the first of her symptoms.  She told me that when she sees her doctors they always ask her if she is experiencing any weakness.  Haha!  I can only imagine what they would say if she told them about her gym exploits.  They might even think she was lying.

So what is holding you back from results like this?  Let’s be honest, some of you are here because you want to look better naked, not because you are trying to overcome a life threatening disease, or even because you want to be healthier.  Of course, there are also some who are tying to escape the day to day trials of ill health, and there is no doubt that I can’t pretend to relate to your situation.  But what if we all trained and lived with the same kind of motivation that we find in Erika?  Or even Deb, who felt awful but hadn’t been diagnosed with anything chronic.  These people that we use as examples on this site and on EPLifeFit each have the same things in common.  They don’t come to us because they hate their bodies and desperately want to change them.  And they don’t come to us because they feel like victims.  They come to us because they love themselves enough to know their bodies deserve better than what they have been getting.  I’m not trying to sound like a zen master when I say this (over and over again), but it truly is all about perspective.

Anyway, how are those excuses sounding now?

Go forth and be awesome.

Comments

  1. Amber zambie says

    I too have see tremendous results with crossfit and paleo. I’ve been diagnosed for 4 years now with MS. I hope crossfit continues to make me stronger! Marathoning tends to break me down. As addicting as running is, crossfit has been the only thing to sedate my addiction. Well… Tone down my mileage:) I want more than anything for all the diseases to be cured but until then, I’m not willing to lay down and let it when. Good job Erika!!

  2. Oshrat says

    Good for you Erika, I started Crossfit and paleo to help heal my back, I was injured in a car accident and I suffer from back pain and herniated disk. I am working out 3-4 times a week and getting stronger every day, I believe with the combination of paleo and Crossfit I can avoid surgery and get my health and life back. Thank you for the inspiration.

  3. Jennifer says

    I have MS too. Paleo changed my life 3 years ago. My story is very similar. I hate to imagine life without Paleo. i never want to feel so drained again.

  4. says

    THANK YOU for sharing and THANK YOU for EPLifeFit. I have many MS/adrenal/fibromyalgia-like aliments. I have yet to be able to pin point exactly what I’m dealing with but Erika has given me hope. I’m thankful that I have access to her trainer, Jason (through EPLifeFit). I am ready to thrive!

    • Angel says

      Has it been 5 years already? You have always been the picture of determination. You are an inspiration sweetie.

  5. Dwayne says

    This is very inspiring, Erika. I have fibromyalgia and lyme’s disease. I started paleo about a month ago and can already see improvements in my life. Thank you for sharing this story.

  6. Angie says

    I am curious if Erika follows Autoimmune Paleo? Or just strict Paleo?
    Curious becuase my husband was recently diaganosed with a very rare autoimmune disorder and he is struggling a bit with the Autoimmune Paleo .because it is even stricter than strict Paleo
    Thank you for any information

    • Erika R says

      In a way, I do both. I try my best to follow Terry Wahl’s protocol-there’s a great video on youtube, and she does not eliminate nightshades. I did some experimenting with certain foods that could cause issues in individuals with autoimmune problems, and eggs seem to be the only food on the list that doesn’t work well for me. I have them maybe once a month now. I hope this helps you and your husband.

    • Kim says

      I just read your post about “Autoimmune Paleo”, what is it? I am Paleo, also with autoimmune; Hashimotos Thyroiditis.

      Thanks!

  7. says

    This is a wonderful story. Thank you Erika, for leading the way and showing people that what you put into your body and the attitude you keep really can help! I had a liver transplant from autoimmune disease (PSC) damage in 2001, and this winter doctors told me the disease has returned. My husband and I are now Paleo and loving it, though some days I do just want to grab a shortcut meal -but I don’t! It is worth it if it helps at all. I have a six month old and I’m determined to stay healthy and full of life for her! Thanks again, stories like yours keep me encouraged to stay the course. Question: do you follow the more strict Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (no nightshades, no eggs, etc)?

    • Erika R says

      Thank you! I’m happy my story is reaching out to so many people. Sorry to hear about your PSC, hang in there!
      I’m in nursing school, and I know all about the challenges of food temptations when I’ve had a long or busy day-the more you resist the easier it becomes. In the above comment, I mentioned Terry Wahls’ protocol, and I try my best to follow it. I experimented by just eating meat and veggies for a while, then I slowly added in nightshades, eggs etc… one at a time. I discovered that eggs seem to be the only food on the autoimmune list that I don’t tolerate well. I hope this helps you. Best of luck!

  8. Holly says

    Great Job Erica! I don’t know you but I am so proud of you. Don’t ever sit back and let other people determine what you can or can’t do. I wish more people had your perspective, I know that reading your story has inspired me!

    • Erika R says

      Thank you! I have the same wish, and I believe that with the ongoing success/inspiring stories more and more people are changing their ways. Cheers!

  9. Yvonne Zipf says

    I have a dear friend with MS and this story really touched me to know there is something that helps with this terrible condition. Unfortunately my friend had a major stroke last year (nothing to do with the MS) and is now completely paralyzed on the left side. My first thought was to forward this to her, but then recalled the change in situation. I’m very happy for you Erica. That is awesome!!

    • Erika R says

      I’m terribly sorry to hear about your friend-I wish you both well.
      Thank you! I am fortunate to have stumbled upon Paleo at such a young age.

  10. Erika R says

    Thank you all for the encouraging and thoughtful comments-I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my chest because now I don’t have to keep my MS a secret; I can just be proud of myself!

    I forgot to mention the supplements I take: magnesium, fish oil, 4,000-8,000 IU vitamin D in winter/spring, and CoQ10 on weeks that I don’t eat organ meat.

  11. Christina says

    I was diagnosed with MS a year and a half ago at 25. I have been following a modified Paleo diet (I’m allergic to eggs and nuts) ever since. Honestly, I’ve never felt better. I’m so glad you are doing well on it too. I hope that you keep doing well, and know that you are not alone.

  12. Christina says

    I was diagnosed with MS a year and a half ago at 25. I have been on a modified Paleo diet (I’m allergic to eggs and nuts) ever since. I haven’t had any symptoms since the effects of my initial relapse wore off. I’m so glad that you seem to be doing great with it too. Keep it up and know that you are not alone!

  13. Heather Airheart says

    Wow, what an inspiring story. I’m just now recently reading into the Paleo lifestyle, and this really amazes me. I’ve currently been sick 5 times since January, and no one seems to know what’s wrong. I’m hoping that maybe a Paleo diet will change all this. Thanks so much

  14. Rachel says

    Erika,

    My story is strikingly similar to yours – I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS just before Christmas 2007, when I was 22. I went into the doctor complaining of foot drop, was put on IV prednisone, and it spiralled down from there. After I was admitted, I quickly lost all function on my left side and half of my body was essentially paralyzed. I was prescribed Rebif.

    I was lucky, and all function completely returned *before* I found paleo. My MRI improved significantly. The only “symptom” I had was that my left arm/hand would sometimes tingle at night laying in bed. Since finding paleo and giving up cardio, that doesn’t happen to me anymore. The left side of my face is still weak, but it’s something that only I (and my mom) notice. =)

    I’m paleo, I’m not autoimmune paleo, and I’ve seen Terry Wahls’ protocol, but the only thing I did after watching it was incorporate more greens into my diet…

    Knowing that I’m not the only one with a story like this is strangely comforting.

  15. Bonnie says

    Erika, this is so inspiring! Go, go, go!

    Regarding eggs… were the eggs you tried to add to your diet pastured or regular eggs?

  16. Anne Esparza says

    I heard about your MS diagnosis and spectacular success in combating it on the podcast this morning. I’ve had MS for 22 years (diagnosed at 28). I started a candida diet which is similar to paleo in summer 2011 and am happy to report that I’ve been able to get off all of my MS medications as well. I don’t have to use the scooters in the store to shop anymore. I feel so much better since changing my diet. I wish I had done this 22 years ago, but better late than never. That is so awesome to see what you are able to do in the gym!! I wish others with MS in my support group could get on board with this way of eating. It saddens me to see them one by one quitting their jobs and going on disability because of their worsening symptoms. I’m able to work full time which keeps me feeling productive. I still struggle with symptoms but they are better than they were a year and a half ago. For exercise I stretch and do yoga and sometimes swim, but I’d like to incorporate weight resistance. Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing your story!!!

  17. Brandi says

    Erika very inspiring! I have a question… do you eat any fruit? Very little? The reason I ask is my daughter and I just found out we are fruit intolerant (puts us on paleo) and the Dr./Homeopath connected to M.S. It would be interesting to know if that her info proved true! We do not have it but i have an old friend dealing with it and i would love to have more info! crazy enough almost all foods are fruit based. Bread always tests fruit!!!! Awesome job! Thanks for sharing your story!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *