David Goggins – Retired Navy Seal, New York Times Bestseller, and ultra-endurance athlete – suffered a horrible leg injury that he recounts in his new book Never Finished. A master of overcoming adversity, he uses challenges that he encounters as fuel to make himself even stronger.
He views injuries as a teacher. In the summer of 2021, out of other options, he underwent an uncommon surgery on his left leg that had a mixed probability of success. The surgery, high tibial osteotomy, or HTO, involved rods and screws inserted in his leg to realign the knee joint. Never one to quit, the surgery was undergone so he could get back to running and achieve his dream of becoming a smoke-jumper, jumping out of airplanes to parachute into remote areas to fight devastating wildfires.
Combined with disciplined rehab, the surgery was a success. At age 47, he entered smoke-jumper school in British Columbia. With the rehab complete from his surgery, and the passing of the grueling smoke-jumper school, he leveled up his mind and body even more.
Despite public figures such as David Goggins continuing to overcome any obstacles, defy odds, and show how long, slow, gritty work can reap benefits and achieve goals, modern society has conditioned us for quick fixes for any health challenges. Often, it is the latest drug from Big Pharma that is the first answer, unfortunately an answer that only fixes symptoms and not underlying problems.
From 2017 to 2020, I battled with debilitating, itchy, and red patches of skin on my face and scalp from a form of eczema known as seborrhea dermatitis, affecting 11% of the population. There are several other forms of eczema such as atopic dermatitis. At the time, I ate the rainbow in vegetables, and consumed lots of legumes, nuts, and gluten. For several years, when flare ups would happen, I had severe social anxiety in group settings. My gut told me something had to change. From various medications and oils applied to my face, nothing worked.
Initially, I tried applying Head & Shoulders to my face when showering. It provided relief for a few days, but the eczema returned. The Head & Shoulders website directly mentions that their shampoo can treat symptoms of seborrhea dermatitis. It only provided temporary relief.
Various blogs from people suffering similar ailments mentioned to apply coconut or olive oil to the face. These oils made it worse. Like fuel added to a fire, it burned my face. My dermatologist gave me a prescription for a cream, but it made my face itchy, smelled, and mildly worked. Ketoconazole, a mild steroid sold over the counter, worked slightly better, but it too had similar side effects and worse, risked thinning my skin over time, made me more susceptible to sun burn, and could harm my liver.
Hard Choices, Easy Life > Easy Choices, Hard Life
There are immense rewards by not choosing the easier of two options, and that is how I was able to find a solution for my seborrhea dermatitis. From our ancient Operating System, our brains are wired to search for shortcuts. As life was much harder hundreds and thousands of years ago, to survive we needed to conserve energy. But, if you are willing to operate outside of your comfort zone and not accept the status quo, you will be continuously surprised what is possible.
This mental model of not following mainstream advice allowed me to be open to trying the Carnivore Diet. That diet later evolved into following a less strict animal-based diet, which has felt the most optimal for my body for healthy skin, high energy levels, and perfect digestion.
Try a carnivore/animal-based diet: Many people do Whole 30, eliminating grains, dairy, added sugar, legumes, and alcohol. This is entry level. The carnivore diet is the ultimate elimination diet, and even simpler…zero carbs, only fat and protein. Eczema can be caused by inflammatory foods such as gluten, seed oils, and for some…vegetables. No plant foods were allowed due to the antinutrients many of them contain. Most of what I grew up eating my whole life had to be shelved. It’s the price I was willing to pay to finally relieve my body of the draining eczema symptoms.
I saw results in just one week.
There was some troubleshooting on the diet such as increasing my sodium intake and getting my ratios of fat and protein at a level that worked for my body. For example, adding salt to my eggs in the morning and eating a ratio of 1:1 grams of fat to protein. I recommend speaking to a nutritionist or physician for help on trying this diet.
Though no two people respond to food exactly the same, here is my current diet.
I stumbled on the carnivore diet from a friend’s suggestion from this meat blog, started by a former surgeon, Dr. Shawn Baker, who created a community for people to share insight and testimonials of them curing modern chronic ailments all through this diet. Near the end of his career as a surgeon, Dr. Baker started turning patients away for surgery because they would get healed from his dietary changes prescribed. He can be a bit annoying on social media, but I recommend reading his book, The Carnivore Diet.
Experiment: You don’t know what you don’t know. Like someone who never leaves their hometown, there is a world of endless possibilities that they would never be exposed to if they didn’t step outside of their community. Once I experimented with different foods and went as extreme as trying the carnivore diet, I found relief not only from eczema but also other health issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). While my eczema went away, other bonuses such as IBS went away too.
Check the nutrition labels: Reading the back of nutrition labels is like entering the password for your bank account. Once you are in, you have access to information that greatly affects your life. While discipline is important on this diet, I still dabble in the occasional treat. Reviewing the label on the back of that new fizzy drink at Whole Foods, for example, will let you know how important information such as grams of sugar added, or what kind of oil your bag of chips were cooked in if you are trying to avoid inflammatory seed oils. Information like this can prevent flare ups from eczema.
For a sample diet plan for an animal-based diet, you can find one about halfway down this article.
Similar to David Goggins’ journey, the “hacks” recommended here aren’t necessarily easy, but they are simple and might lead to greater discoveries. And, that’s the biggest hack – to try something radically different from your status quo and discover what might be possible. It won’t be easy, but it might be worth it.
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The "Hard Choices, Easy Life > Easy Choices, Hard Life" motto is taken from Jerzy Gregorek. I think it would be fair for you to at least mention his name.