This is the short version. I’m still working on the long version for those who want to hear it.

I’ve always been “skinny.” I had a “high metabolism” as my high school soccer coach used to say. I didn’t do anything to make my body react that way. Chalk it up to genes, I guess.

As a teenager and well into my adult life, I could eat and drink whatever the hell I wanted. Sure, the sugary stuff and alcohol would make me feel like shit, but it wasn’t like I gained weight. I could eat like a teenager without consequence.

And that worked until it didn’t.

I was diagnosed with gout at age 46. Wasn’t gout that thing that the King of France got from eating too much mutton? It’s not. But I thought that, too. Turns out, gout is a chronic disease manifesting as inflammation that, in many cases, is linked to lifestyle. I had some genetic predisposition toward it, as I later discovered, but I couldn’t hide behind the genes—at 46, I had been acting like a teenager.

When I visited a rheumatologist, he took out his prescription pad. “Where’s your pharmacy?”

I was a bit taken aback. “I can just take a pill for this?”

“Yes. But you’ll have to take it your entire life. And there could be some side effects… So, what’s the address of your pharmacy?”

“But isn’t a gout flare-up related to diet? Lack of exercise? Improper sleep?”

“Maybe. But you can do all that right, and it won’t change much. You need this pill.”

I thanked the doctor and left with that prescription in my pocket, where it stays today. I probably don’t need to list the side effects for you to understand why I wouldn’t casually make a decision to take that medication for the rest of my life.

Two years later, I tested normal for uric acid in my blood—high readings of uric acid being the factor most commonly associated with gout. I opted against the medication, not because I’m some New Age quack who has no faith in Western medicine, but because it felt like the pill would cover the symptoms instead of dealing with the underlying cause of the problem.

I radically changed my diet, my exercise, my sleep, and my mindfulness activities. And without the medication, my uric acid levels are normal, although the days of eating donuts for breakfast are gone.

I get at least 8 hours of sleep. I’ve removed processed sugar, complex carbs, and processed food from my diet. I work out 5 days a week. I meditate daily. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s brought me to a healthy state.

And it’ll work until it doesn’t.

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