13 May 2013

The China Study

In 2001, I was hiking 15-20 miles a day on the Appalachian Trail and eating a strictly plant-based diet Three years later, I was eating lots of dairy and not exercising at all. In The China Study, Campbell writes that casein turns on tumor growth but plant protein does not. So what does that have to do with me? I don't have cancer, but I do have multiple sclerosis, which is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks your own cells. Immune system attacks mean inflammation, so when you are having a severe MS relapse, you are given massive IV doses of steroids to calm the inflammation.

I don't know much about biology (ha) but I think tumor growth is related to inflammation. Is that true? If dairy protein can "turn on" cancer growth, might it also turn on other kinds of inflammation? I'm always looking for ways to explain my MS. This is probably stupid. Most people say that you didn't do anything to cause your disease, that sometimes bad things happen randomly. And although I believe in the randomness of bad things, I also think there are many times when you can find the cause if you look hard enough.

This is a long winded way to say that I'm eating plants. I'm enjoying a renewed focus on my diet and I'm drinking lots of green juice. I'm feeling great, except that I've got yet another sore throat, thanks to one too many Maple-coughs in my face. This New England winter will not die.

I started training last Monday like I intended, and I was able to do all 34 miles on my schedule last week. My tempo run was a little slow (I'm blaming the 86% humidity), but my longish run yesterday was fabulous. I've never done a long run so fast (9:22 average pace for 8 miles) that felt so effortless.

Last week also brought this awesomeness:

Nope, that's not Photoshop magic. I got to meet up and have lunch with my coach Erin! She's even cooler in person. A few days later, she ran the Providence Marathon, which coincidentally was the first marathon I ran (last year). Maple and I drove down to spectate with this, lovingly made by Maple and her friend Ella:

Then we went out to a vegan Asian restaurant for lunch. I had menu overload. It's pretty uncommon for me to be able to order anything off the entire menu. Here's maple enjoying her favorite - miso soup:

Then we got home and I made vegan cheese (and pizza):

For Mother's Day, Sean got me a purple iPod shuffle for running, and Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Kitchen cookbook. And Maple wrote me a cinquain!

She calls me Por-e-Por sometimes, I have no idea why. I was a little worried about the fact that when she thinks of me she thinks of shopping, but then she told me that those were supposed to be things she enjoyed doing with me.

Until next week, I hope you all have sweet moments and kick ass workouts.


  1. How fantastic you and Erin got the chance to meet up!!! I am hoping one of these days our two paths cross as well :) I love that your daughter has a nickname for you. Mine calls me "Moo Moo" ... no reason, other than just just decided to give me a nickname a long time ago and it stuck, haha

  2. I read bits and pieces of the China Study a while back and found it fascinating. I cut out meet from my diet a few years ago (pre MS diagnosis) because I seemed to have a hard time digesting it and didn't love it enough to suffer! I still eat some fish, but mostly a plant based diet. I believe what we put into our bodies is so important, not that I'm 100% good about what I eat, but I try. I cut out gluten about 8 weeks ago, but can't say I notice much difference, so I don't know if I will stick to this or not, but I do hear it is helpful for some people with MS.
    I'm so jealous that you and Erin got to meet up. I want to meet both of you in person, so I'll just pretend I was there with you, maybe someday...

  3. Erin is such a sweet person! I really wanted to go watch Providence this weekend. Loved reading your info on why you choose a plant-based diet. I have been playing around with my diet in preparation for my Ironman and am cutting out gluten to see if that helps reduce inflammation and so far so good. Hoping I see positive results on my upcoming runs.

  4. Christina - I LOVE Moo Moo. That's the best one I've ever heard. Does she still call you that? Maple told me last night that she made up that name when she was younger and wasn't sure how to spell Portia. Mystery solved.
    Beth - I love hearing that other MSers are experimenting with their diets. Let food be thy medicine! I am not convinced the gluten-free thing is essential for me either, so I'm just semi-avoiding it. Once I cut out processed foods, most of the gluten went bye-bye anyway. Now pretty much the only time I eat it is if I have a sprouted wheat bagel. I love those! And we will definitely meet up one of these days. NM is my 3rd favorite state after Utah and California!

  5. Hi Robin! I definitely think gluten is overused these days - it's in everything! I'm glad to hear you're feeling good without it, and I'm so looking forward to reading more about your Ironman training. You are such a rock star and hugely inspirational to newish runners like me.