Giving it a shot: First hand account of a new wellness bootcamp

by Lucy Guthrie Beighle

When my kids were little and they’d say something outrageous, I’d tease them and say, “Hmm, that sounds dubious!” They thought that was hilarious, and as I result I had a 2- and a 5-year-old who used the word “dubious” like it was as common as saying “macaroni.”

A sweet memory, for sure, but one that is symbolic of my personality. I’m a doubting Thomas. A skeptic.
Why am I sharing this? Well, my point is that I went into this assignment totally skeptical. But I’m writing it today completely convinced.

Let me start from the beginning.

In January, Carol Bridges, a dear friend who is a doctor, wanted to tell me about a program she was starting. She was thrilled about it.

I was dubious.

This program, she explained, was based on more than a year of results she recorded of patients who came in with numerous maladies such as pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, joint pain and high blood pressure. Rather than giving them a prescription, she offered them another option: Try an “adjustment” to their diet for 30 days, and come back for retesting.
This “adjustment” was based on a book called Whole30, which advocates a diet that eliminates the most common “craving-inducing, blood sugar disrupting, gut-damaging, inflammatory” food groups for a full 30 days. This means no sugar (gasp!), grains (gasp!), alcohol (gasp!) or dairy (gasp!) for a month.

The results she saw from the patients who tried her suggestion were tremendous, and in some cases were better than if she had put patients on medication. Cholesterol numbers dropped significantly. High blood pressure improved drastically. Triglyceride levels went down. And the amount of weight lost, which was the added bonus, and not the purpose — was pretty impressive.

Because of the positive results in her clinic, Carol decided to try it herself. And again, the results she saw, and felt, were great. She was sleeping better, she had more energy, her moods were consistent, and she had no morning aches and pains. She then asked her employees to be guinea pigs and got the same results: in “before and after” blood tests, every one of them had improved in at least a couple of the
categories (blood pressure, total cholesterol, HDL and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, weight and body mass index).

Based on all of this, she decided to start a six-week “BootCamp.” The BootCamp includes the before and after blood tests and a weekly class, which serves as a support group and teaches the science behind the program. It also includes mini cooking classes and samples of Whole30 recipes. Anyone could do this program, she explained, and anyone could see benefits.

My interest was peaked.

So, I did the BootCamp. I told everyone I was doing it for “research” purposes as I was sure I was perfectly healthy. But my blood tests came back and I found out I had high cholesterol that had snuck up on me. Not worryingly so, but high enough that I was no longer in that “normal” category.

In class I learned about triglycerides and cortisol, systemic inflammation and epigenetics. I learned the science behind why the program works, and works well.

We heard testimonials from people who were part of the original research, who had accepted her challenge of trying a change in diet for 30 days; they had avoided having to go on medication and they were thrilled.

We heard from a nutritionist who would offer recipes and weekly plans, suggestions for holiday meals that fit within the program, and samples of compliant food she’d made.

We heard from a local grocery store with a section dedicated specifically to the program. And a butcher shop whose cured meats are compliant. We heard about a local food delivery service that delivers compliant meals within the area, and restaurants that offer compliant items on their menus.

And we did it. Young and old, fit and not-so-much, for many different reasons. Some people did it as they had been advised by their doctor. Some had joint pain (sugar, we soon learned, is a major cause of inflammation). Some, like me, had high cholesterol. Some had a history of heart disease, or stroke, or diabetes and were determined not to go down that path. The reasons were many, but we were all on the same journey.

I had the opportunity to talk with a handful of participants throughout the program, many who fit into the “senior” age group, and there were common themes.

A lack of feeling deprived was one. Although there are definite restrictions, there also are infinite options, and feeling hungry was not an issue. Second, once the first week or so was over, people felt a sort of “reset,” and started feeling better. Whether that was from elimination of joint pain, sleeping better or losing weight, people universally began to feel better. And third, by the end when we got our
results back, some participants’ blood pressure levels were down by 20 points, or their cholesterol by 60 points. Most, if not all, had lost weight. Triglyceride levels were down. It worked for us.

I am happy to report I no longer have high cholesterol. I dropped my LDL cholesterol (the bad one, so I’m told) into the “close to ideal” range. And I feel better. I didn’t even know I felt bad to start with, but all of a sudden I wasn’t so creaky in the morning. And I don’t need an afternoon coffee to keep me going. And I sleep like a log. And my clothes fit better.

My dubiousness has begun to abate.

My friend Carol, I’m sure, would cringe at my use of the word maladies and my lack of scientific support, but this is my story not hers, and my medical knowledge stops after I adhere a Band-Aid. I’m not touting this as a medical fix-all.

But I will tout is a vote of full confidence. I tried it out, and it worked for me.

Lucy Guthrie Beighle is a 40-something-year-old woman and writes from Missoula. She lives with her teenagers Calvin and Allie, and Portuguese water dog, Frances, who was not harmed during the experimental phase of the BootCamp. Nor were the teenagers, no matter what they tell you.

About the BootCamp:
Carol Bridges M.D. started CostCare in 2007, which now includes four walk-in clinics and two family practice locations in Missoula and Helena. The family practice is dedicated to helping patients reach and maintain their optimal health through state of the art health and nutritional practices. To help achieve that goal, Bridges started CostCare BootCamp in 2017. The next BootCamp runs on Wednesdays, from Aug. 30 to Oct. 4, at the Missoula Salvation Army Building and costs $350. For more information on CostCare and the BootCamp go to costcare.com/bootcamp-page.

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