The Glass Wall Mistake That Everyone Seems to Make (and How to Avoid It)

by Steven Wright

Man with face smashed against glass

Each week there is a theme in our consulting practice.  This past week the theme was loud and clear and I hope you can learn from it.  Here’s how almost all of my consults started.

Me:  “How have you been feeling?”

Becky:  “I’m frustrated and sad.  This last week has been awful.  My skin is breaking out, I can’t sleep and my energy is gone.  Not to mention my stools are super loose again.  I’m not sure what’s going on.  I think we need to make some changes…”

Me:  “Really, well how were you feeling the week before?”

Becky:  “I was feeling amazing!  Seriously, what we were doing was working so well.  It’s just not working now.  Well, I mean it was working until…”

What follows the until is a very common set of mistakes that leads to what I like to call the ‘Glass Wall Mistake’ of Healing.

How to Make Sure You Have a Setback

As the self-proclaimed king of setbacks, I feel like I should tell you exactly how to do it.  It’s actually wicked easy.

The very simple formula has one pre-requisite; be dedicated and working hard to get your health back (and it’s actually beginning to work).  At this point please follow these steps:

  1. Smile because you are feeling better
  2. Make a list of all the things you have been wanting to do now that you’re not sick
  3. Choose at least 2 (for best results 4) from the list and do them all in the same week

And BAM!  About 2 days later you’ll be in a full-fledged setback and maybe, if you really do it up, a flare.

Of course, no one really wants a setback.  So how does it actually happen?

The Real Life Mistake Pattern

This common mistake pattern is pretty easy to see in other people once you do it yourself, which is why after talking to 5 out of 8 clients I immediately knew the questions to ask to reveal this simple pattern.

Here’s how it works in real life:

You are making progress, the diet and supplements are working great, and you begin feeling better and better.  You start thinking, wow this might actually fix me!

With your newfound energy and mental clarity, you begin to dream about life before sickness.  It’s only natural after all this pain and suffering.  Then, sure enough you get invited out 2 times this weekend.  And you sign up for that new fancy gym in town, because you FINALLY feel like you can workout again.  What a great week it’s turning out to be!

Your exercise class is great, you’re making new friends and you have a few excursions this weekend.

It’s Saturday morning and after coffee with a friend you’re feeling awesome.  That night you’re feeling so good you don’t really hassle the waiter into making sure the food is perfect.  You feel too good and are laughing too much to be bothered by this.

And low and behold you don’t actually feel bad after dinner – Hooray!

The next day (Sunday), you go for a run and decide to add a few more foods into your diet.

By Monday, you’re in denial that your stools aren’t perfect and you go to the gym again.  Tuesday rolls around and it smacks you in the face.  You feel awful!

Has this story ever happened to you?

Why It’s Called ‘The Glass Wall Mistake’

I like to explain the story above using the following analogy…

You’re in your house working hard to get healthy.  You’re starting to feel great and you finally decide to re-emerge from your break from the real world because you feel so good.

You open the door and the sun is shining and the birds are singing.  You can’t take it any longer; you have to get out there.

So you take off sprinting right out into the sunshine and BOOM – you smack right into a glass wall just outside your door!

It hurts like hell and you feel like crap, so you crawl back into your house, sulking.

What is This Mysterious Glass Wall?

The glass wall that almost all of us sprint right into at some point is our upper health limit.

Over time, the glass wall will move further away from your house and one day disappear.  But for now it sets the limit of how far your newly discovered health can actually be pushed.

The cool thing is you can learn to see it now that you know it’s there.

That’s my hope in doing this post; I don’t want people sprinting into walls and causing setbacks.

How to Avoid This Mistake

Honestly, it’s very hard; the trick is to not be in a hurry to make up for lost time.

As you begin feeling better and better, make sure to ease back into your life.  Take it one week at a time.  Of course, get out of the house and be more social, but don’t expand your diet at the same time.

Sure, start going back to the gym, but not 7 days a week.

Most importantly, stick with the principles you’ve followed to get to feeling this good.

The hardest thing to do is WALK when your body, mind and heart are urging you to run.

But trust me, if you can remember to walk first, you’ll be sprinting in no time and you won’t hit any glass walls.

Who else has hit the wall?  Tell your story below to help others…

-Steve

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About the author

Steven Wright Steve Wright is a health engineer and author. In 2009, he reached a breaking point when IBS took over his life and the doctors didn't know how to help. Since then, he has transformed his health and started SCDLifestyle.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet Works

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Ramin April 10, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Overall I have definitely become better symptom wise with a SCD/FODMAP mixed diet and a recent colonoscopy has proven that too. However, I recently started taking some more vitamins and minerals (zink, magnesium, calcium and vitamin E) and some symptoms returned. I took them away and became better again, but on the one day I felt (relatively) good I had some homemade goat yogurt I got from a relative in Iran. It was made from grass-fed, free range animals (better than anything you can find in Sweden) so I figured it would be fine and that it’s good with some more probiotics other than the ones I take in capsules. Lo and behold I’m constipated again, which is really a shame since I think I could have benefited from the extra bacteria in the yogurt. It’s strange though since I seem to be able to eat butter (and lots of it) and cheese without those issues. Today I haven’t eaten any yogurt though so I hope it will become better tomorrow or in the next couple of days.

But anyway, thanks for all the help and info on this site. It’s good to hear of other peoples success and I hope that I can get there someday soon. I have Crohn’s in my colon and just a year ago it was completely inflamed with some bleeding here and there. I recently had a colonoscopy and now there’s only the small part in the upper left side that’s “a bit” inflamed. I’ve gone from going to the bathroom 8-12 times a day with burning loose stool to only about 3 times in the morning and at noon with pretty much solid (but not “normally” formed) stool. I consider that a big success though I must admit I’m a bit concered it won’t last and become fully healed. Maybe that’s just me being afraid of getting let down since I’ve tried so many medications without success and now that something works it may stop or not go all the way. But I’ll continue with my diet and hope for the best! I’ll also continue checking out this website for inspiration and tips. Thanks so much you guys!

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Sarah Burke April 10, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Oh boy, was this a hard article to swallow. As I’ve been symptom free for two months (thanks to SCD Lifestyle and your amazing online book) things have been great! Along comes an Anniversary gettaway weekend which resulted in unusual amounts of eating out, drinking wine and modified bed and breakfast meals…then, since I’m feeling so good but am afraid to jump into my usual form of fitness (running) I decide now would be a good time to pick up on a 15 year dream of rowing for a crew team. I thought it would be a good low impact exercise (and twice a week practices would be great incentive to keep going). But a couple of weeks of not enough sleep along with the above factors and I find my body starting to act unusual and I wonder why? Until this article came across my path. Uh oh…Guess I better slow myself down a little before my face hits that glass wall full impact.

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Nicole April 10, 2014 at 7:55 pm

I love this article & it made me laugh so much!
Oh did I find the glass wall & exactly how you described it, slammed face first many, many times! Yet 2 years on I know the wall exist and thankfully know the limits & have a great support team who see the warning signs. I look forward to the day it goes but I always have to remind myself that I’m so much better than at the start, & it’s better to be walking than crawling & whimpering in the corner. Thanks for a great article!!!

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Brianna Seymour April 11, 2014 at 3:05 am

This article happened to pop into my inbox just as I was hating myself for relapsing and falling off my safe-food wagon. My diet is so incredibly limited (pureed carrots, peas, watermelon, blueberries, scrambled eggs, cucumber) that leaving my house and leaving my 3oz size portions of these foods is very difficult. I feel like I can’t leave my house for more than 2 hours at a time without carrying a cooler with my little prepared food cups. Traveling has become a nightmare, and even driving around town doing errands has proven to be challenging. Often I find myself 30 miles from my home (I live in the mountains) and am forced to make poor eating choices out of necessity. And strange how quickly I can forget spending an entire day curled up on my bathroom floor due to poor food choices when a glass of Oregon Pinot Noir is sitting in front of me. But, how quickly after drinking that am I back curled up on the bathroom floor again. A vicious cycle indeed!

Thank you both for sending out these daily emails, articles, tips and encouragement. From your articles, book, and radio shows I have learned so much about my food allergies that I never would have guessed to be part of my life long health problems. Although learning about how limited my diet must be has been depressing, it has also been a relief. Finally, answers to all of my health frustrations. So, thank you both. I struggle on an hourly basis, but reading articles like this one gives me encouragement to stay strong and stay on the diet. I just need to remember that good eating choices = more fun skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking and traveling!

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Kevin April 11, 2014 at 8:55 am

Hi Steve,

This article couldn’t have come at a better time. Truly ironic. Last nov I started with swollen lingual tonsils which turned out to be lpr symptoms. It took me about six weeks to self diagnose those symptoms after several specialist visits with no answers and about 4000 dollars in medical bills. I live and work in Singapore. Anyways, by that time I stressed myself out and ended up with a gastritis diagnosis. I have never had digestion issues up until this point in my life. I am now 33. I was prescribed antibiotics which I never take. However I was desperate and wanted to rid the inflammation on my lingual tonsil. This inevitably worsened a candida problem which I feel is to blame for my digestive issues. Late dec I started to get better and was set back by food poisoning. Feb I was setback by a fast for a candida diet. 3 weeks ago I was feeling great. I went on a two week vacation and started eating way too many sweets, drank some beers with no ill effects. My last day I was eating some delicious quiche on the way to the airport. A rash broke out on my arms and I knew I went overboard. This week my gastritis has returned. I tried eating pizza last night and today followed by terrible reflux. Needless to say I hit that wall hard. The only difference is that I don’t feel upset about this setback because I know there is hope and I brought it on myself. My weakness is sweets. I also love to eat. I have lost 15kg in 7 months and I am around my normal weight. The scd diet seems like my only option. However I have found that spelt doesn’t bother me. Do you have any knowledge of the use of SF722 for lowering candida? I have read that it is effective but it doesn’t seem like it is commonly used. I am not keen on using anything that kills good bacteria.

Thanks,

Kevin

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Adrienne April 11, 2014 at 11:46 pm

What a great analogy. It happens all the time, as soon as you are feeling better, you forget or loosen the rules and right back to square one.

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John April 12, 2014 at 2:44 am

Great analogy! Very illustrative way of explaining that very real phenomonen. Love the insight and modesty. Thanks

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Payton April 15, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Great analogy Steven. I went to your lecture at the conference last weekend and really enjoyed it, definitely one of my favorites. I’m new to your blog but the few articles I’ve read through have been impressively relevant and insightful. Can’t wait to get caught up.. -Payton

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Payton April 15, 2014 at 7:34 pm

It was also really nice meeting you..

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Daniella April 17, 2014 at 4:54 pm

This article came at the perfect time for me. I literally hit the wall yesterday. After a few months of tackling leaky gut a bit half-heartedly I was feeling pretty good. Until a work conference last week where I had a few sandwiches and one night of drinking. and I mean a lot. felt fine for a few days but it caught up to me with headaches, joint aches, fatigue and a mental funk where I want to cry or scream all day. The worst thing about it is, its totally self-inflicted! I know I shouldn’t do this but trying to fix leaky gut is hard and the notion that it will take up to 2 years is seriously depressing. I just sometimes feel like I need to cut loose! Does anyone else have the same frustrations and feel like they are missing out?

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Peace April 21, 2014 at 2:06 am

hmmm….doing too much too soon, how to pace oneself?

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Marianne April 22, 2014 at 11:13 pm

A friend just sent me this link and it could not have come at a better time. I started a very bland eating regime and today was the first day I have felt well for months. I am gluten and lactose intolerant but after eliminating these culprits I was still lethargic, depressed, multiple bathroom visits with loose stools. What was going on? I self diagnosed ulcerative colitis ( and it is confirmed in my DNA report as a high risk, along with celiac disease). But How did I tip my immune system over? I’m 55 and enjoyed good health but Three years ago I caught a bad flu in Asia, which became bronchitis, which became pneumonia. It was highly resistant to antibiotics so the last therapy was very strong and I have since been told that it was probably the cause of my auto immune issues. From the point until today I have not felt well. But I feel I’m on the right track now and this post was a timely reminder to take it easy as I recover. I’m going to check in on this site regularly. It’s been powerful good to know I’m not alone. Thanks heaps!

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