Essential: Why You Should Try ONE Thing at a Time (or You’ll Never Know What Works and What Doesn’t)

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Do this and you will save time and money.

In fact it’s arguably THE most important realisation you can have when you are trying to figure out exactly what works for you.

When you first get a diagnosis for any kind of medical disorder (especially one that is alien to you) it can be overwhelming.

The temptation is to dive down online wormholes and seek out anything which offers a glimmer of hope. Anything for some pain relief.

Different foods you can try or eliminate… stretches and exercises… lifestyle changes…

And then there are the shiny, quick fixes you’ll find in some forums and alternative health blogs:

Old school medicines… emerging medicines… vitamins and supplements that promise the earth…

The temptation (and I speak from hard-won experience!) is to try and deploy everything at once.

You are so focused and motivated to make the pain go away that you don’t want to leave anything to chance.

This can lead to a kind of scatter-gun approach and before you know it 15 different miracle tinctures and vitamins have arrived at your door.

There is some kind of internal logic here. You’re banking on at least one of them working so you just go all in.

We just want the pain to go away and will try anything to reach that goal.

The problem is this technique is the opposite of you need to do and will hold you back. Here’s why:

1. Do this and you’ll have no idea what is working (and what isn’t)

Let’s say you take 3 new supplements at once.

If you experience any kind of improvement over the following days, weeks or months how will you know no which of the supplements caused it?

Was it supplement A, B or C? Maybe two of them had a positive impact and one did nothing.

Supplements and vitamins can be effective in some people but have no effect on others. The truth is very few have had any consistent success in clinical trials.

That’s why it’s really important to take each new thing you try on it’s own. Monitor it for a while before adding anything else.

This is the only you can know, without any doubt, the direct impact it is having on you. You can be safe in the knowledge that any effect (or lack of effect) is not being influenced by anything else that you’ve changed in your diet, vitamin or exercise regime.

2. You won’t know if something is making you worse

Everyone is different.

What works for one person may not work for you. We all have different genetic makeups, gut health and microbiomes and this can have a dramatic impact on the efficacy treatments we try.

Moreover what could be the fine or helpful for one person could actually have a negative impact on someone else.

I took a well-known supplement which is supposed to help improve bone health, and no doubt would for many people.

But within just a few hours I found that my ankylosing spondylitis pain significantly worsened and I experienced a flare.

How did I know it was the supplement? Because this was the only change to my daily regime. Because I was testing this vitamin on it’s own it occurred to me that I should go to the company website and look at the ingredients in more detail (the information on the back of the packet is not always comprehensive) and sure enough there it was.

It turns out this particular vitamin used potato starch as a binder ingredient. Starch is something that seems to dramatically inflame my disorder and I had inadvertently swallowed a Trojan Horse bullet of the stuff directly into my gut.

If I hadn’t been testing this supplement on its own I would have had no idea what was causing my discomfort and may well have assumed it was a something else entirely.

3. You will save time and money

All these lotions, potions , dietary changes and supplements are expensive!

When you start out you might not care. It may feel like throwing everything off your condition will solve the problem in double quick time.

In reality you’ll end up spending a lot more money and wasting a lot more time than if you take the methodical one at a time approach.

And if something doesn’t work, that’s great!

You haven’t wasted any more time on it and you won’t waste any more money on it so you can take it off your list. Now you can move onto the next thing.

4. Keep a spreadsheet to see which changes have the greatest impact

The easiest way to keep track of everything and ensure you’re getting the best results is to make a simple spreadsheet in Excel, Google Sheets, or whatever you feel comfortable using.

It might feel pointless at first but trust me, within a few days this will really start to pay dividends.

Here’s what to do:

Put a list of headings of factors you want to mark up at the top. Also include the date at the top left.

Be as detailed as you can.

Have a separate heading for what you had for breakfast… what you had for lunch… what you had for dinner (obviously you can simplify by writing ‘Breakfast’, ‘Lunch’, ‘Dinner’).

Include what you had for snacks… what your mood was like… how much exercise you took that day.

List any supplements you were taking.

Most importantly list your pain level and if you experience multiple types of pain have a column for each.

Include as many headings as you can and don’t worry if you don’t have enough at first. You can have them as you go along.

I found that the more you do it the more details you’ll get and you’ll end up with more headings in no time.

I have one column at the end called Detective.

This is my favourite. Under this column each day I enter my notes on any findings I may have made or potential connections.

For example, do I think that my rib pain that day was caused by the dairy I had at breakfast?

Am I feeling stiffer than usual because I didn’t go for my morning exercise? Am I feeling relatively pain free today because of new supplement or medication I’m taking?

You can put whatever you want in the detective box and you’ll find overtime that it helps you stay on top of your progress.

Over time, keeping a spreadsheet will help you spot patterns emerge.

Eventually you’ll be able to figure out exactly what is working for you and what isn’t.

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