By Jamie Stelter
I’m writing this at 11 o’clock in the morning, just when my work day is winding down. I’ve already had two meals before some (rather lucky) people have even had one. They’re lucky, of course, because they get to sleep in, something I know little about.
I am off to the races every morning as soon as my alarm goes off at 3:24 a.m.; I’m the traffic reporter on New York’s local news channel NY1 so I’m in the office at 4, on the air at 5 and from there it’s a dizzying array of rail and road updates, Twitter checks, lip gloss touch-ups and emails until I’m done at noon.
There isn’t much time for food amid all of that, so I bring breakfast and lunch with me everyday. It literally has to fuel me through the morning — so nothing processed, heavy, or caffeinated — because I can’t afford to be weighed or slowed down. I’ve never liked the term diet; eating healthy isn’t a quick fix or a strategy. It’s a way of life.
But my schedule isn’t the only thing I’m contending with: I have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the lining of the joints. I was diagnosed in 2003 when my fingers were red, swollen and so tender you couldn’t come near me with a ten-foot pole. I spent the next five years in chronic pain until a Chinese acupuncturist told me if I wanted to feel better I needed to cut the meat and dairy from my diet. I scoffed at the thought: me — vegan? No way. What I’m eating is making my joints hurt? Not a chance. But when everyone else was out partying that following New Year’s Eve (my birthday, to boot) I was keeled over in pain, in tears. I woke up the next morning and decided it was time to go vegan.
What did I have to lose? I went all in, right away — no meat, no dairy of any kind — and I decided to stop drinking alcohol, too. Within days my pain went from a 10 to a 0. I was making solid fists and opening jars and doors for the first time in years. Three months later, I ran the NYC Half Marathon.
Fast forward another five years and I’m now experimenting with Paleo eating after a new doctor (who specializes in integrative and functional medicine) told me that it may provide relief to the nagging arthritis pain in my ankle. I haven’t had any grains or sugar in a month except where it naturally occurs, like in fruit.
I’ve always been a clean eater and a fruit and vegetable lover, but knowing that other foods are potentially harming my body, slowing it down and causing pain in my joints makes me love nature’s candy even more. Are there days when I’m slugging around and would love nothing more than an egg and cheese sandwich from my local bodega? Sure; I’m only human. But like I said, eating healthy is a choice — a choice for a better, stronger life. And good food choices always beget more good food choices.
Like yourself and many others in Joe’s community, I juice a lot. I make shakes and smoothies almost everyday. They’re super easy for breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack and you can cram so many fruits and vegetables into those guys.
So here’s what a general day in my life looks like and how I’m able to maintain my RA, and stay energized after a 3:24 am wake up call.
A Day in the Life:
3:24 am: wake up!
4:00 am: arrive at NY1 studios
5:30 am: start drinking my protein shake that I made the night before (2 scoops cherry inflammacore, 1 tsp L-glutamine, 1 tsp maca powder, 16 oz water, mixture of whatever berries I have on hand) I sip this slowly between traffic reports so it lasts about an hour or two
8:00 am: eat a banana for a mid-morning snack
10:30 am: arugula, fennel, grapefruit and pine nuts salad for lunch
3:00 pm: second protein shake (same as the morning one – this is also when I make my shake for the next morning)
8-9 pm: bedtime zzzzzz
Learn more about Jamie Stelter.