For those of you who know me, have trained with me, competed with me, or seen my videos, what I’m about to tell you might be a little hard to believe.
For the last few years, I’ve felt like I got run over by a truck every morning when I woke up…like having a bad hangover every morning without the headache.
Every night, when I’d wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, I’d have to walk around with my eyes closed trusting my memory of the room. If I opened my eyes, everything started spinning and I’d start to fall or run into things.
I had almost constant pains up and down the left side of my body…ankle, knee, IT band, hip, sciatic, shoulder, etc.
I was plagued by injury after injury and sickness after sickness, all the while gradually getting weaker and weaker, regardless of how well I ate and how healthy I was living.
I kept figuring out ways to compensate for individual problems I was having that affected shooting, work, family, and the rest of life, but I was still getting worse overall.
Between October of last year and February of this year, I don’t think I went more than a week without getting sick with stuff like ear infection, sinus infection, upper respiratory infection, bronchitis, and even pneumonia.
In late January, my wife and kids picked me up from the airport after SHOT Show. I hadn’t told her how bad I felt while I was in Vegas, but within a few minutes of leaving the airport, my wife looked at me and asked if we needed to stop by the ER instead of going home. I was in very bad shape. My O2 levels were in the low to mid 80s and I ended up having to use O2 multiple times per day for the next several days.
Fortunately, I had hit bottom.
The root cause of the problem was ridiculously simple. It’s actually kind of embarrassing. About 30% of the population stops metabolizing vitamin B correctly between 35 and 45 years of age. B vitamins affect adrenal function (energy), quality of sleep, immune function, memory, and all sorts of neurological functions…in my case, balance+vision, vertigo, and more.
I am one of that 30%. And once I started taking a methalated form of B vitamins, it was like someone flipped a switch. I recovered from the pneumonia, stopped getting sick, ALL of my joint pain went away, my vestibular and visual systems started working correctly and working together, vertigo went away, I wake up refreshed every morning, and more. As different systems and organs came back online, I literally felt like a new man. Now…just over 2 months later, I’m trail running 1-2 times per day and feeling better than I have in years.
Basically, my body stopped breaking down B vitamins in their natural form, so I take B vitamins that have been pre-mixed with the enzymes that my body is lacking so that I’ll still benefit from them.
As I started telling people about what happened, I have been amazed at how many people I know have either gone through the same thing or had the same problem and didn’t know why. One friend was literally bed-ridden before figuring out that it was something as simple as being deficient in B vitamins.
Now I’m no doctor. I’m not giving medical advice. I’m PURPOSELY not mentioning any specific products that I’m using. Our society and government has gone off the rails in this area of our lives, and we all suffer from not being able to safely talk about what does and doesn’t work. If you think you’ve got a similar problem, ask your medical professional to order a blood panel for you that tests your vitamin and mineral levels.
There WAS some really cool stuff that came out of my troubles. I was determined to keep improving as a shooter and I was also determined to protect my family, no matter how sick, weak, and broken I was.
This led me down a few rabbit holes that ended up being amazing.
Until I figured out that B vitamins were the problem, I had to keep learning how to compensate for the consequences of having low vitamin B levels.
One of these consequences was that my vestibular (inner ear/balance) and visual systems weren’t in sync. My eyes would say that straight ahead was straight ahead. My vestibular system would say that 10-15 degrees to the side was straight ahead. My brain would have to constantly decide which system to listen to and which to suppress.
Other times my eyes would say that the horizon was level but my vestibular system would say that some crooked angle was level.
As a result, I lost balance and ran into things more often than I wanted. It’s very stressful and resource intensive for the brain to constantly have to decide which of your senses to listen to when they aren’t synched up.
I found that sometimes I could point shoot perfectly and other times I’d shoot tight groups that were several inches off, depending on whether my brain happened to be listening to my eyes or my ears.
I had to dig deep to figure out how to calibrate both my eyes and inner ears and then how to synchronize them together so I could keep shooting at the level I was.
At this time, the full results of that research have been limited to close friends and the people who attended the $2,000/person live training that I did with SEALed Mindset last fall.
But several of the drills came from Drs. Eric Cobb and Matt Bush from Z-Health. You can see some of them at www.ShootersVisionGym.com and get some GREAT vision/balance/vestibular training there. When my B vitamin levels were really low, I’d have to do these drills several times per day to stay calibrated and synchronized. Now I only need to do them once or twice a week.
Just last week, a friend of mine had been having bad back pain for the whole week…I ran him through 5 minutes of visual/vestibular exercises from the Balance Gym video at www.ShootersVisionGym.com and he was able to go home and then comfortably go on a 25 mile bike ride. A lot of it seems too simple and easy to believe, but just try it…it’s too simple and easy NOT to try :)
The theory behind it is that when your brain is constantly struggling to figure out whether to listen to your visual or vestibular system, it’s really stressful. And the more you are in motion, the higher the stress level. Until the stress level gets so high that your brain yells, “STOP!!” It does this by creating as much phantom pain as necessary to get you to stop moving. This phantom pain is in addition to whatever other pain you have. When you get the eyes and inner ears synched up, the phantom pain that the brain created to get you to stop moving isn’t necessary anymore.
I share one of the drills in the 21 Day Quickstart program that comes with Dry Fire Training Cards that walks shooters through the process of improving 300% as a shooter in 21 days. I encourage you to sign up for it >HERE< but here’s a version of the drill:
Look at a light switch.
Bring the thumb on your dominant hand up between your dominant eye and the switch and then lower it back down, 5 times in a row.
Shut your eyes and raise your thumb to where you think it’s between your dominant eye and the switch again.
Open your eyes.
If your thumb is not lined up with your dominant eye when you open your eyes, consider doing the drill several times again while keeping your non-dominant eye closed.
One other thing to be aware of is that if your vestibular system (inner ear) and visual system aren’t both calibrated and synchronized with each other, you’ll consistently line up your sights to the right or left of the target and it will take longer to get dialed in.
Here’s a hack/cheat for calibrating your eyes and inner ears that you won’t find anywhere else.
If, when you open your eyes and you’re consistently aimed to the exact same spot, but it’s to the left of your target, tap on the bone ½”-1” in front of your ear canal, between your ear canal and your eye and right above your jaw muscle on the right side of your face and repeat the drill. You can also shut your eyes and snap your finger by your right ear, but I prefer tapping the bone. If you’re off to the right, simply tap the bone on the left side of your face.
This is a drill that functional neurologists use with soldiers who have PTSD combined with head trauma (concussions, but not necessarily TBI) to re-calibrate their visual and vestibular systems.
Take a few seconds now, try it, and let me know what you found by commenting below.
I’ve found that 10-20% of shooters are off at any given time and, when they are, it’s MUCH harder for them to point shoot accurately. But 5-10 seconds of self-diagnostics and another 5-10 seconds of tapping and re-testing and accuracy shoots through the roof.
And to think…I never would have figured all of that out if I hadn’t been sick :)
Thoughts? Comments? Please share by commenting below.