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Tony Marzo was lying in a hospital bed in severe discomfort, asking himself, “Why am I here?” That was in February despite already leading an active lifestyle by riding his bike to work.

Marzo is a 40-year-old executive chef in Vancouver who also loves hiking and power walking.

His answer to falling ill would be revealed later while on his road to recovery.

Marzo’s declining health began in January, with pain in his shoulder and numbness running down his arm. 

He worked through his discomfort until one day while holding a large stack of plates and along his way back to his work station, he had twisted slightly, then crunch. 

The pain was immense and it turned out he had ruptured his disc between the C7 and T1 vertebrae.

In an email interview, Marzo shared his road to recovery which included changing his eating habits.

To help treat his injury, Marzo had an epidural steroid shot that cleared out the split nucleus and gave some much-needed relief to the nerve. 

The recovery was slow and idle. He said, “I was in so much pain medication and spending so much time in and out of the hospital that I was constantly sick. I spent more time on my back then I care to remember.”

Marzo explains, “I was at rock bottom. This was a time to assess and make some changes. I began to fill my time reading and researching about food in a natural and holistic way. I started seeing a naturopath again and began a regimented diet. All my podcasts started to be about foods that healed and positive thinking. I started a 90-day challenge that really put all this reading and research into practice. It explained so much about our eating habits: why we crave certain foods, why we shouldn’t eat other foods and many important factors that play a role in weight gain, inflammation, heartburn, and numerous other ailments.”

During his 90-day challenge, Marzo lost about 20 lbs. and his biggest improvement was inflammation reduction and no more heartburn – weight loss was an added bonus. 

He said, “I have always had heartburn since my early 20s, almost on a daily basis. With these changes, I have been heartburn free and it feels fantastic.”

Further to his changed eating habits, he adds, “When I am cooking at home, the name of the game is variety. I choose as many different vegetables as possible. I am quite strict on what I am eating at the moment. So no dairy, grains, wheat, sugar, fruit, nothing artificial or unpronounceable and no beans.” 

He continues “This may seem difficult to many people but I find it very easy. I use to have such a hard time doing groceries and choosing dinner this takes out all the thinking and debating. 

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Then I just get home and cook a bunch of vegetables and a nice piece of protein. Soon I will be heading to a more normal diet but at the moment I am enjoying a tonne of vegetables and a large variety of meats and fish. I am sticking to grass-fed, organic meat and poultry and wild fish.”

These days, Marzo is working out three to four times a week that see’s him incorporates light cardio, leg stretching and core strengthening.

He said, “As much as I love eating pizza and sipping wine I really do not want to feel ill again. I always thought my regular go-to weight was around 185 lbs but in two months of eating properly, I lost 20 lbs without any working out (obviously due to injury). I maintain the same amount of energy all day. I sleep better and longer and the inflammation surrounding the tight muscles and joints has nearly disappeared. It definitely is helping with my recovery as well as improving my mental state.”

Christine Blanchette is the host and producer of Run With It, a monthly running, fitness and health program on Run With It YouTube and also on Twitter @christineruns.

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