Tag Archives: aip challenge

Another autoimmune flare; another reset – The AIP Challenge & the challenges that led me back here

15 Jun


First of all, let me back up to 2015 when I my health started slowly declining and my symptoms gradually were increasing in number or intensity. And it was hard to recognize this at the time because I had been learning to accept what IS vs freaking out over my ever-changing state due to the unpredictability and randomness of autoimmune disease. I was telling myself things like:  This is just temporary. Breathe through and endure. Tomorrow is a new day. Healing means one step forward and 10 steps back sometimes. And I was “OK” with it. Until I was gearing up to drive to Denver for the 2015 FABlogCon – Food Allergy Bloggers Conference. It was then, that it really hit me. I was so low in energy that just packing was draining me. And it took everything I had (with a lot of help from my amazing, supportive partner) just to get me to Denver. And once there, as excited as I was to be surrounded by so many like-minded, compassionate people in a place where everyone was advocating for the very things I was passionate about, I could barely muster up the physical energy to get out of the bed in the hotel room, and take the very easy ride down the elevator to the events a few floors below. It could not have been any more easy to navigate. But my physical body was drained. And my mental capacity was not even functional. I had to put on the best face I could to muster through such a wonderful event when I was just not feeling even close to optimal. I had inflammation so bad that I had to borrow boots from a friend that were two sizes bigger than my normal size, and I busted out the maternity /tunic dress options that I had in the pile to give away for my daily attire. Thank goodness I had those still. That swelling wasn’t just inconvenient and unsightly. It was painful. My entire body felt like it weighed a million pounds and had been beaten and bruised repeatedly. I was having to face the fact that this was not just temporary. And it was not something I could tolerate anymore. I had somehow gone backwards, even after my very clean diet (and what I felt was a healthy lifestyle). I had been eating basically paleo (somewhat primal – as I would have something with rice flour in it maybe 1-2 times /month). As I mentioned, my old (& some new) symptoms had surfaced during 2015. And by November, it really was painfully obvious that I was not bouncing back.

Enter the Autoimmune Protocol AIP and Wahls Protocol .  I had this on my back burner of tricks to pull out just in case I ever hit what seemed to be rock bottom again. But I was so convinced (I had to be hopeful and confident) that I would never need to go this route. But alas, as soon as we returned home from the conference I prepared the pantry (gave away all non AIP things), started working on my meal plans, and mental preparation for what I was embarking upon. I went at this process the same way I did with my first few Elimination diets that were suggested to me (& guided by) my functional/integrative MDs. And then how I begrudgingly leaped into the GAPS (Gut & Psychology Syndrome) Diet full force right before what used to be our annual trip to Austin for South By Southwest. I was no stranger to this. So the process itself was not as daunting this time. But the reality that my body clearly was still not healing, and was fighting against me this entire time was emotionally devastating.

It took three months for me to see/ feel any true results with this version of AIP. I felt worse before I felt better. I had to remove caffeine (which I was only a one Chai tea per day drinker). But that was brutal, as I work a very early morning shift for work. So the first month was not pleasant due to that. But then the following two months I had glimmers of feeling a little better, or at least different. But definitely a ton of feeling resentful towards people who were eating stuff I could not. And the fact that I was working SO hard to heal, and yet I was seemingly getting nothing in return. But as I said, around the 90 day mark I finally felt tangible results. I woke up one day, and simply got out of bed. I had not done that in nearly a year. I did not struggle to lift my head. My arms did not feel bruised and weighted down. And my body felt somewhat lighter and more mobile. This was true progress. This type of protocol is not meant to be permanent. But the length of time that it will take for each person to see/feel improvement will vary a lot. We are all at different stages in our illnesses. And we are also so bio-individual in what makes each of our bodies work or shut down. So for me, clearly 90 days was some type of milestone. But it was still not even close to what I remembered as “normal” (whatever that is).  So I soldiered on. And by the 9th month, I was definitely no longer as inflamed. And my headaches were long gone. But I was now feeling other symptoms I was not used to. I could not seem to get enough energy to go to yoga anymore. I was having brain fog and cognitive issues. My days consisted of work, meal prep, and sleep. That was all I could do. I started questioning why I was still not feeling OK. And my Naturopathic Doctor and I both knew the answer once I buckled down and documented my food intake in a food diary. I had gotten too lax in my version of AIP. I was still following the protocol in the sense of removing all of the inflammatory foods. But I had lost my steam on incorporating variety, and making sure that I was getting ALL of the different nutrients. And since I had been doing the protocol for so long, I had also become  deficient in things due to going months without eating things like eggs (which for me personally were a great source of nourishment). So the decision was made to do reintroductions based on my body needing nutrients fast. This helped. And I started feeling better immediately upon adding organic, pastured eggs.

There have been a handful of ups and downs since then, along with various transitions based on my own individual needs for AIP. However, those reintros and adjustments started 11 months ago. And now I am back to having some reversal in progress. I have been careful as always to not immediately jump to the fear of this being a full on flare, or a reason to make a change. But like last time, I am having to admit to myself that inflammation with severe edema and moderate pain has been increasing at such a gradual rate that I now need to address it. This was most obvious the day before we left for Paleo f(x) in Austin when I was hobbling around. It felt like my feet were just crushed with bruises. I had to go shoe shopping at a specialty shoe store the night before our trip, only to find out that I was now at an even bigger shoe size than before. My own shoes had been strangling my feet again. In the past 10 years, I have gone from a 6.5 narrow in some shoes, now all of the way to an 8.5. This swelling is not limited to my feet. It’s pretty much a below the waist only swelling. I had also again had to borrow leggings two sizes up from a friend (thank you to those who help supply my ever-changing wardrobe needs). And I had been smart enough to hold onto my larger sized, soft, flowy mumu tunics from the last time this happened.

So the universe made sure to lead me back to where I needed to be. And this time without the stress of planning my meals. I will not have to go to the grocery store. And I will not risk becoming malnourished this time either. A locally based paleo food delivery company, Evolve Paleo , is launching an AIP Challenge. And I am going to take that challenge. I am not concerned about how to go about the protocol this time. And I am not having to add extra stress to my life (which is another component of why I have been unable to fully heal). With this challenge, someone else is handling all of the details. All I have to do is eat the food. This could not have come around at a better time. I needed a break in the rigor of what it takes to start and stay on a wellness program of any kind. I needed a break from what has now been years of having to mentally concern myself about my next meal. It’s taxing, and not at all conducive to healing. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe making those changes is the best thing you can do for yourself. But it truly is a huge undertaking. And if you are already compromised, it can be counterproductive to your healing process simply due to the stress it can cause, and the energy it takes to persevere.

So my mind, body, and spirit can finally do a safer version of AIP that will be right for where I am today. I tried this on my own last time. And while I reaped so many benefits, I know now that I needed help with this process. I needed to stay on track, and focus on getting three different types of vegetables within the nine servings I was trying to get each day. It became too easy to just eat the same thing over and over. This time I won’t suffer that same fate. I have my AIP Challenge team on board to keep me true to the most healing version of this protocol. I am curious to see how much easier it will be this time around. And most importantly by removing the stress that I was putting on myself with meal planning, preparation, and the constant mental exhaustion of worrying about what my next meal would be, I am hopeful that this AIP Challenge will offer me more longstanding and tangible progress.

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