For over 25-years, I suffered in silence from health complications related to severe autoimmune disease. Over 5-years ago, I completely removed gluten, dairy and soy from my diet; I also made the discovery that I had Celiac Disease. In 2014, I took my nutritional journey a step further and removed the other major allergens (sugar, grains, legumes, corn, eggs, caffeine and alcohol) and monitored my intake of nightshades and goitrogens for 10-months. I felt incredible and managed to run two of my fastest half-marathons while eating this way. After my last race of the season and the passing of my sister that October, life started to fall apart and I found myself completely lost.
Coping with grief gave me very little bandwidth and self-care, including decisions about how to fuel my body, became a difficult struggle. I decided to let go of the control and live by the 80/20-rule, creating what I thought was a sustainable balance in my approach to nutrition. As life became more and more stressful last year, my health rapidly deteriorated. My immune system was completely compromised and I gained over 25-pounds within a very short period of time. On most days, my body felt completely worn out and I developed spontaneous muscle spasms and debilitating nerve pain that caused several accidents and falls. It was a very scary 6-month period and I went through it alone, hiding my pain and discomfort from friends and colleagues. In all honesty, I don’t know how I was able to continue teaching through it all.
Unfortunately, having autoimmune disease makes me an exception to the rule. And because I’m stubborn, I learned the hard way that there is no space for the 80/20-rule in my world; I need to be at 100% to perform optimally and feel my best. Right now, I’m 100% focused on giving my body what it needs through proper nourishment. And that means fully accepting the fact that the 80/20-rule doesn’t apply to someone with my background and health history. With that said, I’m back to my “normal” way of eating — a moderately flexible paleo-diet, no sugar (including fruit), no caffeine and no alcohol; monitoring intake of nightshades and goitrogenic foods; being mindful of sourcing and eating locally.
It was perseverance and utter stubbornness that helped me to not lose sight of what truly matters — rebuilding my attitude toward a healthy lifestyle and forming new habits from scratch. At times, it felt impossible. But overcoming these obstacles was the key factor in challenging my perception and embracing this new lifestyle.
And guess what? After 21-days of following autoimmune protocols, inflammation is down and I’ve already released 9-pounds! My sleep quality has greatly improved and my energy levels are stable. Physically, I feel amazing and I’ve only had one flare-up of nerve pain in 3-weeks. If I feel this good after 21-days, I can’t wait to see how I feel in a few months.