“I have a chronic illness that won’t go away?”
Receiving my autoimmune diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis was both relieving and heartbreaking at the same time.
I was a go-getter. A registered nurse. A former swimmer turned triathlete. A new wife.
And now chronically ill?
My mind struggled to accept this new identity.
But finding the answer behind the years of feeling horrible brought me some relief.
I was experiencing horrible pain and stiffness in all my joints, especially my hips and back, that prevented me from getting out of bed some mornings.
I was exhausted…beyond tired…all the time (even after sleeping 12 hours.)
I felt foggy and struggled to remember and concentrate.
My muscles would ache at the end of each day.
I couldn’t lose weight.
And even though I loved exercising, it always left me injured and needing a lot of time to recover.
On my days off from work, I found myself stressed out, laying on the couch the entire day while the laundry and dishes piled up.
My life was far from what I imagined my 20’s would look like.
I tried adopting a paleo diet. It always helped me feel a little better.
But it also made me feel deprived.
I struggled withholding comforting foods to myself, especially when I was exhausted and stressed out.
Cheat weekends turned into cheat weeks.
And that continued with a vicious cycle of on again/ off again dieting.
As a RN, I assumed that the people who felt the best with chronic illness were “good patients” who listened to their doctors and followed conventional medicine recommendations.
So after I was diagnosed, I immediately started taking my prescribed biologic and hoped for the best.
I felt better. I stopped having flare ups. But after a few months, I realized that I was going to continue to feel “ok.”
I wanted to feel great.
After one year, I asked my doctor if there were any other options. I had heard that diet and lifestyle changes had helped some people, particularly something called the AIP diet. When I asked him about it, he simply stated “diets don’t help autoimmune disease.”
LOOKING AND FEELING INFLAMED
I was in a difficult situation. I wanted to figure out how to feel good but I also needed to get as healthy as possible. My husband, Jeff and I were trying to have a baby.
And we had been unsuccessful for two years at that point.
Turns out, my widespread inflammation was so severe that I had endometriosis which was preventing pregnancy.
That’s when everything clicked for me.
I didn’t need to focus on decreasing symptoms.
I needed to focus on decreasing inflammation.
I had endometriosis surgery to clean out the build up of damage and scar tissue.
And then I immediately started the Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) diet.
But changing my diet was very different this time.
I believed that my body was on my side.
I believed that it wanted to heal.
And I was fully committed to taking care of my amazing body the best way I knew how.
This mindset shift taught me the three steps that saved my life.
Listen to your body.
Learn your needs.
Take care of your needs.
After a month, I was thriving.
My fatigue was gone. I woke up rested.
My brain fog cleared and I was able to appreciate how beautiful the world around me was.
As for my pain, it was GONE… until I got stressed out.
When it was time to work or I got stressed, the pain in my hips came back.
I started limping again and realized there was more to figure out.
Stress was creating inflammation and no amount of non-inflammatory foods could fix that.
I knew my brain was creating this pain but I had no idea how to prevent that from happening.
Through life coaching, I learned how to manage my brain.
And after a few months, I was able to drastically decrease my stress…and completely eliminate my pain.
EXPECTING OUR FIRST BABY
I became symptom free from my autoimmune disease and I have remained symptom free for 5 years.
Getting to this place allowed me to feel completely free and full of possibility.
Feeling my best improved my marriage.
It improved my job.
It improved my whole life.
I didn’t think life could get any better…until a positive pregnancy test changed that!
Feeling my best allowed us to start a family.
My dramatic autoimmune transformation taught me that feeling your best is not just possible, but inevitable when you decrease your inflammation with diet and lifestyle changes.
I thought about all the other women with autoimmune disease who were struggling to get through each day.
I knew exactly how to help them.
So I became a life coach and AIP coach.
And now I get to witness others transform their lives and feel their best.
I freaking love what I do.
It's nice to meet you.