The AIP Marathon

marathon

When I found the Autoimmune Protocol, I thought it would go something like this:

Day One- Learn everything about AIP.

Day Two- Implement AIP diet flawlessly; including growing my own garden, getting backyard chickens complete with their own adorable hen house like the ones you see on those lifestyle blogs, and dropping a grand a piece between Whole Foods and Amazon to stock-up.

Day Three- Implement AIP lifestyle flawlessly; including an amazing new yoga practice (which would really only be to help me get ready for the true Paleo workout, Crossfit), daily meditation in a serene forest retreat, and eight perfect hours of sleep that Sleeping Beauty would envy. Also . . . cute yoga clothes.

Day Four- Purchase all must-have AIP tools; including a Vitamix, a complete set of Le Crueset pots, adorable canning jars (for all my bone broth), Wusthof knives, a KitchenAid mixer (in a retro color), 12 hip/ironic gummie molds, stainless steel bento boxes for my lunches, and a new 83-(odd number?) piece glass storage set (‘cause plastic!).

Days Five through Thirty- Heal like it’s my J.O.B.

Day Thirty-One- Visit all my former doctors. Fire them. Make a scene in their clinics where I pull out all my new lab work proving I’m 100% healthy now without a trace of autoimmune disease (when did I have time for labs?).

Days Thirty-Two through Sixty- Start reintroducing foods, but miraculously be able to reintro faster than everyone else. All reintros are a success; at the end I’m basically back to comfortable SAD, minus gluten.

Day Sixty-One- Celebrate with gin and tonics (chic, right?) at my favorite restaurant, where I can totally eat again without the slightest worry.

Day Sixty-Two- Get interviewed by Yoga Journal, ‘cause my journey was so amazing, my yoga practice (transitioning to Crossfit, but whatever I’ll do them a favor) is off the hook, and also . . . my cute yoga clothes.

Here’s the reality:

Day One- Find it is completely impossible to learn everything about AIP in one day. (Never mind at that time the research and development of the protocol was still being done by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne.) Realize, with an exasperated sigh, that it will take actual time for me to digest information from the hundreds of blogs, podcasts and books. Decide it is okay to just start and not fret over “having enough information.” Fret anyway about not “having enough information.”

Day Two- Able to jump in relatively easily, but quickly grasp that there is going to be a steep learning curve transitioning to AIP. Losing the convenience of eating out or picking something up at the store alone turns out to be mind-bending. Also, discover I am a terrible gardener and raising backyard chickens will have to be this whole complicated, clandestine operation that I hide from our HOA. Scrap garden and chicken plan. Husband strongly objects to taking out a small loan in order to “stock-up.” Does Whole Foods have lay-away yet?

Day Three- What was I thinking? I hate yoga! Daily meditation in a forest? WTH? I take Xanax before I call the doctor’s office still and my brain fog makes it hard to navigate a walk to the curb. A hike to a serene forest glade is probably going to involve search and rescue 48 hours later. Perfect sleep? Aaaahahaha! Stop laughing when I recognize the nasty feeling of jealously . . . toward Sleeping Beauty. She’s probably a jerk anyway. Shake it off.

Day Four- Purchase all the tools? What? Are these actually all required? Find myself paralyzed by Le Crueset color choices. (It’s now like day 1,095 and I’m less than halfway there on all the “must-haves.” Guess what? I’ve discovered most of them aren’t necessary.)

Day Five through Thirty- Did I forget to calculate my actual J.O.B. when I envisioned this AIP dream plan? This isn’t 1894. Disturbing realization hits me; I am not going to be convalescencing Victorian era style at a spa in the Swiss Alps. Damn.

Day Thirty-One- I could go on, but I think you get the picture!

This dramatized (but only a little, honestly) version of “Dream AIP” versus “Reality AIP” was all to make a point. Regaining our health is a marathon, not a sprint. Unlearning all the old habits and implementing a brand new way of eating and living is a massive undertaking. It happens over time, the result of hundreds of little decisions, hundreds of little changes that we keep making, keep doing until the snow ball is big enough to start rolling with greater ease. Do not let the failure of your “Dream AIP” (whatever it looks like) prevent you from moving forward and slowly, a piece at a time, achieving amazing renewed health.

I am very fond of reminding all my clients, “It was the tortoise, not the hare, that won the race.” With that in mind, here are a few, very simple and scientifically sound, manageable steps to get your snowball rolling:

  1. Smile more. Really.
  2. Don’t let what you see on social media fool you. Every life has struggles, even if it is not reflected in the upbeat posts or perfectly lit photos.
  3. Soak in the tub. Make sure to include Epsom salts.
  4. Go outside. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Forest retreat NOT required. Just walk around the block.
  5. Turn off the devices. I heart the virtual world too, but seriously, take a break.

Tortoises move slow, but they live long, healthy lives.

About Angie Alt

Angie Alt is part of the blogging duo behind Autoimmune Paleo. She helps others take charge of their health the same way she took charge of her own after suffering with Celiac and other autoimmune diseases; one creative, nutritious meal at a time. Her special focus is on mixing “data with soul” by looking at the honest heart of the autoimmune journey (which sometimes includes curse words). She’s also a world traveler who has been medically evacuated from two foreign countries. Strategizing worst-case scenarios is now something of a hobby. She is a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and author of The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook: Eating for All Phases of the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. You can also find her on Instagram.

60 comments

  • Vic says

    This is excellent! Made me laugh out loud at the total truth behind this, I had almost the same plan 🙂 nearly a year on I’m still learning and being patient, telling myself healing will continue. The hardest part was 3 months in when I had the realisation I was not ‘fixed’ in three months as planned, I’m definitely the tortoise and it’s great to have this as a reminder, brilliant post, just what I needed today 🙂 slow but steady wins the race, even if my tortoise takes a few cheeky detours along the way!

    • Angie Alt says

      So glad it made you laugh Vic! That was my hope!

  • christa says

    Yes, yes, yes! Thank you – I needed this! I”ve been slowly transitioning to AIP since late last fall. I took Nov/Dec to figure some things out and then decided to ‘start’ on January 1. Which went really well until I had my first breakdown and had a whole bar of chocolate for dinner! And then continued to do AIP except for chocolate. Because you know what I learned? My name is Christa, and I’m a chocolate addict. Ouch. Hard to realized. I’m still working on giving it up, and you know what it’s freaking HARD. But I’m trying to go easy on myself and follow your advice that this is a marathon, not a race. Already I’m almost two years into my whole healing journey so if it takes me several weeks to kick the chocolate addiction once and for all, I know it’s okay. Thanks for the reminder! Healing / recovering / living with an AI disease can feel really lonely and isolating, so it’s always nice to have a reminder that you’re not the only one!

    • Angie Alt says

      You are definitely not the only one Christa! Thanks for reading!

    • Bebe says

      Hi Christa! First of all, have you considered magnesium? There’s usually a deficiency in the chocoholics anonymous crowd. Second, have you tried Flame to Fork’s “chocolate” chunk recipe? It’s part of their chocolate chunk cookie recipe, which is an amazing AIP cookie. The struggle is real.

  • Peggy G says

    LOL! Especially that MY reintroductions will go faster than everyone else’s. 🙂 Perfect timing, I am about to start this and appreciate the perspective.

  • Erin says

    Love this post. I try to share those #keepingitreal moments especially because it’s far too easy to paint an idyllic picture {even without meaning to} on social media. ♥

  • Kim says

    So funny!! What makes it so funny is that many of us have had the same aspirations and subsequent reality checks. Marathon not sprint! Thanks for the reminder!

  • This story sounds just like me! Stories of autoimmunity is what I am looking for and hope you continue to tell them here. I have been told to do the FODMap for my autoimmune based stomach disorders… have you heard of that?

  • Carolyn says

    thanks for sharing your honesty! My adult daughter has suffered with debilitating autoimmune issues for years & I have been her “ra-ra” “c’mon honey, we can do this!” Support team. I am following the AIP as well (for support but also for my health). We had followed GFCF, no preservatives or colours etc. Diet for 6 years, so I figured we were half way there! The elimination diet I have found challenging but fun cooking lots of new recipes! As my health is not as impaired as my daughter, I’ve been able to get my head around a lot, try new recipes & cook a lot. My daughter has struggled on her “bad” days when it is “all too hard”! Which, I understand & That’s when the cavalry comes to the rescue! I have made numerous meals & desserts for daughter & grandkids which I get good feedback from grandson (who is totally unbiased that everything Grandma cooks is awesome!). 6 weeks in & daughter is now feeling improved, enjoying having some normality back & bloods just showed her first normal CRP for years! Now she is encouraged to cook & plan meals & live the new lifestyle!
    Love the Internet for access to great AIP recipes & cookbooks!! Keep up the good work. You have been inspirational & a great help to our healing!

    • Angie Alt says

      I love hearing this Carolyn! Tell your daughter to keep focused on the goal!

  • Cherene says

    Fun post! Nice reminder that it is about the journey and not the destination.

    As Lao-Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”

  • OMG Angie this was side splitting funny! Great Great Post!

  • Wendy says

    Thank you lightening up my mood after waking up with a migraine

  • Monica says

    I enjoyed this so much! So funny, but also so close how my mind works!
    Such a balancing act between motivation, knowledge, and ultimately executing the process of what is needed to heal from autoimmunity. Especially when you don’t feel well!
    Loving following you and Mickey as a team

    • Angie Alt says

      Thanks for reading Monica! We love being a team!

  • amy cheney says

    uh – yeah. I can relate and now I can LAUGH!!!

  • catherine says

    Thank you! I have been feeling like a total failure and it was good to hear someone else with the same troubles. Now, how to address potato chips, Cadbury minieggs and the spouse who won’t go along with this…

    • Angie Alt says

      One step at a time Catherine!! I got there & so can you!!

  • Heidi says

    Oh thank you. You are such an encouragement. Baby steps : )

  • Christine says

    Thanks for the reality check! Anyone out there with rheumatoid arthritis who has been able to get off their medication…?! I am struggling with how to mesh the conventional medical philosophy towards my disease (R.A.) with my own, which is that my body REALLY wants to heal itself. Have been off methotrexate for 6 six months and I feel good. I have been getting slowly better and better. In better condition than most people my age. Yes, I do have some swelling my hands and feet, but nothing that is super painful or gets in the way of every day life, interrupts sleep, etc. The doc wants me to back on the meds – she says even if I FEEL good, it doesn’t mean I’m in remission. I don’t know how or if to reconcile drugs with AIP, and a philosophy of healing myself through food and lifestyle… Thoughts…?

    • Angie Alt says

      Chrisitne, I think you have to trust your own intuition about your body. I think if you are managing RA well & are almost pain-free, then I don’t think you need the medications. There are many, many members of the AIP community that manage their RA w/diet & lifestyle changes & it sounds like you are one of those successes!!

  • ChristineK says

    Hilarious! You captured the type A approach to this perfectly 😉 Started transitioning before the holidays and had everything out by mid-January. I’ve given in to a few cravings and every time I pay the price. Need to keep it clean long enough to do some careful reintroductions. “Losing the convenience of eating out or picking something up at the store alone turns out to be mind-bending” – Exactly!! That has been hands down the hardest part of the transition. On the low energy days, I just want someone else to do the cooking.

    • Angie Alt says

      Hang in there Christine! I am happy to report to you that I almost never think about it now. You can do it!

  • Q says

    Love this. (‘ ‘Cause, plastic”) – beautiful. Well written and inspiring. Keep ’em coming.

    • Angie Alt says

      I’m going to keep trying to write great stuff Q. Thank you for reading!

  • Lindsey says

    I absolutely LOVE this post! Just rounding the corner of a month into AIP and I was so sure I’d be healed by now, lol. I’d magically be off the prednisone without having to taper…no such luck. But some of my anti dsDNA levels have gone down, baby steps!

    I really appreciate this platform and the work you ladies do.

    Lindsey

    • Angie Alt says

      We are doing this work ’cause of the tiny, miraclous moments like your anti-dsDNA levels going down Lindsey!! Thank you for reading & sharing! We are so excited for your baby steps.

  • Ebs says

    Ha ha – i’m glad you posted this! I’m doing gaps but was just this morning getting annoyed over the “I can’t believe i just spent a third of my day cooking, again!”

  • Sasha says

    Serious and continual LOL! Thanks for this, Angie!

  • Josianne says

    This was so funny – and so perfectly on point! Those cute yoga clothes, ha ha. You didn’t mention the fake SAD foods that recipe bloggers seem to love posting, “Tastes exactly like bread!” or “Will let you forget your craving for cheese.”

    This JOB of healing is hard, and I particularly find it hard to look back and see how far I’ve already come. It’s been baby steps, but there’s been lots of them! Your post reminded me of the brain fog I don’t get anymore and how I am not afraid of eating anymore.

    Thanks to both of you!!

    • Angie Alt says

      You are welcome!! Thank you for reading.

  • Ioleen says

    Hahahaha! Absolutely loved this post – it’s just made my day, thank you! 🙂

  • Juliann says

    It’s been almost two years since I started AIP and it has certainly been a marathon! I am happy to report my thyroid antibodies are below the reference range for the first time ever, meaning I’m in remission! I am still struggling with discovering I have SIBO, h-pylori, late stage lyme and a homozygous MTHFR mutation- but I am so grateful that I have been on the diet so I have the nutritional foundational and willpower to address these things!

  • Shari says

    This was so perfect! Visualizing perfection is fun and easy, living it is quite another matter 🙂 We have the garden and the chickens and I do the yoga but you still run into problems. One year my husband grows a ton of squash and it turns out that year I can’t really tolerate it. So the next year he only grows a few and I end up wanting to eat it every day 🙂 It’s so hard to predict. And don’t even get me started on purple carrots. Who knew they would turn every soup and stir fry a very unappetizing grey! And the eggs, you either have a ton that no one will eat or everyone wants them and you have none (you still have to feed them and clean the coop).

    Loved your post. I’m definitely a tortoise in this race but you can bet I’ll get to the finish line sooner or later!

  • Lindsay says

    This was so great, thank you. Just the kind of smile and laugh I needed to help me keep trying. I’ve been telling myself that I’m going to look back on these years and and really respect the work I’m doing right now…I think that’s true for all of us.

    • Angie Alt says

      That’s right, Lindsay! It gives me a huge sense of accomplishment knowing I worked so hard to adapt & heal. Keep going!

  • deb says

    Loved this! I’m 3 weeks into AIP and sick with a cold, so it really hit home for me. I had visions of being back to eating EVERYTHING and feeling like a million bucks at this point. This really made my day. Thanks so much!

    • Angie Alt says

      Reality checks can be funny, right Deb?!

  • Georgie says

    Angie you are a CRACKUP!

    Loved, loved, loved this article! I’m Paleo but have yet to start AIP as I find every excuse in the book to postpone (wedding coming up, holiday etc etc) but my Naturopath has just read me the riot act and put me on a SERIOUS version of AIP for 40 days (3xcup of veg + 3x100g piece of meat + 3 pieces of fruit per day – that’s it!) so I figure it’s now or never. But I’ll start on Monday :O)

    Keep up the awesome work, it’s so comforting to know everyone is going through this.

    xxx

    • Angie Alt says

      It’s a journey Georgie! Thanks for reading.

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  • Veronica Cardozo says

    Hi, love to read what you wrote. I almost gave up on AIP, but now have almost healed my RA with vitamin C and Vitamin B3 – Niacinamide. I’ve just recently gone off my medication. It’s been 3 days now. I don’t touch gluten at all. I even go for my walks which aren’t very long but still go.

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