Top Ten Tips For Getting A Life

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In February I wrote about the AIP marathon and reminded everyone that achieving renewed health is not a sprint to the finish line. In March I wrote about how easy it can be to let our focus on AIP morph into a religion. See a theme here? I really think that balance is an important part of the healing journey.

Laurence Stern, an 18th century clergyman, said, “People who are always taking care of their health are like misers, who are hoarding a treasure which they have never spirit enough to enjoy.” Wow! It was kinda’ tough for me to take in those words from some super historical dude when I first read them. I got the wind knocked out of me, because I recognized myself. You see, the reason I am so concerned with balance as a piece of the healing journey, is because I can now see points in the process where I was definitely being a major tightwad with my “treasure.” It was easy to let my whole life get engulfed by AIP and I was forgetting how to have fun and enjoy my newfound health.

I see this pervasive “miserly” anxiety in our community too and gosh darn it . . . I think we ought to try to have some fun and celebrate our triumphs over chronic illness! What’s the point of healing enough to enjoy our lives, if we’re going to act like we don’t have lives!? So, what can we do to get out of the “AIP only” rut, once we’ve started to heal?

Following are my top ten tips for getting a life:

  • Leave work early. Find a way to steal 10, 20, or even 30 minutes from your workday in order to have some time to pursue things you enjoy. “But, Angie, my boss will never allow that!” you say. Get some negotiation skillz my friend! You can learn from a human resources expert how to negotiate here.
  • Learn a new skill. You’ve negotiated some time away from work and you are finally healthy enough to not need that time to take a nap. What now? How about taking a belly dancing class or learning how to play an instrument? I’m learning how to play the banjo this year! (I’ve never played any instrument before. Ever! I’m a total dork! Who cares! I feel good enough to want to learn something new! Celebration!)
  • Learn about an interesting new (non-food or lifestyle) subject. Is it essential you learn more about the benefits of broth or the complexities of the MTHFR gene? I mean, I think both those subjects are important and all, but what about river surfers in Munich or Shaolin Kung-Fu Masters? (Did you check those links for real? Whaaa? Crazy, right!?)
  • Take a research break. I regularly put my clients on mandatory “research breaks.” The Internet is an amazing resource for us on our healing missions, but it is also coming at us like a fire-hose. When you feel a compulsion to research more, go sit beside a tree instead. Trust me, it will accomplish more healing than the research.
  • Do a social media detox. While you’re at it with the research break, why not just do a whole social media detox? Take a week off. We are all so eager to document our lives to share online, but meanwhile we aren’t actually enjoying that life! Your life is not inside a computer or phone or tablet, no matter how fancy, expensive, and cutting-edge that piece of technology.
  • Plan and throw a dinner party. Come up with a fun theme and enjoy your friends! Dining table not big enough? Have a picnic on the living room floor. House not big enough? Have a picnic at the park. One rule: Food and illness are off the topic list for the evening. (And no, eating AIP does not mean you can’t have a great dinner party. Ever met anyone who doesn’t like a bacon-wrapped date? Didn’t think so.)
  • Date or rekindle things with your partner. Since your having a dinner party anyway, why not invite that cute person you recently met to join in the fun. Get spiffy looking and prepare to wow them with the cool new life you’ve been getting. If you already have a partner, why not toss him or her a bone. I know my partner is a big fan of me just chilling with him and not talking about the merits of DIY lard rendering. (But honestly I do have a little space in my sched if you’re interested in chatting lard.)
  • Volunteer for a cause or organization you love. NO! You may not choose a food or illness related cause. They are worthwhile causes, for sure, but remember this is your chance to step outside the bubble. I’m really passionate about African causes, maybe your passionate about wildlife or at-risk kids. Nothing is better at helping you get a life than serving others.
  • Be opposite. Do you normally go for classical music? Commit to sampling hip-hop for three days and see if you find any songs you like. Do you normally go for the preppy-casual look? Go shopping and try on hippie chic clothes until you find one item you like. I usually don’t like TV shows with violence, but last fall I started watching “The Walking Dead” at the prodding of my husband and daughter. Guess what? I’m way into zombies now!
  • Institute “Adventure Saturday.” Getting a life requires getting outta’ the house. Leave one Saturday a month open to an “adventure.” If you have the moolah, by all means use your “Adventure Saturday” to fly to St. Lucia and soak up the sun. Think about how cool it would be to invite me next time. Seriously though, it doesn’t have to be on that level to be awesome. It could mean browsing antiques in a nearby small town. It could mean getting up at dawn to watch the sunrise with a warm cup of tea. Just make each month a new activity.

Okay, so who’s ready to get a life now? That’s why we’re healing in the first place right?!

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.

23 comments

  • Beverly Ann says

    Amen! I gotta tell you, Angie, this really hit home for me. Thank you for putting into words what has been tossing about in my mind for the last couple of weeks. I’ve just recently started AIP and it is quite a learning process just to gain the basic understanding of the program. Now that I have it, I really need to pry myself away from the computer and take my life back.

    Oh, by the way, yesterday I made your amazing Ginger Snap Cookies–best cookies ever!

    Now, I think I’ll turn off the computer and do some spring cleaning 🙂

    • Angie Alt says

      That’s the spirit Beverly!! Great work!

  • Miriam says

    Thank you soo much for this great post, Angie! I agree with you on every single point… Often I have a feeling of really being trapped in my AIP universe. Especially when I recognize worsening of my symptoms even though being strict on the protocol.. Then I try to find out why, doing research like crazy on each and every platform I can find. Always striving to optimize my plan. This puts me under a lot of stress. And sure I KNOW this is absolutely self-defeating… but it’s hard to escape from this obsessiveness sometimes.

    • Angie Alt says

      I’m glad you connected w/ this Miriam! Take a research break & instead do something enjoyable w/ the health that you are starting to gain. We all have setbacks, but making the best of the good times is so worth it.

  • Amanda says

    I love this Angie, I do think we get so focused on it sometimes and can zap life’s fun! All good suggestions, I think I need to institute some of these ASAP! Especially the research and social media break!

    • Angie Alt says

      Thanks for reading Amanda! The research break & social media detox are totally worth it!

  • Kim says

    Wise words of advice, thank you! It is easy to get caught up in the universe of food and the kitchen! I love the batch cooking idea and that helps a lot. It is hard not to be focused on food 99% of the time. I have become pretty happy eating the same stuff most of the time, falling into a pattern of certain foods, and only occasionally eating different stuff, for now. There are so many other things in life to attend to, and I figure as long as I am eating properly I am not too worried about making it interesting all of the time. I think about it in a logical way – most animals eat certain foods all of the time, they don’t require it to change every day, why do I? My body likes certain food so that is what I am going to eat! And now, I am going to go and live life and do other things. Yay! I love this blog and information, you guys are amazing 🙂

    • Angie Alt says

      Thanks so much for reading & commenting Kim! I’m so glad you connected w/ this topic!

  • This is wonderful and super important.. I spent last summer HEALING through AIP and that’s literally all I did. I would refuse to do anything that didn’t support that. It worked fantastically and I felt better than I had in 15 years. But then over the holidays I was so fatigued of being on a restrictive diet so I went back to full Paleo, let stress get to me, and let sleep slip (what I called “normal living”). I suffered a Hashi’s flare and relapsed into adrenal fatigue because I didn’t take care of myself. So I went back on AIP again, but this time my main goal was to find a balance between “HEALING” and “normal”. This is a much more sustainable way of doing things for me and I’ve learned a lot about what I really don’t want to stop doing and what I feel ok leaving behind. Like I need to be able to go out to restaurants. But I don’t need to eat baked goods all the time. I need to find ways to relax every day. I do not need to cheat and have corn chips at a Super Bowl party. For me it’s eye opening and quite helpful to look at it this way, with priorities. Having a life is so very important to sustain healing for the long term..

    • Angie Alt says

      Michelle, you are 100% right . . . having a life makes long-term healing as a priority possible. Always balance. Thanks for reading!

  • Erin C says

    So, so true! In fact, my biggest turning point in finally being able to regain my health and energy was when I stopped spending all of my time and all of my energy in “recovery mode” and started LIVING again. It was an incredibly difficult transition because I was still constantly worried about relapsing, but I had to let that go. Once I started saying YES to all the things I had to say no to before, my health took a huge turn for the better. Now I feel fantastic almost all of the time and regained my sense of ME!

    • Angie Alt says

      Erin, I LOVE that you recognized that you had to “let it go” to gain. Awesome comment!

  • Samantha says

    I’ve been thinking about these topics so much lately. I finally have energy to start doing fun things again. After two years of practically being bed ridden, being “normal” now feels weird. It was really hard for me to get over the fear of relapse. It’s nice to know I am not the only one who is going through this.

    • Ginger says

      I’m always afraid I will do too much or eat something that will shut me down again as well. And, well, money has been a big concern for me for some time now and I need to find a way to increase my retirement income so there is some stress involved in trying to be normal again. Especially since I still seem to have periodic 1 day setbacks but I recover quickly now. But since fish is a good thing to eat and I can’t really buy much good fish but live next to a huge lake and in a tourist area (and, did I say, I used to love to fish!), I’m going to start fishing again.

      So, this article was just what I needed to hear right now to give me the push to go ahead and play a little.

      BTW. I loved this line. So true:

      “The Internet is an amazing resource for us on our healing missions, but it is also coming at us like a fire-hose.”

    • Angie Alt says

      Samantha & Ginger, thanks for reading! I am so happy you connected w/ this post.

  • Gina Costa says

    This hit home for me too! I find myself researching constantly and being so afraid of doing something to make myself worse that I forget to stop and smell the roses. I’m going to change that!

    And I want to thank you for something you two said a while back. I have been AIP for 10 months (with no successful re-introductions). It has reduced my pain almost completely, but I am still having many, many other issues. You said something along the lines of, “If you are not significantly better in 6 months, it is time to see an Integrative MD”. .I finally got an appointment with a really good one in the SF area. She is sure I have a lot of issues besides my autoimmune diseases going on, and she is sure she can help me with them. So thank you for this sage advice.

    I LOVE your blog. You are changing lives. I will forever be grateful.

    • Angie Alt says

      YES! Gina! I love reading this, thanks for commenting!

  • Q says

    What a beautiful article!! Thank you. It’s so easy to take it all so seriously (did I mean to say “righteously”?? Maybe)
    Had a wonderful research break recently, and once I realized what I’d done, I was really chuffed with myself! Felt good! Love Adventure Saturdays and “be opposite” as well. Well done!

    • Angie Alt says

      Thanks for reading Q! Great work w/ the research break!

  • Crissy says

    I recently made a conscious decision to break from AIP for a while. I had been 100% for 17 weeks. I am in a very difficult life situation at the moment, and the stress of the restrictions got to me. I have Hashi’s, and my meds have had to be adjusted which caused me to have a full period only 2 weeks after the last. I wonder if the healing has decreased the need for my meds, Anyway, as I said, I am in a very difficult period in my life, and I honestly feel that now is not the best time for such drastic hormonal fluctuations and the additional stress of a highly restrictive diet. I have allowed myself some SAD foods this week, though I do not plan to continue this practice long term. I plan to follow an 80/20 AIP (yes, I know there is technically no such thing) as that is what I feel I can handle right now. I also plan to continue trying out new AIP recipes to build a solid repertoire to fall back on without having to think too much about it. I’ve got all the current AIP resources (including Mickey’s Batch Cooking!) so I know that my healing journey is still there for me when I am ready to jump back in to 100%.

    • Angie Alt says

      Crissy, we each have to determine for ourselves what is the best path to healing at any given time. I applaud you for listening to your body and deciding to pursue what you feel you can best, most handle at this moment. And I LOVE that you are gathering all the resources for when you are ready to jump back in! Wishing you lots of wellness!

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