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Ever since our first cohort of coaches graduated from our AIP Certified Coach Practitioner Training Program, we’ve been watching with pride and excitement as they bring the AIP to the traditional healthcare landscape. Our AIP Certified Coach Spotlight features give you a look at what it means to be an AIP coach, and what you can expect when working with one as part of your healthcare team.
Annika Schimmer is a recent graduate of our AIP Certified Coach Practitioner Training Program and already she’s made a huge impact on the lives of her clients by helping them make sustainable, long-term lifestyle changes. As someone with multiple autoimmune conditions herself, Annika knows the struggle of embracing AIP and she uses her experience to compassionately guide her clients toward change.
How did you become involved in the healthcare field in the beginning?
I have been dealing with different health issues pretty much my whole life and ended up with a rheumatoid arthritis and uveitis diagnosis in 2013. I felt really powerless and defeated and it took me another two years and developing severe allergies to reach a point where I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew I had to do something. I started following the autoimmune protocol and the allergies were gone within two weeks, my skin cleared up, my digestion was great, my hormones were balanced and the inflammation was under control. I actually didn’t even know I could feel this great. It was like I had become a brand new person.
That experience completely changed my life and made me feel incredibly empowered. I knew I wanted to share this message and resources with others struggling with chronic illnesses, so I started a blog. At first, it was mainly about my experience and AIP recipes, but people started approaching me for advice and individual guidance. It quickly became apparent to me that I wanted to make this my profession and that I needed the proper education to help others, so I decided to become a health coach.
What prompted you to use your skill set and training to specifically focus on serving the autoimmune disease population?
I know how lonely and hopeless it feels to be diagnosed with such a daunting disease –- and I’ve experienced how empowering it is to find relief and enjoyment through diet and lifestyle. I feel very passionate about spreading the message that you don’t have to be the victim of an autoimmune disease. You can take charge of your health and dramatically improve the quality of your life. Once you learn how to listen to your body and give it what it needs to thrive, you can actively make decisions every single day that promote health.
You recently became an AIP Certified Coach. Were there aspects of the program that you feel were particularly beneficial?
All of it! I went into the program with a lot of knowledge on autoimmune diseases and the autoimmune protocol already but I cannot emphasize enough how much new information I learned during the program. Mickey, Angie, and Sarah have such a wealth of knowledge and present the material with such care. What has been most transformational for me was learning about the importance of collaborating with other practitioners in order to ensure a client with an autoimmune disease is taking advance of all the tools in the toolbox. How to do the reintroductions properly and when to troubleshoot was another hugely beneficial aspect for me. Additionally, the handouts have been super helpful in my practice and for my clients.
What kinds of plans do you currently have for your practice? Anything exciting coming up?
I am very passionate about empowering people with food restrictions with the tools and information they need to enjoy food––and their lives––again. I found that the holiday season is such a tricky time for people on the autoimmune protocol or people with other food restrictions. Last year I published a holiday cookbook (www.enjoycookbook.com) with traditional recipes that are all gluten free, dairy free, soy free and mostly AIP. I am currently re-launching an updated version that includes even more AIP recipes.
I also decided to expand upon the book and host a group coaching program, “Enjoy the Holidays with Food Restrictions” to give clients on the autoimmune protocol or people who have other food restrictions additional tools and support through the holiday season. It starts next week! I am very excited about it because group coaching programs also create a supportive community of people who can relate to one another. This is especially important if you are dealing with an illness that makes you already feel isolated. You can read more about the program here (www.foodrestrictions.com)
For 2020 I am planning to continue coaching clients 1-on-1 and create more online programs. I really want to be able to help as many people as I can to create a happy and healthy life.
Can you share an autoimmune client success story?
What I love most about the autoimmune protocol is that other issues such as digestion and hormone imbalances can improve very quickly, which is always an exciting “side effect” clients often don’t anticipate. My client who has early rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s started feeling those exciting “side effects” after just one month of working together. She is seeing a very supportive rheumatologist who recommended the autoimmune protocol when she was first diagnosed but also told her she would probably have to go on medication soon. My client really wanted to avoid that if possible and started diving head-on into the autoimmune protocol. After about two months, the doctor was very happy with the results and my client has been able to stay off of medications thus far. But what she and I are most excited about is that she has become such a fierce advocate for herself and really learned how to listen to her body and give it what it needs.
Where can our readers find you or learn about working with you?