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:
- Smile more. Really.
- 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.
- Soak in the tub. Make sure to include Epsom salts.
- Go outside. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Forest retreat NOT required. Just walk around the block.
- Turn off the devices. I heart the virtual world too, but seriously, take a break.
Tortoises move slow, but they live long, healthy lives.