Not that I have a penchant for the dramatic – or hyperchondriatic (I should probably reign that in for my hospital appointment next week) – but it seems to me that putting yourself on an elimination diet for the first time ever can be quite a traumatic experience.
If you’re contemplating this challenge yourself, I don’t want to put you off. The Autoimmune Protocol has led to me being pain-free and for that I will be forever grateful to the process. So if you’re in pain and suspect that you might be autoimmune, do it. Really.
But when you get to whatever remission looks like for you (for me it was freedom from the pain), as well as the initial relief, it also brings along a sort of empty feeling. It’s almost as if the pain has been the motivator for all these months and has given me the energy to keep going… and now it’s gone, I’m left worn out. Like when you work really hard all the time and the fact you’re busy keeps you going even though you’re not getting enough sleep and you’re working too hard. Then as soon as you go on holiday, you end up sick.
I realise it’s also likely that I’m worn out from the last year of pain and frustration and that the elimination diet was the icing on the cake in terms of zapping my energy. Not that I eat icing on cakes any more. Or cakes… usually. But I think my sudden tiredness of the whole thing is part of the reason why my reintroduction has been such a disaster.
I have always felt that I have a healthy relationship with food, even when I had a misguided view of what food was healthy. I have never really been a comfort-eater, but equally haven’t really ever had an obsession with calorie counting or denying myself the odd treat. So the obsession with food that for me went hand in hand with this elimination diet has left me feeling disengaged from not just AIP, but also paleo.
Although I still believe strongly that a paleo diet is the most healthy for me, I find that I care less and my ability to make good choices seems to be even worse than before this Autoimmune Protocol Challenge.
This is obviously not a good thing as sooner or later, if I don’t eat sensibly, I will find myself back in pain and having to go through this whole thing again. And it will be entirely my fault. I do not want that.
So, what can be done? How do I reignite my passion for primal living?
My go to feel good thing to do when I feel as though I’m getting too deep into my thoughts is Yoga. Not only does it help me clear my mind and release any built-up tension, but it also leaves me feeling good about myself that I made the decision to take some time out just to spend with myself, my mind and body. After just three days of practising yoga again every day, I already feel calmer and more centred.
My favourite way to practice at the moment is with the Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel. All the videos on there are free to watch, she has excellent cuing and lots of different types of practice, which are great for beginners and more advanced yogis.
Yoga for Complete beginners is a 20 minute practice and a great place to start.
I have written a little bit about my interest in the concept of mindfulness before and how I have used it to see things more positively. Similarly to yoga, meditation can help to clear your mind and help you live in the present rather than the past or future. It’s a great part of the healing process, but also helps you take a step back and put things in perspective.
If you’re new to mindfulness and meditation, you have to check out Headspace. Available on desktops and laptops in your browser, but also as mobile apps, a subscription gets you access to guided meditations for a whole range of things, including relationships, health, performance, and work. The mobile app also gets you 10 free 10 minute meditations, which you’re supposed to do for 10 days in a row as an introduction.
A day off
Yea, that’s great and all. But who can find time to do all this stuff when you have a full time job? And kids… and a dog… and a whole host of other demands and responsibilities. Well, I like to take a day off every now and again just to spend on my own pottering about in the house. Today was one of those days. I didn’t have a plan (other than to get some laundry done), but I ended up catching up on some much needed sleep, batch-cooking a big pot of cinnamon beef stew, trying my hand at making healthy marshmallows, taking 10 minutes for meditation, catching up with my favourite paleo blogs, and an hour or so to finish my book.
Days like these might not feel as though you’ve accomplished anything. You couldn’t be more wrong. You’ve accomplished the task of finding time for yourself. How many people manage that these days?
Get back in touch with why
Always start with why. One of my favourite Ted Talks is by Simon Sinek who talks about the golden circle and suggests that as humans we tend to get caught up with the what of things rather than the why. He talks about this concept in terms of leadership, suggesting that great leaders lead with why they’re doing something not with what they’re going to do. It’s ‘I have a dream’ vs ‘I have a plan.’
But like many business/leadership concepts, I think this can also be applied to life. And in this case to this elimination diet. Before AIP, I was embracing a paleo/primal lifestyle because I wanted to be at my optimum possible health. I knew ‘why’ I was making the food and lifestyle choices I was making and I felt empowered. AIP was a necessary step further for me, but I realise now that my focus shifted somewhat. It was now about the rules and following them to the letter. It was about the challenge I had set myself. It was about ‘what’ I could and couldn’t do, and less about ‘why.’
Today I wanted to get back in touch with the ‘whys’ of my lifestyle. So I revisited some of my old friends in the form of my favourite primal lifestyle blogs. When I first started living primally, I found these blogs a great way to educate myself, but also a great way to keep reminding myself of all the benefits and all the positive choices I was making for my health.
Catching up with Mark was especially enjoyable. And the topic on his blog today was just what I needed to read, which is so often the case when I visit him.
How do you refresh and get back on track?
Lunch: Cinnamon Beef Stew with Butternut Squash and Mushrooms
Dinner: Lamb crumbles with mushrooms and spinach
Snacks: Coconut paleo bar, crystallised stem ginger, plantain chips, homemade (kind of) marshmallows
Zero again. Thank goodness.