My Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Story

After over a decade of progressively worse health struggles, I was finally diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis in January of 2018 at the age of 36. 

This is my autoimmune protocol (AIP) story.

Rock Bottom

My Husband and I

I hit my personal rock bottom, health wise, two months before my diagnosis.  I was at my the end of my rope, with no explanation as to why my body felt like it was giving out on me. 

I pushed through a number symptoms for years, until I no longer could.  My body said, “Enough is enough.” 

I remember a number of days when I fought to simply get out of bed and take a shower.  I felt weak not only physically, but also emotionally.

Loneliness, frustration, and helplessness felt like my constant companions during those days.

I felt overwhelmed by fatigue, brain fog, body aches, joint pain, muscle pain, low grade fevers, cold intolerance,  an overall sense of feeling unwell, and what I can only describe as feeling like I have a storm going on inside my body.

Losing Myself

I watched as my former dreams and goals seemed to go up in flames, along with my old self.

I remember looking in the mirror and no longer recognizing myself or my life.  I could no longer be the athletic, adventurous, homeschooling, work from home, mother and wife I wanted to be.

My Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Story

My health interfered with every aspect of my life.  I could no longer run from it, and I found nowhere to hide. 

Finding Answers

Frustrated by a number of doctors visits over the years resulting in no answers, I finally reached out to a Naturopath in desperation.  She listened to me, ordered tests, and recommended I see an endocrinologist, which led to finally finding my Hashimoto’s diagnosis in January of 2018.

My endocrinologist told me there is no cure for Hashimoto’s, and no way to feel better.  Further, he explained I would eventually go on medicine that I would need for the rest of my life.

As for the horrible symptoms that left me unable to be the woman, wife, and mama I wanted to be?  Welcome to my new life.

I walked out of my doctor’s office that day a warrior.

I felt a spark deep within me, and I KNEW this is NOT how my story ends.

No.  Nope.  I don’t think so.

I felt devastated and alone, but I refused to be a victim.

Enter:  The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)

The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)

I started the autoimmune protocol (AIP) elimination diet within days of my autoimmune disease diagnosis.  Although the AIP seemed downright overwhelming at first, I felt desperate to feel better and willing to try anything if it meant getting my life back.

Starting the AIP is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  However, I felt incredibly grateful to finally have SOMETHING to do that may improve my quality of life. 

I initially felt worse in the first days after starting the AIP.  My body had years of unhealthy habits, including sugar addiction, to break.  However, I kept with it, and noticed gradual, slow improvement for weeks. 

Then, I noticed huge improvements in my health and energy levels within the first two months.  As much as I held onto hope that AIP could change my life, I still felt shocked to realize it worked! 

While most people stay on the autoimmune protocol elimination phase for 30-90 days, I ended up being on the autoimmune protocol elimination phase for 10 months, and am now in the reintroduction phase. 

AIP:  More than Nutrition

Nutrition is not the only part of the autoimmune protocol.  The AIP also emphasizes the importance of hydration, sleep, stress management, movement, and other lifestyle factors in autoimmune health.

Over the course of several months, I systematically worked my way through improving my sleep, decreasing stress, increasing my movement, and more. 

Nothing about the autoimmune protocol felt easy, but every effort was 100% worth it.

All aspects of the autoimmune protocol continue to be  the key to unlocking my wellness. 

Autoimmune wellness, in my experience, is a life long journey, not a destination.  It is a path that I continue to walk today.

Like any journey, I experience setbacks.  While I am incredibly grateful to no longer live with autoimmune symptoms in my daily life, I will be the first to tell you my health is far from perfect.

I still experience a flare here and there, but I also have a clear understanding of what to do when I experience a flare, and how to find wellness again.

Staying Positive

Living with an autoimmune disease feels heavy at times.  Further, living according to the autoimmune protocol can be challenging.

My mind naturally wanders to my limitations or comparing myself to “normal” women, wives, and mothers.  Nothing good comes of that. 

Instead, I try to focus on all the things I CAN do, and for all of my blessings I am incredibly grateful for.

A huge part of my AIP story is adopting a positive mindset and developing self-love.  I work on staying positive and loving myself exactly the way I am every single day.  Some days I am better at it than others. 

Holding on to My Why

One of my biggest AIP tips?  Know your why.

Knowing my why is the biggest reason I’ve succeeded on the AIP.

I never thought I could live the way I live now.  No part of the AIP came naturally to me.  Getting crystal clear on my why made all the difference in the world. 

So, why did I personally start the autoimmune protocol?

Honestly, I found myself at my rock bottom, health wise, when I started the autoimmune protocol. 

My overarching why?  To get my life back.

However, “to get my life back” was not specific enough.

I had to dig deeper.  You can read all about my whys here.

Living and Dreaming Again

On vacation with my husband and kids in Hawaii in December 2019. There was a point at my rock bottom where I could not imagine driving to the airport, let alone traveling so this felt like a dream. This trip marked my first time flying since rock bottom.

I feel like I am living my life again, thanks to the autoimmune protocol.  It’s been a year and a half since my rock bottom.

Although my health is not perfect, I am living again, and dreaming again.  I am traveling more often than I thought possible, with multiple more trips booked this year, including a trip to the Caribbean!

I still have fears, and I still have flares, but most importantly, I am the woman, wife, and mother I dreamed of being again…that at my rock bottom, I doubted I could.

Learning to live according to the autoimmune protocol is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done…and I’ve completed two marathons and given birth without an epidural!

Starting the AIP, in my case, was not pretty.

There were no rainbows or butterflies.

In time, every effort paid off and I starting to find wellness!

March 2019 – took my son to watch his favorite baseball team play. I loved every minute of watching his face light up. At my worst, it broke my mama heart to miss his baseball games. In Spring/early summer of 2018, on days when I felt unwell or needed to rest, my son and I watched an Angels baseball game on TV almost every day. It was our thing. Since finding wellness, not only am I there to cheer my son on, I’ve taken him to watch a number of Angels baseball games in person. I will never again take for granted any moment I get to cheer my son on, or watch his face light up as he watches his favorite team.

I said RIP to the woman I used to be, and HELLO to the new me.

And you know what?  I LOVE the new me.

I am rebuilding a beautiful life out of the ashes of my former life.

My daughter and I snowboarding
March 2019 – Snowboarding for the first time since my rock bottom. I drove my daughter two hours to snowboard, enjoyed an amazing day on the mountain snowboarding with her, then I drove the two hours home. I packed all of my AIP food and water for the day, and I took breaks as needed. Truly a dream. I still cannot believe just a little over a year earlier I struggled to get out of bed.

I am dreaming new and bigger dreams.

 Autoimmune disease rocked my 18 year marriage, and starting the autoimmune protocol (AIP) rocked it a bit more.  Through lots of communication, understanding, and unconditional love, my husband and I are closer than ever.  I know my husband missed me while I was at my worst, and is so thankful to have me feeling well most of the time.  I may not be the same woman he married, <br>but I am stronger than I ever thought possible.
Autoimmune disease rocked my 18 year marriage, and starting the autoimmune protocol (AIP) rocked it a bit more. Through lots of communication, understanding, and unconditional love, my husband and I are closer than ever. I know my husband missed me while I was at my worst, and is so thankful to have me feeling well most of the time. I may not be the same woman he married,
but I am stronger than I ever thought possible.

Sending You SO Much Love and Support

I love to share my story, because I remember how hard it felt in the beginning. 

I hope my words and my story are reaching you at the perfect time.

I want to give you a BIG hug and tell you that you are not alone.

Remember to ask for help, set boundaries, and communicate your needs. Your loved ones want you to feel better, and need to understand how they can help and support you!

Your life story may not be going the way you planned, but YOU get to write the next chapter. You can be the super hero in your story!

The AIP may be hard, but spoiler alert:  you can do hard things!  I believe in you!

Resources

Need some extra support?  Here are some game changing resources that helped me when I started the autoimmune protocol.

One of the resources that was instrumental to my success in finding wellness was Dr. Sarah Ballantyne’s AIP Lecture Series.  My husband even watched two weeks of the lecture series with me, and it was incredibly helpful to learn the science behind autoimmune disease, and why the autoimmune protocol usually brings relief from autoimmune symptoms.  I also love Dr. Sarah’s The Paleo Approach book, her Autoimmune Protocol eBook, and her website thepaleomom.com.  Check out her AIP community webpage for loads on online AIP support!

Another resource I love is the book, Autoimmune Wellness Handbook, a DIY Guide to Living Well with Chronic Illness by Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt.  I use this as a resource book, and come back to it as I struggle with an aspect of chronic illness.  Their Autoimmune Wellness website is also incredible resource!

Other Blog Posts You May Enjoy

I’ve written a number of blog posts on the autoimmune protocol (AIP).  There are too many to list, but here are a just a few you may also enjoy reading:

What I Wish I Knew When I Started the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)

Simplifying the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)

Troubleshooting the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)

My Top Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Blog Posts

Comments (12)

I’m wondering if this will help fibromyalgia flare ups? There isn’t a lot out there for fibromyalgia except LYRICA, gabapentin and neither of those can I take. Too many side of heffects. Thankyou for sharing your inspiration

Hi Debbie! It’s so nice to meet you! Yes, I’ve heard AIP helps alleviate fibro symptoms. I did a quick google search to see examples of the autoimmune protocol helping fibromyalgia, and came across a number of interesting articles. Here’s a couple links for you to check out:

https://autoimmunewellness.com/stories-of-recovery-april-2016/

https://healingautoimmune.com/aip-helped-andreas-fibromyalgia-symptoms/

http://nearlynormalmama.com/reduce-fibromyalgia-pain-naturally/

Also, this is just me doing a really quick google search, so I encourage you to do a more in depth google search, and reach out to those you find. 😉 . Sending you so much love and support!

[…] or search my website using “AIP” to find more.  You can read about my AIP journey here and […]

[…] Sarah has been my go-to resource for AIP information since the beginning of my AIP journey, and I trust her deep knowledge of the protocol! I can’t think of a better source to point you […]

[…] My Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Story […]

[…] To a place of wellness, where you can go from living a life filled with autoimmune symptoms to living a life of adventures, feeling well more often than not.  However, it will not be easy, friend.  In contrast, it will be hard. But, the autoimmune protocol helps autoimmune warriors get their lives back every day!  […]

[…] but I knew I wanted to try!  My health has improved drastically since beginning my wellness and AIP journey in January of 2018, I travel often on the AIP, and I felt ready to try a Caribbean […]

Leave a comment