03 May 2015

Progress: Four weeks on AIP

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." -Lao Tzu

Is that so cheesy? The quote thing? Oh well.

I've been doing the Autoimmune Protocol for 4 weeks. At first nothing changed; if anything, I felt a little worse and my running was even more affected by foot drop. It took a shitload of perseverance to keep eating meat and fish (and stinky stinky bone broth!) but I kept at it. If I quit, I would never know if the diet could have worked.

After about three weeks, my energy stabilized. In weeks 1 and 2 I had some great moments and some crashes, but the past two weeks have been amazing. I get up at 5 most days, I run 4 times a week, I work at a pretty (mentally) demanding job and I still have energy to hang with Sean and Maple when I get home. Sometimes I get a little tired around 9pm cause you know, I'm human.

So what have I been eating? Here's a typical day of eating from the past month:

  • Breakfast: Two chicken patties (made at home with ground pastured chicken thigh) sautéed in coconut oil, and a kale/blueberry/coconut milk/banana/spirulina smoothie. 
  • Midmorning snack: Banana
  • Lunch: Giant salad (greens, carrots, beets with olive oil, salt, and apple cider vinegar). Sometimes some leftover roasted veggies from the night before.
  • Afternoon Snack: Coconut butter out of the jar and a granny smith apple.
  • Dinner: Salmon, collards, and a baked yam/sweet potato, or liver and onions with bok choy and basil, and roasted root vegetables and asparagus, or chicken curry soup (made with bone broth).
  • Dessert: Strawberries and peaches.

I also take cod liver oil, probiotics, and a few other vitamins and supplements every day.

So is it working? Yes. This shit works. My energy is better, I'm less wobbly and shaky, and I realized the other day that a symptom I've had for NINE YEARS (vertigo when I lie on my right side - random, right?) has completely gone away.

What about running? It's getting better, slowly but surely. I've been trying to increase my long run length, and today I had a breakthrough run: 6 miles, with 5.5 miles before the dreaded foot drop. Feels like a miracle.

The Autoimmune Protocol is not only about eating. Here are some other things I'm doing:
  • I meditate, or indulge in "brain rest" (where you do absolutely nothing), or visualize some new age healing thing at least once a day.
  • Sit-ups and push-ups a few times a week (this is more for bathing suit reasons than health reasons, but I figure it doesn't hurt).
  • I make a serious effort to avoid stress. I have changed my outlook about things that threaten to disturb my peace. This sounds hard, but fundamentally it's just this: I decided I won't get stressed out. Sean taught me this years ago, that you can just decide. You just walk away from the old thing. It works most of the time, and when it doesn't, I immediately take a time out to calm my nerves. 
  • I also make a serious effort to think positive thoughts. Like "I am healing my MS with food!" and "I will run long distances again!" I even registered for a 25k race in early 2016. Cause I'm crazy. And hopeful. And positive!
  • I'm doing this cool online Shakespeare course, which means I'm reading one play a week for 4 weeks. Last week was Romeo and Juliet; this week is A Midsummer Nights Dream. Using your brain is good for it.
  • I've examined some nonphysical parts of my life that were unhealthy (ahem, money) and I decided to change some things. It's probably not as helpful to spend so much energy on my diet and continue to be unhealthy in other areas of my life.
  • I encouraged Sean to retire from the bakery so he can be my personal chef. He's really (really) good at it, and yes, I know how lucky I am. So. Lucky.

I also saw a new neurologist and I'll be starting a very low dose of medication soon. She considers this a preventative, and I'm finally cool with it. It's funny; I have always wanted to heal myself with diet and lifestyle and not meds. And now I'm doing it - the diet and lifestyle part - and I realize I want meds too. Why not use every tool available?

So what's next? Since this diet is alternately boring and horrifying, and definitely limited in terms of how many things you can eat, I am already starting to reintroduce some foods, like white rice and chocolate. (Most people wait a few months or more to reintroduce foods, but I would rather do it a little early than fall completely off the wagon with Pop Tarts.) Lentils are my next reintroduction - Tuesday! I'm vegan at heart, and the sooner I can find some plant-based protein sources that agree with me, the better. Liver, salmon, and bone broth are superfoods and they are helping me right now, but I am hopeful that I won't need them forever. (If I do, I can live with it, but I'd be happier on a 100% plant-based diet.) I believe the most important things about my diet are being gluten-free, sugar-free*, and dairy-free. Those should be with me forever, but maybe the animal stuff can go eventually.

* A note about my version of sugar-free: I eat sugar in whole foods like fruit - not tons of it, but some fruit every day. I occasionally have maple syrup, dates, or coconut sugar.

I know this post is pretty long already but if you have any questions about the Autoimmune Protocol or anything else, ask away!