If you’re wondering where I’ve been the past few weeks, wonder no more! I’m back and I’ve got a confession to make.
I’m an Autoimmune Protocol drop-out.
Yep. It’s the truth!
I started the AIP at the end of September. I lasted just under two weeks before I called it quits.
Why? Three reasons:
- I felt worse, not better. AIP meals center largely around vegetables and protein. I found that eating meat three times per day made me feel heavy and blah. Eating only vegetables left me hungry and unsatisfied. When I quit the AIP and added nuts and eggs back in, I actually felt better—less “heavy,” more satisfied, and better mental stamina.
- I became too food focused, which in turn spiked my stress and gave me more anxiety—something I was trying to reduce! Following such a strict protocol sent me into a tailspin of mind games as I tried to keep on top of all the things I couldn’t eat. In the end, I decided that the stress of trying to eat the “perfect healing diet” was not the path to healing for me.
- My mood suffered from lack of exercise. On the AIP, keeping exercise light and easy is one of the pillars of healing. I quickly realized that walking and easy yoga just don’t it for me when it comes to physical and mental fitness. Working out gives me a mental boost and puts me in a good mood. Sometimes all I need is a walk to do that, but more often than not I prefer something a little more sweaty—like a 12 minute HIIT session in my living room, a few sprints outside, or a good strength workout. I like moving my body in all kinds of different ways on a regular basis—and I felt like the AIP limited that too much for me.
Since dropping out of the AIP, I’ve been taking a different approach to healing. It’s called the Make Healthy Choices And Quit Worrying About The Rest Protocol.
Instead of obsessing over what foods could be causing problems with my digestion, skin, hormones, mood, fatigue, or something else, I’m just eating healthy stuff and not stressing out about it.
Are there days when I’m bloated and don’t know why? Yes. Are they nights when I shamelessly go to bed at 8:15 because I can’t keep my eyes open? Yes.
But there are also days where my energy is even, my stomach is flat, and I’m up until 10:00. What causes my good days and bad days? I really don’t know, but for now I’m just resting in the fact that I don’t have to figure it all out.
Truth explosion: I don’t have to have “perfect health” to be a great person. I don’t have to have it all together. I don’t have to know all the answers or solve all the problems.
I’ve got a weird body that responds in weird ways to food and stress. It’s just the way it is. Even still, I’m uniquely and beautifully created—wacky gut issues and all—to do great things. And when I focus on the flaws, I’m putting my energy where it has no business being.
I read this touching piece by Ann Voskamp yesterday. Chill bumps rippled up my arms when I read this near the middle:
“There is nothing inherently flawed with the way our Father formed us. In our callings and vocations — Women aren’t called to suppress their femininity, their motherhood, or their age. Women are called to beautifully express it.”
That’s what we are as women: mysterious, intelligent, nurturing, wildly talented, exquisite, intricately woven, hormonally-charged, multi-layered expressions of a Creator more gracious and resplendent than we’ll ever comprehend this side of heaven.
Health woes, food issues, roller-coastering hormones, body image stuff—we’re more than all that. Made for more, yes, but also just more.
In our scattered state of not having all the answers, we’re more. I’m more.
More prized, more redeemed, more unfathomably loved by a God who sees beyond all the veins and cells and valves and follicles to the heart—the beautifully broken and tender female heart. A hallowed place, a perplexing collision of wildest dreams and throbbing anxieties.
Femininity is a strange and wonderful thing. But it’s not a wrinkle-free, flat-bellied existence. Ask any woman and she’ll tell it to you straight—there are days when we’re in love with the way our bodies work, and others where we’re completely baffled by them.
Here’s my thought: there isn’t one tried and true way to heal. There’s no 10-step program to perfect health. There’s no protocol in the world that will give us all flat stomachs, glowing complexions, glossy hair, lean figures, and everlasting energy. Because we’re all different. We’re all unique. We’re all expressions.
And maybe that’s not something to fight, but something to embrace. Maybe true healing begins when we stop trying so hard to force it and let it work on its own timetable.
Because in the end, maybe the secret to thriving is to stop striving and start surrendering.
Will all our health issues resolve when we stress less about food? Maybe. Maybe not.
But I will tell you one thing for sure: our hearts can heal deeply and profoundly when we give them the freedom to rest, to cease striving, and to beat to the tune of the One who fashioned them.
My new recipe for a well-nourished life?
Eat food and enjoy it. Be smart about it and eat to nourish. Move your body and enjoy it. Surround yourself with people who lift you up, and who you can lift up. Cultivate faithfulness and crave integrity. Do what you do with soul.
The rest will fall into place in its own timing.
Life is not an emergency to be handled, a problem to be fixed, or a set of rules to be followed. Life is a gift. No matter where we are or what we’re doing or how long our list of health issues, it’s time we start treating it like one.
My new goal? To accept the gift. To surrender. To collapse. To dissolve into a heap of unsuccessful attempts.
To give it up. To give it over to a God far greater than me.
To believe that giving up and giving over is not my end. It’s my birth.