The 5 things I learned about Autoimmune in August.
September 20th, 2022
The 5 things I learned about Autoimmune in August.
I used last month for rest, recuperation and some good ole' reorganization. To my surprise, this time opened me up to a new perspective and understanding of my Autoimmune disease as well. Here are some of the main points.
The 5 things I learned about Autoimmune in August:
1. Removing grains from my diet decreased my Autoimmune Inflammation.
What began as a successful Keto journey for my dad became a challenge for myself until my early September birthday. I did not go Keto, but I utilized one of the diet's main principals which was removing grains. Some examples of grains are things like rice, oats, quinoa etc.
This was a decision I made at the drop of a hat following a minor emotional panic seeing Autoimmune inflammation begin to pop back up. Removing grains was SURPRISINGLY easy - especially upon realizing my muffin drops fell under the "grain-free" category too! The switch allowed me to focus back on the basics like greens and fruits, while also being able to have things like Siete grain-free tortillas & nut-flour based products. I hadn't had a health-oriented lifestyle shift in a while, and once I saw positive effects, it felt like something I couldn't give up. It's been beneficial for overall maintenance, and I've also noticed its effects on my period with decreased PMS and bloating.
I broke grain-free on my birthday but returned to the lifestyle the next day, lol. I couldn't stay away. I highly recommend this if you feel like that damn inflammation wont go away!
2. Less HIIT, more sleep & low-impact.
For a while I would push myself to get in high-intensity workouts even when I was tired or drained. I've never been the best sleeper either, but I'd still get to that early morning class on a few hours of sleep because it felt necessary to keep me in shape or healthy. I look back after seeing the effects of not pushing this and think, HIIT and no sleep? Are you crazy girl?
A HIIT class after lack of sleep on top of it is an Autoimmune double whammy! This is because Autoimmune is fueled by stress and stress is fueled by cortisol, the stress hormone. When you're doing these high intensity workouts, that stress hormone actually increases! The adequate rest you missed for the class could have actually helped to lower that stress & decrease that cortisol. August showed me this, and that giving the body that extra sleep, especially after long work days, is even more beneficial over these workouts. That rest allows for the cells to repair and stabilize themselves.
When your body's ready & rested for movement though, the workouts I've found to be the most beneficial for Autoimmune are lower-impact ones like yoga, pilates or walking. These give me the workout I'm looking for without keeping my body in fight-or-flight mode.
3. On the topic of yoga, YOGA for the MIND not just for the body.
OMG... you have no idea how big this one was for me.
I didn't just start going to yoga in August, but what I did realize in August was yoga's impact on my mental space, and thus its translation to my overall wellbeing. For years I watched my mom and sisters do hot yoga as their main form of exercise. They love the whole nine; the 90 degree room, the fast paced shifting of poses. Since high school I tried to like it too but was always so confused why I didn't.
It wasn't until I found slow yoga flows which changed my relationship to it. I'd experienced some very serious grief beginning in May which brought me to my first "yin" focused class. The movements were slow, there was no heat, and we held poses for longer. In the pause we took in this class, I got closer to myself and to my thoughts. If they were intruding I had to address them right then and there on the mat. If it got emotional, I had to work through the pain. These classes are able to take my fast life and slow it down, and within that has been healing and definitely helpful for my Autoimmune.
I now like yoga, just in a different form than I knew it could be in :)
4. This one is thyroid specific, but waiting an hour after taking thyroid medication to eat is so beneficial for absorption!
I know, I KNOWW. All my thyroid girlies are screaming, "you didn't know that already?" And to that I respond - I was being lazy and only doing a 30 minute fast. I was missing out not waiting another 30!
The difference I feel in waiting to eat, 1-2 hours after taking my medication is so significant! My energy is better and my inflammation is down. Plus, eating before that window decreases absorption of the medication. We want full absorption ladies! And the fast is probably better for our digestion anyway.
5. The big bucks - Authenticity is one of the keys to resolving Autoimmune.
This topic deserves more than just a bullet point, and I plan on devoting a whole blog to it if not more. But this is something within the space I gave myself that I was truly able to discover in August. I'll give personal examples to explain.
At the end of July, my family returned to London, the place I grew up from 8 until 13 years old. I felt like I restored a piece of myself that had been missing during this trip. The years I grew up there were the most poignant times of my life. My personality, hobbies and interests were unbound. We had a very unique experience living here for many reasons, but one that I value most was being surrounded by people who encouraged each other's differences above all else. My school was international and many of my friends were from all around the globe. Here I played sports while also taking acting classes. You weren't put into a box to be one thing or the other. This was the mindset that raised me, developing true authenticity.
Fast forward to moving back to America in 8th grade and everything I'd learned began to shift. I had just moved to the suburbs of Connecticut and felt like an alien. My new environment dressed, spoke and looked alike; something many found comfort in, but I struggled to. I was a confused pre-teen and began to water myself down. I think I just didn't feel as accepted as I always had, or more so I didn't accept myself for not being this new normal. I definitely view this time as one of the most lost ones in my life thus far. It would only be a year after moving back when I'd develop thyroid issues, an Autoimmune "disease" directly correlated to feeling an inability to express oneself.
I look back now on these struggles just wanting to give little me a big hug - and an explanation that one day we will have a company that's essentially our rediscovered authentic self in a bottle! August mirrored myself back to me once I started writing and sharing these blogs, while also sharing more about my life on my personal social media pages.
There is no box I ever want to live within, and I believe true freedom and healing comes from fearlessly living out your truest authenticity. I see this time and time again when I honor my differences. The more you fight to be your "you-est" self is where the healing starts. It's a journey, and I've not yet conquered it, but its one that's worth all of the time that it takes. When you stifle or suffocate that authenticity, that's where sickness is born. Early high school me vs now me can vouch for that.
August reminded me that we have only just started. My authentic self comes in many forms, and one of those forms is to share it.
"Healing comes from fearlessly living our your truest authenticity."
Written by Emily Eldh