We’ve all been hit with that feeling at some point in our lives that we are completely and utterly unprepared for something. Whether it be the joyful news of a first pregnancy; the sudden death of a family member; a job promotion with larger responsibilities; or even registering for college abroad. Something deep in our soul is wrung with feelings of excitement, or worry, or grief, or bliss…but no matter what end of the emotional spectrum is being stimulated, you know that something BIG has happened and everything about an aspect of our life is about to change. How do we adapt now? How do we enlighten and empower ourselves so that we will be prepared for what is to come?
In 2013, at the age of 32, my already weaksauce-health (compromised of what I only understood at the time as GERD, fibromyalgia, insomnia, anemia, eczema, depression and anxiety…and what I DIDN’T yet know was attributed by hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s, celiac disease, Raynaud’s and IgA deficiency) took a deep dive into a shallow pool. My ability to be able to moderately function on a day-to-day basis (fueled by tons of caffeine, sugar, adrenaline, anxiety medications, anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and sleeping pills) turned into a daily fiasco where I would scramble to pull myself together and push through the day like a zombie with a short-wired hair dryer up its ass. I felt my body crumbling from the inside out, and my mind steadily unraveling. I knew something was horribly wrong, that this was no way to live, and something seriously had to change or I was not going to make it to 40.
With the blessing of my former doctor, I weaned myself off of one medication at a time. This was a slow and painful process, but it made a huge difference in the beginning of my recovery. My fibromyalgia lessened. My mind was running more clearly. Shortly after I was weaned of all prescription meds, my appetite that had been gone for several months returned, and I began to eat more again. I soon noticed a sharp pain in my side when I consumed bread that contained gluten. So away went the gluten. That part honestly took me the rest of the year to accept that it wasn’t just FLOUR that was bothering me. I realized eventually that I couldn’t even have it in a sauce or supplement or risk cross-contamination. I really didn’t know the logistics behind it yet…I was just grasping at bits and pieces of information here and there. The severity of the situation was something I was completely unaware of.
Shortly after removing gluten (and buying all of those crap-tastic gluten-free wonder products on the market) came lactose intolerance. Then beans screwed me up. And spicy foods. I’m over here like, “WTF? What is going on with my body and why doesn’t it want this stuff?” It wasn’t just gut pain any longer when I consumed these goodies…I would have severe gastro issues, and my fibromyalgia would go from a mumble to a roar. I researched digestive problems with these foods, and stumbled across Paleo diet. Thank goodness for that! I briefly noticed major improvements in my energy and digestion, but something was still amiss.
I was super stressed out at work. It was an extremely demanding position for what my body could tolerate. So I changed jobs. Then I changed jobs again because I hated said new job (and to be honest, my boss was a little turd-head). Then the really awesome new job abruptly closed down its Dallas location three months after I started. Bummer! Of course, I took the first job I could find at a fast-paced cafe style eatery. It was a really, REALLY stressful job. My health began to decline again. In hopes of regaining my strength and stamina I tried going vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan, and even high-raw vegan…all to worsening digestion and plummeting energy. I began to wonder how I was ever going to make it in this world any longer as a chef if I couldn’t even do my job anymore. What was wrong with me?
In 2014 I made the change to working as a private chef again in people’s homes. The change was a godsend. The hours were better for raising my daughter, for spending time with my partner, for enjoying life as it is meant to be enjoyed. I worked less and made a little bit more. My health didn’t improve much, but it wasn’t screaming at me every single day. The roar was again down to a mumble. Acceptance started sinking in that this was probably as good as it was going to get.
I distinctly remember the sharp pain in my stomach one day after eating my normal spoonful of almond butter. Like little shards of glass were attacking the lining. “Dear Lord, what now? OK, maybe if I put it in a smoothie or something…maybe if I soak them or sprout them, or try different nuts, or blend them in the Vitamix until its a completely unrecognizable pile of crap and looks like baby food?” And the Universe answered, “Nope, nope, and nope.”
Late in 2015, as my vitality tanked and my diet variety continuously dwindled further down, I scrambled for tips and tricks to aid in my daily survival. My main focus was how to make a large volume of safe food, really fast, paired with the bane of zero human energy. I was, after all, a professional chef and cook who had worked in a variety of employment settings…why couldn’t I figure this out? In my interwebs-digging, I came across meal planning services that listed Autoimmune Paleo as an option. I heard tires screech to a halt in my brain. “What r dis AIP?” (That’s how I think…in my head.) Must. Learn. More.
And I did learn more. Much more! More than I ever knew I would learn. I thought I knew all there was to know about Paleo cooking, gluten-free cooking, and low-carb cooking, but there was more. There were seemingly unforgiving new flours to work with, gelatin “eggs,” new sauces and flavorings to substitute for the ol’ standby seasonings, and cuts of meat that seemed impossible to trim and make palatable. I felt inexperienced. Naked, exposed and completely taken aback by this new form of cooking, my insecurities were soon transformed into a feeling of excitement. Like a kid already playing sloppily and giddily in the backyard with mud pies; whom then in his digging comes across some earth worms, holds them with his own two little hands, and then creates Earthy-Wormy-Mud-Pie. Except these were carob cassava pies. And not disgustingly off-putting.
In this early period of learning the AIP ropes, I knew I was currently out of my element. I wasn’t skilled in this arena whatsoever. I was the opposite of skilled. I was undoubtedly UN-skilled. (Read my very first blog post about coming across AIP here!)
Now, just a tad bit shy of two years later, AIP is my THANG, y’all. I can make breads, sauces, entrees, sides and desserts in a snap! I love to share these recipes with you all on my blog to help you thrive and regain your health. The feedback and comments I receive from you guys really keep me going! I’ve met a network of amazing chronic illness and autoimmune disease bloggers who have been some of the best friends I’ve ever had the pleasure of be-friending. My health, digestion, and energy has made great strides. I have more precious moments spent with loved ones and less time spent immobilized in bed. And I know there is so much more to come! I see myself making it to 40 after all (fingers crossed).
When I say that “Everyone Is The Unskilled Cavewoman” I mean that we all have something new to face waiting for us around the corner. Something uncomfortable to learn, something that will change our humanity forever, and something unexpected that will challenge us to push ourselves harder than we ever imagined we would be able to push. We don’t know how to do it yet, but we will know soon. And you know what? You can do it. You really, truly can.
Now when I ask the Universe, “Am I going to make it through this day? Is it possible for my health to improve any further than it already has? Can I survive this moment?” I hear it differently now. Sometimes a whisper, sometimes a murmur, and sometimes a roar. She replies with a resounding, “Yes, yes, and YES.”