This week I have another inspiring AIP Spotlight interview for you! Leanne Gotvald shares her experiences following the Autoimmune Protocol.
Leanne is a blogger over on Autoimmune Odyssey. Make sure you go check out her site, where she was inspired to share with others to help them on their AIP journey. Leanne is also on Instagram, which is where I first connected with her. Give her a follow! @autoimmune.odyssey
To start, tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Leanne Gotvald and I am a Mom in the Atlanta metro area living with Sjogren's Syndrome, Lupus and Ménière's Disease. I recently started teaching Pilates again after a four year hiatus. I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida and went to college at Mississippi State majoring in Broadcasting. I worked as a correspondent on a local TV show in Atlanta after graduation until I had my first child and started teaching yoga. I made a children's yoga DVD, A Child's Way to Yoga, in 2006 and continued teaching until the doctor recommended that I take a break in 2012. I began writing my blog to help others with autoimmune disease in December 2015 after being on AIP for three months and experiencing major health improvements.
How long have you been following the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, and what prompted you to try it?
I have been doing AIP for 14 months. I started after I was diagnosed with Autoimmune Lung Disease and told that I would have to take low dose chemo the rest of my life. I started AIP in a desperate attempt to stay off chemo and improve my quality of life.
What have you found most challenging about following the AIP, and how have you overcome this challenge?
My biggest challenge with AIP was probably getting started. I had to jump over the psychological obstacle of thinking I needed the foods I had always eaten and craved. Yet, to my body, these foods were physically destructive and inflammatory. I was determined to improve my health, so I took the leap into AIP. It actually turned out to be much easier than I anticipated.
Other than food, what aspect of AIP living have you found to have the biggest impact on your health?
There are three other aspects of AIP that have greatly impacted my life.
The first was removing toxins from my life. Removing all major smells from my environment including essential oils, which to most people are not toxic, was huge for me because of my autoimmune lung issues. Dr. Amy Myers' book, The Autoimmune Solution, has a great chapter called, "Tame the Toxins", which is a fabulous resource to help you remove the toxins from environment.
Secondly, regulating my Circadian Rhythms has been huge for me. I get much better sleep now and I don't have to take medication to get it. I simple dim the lights a couple hours or so before I want to sleep and get in the sunlight during the day. I also take melotonin 2 hours before I want to sleep. Once I started having autoimmune issues, my need for sleep increased. Sleep is the time when the body heals the most. I needed 9-12 hours for years, but I find myself getting away with a little less sleep since my quality of sleep in better now that my circadian Rhythms are more regulated.
Finally, I added some supplements that were recommended in Dr Myers' book in the beginning of this journey. Later, I added a few more after getting my genetic testing done and researching what supplements I needed based on that information. I think the supplements gave me and extra step forward in my healing process.
Share 1 thing you wish you had know when you started the Autoimmune Protocol.
When I started AIP, I wish that I knew that everything gets easier with time. And, how much better I would feel.
What rewarding results have you seen from following the AIP?
In August of 2015 I was diagnosed with Interstitial Lung Disease. The doctors saw things in my lungs for a year prior that weren't good. This was a result of my autoimmune disease. My Rheumatologist and Pulmonologist told me that I would take chemo the rest of my life. I started AIP in September of 2015 soon after being prescribed the chemo medication. However, I only took chemo three weeks. In December when I had my follow up Lung scan, my lungs were clear. The Lung Disease was completely gone. I also noticed other things clearing up with my skin. By spring my hypo-pigmentation was gone and my skin was beautiful and clear. My energy level is way up and my brain fog is gone. I generally feel so much better.
Do you have a favourite AIP resource?
My favorite AIP resources are three books: The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne, The Autoimmune Solution by Dr. Amy Myers, and The Wahls Protocol by Dr. Terry Wahls. If you read those, you will have all the information that you need to get started on your AIP healing journey.
The resource that I use most now is Instagram. On Instagram I find lots of new recipes and ideas for food. There is also a great AIP community on Instagram to connect with and get moral support.
Name a go-to AIP recipe of yours. Why do you love it?
Click the photo to go the recipe on Autoimmune Odyssey
What are your top 3 AIP pantry items?
My most used pantry items are all derived from coconut. I use a ton of coconut milk, which I am constantly using to make Coconut Kefir. My go to flour of choice is Coconut Flour. I also love Coconut Aminos as my soy sauce substitute.
Now's your chance, share one AIP related pet-peeve.
My family still eats gluten. Gluten makes me very ill and I had stopped eating it three years before I adopted AIP. My family still leaves gluten crumbs everywhere in the kitchen every day. It is a pet peeve of mine.
Do you have any advice for eating out while following the AIP?
When I go out to eat, I only go to places with a reputable chef. I tell them that I can't have gluten or any grains, dairy or night shades. I don't want to list everything, because I don't want to overwhelm them. I figure that these foods are the biggest offenders to me. I usually ask a lot of questions to make sure that I don't get other things that I don't eat. I often have to explain nightshades to the server. I emphasize peppers and paprika.
Not everyone understands why we choose to live & eat the way we do. How do you deal with nay-sayers?
I usually ignore and rise above any negativity regarding AIP. I often explain to people that many foods are inflammatory to those with autoimmune disease and that's enough. Most people I encounter commend me for taking control of my health with diet and lifestyle change. I think I inspire many more people than I offend.
Thank you, Leanne!
I love hearing real life stories like Leanne's! To put disease into remission is the ultimate goal, and it can be done! She also shared some great resources, why not check them out for yourself? What did you find inspiring from this interview? Share with us in the comments!
I hope this gave you some inspiration and encouragement to keep on keeping on with your AIP lifestyle! Check back next week for another real look into an AIP life!
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The Emancipated Epicure, Bethany. I'm a Foodie & Autoimmune Warrior who loves to cook. Working at healing with the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol.
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