I am so deeply grateful to Shanna for first sharing her story with me, and second, being willing to share it with you. Shanna reached out to me last winter to tell me how my online course, The AIP Lecture Series, had helped her—and as you’re about to read, Shanna’s story is both moving and profound. In fact, it brought me to tears. I spend most days working at home and alone, so immersed in the task at hand that I typically never stop to appreciate the impact of the resources I’m creating. Connecting with Shanna was like hitting the pause button for me, giving me an invaluable opportunity to see that big picture: my work is helping people, even changing lives. Recognizing the relevance of my work is a tremendous motivator to keep going!
Shanna’s story begins like it does for so many autoimmune disease sufferers. After over a decade of progressively worse health struggles, and finally hitting her rock bottom, Shanna was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Amazingly, within days of her diagnosis, she went to work developing habits and adopting the autoimmune protocol (AIP) in an effort to find relief from her autoimmune symptoms naturally. It worked!
Shanna is currently in the Nutritional Therapy Practitioner program and you can connect with her through her blog WellnessUnraveled.com, on Instagram @wellnessunraveled, or on her YouTube channel, Shanna Nemrow.
After years of health struggles, my endocrinologist diagnosed me with the autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, in January of 2018. Within two days of diagnosis, I found and started the Autoimmune Protocol. I overhauled my nutrition, as well as my lifestyle choices – learning to manage stress and improve sleep.
None of the Autoimmune Protocol nutrition and lifestyle choices came naturally to me. I struggled and fought through every day for the first weeks. My grit and determination only got me so far on the Autoimmune Protocol. Three weeks to be exact. Even though my health was improving, I felt my self-control wavering.
Enter Dr. Sarah Ballantyne’s AIP Lecture Series. I found Dr. Sarah’s website and the AIP Lecture Series online at just the right time. There happened to be a lecture series soon, and I desperately wanted to sign up.
The cost of the AIP Lecture Series gave me pause. Would my husband see value in this unplanned expense? Between my health care costs stacking up, and the costs of organic and pasture raised food costs, I felt guilty spending money on one more thing.
Would the AIP Lecture Series really help me find the determination to press forward in my AIP efforts? Further, could I find the time to watch the videos between homeschooling my two kids, working part-time, finishing my degree online, kids’ activities, doctors’ appointments, and learning to cook cleanly?
Honestly, I felt unsure, but I knew I wanted to give it a try. Little did I know, Dr. Sarah’s AIP Lecture Series would turn out to be a game changer for me.
Helping My Husband Understand My Autoimmune Disease
The AIP Lecture Series proved to not just be a game changer for me in finding the determination to continue the Autoimmune Protocol, but also for my marriage.
My autoimmune disease not only flipped my life upside down, it also rocked my marriage to the core. My husband is a cross fitting, eat anything he wants, rarely gets sick, kind of person. He is everything my chronically ill body is not.
Adding insult to injury, I spent years trying to hide my autoimmune symptoms since my doctor continually told me “everything looks normal,” attributing my symptoms to stress and anxiety.
I felt shame for the times I felt particularly unwell (which I now recognize as autoimmune flares). Overcome with fatigue, I laid down most afternoons in sheer frustration that my body did not cooperate with my plans for the day. I listened carefully for the garage to open, signaling my husband arrival home from work. I jumped out of bed the minute I heard any sign. This situation played on and off, on repeat for years.
Then, my body refused to be pushed any further. I could no longer function normally, and hit my rock bottom toward the end of 2017.
Looking back, hitting rock bottom is the best thing for me, since it led to me finally finding a diagnosis, answers, and rebuilding my life.
However, hitting rock bottom also meant I found myself unable to hide how sick I really felt. My husband looked on helplessly as my wellness unraveled. Without any frame of reference, my husband could not understand my health struggles, or how to support this new version of me.
After explaining the AIP Lecture Series to my husband, he supported me and I signed up for the upcoming session.
I watched the first video of the lecture series on my lap top on a road trip, balancing the lap top on one leg and taking notes in a spiral notebook on my other leg. My husband listened as he drove.
As he listened, my health struggles began making sense to him, and for the first time, we both understood the science behind autoimmune disease.
With my husband’s understanding of autoimmune disease, he felt better able to support me in my wellness journey and my new eating habits.
The cloud of confusion covering autoimmune disease my husband and I felt lifted. Listening to Dr. Sarah explain the science behind what happens in the body diagnosed with autoimmune disease, along with how and why the Autoimmune Protocol works, felt life changing.
My husband ended up watching the first two weeks of the AIP Lecture Series with me, and learned the importance of the nutritional support of autoimmune disease. Armed with this knowledge, he learned the importance of supporting my new eating habits.
The Autoimmune Protocol – More than Nutrition
The AIP Lecture Series helped me understand the Autoimmune Protocol is more than just nutrition. Dr. Sarah beautifully lays out the importance of lifestyle factors as part of the Autoimmune Protocol.
Dr. Sarah delves into the science behind the importance of sleep, stress management, reducing toxin exposure, spending time in nature, and other lifestyle practices in relation to autoimmune health and wellness.
Sure, I heard many times how important sleep to health, but hearing the scientific evidence behind WHY it is important strengthened my resolve to make sleep a priority like never before.
Surprisingly, one of the most eye-opening parts of the lecture series, for me, is when Dr. Sarah explains the science behind spending time in nature, in relation to wellness. I love spending time in nature, and notice the more time I spend in nature, the better I feel. However, I never understood why, and often wondered if I imagined it. Dr. Sarah lays out the science behind why spending time in nature increases wellness.
Making It My Own
The AIP Lecture Series is filled with incredible resources and support. The series includes not only video content, but also supplemental reading assignments, handouts, action items, additional online resources, and a Facebook support group. It is truly designed to fit anyone’s learning style and needs.
When I started the AIP Lecture series, I had already been on the Autoimmune Protocol for a number of weeks. As a result, I saw a drastic improvement in my health. As my health improved, I started returning to a somewhat normal life. I simply needed to understand the “why” as to why it worked and what autoimmune disease is, in order to keep going.
Since I found myself busy with living my life again, I mainly watched the lecture series videos, enjoyed the printable handouts, and occasionally looked at the Facebook support group. If I started the Lecture Series while at my rock bottom, I would have jumped right in to the reading, and the Facebook support group.
Also, the AIP Lecture Series is a six-week program, but it is self-paced and I have lifetime access to it. What this meant for me is I watched the first couple of weeks over the course of a month or so, then waited for a number of months before finishing the Lecture Series. It worked out beautifully for me, and I love having access to go back for a refresher anytime I need it.
Doing the Work
The Autoimmune Protocol, and the AIP Lecture Series, are great tools to help autoimmune disease sufferers regain wellness. However, I found it important to remember they are just that…tools.
By themselves, tools tend to be useless. Tools are meant to be used. When used properly, tools can help a person accomplish incredible things that he or she might not be able to accomplish without them.
The Autoimmune Protocol and the AIP Lecture Series are tools that helped me rebuild my life after my autoimmune disease diagnosis. Through the use of these tools, I can be the woman, wife, and mother, I dream of being.
Keeping my Eyes on my Own Paper
As wonderful as the Autoimmune Protocol is, it is not a one size fits all protocol. It is important for me to remember the importance of bio-individuality. Meaning, what works best for me and my body may look different than what works best for you and your body. Learning to listen to my body is instrumental as I learn to live well with autoimmune disease.
There is a wonderful and supportive AIP tribe online. When I began the Autoimmune Protocol, I did not know anyone “in person” who ate according to the Autoimmune Protocol, so I loved connecting with others in the AIP community online. However, I find it important to avoid the comparison game.
I try to be mindful not to compare:
- The length of time on the elimination phase of the Autoimmune Protocol. In other words, why someone else only needs to be on the elimination phase for 30 days and I needed to be on the elimination phase for 10 months.
- The length of time to see improvement. For instance, why some seem to get their life back after just days on the Autoimmune Protocol and others take much longer to gradually find relief from symptoms.
I Believe in You
When I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, my endocrinologist told me there was no way of eating that would help me improve – nothing I could do.
I am thankful every day that I did not listen, and that I found the Autoimmune Protocol and Dr. Sarah’s work.
You see, I learned a secret. The power to change and feel better was inside me all along. I was the hero I so desperately sought. I am not the victim of an autoimmune disease. I am the hero. My Hashimoto’s diagnosis did not make me weaker; it made me stronger.
You have the power to change within you too! You are the hero you are so desperately seeking. You are not the victim of your autoimmune disease. You are the hero. You hold the opportunity to be stronger because of your diagnosis.
The next chapter in your story is up to you. You hold the pen, and you get to be the author. Go write your story. It is going to be incredible. I believe in you.
Sign Up for The AIP Lecture Series
The Autoimmune Protocol Lecture Series is a 6-week video-based, self-directed intensive online course in which I will teach you the scientific foundation for the diet and lifestyle tenets of the Autoimmune Protocol, plus provide tons of tips and strategies for implementation, refinement and troubleshooting!
The AIP Lecture Series features:
- 42 on-demand video lectures (totaling 16 hours!), all taught by me
- the most up-to-date information on the Autoimmune Protocol
- dozens of printable guides
- action steps to help you go from theory to practice
- daily self-discovery exercises to reinforce and refine implementation
- an online forum to connect with other students and ask questions
- guided discussions in the online forum
- weekly FAQ videos by me in the online forum
- recommended reading for every topic
- interactive quizzes to test your knowledge
- support and guidance from me!
This course is changing lives and I’m so honored to be able to provide this level of individual connection, education and support!
The next session of The AIP Lecture Series starts Monday, September 9th, 2019. And, you can get the super-early-bird discount when you pre-order before July 1st—that means saving 30% off tuition!