What My AIP Way of Life Looks Like Now (+ My Goals for 2020)

AIP Way of Life Now
I swear I'm getting taller...!

If you had told me six years ago that AIP would still form the roadmap for my health caper in 2020, I would have thought you were barking. Barking mad, that is.

But it does still form the basis of my health choices. And, I remain so very grateful that I stumbled upon The Paleo Mom and her Autoimmune Protocol framework all those years ago.

I have written and spoken extensively about my health ‘stuff’ and what motivated me to take the first step on my AIP way of life.

In a nutshell, here’s where I was at six years ago:
  • I had recently self-diagnosed my 20+ years of horribly painful and shameful skin issues as stage-II Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) – more on that here. At the time, I had no idea that the foods I ate might have something to do with my hideous disease.
  • My HS caused me to be hugely self conscious about my body. It made me feel unclean. My self esteem suffered.
  • My Vitamin D levels were alarmingly low
  • Blastocystis Hominis (an intestinal parasite) was an issue
  • At the time I started my AIP caper, I was unaware that I would require periodontal surgery due to my gum disease. Despite my regular brushing and flossing, I was facing the very real chance of losing teeth.
  • With a strong family history of colorectal cancer and abnormal test results, I was undergoing annual colonoscopies.
  • A full night’s sleep was so far from my reality I had forgotten what it looked like. I suffered terribly from insomnia.
  • I was a complete stress-head. I worried about my level of worrying.
And so, with the help of a wonderful functional medical doctor, I started my AIP caper…

After a couple of years following my AIP way of life, I shared what two years on the Autoimmune Protocol looks like, including a comprehensive listicle of my health improvements over this period. And, they were impressive!

Frankly, AIP exceeded all possible expectations for me. I even improved aspects of my health that I didn’t realise required work!

The IMPORTANT thing to remember about this health caper is that slow and steady wins the race.

“Persistence, perseverance, and continuous improvement are the ingredients for forming a successful person.” – Debasish Mridha

What does my AIP way of life look like now?

It’s been a while since I shared an update on where I’m at in my health caper. It feels like it may be time. So, here we go.

Members of my Mentorship crew know that I am fond of asking three questions:-

  1. What’s working?
  2. What’s not working?
  3. What’s tricky?

And, since we all have tricky bits (and bits that don’t work so well), I thought this may be a useful way to share what my AIP way of life looks like now…

What’s working?

LOTS is working!

It goes almost without saying that my Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS), the reason I started down this rabbit hole all those years ago, is almost completely in remission. When I flare, it’s because some aspect of my AIP way of life is out of balance.

But there is so much else that is working. This AIP caper has been such a force for good in my life.


Without question, one of the biggest side benefits of my AIP ‘stuff’ has been the #bloodyfabulous community of (let’s face it, mainly) women who have become such an important part of my life.

It is something I never imagined at the beginning.

It started with my early adopter AIP blogging buddies – people like Rory, KirstiePetra, Emma (formerly of The Bacon Mum, and then with me at Conscious Autoimmunity), Mickey, Eileen, Erin, Kate, the beautiful Martine, Sophie, Jo, Stephanie, and Catharina – to name but a few. It grew in 2016 with the start of all my lovely  AIP Resetters. And, then in 2019, AIP Mentorship brought my #bloodyfabulous crew of seriously fabulous connection. I even got to meet some in New York.

And, the woman who started it all for me, and who has become a friend, the wonderful Sarah Ballantyne, The Paleo Mom, herself.

I LOVE the AIP community.


I worked in strategic HR for over 20 years before becoming an AIP Mentor and coach. Unsurprising that words like PURPOSE and VALUES and GOALS are like catnip to me, then.

If the Autoimmune Protocol is my WHAT I need to do to improve my health, my Wheel of Health gives me the tool to prioritise HOW I need to do it (because I can’t do it all at once). And my purpose? My purpose is my WHY.

All of this gives me a process and helps me to stay focused as I continue to chip away at my personal health ‘stuff’. And, it works for me to continue to set myself incremental goals towards improvement.


Those incremental goals I refer to are one of the big reasons I’m such a fan of creating RITUALS. More than healthy habits or routines, my rituals allow me to very intentionally add diet and lifestyle choices that serve me (and that also means I continue to crowd out the ‘stuff’ that doesn’t).

A good example of this is my MORNING RITUAL. To be honest, I think it’s one of my better life decisions. My morning ritual sets me up for the day, and it gives me the space to tick a lot of things off my health ‘to do’ list, too – before the outside world gains entry.


Even though (as you will see) I’ve determined that I need a stronger focus on NUTRIENT DENSITY this year, it remains something that is working. If I compare the way David and I eat – and live! – now to six years ago – WOWSER! I am so much more aware of my food choices and I actively seek out healthier choices.

What’s not working?

Specifically, within the AIP paradigm, my stress management practice remains a work in progress. Despite experimenting with a number of strategies to reduce my stress levels and increase my resilience, I know this still requires attention. It seems this is a bit of an an Achilles heel for me.

One of the most obvious measures I have that stress is still an issue for me is that I am a prodigious nightime teeth grinderI. It is a chronic issue for me. And by chronic, I mean I cracked two molars last year because of my nocturnal habit. I now wear a very sexy mouth-guard but would like to be more pro-active about preventing further expensive dentist visits.

I’m better at setting an intention of GRACE and EASE, but there’s still work to be done!

The other tricky thing for me is movement. As in, I need to do more. And so I shall. This year!

About three years into my AIP caper, my adrenals packed it in. BIG time. (I refer you back to my challenges with stress management!) My doctor advised that I cancel gym membership and stop my twice-weekly kick-boxing sessions with my personal trainer. And so I did. Initially, this was fine because I have a gorgeous pup who loves nothing more than to go out on walks. But she has aged in the last wee while – she’s deaf and her sight is going. Those walks resemble dawdles now…

What’s tricky?

What’s tricky for me is that I’m easily distracted! I want to do ALL THE THINGS! It’s one of the reasons I’m such a fan of breaking things down into small, manageable pieces. It helps me to manage my own expectations and not try to everything at once. NEWS FLASH – you can’t. You’re human.

What’s also tricky for me is that I’m human! That means I’m not perfect.  Creepage happens. Even after six years. As well as facilitating AIP Reset, I undertake my own Reset, along with everyone else in the program. I do this two or three times a year. The accountability and camaraderie make a huge difference.

Part of my creepage is also about the growth in the ‘healthy’ processed food market. I have moments of weakness.  We have a very good ready-made, gluten-free pizza base available here in Australia. I don’t react to it and it tastes wonderful. BUT! – That doesn’t mean it’s good for me!

Being human also means I can’t do everything. And, I really want to do everything. NOW. This is where my Wheel of Health is helpful. Every month I work out my priorities and set myself 3 SMART short term goals to work on.

My 2020 Goals

This year, my word of the year is LESS.

AIP Way of Life Now
All this really means I’m sticking to my AIP knitting!

Perhaps not the best analogy, given my extreme ineptitude when it comes to the art of knitting, but I’m sure you get the picture. I’m taking things back to AIP basics.

I’ll be utilising the principles of my Wheel of Health (WoH) to help me continue develop my AIP way of life in a way that serves me. I have my monthly ritual of prioritising health goals using my WoH.

AN increased focus on nutrient density
  • I’m currently off coffee to kick-start this goal
  • A commitment to LESS short-cuts by way of ‘healthy’ packaged foods (and MORE locally grown, seasonal whole food)
  • I have implemented ‘Operation No Bread for Me’ – We have an exceptional gluten free baker that I’m partial to here in Sydney (Nonie’s bread) Sadly, I love it so much that I have no off-switch when it’s available. So, the smartest thin g is NOT to make it available.
  • I’m applying the principles of Dr Sarah Ballantyne’s Healthy Weightloss program – Hopefully, this will mean LESS of me by year-end!
Creating and maintaining rituals around movement and sleep
  • I have recently started seeing an exercise physiologist twice a week.
  • My morning ritual continues to evolve and now includes a 15-minute ‘mobility stretches’ section
  • I have a date with my sexy new walking shoes –  With Bella, the ageing pooch, slowing down, I’m committed to at least 2 decent walks (1 hour +) each week
  • I’m also investigating Tai Chi lessons in my area
  • My quality and quantity of sleep is good. I want to keep it that way!
    • I have an Oura ring to monitor my sleep patterns (and my movement, too)
    • I have an evening ritual  that works
Continue to work on stress management
  • As already mentioned, this is a ‘tricky’ area in my AIP way of life
    • Those Tai Chi will work here, too.
  • Experiment with physiotherapy for my bruxism (teeth grinding)
  • Engage in non-work related activities that bring joy
    • Schedule at least one ‘class of interest’ per quarter – Q1 is a slow stitching class with an AIP buddy

What are your health goals for 2020?

Come and work on YOUR goals in AIP Reset

One of the best ways to get yourself on track for the year is by surrounding yourself with others who are heading in the same direction. The February AIP Reset will help you to do just that – in a #bloodyfabulous environment of fellow AIPers and health seekers from atound the globe.

It’s 30-days of taking things back to AIP basics – whatever that looks like for you – and a whole lot of deep diving into facets of the protocol that matter to you.

Come and join us!

Comments (1)

Dear Jo, it’s great to read about all of your adventures, improvements and new goals! It is also really lovely to know you <3

Like you, I kicked off the year with some new goals. What helped me was the advice to set goals for every quarter of the year, so you get 3-month goals. Because of the close deadline, I've started on my goals pretty fast!! But also, it makes them more doable, because you tend to think about what you can realize in only 3 months and you break up bigger goals into more practical small steps.

I just thought I'd share this tip with you and your readers!

Good luck with al of your new adventures! Love, Catharina

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