The Wheel of Health was born out of my experiences with personalising my AIP way of life. I wanted a tool to make it easier for me to focus on the important stuff…
When you first start the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), it’s common to think it’s all about the diet. Specifically, the elimination phase. And, it is true that an important initial step in this health caper is to examine the nutrient density of your plate. But it’s also about taking a longer-term view – intentionally bedding down a personal strategy for making choices that will serve you over time.
At some point in your elimination phase, you begin to understand that it is about so much more than what you eliminate from your plate. Rather, it’s about turning what
started out as a temporary dietary framework into a WHOLE-istic approach to your healthier lifestyle.
Frankly, at this point, it can get a smidge overwhelming. AIP is a BIG beastie, after all.
While the AIP framework gives me great detail of understanding on the WHAT I should do to work on my health, including all the science (thank you, Dr Sarah Ballantyne!) – it doesn’t always give me a precise roadmap on the HOW of actually achieving this in a way that served me. Because getting healthy is not a ‘one size fits all’ model. Because this AIP way of life is a very personal experience. Because each of us has differing priorities – your tricky bits may not be the same as my tricky bits.
I had many of the processes. but at times I found it challenging to get my head around what was most important for me at any given time.
“If you haven’t started, then taking action is more important than finding the best strategy. If you’re already taking action, then ensuring you’re working on the right thing is more important than working harder. Your effort sets your floor. Your strategy sets your ceiling.” – James Clear
…And that was before I realised that understanding my WHY; my very personal reason for digging deep and sticking to AIP when life throws me a curveball was pivotal to my success on this caper.
Finding my WHY was an important part of the equation for me – it just took me a little longer to understand its importance.
Enter the Wheel of Health
If AIP provides you with the WHAT you need to do in terms of making choices that serve you, the Wheel of Health is my tool to simplify the HOW you go about achieving it. And part of your wheel is dedicated to distilling WHY this is so important to you (hint: it may not always be as obvious as you think).
the Five Sections on Your Wheel of Health
The five sections of your wheel serve as reminders to keep you on track on your personal health caper. Each is important, but not always equally urgent, when it comes to determining where you should focus your efforts. Because it really is impossible to do everything at once. You’re only human!
If like me, you are committed to investing time and energy into making good decisions for your wellbeing, your wheel will provide you with a good starting point for setting goals, and also for critically assessing your progress.
When it comes to following a diet and lifestyle protocol like AIP, there is no quick fix. Rather, it is the small, incremental changes that we make over time that effect the biggest change.
*The Wheel of Health forms the foundation of the goals we each set at the beginning of each AIP Reset, too
Let’s take a closer look at each of the five sections…
Section 1: PURPOSE
Your purpose is your reason for being, your WHY. It’s your sense of resolve or determination. It’s unique to you and it’s your reason for keeping on keeping on, even when you don’t want to. And this is important when you are working on improving your health. Because when you suffer from a chronic illness (or two or three), you need all the help you can get. Because life continues to throw you curveballs all the time. Because I can guarantee not everyone in your life will be a believer and nobody cares as much about your health as you do.
the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.
Understanding your purpose, especially when it comes to why you’re on this wild and crazy AIP ride can be the difference between giving up and hanging in there.
And when I talk about purpose, I mean things like:
- Actively working on developing your internal locus of control and stop comparing yourself with everyone else.
- Defining your own personal set of values (check out my free workbook to help with this) and making decisions that move you towards things that matter for you
- Creating a discipline of regular goal setting to give yourself every opportunity to proactively make health decisions
- Critically assessing your progress and fine-tuning it as you go
The best thing about this section of your Wheel of Health is that it helps you to (re)find your groove if you stumble. Reconnecting with WHY you are following an AIP way of life is an antidote to AIP creepage (straying too far from your personalised protocol) and it also helps with setting boundaries.
Section 2: NUTRIENT DENSITY
No surprises that the idea of nutrient density is central to building your AIP Way of life. Of course the things you choose to eat and drink matter. We all know we should be eating a wide variety of seasonal vegetables and fruit. Choosing to make nutrient density your hobby and finding ways to integrate this idea into your life is one of the best decisions you can make for your health.
Nutrient density is a very positive objective. You could even say it is above the line! It is about filling your plate with foods that serve you – fresh, seasonal, local whole-foods, mainly vegetables – and crowding out the stuff that doesn’t.
Nutrient density is a good umbrella-term reminder for how you can intentionally make this AIP caper a way of life in a way that fits your life. Simply by asking yourself, “How can I make this more nutrient-dense?” when you are preparing each meal is a great place to start!
You’ll find this section of your Wheel of Health split into two sub-areas.
In the first, all sorts of seriously-good and nutrient-dense recipes to help make your AIP caper easier.
Some of the ones on high repeat at our place are:
- My ‘No Recipe Breakfast Hash (which is not limited to breakfast at our place and is a great way to use up leftovers
- Cheats Salmon Rillettes – my favourite way to get oodles of healthy omega-3 fats into my diet and fancy enough to serve to guests!
- Bloody Brilliant Braised Beef Cheeks – one of my favourite recipes. I always get excited when I see beef cheeks at the markets and these are a super easy and delicious way to try them if you’re a newbie to this nutrient-dense cut of meat.
- ‘Eat a Rainbow’ Beetroot, Carrot and Herb Salad – if, like me, you are guilty of not eating enough beets (or even carrots), this is the answert. So yummy and it will keep in the fridge for a few days.
- This No Frills ‘Go To’ Salad Dressing will become your best friend. It’s super quick to make, tastes great, has no fancy ingredients and is 100% free of any nasties.
And in the second, information and strategies and tips for making very intentional dietary choices that set you up for success and support you as you develop your AIP way of life. Things like:
- my FREE Soup Equation download. My #1 strategy for getting more gut-healing goodness into my body quickly, easily and economically. Best of all, once you’ve got the equation in your memory-banks, you don’t need a recipe!
- My ‘Lucky Dip’ Green Sauce equation to help me add more nutrients to my meals (which is included in the Soup Equation download)
- Tips on some of my kitchen habits and rituals to support nutrient density
- Posts on specific ingredients and tricks for young players. Like gluten.
Section 3: RITUALS
For me, rituals are like positive routines and habits on crack. What sets them apart is that they are performed with intention.
There is a mindful quality to rituals that make them integral to this healing caper. Because putting yourself firmly in the driver’s seat of your health requires you to be aware of introducing behaviours that support you.
When it comes to your health, introducing meaningful rituals is a conscious form of self-care. This is an area so many of us in this chronic illness and autoimmune space can struggle with
My morning ritual has been a game-changing ritual for me. It’s dedicated ‘me-time’ first thing every day that allows me the opportunity for some reflection and focus, before all the noise of rest of the world is allowed in. I love it so much that I created a FREE mini eCourse for you so that you can create your own personal morning ritual, too.
But ritualising the diet and lifestyle aspects that serve you is a good way to bed them into your life. This applies to prioritising and creating a sleep regime that works for you, identifying what types of exercise you enjoy and integrating these into your day in a very thoughtful way, developing a mindfulness practice that works for you… and all the rest!
Section 4: STRESS MANAGEMENT
There’s a good reason stress management gets its own segment on the wheel – because so many of us need to work on this aspect of our health. In fact, if you suffer from chronic illness, chances are you are a bit of a stress-head.
I know. I was, too.
Stress management techniques include all the tools and strategies you might expect to mitigate things that trigger your “fight-or-flight” response. But when it comes to your Wheel of Health, the idea of BUILDING RESILIENCE is also included in this section. This is the opposite side of the stress management coin.
As you build resilience, stress levels come down. Hardly surprising then that I’m an advocate for prioritising the task of building different forms of stress management into your day. Every day.
For many of us, this is not easy. If you are a doer-type who thrives on being busy, creating space and stillness in your day can be a struggle. In my experience as your AIP Mentor, this is an area that many of us find hugely challenging (including me).
The thing about managing your stress and building your resilience is that it evolves and compounds over time. When you first start to look at this aspect of your health caper, it can be as simple as scheduling time in your diary to throw your legs up the wall or to try some box-breathing – just as you would schedule a session with your personal trainer or doctor. As you become more proficient and notice the benefits that come from integrating strass management practices into your life, you may find you’re a convert!
It’s all about trying different techniques on for size, becoming more self-compassionate and finding your happy place.
Section 5: COMMUNITY
When I first embarked on my personal AIP caper, I had no idea the profound impact the idea of community would play.
If you’ve been working on your health ‘stuff’ for any length of time, you already know that we human beings are designed to connect and that this is vital to our long term health.
But when it comes to how COMMUNITY fits into this wheel of health, it’s more than that. One of the most special and often unexpected side benefits to this AIP framework is the wonderfully supportive community you stumble upon.
And this is represented here in this segment of your wheel. Because your community matters. And if you want to thrive, it is essential.
Your community is your place to be safe and free of judgment; your place to connect with people who get it; your place to remove the isolation that often accompanies chronic illness (and incidentally why I became a coach and mentor).
You’ll find lots of information about community in this section, but if you’re looking to connect with some awesome-sauce people:
- I encourage you to join my LIVE Friday sunrise ‘chickens’ (check-ins) on my Facebook page. Each week we pick a different health topic to cover, They’re fun and they’re FREE and I hold them every week.
- Check out the next AIP Reset – 30-days of on-line support and camaraderie to help you get back on track when you stumble on your AIP way of life. With a focus on creating healthy choices, you’re part of a safe and private online community of fellow AIPers to help you take things back to basics and reinforce the key principles of AIP. It’s a great way to meet others who ‘get it’.
- Consider joining my AIP Mentorship membership crew. It’s a pretty special place – free of judgment – with each crew-member working on making their health a priority.
This AIP community of ours is #bloodyfabulous!