Women, Weight and the Autoimmune Protocol – Part 3

JFC Weight and the Autoimmune Protocol

[su_divider top=”no” divider_color=”#990000″ size=”2″ margin=”25″]

Women and Weight on the Autoimmune Protocol – An Overview

This the third in a collaborative series of posts on women, weight and the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) between petra8Paleo and me.

We’re female, so we already knew weight was top-of-mind for many women on the AIP, but we really had no understanding just what a big issue it really is until we started our research.

We’re enjoying our collaboration, and we hope you are getting something out of it, too!

In case you missed it, Part 1 provides an overview of our findings after surveying 20 long-term AIPers. You can read it here.

Part 2 is where Petra interviewed me about my experiences. You can read all the deets here.

[su_divider top=”no” divider_color=”#990000″ size=”2″ margin=”25″]

And, today, I’m pleased to bring you my interview with Petra…

 Just who is Petra?

Petra from petra8paleo

Petra is a blogger from Vancouver Island, Canada who is using n=1 experimentation to improve her health and to support her husband, Matthew to heal from multiple autoimmune conditions.

Petra uses a healing protocol approach to manage adrenal fatigue as well as her long-term struggles with depression and anxiety. Thanks to the AIP, she is no longer plagued by either!

 Onto the interview…

Petra, what has been your experience with weight before and after the AIP?

My struggle with weight started when I was 10 years old, which is when I developed a compulsive relationship with food as a way of dealing with the alcoholism in my family.

At that time I learned that I could use grain-based foods to self-medicate. Bread, crackers and baked goods were very effective strategy for dealing with my emotional turmoil about being emotionally abandoned by my Mum. Carbohydrates became an addiction for me, in a way that cigarettes or alcohol are for other people. Even now I struggle with a compulsive relationship with food. It is more challenging when I am stressed.

Before I started the AIP, I went paleo. That was four years ago. At the time, I was on the edge of obesity, as I had been throughout my adult life. I started by eating only lettuce and lean meat. I really had no idea what I was doing! I lost 75 pounds (34 kilos) in five months. It was extreme.

I maintained that weight loss for almost three years.

In fact, my weight didn’t really change until I started experimenting with a ketogenic diet. After 10 months of being in ketosis (starting with the Wahls Paleo Plus for 3.5 months) I put on 20 pounds (9 ½ kilos) and ended up with severe adrenal fatigue.

How long have you been on the AIP? How strict have you been?

The decision to go AIP was driven by Matthew’s deteriorating health. We started the protocol in July 2013, but we weren’t strict about it until December 2013. Then I was very strict for a full year until December 2014. I have now reintroduced nuts and eggs and I have the occasional bar of chocolate.

My diet is very much focused on nutrient density.

Because of my compulsive relationship with food, I have found the Autoimmune Protocol helpful because it is quite structured. It is really clear what I can and cannot eat. That is also why I liked a ketogenic approach, but it was not healthful for me in the long-term.

What have you found that works for weight management?

Well, I’ve stopped weighing myself, and I can’t lose the 20lbs I gained while on a ketogenic diet. But I’m maintaining an overall weight loss (from before I went paleo) of 55 pound (25 kilos).

I decided to stop thinking in terms of ‘weight management’. Instead, I have changed my focus to managing my adrenal fatigue. I am less stressed that way. I now look to how I sleep, focus on managing stress, and practice less strenuous exercise.

I have been a fairly serious student of yoga for about 13 years. And I still love my hot power flow classes, but I no longer push myself the way I used to. I am physically capable of keeping up with an intense 90-minute class, but I know that spikes my cortisol and exacerbates my adrenal fatigue, so I modify my practice. I slow down where previously I would have pushed it. I don’t run the way I used to, either. I run-walk, or just walk, instead.

I have also significantly increased my carbohydrate intake, compared to my previous low-carb approach. I’m now eating root vegetables, squash or plantains every day. I think this has been very stabilizing.

I’ve also been attending to my personal relationships, taking advantage of an opportunity to work from home in my job (which means less driving, which I find stressful), taking an afternoon nap whenever I can and avoiding caffeine in the afternoon.

I do want to say that even though I have maintained a 55lb (25 kilo) weight loss for four years, now, my stress about my weight has never really gone away. For me, the change came when I stopped worrying about weight management and changed my focus to managing adrenal fatigue. Interestingly, many of the approaches to managing adrenal fatigue are exactly the opposite of traditional weight loss advice!

Thanks Petra!

A note on ketogenic diets:

Petra is a strong advocate of n=1. She used herself as an experiment to see what would happen if she tried a ketogenic approach. Obviously it didn’t work well for her!

Since this series is all about women, weight and AIP, we want to note that Dr Sarah Ballantyne advises caution when considering a ketogenic approach. Read her article here.

For a great podcast on the subject, featuring Dr Paul Jaminet of The Perfect Health Diet and Dr Terry Wahls of The Wahls Protocol, check out the Phoenix Helix podcast on The Ketosis Controversy: Is it Healing or Harmful. It’s very informative.

Part 4 in our series is all about the Top 3 Weight Management Strategies on the Autoimmune Protocol according to data from our recent survey

Related Posts

Comments (1)

Fantastic post! Congratulations on maintaining such an impressive weight-loss Petra and reframing your thinking to help lower your stress.

Comments are closed.