Have you ever had New Year’s Resolutions go astray? Well, other than that gym membership you swore you would use. In a way, that’s what is to blame for the creation of the Holy Aioli.
At the close of 2018, I decided that I needed a change. There were many aspects of my life that were not getting the attention they deserved. In particular, both my finances and health were not in a state that made me proud. Like many a millennial, I have students loans that are still more memorable than my college education and have fallen prey to the convenience of credit cards. I wanted to bring debt-free intentions into the New Year.
In addition to curbing my spending, I also wanted to make my health a priority. I have never been the type of person who enjoys working out. Honestly, up until 2013 or so, I never really had to. My metabolism was decent, and I could eat just about anything without gaining an ounce. I say this now even though I definitely did not feel that way then. I was lucky. I ate moderately healthy and enjoyed cooking. However, I also suffered through serious boughts of anxiety and depression which led me to go off birth-control and start taking anti-depressants. So long, metabolism. All of this has left me with extra pounds that I don’t love even in a time when women are beginning to embrace their bodies no matter what.
2019 would be the year I get serious about that weight. It would be the year that I buckle down, cut out unnecessary expenditures, and kick debt to the curb. It would be the year I get right in the most important – and seemingly, the most manageable – aspects of my life.
I dubbed this year my Get Right Year.
They say that even when you have a plan, don’t always expect things to go your way. I’m not entirely sure who they are, but nevertheless…they are right.
My finances became easier to manage as I introduced new budgeting systems and side gigs into my life. My approach to my health? When I look back on the beginning of the year now, I realize I was approaching my focus on health from a purely superficial standpoint. I wanted weight loss. What the universe wanted instead was an entirely different journey.
In April 2019, I noticed the beginning of what I now know as vitiligo. It began as small white spots on the back of my left hand. Initially, I thought I had applied sunscreen haphazardly. It happens – I once rocked a tiger stripe tan for a full summer for that very reason. Within weeks, the spots had crept up my fingers and began to appear on my right hand as well. By the end of May, I had lost nearly one-fourth of the pigment across both hands as well as on the tops of both feet.
For those who are not familiar with vitiligo, it is a skin disease that causes the loss of color in skin and hair. It is classified as an autoimmune disease because your body essentially sees those cells that produce melanin (i.e., pigment) as dangerous, attacking them and killing them off or diminishing their ability to function. The extent and rate of pigment loss is unpredictable and can be triggered by any number of factors – some triggers include stress, sunburn, food intolerances, and even family history. It is not painful, but it can be emotionally taxing. There is no cure. However, some studies have shown that a degree of pigment loss can be reversed through diets like Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) and Lechtin-Free diets (e.g., Plant Paradox) as well as the use of topical CBD treatment. These cases are not the norm though. Typically, once the pigment is gone, it is gone for good.
By June 2019, my dermatologist officially diagnosed me with vitiligo. The progression of pigment loss across my hands, feet, and face (including eyelashes) meant that a biopsy did not need to be performed to make this official. She was kind enough to pass on the knowledge that any cuts, scrapes, and rashes on my skin here on out would potentially lead to pigment loss upon healing. Unfortunately, that has proven mostly true so far. I love when doctors are right.
From that point, the health aspect of my Get Right Year shifted from weight loss to figuring out how to manage this new found opportunity for becoming the fairest of them all.
Snow White has nothing on me.
After my diagnosis, I began the Autoimmune Protocol – often times called Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) – diet. To say it is restrictive is an understatement, but it is effective. Its goal of AIP is simple.
- Eliminate a range of foods commonly associated with intolerances and allergies, including (but not limited to) gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, sugar, nightshade vegetables, nuts and seeds, etc.
- Reintroduce these “no-no” foods one by one to determine if they cause any reactions and should be eliminated long-term.
Within a month, I discovered that my body cannot tolerate foods containing wheat and gluten on top of food allergies of which I was already aware – looking at you, dairy and soy. Eliminating foods in the first place is stressful given you are faced with a limited variety to choose from – and nearly none of them as convenient as driving through your nearest Chic-Fil-A. Reintroducing them, however, is like a risky game of Russian Roulette.
You may react. You may not. You may experience brain fog and fatigue. You may lose more skin pigment. You may find that nothing at all happens.
It is an absolute blast. Really.
Throughout this process, I have realized how difficult it can be to find resources for this type of lifestyle…or rather, for autoimmune diseases in general. In a time when everyone and their grandmother is on a special diet (looking at you, Keto), I was surprised to see how small the food blogger community around this topic seems to be. Finding resources on beginning the AIP diet and tips for sticking to it was challenging and required piecing together information from different websites, cookbooks, and Facebook support groups. It required more research than many people who are in that same situation may not have the time, energy, or skill to muster through.
This lack of information is one reason I decided to start the Holy Aioli, this blog named for the Holy City in which I live and a condiment that goes with just about anything.
My goal is to increase the transparency around this topic and health in general, try out new recipes that I can share, and simply have a forum for the occasional rant when things seem just a little too hard. My hope is that this will grow into a space where newbies to lifestyles like AIP and Paleo – or even just those looking to take better care of themselves – can find the resources they need. Through this resource, I want to offer others motivation to stick to the strait and narrow, to be open about what’s happening in their lives, and to be easier on themselves when things don’t go as planned. After all, my Get Right Year looks a little different now than when it first began. Even if this motivation and reminder to stay on track is for myself, that is a-ok. xo