I am notorious for getting cabin fever after being inside for 15 minutes. I have just always been someone who likes to be out and about, walking around the city or on the beach, finding new hikes and bike trails, and getting away from noise. I am also extremely sensitive to sound, to the point where I don’t like having the television on and I plug my ears anytime an ambulance drives or train goes by. You cannot escape noise in Chicago, and it is my biggest complaint about city life. It makes me feel like stress is always buzzing softly in my body.
Luckily, this is the one American city with a 20+ mile continuous bike path along Lake Michigan. We often spend our weekends getting on our bikes away from the sounds of humans and industry. This weekend we went to Osaka Gardens, a small Japanese garden in Hyde Park. It is on a small island, and often found when stumbled upon. If you are ever in the city, it is near the Museum of Science and Industry, for reference.
I have found that since beginning AIP, my need for relaxation has increased. Maybe I am just more in touch with what my body really is craving. It no longer wants to go for long runs or do 4 days straight of HIIT like I have done for the past 6 years. It’s been difficult to change my thoughts about exercise, but slowly the changes have come. I now spend 1-2 days in the gym doing heavier weights and circuits, and the rest of the days of the week are “light days” of walking, yoga, foam rolling, doing some random lunges through the park, and building muscles in the kitchen (heavy pots full of soup are not for the weak).
Type A personalities gravitate to strenuous exercise – we think it’s a way to de-stress (and it often is in the short-term), but over time we can run our hormones and adrenals into the ground. I see so many women walking around Chicago looking downright sick – their LuLu stretch pants are practically sagging off of them as they dart from a 2 hour gym class to a light salad for lunch, dressing on the side of course. Since going AIP, I have realized that is not normal, desirable, or to be admired. I digress from the point of this post though.
Eating 100% AIP has been drastically important for the management of my autoimmune disease and leaky gut. Just as important, has been my decision to choose 1 relaxing event each day. All the prep work and planning on the AIP diet can leave me feeling frazzled, especially when on vacation or long 12 hour days at work. I’d like to meet the woman who thinks AIP is a breeze. Paleo is an absolute cakewalk compared to AIP, and I laugh at memories of being pouty that I could only order steak, tomatoes and eggs for breakfast during last year’s Denver trip. These days, I am fortunate if I can get a side of cantaloupe to go with my purse-stash of ground beef at a restaurant. It may sound like I am complaining, but I am not. I wouldn’t trade AIP for all the Paleo treats and frittatas in the world.
It’s those little moments of frustration, feeling like you’re not healing “fast enough”, wishing you could share a drink and an appetizer while out with friends, that all add up to a welling of emotional strain while on AIP. Besides the support of my husband, the outdoors, sunshine, rain, leaves, crickets, and my dog (below) have been relied upon to keep my stress low the past 8 months. For anyone reading this post, please don’t discount the long-term effects small daily stressors have on our autoimmune diseases, and please take an hour every day to do something that calms the buzzing of it all down.