Meet Sean, my third client! Sean messaged me on my Facebook page in September after he noticed that my fav local farm was right down the road from him. That's right, Sean was my first local client! After years of struggling with multiple food and chemical allergies, Sean was noticing things spiraling out of control again and asked if I would be willing to work with him in adopting AIP. He had dabbled in Paleo and felt that AIP was probably the next best step for him, but felt overwhelmed with the process of making it his new lifestyle. I was really excited to get to work face-to-face with a client, so we started Sean's journey on October 1.
Sean is in his early 40's and at the time we began working together he was suffering with extreme, but undiagnosed, GI-related symptoms, multiple allergies, gall bladder disease (with removal prior to our work) and chronic pain (Sean was in a serious accident over five years ago). He wanted to address the GI issues, lose weight and learn how to make AIP sustainable. In the beginning of our program, Sean & I talked frankly about the big commitment of AIP and how we could realistically help him make the transition. We decided a "low and slow" approach was much more reasonable for him than "cold turkey." Over the course of about six weeks he eliminated one food group at a time, until he was fully AIP compliant. Then we worked through a full 30 days, which included the Thanksgiving holiday and his son's first birthday party, of strict AIP. During that time we developed menu plans, worked through how to shop for and prep his meals, and learned how to add flexibility in for his non-Paleo family members.
Dramatic improvements started to show up, but the GI issues remained difficult to resolve. I knew from personal experience and my work with other clients, that Sean most likely was dealing with Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth. I encouraged him to see his GI doc and explained what testing and treatment would be ideal. We got confirmation shortly after and in addition to anti-biotic treatment added a low-FODMAP component to Sean's AIP plan in order to help address the SIBO. Although his SIBO symptoms are now greatly reduced, we are still working to kick the overgrowth completely, as well as working to identify other possible contributing factors to his GI issues. This process has given me the chance to work with Sean on setting expectations that are realistic, for example that it is not always (and actually rarely) the case that someone can do a 30-day AIP elimination, followed by a quick reintro period and have life go back to "normal." Sean has done a great job focusing on his incredible progress and much better quality of life, while learning to give his body time on the path to wellness.
Sean has also lost 30 pounds in four months! OMG! We've attempted some reintroductions and even made it through a really tough period with a very bad head cold and ear infections. His moods, sleep, and pain are all improved and at this point we are looking at options to take his healing to the next level, including testing and looking for ways to improve digestive system health even more. Sean is also starting to learn how he can make this healthy lifestyle a part of his young son's life right from the start.
Here are Sean's thought on the program:
Angie was great at assisting me in reaching my goals by creating realistic expectations (without scaring me away . . . this is hard stuff! LOL!) and outlining a “typical” course of recovery with a Paleo diet/lifestyle. It is hard to pick “the biggest” change I have noticed, but the biggest change that others have noticed is my weight loss, about 30 pounds in four months (I had to get all new pants because my old ones were falling off)! The unexpected changes have been improvements to my mood and sleep. I live with chronic pain due to a bad accident and thought that my fatigue, irritability, and sleep difficulties were attributable to my pain; however, I am now way less irritable, fall asleep quicker, get better sleep, and need less sleep aids to try to fall asleep. It even took my wife by surprise, as she would comment, “Why are you being so nice?” I discovered that Angie was local to me AND that she was becoming a health coach to help people like me (who also happen to be people like her). Angie has the lived experience of many health challenges (the same or related to mine...like SIBO, ugh!); but, I think even if she didn’t she would still have her awesome combination of empathy, know-how, humor, passion, and enthusiasm that anyone seeking to make health improvements would benefit from. Angie made AIP accessible and manageable. She provided tips to ease the pain of all the planning and time required, as well as reliable resources to turn to in a variety of mediums, like websites, books, cookbooks, and podcasts. She also provided encouragement while keeping it real versus an annoying cheerleader just giving unrealistic pep talks all the time. I recently realized that I have never been healthy . . . ever. I turn 42 in about a week, and for the first time in my life, I have the thought that health is possible, in large part because of Angie's optimism, example, and attitude.
It has been awesome to work with Sean. He is a fun guy and the opportunity to bring so much humor into the health coaching relationship has been a welcome learning opportunity for me. Being on the journey with someone like Sean helped me realize how important humor and individual tailoring are to healing. His perseverance has been great to see, lots of people could benefit from having the kind of resolve that he has had during our program. I am grateful to still be on the path with him as we dig even deeper for the roots of his health issues and find new ways to take the healing even further. BTW, 30 pounds! Isn't it incredible!?!?