Maintenance and Some Helpful Tools

Since about March, I've been feeling GOOD. Yep, I know, it's crazy! I have a handle on what food makes me feel best (even while touring). I've chilled out on consuming (but am not depriving myself completely of) alcohol. I am doing my best to sleep 8.5 hours a night, (10p bedtime is best for me but not consistent due to our tour schedule). I've added exercise back into my routine: Daily walking, light body weight workouts and yoga. I still do my best to stay updated on what's going on in the chronic illness / autoimmune wellness community, every little life hack can help.

When I started 3 years ago on the AIP protocol, if you had told me it would have taken this long for me to get to a point where I was feeling good, I may have never started. Temporary dietary changes felt like the end of the world. Every event was annoying because "I couldn't eat" something. Now that my food is dialed in and I've learned how to navigate social events I can say that food is the EASIEST part of this lifestyle, for me.

What I struggle with now is not overdoing it. I feel pretty good and "normal" most of the time now. So much so that I'll over schedule myself and end up knocking myself right back into feeling crappy. It takes me about 3-5 days to recover from a night lacking in sleep.  An early flight followed by late show, for instance and I'm right back to inflammation, headache, tired eyes, stress and anxiety until I can get back on track. It's hard to take advantage of wellness and not take it for granted.

I recently double booked myself for a late night birthday party followed by a friend's show. That afternoon I was feeling a bit restless and anxious so I got myself (read: forced self-care on myself) over to a yoga class. On my way home I called my best friend and talked out the situation. The reason I'm feeling so good is that I am prioritizing my health. I realized that the best decision for me was to cancel my plans. I reorganized my evening to fit with the routine of having an earlier night event and getting to bed by 10p. I need to use down time between tours to catch up on sleep and get back on "home schedule", to take advantage the times when I have control over my environment. 

Sleep, Food and Booze 

Similar to the project management triangle (see above), I can mess with one constraint at a time of: Sleep, Food or Booze and usually maintain a state of wellness.

None of the constraints can be altered without affecting the other.  Each of the points can be a stressor on the body.

  • If I'm not getting enough sleep, my food and booze intake has to be perfectly on point. (That means less than 20g of carbs, no booze and adequate fat intake, for me.)
  •  If I'm being more adventurous with my food, say having some handmade nixtamalization tortillas, then I need to not be overtired and I can't overdo it with alcohol.
  •  If I'm going to have more than 2 drinks, I need to make sure my food is on point and that I'm going to sleep enough to chill out my system.

It's all about balance. (Stress Management is a constant factor and has to be considered at all times before indulging in any of the above three constraints.) 


 Tools I couldn't live without 🙌


I follow some health centered / bio-hacking podcasts that often have a lot of information i'm familiar with but usually offer a great tidbits that I can hold as a reminder or something to help keep me motivated and on track. 

Dr. Ruscio Radio - This is my doctor, he's frequently commenting on and sharing current information having to do with gut health/ auto immunity / SIBO and thyroid issues. He also interviews other doctors about their research and writings. This has helped me save so much money as I don't need to call him for an appointment if my questions are answered by what he's giving away for free. 

AutoImmune Wellness Podcast - Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt of just wrote a new book on thriving with chronic illness and autoimmune conditions. Even though I'm at the last stage in this 16 episode podcast, I still found each episode really helpful. It's comforting for me to know and be reminded that there are other people out there also struggling with the symptoms associated with chronic illness. I was especially relieved to hear that what I still struggle with, (stress management, getting enough sleep and prioritizing my health routine) is what other people also commonly struggle with. Mickey mentions this in the last episode of the podcast and I felt so relieved. That these "gurus" of autoimmune conditions are struggling with the same things. She talks about how it's constantly a challenge to stay in balance. She, like me, gets greedy when feeling good and inevitably "over does it". 

Other podcasts I recommend following for new info, recipes and life tweaks: 

Revolution health radio, Ben Greenfield Fitness, and websites like, and


Other tools: 

Support system: I surround myself with people who support my health habits. I plan with friends who are happy to have a dinner in, or let me have a say in where we eat. (Inevitably, your self care will make some people defensive. Do your best to make a space for them to exist in a way that doesn't knock you off track.) I find this support invaluable both in  moments of weakness and the rest of the time. It's just good to have people around that support you!

Planning: I bring food with me everywhere! I eat before I leave the house and I make sure there is something I can eat with me for at least one or two meals in addition. That way I won't get caught off guard (life happens!) and make poor (for me) decisions. I also try to keep my food exciting and interesting by switching up what I’m making so I don’t stray out of boredom.


Why I'd recommend an Elimination Diet to anyone.

I get a lot of eye rolls when i talk about food. Most of the time because my symptoms could be explained by almost anything. If these were occasional or one off reactions i'd totally get that. I also get that most people probably don't keep stock of how they feel throughout the day (meticulously or at all). Reasons why I'd recommend someone try an elimination diet: headaches, allergies, asthma, undiagnosed or unexplained anything from your Doctor. Acne if you're not 14, acne if you are 14, weight gain, weight loss, fatigue, moodiness, poor memory, if you've never done one before, if you have done one before, insomnia, anxiety, depression, joint pain, gut pain, heartburn, teeth grinding/clenching, gas, bloating, burping, diarrhea, constipation, gallbladder issues. You get the point, if you have an "issue" it's worth examining how your diet may be a contributing factor. There is no gold standard test for food allergies or intolerances. Because our bodies are so unique to us, the most effective course of action currently, is doing an elimination diet. 

Of course I do believe that I'm a product of my own life. My experiences, environments, diet, lifestyle, friends, community, activity level and general life decisions have all shaped who I am. Of course I've been to therapy. Of course I've seen General Practitioners for a bunch of the symptoms I've experienced (as you may have read). The point is, if it's not getting better and you want it to, my FIRST suggestion to you is going to be: try an elimination diet. 

Eliminate food as the possible source of your ailment.

That is my suggestion. It is far too easy to have eaten wheat and dairy and sugar (to name some of the main offenders) and become accustomed to how it feels in your system. You can be symptomatic and not know it or have NO symptoms currently and still have a possible issue. Admittedly, I'm one who had symptoms of intolerances to these foods and never really felt the effects until i went off them and then reintroduced them. These diets are not just for allergies/intolerances. The food you eat influences your micro biome and diversity of that bacteria is instrumental to your health. Eating certain foods can kill off the variety of bacteria in your gut which can lead to health problems as simple as being more susceptible to colds or as complicated as allergic reactions to food. This could be step one of merely living a healthier lifestyle catered to your specific needs.

I was listening to Dr. Ruscio's podcast yesterday. Mickey Trescott (the author of the cook book I have and used before I went low FODMAP) was the guest. She made a great point about AIP (and this applies to elimination diets in general): It's a tool.

"No diet is going to fit one person for the rest of their life".

Maybe what you ate 5 years ago doesn't agree with you now. Your body is constantly in flux. Stress, sleep, illness, all of that can play a part in what you can or can't handle digestively. And, to make it more annoying and confusing (because believe me it is both) you can't even go by what everyone says the symptoms are. You have to figure out how that food makes YOU feel and listen to YOUR body's reaction.

I, for one, do not present "normally" when it comes to a lot of the issues Ive been faced with. Acupuncturists, chiropractic and "regular" (or M.D.) doctors have all had a difficult time diagnosing what's up with me because of this. Knowing what makes you feel your best and if you're not quite there yet, is what I've found to be the key in prioritizing my health. The first step in really knowing what affects you is eliminating possible offenders and then reintroducing them methodically, so you can rule them out as a culprit. Regardless of the outcome, you will gain some control in your own day to day energy, digestion and mood.

I can practically promise you that. 

the good news?


I am a junk food addict. I love McDonalds, I love Dominos. I've eaten my fair share of each of them and many more foods like them. I think sometimes it just comes to a point where you're either really ready to feel better, or at the time, perhaps it's not worth it to you. I had to wait until I was ready, my will power wasn't enough otherwise. Now if I eat Domino's, I not only get bloated but i have almost immediate neurological effects. Depression, anxiety, physical heart palpitations, insomnia, nightmares, my body is very clear about not wanting this food. However, those reactions weren't clear until i cut out all those ingredients and then reintroduced them. My picture still isn't complete of what's healthful for me and what isn't, but for now I do have a good idea what to stay away from. Once I'm finished with chelation, i'm going back to AIP low FODMAP (strictly) and seeing if I can heal my leaky gut enough to reintroduce more FODMAPs. (I'm so symptomatic in treatment, I eat what I know makes me feel good 80% of the time but I've also allowed myself some leniency. It's a balance.)

There are a bunch of diets one can try. If a certain diet doesn't cure your symptoms, unfortunately that doesn't mean that food is not a factor. It could mean that. However, it could also mean you just hadn't removed that food item or group yet. That was the case for me with Kale and FODMAPS. This may mean trying more than one diet. It may mean committing a little longer than you originally anticipated.

Elimination Diets I can suggest:

SCD - great one to try for suspected leaky gut, and IBDs (Celiac, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's)

GAPS - developed from the SCD, this diet is tailored towards gut flora health and healing leaky gut. (In my opinion, if you go either of these routes, you may as well look at the lists between the two and decide where you might want to start.

The Paleo Cure - this book by Chris Kresser is extremely informative about how your body absorbs nutrients and is not preachy. This is a good diet for anyone who wants to feel better overall but doesn't necessarily think they have any "issues". It removes the main offenders but isn't too intense in my opinion. You can also check out Robb Wolf's website here.

AIP - if the diets above aren't producing the results you desire. Or if you feel like going balls to the wall and "getting it over with" this diet is the one for you. It removes more food groups comprehensively than the Paleo diet, such as nightshades, seeds, nuts and the spices that fall under those categories.

Low FODMAP - (stands for Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols) a good reference to start if you have IBS, Crohn's or other IBDs. FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates that can ferment if undigested in your gut. The cool yet tricky thing about FODMAPs is that it's not a black and white situation. It is dependent on the amount of the food taht you eat. Perhaps 1c of broccoli is OK for you but any more than that causes a host of symptoms. I tacked this on to AIP because they were clearly an issue for me, I was super uncomfortable and swollen from the vegetables and fruits on this list. I hope once my gut heals I can add them in, I MISS MOST VEGETABLES!

Here are some AIP friendly meals courtesy of Mickey Trescott's Instagram, not too shabby.

Getting down to business (my story part 3)

Read Part 1 and Part 2

California Love

In 2004, I moved to Los Angeles.

A year later, I started working in advertising which marked the beginning of my career working in tv and film production. I was auditioning and performing at night and on the weekends. I was stressed out and fatigued. (Normal-ish for this job and town) My skin still fluctuated despite being on the pill. 

I gained some weight from indulging a little too much in my newfound adulthood. I dabbled in Weight Watchers, learned about not overeating fried foods with little nutritional value. I tried Yoga, it made me cry. (Literally I'd be in Warrior 3 and i'm like shaking and tears are leaking out my face. I was like FUCK THIS!) Instead, I started running, i started spinning, anything super cardio related. I ate "healthy foods" like salad and vegetables and lean chicken and 100 calorie this and that. I liked the way I looked. I was limiting certain foods, but not entirely. (Really, i was just trying to look good.)


I "got fit" but didn't feel my best. I was still playing the calorie game. I still had terrible gas depending on what I ingested. I still got bloated, I was still anxious, I occasionally "rashed out". I started looking into alternatives. I remembered back from my teenage years learning about candida (and how i probably had it but WHATEVER). My symptoms fit with those I'd heard about so i figured I'd try out the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, coupled with the candida diet.

I'd heard about SCD (as they call it) from the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle, intestinal health through diet. By Elaine Gottschall. 

MY HEAD EXPLODED. this was a game changer.

I did this diet for 30 days, no sugar, no fruit, no starch. (i actually stuck to it. So, point taken will power.) I felt AMAZING. I felt joyful, energized, rested. (I mean, i missed sugar, the sweet things i was eating were bell peppers and carrots, but for the time being it was worth it!) I don't know if i ever had Candida, i didn't get tested for it, but i did feel great on this diet. This book explains a lot about starch, carbohydrates and their digestion in relation to issues like Crohn's, IBS, and other intestinal based issues. I responded very well but I didn't commit to this diet after the 30 day intro.

"Eating Healthy" around that time still involved lots of lean meats and salad and tidbits I'd picked up from Weight Watchers. I'd run a couple half marathons, i got up to exercise before work despite my energy levels that day. I felt fit but I was still tired. Since i didn't really commit to any lifestyle whole-heartedly I'd sort of bounce between feeling good and feeling like crap. I was also getting older. It felt like my body was trying to say "can you figure this out please?"


6 months before my wedding, i went off the pill. I had read a lot of new information about the pill and what it does to your body. I felt there were better alternatives for me, to prevent pregnancy. My skin was clear. I still indulged in certain foods out at restaurants but for the most part didn't keep them in the house. I drank mostly wine, tequila or potato based vodka, no beer (or rarely beer). I tried to stick to what I thought made me feel best.

Clear skin 2011, calm before the storm.

Clear skin 2011, calm before the storm.

After 6 months off the pill, my skin went FUCKING NUTS. This wasn't normal acne, this was like adult, cystic, hormonal or gut influenced acne. It was terrible and painful. I went to a dermatologist (a holistic dermatologist, this time) recommended by a friend with similar skin symptoms, who now looked amazing. Dr. Hunter introduced me to the GAPS diet and had me use some of her holistic products. 

The GAPS diet is a diet that addresses the connection between your gut health (levels and symbiotic relationships between bacteria and how healthy the lining of your intestines etc are) and your psychology. The SCD diet is similar in structure but some foods are allowed that aren't on the other. Being on the GAPS diet meant i was being "good" consistently again. But my skin did not improve enough to keep me eating in this restricted manner as a lifestyle. Dr. Hunter was a great resource, but I hadn't gotten to the root cause yet.


in November of 2009 i committed, hardcore, to being grain free. I was really over the back and forth and just wanted to feel better. I began meditating. I felt overwhelmed working full time and performing whenever i was free. My body was trying to tell me something needed to change and now my mind was too.

It was clear that everything I'd done up to this point put me in the exact position I was in:

  • Antibiotics kill bacteria in our bodies, not just where we want them to and I'd been on them, on and off from childhood through adolescence.  Read about the effect of antibiotics on gut flora, here.
  • Eating a Western Diet was not agreeing with my system and I ignored all the physical and mental symptoms, so i could eat what i wanted. This, coupled with stress and other factors is probably what led me to develop leaky gut.
  • Leaky gut is the weakening of the tight junctions in the bowels; it can leak food particles, etc. into your blood stream.  This can elicit an immune response and cause a host of symptoms which can lead to chronic illness. Symptoms of Leaky Gut.
  • Anxiety (fear) puts your body in fight or flight. I had been anxious since high school on a consistent basis. Even on medication, it was a natural response for me. Being in fight or flight shuts down your parasympathetic nervous system (the one responsible for "rest and digest" as they say). It reduces motility in your guts and halts digestion. Improperly digested food in your gut can lead to bacterial overgrowth, immune responses (food intolerances, allergies, toxic build up that can affect your brain).
  • Over Exercising can be a stressor on your body. Exercise can be a great mood lifter and is excellent for keeping your body and mind in shape, over doing it can have detrimental effects. Cardio can be especially stressful on a stressed out system.

I had inadvertently stacked the deck against myself. There was no one cause, and probably no one cure, as I was figuring out. I needed to learn what the root cause was and figure out how to heal myself. I stopped doing so much cardio, I re-introduced yoga and low impact exercise like walking and hiking to chill out my system. I did some cross fit. Since I had symptoms of Adrenal fatigue; I was being cautious.

I felt swollen and bloated all the time after anything i ate, even after committing to being grain, dairy and legume free. I was still tired MOST of the time, despite sleeping 9-10 hours a night. I worked with a friend of mine who is a nutritionist and had me food journal for a week. 

My foods were something like this: 

  • smoothie for breakfast: (VegaOne protein powder, kale or spinach, apple cider vinegar, coconut milk)  
  • Chicken and vegetables for lunch (organic roast chicken breast/leg whatever, skin on, full fat, broccoli, root vegetables) or a salad or something
  • and then something similar to lunch for dinner. (also ate organic lamb, grass fed beef other sustainable, bio available meats)


  • I woke up tired almost every day of the journal and remained tired during the day.
  • I was still bloated. 
  • My skin was bad In the cheeks and chin/neck area, areas linked to digestive/hormonal issues
  • My neck was really sore and constantly needed adjustment (a sign of inflammation in my body)
  • I had brain fog, confusion, memory loss, depression, anxiety
  • I was irritable and moody, sporadically and sometimes unexplainably and or uncontrollably
  • My stool tended to be loose rather than normal

I was baffled. How could I be eating "so healthy" and feel so sick and tired all the time? What was I missing? Those close to me could see the symptoms too.


I began exploring paleo...

All of those sites are GREAT resources. Eating Paleo can help improve symptoms like I was experiencing. A lot of people have felt better by implementing this diet as their lifestyle. But for me, paleo wasn't enough. As you can see above, i basically already WAS paleo and I was already committed to organic, sustainable meats and pesticide/GMO free vegetables. I still had the symptoms listed above. Besides having trouble digesting food, signs pointed to leaky gut as well. (especially with all the mental symptoms!)

Auto Immune Paleo

Sometime in 2013, Brahm told me about the Auto Immune Protocol. I resisted it for a while, spouting all the usual "i've DONE elimination diets before." If I was going to figure this out "once and for all" I was going all in on "the last" elimination diet. Eventually I was ready to try, I did AIP for a week and felt the same. Under the Auto Immune protocol you can go really strict and remove FODMAPS as well, depending on how sensitive your body seems to be. I removed Kale and removed FODMAPS, after a week I felt I had more energy. After two weeks i wasn't bloated, AT ALL. (I don't think that i've ever experienced zero bloating before, as far back as I can remember.) I knew within 2 weeks that this was the right track, I was excited, committed and energized.

I felt 80% better on this diet. I did it for 3 months and saw great results. I also prioritized sleep, meditation, stress management, low impact exercise, REST, I left my job, I joined a band. I really felt like I was making my health and well being a priority. AIP and Low FODMAP is a pretty restrictive diet, If i was going to eat this way, I wanted to feel 100% all the time. Or at least have someone confirm I'd ruined my body and was destined to only feel 80% forever. (kidding!) I knew from reading success stories on blogs over the past couple years that I could do better (and eat more foods, without discomfort!)

To Be Continued...

#sorrynotsorry that this seems like a narcissistic bikini pic. This is the best example I have of the slight difference externally but the HUGE difference internally of AIP vs Paleo for my system. Left Picture: Before AIP, eating paleo 80% of the time but not feeling great. Right Picture: On AIP (no booze) a small physical difference but more joy, lots more energy, less stress and "craziness", better sleep, less anxiety. I felt like i was "almost there" in terms of finding what's best for me, to implement as a lifestyle.

Side Note: I almost forgot to mention that in 2009, I accidentally got bit by my dog and through a series of mis-diagnoses and incorrect treatments ended up with a nasty infection. For 6 weeks i had  Picc Line that pumped antibiotics (super broad and strong) into my heart 4x a day. I took probiotics during this time but this drug wiped out ANY bacteria that I had. So as of June 2009 i was essentially starting from scratch with gut bacteria.