Joanna Frankham and I collaborated on a series of posts about Women and Weight on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).

We knew weight was top-of-mind for many women on the AIP, but we had no idea it was such a big issue until we started our research.

For this research, we surveyed 20 long-term AIPers and conducted in-depth interviews with another six.

Joanna published the first post in the series, which outlines some findings from this research, including that the AIP (by itself) isn't the solution for weight issues for most women.

So what is?

The short answer is that each of us seems to need to find an individualized approach.

To explore this complex subject, we'll be publishing one post each month, alternating between Joanna's blog and mine.

We wouldn't feel right about asking other people to share their struggles with weight unless we reciprocated. So, I interviewed Jo. Next month, she'll publish her interview with me.

Who's Jo?

Joanna Frankham is a health coach and blogger from Sydney, Australia who is using the AIP to reverse Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS).

Here's a transcript of our interview:

Petra: What has been your experience with weight before and after the AIP?

Joanna: Up until University I was a normal kid. I wasn’t skinny but I wasn’t fat. I was very active at school. Post-university I went to the UK and experienced the “Heathrow Injection” due to being in my early twenties, drinking and partying. That was the time that I first started having HS symptoms, though I had no idea what that was at the time. The HS started very slowly. Before the AIP, my weight went up and down depending on what was going on in my life. And that is still true. The AIP didn’t fix that.

I am a work in progress. The weight still weighs on me, literally and figuratively.

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

Joanna: I started in early February 2014 and was on strict elimination for 9 months. HS is a painful, shameful affliction that affects your self-esteem, and I was willing to do just about anything.

I first found Tara Grant’s book The Hidden Plague: A Field Guide For Surviving and Overcoming Hidradenitis Suppurativa through a post on Mark Sisson’s blog in November of 2013. It was a massively cathartic experience. Previously, I hadn’t talked about HS with anyone, including my closest friends and family. I had hidden it from everyone. I was lucky that my HS was pretty centralized. I never got it in my armpits, just in my groin area. It’s incredibly painful.

First, I went paleo. Then I decided to go on the AIP. My Functional Medicine Doctor advised me to take a bunch of tests first and it turned out I had a Blastocystis infection. I tried a holistic treatment and then an antibiotic treatment, and as soon as I got the all-clear, I started the AIP. For the first time I was able to control some of my symptoms.

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I was very lucky. My partner David was very supportive. I had profound improvement within 6 weeks. My flares were less angry. My mood was improved. I had more energy.

Then I accidentally glutened myself, and that was scary. I became depressed, the first time I had ever knowingly experienced a physiological reaction to food. Which reinforced the need to stay on the protocol.

I’m still ‘AIP lite’, it’s more than paleo, but less than AIP. Nightshades are off the table. I still limit my fruit intake. I’m very careful with my sugar intake. Partly because I know I have a problem with insulin or I wouldn’t be the weight I am.

I also worked very hard on the other elements of the protocol. I feel like the piece I have not yet figured out is stress management. I have been diagnosed with severe adrenal fatigue. I have always been a worrier. I am stressed about being stressed!

Petra: What have you found that works (and doesn’t work) for you for weight management?

Joanna: I don’t have ‘a one size fits all’ answer for weight management. And I say that as a health coach!

The AIP is definitely not a weight-loss or weight-gain dietary approach. For most people, especially those who need to lose weight, the AIP moves you toward a healthier set-point. For an unlucky few of us, the equation is more complicated.

I am one of the healthiest people I know in terms of diet and lifestyle. And there are days when I think this shit isn’t fair! At the same time, I have weirdly come to enjoy the process of learning and understanding my body through trying (and discarding) new things.

Through the process of elimination I have determined that it is most probably stress that is the factor that I need to address. I have got everything else dialed in: diet, movement, sleep, spending time outside, connectivity, and being in nature.

For stress management, the things I have tried are:

  • Yoga: I don’t think I’m blonde enough, skinny enough or tall enough to do yoga!
  • Qigong/Tai Chi: works for me. I enjoy that it is a moving meditation, but I have yet to find a new instructor since moving.
  • Meditation: I have a seriously chatty mind. It won’t shut up!

Petra: What are you trying now?

Joanna: I'm currently reading How to Heal Yourself When No One Else Can: A Total Self-Healing Approach for Mind, Body, and Spirit by Amy Scher.

Next Up!

Joanna will interview me. Find the next installment (and lots more!) on Joanna's blog.

More About Jo:

For over twenty years Jo suffered from an undiagnosed, painful, chronic skin condition. It turned out that issue was autoimmune in nature – and it had a name: Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS).  After implementing holistic, workable changes to her diet and lifestyle, Jo successfully put her HS into remission.

She has a warm, direct and slightly irreverent approach – she believes this business of improving health is one that should be a positive experience. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology, is an experienced human resources professional, and is a Biohack U Coach.

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