Monday, October 31, 2016

Q & A + giveaway for Sickness to Fitness Quick Start Guide by Tara Perillo

Does autoimmunity mean saying goodbye to your workouts forever?  That's what I thought throughout most of my Ulcerative Colitis healing journey.  Never would I imagine I could stabilize my health enough to rebuild strength and feel vivacious again.  While I was following fellow AIP blogger,  Tara Perillo' s, healing progress,  I became more and more inspired by her AIP + Fitness approach.  Her interest in the low-carb ketogenic way drew me even closer to her updates so when she unveiled her latest project Sickness to Fitness Quick Start Guide,  I knew I had to chat with her about the unique resource she is offering the AIP community.  In this post,  I will provide a quick review of Tara's program, dive deeper into her motivations behind creating this guide with a Q&A,  and tell you how you can win a copy ( PDF ) of Sickness to Fitness Quick Start Guide in a giveaway.

>This blog post contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more what it means.  

First off,  here is a quick little review her program before we get to the Q&A.

The Sickness to Fitness Quick Start Guide is divided into four parts

      1. Nutrition - AIP + macro and meal planning
      2. Workout - Simple and easy to follow step by step workout instructions from warm up to cool down. Tara also shows how to create a home gym with a few types of exercise equipment like dumb bells and achieve a great workout.
      3. Wellness - supporting lifestyle factors like Sleep, Stress, and Supplements
      4. Recipes - Batch cooking, Meal Prepping, and Yummy recipes!

As promised, here is the Q&A with Tara on Sickness to Fitness Quick Start Guide. 

"Remember, we are trying to make your body stronger..."

Q & A

Have you always been interested in fitness?

I actually have always been interested in fitness.  One of my first jobs, in high school,  was working in a gym.  I was in charge of teaching new clients how to use the weights and equipment.  That's where I first learned about weightlifting.  It was love at first lift, for this girl who was used to Jane Fonda videos and aerobics.  From there,  I went on to earn certifications in personal training,  class training,  and yoga.  Eventually,  I even competed in combat sports and was actually prepping for a fitness competition when I received my lupus diagnosis.  At first,  I was completely devastated,  knowing I would have to end my training.  But, like everything else,  I learned to work within my limitations,  and come out a victor in the end.  That's the program I created in Sickness To Fitness Quick Start Guide.

Can you please provide a brief intro about your AI? 

I have systemic lupus erythematosus,  which affects my skin,  joints,  blood,  and various organs. Many years were spent suffering from my symptoms before I received my diagnosis.  Years ago,  I was diagnosed with Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome,  a blood clotting disorder.  That is a disorder many people with lupus also suffer with.  Had my doctors, at that time,  ordered the appropriate tests, they would have discovered my lupus much sooner.  I also have secondary psoriasis and vitiligo.  Vitiligo causes a person to  lose pigment in their skin.  The combination of the three autoimmune diseases means I suffer from Multiple Autoimmune Syndrome.

Can you  describe the turning point when you knew you needed to take your health into your own hands and can you tell us what your rock bottom was like?

When my doctor initially diagnosed me and discussed her treatment plan,  which included prednisone,  I simply looked at her,  shook my head,  and said,  "I'm not doing that."  I went home that day and started searching for another way.  At the time,  I had the lupus butterfly rash,  several bleeding psoriatic rashes,  a stomach ulcer,  painful arthritic joints,  a kidney infection,  a hiatal hernia, fibroids,  and pockets of inflammation throughout my intestines. I started by going gluten free, which helped a little.  Then,  I found paleo,  which helped my symptoms improve much quicker.  But, it wasn't until I discovered and implemented Dr. Sarah Ballantyne's The Paleo Approach,  that my health really improved.  For me, taking my health into my own hands was never a question.  I've been a certified herbalist and homeopath for 16 years now.  I know the power to heal that nature has. I've also seen the harm that pharmaceuticals and the medical profession have done.  Even though I was suffering,  I knew I had to rely on myself to get back my health.  Now,  I'm so glad I did!

When did you think you were ready to tackle the fitness component?

About a year after starting the AIP,   I started toying with the idea of training again.  To be honest,  I was a little afraid.  I had heard horror stories about exercise causing flares in people with autoimmune disease.  But,  I missed it so much.  Since I was feeling much better,  and my symptoms were under control,  I decided to formulate a program for myself to begin building strength,  stamina,  and endurance, without putting my health at risk.  After following my program for 8 weeks, I knew I was on to something.  Not only did I not experience a flare,  but my health continued to improve,  in ways that I never thought possible.  I only wish I hadn't waited so long to add the fitness component.  It truly was the missing piece of the autoimmune puzzle for me.  Within 6 months of starting my Sickness to Fitness Program, I had put my lupus into remission.  Plus,  my body was stronger and fitter than ever.  A year later, I'm happy to report, I'm still in remission,  and I just rocked it in a bikini,  in Las 47 years old!

How do you think fitness affected your healing protocol?

Obviously,  I think fitness affected my healing protocol in the most positive way.  By building muscle,  I gave my body the foundation it needed to be stronger.  The muscle that isn't being used will simply waste away, making a person feel tired and weak.  Our lack of action is actually making us sicker.  When we get rid of extra fat and build our muscles,  we are helping our bodies to regulate hormones and body systems.  We are improving our circulation,  cardiac response, digestion,  and mindset.  And,  let's not forget about the psychological boost you get after an amazing workout session.  We all know the power of the mind in healing.  This psychological boost I received after adding fitness to my protocol,  was a key factor in me reaching remission.  Because I was feeling better about myself,  I was able to manifest that healing in my body.  It's all about the mind and body connection.

For people struggling with chronic conditions, what is your advice in regards to a fitness routine both for starting and maintaining a fitness routine?

To start,  my advice is to follow every component outlined in Sickness To Fitness Quick Start Guide. My program has been tested by many people,  with different autoimmune and chronic conditions. The most important concept to remember is to start slowly.  Every aspect, including diet, stress management,  and sleep,  is the key to maintaining balance in your fitness routine. You must first build a foundation.  I see so many people moving into fitness routines too quickly,  or skipping the diet aspect,  or not working on lifestyle factors.  When you do that,  you set yourself up for failure....or,  in our case,  a flare.  Exercise,  in any form, places a certain amount of stress on the body.  If you're skipping steps,  chances are you're not helping your body to heal.  You may actually be hurting yourself.
Once you've implemented the Sickness to Fitness program,  you will notice the improvements in your health and fitness levels.  After about 6 to 8 weeks, you will be able to determine if your body is ready for more.  Always listen to what your body is telling you.  There are several ideas in Sickness To Fitness Quick Start Guide, that help you with how to advance your fitness routine.  And,  just to help you out, even more,  I've already started on my next ebook, which will outline the nutrition changes and workouts to move your progress up to the next level.
It is never too late to regain your health and build your fitness.  Those of you with autoimmune disease or chronic illness should always speak with your doctor before beginning any workout routine.  Once you get the okay from them, be sure to move at a level that is comfortable for you.  I think you are all going to be surprised at how much better you're going to feel and look!

Thanks again,  Astrid!


Timing is everything.  Since I recently got my Ulcerative Colitis under control,  I am ready for a new challenge like Tara's Sickness to Fitness program.  I am excited to use this guide to help me build muscles,  gain strength while supporting my mobile joints.  I look forward to fulfilling a little goal of mine to lift heavier things.  If you have been thinking about getting back into fitness while navigating your autoimmunity,  you should consider Tara's Sickness to Fitness Program.  Her Quick Start Guide will walk you through her AIP + Fitness healing approach in four steps, share her passion about how to return to health by including a suitable workout routine and encourage you to search for resources that resonate with you. Don't forget to enter the giveaway ( PDF ) below for a copy of Sickness to Fitness Quick Start Guide.

Good Luck!

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

My 3 steps to overcoming IBD Flares, Product Review + Coupon Code

photo by Luisa Koehler
>This blog post contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more what it means. 

The other day,  I was humbly reminded how IBD affects people of all ages and walks of life.  My friend's tween-age son has been struggling with Crohns for a few years,  in helping the family through confusing times,  I was motivated to sit down and write about healing my almost forgotten Ulcerative Colitis flares.  I am not trying to boast about my remission,  instead,  I wanted to emphasise even when the body has been dramatically affected by the chronic disease,  there is still hope in returning back to a state of health.  It is the body's main focus to repair and thrive. 

In this post,  I will share a few of my tips for overcoming IBD flares as Reduce Stress,  Sleep,  and Bowel Rest with Nourishment.  I hope some of these tips will resonate with fellow IBDers searching their way towards healthy bodies. 

Reduce stress   

Luckily,  by following a healing diet like Paleo Autoimmune Protocol ( AIP ),  I was already reducing some of the stress to my body from consuming inflammatory foods found in a Standard American Diet ( SAD).  However,  when it comes to lifestyle stress,  it was a bit more complicated.  Once I got a couple flares under my belt,  I could predict another looming around the corner by observing my elevated stress level.  Managing stress was one of the biggest hurdles against remission and now I make a conscious effort in putting Self Care on top of my to-do list to keep stress levels in check.  When I sensed my body become out of balance,  I reviewed my schedule to accommodate more down time.  Then,  I turned down unnecessary obligations and asked for help to maintain any essential duties as I focused on healing.  After all,  even as a caregiver,  what good am I to others when I was unwell.


Most people assumes sleeping 8 hours is enough,  but when you are battling autoimmunity,  you will probably need more hours under the covers.  When I was in a flare,  I slept until my body told me to get up.  During my worst flare,  I could easily sleep 18 hrs and still be exhausted.  My days blended into nights,  but I listened to my body and sleep more.  Another way to rest beside being in bed was relaxing in an Epsom Salt bath.  At times,  I would alternate between the two to prevent bedsores and boredom.  Sometimes I found it hard to quiet the mind,  so I turned to meditation podcasts,  like Louise Hay, and Essential oils,  like lavender, to guide me into a more relaxed state.  To learn more about getting restful Sleep to support healing- check out Go to Bed by The Paleo Mom.

Bowel Rest with Nourishment

The idea of bowel rest came to me after my first preparation for colonoscopy,  instead of taking the recommended clear diet of sugary juices and Sports drinks,  I consumed my homemade bone broth, grass fed gelatin and coconut water.  To my surprise,  my flare symptoms subsided right after my scope.  I understood that as my digestion was given a break,  my body could focus on repairing my gut lining.  In regards to the duration of bowel rest,  I really had to listen to my body.  I also found it helpful to add fats,  like coconut oil,   in small tolerable increments to provide my body with extra  energy.  My bowel rest practice evolved as my body healed,  I was able to consume more variety of liquids.  This lead me to search for more easy to digest liquid nourishment options to fuel the body during this healing process.  While preparing bone broth is easy,  it can be time and energy consuming, especially when you are not well.  Grass Fed Collagen protein is still my favorite form of gut healing supplements to this day. Recently,  I was contacted by Primal Health and Nutrition regarding their unique Paleo and Autoimmune Protocol compliant line of products,  Paleo Perfection Protein.  Keeping my fellow IBDers in mind,  Paleo Perfection Protein may be a great option as a convenient periodic meal replacement or an easy to digest liquid nourishment in supporting bowel rest.  For those who are intolerant to common allergens,  Primal Health and Nutrition has made their product free of dairy, nuts, seeds, soy, corn and legume.  Comparing to the majority of protein supplements on the market,  Primal Health and Nutrition uses Grass Fed hydrolyzed beef ( aka. Collagen) as their protein source instead of whey.  With the addition of nutrient enhancing organic fruits and vegetable,  Paleo Perfection Protein offers a fuller body texture when comparing to other Collagens I have used before. Primal Health and Nutrition currently offers two flavours,  “Chocolate” Cherry Flavour,   which is made with carob instead of chocolate and a Natural flavour.  After testing their products,   I found the "Chocolate" Cherry Flavour a bit sweet ( with stevia) tasting for me.  By adding coconut milk/cream ( you may use any high-quality fat or your choice of tolerable “milk”),  I found the perfect balance in taste and richness in a cup I would gladly serve my children as a treat.  In fact, it was almost hard to believe this easy to make supplement is tasty,  guilt-free and AIP compliant.   Lastly,  I feel their prices are reasonable especially for the quality of the ingredients used. 

Although I still believe it is preferable to heal our bodies with real whole foods,  this product can provide a good alternative for a clean source of on-the-go protein supplement.  If you are on the AIP protocol,  I would suggest that you give this a go once you have gotten past the elimination phase and successfully re-introduced ingredients used in the product.

If you want to try Paleo Perfection Protein,  as my blog audience, you can save 20% off of the retail price.  Simply use coupon code "AFox"  to redeem your 20% off here ( Offer expires 12/31/2016 ).  

Below is how I made my taste testers ( aka. my kids) their cups of guilt free and nourishing hot "cocoa".  There was no surprise that they loved it. 

Makes 2 servings   Prep time 5 mins 

  • 1 scoop Paleo Perfection Protein  - Natural
  • 1 scoop Paleo Perfection Protein - Chocolate Cherry
  • 1/2 c full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 c hot water
  • a sprinkle of pink Himalayan sea salt
Optional: 1 Tablespoon MCT oil


Add all ingredients into a blender and blend at low speed until smooth. Be careful when handling hot liquids. Enjoy. 

Use Coupon code "AFox" for 20% off retail prices  ( Offer expires 12/31/2016 )
Redeemable at here

In conclusion,  it was bittersweet to sift through faded memories of Ulcerative Colitis flares,  I remember how terrible I felt at my rock bottom and all the times in between.  The pain,  weakness from undernourishment,  and fears of whether I would ever feel well again eventually subsided as I follow my trial and error routine of Reduce Stress,  Sleep and Bowel Rest with Nourishment.  My above-mentioned tips to overcoming IBD flares are only a few of countless out there.  They have worked well to further my healing when I focus on them.  I encourage every IBDer to get creative, be determined and continue to search for ways to heal your gut.  Remember, the body is designed to repair and thrive. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Coconut Gelatin Squares

Coconut Gelatin Squares were one of my favourite sweet treats from childhood dim sum memories. It must have been the early sign of my love for anything coconut. 

You may still able to order this dish from push carts at old-school Chinese restaurants. No doubt this is a very simple treat to create so I don't know why it took me this long to make my own version of it? 

My adaptation is completely AIP/Paleo/ Keto/ LCHF compliant. I actually do not add any sweeteners in mine, which makes them more like fat bombs for Keto and LCHF folks. My recipe produces a pretty firm gelatin, if you prefer a softer mouth feel, you can try decreasing the gelatin by 1/2 t increment to find your happy place. 

>This blog post contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more what it means. 

Makes 8  1" x1" squares      Prep time 5 mins      Set time 2 hour


  • 4 oz. coconut milk ( I use AROY D in tetra pak)
  • 4 oz hot, just off boil, water
  • 1 tsp maple syrup ( optional ) 
  • 1/2  tsp vanilla extract
  1. In a small bowl, pour in coconut milk,
  2. Sprinkle gelatin over and let sit for 5 mins to expand and soften.  
  3. Stir in hot water to dissolve gelatin. Stir in remaining ingredients. 
  4. Pour mixture into silicone mold ( like this one )  and let set in fridge, about 1-2 hour
  5. Loosen edges before popping out the squares to enjoy. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

My latest health experiment - Nutritional ketosis + AIP

Back in May,  I started a new direction on my healing protocol that eventually brought my Ulcerative Colitis into REMISSION.

In this blog post, I will share with you how by incorporating nutritional ketosis into my Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, I found equilibrium in health; however, there is no one size fit all protocol for everyone. I hope by sharing my experiment, I can encourage my readers to continue their search towards finding the best way to support their healing journey. 

Here are the three points that explain my latest progression.
  1. What inspired me to chose this route
  2. What my AIP Nutritional Keto looks like 
  3. What improvements has the changes made

1. Why would I think the ketogenic diet, originally designed to treat epileptic children, could help with my health? I didn't.  

Initially, I chose to investigate the ketogenic diet in hopes of balancing my blood sugar and finding hormonal support for peri-menopausal symptoms I started experiencing in the past few years. 
Having a history of diabetes in the family,  I am always watchful for signs of insulin resistance as I get older. Despite following the AIP protocol, I was still indulging in too many fruits and starchy vegetables to fill my belly. I wanted to learn more about blood sugar imbalance as I believe it plays an important role in supporting my gut health.  So as my UC symptoms subside, I took that as a sign to move forward in my continual search for better health.  With the predominant gut symptoms under control, I was still experiencing periodical energy crashes. I wasn't sure if that was because, as I felt stronger, I was eager to push myself more which resulted in fatigue. I had heard that the ketogenic diet can help regular blood sugar, stabilize energy and increase mental clarity.  So with my inquisitive mind, I decided to learn more about this concept of fueling the body.

Through the AIP/ Paleo community, I learned about The Wahls Protocol by Dr. Terry Wahls, where nutritional ketosis plays an important role in healing the body. She designed her protocol, with three stages to lead to a gradual transition from the Standard American Diet ( SAD) . The highest level, Wahls Paleo Plus, is not far off from AIP, so I was able to easily to slide over without going through the first two levels. 

What is Nutritional Ketosis? 

To quote Dr. Terry Wahls, " ... ketosis means you are burning fat, rather than sugar, as your primary fuel source ... when your body is in a state of nutritional ketosis, the liver begins producing ketone bodies" ( as a by-product of turning fat into energy the body can easily use). The Wahls Protocol p.191, 196

I am most fascinated with a process called autophagy where a Ketogenic Diet mimics fasting state to support the body in detox and repair itself.

2. What does my AIP Keto way of eating look like?

Based on Wahls Paleo Plus, the first revamp of my eating plan was increasing leafy green vegetables to 4-6 c a day. It was a bit nerve wrecking to increase so much insoluble fiber into my UC gut but the transition went smoothly with little discomfort. I also paid more attention to the variety, especially in colours, of vegetables on my plate. I increased my healthy fat intake by adding 4-5 tsp of coconut oil a day on top of the fats in my cooking and salad dressings. This increase in fat helped my body became fat adapted.  I decreased my protein intake to 6-10 oz. to prevent gluconeogenesis, Yes one can eat too much protein which turns into fat storage. Finally, I focused on staying hydrated as it is common for the body to excrete extra water in a ketosis state. Besides drinking enough fluids, I kept my electrolytes in check by consuming enough salts in my diet and sometimes even add a sprinkle of pink Himalayan pink salt into my drinking water. 

Three weeks into Nutritional Ketosis and I was feeling pretty good. Intermittent fasting 16 hours most of the days seem to happen naturally since I was satiated in between my meals. My brain was much clearer, my energy was stable and I was losing some hormonal weight gain that sneaked up on me in the past few months. Unfortunately, the increase in energy also resulted in  keto insomnia.  I had a hard time falling back to sleep after it was interrupted by waking up several times a night,  although falling asleep initially was not an issue.  Then slowly, my weight loss stalled and the bloating returned. Needless to say, I assumed that the healing honeymoon was over. Instead of feeling defeated and wanted to give up,  I browsed through forums and learned that other women also experienced obstacles when their carb intake became too low.  I began practicing Carb up ( increasing carbs in forms of berries or starchy vegetables) in the evening when needed, 2 to 3 times a week, and found that my body was not stressing out about the lack of carbs anymore. I learned that the body tends to panic when there are signs of energy deprivations. Since my body ran on glucose all my life, it viewed this new way of functioning as a threat. The small increase of carbs in the evening calmed my body and my sleep issue was therefore resolved. 

Now at 4 months into AIP Nutritional Ketosis, my body seem to like this routine.  I eat only when I am hungry, not when I am bored or think I should. Instead of worrying about whether I have food with me, I can go a lot longer period of time,  running on ketones, without being hangry. Being in NK has taught me to listen to my body ever so closely the right time to eat. This state has provided me more flexibility in my schedule by removing extra food preparation time off my plate. I can easily IF as long as I had enough good fats to keep me satiated until the next feeding opportunity. Currently, I start my morning with warm water with lemon juice, if I feel I need some extra energy, I might enjoy a spoonful of coconut oil and coconut manna to power up my body. Otherwise, I continue with my morning routine with a little yoga or exercise with free weights before getting the kids ready for school. After school drop off, I enjoy my 40 mins to 1:30 hr walk. When I return home, I make myself a blended fat drink with noncaffeinated tea, cocoa butter, MCT oil and collagen. I continue to Intermittent fast until 12p to 3p and break my fast with a big salad, cooked vegetable and protein. Dinner is a typical AIP meal around 6pm. 

3. What improvements have I noticed?

The greatest improvements I noticed since adding nutritional ketosis to the equation is stabilizing blood sugar. Although this effect seems to be unrelated to autoimmunity,  I believe managing blood sugar levels is key in supporting continual healing of the gut. Other positive side effects from the diet change are stability in the mood, better mental clarity, higher body temperature, and easier stress management.  With cravings at bay, I eat intuitively and no longer turn to food to fill boredom. Craving for carbs, especially fruits, seems to be a thing of the past, which means I enjoy social outings more where friends and family consume their non-AIP food. Of course, it is important that I bring my own compliant food to adhere to my eating for nourishment practice. As an added bonus, this way of eating has become more economical for the family's food budget because I am preparing meals with less protein than before. 

In conclusion, I am pleased with the health improvements since added Nutritional Ketosis to my AIP protocol. As the season change, it would be interesting to see how my body adapts. I hope this post will encourage my readers to listen to the body, let it guide them towards optimal health. Remember to be patient by allowing enough time for a new protocol to settle in.  Once the body finds its healing "groove", enjoy the progress when the momentum picks up but don't be discourage when it is time to re-evaluate the plan.  

Wholeheartedly support the body's natural ability to heal.
Continue to pursue optimal health by being intrigued by the process. 

Additional Resources about Nutritional Ketosis

History of Ketogenic Diet

Fellow AIP bloggers' experience with Ketosis

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Ebook review: Spice Over 90 Paleo and AIP compliant recipes by Jo Romero

>This blog post contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more what it means. 

Summer has been really busy. I finally carved out sometime to work on this exciting book review for SPICE over 90 Paleo and AIP compliant recipes by the lovely Jo Romero

It seems like a long time ago since I began my AIP journey, a little over 3 years, I have adapted well into this way of eating riding some ups and downs along the way but I rarely miss foods from the AVOID list anymore; however, there are still spices I wish I can reintroduce back into my cooking. As my gut healed, I was able to slowly reintroduce some spices but not enough to create one of my favorite belly warming dish - the Curry! So when I heard about this Paleo and AIP compliant book about SPICE Jo was working on, I was eagerly filled with anticipation. 

To begin, Jo starts out with the list and detail glossary of AIP Compliant Spices and Aromatics. I have to admit there are many ingredients on the list I haven't used before and now am looking forward to playing around with them soon.

Then she divided her book into the following sections of mouth watering recipes 
  • Nibbles and Soups
  • Main Meals
  • Drinking Sweat Treats
  • Sauces and Finishing Touches
Here comes the part I love the most

"The Formula for an AIP Curry" where she breaks down how to create your customized curry following four building blocks

Base  |  Sauce  |  Embellishing Spices  |  Topping

After drooling over the numerous beautifully shot delicious spicy dishes, I chose to make the Basic AIP Red Thai Curry Paste over chicken legs. Don't let the seemingly long list of ingredients intimate you, it is well worth it. The dish turned out so well that it even got a thumbs up from my husband who has Caribbean roots. Jo's AIP Red Thai Curry Paste offers a different kinds of heat, that is pleasantly fleeting instead of painfuling lingering past t's welcome, in comparison to traditional chilis. With just the right amount of kick, the dish is packed with complex aromatic flavors from the perfectly complimenting ingredients. 

I highly recommend this ebook to anyone, whether they are on AIP/ Paleo journey or not, to try as I have learned so much in how to combine spices and create fresh new taste to Spice up my cooking. 

You can order this Spicy addition to your cookbook library here

This pretty pink sauce is packed with a kick of flavors

Red Thai Curry Chicken leg I have missed for the past 3 years

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Happy 3 years diagnosis and Gutsy Walk

After 3 years of hard work healing my body through holistic approach, I am celebrating this special Colitis diagnosis anniversary, with strength and passion, by joining millions of supporters in the annual Gusty Walk Canada on June 5 in Vancouver, BC Canada. I hope to continue bringing awareness for Inflammatory Bowel Disease to the world and fully embrace what the future brings me whether in sickness or in health.

 sponsor my walk

Why is it special that I am participating in this year's Gutsy Walk?

My decision to take the holistic approach in healing my ulcerative colitis was shadowed by uncertainty. Everyone has to find their way to heal their bodies and it isn't an easy task. As I pushed forward with research and trial and error of my own health, year after year, I would note this IBD awareness event and wonder if I will ever be strong enough to participate. With perseverance, a hopeful and positive attitude, I was able to rebuild the stronger body and mind I have today therefore confirming I had chosen the right path. This year is finally my time to join in on celebrating health, encouraging hope and spreading the word about this diseases that is often shrouded by taboo.


I remember walking out of the hospital, still feeling the effects of the sedatives from the colonoscopy procedure, trying to wrap my brain around what Ulcerative Colitis means. How would my life change from here onward?

Doubtful words from my first GI was meant to discourage me to stray from the conventional pharmaceutical way of managing IBD, but instead they somehow pushed me to follow my instinct in search of a custom protocol that my body resonate with.

During the process, I had to relearned my body's signals because the ones I thought I understood so well have become quiet as I unintentionally ignored them.  Longterm caregiver stress had major contribution to my confused and neglected body,  I was probably quite sick even before I was diagnosed. Along the way, I had to peel off the many "protective"  layers, like a callus,  I had build as my coping mechanism in difficult times.


How did I get here? What is the hard work

My recent stability in health seemed to have sneaked up on me. Even two months ago, I was feeling uncertain about my body's unpredictable symptoms as a constant in my day to day life.  I call it riding the roller coaster of health. Then slowly I noticed I was having more good days then bad ones. Eventually the good ones would link closer together, I was starting to feel more like a "capable" person.

The following are the main factors that lead me to the latest improvement.

  1. Satiating my appetite and diminishing cravings with added appropriate amount of healthy fats
  2. Practicing intermittent fasting 14-19 hours to allow more repair time
  3. Eating less means easier on my digestion
  4. Increase my vegetable intake to 4-6 c a day, but cutting down on starchy vegetable in the mean time
  5. Cutting my fruit intake to mainly berries to 1 c a day, always eaten with some healthy fat
  6. Maintaining nutritional ketosis to balance blood sugar
  7. Continue with replenishing magnesium deficiency 
  8. Increasing hydration.

Getting Physical

Baby steps - literally, I started extending short 30 mins walks in 5 mins increments until I reached 2 hours of exploring my neighborhood on foot.

Chasing the sun - while I am walking I am getting the Vitamin D I need and hopefully enough for winter storage. My GI also mentioned that some of her patients were able to achieve remission by adding more Vitamin D in their routine.

My family still loose track of what I eat. I don't blame them, I have gone through many different protocols, from Paleo to Specific Carbohydrates Diet ( SCD),  Paleo Autoimmune Protocol ( AIP), then eliminating FODMAP on top of that and drawing inspirations from the Wahls Paleo Plus. Currently, my focus, basing on AIP guidelines, is to  maintain nutritional ketosis where I can balance my hormones and blood sugar better. I have learned that constantly evolving my healing routine is crucial and although I am unsure what my future will bring, I trust that I will find my way to optimal health with all the drive to learn about this amazing machine we are given, our body. I strongly believe that given the proper support and timing, the body can heal.


What is the plan onward and forward?

IBD is a disease that is often tabooed to discuss because it is linked to the toilet. I hope people will break the silence and learn more about it. Knowledge is power. I am always open to share my experience.

Here I would like to especially Thank my family for all the support they have given me through the ups and downs in the past few years. Even at times when you are confused about my approach, you remain patient and try to follow me on my winding journey. Without your strength I would not have reached the sense of enlightenment in my health.

I am looking forward to enjoying more quality time with my lovely family, reaching out to friends,  and getting out of the house more often.



FACT SHEET - Impact of Crohns and Colitis in Canada

Saturday, May 7, 2016

How I got moving again

The importance of getting active again

Recently, I increased my physical activities from gentle restorative to more vigorous forms and have seen improvement in my well being. These newly incorporated physical activities have helped increase my energy, brighten my mood and improve my stamina in only a short few weeks. I know, it's only logical that exercise will make people feel better right? Not always, for someone who manages a chronic health condition, too much exercise can easily trigger stress hormones and set one up for a flare. I had been struggling to find the right balance of exercise to support my healing but think I have found what works. If you are looking to add exercise to compliment your healing, I hope my process will give you some ideas to consider.


Everyone benefits from gentle restorative exercises, since my gut symptoms were so unpredictable, it was easy for me to remain in my comfort zone of rarely breaking a sweat. Don't get me wrong, in the past, my impatience have led me to exercise routines I wasn't ready for. Afraid that my spurt of energy was fleeting, I would push myself too hard when I had the urge to get active. This became a roller coaster ride that brought me down to a low until I reach a grinding hault. Feeling defeated, I would question my foolishness to hop on the exercise wagon without considering my current abilities. At this point I would slowly slip back to a sendentary lifestyle to avoid further stress on my body. Even with improvement, I was reluctant to increase exercises to a moderate level like going for longer walks or taking an exercise class. As my activity level stayed stagnant, my energy remained the same. In the dead of this past winter, hormonal changes got my attention with unexplained weight gain and big energy drop. I knew I had to make some changes in order to feel better. Through research on hormonal changes and weight gain, I drafted up a plan that began with slow and gradual changes. Before I got my heart pumping, I began to tweak my AIP diet by reducing carbs and increasing healthy fats ( post to follow). A few weeks later, I noticed my energy level slowly climbing up and remained steady throughout the day. I took that as the opportunity to increase my physical activities and hopefully get my groove back. Well, it worked! I started with 20 mins walks which extended to an hour 4 -5 days a week. The positive effect didn't take long to reveal even though I was taking it nice and easy with increasing the duration and frequency of my physical activities. Now, I am enjoying a steady progressive pace to improve my health through a sound phyicial routine.


Before I paid attention to getting more physical, there were many days when my head was filled with trepidation. Moving just wasn't always comfortable and the fear of needing to find a bathroom with little notice was always lurking in my mind. The restrictions of my chronic condition often led to mood swings and sadness. Since I found my exercise routine, I have a much better outlook of my future. I have learned not to force myself if I am tired and switch into “will tackle it tomorrow” mode when I have reached my limits. In fact, I am less anxious and frustrated with my limits and welcome my improving abilities to return.


With my energy level improved and my mood perked up, I am able to better pace myself to tackle simple every day activities and set realistic expectations. Before I knew it, my stamina is following up the ladder of better health. After sheding my doubtfulness that plagued me in the past, I am better equiped to focus on strengthening my able body and move forward. I am happier.

The following are some of the activities I am practicing to add some fun and sweat into my day. Bear in mind that I do not practice all of these activities every day but it's certainly fun to have a variety of things to rotate and keep fit with. 

Yoga keeps my flexible, centered and calm. ( 3-4 times a week: 20 -30 mins per session )

There are many ways to include yoga in your daily routine, you can attend classes, develop a home practice through books, podcast and dvd.  I use in my restorative style home practice usually to start my day or prepare for a good night sleep. I find using podcasts are easy to fit into my schedule especially when I am on the road.

Roller Skating is just pure FUN! ( planning on once a week )

Recently, I rekindled a childhood love by purchasing myself a sweet pair of teal velour roller skates with purple wheels. I fell in love with roller skating as a teen after watching the movie, Xanadu.  About 6 years ago, I had the urge to put on some wheels again but before my thought hatched into action, I got pregnant so I had to wait.  Now there are no excuses to wait and I look forward to getting my skater legs back while catching some vitamin D outside.

Belly dancing ( 5 days a week; 30 - 45 mins per session)

Like all forms of dance, Belly dancing is empowering through it's ability to ground me. I took a few classes in my 20s but it wasn't until the past couple years when I got back to it pretty full force. I took classes at my local community center and even got some private one on one lessons to refresh the "vocabulary" and techniques. I enjoy strengthening muscles without repetitive exercises. As a result, I am meeting my obliques for the first time and my arms and shoulders are more defined. Of course all the belly work improve digestion too. It also tap into my creative side with making cool costumes. These day I start my morning with a sweaty routine via

Walk (4-5 days a week; 45- 60 mins per session)

Walking seems so easy to do for the healthy person, but for someone with IBD, it took me a long time to build the confidence to make this a regular practice.  My fear of not being close to a bathroom prevented me from going on walks for some time. Now that I am in remission, I go for a brisk 45 mins walk while plugged into my favorite audiobook or podcast. My favorite walking companion has been humorous audiobooks. Besides downloading from my local library via  Overdrive and OneClickDigital, offers a great selection to choose from ( click here for free downloads)

To track my progress, my friend at Movement Revolution recommended the MOVES app that tells me where and how far I have walked everyday. My other must haves on my walks are my new my bluetooth ear buds ( these are the ones I recently bought). I love the freedom of not having tangled wires and my five finger minimal runners that strength the over 100 muscles in my feet. 

Swimming (once a week; 30 mins)

I took enough swim lessons as a child to keep me afloat if I fell in the water, but it was watching my older son progress from a hesitant to a confident strong swimmer that inspired me to take a private lesson to brush up on my skills and technique. He is still the best swimmer in the house and I enjoy asking him for swimming advice which has brought us even closer. 

I love how swimming stretches my body like nothing else I practice. Floating weightlessly in the water relaxes me. Furthermore, swimming helps maintain my flexibility, build muscle strength and increase stamina all at the same time. 

In conclusion, I encourage you to revisit your childhood passion, embark on something you never had a chance to pursue to create your personal fun routine so that you can better your body and soul because you deserve feeling great. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Dear Doctor

Have you ever been nervous about going to the doctor? How about meeting a new doctor for the first time? Well, those nerves are extra jumpy if you have a chronic condition because you never know if your visits will get you the kind of help you really need.

Several weeks ago, I got a phone call from my GI's office informing me that he has transferred all of his Ulcerative Colitis patients to a different GI in the same office and I had an appointment in April.  I had mixed feelings about the meeting because, firstly,  an appointment with a specialist was hard to come by so it can be a golden opportunity I did not want to pass. However, since I have self managed my UC in the past few years I am unsure what I need from this doctor. Secondly, I am also not in a flare. Another factor of my uncertainty is I have had little luck finding support from doctors in managing my UC in the past few years. With trepidation, I reached out to my fellow IBD friends for supports and received some valuable advice. So in preparation for this upcoming meeting, I decided to write the following letter to help me sort out my thoughts and ask for what I need to improve my health.

Dear Doctor, 

It is my utmost pleasure to meet you today. However I am a little nervous about our initial meeting because in the past,  I have been told by other doctors that either they were unable to help me or that my attempts to improve my chronic condition through lifestyle and diet was insufficient. Since I was diagnosed 3 years ago with Ulcerative Colitis,  I have managed to weather a few flares with minimal medical interventions. I credit my ability to maintain health to following the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol shortly after diagnosis. Since I have removed grains, nuts, seeds and nightshades out of my diet on this protocol,  my UC symptoms have stablized up until this past January when I started experiencing hormone imbalance with peri-menopause. I had been feeling more unexplained bloating and anxiety was quickly building up. With persistent research, a supporting Autoimmune community and a hopeful disposition, my symptoms seemed to have stabilized once again after a difficult February. 
What I am looking for today is, with your help, find the missing puzzle pieces in my plan. I have managed to navigate through my healing mainly by following my intuition and observing my changing body. I hope you will help me establish a clearer picture of my current baseline through specific blood work testing.

I would love to hear your suggestions for my intended purposes. With your compassion and medical expertise, I hope to gain a better understanding of my current state and continue to move forward in improving my health with more clarity. 


Astrid Fox

After writing this letter,  the weight lifted off my shoulders and I was much more confident about the meeting.

On the day of my appointment,  my new doctor's friendly greeting put me at ease right away. After sitting down at her office, she began to ask me about my IBD history. Without delay,  I handed her my letter and anxiously wait for her reaction. As she read it, she nodded in agreement and even commented on how many of her patients did well on Paleo. Wait! did I just find a doctor who speaks my language? The rest of the meeting went like a dream. We bounced around acronym like SCD, AIP, GAPS without pausing to see if the other person needed further explanation what these letters mean. She even gave me a handout about FODMAP. I left her office holding requisitions for testings I had asked for plus more.

We should not have to look for validation from others about our own healing path, but when you meet a medical professional who supports and even applaud your efforts to take charge in your health, it really feels good! I am quite proud of myself for taking my health in my own hands. I also realized that perhaps I am just practicing another  AIP Evolved Manifesto ideas from our friends at Autoimmune Paleo .

Reclaim your health one step at a time!

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol Book Review and GIVEAWAY

>This blog post contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more what it means. 

Feeling overwhelmed with different styles of healing diets? If you have decided to commit to protect your most valuable lifelong investment, your health,  A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol by Eileen Laird can help you find a better understanding of how you can support your body's natural ability to heal through diet and lifestyle.

In this book review, I will share with you how this easy to read yet concise overview can benefit both beginning and experienced health advocates. This book can help beginners navigate through the seemingly complicated protocol and aid the more experienced in improving their established healing routine. No matter where you are on your healing journey, this guide can help you take better control of your health by embracing a healing lifestyle specifically regarding the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol.

Who is this book for?

Face it, Life is busy. If you have chronic health issues to deal with, making changes to heal your body and mind can be extra challenging. 

Enter Eileen's A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol to offer guidance for people looking to take control of their health and find alternative ways in heal.

For the beginners

This wonderful guide includes just enough details to help transition from the standard American diet, which is often filled with processed and inflammatory foods, to a nutrient dense whole foods healing diet without overwhelming the reader. In this book you will find useful step by steps, infographics like the food pyramid and grocery list to help transform your health.
It maybe obvious this book would be perfect for beginners but for someone who has already spend some time on the protocol, you can be reminded of how much you have achieved and feel a great sense of accomplishment. It is like a big pad on your back for taking health into your own hands.

How about for the experienced?

It maybe obvious this book would be perfect for beginners but for someone who has already spend some time on the protocol, you can be reminded of how much you have achieved and feel a great sense of accomplishment. It is like a big pad on your back for taking health into your own hands. 

Don't let the compact size of this book fool you

Eileen managed to pack all important details one needs to embark on the AIP journey in this book. The clean cover design also reflects sense of clarity inside the book. The welcoming cover leads you to a well written, easy and quick to read guide that is “small enough to carry around” with you for quick references when needed.

If you are familiar with Eileen's podcast Phoenix Helix, you will know the encouraging attitude she always delivery to her audience. Written in her signature positive tone as in her podcast, you will feel reassured and encouraged to take on this transition.

What I found most helpful in the book for my personal journey

Sometimes, we will feel like we are not in control with our environment when we are away from home especially traveling or when we are just faced with self doubt. I still find the following topics challenging and appreciate how Eileen touched upon them with tips on how to carry on even faced with uncertainty.
  1. Eating at restaurants
  2. Traveling on the AIP
  3. Overcoming self sabotage
How has this book helped me?

This book came out just in time for my first Whole 30 with the AIP focus therefore giving me a good review of the AIP and helped me re-examine areas where I still need to tweak and improve upon. Having this book on my side, I am reminded of how much I have grown and changed since I started healing my body with food and lifestyle change. It has given me the confidence to continue finding the best supportive ways to manage symptoms and maintain optimal health with my chronic condition. 

Thank you always Eileen for sharing your knowledge, time and brimming passion towards healing!

---GIVEAWAY --- 
Here is how you can win a copy of this great book. 
One lucky winner will receive either
a hardcopy ( US winner ) or a PDF copy (international winner).  

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 1, 2016

Fragrant Rose Chai

>This blog post contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more what it means. 

Happy New Year to all my health advocates!

I wish you all good health and happiness for 2016. 

This morning, I woke up feeling a bit chilled and got inspired to warm myself up with a cup of floral yummy drink to start Monday and February off. I looked around my tea cupboard and came across my jar of rose petals. I have always loved the smell of rose essential oils but haven't included this delicate frequent flower in my cooking. The beautiful pink color of the dried roses inspired me to grab it and add it to my tea. A few stirs and simmer and the end result was this warming fragrant cup of Rose Chai tea. I have also used rose water to give this drink an extra punch of flavor. You can usually find rose water from Middle Eastern Food stores but if you are having difficulty finding it locally, here is an affiliate link you can order from. Remember Valentine's day is just around the corner and this warm drink would be a nice romantic treat for the special day.  

Makes 2 cups     Prep time 5 mins      Cook time 10 mins

  • 1 tsp Rose water
  • 5-6 rose blossom
  • 1 tbsp organic rooibos tea
  • 3-4 ginger slices
  • sprinkle ground clove
  • 1/8 t ground cinnamon 
  • honey to taste ( optional ) 
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp Collagen
  • 1/8 - 1/4 c coconut milk ( I recently tried this tetrapak coconut milk from AROY D and loved the taste. )

  1. In a small pot, add water, spices, tea and ginger and bring to boil then simmer uncovered for 10 mins
  2. Pour tea through strainer into a mason jar, stir in remaining ingredients and add desired amount of coconut milk and serve.