When Should You Start Your AIP Healing Journey?

Have you ever wondered when you should start your AIP healing journey?

Did you feel the pressure to mark January 1st on the calendar as the day you’d start the Autoimmune Protocol? If so, how’d that work out for you?

While I’m hoping that you’ve had great success, the likelihood is that you’ve faced your share of challenges. Maybe you didn’t make a resolution and you feel like you missed your opportunity. Either way, I’m here to encourage you not to beat yourself up – be kind to yourself, because January 1st may not have been the best choice anyway!

Did You Know:
90% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned within just a few weeks or months!

So, why aren’t we more successful at keeping New Year’s resolutions? Some reasons are that; we’re thinking too big, we’re not considering the ‘why’ behind our resolutions, we didn’t make a solid plan to set ourselves up for success … and a biggie … we may not be ready for change!

Beyond this however, there are some seasonal reasons, and I want to talk about these first.

This past fall, I stumbled upon a post that I’ve since lost track of, but the message resonated with me. The premise was basically that January (winter) is probably the worst time to make big changes in our lives.

I don’t know about you, but when we’re already struggling with our health, diagnosis and dealing with the harsh realities of autoimmune life, all that “New Year – New Me” stuff just adds way too much pressure!

Having an autoimmune disease is a lot! You don’t need any extra pressure, and I hope you’ll consider doing nothing other than remaining open to the possibility of your potential to heal, receptive to change and ready to show yourself compassion during your struggles.

Why January 1st is a Terrible Time To Make Big Life Changes

  1. After a month of indulgence, the last thing you’ll want to face is feelings of deprivation. Don’t count on self-discipline to magically kick in – you may last a couple of days, but you’re likely to be overcome by feelings of deprivation and you’ll resent the rules you’ve imposed on yourself. Heck, going cold turkey or weaning yourself off of sugar, alcohol or any favorite food is difficult enough at the best of times, never mind when your body may still be trying to kick those hopped-up, holiday-induced cravings!
  2. It’s the middle of winter! Willpower is weak and the temptation to hibernate or spend chilly evenings sitting by a fire with a nice glass of wine and the remains of the holiday treats very appealing. I don’t know too many people who enjoy eating salads or walking around the block when it’s blustery and cold outside.
  3. Don’t follow the crowd. The vast majority of New Year’s diet and exercise resolutions fall by the wayside quickly and fail. Resist falling into the comparison trap by starting the AIP diet or lifestyle changes at the same time your friends, family or co-workers might be making resolutions. Their abilities will be different than yours. While it may sound like a good idea to jump in while you feel you have support of those around you, it may also feel defeating if you don’t have the energy to keep up with their exercise plans, and let’s face it, your dietary restrictions are likely more considerably more complicated than theirs. 
  4. The master of habit and behaviour change, James Clear, believes the problem with resolutions is that we are outcome focussed –  we want our new behaviours to deliver new results. Unfortunately, new goals and healthy resolutions don’t deliver new results, new lifestyles do … and a lifestyle is not an outcome, it is a process.

All that said, perhaps it’s better to approach each new year as a time for planning!

Next year, use January to cozy up by the fire and create a timeline of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) and establish your “why” (why you want to get started on the AIP – think bigger than just to get healthy – keep reading to learn more).

Use January to assemble the resources you need to achieve your healthy resolutions – you’ve already found a source for your journey right here on my website! Click these links for getting started, prepping your kitchen and pantry for the AIP, daily recipe inspiration to keep you motivated, my motivational resources, the best Meal Planning App that was created for AIPers, food sourcing options and discounts

Establishing your SMART goals and making plans means you’re far more likely to make changes that will actually last.

Maybe It’s a Spring Thing!

As Spring begins to unfold, I thought this would be a great time to talk about the best time to make healthy resolutions.

  1. Spring is known as “the season of hope.” It symbolizes the resurgence of life after the challenges of winter. The arrival of Spring typically makes us feel more optimistic, which makes it an ideal time to either establish our healthy goals or move forward from the planning phase to the action stage. 
  2. April 1st represents the start of Spring. Motivation is usually higher once we shake off the winter blues – the days become longer, the sunshine and air are warmer, moods lighten, fresh produce becomes more plentiful and our healing journey feels a little less daunting. Try Spring cleaning your cupboards to get rid of non-AIP temptations … it’s a great way to support your healthy lifestyle changes. Read my post – Prepping Your Kitchen & Pantry for the AIP.
  3. Do what works for you, rather than following the majority. We’ve established January might not be best .. but maybe April isn’t for you either if you’re dealing with a lot of stress or temptations that may throw you off track.
  4. Start with small, simple habits, consider habit stacking and build on your successes. Remember, the AIP is about more than dietary changes, so there will be plenty of opportunities to create small, achievable goals that will continue to motivate you. Be sure to read my Healthy AIP Resolutions post for more advice on getting started and creating lasting change.

When Should You Start?

If you truly want to succeed, I suggest NOT starting right before a big life event, stressful occasion or when you’re simply overwhelmed with it all. Do NOT try to make big changes when temptations will be high, such as around holidays and special occasions.

Success typically comes when you’ve decided it’s time. When you’ve established your “why,” and that “why” is strong enough to motivate you and keep you on track.

Sure, your doctor, nutritionist or AIP coach can encourage you to get started, but to be successful, you have to be in the right place and have the right mindset to make it stick. Sure, there’s some motivation in knowing that your condition is likely only to deteriorate if you don’t get started, but that doesn’t make it any easier or mean you’ll stick to your goals.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned on my personal journey and when helping others, it’s that NO ONE can tell you when to start. You have to REALLY want to make lasting changes … you have to KNOW YOUR WHY!

Now, when I say “know your why,” I don’t mean that your motivation is simply that you want to be healthy, that’s not a powerful enough reason to make it happen. You have to have the right mindset. You have to know why you want to get healthy, envision your life and what it will be like when you start to feel better! Goals that have real purpose are what get you there. (If you’re still a little confused by what I’m talking about, you might want to grab a copy of “Healing Mindset” by Eileen Laird – click to learn more.)

Start Where You Are

Maybe January IS the time for you, maybe it’s Spring, or maybe it’s July 32nd – No matter the date, start where you are!

The only thing worse than starting on a date that might not have been perfect for you, is not starting at all.

Don’t get caught in the research trap. Use the simple beginner resources I’ve provided on my website and start making small, achievable changes.

Don’t worry about slip ups or flare ups – the AIP is about progress over perfection – you’ve got this!