In 2014 my health hit rock bottom. I was only 45 years old, and my body was going into meltdown. I thought I’d been doing everything right, following the best of diet and health guidelines. But something was seriously wrong.
Then, to top it all off I started having major muscle contractions in my lower spine which left me unable to walk. When the inflammation localized in my right shoulder, it felt like my arm was broken in 3 places – I’ve never been in so much pain.
At that time, I was immersed in the world of yoga and meditation. I was running my own Yoga Studio, I had a lot of people coming to my classes, I was attending workshops and trainings. I loved my practice and I loved my work. I was on the mat for around 2 hours each day, and I was teaching 4 or 5 nights a week, as well as a few classes during the weekdays.
But it became increasingly difficult. It was hard to demonstrate poses and lead a vinyasa class because of the pain in my back and hips. When the inflammation was at it’s worst, I taught talk-through classes. I actually taught classes with my arm in a sling. I started coming home in tears. Eventually, and with much grief, I made the decision to close my studio.
I’d never been so confused and so frightened about my future. I simply didn’t understand what was going on. I’d always been attentive to my health – I was an ‘intelligent’ vegetarian, eating a wide variety of grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit. So what was causing the pain?
“Inflammation,” they said, but nobody had any explanations as to what was causing it or how to be inflammation free. My physiotherapist said it was beyond him, and advised me to have blood tests. The blood tests came back positive for autoimmunity. My immune system had become so confused and overworked that it had started producing autoantibodies. In particular, it was producing RNP antibodies which are an indicator of Mixed Connective Tissue Disease. This resonated – my connective tissues were in crisis, all over. Also, my thyroid was underworking. I was referred to a rheumatologist.
The rheumatologist had nothing to say. My numbers weren’t high enough for a diagnosis. She told me to take a supplement and said if the pain didn’t subside within 2 months I should undergo an invasive, aggressive full body scintigraphy. I was prescribed NSAIDS, antinflammatories. I was so angry. On the one hand, nothing was going on: take a supplement. On the other: ingest nuclear radiation and we’ll see what’s going on. I resisted. There had to be a reason for why my immune system was out of control. And there had to be a natural cure.
I sought alternative healers, and I Googled. I spent a whole summer researching about inflammation, its causes and how to be inflammation free. Iit seemed that all diverse opinions were telling me that I needed to eat meat. I consulted an auyervedic doctor: he told me to eat meat. I had an appointment with a naturopath: he told me to eat meat. And all these articles online, from Marks Daily Apple to the Whole 30… they all pointed to Paleo.
I’d already started eating fish once a week. And then one afternoon, l was lying on the couch, trying to keep my eyes open, and I said to Fiorenzo, “Fi, take me to Gino’s. I need to eat a steak.” So… I suppose you can say that I was opening to the idea. I was horrified by all this information that said everything I’d been doing had been wrong… and that I was heading towards an autoimmune disease.
Fiorenzo also became interested. He had his own health issues. He’d suffered from acid reflux his whole lifeand when it got to the point where he couldn’t play trumpet, he did the round of medical specialists who put him on a pharmaceutical inhibitor. He’d taken it every day for 4 and a half years. But more recently, he’d started to put on weight, he was bloated all over, he was waking up in the middle of the night with heart palpatations – to the point where on one occasion we went to Emergency for monitoring. He had skin blemishes. And he had chronic cold sores, one after the other – not so great for playing trumpet, or for kissing!
In the end, I have to say, it wasn’t so much the science, but rather the testimonials of all the people who had taken the leap which convinced us to give it a try. They say to do it for a month, and I had nothing to lose. I couldn’t continue with the pain, and I couldn’t bear the idea of a future dependent on pharmaceuticals. So we set the date: 1st September 2014. And we did it. We followed the rules. No cereals or grains, no industrialised seed oils, no sugar, no dairy, no alcohol. It wasn’t easy. I’d had no idea up to that point how addicted I was to sugar, the ‘sweet taste’ and carbs. And all that animal protein was challenging for a recovering vegetarian. But we did it.
Within 2 weeks of following the Primal Diet guidelines, we were feeling the difference .It was amazing. After just 12 days, Fiorenzo stopped taking the pharmaceutical and has never taken it since. He lost 16 kilos (35 pounds) over 6 months, and he now has a cold sore only a couple of times a year. No heart palpitations.
Within a couple of weeks my energy returned. My sinusitis disappeared and the mucous reduceddrammatically. And, slowly but surely, my inflammation levels reduced. From daily anti-inflammatories, I dropped down to the point where I’d take one once a month. Now, I can’t actually remember the last time I took one. Since the transition, I’ve had no muscle contractions. Bloating has disappeared and digestion is good. My fingernails are strong, my eyes are clear, my skin glows. I’m back teaching yoga, albeit less classes than before, but I feel balanced, healthy and fit.
My blood tests are now negative for autoimmunity and days are pretty much pain-free. Sure, I still suffer from stiffness and I’ve lost a bit of elasticity, but it’s peanuts compared to not being able to walk. I know that I have to be careful, that because my immune system has learnt how to produce autoantibodies, I’m now predisposed to developing an autoimmune disease. But a predisposition isn’t destiny! Knowing what causes inflammation and how to read the signs means that I also know how to eat and live in ways which promote an inflammation free life. This is incredibly liberating. Life is good.
In the summer of 2019 Fiorenzo and I were married. He was 52 years old, I was 50. I can’t tell you how many compliments we both received for looking so radiant and for seeming 10 years younger than our age.
I came face to face with autoimmune disease, when I thought that I was living and eating in all the right ways.
Now, I know that I’d been suffering from Chronic Systemic Inflammation pretty much forever but I didn’t know how to read the signs. I’d always suffered from tendonitis – I thought it was because of my posture and overworking. I thought the sinusitis was caused by pollution. I thought a bloated tummy and digestive issues were normal. They’re not.
The whole experience has woken me up as to how much Conventional Wisdom has got it wrong. I don’t want to get into conspiracy theories, but it often seems that the world governments, pharmaceutical companies, food industries and agribusinesses want us to be unwell. It strikes me that nothing – like, nothing – in conteporary life promotes health and wellness. All of our ways of socialising, working, moving, sitting and eating – it’s all contrary to how we’ve evolved.
Now, we actually have to do something if we want to be healthy. It’s not going to happen by chance.
For us, since going Primal, things have changed. We prioritise those factors which switch on positive gene expression in our daily lives – and not just with regards to food. I spend less time at the computer, and more time in the sun. I go to bed earlier and wake up before dawn. We buy quality supplements such as Omega 3 and collagen, and see the expense as an investment. It’s all so worth it.
When I closed my yoga studio, we agreed that I needed to take a year off to heal and recuperate. I started my blog, Paleomantic, as a way to share my recipes and all that I was learning, but I felt like I couldn’t really speak with authority on the topics. And I needed to find a way of working that was easier on my body.
I knew from teaching yoga that I loved working with groups of people, helping them to find health and connection. I also knew that people want to feel good, be pain free and reach their potential.
Yoga and meditation are important practices that really work in terms of tone, flexibility and calming the central nervous system.
But they aren’t enough. They don’t address the other essential factors for overall health such as nutrition, sleep and sun.
So when I discovered the Primal Health Coach Institute, I was immedietely drawn. It seemed to fit. It was scary – it was expensive. But I took the plunge and invested. It was the best course I’ve ever done. I immedietely started working with people, informing them about inflammation, and most importantly, helping them to be inflammation free.
The Primal guidelines cover it all, and that’s what’s so trasformational about it.
What I really want is to help people understand the danger of Chronic Systemic Inflammation. Most people don’t know what inflammation is – and I get that. I didn’t, either.
I want people to know that inflammation is no joke – but also, that it’s relatively easy to restore the body back to health and wellness. The body wants to heal. You just need to give it a chance. You just need to feed it with the right stimulus, and it’ll respond. Immediately, you don’t need to wait!
I truly believe that knowledge is power, that the more you understand how something works, the more you’ll be motivated to make changes. So I’ve put together my program, the Paleo Reset 31 as a fun and fascinating way of diving into the Paleo Diet and Lifestyle. It’s a full immersion experience that combines practice and education.
There’s so much to learn, so I filter the information through, topic by topic, every day, through emails and Facebook Lives. And at the same time, I coach people through the practices of eating, moving, sleeping and connecting. It’s a program that works. Everyone has great results: excess weight melts away, allergies and headaches disappear, skin conditions improve, digestion stabilises, energy is renewed, sleep is enhanced, physical performance is stronger… it’s amazing. And the best thing about it is that everyone feels the difference within 10 days.
I really hope that I can inspire and motivate you to make the changes necessary for a pain free, inflammation free, disease free life. This is my goal. It’s the best work I can do.
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