Hi, we’re Frank and Anna. Welcome!
About a decade ago, we were both chronically ill. We’re talking slurring-our-words fatigue, incredibly embarrassing bathroom issues, and brain fog so thick you could cut it with a knife.
Our doctors gave us both an autoimmune disease diagnosis, but that’s about it. Fed up with a lack of direction, we packed up our health and marched down our own path. Now, we help others do the same.
We remember celebrating our initial autoimmune disease diagnoses! Anna was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Frank was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. The solutions seemed simple: thyroid medication and a gluten-free diet. Not too bad, right?
It didn’t work. In fact, it almost seemed as if we got sicker…
Until one day, we had an idea to search for alternatives to thyroid medication and deep down in the abyss of Google search results, hope was found. A rare, all-natural form of medication called Armour® Dessicated Thyroid was being used by a few doctors with great success!
And that, it seems, is where our real story begins.
Because after finding that tiny sliver of hope, we learned that there are more than just 1 or 2 options for managing autoimmune disease. There are a ton of options.
Inspired by hundreds of autoimmune recovery stories, we discovered the power of functional medicine. Right away, we knew it was our next step.
Our changes started small. First, a healthier, anti-inflammatory diet. Then, the switch to cleaner, nontoxic personal care and cleaning products. Progress was slow, but as the months passed us by, our symptoms started to disappear. It seemed we had found the answer.
But we’ll be totally upfront with you… our new lifestyle was exhausting.
We quickly discovered that today’s world is NOT autoimmune-friendly. Yes, it was great to know that gluten and dairy were sabotaging our health, and that our 9-5 sedentary desk jobs only made our symptoms worse.
But when you’re surrounded by office pizza parties, birthday cakes, and a full-day of meetings (where you just sit), on top of an already PACKED schedule… how do you change?
Temptations were lurking around every single corner. Peer pressure to just have a beer, or a coffee, or a slice of pizza was constant. And to make matters worse – on the outside, we looked completely normal, so no one ever believed we were even sick. But here’s the thing…
We didn’t have a choice.
Our autoimmune switch was turned on, and it was either drugs that suppressed our symptoms while our bodies continued to degrade… or permanent lifestyle changes that actually facilitated real healing.
Given that we were both in our early 20’s, with so much life to live, we knew the answer. We needed to accept it. Our life had to become autoimmune-friendly, even when the rest of our world is not.
Piece by piece, we discovered the tools to change our bad habits and began to rebuild our lifestyle from the ground up. We dug deep into our faith in God, our relationships with family and friends, and learned to graciously accept our newest limitations by finding a deeper meaning behind everything we vowed to change.
Soon, without even realizing it, the temptation to dig in at family Christmas parties faded away. Our interests shifted from binge watching Netflix to going for walks outside… and actually enjoying it.
It all happened naturally, without us really thinking about it.
Because we stopped trying to fit into a world that made us sick.
Instead, we decided to own it. Our lifestyle became part of who we are and we are not ashamed. We shifted our mindset from feeling like we were missing out, to actually loving the way we live.
Now, we watch others, just like us long ago – freshly diagnosed with autoimmune disease. Drugs aren’t helping. So sick and barely functional. Some know that giving up foods like gluten is an option, but they turn a blind eye because they don’t want to miss out.
If only they knew the power behind just one or two small, targeted lifestyle changes. The discoveries those changes could lead to… and the healing they could reveal.
That is why we started this blog.
We realized that there is no shortage of information or opinions on how to begin healing from autoimmune disease using lifestyle changes. In fact, there is so much information nowadays that many people feel paralyzed and never move forward.
There is, however, a shortage of the right tools to make sustainable behavior and lifestyle changes that facilitate healing.
The mission behind our website is to help YOU:
- Become a confident advocate for your health and build the healthcare team that works with you and treats you with respect.
- Focus on YOUR path to healing amidst all of the confusing information and opinions so that you are always taking action and moving forward.
- Harness the power of personal behavior change so that you can begin living an autoimmune-friendly life… and OWN it (and love it… so much that people will be jealous).
- Learn from our mistakes and find the right tools/resources to streamline your efforts and experience faster progress. We’re not going to let you get caught up in the same obstacles we faced.
- Cope with autoimmune symptoms and still find joy in everyday life, despite not feeling well. We’ve been around the block… we know what brain fog and chronic fatigue is like. There are ways to make it easier.
We know what you’re capable of… but do you? Let us help you learn, focus, and reclaim your health – because no one else but YOU is going to do it for you.
What this website is NOT about:
We do not provide medical advice or cookie cutter autoimmune healing protocols. We do not tell you what foods you should eat, what supplements to take, or what blood tests to ask for because we don’t know those answers. We believe those answers lie between you and an experienced clinician/physician. Your health is unique, and just because WE had success with various diets and supplements doesn’t mean you will.
What we do have is experience of finding those answers and implementing changes that actually stick. We share our personal stories and successes to walk you through our journey not because we want you to imitate it, but because we want you to learn how we did it. So we may not tell you what diet to follow, but instead provide tips on how to start and actually stick to whichever healing diet you choose.
Just as there are many factors that contribute to the development of autoimmune disease, there are a variety of different paths one can take in order to find healing. We believe the best path forward is a holistic, individualized approach that involves the following pillars:
- A healing, nutrient-dense diet
- A supportive health care team
- Sleep optimization
- Stress reduction
- Mental health and relationships
- Spiritual health
- A non-toxic environment
When these pillars are well-footed and maintained, the existence of chronic illness nearly disappears. So we want to encourage everyone to take an active approach to their health and bring the stats for autoimmune disease more in line with what they should be: at, or near ZERO.
More About Us and Our Personal Autoimmune Healing
- We met freshman year of high school and became good friends but did not date throughout the 4 years of high school If anyone would have told us we were going to get married, we would have laughed (well, maybe not Frank). We started dating sophomore year of college and got married 5 years later.
- We are Christian and practicing Catholics. Our faith is very important to us and completely changed our entire perspective on health and the environment. Our faith is a huge driving force behind our motivation to live a healthier life, and we believe that spiritual health is an often-overlooked aspect to healing from autoimmunity and chronic illness. We share more about how faith influences our healing in this post: How Our Faith & Relationship with God Drives Autoimmune Healing.
- In the summer of 2010, Anna was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Frank was also diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Celiac Disease. You can read more about Anna’s personal journey with Hashimoto’s disease here and more about Frank’s journey with Celiac Disease here.
- After the birth of our second child, Anna tested positive for multiple autoimmune antibodies and currently has an unspecified autoimmune disease in addition to Hashimoto’s (which is now in remission). We don’t know what it is, but it’s pretty messy! You can read more about that and how we’re overcoming it here.
- We have three children. We aren’t sure if our extensive family history of autoimmune disease (on both sides), food allergies, and various genetic mutations will make super babies, or another one of us. Regardless of our genetics and family history, we are confident we can break the cycle of autoimmunity within our family by taking a proactive approach.
- We both graduated from college in 2013. Anna earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Frank earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. We both started working in the engineering field in 2013, until Anna decided to stay at home about a year after our first child was born. Frank currently works as an engineer and health coach. For more information about his health coaching practice, visit his website at www.healthcoachfrank.com.
- Want to see a day in our life? We share a glimpse in this post and this post.
We started this blog as a way to share our experiences with others. Before functional/integrative medicine really gained momentum, it was the blogs and forums that we looked to for help. We are so grateful for those individuals that dedicated their time to help others. We hope to follow in their footsteps.