Episode 85: 6 Key Habits for Autoimmune Health
The bad news is, autoimmune diagnoses are on the rise.
The best news is there are simple lifestyle habits proven to help you take control of your health.
Today’s guest Amy Behimer is on a mission to help people with autoimmune disease take control of their health and happiness so they can feel better today and worry less about tomorrow.
Today’s guest Amy Behimer is on a mission to help people with autoimmune disease take control of their health and happiness so they can feel better today and worry less about tomorrow.
As a doctor of pharmacy and certified life coach living with multiple sclerosis, she walks the talk of using small but powerful everyday habits to enjoy life, autoimmune disease and all.
Today Amy and I talk about the 6 key habits for Feeling Better with Autoimmune Disease and you can grab her guide HERE >> www.amybehimercoaching.com/6-habits
Learn more about Amy and her Membership Club Habit HERE >> www.amybehimercoaching.com
See what Amy has in store for you – click the button below for a freebie!
To learn more about Amy, kindly visit her website, or Instagram.
#85 6 Key Habits for Autoimmune Health
[00:00:00] Welcome back to episode of the Hormone Hub Podcast, where we talk all things perimenopause, menopause, and have the conversations no one else is having. Sit back, relax, and enjoy this episode.
Kylie: Hello. Hello ladies and welcome back to The Hormone Hub. I’m your host, Kylie Pinwill and today on the show we have a very special guest all the way from Georgia, Atlanta, Amy Behimer. Now Amy is on a mission to help people with autoimmune disease take control of their health and happiness so they can feel better today and worry less about tomorrow.
Now Amy comes with a very special skillset, so she is a doctor of pharmacy. She’s a nationally board certified health and wellness coach and a certified life coach, and she’s also living with multiple sclerosis. So she walks her talk, of using small but really powerful everyday habits to enjoy life, autoimmune disease [00:01:00] and all.
So, Amy is the host of the Hormone the Habit Hub. She’s not the host of the Hormone Hub. That would be me. And the Habit Hub is for autoimmune health and serves those, who are ready to learn what it takes to create, autoimmune health in the mind and body inside her membership club Habit Hub.
So, welcome Amy. It is great to have you here.
Amy: Thank you so much for having me. Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
Kylie: Yeah, you’re welcome. So multiple sclerosis, like that is a big autoimmune condition. So, you know, for those of you who are sort of wondering like what does autoimmune actually mean? We are sort of talking multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s, type one diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, you know, there’s numerous autoimmune conditions. So, Amy, do you just sort of give us a little, like what is an autoimmune condition?
Amy: Yes. You’re, you’re, you’re right. You’re naming some of the top ones. There are [00:02:00] over a hundred right now, and that number is on the rise.
Wow. So, so it, we are continually, labeling and redefining and shifting, in conventional medicine what these autoimmune diseases are. But you’re exactly right. We, you know, a lot of women experience, two different kinds. Kinds of autoimmune thyroid disease. So we have graves and we have Hashimoto’s.
(Kylie) Correct. And you mentioned some of the other ones with rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis. And what an autoimmune disease really is for those who are not familiar is, the commonality between autoimmune diseases is something is going on in our bodies that. Is attacking itself.
So our normal healthy tissue that can be anywhere in any organ system, the body thinks it’s a foreign invader and so it inappropriately starts to to attack it. And then we start to see symptoms in whatever tissue that’s happening in. And that’s why you can kind of [00:03:00] see it across the entire spectrum of our bodies.
Kylie: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, amazing and, so for all our ladies like listening, who have endometriosis, they’re actually looking at reclassifying endometriosis as an autoimmune condition as well. So…
Amy: Oh, really? I was not aware of that. Yeah.
Kylie: Yeah. No, I read that. Not that long ago, you know, they haven’t done it yet, but, they’re sort of looking like, is that also an autoimmune condition?
Amy: Yeah. And what’s so, you know, what’s so. Worrisome. When, when, when I say I help people worry less about tomorrow, that is because as someone with an autoimmune disease, actually three different autoimmune diseases, there can be a lot of worry about not only will the one I have progress, but is there gonna be another diagnosis? ‘Cause they do tend to cluster. Yes. As you mentioned, you know, calling MS kind of a big one. When I was 17, I was diagnosed with vitiligo. And for those who aren’t familiar, that’s an autoimmune [00:04:00] disease of the skin. Yeah. And most famous made famous by Michael Jackson who had the white patches on the skin.
Yeah. So that was my first, you can respond. Yeah, I saw, I saw that familiarity, but I call that my gateway autoimmune disease, meaning, okay, well this one’s just. It didn’t really cause me to make any changes in my life. I just kept on going with, with living life. At 17 years old, several years later, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, which is thyroid, hyperactive thyroid.
Even that one, I was able to treat it, keep going, keep living my lifestyle as it was. And it wasn’t until this diagnosis of multiple sclerosis at 27 that it really woke me up. And made me realize, whoa, my body is trying to tell me something is not right. And now I have this impending potential loss of independence or mobility or the other things that, you know, we typically associate with [00:05:00] multiple sclerosis. And so that’s what really woke me up for a change.
Kylie: Wow. So if you are, you know, happy to share, how did your, MS diagnosis come about?
Amy: Yeah, so as I mentioned, I was 27, I was a runner. I would be running pretty long distances and this was about 12 years ago, and I started to get foot drop, which is when the, the foot kind of drags.
Yes. And it’s more difficult to pick up the foot. Yeah. And it would happen at really long distances. And I kind of thought, well, that’s funny. And over several months it would happen sooner and sooner. And it would take longer and longer to recover. Yeah. And you know, surprisingly, I had a hunch it was ms. I was working as a pharmacist at the time.
I was pretty well versed on the symptoms, and I went into the doctor thinking, “This feels like MS”. And got quite a, a runaround in terms of getting a diagnosis. Yeah, was kind of [00:06:00] told it didn’t look like MS and it was very atypical, but, you know, advocating for myself eventually got that M R I, which started down the process for, the diagnosis.
Kylie: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s the thing with autoimmune, like it can take years for a diagnosis.
Amy: Yeah. Yeah. The early symptoms can be so nondescript. They can be very overlapping with a lot of things. And sometimes it does take the progression of the, the disease to the point where we get some of these more.
Landmark symptoms that we can identify it what
Kylie: it is. Yeah. Yeah. And, and that’s it. It’s, it does cross over a lot. And I always sort of, you know, tell women, you know, if you are, ’cause the symptoms of perimenopause can also be 600 different other things. And I always say, you know, if you know in your gut that something’s not right, you know, You, you [00:07:00] your better body, better than anyone else.
So you be your own advocate and you know, just keep pushing. And if you are not happy with the answer, you get, go get a second opinion, that’s okay too. Amen.
Amy: Yeah. Amen. And your listeners, you know, I, it’s, we think, okay, we’re dealing with me perimenopause or now we’re dealing with this. And the truth is, we’re all dealing with all of these things together in a big, in a big soup.
And so it’s, it, it’s not as easy as, this is the, the thing I’m dealing with right now, but you know, how do these things impact each other and how could it even muddy the waters even more. Yes. Of what our symptoms are telling us.
Kylie: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. And, and I find like with women at this age too, or you know, any age really.
Mm-hmm. You know, we’re so busy and we are not paying attention to like those little. Signals that our body’s sending us. I interviewed a lady earlier this week who, you know, she had a 16 centimeter mass [00:08:00] on her ovary. Wow. And, it was ovarian cancer, like, luckily early stage ovarian cancer, but it was just, and she was, we were talking, off air before we hit record.
She’s like, how did I not know? She goes, she said, now that she’s had the surgery, she’s. Sort of on the road to recovery, like a 16 centimeter mass is, that’s big, but, working mom to kids, busy doing all the things. So, you know, it’s, I think it’s really important to, to tune in and, and listen to your, your body.
Amy: Absolutely. I love that. And even, you know, when you are on a path, whether it’s you’re doing things to address your hormones or you’re doing things to create habits to, like, I like to say, create autoimmune health. A key part of that is listening. And so taking the time that as you make these changes, tuning in and listening to see.
What do I wanna continue doing? What do I wanna change? And, and [00:09:00] all along the way. So the listening never really goes away, throughout your entire journey towards health.
Kylie: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s it. And health is not a destination. Mm-hmm. So we don’t just tick off the boxes and then we’re healthy. We, it’s, it’s a lifelong practice and, things will change.
Amy: So, which is why we need to enjoy it. Right?
Kylie: Yeah. A hundred percent. Yeah. Hundred percent. So you’ve sort of really sort of, dug into, creating habits for autoimmune health. So why, why habits?
Amy: I love this question. Habits I think is a common language that we all have an idea of what a habit is.
Yeah, I mean, I think that another thing that draws me to habits is with my background in. Pharmacy and with my background of using evidence-based medicine habits, have a wealth of research behind them. There are [00:10:00] great minds studying the power of what we can do when we master habits and when we look at how we change behavior.
And so I think that’s what first drew me in was. These aren’t just, I’m not just feeling the difference in my own life and getting to enjoy all the benefits of it, but we actually have this body of evidence that we can pull from and these strategies that we can use that help people and really we can see a difference.
Kylie: Yeah, absolutely.
Amy: And. And one more. One more. ’cause you know, I could go on and on and I have a whole, it’s so funny. I recorded my, my first podcast episode was called Learn to Love Habits here, and it was my top 10 reasons for habits. Well, since then, I mean, I have like 10 more, so I have, I have a lot. So it’s picking it, but autoimmune disease specific, the symptom that many of us have. And this could also be true for [00:11:00] people in perimenopause is fatigue or exhaustion. Or tired all the time. Yeah. And so, (Kylie) that would be number one. That would be number one. Yeah. So, so it’s the tie that binds all of us and really, People who don’t even have a diagnosis yet. You hear that all the time.
I’m tired. I’m tired. And so the neat thing about habits is, you know, 50 to 60% of what we do every day is on autopilot. It’s our habits, whether we’ve chosen them or not. And so being intentional about habits and developing ones that are actually giving us energy is just so powerful because if we can get a habit or two that is actually giving us energy. It just fuels us to keep going. And so really it’s that connection between let’s stop wasting time, making decisions and making, choices every day. Put those on [00:12:00] autopilot and get that energy back to go do the rest of life.
Kylie: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I love that.
Yeah, so it just becomes automatic because just as our, you know, we wanna create good habits, you know, if we are stuck in our bad habits, that’s gonna lead us to the end result of those continual bad habits too. So it’s, it’s being intentional as you said, and choosing those, those better options.
Amy: Yeah. ’cause if you can get rid of a bad habit that’s draining your energy, well that’s one part that, whoa, that’s a win. But imagine replacing an energy drain with a habit that actually helps you gain energy. I mean, it’s a twofold and beyond return on your investment. So I love that.
Kylie: Yeah. Yeah. So what are some of the sneaky drains on our energy that, we are not talking about?
Amy: That is a, that’s a great question. The ones that we really, I think, don’t get talked about enough are the ones that [00:13:00] are happening in our mindset. You know, mindset is quite a buzzword these days. People are always talking about, you know, positive thinking and you know, it kind of sometimes can feel like it’s getting shoved down our, down our throat.
But a few of the energy drains that I see happening over and over in clients is one is arguing with reality. So if we’re having an inner dialogue that’s, you know, not accepting and arguing with potentially a diagnosis or a situation that we’re dealing with, that can actually. Deplete quite a bit of our energy because we’re fighting against what is.
Yep. Another one is, you know, unmade decisions. So, The best way to describe this one is a lot of people come and they, they just wanna feel better. They just want to be healthy, but they carry that around without making a decision to do something to feel better or to be healthy.
Kylie: Yeah, a hundred percent.[00:14:00]
I love that one because I just speak to a lot of women, you know, oh, I’m just doing my research. It always sort of like makes me laugh because you can do all the research, you can gather all the information, but if you are just collecting information and not doing anything with that, yeah, it’s, nothing’s gonna change.
You know, all information just in your head, but you’re not taking action on that. So I always sort of encourage ladies to, you know, there is so much information out there. Choose something that resonates with you. I just stick with that one thing, you know? Yeah. Or that one person that resonates with you.
Amy: I love that the, one of the best analogies I heard once was “decisions can be like carrying a weight”, and when you have an unmade decision, you’re kind of carrying it around. In your day, you know, gosh, am I gonna choose her? Am I gonna do this? What about this? Versus pick up that weight once, make that decision [00:15:00] and then follow through on it.
And it’s, it’s can really free up quite a bit of
Kylie: energy. Yeah, absolutely. And it’s like, or the analogy I often use is, you’ve got all these open tabs in your head. Yeah. And make it Yes. Take the decision and close the tab and then, we all know when all the things are open on our computer, you know, when we’ve got so many open, open tabs, the computer slows down.
But if we start closing off those tabs and making those decisions, like right, that’s what we’re doing. That’s our path we’re gonna take. Just everything, I guess escalates and speeds up again. So…
Amy: I love that. I’m gonna have to borrow that one. That one is such a, such a real concrete thing that we all, we all can relate to.
Kylie: Yeah. Yeah. And I think for all our visual people
Amy: Who use computers and see in real life
Kylie: all, we’re all sitting there on the computer.
Oh, I was gonna give one, one last, you know, energy drain that [00:16:00] does come up is sometimes people can have unprocessed grief. So grief we typically think of as losing. Someone we love. But with diseases like this, with autoimmune diseases, sometimes grief can be losing something. We love an identity, we love, maybe a part of our life that is different now.
And really, giving yourself space to, process that grief can free up quite a bit of energy.
Kylie: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s so important. And I think, we, we sort of hear about, you know, when people are diagnosed with cancer, you know, there’s a lot of counseling around that now and a lot of support.
But autoimmune is, you know, it’s a lifelong condition. You know, we are not, Recovering from that autoimmune condition, but we, we can learn to live with it. So I, I really see that there would be a, a grief process there, a hundred percent. Yeah, absolutely. Before we hit record, I was telling Amy about a client I worked with.
[00:17:00] You know, quite a few years ago, and she, beautiful lady, she was in her mid fifties and she had been diagnosed with MS in her twenties. And then, a few years after, so similar sort of path, almost in reverse for you. Mm-hmm. When she was diagnosed, that was her first autoimmune diagnosis. A few years after that, she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and she’d lived with MS. And Hashimoto’s for, for 20 years. And then she had recently been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and that was when she came to see me. And I really loved her framework and she sort of said, I’ve made friends with my MS, I’ve made friends with Hashimoto’s, but I’m not friends with RA yet. And I, I loved that framework because it was, you know, she knew how to best manage her MS.
She knew how to best manage her Hashimoto’s. She knew what was gonna trigger flareups and things like that. So she had that sort of within her control as best she could. But then this [00:18:00] was a whole new, new kid in the playground and she hadn’t quite got a handle on how to, how to run it. And I just thought her that approach was, was amazing, you know, and it would really sort of, It was sort of like a new take on it for me.
And, it’s been really helpful for me as a practitioner to then sort of share that with other women who are going through that diagnosis as well.
Amy: Love that. ’cause she, you know, just hearing that it, I instills so much hope because Yeah. She, she likely wasn’t friends with the first two and, but now she has this track record of Yeah.
Being able to make friends with it and it, it’s beautiful.
Kylie: Yeah. Yeah. So it’s, it’s not. The end of the line. It’s just, needing to do things differently and, bringing in those habits that are going to support you, not sabotage you.
Amy: Absolutely. And language is just so important. You know, I mean, I use autoimmune disease.
We talk about autoimmune disease, but I purposely named, my podcast [00:19:00] and when I talk about it, of creating autoimmune health just because we have a disease doesn’t mean that we can’t be healthy. Yeah. And you know, the dictionary definition of health means not, you know, a life free of symptoms or disease.
Well out the gate, that means I could never be healthy. And so we start with redefining health. What does it mean to us? Yeah. And it is beautiful what people come up with when they redefine it and then they live into it. They’re able to say, I’m healthy today when I’m the one who gets to determine what that means.
Kylie: Yeah, absolutely. I, I couldn’t agree more. And, for me, health starts with, with energy. Mm-hmm. Because if you’ve got energy, you’ve got everything. You can do the things that you enjoy. You can, you know, you automatically feel motivated. You tend to make better food choices, which then perpetuate that EM [00:20:00] energy and it sort of go and you’re able to move your body a bit more and you know, which, Triggers off all those endorphins and things like that.
So it’s, it’s definitely that upward spiral. And, when we don’t have energy, that’s when we tend to go for, those carby sugary foods that are gonna pick us up because we are looking for, we might go for coffee, we might go for alcohol, we might go for those things that we are looking to, to pick us up, but in the long term, they’re actually not doing us any favors.
So, Absolutely. And that’s it. And health is, how you feel on the day. A hundred percent. Absolutely. Alright. And you’ve got the habit hub. And yeah, it is something I wanted to ask. So obviously I have the Hormone Hub as well. Why
Amy: Hub Sisters, we are sisters, yes.
Kylie: Oh, okay. So why a hub for you?
Amy: I love, I love this ’cause it’ll, it will see if it. Some if Hub attracted us for similar reasons, but really the visual of it, of a hub, you know, there’s six [00:21:00] spokes on my hub. And the good news is these are spokes that. Are already out there, we already are working on, everybody has their own flavor, their own framework.
It’s, that’s a good thing because nothing, it’s not new stuff that we need to learn, but one is mindset. Mindset matters. So that one is a lot of what we talked about in that in. The secret energy drains. The second one is food is medicine, so we’ve touched on some of those. The third spoke is movement as medicine.
Yeah. The fourth one is rest and relaxation, so that’s where we talk about stress management and we, we work on habits related to sleep. The fifth one is connection. So connection is huge. And if I have to pick a favorite, like a favorite child connection is always my favorite spoke. And so I’m just neglected because.
Connection in health is not easily measured. Yes. And there’s that phrase of not everything you can measure matters and you [00:22:00] can’t measure everything that matters. Yeah. And connection is true for that one. But the last one is good stresses. So in the functional medicine world, and I also, follow, Dr. Wall’s. Dr. Terry Walls and her protocol is really what got me started. And good stresses. She talks, all the time about how we stress our body in these good ways to then come back stronger. So that’s huge in autoimmune health and in all of health. Yeah. But the visual of those six, of those six folks, you know, when you think about it being a wheel, if one area is neglected, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
Yes. And so, I know from personal experience, I put 99% of my effort in that food is medicine for a couple years after my diagnosis and I was learning all about things and it was bumpy. I was neglecting all the other ones. I still tend to neglect that r and r one. Yeah. More than I like to admit. But I love the hub [00:23:00] because it really is a reminder that we, it’s all about balance.
It’s all about, ensuring that. The habits that we are doing, like you mentioned, are lifting each other up.
Kylie: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. And yeah, we are definitely on the same page when it comes to the hub. So yeah, I tend to use the, yeah, the Wheel of Life, which is the same thing. It’s, yeah, yeah. It’s your, your connection, you know, your social connection, rest, food, movement, mindset.
Yeah. All of the pieces. So yeah, we are definitely on the same page, and I think this is where, you can’t. You can’t look for a magic pill. You can’t look for the perfect diet. You can’t look for the perfect exercise program. You need to bring everything in together. And have that holistic approach because, you know, yes, the pill is helpful.
Yes, the good diet is helpful. Yes. Exercise is helpful, but unless we are doing all of the things [00:24:00] together and getting the foundations right, yeah. I think, we work on getting those habits down. We work on getting those foundations right. You know, it makes everything easier. So, it doesn’t have to be hard.
And we don’t have to do more. We just have to actually step back and go, okay, well what’s missing? Where are the pieces that we need to be working on? So, yeah,
Amy: And, and you know, all these areas can feel overwhelming. So people come and they can say, oh my gosh, I don’t even know where to start. And the great news is it doesn’t matter where we start because.
The skill of developing habits in any of those spokes is a skill that is transferable that you pick up and you get to bring with you for the next habit you want to build. Yeah, so when we’re assessing, when I work with people and we’re assessing where we wanna start, it’s often with where do you want to start?
And because that’s where you’re gonna feel success, that’s gonna feed you. And if you’re working on those [00:25:00] skills in, whether it’s movement, whether it’s in connection, when you go to pick the new habit, Like I mentioned, you’re gonna bring those skills right with you and you’re gonna, get, to get to use ’em there too.
Kylie: Yep. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Alright, well I’ll drop Amy’s details in our show notes and Amy has very generously offered us her 6 Key Habits for Feeling Better with Autoimmune Disease starting today. So I will drop the links. The link for Amy’s 6 habits, in the show notes. And you can also find Amy on Instagram at Amy be himer coaching and www.amybehimercoaching.com. So that will all be in our show notes. So you, if you wanna find out more about, Amy’s Hub hub, you can, yeah. You’ll know where to find her.
Amy: Alright? Absolutely.
Kylie: Yes. Amy, thank you so much for coming on the Hormone Hub today. I love having guests on [00:26:00] the show.
I think it just makes it more fun, I’m sure my listeners are a bit bored with me rabbiting on all the time, and it’s definitely more interesting for everyone else. And, yeah, I think it’s just such a, a great conversation to have that we’ve had here today.
Amy: Well, thank you for having me. And I can say that as my hub sister, nobody could be bored of you, but I so appreciate, I so appreciate you and really, hope that your, your listeners got some nuggets to, to start taking action today.
Kylie: Absolutely. I’m sure they did. Alright, well thank you so much Amy, and thank you everyone for listening and we’ll see you in the next episode of the Hormone Hub.
Thank you for taking the time to listen today. You can head on over to the show notes at kyliepinwill.com/podcast where you’ll find all the links. Now, before we go, it would mean the world to me if you’d head on over to your favorite podcast channel, subscribe and leave a review. Don’t forget to [00:27:00] share it with your friends.
Then stay tuned for next week’s episode and I can’t wait to see you then.