Get Autoimmune Strong with Andrea

A lot of people are really scared to begin exercising again when they’ve been living with pain for so long.

A lot of people are really scared to begin exercising again when they’ve been living with pain for so long.


Lupe & Brian:     Welcome to another episode of Sjogren’s Strong.

Brian:    My name is Brian.

Lupe:     And this is Lupe.

Brian:    And today we are really excited to have Andrea from Andrea, welcome to the show.

Andrea: Thank you so much for having me, Brian and Lupe. I am so excited to be here.


Lupe:     Andrea, I feel I know you because you’re in my living room every week.

Andrea: I hear that a lot of people from people, actually.

Brian:    I told you in the email and I told you I hated you and you never responded. I hope I didn’t offend you.

Lupe:     You’re not supposed to say that!

Andrea: You didn’t at all. I mean it’s funny because, when I first, I mean especially with the foam rolling. When I first was developing this program, I knew that foam rolling was like the thing. And it has to be upfront because it’s so important, that it’s there. But I was like, how am I ever going to get people to come back, after I basically, like, tell them to go tear themselves apart. Like it’s so hard. How are they ever going to want to trust me after that? So I’m really excited that people understand the concept of hurts, so good. And uh, and that you’re willing to stay with it even though, gosh, it can be so hard.

Brian:    Yeah, no, it’s, I mean we hike. We’ve done endurance cycling before, several, 100 mile rides. You know, we understand and we get it. It’s just been awhile since I’ve used in stretched those muscles.

Lupe:     This kicked our butts, more.

Speaker 1:           Well, that’s on purpose, because typically, what we tend to think of it as exercise is cardio. And it tends to be what people love to do. And that’s myself included. I was a long distance runner for a significant portion of my life. And the, I mean there are amazing benefits to cardio and two, hiking and biking and walking and all of those things.

New Speaker:     But they don’t work any particular muscle structures, in terms of strengthening. They work on endurance and blood flow. And I mean, yes, it’s good for your bones and it is good for your muscles. But walking or hiking isn’t going to, like, rebalance your physical structure.

Andrea: And so the amount of walking or hiking that we’re doing doesn’t counteract what we’re also doing in our modern life. Like sitting, uh, you know, at our desks, at our computer, sitting at our cars, sitting on our couches. Where we have, you know, loads of time. Where our core gets weak and our glutes get weak. And all these postural muscles stop firing.

Andrea: And so then we get into these places where we go out hiking and we do the cardio that we love, but we have these weakened muscle structures. And we can actually hurt ourselves that way. Um, so in this program. I’m challenging you to like activate the deepest core muscle you’ve got.

Andrea: That’s the first thing I task you with is, you know, let’s get in there, let’s get deep in there and let’s make that thing stronger. And it’s, yeah, it is, it’s hard in the beginning because I’m asking you to do something that your body hasn’t done in a really long time.

Lupe:     Absolutely. Why did you start Autoimmune Strong?

Andrea: So, I originally started Autoimmune Strong before it became an online thing. It was a program I developed solely for my own purpose. My goal was to get myself healthy and strong again. Because after the birth of my second son and my autoimmune conditions really flared up. I have Hashimoto’s, Celiac, Fibromyalgia and mixed connective tissue disorder.

Andrea: And it’s hard to know what, which of the four or if all four were flaring at the same time. But whatever it was, you know, the experience of birth and the lack of sleep and the amount of stress on the body that being a new mom is, just put my body into a real state. Um, and I was a mess. And I was too sick to go back to work after my maternity leave was over. Um, like, I was really in a bad place.

Andrea: And so I had gone to a bunch of doctors. They all said, well, your labs are okay. There’s nothing, you know, they didn’t find anything actually until two years later. So I was kind of in a desperate place where the doctors were like, well, you seem fine. So I started going to the, you know, the school of the Internet. I Googled, like, what do I do here if doctors can’t help me?

Andrea: So, I started looking at my nutrition and once I got my nutrition going a little bit. I was like, there has to be an exercise component because everything in my body hurt. And I was so weak and I was physically incapable of like carrying my children. And it happened to be that, at the time I had a three year old and a newborn.

Andrea: And we lived in a house where it was a duplex and so, uh, we were on one side and it’s all stairs. And there’s not even a bathroom on the first floor. So you had to climb the stairs to get to the bathroom. And I was a stay at home mom and so I was like carrying the baby or caring the toddler up to go to the bathroom. I mean, I couldn’t do it. So, you know, I said to my husband, I have to do something.

Andrea: So, after a lot of fits and starts, I hired a personal trainer. I, you know, I went to the gym. I tried a lot of things and nothing worked. So finally I said to him like, I have to go back to school because if I can’t fix this for myself then I cannot be, like, I’m not a human right now. Like I’m not a good mom. And I need to figure this out.

Andrea: So, um, so that’s what I did. I didn’t go back to work. I decided to use whatever money we had left. Because without me working we were financially strapped. But I said, you know, we both agreed this was really important. So I became a nutritional therapy practitioner and a certified personal trainer. And during that time I basically used myself as a guinea pig, you know. Especially in personal training school, like they didn’t know what to do with me.

Andrea: I was 32, so I was a good 12 years older than everybody else. And I was in pain. And I didn’t have a ton of like athletic background. You know, typically personal trainers are people who have, who are really successful in sports, right. And I was not that.

Andrea: So, I took what they taught me and then had to figure out how to scale it way back to a thing where I could do it, where I could succeed in it. And after a lot of trial and error, things started to work for me and eventually I realized that I had something that nobody else was talking about and that it would have been irresponsible if I hadn’t shared it with the world. So that’s what I’m doing now.

Brian:    We thank you for sharing it. Lupe and I have been in the program for three weeks religiously now.

Lupe:     Yup.

Andrea: Good for you.

Brian:    And I feel better and I’m, you know, rolling around on the floor. And you know, I have a shoulder injury that prevents me from doing some of the things, some of the time. But I’m giving it the college try and feel better, sleep better. Muscles aren’t as sore in the morning. It’s just been awesome. And that’s for me somebody without any auto immune issues or you know, massive back injuries or anything like that. But

Andrea: That’s so great to hear.

Lupe:     For me, I feel like I have more energy. I’ve had lower back pain for a long time, especially when I lay flat on my back. And I feel, like the foam roll has really helped me. It’s all the stretching, right?

Andrea: It’s life changing, right?

Lupe:     Yes. Oh my goodness. I love it.

Andrea: And hurting so good is an understatement. I mean, I find knots and I’m like, oh, that’s weird. I’ve never felt a knot there before. And I’ll just work it out and it’s been awesome. So we want to personally thank you for that. I’m so glad we found you on the Internet.

Andrea: Well, I’m so glad you found me on the Internet too. I’m, you know, I love being able to do this and share this kind of work. And I love the opportunity to kind of, you know, I believe in fitness. And I believe that the current model of fitness that’s out there is in some ways destructive.

Andrea: Because, you know, the idea is out there that we have to push so hard in order to be fit. And the reality is that you don’t. You don’t have to be in the gym for two hours, in order to get yourself feeling better. And to have more energy and to release some of that muscle tension and gain strength.

Andrea: So, I’m trying to offer a different kind of an experience, of an exercise experience. Um, and I’m so glad. I love that you guys are doing it together, too. That’s like, it’s just so great because we need, our families need to support each other in getting strong and getting healthy. An so the fact that you guys do it together. It’s just so cool.

Lupe:     I went to the store and I bought two of everything. Two matts, two rollers, two peanuts, everything. He’s like, what’s this?

Andrea: That’s awesome! Yeah. I mean it doesn’t take, it doesn’t take a lot of equipment and this is equipment that you’re going to use forever. Now that you know how to foam roll, like, I’ve been formerly now for seven years. And I’ll tell you, it does get easier, for sure. Like I can roll my whole body out now in less than five minutes.

Brian:    Wow. That’s good to know.

Andrea: It’s coming.

Lupe:     We’re not there yet.

Andrea: As long as your religious with it. And it also gets to a point where you don’t, I don’t have to foam roll every day, anymore. I can go a day or two without it and still go back to it and not be such a mess. So, your body does adapt over time.

Brian:    That’s good to know. Getting back to Autoimmune Strong.

Andrea: Yes.

Brian:    How long have you been running this program for people?

Andrea: Oh, it has not been long at all. I started, well, I mean honestly the way I started was I was a personal health coach. Um, so I was going to people’s homes and teaching them this stuff in their own homes. And my wait list was so long that I decided to throw it up online. So, that happened about a year and a half ago. And it got traction pretty quickly. So I’ve actually closed that personal health coaching practice and now I’m just doing Autoimmune Strong, online full time. So I guess it’s about a year and a half old.

Lupe:     And you get to more people that way.

Andrea: That’s the thing, is I get, I mean it’s crazy. There are people in Australia, there are people in Europe, there are people in Pakistan, in Sri Lanka, who are doing this program. Like it’s so cool. I mean I’m starting to get requests for translations in all these different languages. I never anticipated that that would be a thing. I had no idea.

Andrea: And it’s really cool because it’s an online program and I offer these small group coaching classes that happened once a quarter, so you know, you guys have each other for support, but not everybody has that. Sometimes people want, you know, more support from a community or from a personal trainer, like myself, to kind of keep an eye on them and make, make sure they’re doing things right.

Andrea: So we have these small group coaching classes that happen once a quarter and they’re 12 weeks long and because they’re done over the internet, people from all over the globe can join and so in, I’m running three small classes right now and each of those classes are international. There’s someone in each class, there’s people from at least three different countries.

Brian:    That’s got to make you feel good, to have that kind of reach and impact on people’s lives.

Andrea: It’s so exciting and I think what’s really cool about it too is, like, when you live with an autoimmune disorder, it doesn’t matter which one it is. It doesn’t matter if you have psoriasis or if you have Sjogren’s or if you have Hashimoto’s or whatever it is.

Andrea: The experience is so similar, but we often feel so alone in our lives. We feel like nobody understands what we’re dealing with or why we’re so exhausted or why we hurt and that we have to say no to things that we don’t necessarily want to say no to. And I think it’s really been a lovely part of this program that there’s a community where people can communicate and share their stories and know that there’s someone else out there that’s going through the same thing that they are. And then the struggle is real and that they’re not alone in it.

Brian:    Speaking to that community, you’re doing a Facebook live on occasion?

Andrea: I do them every Monday.

Brian:    Nice. And we haven’t seen one of the Facebook lives yet. We have not attended.

Lupe:     I did. I was at work and I snuck out.

Brian:    So much for doing everything together.

Lupe:     Sorry.

Andrea: It’s okay. As long as one of you comes, it’s great.

Brian:    She snuck out of work to watch your Facebook live.

Andrea: Oh, that’s so sweet. I think a lot of people do that because I do them at noon on the east coast time, so it’s tricky for the different time zones. But you know, there’s always a replay. You don’t. You can watch it on the replay.

Lupe:     I know, but there’s something about watching it live and you could ask questions and yeah.

Andrea: Yeah.

Brian:    What types of things do you cover when you’re doing a Facebook live?

Andrea: So, I cover a lot of everything. It’s often whatever I’m thinking about at the moment. I mean, and that’s kind of what Autoimmune Strong is. Is you’ve got this exercise program, but then so much of it is just like whatever deep thought Andrea is having today, it’s what you’re going to get when you get me on social media or you get me on Facebook live.

Andrea: So recent topics have been about stress and the way that stress impacts our bodies when we live with auto immune disease. And how that then affects our ability to exercise. Another recent topic was talking, you know, how to work with your doctor and talk to them about exercise intolerance. Um, and how to help them understand your body a little bit better. Because, um, I’ve talked a lot about how doctors don’t learn about exercise, really, in their medical studies and they don’t learn, really, anything about autoimmune disease and exercise.

Andrea: And, I mean, and frankly that’s partially because there’s not a ton of research out there on it. The research is not super deep. There is, you know, study or two, what they show. The studies show that exercise helps, but there’s no real quantification about how much exercise helps, how little exercise helps. Like you know, what types of exercise help. You know, the details aren’t there, so the doctors don’t know them.

Andrea: And so I’ve been trying to educate, uh, you know, people who are interested in the topic of autoimmune disease and exercise about how to talk to their doctors about their experiences in a way that the doctors will understand and help them create a good program that is, that’s right for them. Um, also the same for personal trainers. If, you know, at home exercise is not for everybody. Some people really need to be out in the community or be leaving their house to go do their exercises that makes them feel good.

Andrea: So, I want, you know, while I do want people to sign up for my program, more importantly, I want people to have the tools to be able to educate themselves and then make their own decisions about what exercise is best for their bodies and how to do it safely. Um, so those are two topics.

Andrea: I don’t know, I mean, and then I get inspired by emails that I get from people or comments that people write on my Facebook page. I get a lot of emails and communication from people going through this. So um, I’m inspired constantly to answer their questions.

Lupe:     Do you discuss nutrition? Do people ask you about nutrition and doing Autoimmune Strong?

Brian:    Yes, I do. So, I am a nutritional therapy practitioner, and, in the program, I have a eBook that kind of lays out like my most basic argument for healthy nutrition.

Andrea: I haven’t gotten very deep into nutrition yet. It is a hope and a dream of mine, but I do think that there are so many people who are doing nutrition for autoimmune disease very well on the Internet already.

Andrea: Like you know, if people are interested in learning more, there’s and the Paleo Mom. Those two groups have written a lot of stuff about the autoimmune protocol diet and different ways of managing nutrition when you have autoimmune disease.

Andrea: So, I wanted to contribute something that nobody else was talking about, which is really the exercise piece. But I’m happy to answer, I love talking about nutrition. I’m a total nutrition geek so I’m happy to talk about that. And nutrition played a huge role in my own personal healing story. I don’t think that exercise is the whole answer, nor do I think nutrition is the whole answer. I think we need to have a holistic lifestyle. Um, in order to, you know, it all needs to work together.

Lupe:     It’s a balance. Yeah.

Andrea: It is a balance. Yeah.

Brian:    We just started a 30 Day Vegetarian Challenge and we’ve got a few of our listeners who are jumping on board as well. But we attempted it year and a half or so ago and day 97 is when we put fish tacos into our mouths.

Andrea: How do you feel?

Brian:    I felt really good.

Lupe:     I felt awesome. Um, uh, something about cutting out meat. It just with my autoimmune, with my Sjogren’s, I just felt like a different person.

Andrea: Wow.

Lupe:     So, it really helped me.

Brian:    And me being the one who does the majority of the food prep and cook, it’s a little more labor intensive and maybe that’s just my limited card file of vegetarian recipes. I grew up in a home where my father was a butcher, so.

Andrea: Oh, yeah.

Brian:    You know, it was different. I could cook some meat, but. So I mean, there, there’s a whole learning curve there, but I mean we both feel better. Everything seems to work better.

Andrea: Great.

Brian:    But, you know, is it, I don’t know, is it something I’ll do forever? Probably not. Is it something I, you know, I think the happy medium for me would be once a week go enjoy some meat, but.

Andrea: Yeah. My advice to you two would be that, there are certain amino acids and certain fats that are best accessed through meat. They’re harder to get in complete forms through a strictly vegetarian diet. I feel very passionately, though about if you are going to eat meat to make sure that it is organic and it’s pastured and it’s been properly raised. And so you’re not getting just like the ton of chemicals and sludge that factory farmed animals provide.

Andrea: Um, I think there’s a very wide range of what should be considered healthy meat. So, you know, so I’d encourage you when you do, if and when you, do go back to meat, to think about it less as meat or no meat, but think about it more as, you know, properly prepared meat versus not.

Andrea: But it does make sense that you’re feeling good because vegetables carry so many vitamins and minerals that are really hard for us to get. Even if we take a Multivitamin, we can’t digest all the vitamins and minerals in the multivitamin because you need the cofactors and the enzymes that are properly packaged in a vegetable.

Andrea: So we do so much better when we get our vitamins and minerals from real food. So I applaud you for making that decision. It’s really, we live in kind of like an anti-vegetable society. People are, you know, everybody’s like, oh, do I have to eat broccoli or Kale or, and you know, I mean, even in my household where I’m very clear about the fact that vegetables are in critical importance. You know, my six year old is still like, oh mommy, do I have to have another vegetable? Um, so I’m excited for you guys that you are really making the most of it and eating that plant based diet. It’s really good for you.

Brian:    It’s been fun. I mean and we don’t have any issues with glutens, but we’ve reduced the amount of gluten that we’re intaking and replacing them good lagoons and grains and all of that. So it’s, it’s been fun.

Andrea: Good. I mean, experimenting and learning how to cook in different ways. It’s all good. And I mean at the end of the day, as long as you’re listening to your body and your body is feeling good, that’s what it’s all about. You know, if you’re feeling good, stick with it.

Brian:    Definitely. So when somebody visits, walk us through what you hope they obtain and then once they join what they can expect from you.

Andrea: So, what I would like for them to experience, first and foremost, is to go through the workshop. Um, when you first get to the page, there’s a big popup that says, join my free five video workshop or something like that. I forget exactly what it says, but um, that workshop is completely free. All you have to do is enter your email address and then these videos pop right into your inbox.

Andrea: And you don’t have to watch them the minute you get them. They’re going to live in your inbox for as long as you don’t delete the email, so you can have them for as long as you want. And they/re videos that are just meant to be educational. So the first thing I explain is, you know, why exercise is difficult for people with autoimmune disease. I explained about what exercise intolerance is and when people start hearing me explain all this, they start going, oh my gosh, I didn’t realize that my exercise is making me feel sicker rather than better.

Andrea: And so a light bulb goes off in their heads. And that’s what I really want is for people to start being able to connect the dots. Because we think of exercise as being good for us, that’s what we are told. And it is, but it’s only good for us in certain doses because when you have an autoimmune disease, your body has a certain level stress that’s higher than quote unquote normal people.

Andrea: Because even when we’re at rest, our bodies are under a certain amount of stress or duress, right? Like our, you know, even when we’re asleep, our immune system is attacking what it considers to be an outside invader. And so our stress levels are elevated. And exercise is stress on the body. That’s the definition of exercises. We put additional stress on the body in order to make change.

Andrea: So when you do, you’re hiking, you’re putting additional stress on your body. And if your body’s level of stress already too high and then you go for a long hike, you’re going to end up quite possibly with an exercise induced symptom flare up. Which often is hard to distinguish from just the flu or from being tired or being hung over. It can feel like all of those things.

Andrea: And so a lot of people aren’t even able to connect the dots because they don’t know that the exercise that they’re doing could even come back a couple days later and create, you know, the stress response, which can make you feel sick.

Andrea: So, first and foremost, I hope people learn that and see themselves in that. So that they can start making smarter choices about their exercise programs, throughout their week. And I just gave you the very short, brief overview. These videos are like 15 minutes each, so I really explained it in detail. From there, they have two choices. They can either decide they love the exercise that they’re doing. They’re going to take the information that I’ve given them and they’re going to tailor their exercise accordingly.

Andrea: Or a lot of people feel, I have no idea what exercises I should be doing in order to help me get stronger and feel better. Um, you know, and combat this exercise intolerance issue that I have. And so I offer an exercise program that they don’t have to design their own program. There’s one built in available for them. So they sign up.

Andrea: There’s a couple different options. You can join from a monthly subscription or you can buy a year and get entire access or you can join the small group coaching, that I was talking about before. And from there, the exercises themselves are meant to be self-paced.

Andrea: So, in the program itself, you get two different kinds of videos. You get instructional videos and then you have workout videos. So the idea is that I really want you to learn in the instructional videos why this exercise is important, what we’re going to try and change in your body here and then specifically how to do it.

Andrea: And then when you feel confident that you’ve gotten a handle on the instruction, and you feel more confident that you’re ready to kind of string a few exercises together in a row, then you can move on to the uh, workout series.

Andrea: I do offer a calendar that people can follow. But I have specifically left the program sort of Willy Nilly because I want people to be able to listen to their bodies and say, you know what today I feel like I can do x. Or today I want to do a workout. Or today I feel tired and I only want to do abdominal bracing for 10 seconds.

Andrea: I want you to really be able to tune into your body and give your body what it needs. And what I’ve learned from working with all these hundreds and hundreds of bodies all over the globe is that what everybody needs is individual and what your body needs is actually individual from day to day and month to month and week to week, too.

Andrea: So ultimately you can go at your own pace. Some people can fly through the program really fast for other people they take, you know, they can take a couple of months just to get through the first five videos. You know, it’s completely up to you how you choose to use it.

Andrea: Um, but all the videos are easily playable on your phone or on your laptop. Um, a lot of people link them up to the TV. And so you can follow along with me and these exercise videos. And you also as an Autoimmune Strong member, you also get access to this Facebook community, that I was talking about. That’s so cool.

Andrea: It’s such a positive place. And I feel like I’m in a lot of chronic pain communities on Facebook. There’s a lot of kind of negativity and that negativity is not on the Autoimmune Strong page. It’s a very supportive, encouraging environment, which I love.

Andrea: Additionally, you get access to a monthly members only call, where we go online via zoom. You get to see me and see all the other members that came to this call and we all get to have like a group chat, so you can ask questions and share your story and hear other people’s stories and you get access to all the replays of those too. There’s a little library of all those replaced. You can watch all of them. There’s a lot of content.

Andrea: What else you get? Oh, the other thing that’s coming, we haven’t started them yet, is that I’m going to be doing some master classes that are accessible for members only. So it’s sort of additional thing people have been asking me about things like weight loss or about things like cardio and things like nutrition and stuff that’s not specifically a part of the Autoimmune Strong program, but that you know, is very important as part of that whole life thing I was talking about earlier.

Andrea: So, as a member you get access to all of that?

Brian:    That’s very cool.

Andrea: Yeah. The first one’s coming either the first or second week to week of March. We haven’t settled on a date yet, but that one is going to be talking about weight loss and the connection of stress to weight loss. So, we’re going to kind of dive into that.

Lupe:     We encourage all our listeners to check it out cause it’s awesome.

Brian:    Yeah. If you’re listening to this podcast, then you will definitely benefit from this and like myself, I don’t have an autoimmune issue and I’m definitely benefiting from working out alongside Lupe here, so.

Andrea: That’s so cool. You know, I mean the exercises I’ve picked are combination of things that I’ve learned through the course of, let’s see, there’s some power lifting moves. Believe it or not, abdominal bracing, which is the first exercise I learned from power lifter. So there are some yoga moves, there are some kind of functional fitness movement.

Andrea: I’ve kind of borrowed exercises from a number of different styles and types of fitness and combined them all into a program. And yeah, it does not have to be, it’s not specific to autoimmune. What is specific to autoimmune is simply the pacing. But exercise themselves are good for everybody.

Lupe:     Does exercising help with inflammation? I just thought I would ask.

Andrea: It’s a great question. Yes and no, is the answer. Yes, if you exercise, it does help with inflammation, but if you exercise too much and it increases your stress too high, then it can actually aggravate inflammation. So, it’s this funny balance that you want to be creating where you’re getting just enough that you feel awesome but not too much where you turn the corner and to feeling less awesome. And that’s a hard thing.

Andrea: It’s a hard balance. One of the other things that members are going to be getting in the next couple of weeks is a journal. I’m working on a journal that’s going to help you track your experience with exercise so you can start understanding, okay, at this level I feel good, but at this level it’s too much. So, you can start understanding where that line is for you. Because it is extraordinarily individual. So it’s not like I can just say, okay, you always do this, but don’t do that. Like it’s not that. It’s just not that clear.

Brian:    We actually track quite a bit. You know, what we’ve been eating versus how we’re feeling. How much we prepared our body for a long hike on a weekend to how we felt after it. Just so week to go back to. And it’s something we learned when we were cycling. You know, you come off of a 70 mile bike ride and your body’s craving something, you’re starving. And you’re body’s craving something and say we’re craving a steak. So in our minds, our body’s telling us we need more protein, so we can look back at what we ate, preparing for that ride and say, okay, we need to incorporate more protein into our diet. So that craving is less after the ride. And that mentality has helped us with our riding and our hiking.

Andrea: That’s awesome. That’s so smart. I think journaling is really important. It’s something I do a lot in my personal life too. Um, I would, I’m going to send you guys the journal so you can see it once it’s made. I’d love to hear your feedback on it.

Brian:    Awesome.

Lupe:     I want to know when I want to be able to do that toe exercise?

Andrea: The short foot?

Brian:    No. Where you, oh, I forget what you call it. But where your toes are bent back.

Andrea: Like when you’re sitting on your toes?

Lupe:     Yes! Yes!

Andrea: It comes in time. I will tell you my husband has been working on those, I think I call them toes and foot sitting. He’s been working on them now for almost two years. And he can, when he first started, I wish I had taken pictures. Because he, literally like, I mean he couldn’t. He looked at me and be like, wait, what do you want me to do? You want me to do what?

Andrea: And now he can do it, the same way I could do it. It’s just a matter of time and not push too hard. But practicing over the course of the long haul because ankle flexibility and stability is so important. And often we’re so locked up in our ankles that it locks up the rest of our entire leg, which then inhibits our core. So the ankles, I think are such an essential part of having good posture. So yeah, it’s hard. I won’t lie. Keep practicing.

Lupe:     The first time we did it, I actually took pictures and I posted them on the private group.

Andrea.:               I saw them.

Lupe:     That was me. I was like, my toes, they just don’t bend that way.

Andrea: No, they don’t. But they are supposed to. So, I’m so over time they will. And if you keep up with the foam rolling too, that’s going to help. Because I’m going to imagine that your calves are very tight and also that like the bottoms of your feet are very tight. So if you keep working on those areas, it’ll come.

Lupe:     Yeah. I’m excited because I don’t know if it’s my Sjogren’s or what is it, but my body is very stiff. So, it’s really helping me out.

Andrea: Good.

Lupe:     I wanted to ask you about your hair, about your transformation.

Andrea: You want to know why I went gray?

Lupe:     Yes.

Andrea: Ah, I love talking about this. It was a big move for me. I’ve been gray since I was in high school, almost. Like I had a big gray streak when I was in high school. And then when as I was in college, the grays started coming. And so I started dying my hair, I think at age 19. And in recent years it just got to be, I don’t know, it just got to be.

Andrea: Well, first off it’s like really costly. I’m terrible at dying my own hair. I would like miss spots and as, I am now, like almost 100 percent gray, if you miss a spot, it looks really silly. And you know, as I was dying my hair, you know, month after month I kept thinking to myself, like why am I doing this. Um, and I started thinking about, you know, conventional definitions of beauty and I realized that I didn’t think that that applied to me.

Andrea: And that, I wanted to see what my real hair looked like. I didn’t even know. So I just stopped. And I ended up bleaching my hair and becoming a blond. So that it wouldn’t be such a crazy grow up process. Because anybody who is interested in doing the dye to gray process, like, it is a lengthy grow out process. You do need to be committed to it. Um, because it’s not always easy. And it does feel awkward, at stages.

Andrea: But I wanted to know what my real hair looked like. And then once it started growing in, I was like, wow, it’s really silver. It’s pretty. And I just have decided to keep it. I love it.

Lupe:     And silver is it right now. Everybody is dying their hair silver.

Andrea: Yes. a lot of people spend a lot of money to dye their hair. Silver.

Lupe:     I um, I stopped dying my hair two years ago. And I keep my hair short, but I love it. You know, I get different reactions. But you know, I’m doing me, not, I don’t worry about other people.

Andrea: You know, I actually get very positive reactions to people who, you know, because I’m only 40 and so, you know, they’ll look at me and they’ll be like, oh my God, you’ve got a full head of gray hair. You know. and so I hope to think that I am like inspiring people to love who they are and not feel like they have to cover up or be something that they’re not. Because I think the gray hair is beautiful.

Lupe:     I do too. And it looks sexy and beautiful and I love it.

Andrea: Yeah, me too. I think it’s important for all of us. Yeah. So I’m excited that you’re doing it too.

Lupe:     Yay. Now I just have to grow it out because it’s really short. But uh,

Andrea: Yeah, it takes time. Yeah.

Brian:    All the color is gone though.

Andrea: Are you experiencing yellowing?

Lupe:     Yes.

Andrea: That’s the only part that’s really frustrating. I haven’t figured out how to make the yellow go away.

Lupe:     Somebody tell me about using a purple shampoo.

Andrea: Oh yeah. I do all that.

Lupe:     Yeah. Does it help?

Andrea: It does help. Um, my issue is that I live in Massachusetts where it’s really cold in the winter and I have to blow dry my hair. And I think the heat treatment is not, you know, makes the yellow come out more. So I have to figure out the answer to that because I really like my natural, like shiny.

Lupe:     Yeah.

Andrea: Grey. But, but yeah, I mean it’s a work in progress, but I still, I feel like it better than having to color it.

Brian:    So, if any of our listeners want to get ahold of you, what is your preferred method of communication?

Andrea: Um, there are lots of different ways you can reach me. First you can go to my website which is You can find me on social, on Facebook. I am just Autoimmune Strong. I do Facebook lives every Monday at noon eastern. Um, and there’s always the replay. So there’s lots of free information right there. You can find me on Instagram, I’m Get Autoimmune Strong on Instagram and you can email me if you have any questions. I’m

Brian:    Excellent. And those links will be in the show notes below. So if you aren’t able to write them down at the time you’re listening to this, they’ll be there for you and waiting.

Andrea: Perfect.

Brian:    Is there anything else you’d like to leave with the listeners before we part ways?

Andrea: We’ve covered so many good things? I think, you know, the bottom line is, um, a lot of people are really scared to begin exercising again, when they’ve been living with pain for so long. And I just want to encourage people not to be scared that exercise is something that you can do and that there’s a whole community here to support you when you’re ready.

Brian:    That’s great advice. And we will second that motion.

Lupe:     Absolutely. Yes.

Brian:    Awesome.

Andrea: Cool.

Brian:    What we really want to thank you for your time today, Andrea. You know, we look forward to seeing you on the TV screen in the living room and expect another email or two of me cussing you. That’s just how I am.

Andrea: Sounds great. Thank you so much for inviting me to do this and thank you for accommodating my crazy schedule.

Lupe:     Thank you. Now I have to rush back to work.

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