Balanced Bites Podcast with Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe | Living with chronic illness, supplements, & building a bread business with Jennifer Robins

Podcast Episode #330: Living with Chronic Illness, Supplements, & Building a Bread Business with Jennifer Robins

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Balanced Bites Podcast with Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe | Living with chronic illness, supplements, & building a bread business with Jennifer RobinsTopics

  1. News and updates from Diane & Liz [1:59]
  2. Introducing our guest, Jennifer Robins [2:37]
  3. Balancing work and a chronic illness [4:33]
  4. Handling the daily struggle [12:24]
  5. Attitude and chronic illness [18:07]
  6. Illness is not identity [27:56]
  7. Legit Bread Company [36:10]
  8. Micro focus on life [46:34]

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Balanced Bites Podcast with Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe | Living with chronic illness, supplements, & building a bread business with Jennifer Robins Balanced Bites Podcast with Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe | Living with chronic illness, supplements, & building a bread business with Jennifer Robins Balanced Bites Podcast with Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe | Living with chronic illness, supplements, & building a bread business with Jennifer Robins Balanced Bites Podcast with Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe | Living with chronic illness, supplements, & building a bread business with Jennifer Robins

You’re listening to the Balanced Bites podcast episode 330.

Liz Wolfe: Welcome to the Balanced Bites podcast. I’m Liz; a nutritional therapy practitioner, and author of the Wall Street Journal best-seller Eat the Yolks; The Purely Primal Skincare Guide; and the online program Baby Making and Beyond. I live on a farm in the mystical land of the Midwest, outside of Kansas City.

My usual cohost, who is out on book tour today, is Diane Sanfilippo; a certified nutrition consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo and the 21-Day Sugar Detox. Her new book is the 21-Day Sugar Detox Daily Guide. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and fur kids.

We’re the co-creators of the Balanced Bites Master Class, and we’ve been bringing you this award-winning podcast for more than 6 years. We’re here to share our take on modern paleo living, answer your questions, and chat with leading health and wellness experts. Enjoy this week’s episode, and submit your questions at http://balancedbites.com or watch the Balanced Bites podcast Instagram account for our weekly calls for questions. You can ask us anything in the comments.

Remember our disclaimer: The materials and content within this podcast are intended as general information only, and are not to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Liz Wolfe: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Vital Choice seafood and organics. Purveyor of premium sustainably sourced seafood and a certified B corporation. Vital choice offers a wide range of fish, shellfish, humanely raised meat, protein rich bone broths, and paleo friendly snacks like organic dark chocolate, super antioxidant trail mix, and bison jerky. My favorites from Vital Choice are the salmon and the tanner crab. Diane’s favorites are the king salmon, seaweed salad, and canned Ventresca tuna. Celebrate the holidays, and your health, with premium seafood and organics from www.vitalchoice.com.

1. News and updates from Diane & Liz [1:59]

Liz Wolfe: I’m short on announcements today, but I do want to encourage folks. If you're listening to this on the day it comes out, January 11th, if you're in Kansas City or anywhere nearby, come see me and Diane tomorrow, January 12th, at Half Price Books in Kansas City, Missouri. We’ll be doing a joint event to celebrate Diane’s new book, the 21-Day Sugar Detox Daily Guide. And I’ll be signing your dusty old copies of my book, Eat the Yolks. We’re really excited to see folks. This is the second even that we’ve done in Kansas City. I can’t wait to see everybody. You can get more information at www.BalancedBites.com.

2. Introducing our guest, Jennifer Robins [2:37]

Liz Wolfe: My guest today is a friend and real food blogger and entrepreneur who I deeply respect. She is the wickedly funny Jennifer Robins of www.PredominantlyPaleo.com. She is the author of multiple paleo books; Down South Paleo, The New Yiddish Kitchen, The Paleo Kids Cookbook, and Paleo Cooking in Your Instant Pot. And she’s also the founder and CEO of the Legit Bread Company, and we’re going to talk about that pretty soon. It’s my favorite gluten free bread ever, ever, ever. So I’m really thrilled that she was able to come on the show with us today. Welcome, friend!

Jennifer Robins: I am so glad you asked me to be on your show! Because there is nobody I would rather spend Saturday afternoon with than you.

Liz Wolfe: Well, shucks. And now people know that we devote our evenings and weekends to the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle and yeah. So you're welcome everybody for taking time out of our Saturdays.

Jennifer Robins: {laughs} That’s right.

Liz Wolfe: So, we both had to kick the kids out so we could have this conversation. I’m always looking for a reason to talk to you, because you're really, really funny, first of all.

Jennifer Robins: Oh, shucks.

Liz Wolfe: Which is why; shucks. I shoot you random questions on Facebook messenger all the time. And you're pretty much perpetually available to me, which basically shows me that you never, ever stop working. Would that be accurate?

Jennifer Robins: Yeah, and it’s a real problem, Liz. So thanks for pointing that out.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} For you. I’m benefiting greatly, because I finally have some bread that my kid will eat and I feel comfortable giving to her. And actually I meant to tell you the other day that I put liverwurst. I made my kid a liverwurst sandwich, literally just your bread and liverwurst, and she devoured it.

Jennifer Robins: That’s amazing.

3. Balancing work and a chronic illness [4:33]

Liz Wolfe: It was quite amazing. So we’re going to talk about the Legit Bread Company pretty soon. But one of the things that I wanted to tackle with you. And this is just something that comes up again and again. Because I think we have a little bit of a selection bias, maybe, in the paleo/real food community. Because people come to paleo and real food. Generally people that are super healthy and have that genetic, whatever. You know, they can’t just; nothing can take them down. No matter what they eat, they can eat McDonald’s every day and be totally fine.

We don’t attract people like that. A lot of the people that we serve with our books and with your multiple books and with the Legit Bread Company and with your blog are people that have been sick, and are looking for an answer. And in part are looking to change their food to live a bit more healthfully. And your experience is similar. And if you can share a little bit, whatever you're comfortable with, about your experience with chronic illness, and how you got into this community, and how you handle all of this work and your businesses and all of that while still maintaining a modicum of health, I think that would be really, really helpful for folks that are listening and trying to balance their lives with chronic illness.

Jennifer Robins: Yeah. Well I don’t always balance it well, so I should probably disclose that. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Jennifer Robins: But I do try. So I was actually really healthy most of my life. Well, back then. There have been several years now that have passed. So I’m creeping up on almost as many years working with chronic illness as I was healthy.

Anyway, in my late 20s when I started having panic attacks and these things that kind of came out of nowhere. I attributed them all to what was happening in my life at the time. I had met my husband; at the time he was my boyfriend. We were talking about getting married. I ended up moving overseas. So there were a lot of major life stressors and changes. So I just; you know, tried to link those with the symptoms I was having.

So it started with panic attacks. Which are not totally uncommon for people. But I felt like after the panic was under control, I just never felt amazing after that. And then I got pregnant with our first child. I ended up having our second child less than a year after the first baby was born. And I just think my immune system was shot.

Liz Wolfe: My immune system just panicked, just even hearing that. Yeah.

Jennifer Robins: Yeah! It’s such a miracle that a woman’s body is capable of it to begin with. But it’s still a huge freaking deal. So I think the way that Americans often look at having babies is you don’t necessarily take that postpartum time to heal, because we just assume; well this is what our bodies were made for. We’re fine, let’s move on. What’s the next thing. We’re busy.

So I know that in other areas of the world, they really take it seriously. You know, to go home, and to live a very peaceful life for a while, and not just jump into everything else you were doing.

So I’d had this overseas move to Germany. We were there for two years, came back pregnant. And then less than a year later here comes baby number two. And then when the second baby was 5 months old, and the firstborn was 17 months old, my husband deployed for 5 months. So it was just, like, a world of chaos. And right before he was getting ready to leave, I started feeling really bad. I was edgy, I was wired, tired. I was light headed, kind of dizzy. Felt like, after 10 hours of sleep, not that I really got 10 hours of straight sleep, because I had two babies. But I woke up feeling like I had barely shut my eyes for 15 minutes after taking a sleeping pill and a Benadryl or something. It was just horrible.

So that’s when I was diagnosed with thyroid disease. With Hashimoto’s. And juggling two small babies, and having a husband gone; there’s just a certain degree of survival. You're not going to feel your best necessarily. So I got through that period, and I feel like I reached a period of stability. And it was actually after the third child was born that I really hit rock bottom.

That, coupled with the fact that we were moving, yet again, really just put me in a tail spin. And that’s when I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and chronic viruses, like Epstein Barr. Just a whole host of issues. So for me it’s not so much about connecting with a certain diagnosis. Because I feel like, when you're chronically ill, it’s always a conglomerate of many things happening. Right? You have the stress that’s kicked in, so your immune function is off. And then if you have the autoimmune component, then that’s unbalanced with the Th1, Th2 situation.

Then the leaky gut is there because of the stressors and maybe poor diet. And then your pathogens are allowed to proliferate because of these other things, and the situation that’s been created in your body, and the imbalances. So, for me it’s not about; “Oh, I’m a thyroid patient. Oh, I’m a Lyme patient. Oh, I’m a chronic fatigue patient.” I have all of those diagnoses. And more. So many more. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Jennifer Robins: But for me, it’s just looking at the body is like; ok. Something is out of whack, and now I have to work really hard at finding balance again. And the food part, to me, is the easy part. For some people they say; “Oh my gosh. Giving up gluten, giving up sugar!” Well those are just things that you don’t do anymore. Right? It’s the things that you have to put effort into. Like stress management. That’s what’s hard for me.

I have periods of really good stability where I feel like my energy is pretty manageable and my attitude is positive, and I feel like, “I got this. I can tackle the world.” And the problem comes because then I try to tackle the world, and then everything crumbles because I put a lot of pressure on myself to accomplish certain things. Because I’m one of those people who believes that no dream is too big. So my biggest challenge is how do I couple “no dream is too big” with the fact that I still have a body that I have to tend to and babysit sometimes and really back off and truly take a bed day where I don’t do anything. I have to do that sometimes.

So, that, I mean, living with chronic illness is complicated. And I think the most important takeaway is that once you’ve been diagnosed with any of these things, it’s not about owning those diagnoses. But it is about acknowledging that your life is going to be different now. And that you can’t go back to the way that you lived before you got sick. Where you stay up all night, or you drink too much, or you don’t respect the boundaries of your body. Now you have new boundaries, and you have to really pay attention to those. Or things can spiral pretty quickly.

4. Handling the daily struggle [12:24]

Liz Wolfe: So where do you start chipping away at these types of things? I have to say, quickly, I completely agree with you that at one point in my life when I maybe didn’t really need to change my food, changing my food seemed like the most impossible thing in the world. But even with the few things that I’ve dealt with, just as a result of postpartum anxiety and; I also discussed this a little bit in the episode I recorded with Dr. David Hanscom, who you actually were a big catalyst in me reaching out to him to talk to him.

Jennifer Robins: Oh good. Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Jennifer Robins: I didn’t even realize that. That’s totally cool.

Liz Wolfe: Oh you totally were. You actually gave me his email. {laughs}

Jennifer Robins: No, I didn’t know you recorded with him. That’s really cool. That really makes me happy.

Liz Wolfe: Oh yeah! I’ve got to shoot that over to you.

Jennifer Robins: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. So I shared a little bit about the different physical symptoms I had. I think probably as part and parcel to anxiety and things like that that were going on postpartum, but at that point I was like; tell me to take something out of my diet and fix this. I’ll do whatever you tell me to do. That was no big deal.

But it’s when you realize that food is, like you said, it’s not the only, and it’s maybe the smallest and easiest thing you can change to give your body more of an opportunity to heal. Kind of give it a little bit less to deal with while you're trying to get well.

So with that in mind, what do you do to start chipping away at these things? Do you have daily practices? Do you have certain supplements that you use to help you? What’s been most effective?

Jennifer Robins: I think rest is the most effective.

Liz Wolfe: Which is like the hardest, too.

Jennifer Robins: It’s the hardest!

Liz Wolfe: Because you have three kids. And we connected because we’re both military wives, so I get that.

Jennifer Robins: Yeah. I mean, that is the hardest. But I notice that it makes the most difference. When I really say, no. And I say, you know what? I don’t care if the kids watch TV all day. Or I don’t care if they eat out of the pantry, and that’s their meal tonight. But I have to go put myself in time out.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Jennifer Robins: That seems to make the big difference the next day. You know? It’s kind of like; if you eat an offending food, it might not affect you that moment or that day. For me, it doesn’t. I’m not like a celiac patient where if I eat gluten or there’s a cross contamination, I’m running to the restroom 5 minutes later. No, no, no. For me it’s like the next day or the day after that I crash and burn and I feel horrible. And that’s when the migraines kick in, the vertigo, the fatigue, the “I can’t focus on anything.”

So when I get to that point, I have to put myself in time out. And I notice it’s the next day or the following day after that that I’m like; “Oh. I feel a little bit more rested. I feel a little bit more clarity. I feel like I can juggle the stressors that on a bad day, you're just like; I can’t. You know? I just shut down, and you're reaching toddler level of dysfunction.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Jennifer Robins: Which I hate to admit. Because you want to feel like you have it together. But no, I don’t. Always. {laughs} So yeah, I would say rest is so huge. And sometimes it means on a really bad day for me; which, you know, to me the things that I feel like are accomplishments are not accomplishments for a normal, healthy person. So for me, running my kids back and forth on a 30-minute drive to gymnastics after a busy day of work; sometimes that’s really hard for me. And so there are days when I’ve had to tell my son, who is a competitive gymnast; “I don’t think I can get you to gymnastics tonight. I think I need to stay in. Can we make up on this day or this day when my husband can help?” Or whatever it is.

So sometimes I have to try not to feel guilt over the things that I can’t do for my kids. I mean, you know, they get fed every day. Their needs are met. But there are sometimes when the extra things can’t happen. And it has been hard for me. Because I don’t ever want to feel like I’m doing a disservice to my kids, of all people. But I also hate disappointing people in general. So that’s a hard thing to live with, and change the mindset of, sometimes you have to put the oxygen mask on you first before you can put it on your kid. Because otherwise, what’s the point? So rest is one.

There are some supplements. I have a blog post about them, because there are some that I believe in so whole-heartedly for just kind of general wellbeing. One of them is lauricidin, which is just lauric acid or monolaurin, but it’s a pretty hefty concentrated dose. So whether you're dealing with Candida overgrowth or viruses, bacteria, poor gut health, it kind of; it doesn’t heal everything. Nothing is the answer to everything else.

But I feel like it hits a lot of different things, like some herbs can do, and it’s safe and it’s really effective. So that’s one thing that I’ve sworn by since I’ve decided to go off of Lyme treatment traditionally. Like antibiotics, which I did for 13 months and wrecked whatever I had remaining of a normal immune system. But lauricidin is one of those things that I won’t let go of. So there are a few supplements I do think help.

5. Attitude and chronic illness [18:07]

Jennifer Robins: I’ve been trying to do more in the past 6 months or so with Dr. Joe Dispenza’s work. Have you read his books?

Liz Wolfe: I have not, but we’re going to give, at the end of this podcast, we’ll definitely give people a list of resources. So I’ll take notes as you're speaking.

Jennifer Robins: Ok, great. So I love his books. One is Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. Which I clearly need to do.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} You recommended that to me, but in the process of being myself I choose not to help myself.

Jennifer Robins: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: By reading it. {laughs}

Jennifer Robins: Amazing. And then another one is called You are the Placebo. And it just talks about how the power of the mind, whichever direction your thoughts go, have such an influence over your existence. And it’s something I’ve been interested in for a while, but there’s also the part of me that’s like; yeah, yeah, yeah. I don’t have time for that. It’s like; I don’t have time to meditate.

Liz Wolfe: Right.

Jennifer Robins: It’s such a piss-poor attitude to have. But when you feel busy, and when you feel like these other things are more important somehow, you don’t carve out time for the thing that could really be saving your life sometimes.

Anyway, I’m obsessed with his work. And I’ve been listening to his books on Audible. When I do take the kids to gymnastics or Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, whatever we’re doing. I’ll just pop that on. And it’s pretty amazing. It’s a way for me to sneak in things that I don’t make time for during the day when I’m at home, maybe, because I’m trying to check a bunch of boxes and go down my to-do list. But when I’m just spending time in the car and I’m obviously not going to be on a laptop. Or I need to be interacting with my kids more, things like that. It’s been a great opportunity for me to listen. And I love it.

It’s such good information that applies to all of us. Whether you’re sick, whether you have pain. Whether you have anxiety, depression. Whether you're just not living the life that you want and you want to create something different. The message applies to all of us. And it’s something that I feel like, in the western world, we are maybe trying to pay attention to a little bit more, but we’re not there yet. You know? We’ve not put mindfulness ahead of monetary goals, or signing our kids up for every sport that exists known to man. Things like that. Our priorities have just shifted so far away from selfcare and the way that we look at our life and exitance and what we want and how we feel.

So it’s been a great wake up call. And it’s actual kind of tangible information back by science. Which always makes me feel better, because I love that balance between science and the woo-woo stuff, and where it meets in the middle. Makes it more tangible and believable for me.

Liz Wolfe: What’s great about the fact that so many of these really amazingly intelligent people; who wrote that book that you were talking about?

Jennifer Robins: Joe Dispenza.

Liz Wolfe: Joe Dispenza. Ok. Joe Dispenza, Dr. David Hanscom. Dr. John Sarno. I’m just now reading Dr. Sarno’s book about; oh gosh, I forgot what it’s called. Something about mind body. It’s his most recent book. I’ll share a link to it in the podcast notes, hopefully I can remember it. But these really intelligent, in many cases physicians, actual MDs who have shifted their clinical approach to something much more inclusive of what’s going on in the mind to actually change the physical experience in the body. And a lot of this around; actually the research on this. And I’m reading Sarno’s book now, but this is also something that Dr. Hanscom talked about.

Much of the experience of chronic pain, chronic disease, and autoimmunity appears in the research now that’s coming out, to be related to; not entirely, but to be influenced, certainly, by traumatic experiences. Which we don’t have to say trauma, we can say extreme stress. Prolonged stress. Something that’s going on; I don’t know if it’s in the unconscious mind. But something that is affecting what we now understand to be neuropathways. So things that are going on in the brain, and then signals are being sent throughout the body. So we really have a good idea of how these things that we probably for many years just relegated to the realm of woo.

Jennifer Robins: Right.

Liz Wolfe: Where it’s like; yeah, ok. Deep breathing. Meditation. Sure. All that. Expressive writing, journaling. Yeah, cool. If you’ve got three hours to devote to that every day, and you can stand to do that instead of watching Roseanne or Dinosaurs or whatever.

Jennifer Robins: {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: I’m thinking back to my childhood. I’m thinking back to the 80s.

Jennifer Robins: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: When we didn’t have this kind of science coming out, and these people talking about it. But the truth is, that’s what’s helping people. That’s what’s changing people’s lives. It’s not so much the medications that people have to be on for months and months. The antibiotics and all of that stuff. This is really that missing piece, I think.

Jennifer Robins: Absolutely. And the more people; because a lot of my blog followers and readers do have some component of chronic illness. They’re on the verge of crossing that line. Where they’re really mostly functional, but they couldn’t be if they keep going down this path. And so what I’m noticing in those people, as well as when I was a member of a ton of Lyme support boards, and Hashimoto’s support boards, and all of these things where I was really attached to my illnesses. I saw with my own eyes; here is the population of people who get better, and then here are the people who don’t. And the people who don’t definitely have a different mindset. They are very, very closely attached to their diagnoses. They attribute everything that happens in life to their disease. So if they have Lyme and gas prices go up, they’re like; “Damn Lyme disease! It’s the root of all evil!”

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Jennifer Robins: It’s like, well, ok. Let’s look at some other things that are going on in your life. How is your mindset. How are your daily practices? If you’re diagnosed with something and it’s chronic. We’re not talking about strep throat or a cold of whatever. But if you're diagnosed with something chronic, no matter what it is. If the only thing that you're doing is popping a pill every day, and you haven’t looked at anything else in your life. And you haven’t examined all those little crevices to see how you're living, then you're going to be stuck in that same place. Maybe you make a little bit of improvement in some capacity, but you're not going to get to the point where you would consider yourself healed just by popping a pill.

So, that can be said even for something like diabetes. Like, you have to examine your food. You can’t just take insulin. I’m talking type 2, but when it’s something that’s reflective of your lifestyle over a period of years, you have to go back and look at your lifestyle for that period of years. And what are your daily habits. And how are you looking at your existence, and the people around you, and what’s your general attitude towards life?

It’s important. And it’s something that I’m really glad, also, to see these very credible doctors and practitioners who are saying; look. This is scientific. And there’s evidence to prove that people who are getting better are not just popping pills. And not just changing diet. And not just; it’s not a single switch that pivots the whole thing.

Liz Wolfe: The Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored in part by the Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants (including me; I’m an NTP), emphasizing bio-individuality and the range of dietary strategies that support wellness. The NTA emphasizes local, whole, properly prepared nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. Nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants learn a wide range of tools and techniques to assess and correct nutritional imbalances. To learn lots more about the nutritional therapy program, go to http://www.NutritionalTherapy.com. There are workshop venues in the US, Canada, and Australia, so chances are you’ll be able to find a venue that works for you.

6. Illness is not identity [27:25]

Liz Wolfe: So one of the things that Dr. Hanscom talked about in his book that I grappled with for a minute or two before I was like; ok, this guy knows everything. I’m going to do whatever he says to do.

One of the things he talked about was, as part of the process of getting better, was not talking about your pain. And when you talked about folks really identifying and becoming their diagnoses, identifying with and becoming; that is who they are, day in and day out, that kind of struck me. Because one of the questions I was going to ask you was; how do you detach from your diagnosis? That sounds great, but how do you do it?

And maybe part of it is what Dr. Hanscom was talking about. Which is these people in chronic pain, everything revolves around it. And look, having had one very temporary bout with TMJD, I cannot even imagine how, if I had that day to day my entire life, how I could keep from talking about it. Because I respect; I very much honor the magnitude of the pain that some people are in. But of his things despite that is; and he is somebody that had chronic pain, so he has been in it. He lost everything in life, and for 10 years didn’t know if he was going to make it to the next day. And he even says; don’t talk about your pain. Is that kind of a practical step you take to detach yourself from your diagnosis? What are the other ways people can do that practically in daily life?

Jennifer Robins: Well it was something that I grabbled with. Because I was a member of all these boards. And we shared our miseries with each other because it felt good to know that there was somebody else like you. And in the beginning, I feel like that’s ok. To some degree, you need to know that you're not the only person suffering in the world. Even though common sense tells you that there are many people who suffer far worse from you. It doesn’t feel like it. It’s a lonely place, and when you're trapped in bed or in your house and you can’t drive, which was my situation. I needed to know that there were other people like me.

But as time went on, I realized that staying in that space was really perpetuating my limitations, I guess. Even staying on Lyme treatment I felt like perpetuated that. I was just adding to a toxic body. I wasn’t making changes that I felt like were really helping me evolve or feel better. So my first step was actually leaving all of those groups. All of them. And that’s when I actually started blogging.

So I found this little loophole where I was doing something related to my sickness, but with a positive spin. And I didn’t actually know at that time that people blogged for a living. Or that they blogged where other people could see their stuff. It’s really weird, but I was basically making a chronicle; like a rolodex of online recipes. And it was for me to go back to. And then over time, I saw; my recipes would pop up on Pinterest and stuff. And I was like; how did that recipe of mine get all the way over there.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} How did it go from this part of internet to that part of internet?

Jennifer Robins: Right! Technology is crazy! So at that point, I was like oh! People are finding my recipes. Enough to want to pin them. Maybe even cook them one day. Maybe it’s a thing. So it kind of grew from there. But for me, blogging was like the positive distraction that made me not think about my illness. Even though it was something that started in order to help my illness.

But when I was connecting with in a positive light, because support boards, let’s be honest. They’re not necessarily offering support. And what happens on them, a lot of times, it’s like; “Well your doctor is horrible and you need to switch and your treatment is all wrong and your medication is off. You should see my doctor because my doctor is the best.” Which is being …

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. It can go from empowering to overwhelming very, very quickly. It’s kind of the same in a lot of VBAC type groups.

Jennifer Robins: Yes! Exactly. And then people are criticizing each other’s practitioners for doing things wrong. But they’re still in the same situation! You know, they’re still sick, and they’re saying, “My doctor’s the best.” It’s like, well why are you still in your situation? Shouldn’t you be healed? Or whatever.

So I’m not poo-pooing all support groups. But for me, what I found was that they were putting my headspace in a bad place. And they were making me connect too much to my diagnoses. So I did stop talking about it so much. And it’s hard, because then you're not venting. But it also makes you stop focusing on it quite as much.

So I think that’s a challenge. When you're having a really, really terrible day and you have a migraine. Which, unfortunately while we were on vacation, which could have had a little bit to do with the altitude, where we were. But I had three migraines in the time that we were away. But I didn’t stop doing what I was doing. It was important that I was present with my kids. I still got to video them skiing on the mountain for the first time. And then we’d come down the mountain and I’d load up on over the counter pharmaceuticals that may not be mentioned here. And then I’d lie in bed and pray for relief.

That’s real life. I had to do things to get by. And it’s not paleo, and it’s not an essential oil. Which, by the way, essential oils have never helped when I have my bad migraines. But I still embrace them. I still want to keep living my life. I still want to keep doing positive things. You know? So it’s hard. And it’s hard to talk yourself out of sick talk and switch over to feeling really positive when you just feel horrible. It’s hard. That is, again, more work than switching your diet or giving up gluten. By far.

Liz Wolfe: And it’s probably an interesting balance between; you don’t want to run away from the reality, but you also don’t want to wallow in your diagnoses. So striking that balance is, I would imagine, pretty difficult. Especially when have just the stuff of life. Like feeding your kids and cleaning your house and running a company {laughs}. As you happen to do, which I want to talk about. But striking that balance has to be; I don’t know, kind of tough. And also allowing yourself those moments where you're like; well, this ain’t paleo, this ain’t natural, but I’m going to load up on these pharmaceuticals, so I can get through this day with my family.

Jennifer Robins: Right. Exactly. And part of that is forgiveness. So that’s something else that we have such a hard time with. If I can’t be this person that I imagine, striving for perfection, and all of this BS that we’ve created in our own minds, that’s not even real but it’s some expectation that we’re now all trying to live up to. You know, sometimes it’s ok if your kid has more screen time than you really want them to have. Things like that that it’s funny to listen to new-age moms talk about what they will and won’t do, and like, “We don’t have any wireless internet because EMFs and this and that.” And it’s like, everybody has to do their best. And that is all we can do. And sometimes, your best is nothing. {laughs} Sometimes your best is checking out, so that you're not screaming at your kids, and just retreating to another room and being like; “I don’t care what happens the rest of the day. Please don’t burn the house down. I’ll be in here.”

Liz Wolfe: I like that. I think that’s good. The house is intact at the end of the day. Everybody’s fine. We’re good.

Jennifer Robins: Right. We’re all fine.

Liz Wolfe: Everybody’s fine. It’s fine. {laughs}

Jennifer Robins: It’s fine.

7. Legit Bread Company [36:10]

Liz Wolfe: Ok so I want to talk a little bit; a lot bit about Legit Bread Company. Because this is a business that you started. I think a lot of people with chronic illness probably would never even imagine starting a business.

Jennifer Robins: Because they’re smarter. They’re smarter than me. That’s right.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} Look. Hey, it’s all good. I want to talk about the product, but first I want to talk about why it was the right time for this to happen. Because I know it was something that you’d been thinking about.

Jennifer Robins: Ooh. Where do we go from here?

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. You're like; I didn’t know we were going to talk about this.

Jennifer Robins: Yeah. So it was something that I thought about. It was a recipe that I had written for a cookbook. And what happened was people went a little nutty over it. Because they were desperate for sandwich bread. And I understand that. Especially as a mom. I totally understand that because that is the easy meal to send in a lunch. And there still aren’t really a lot of great products out there that are suitable. Especially for grain free. There are plenty of gluten free breads. Most of them have evaporated cane juice and some kind of unpronounceable preservative, or whatever.

But as far as paleo approved breads, there were just a couple on the market. They all pretty much have nuts, which is a red flag for me for a number of reasons. But I don’t think that bread made of nuts is necessarily nutritious. And I think it’s really overdoing it. It’s also not safe for kids with nut allergies, obviously. And it’s not safe for schools that are nut-free.

So I just kind of grappled with it for a while. And then Simone, of Zenbelly, and I had written the New Yiddish Kitchen, which had a killer bagel recipe. And then there is a situation where somebody “borrowed” that recipe and started making money off of it. And it was just sort of everything coming to a head. And I just said; you know what? Enough. If somebody is going to make my products, it’s going to be me.

And I don’t know that the timing was necessarily good timing, but it was just the timing. So it’s complicated. It’s the hardest thing; it makes food blogging and cookbook writing look like a day at the beach with a pina colada.

Liz Wolfe: I can’t even imagine. I had plans to try and bring some skincare to market at one point; but it is just too much. I didn’t have the stuff for it. And you just consistently have this stuff for so many things. I’m just like; you're the most impressive person I know, first of all. But it’s just so incredible.

Jennifer Robins: No! {laughs} No, no, no. It is so hard. It’s harder probably than almost anything that I’ve done because there are so many moving parts. And I am my only employee. And again, if we go back to me being a people pleaser and wanting people to be really happy and satisfied when a loaf of bread shows up and it’s damaged, or it sat outside too long and it has mold. It chips away at my heart. And it’s hard to separate that, because I don’t have a customer service person right now where I can just say; “Yo, handle it. Send another order them. It’s me. I answer every email. I order all of the ingredients. I outsource the actual manufacturing, because I needed them to be in a safe place. And I need them to be in a kosher, gluten free, nut free facility. But I do everything else. And it is horrible sometimes. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Jennifer Robins: But I think it’s horrible because my standard is really high. And the end product is so important to me. And it’s going into people’s bodies. So, there are entrepreneurs who I look up to so much, like Sarah Blakely. Who started Spanx. She is such an idol to me in terms of her entrepreneurial spirit, and her drive, and her ability to say yes when everybody around her says no. Which is also my experience a lot of the time.

But she’s also serving a general population who wants a flatter tummy. So the pressure to make sure that those people are safe is not really there. Unless there’s like a circulatory issue, and some body part needs to be cut off. But overall, anybody who is using Spanx is going to be safe.

But with my products, I’m dealing with such a specialized customer who has allergies, and autoimmune disease, and who can be so sick from such little exposure to things. I think the pressure is even more to make sure that I’m doing it right. And I’m expecting some really positive things in 2018. But 2017, which was the first full year of the business, everything that could go wrong went wrong.

I lost both of my manufacturers; have two different ones. I have one that was doing mixes, and one that was doing bread loaves. And I found out on a Monday that I needed to have four pallets of dry ingredients out by Wednesday of that week, because the dry mix manufacturer was closing its doors and lost funding.

And then I had to let go my baker, as well, for some other reasons. So I’ve been in this transitional period for months now, since the end of September. And it’s painful. But I also know that this is a pivotal part of my own growth with the company. And it’s forced me to find even better producers for the product. So it’s a silver lining, but like somebody said, growth is really painful. And when I heard those words, it finally hit me that all of this stress and weekly tears, and just feeling like I can’t do this anymore, should I just give up? That growth is painful. It’s really true. No matter what it is. Whether it’s parenthood or illness or just growing as an individual. And when I started looking at it that way, it helped shift my perspective into; ok. This is a short-term situation. So everything that’s horrible right now is actually a building block for something that’s incredible that’s just on the horizon.

Liz Wolfe: That’s really interesting, and I love that perspective on it. As you were speaking, I kind of thought to myself it’s so true. I think I spent most of my life up until becoming a parent in a very safe range. {laughs} I had a very specific equilibrium and I stayed in that range. And then as you know, becoming a parent throws you completely out of that. And it’s basically the world being like; ha-ha. Figure it out now.

This almost sounds scary, and maybe it’s a little oversimplified. But it’s almost; I think it’s true to say that if you're not in a little bit of pain, then you're not growing. And in conceptualizing it that way, we can also say, and that is good. If you're feeling a little mixed up, and you're in a little bit of pain, you're in the right place. So you can at least take a little bit of comfort in that. At least that’s what I feel like I’ve been trying to tell myself the last two years.

Jennifer Robins: No, it’s true. Because all of it is taking a chance. Bringing a human into the world is taking a huge chance on testing your boundaries. And putting this responsibility to be responsible for another human. And being an entrepreneurial person is the same thing. It’s taking a huge risk that something you believe could be great will actually come to fruition. And there’s not a guarantee in that.

So, you know, we moved back to the Midwest, which is very different from D.C. And I was very depressed to move back here for a few reasons. But I said when we were coming back that I’m going to focus on my health and on building this business. Because we’re here for two years. I’m probably not going to meet my best friend here. You know, of this assignment. So I’m just going to focus on things close to my heart, and not focus on the outside world in my hood so much.

But what I’ve seen is interesting. The Midwest has the salt of the earth people. But I am surrounded by people who have never moved from this little small town. They were raised here. Their parents were raised here. They are comfortable. They’re comfortable with very moderate financial situation. And their content. Which I admire in a lot of ways. But I feel like I wouldn’t be content with that contentment. Does that make sense? {laughs}

8. Micro focus on life [46:34]

Liz Wolfe: Yes, it does. I want to go back to something that you said just a second ago, where you were like; I have two years. This is what my focus is going to be for these two years. And when you said that, I thought to myself; I feel like a lot of people. Not just those who suffer from chronic illness, but anybody. Anybody who is concerned about the political landscape right now. Anybody who is concerned about the world. The future of their kids. There’s this tendency to look so far ahead, where it’s like; things will never be ok. Or I don’t know how long it will take. Or, what is this world coming to, and will we all suffer while it ends.

Jennifer Robins: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: You have two years. I’m pretty sure we all have a year. Or two years. Or two weeks. Or whatever it is. You can pick that. You can say, “These two years are going to be about my health, and this work.” And I feel like that’s a really good mindset for a lot of people. Especially now, since this is going to come out right around the new year. People, we’ve got a week. You’ve got a year. You’ve got two years. Don’t look so far ahead and concern yourself with what it’s probably going to look like here to there. Take that micro focus. Do you know what I’m saying?

Jennifer Robins: Right. And that’s just a goal setting thing, too. Like, ok, for people who are concerned with the political climate; what can you do on your own that makes you feel better about that situation? Or if it’s just anything that’s beyond your control. This move was out of my control, unless I want to not be with my family anymore. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Jennifer Robins: This is just part of being a military spouse. But that doesn’t mean I was happy about it. And it was truly the hardest move that we’ve made. Because we left a place that we were all happy. So I was dealing with my own dissatisfaction, to put it mildly, and I was dealing with my kids leaving their community, and their gymnastic team, and their best friends. All of these great things.

So when you're spiraling out of control like that, there is one part of you that I guess you just have to give into the fact that you really have nothing in your control. But there’s another part that makes me want to focus on things I can control maybe a little bit. So I can make a decision every day to really bring it on in, and focus on nutrition. And I can control working on things that I provide to my readers, or my audience, in my little quiet country home that I’m living in. {laughs}

So that was my way of finding something that, I guess brought me comfort. It’s like; ok, I don’t have to relate to everybody where I’m moving. And it’s a short period of time. So let me find something that’s positive that’s going to make me feel good about my time being spent where I don’t want to spend it.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Well, we took a little tangent there, but I like it.

Jennifer Robins: Yeah, I ‘m sorry, I do that.

Liz Wolfe: No, I totally took it there too. I love it. It’s just never about one thing. There’s always, what is it? Contributing factors. There’s always context. So that’s one of the things I love doing with this podcast, is taking it there. So there you go.

Jennifer Robins: There you go.

Liz Wolfe: Well we are rounding out the podcast now. I want to thank you so much for coming on with me today and talking about everything, from chronic illness to Legit Bread Company. We love having you on. And if you could just tell folks where to find your blog, your books, and your bread.

Jennifer Robins: Yes. So the blog is www.PredominantlyPaleo.com. Legit Bread can be found at www.LegitBreadCompany.com. And there’s also a list of retailers. So if you're trying to find somebody local to you, there’s a list under the retailer tab. All of the mixes are also available on Amazon. Amazon Prime. And I’m working on expanding to Europe right now, which could be very exciting for Amazonians over there. Can I say that? That’s not a PC thing, right?

Liz Wolfe: I have no idea. Sounded fine to me.

Jennifer Robins: Ok. And then the books are all on Amazon, wherever books are sold. There are four out there right now, and there’s another one coming, in the fall.

Liz Wolfe: You heard it here first, people!

Jennifer Robins: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: So excited. Thank you so much, friend.

Jennifer Robins: I’m so glad to be a part of this.

Dr. Scott Mills: The Balanced Bites podcast is pleased to welcome a brand new sponsor; Equip Foods and Perfect Keto. Dr. Anthony Gustin and his teams have created lines of supplements that are super clean and effective, no matter what your dietary needs. In the coming weeks and months, Diane and Liz will be telling you how they’re incorporating these supplements into their daily lives, as well as offering some specials for our listeners. In the meantime, check them out at www.PerfectKeto.com and www.EquipFoods.com.

Liz Wolfe: That’s it for this week. You can find me, Liz, at http://realfoodliz.com/, Diane at http://dianesanfilippo.com. Jen at www.PredominantlyPaleo.com. Join our email lists for free goodies and updates that you don’t find anywhere else on our website or on the podcast. And hey, if you love tuning in each week, as a gift to us this season, would you do us a quick favor and hop onto the Apple podcast app to leave us a review. It really helps new listeners find our show. See you next week.

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