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hopewella nutritional medicine CIRS

I didn’t start THIS until I was 38 because of CIRS…

I never considered myself “athletic” per se. I was an active kid and was involved in softball, gymnastics and cheerleading. I always looked at my peers who were playing sports every season of the year…now those kids were athletic. I just liked some stuff that happened to move my body.

I did strength training, yoga, and HIIT for years, but when I was 27 something happened. I was helping to demo a house for a family member who had just bought a new house and was renovating. To save money on the costs they decided to rip things out themselves and my husband and I offered to help. Hit things with a sledge hammer?! Sounds awesome! We uncovered some black mold and we knew that wasn’t good. The thing we didn’t know is how NOT good it really was.

I started developing some serious chronic fatigue, started having food sensitivities I never had, depression, weird taste in my mouth no one could identify, GI problems and fibromyalgia. I also started having hormone problems and couldn’t get pregnant. Luckily, almost a year after trying I did eventually get pregnant with medical intervention.

It started with the fatigue. I was absolutely done for the day by noon. The kind of tired where you could literally sit on the couch and drool or cry…that tired. I didn’t understand what was happening to me and I didn’t even consider it was the mold because I wasn’t the one directly working with it anyway. Over the years I got worse and worse gaining new symptoms every so often, new food intolerances, etc. I went to 13 doctors/specialists and every single one of them couldn’t find a damn thing wrong with me. “All my labs were normal.”

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how I do what I do today. I turned to functional medicine and an expert, now a mentor, who identified that all these random symptoms over the years were called CIRS, or Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. It is a multi-symptom, multi-system inflammatory condition that stems from…you guessed it…mold toxicity (or other biotoxin exposure). Other than the fatigue, it was such a slow fade of symptoms over the years, it wasn’t something I would have even thought was the problem. The reason it gets worse is because a small percentage of the population happen to have a genetic profile that makes it difficult to detox the mold, so it basically recirculates in your system causing all kind of inflammation and damage.

Even with managing the symptoms, functional medicine and nutrition were the ONLY things that helped me at the time. I’m absolutely not against western docs, and there are western docs that specialize in it, but less than 50 are certified in CIRS in the whole entire country and the expert I saw was the only one in the state I was living in. That’s a recipe for having a condition that almost no one knows about or understands so that you can get help.

I now am trained to screen this in my practice, thankfully, I’ve identified several who turned out to have CIRS. Few have this training and I’m grateful to be able to help others who, like me, have doctor shopped for years, if not decades, with no help.

But I digress…

What’s the thing I didn’t do until I was 38?


I’ve never been a runner. My activities required short sprints, but no real running or endurance training. I’d never wanted to run…no desire to run…couldn’t even imagine the idea of running and did NOT care.

However, when you all of a sudden physically can’t do something, that’s when you realize you took something for granted. At my worst, I couldn’t even do mild exercise for more than 15 minutes or I would be down for 2 days. This included a “restorative” yoga practice for 30 minutes. Couldn’t do it.

It made being a mother and wife extremely difficult, and finding hope in all the wrong places gets tiring for loved ones to hear about. They want to be supportive, but not only do they not understand the difficulty of being in that kind of health condition, they also stop getting their hopes up for you. This isn’t because they’ve given up on you, but they hate to see you disappointed when another thing doesn’t work. I promised myself that if I ever got better I would start running…because I could.

I started to get treated for CIRS. It’s not an overnight thing, and it often feels like it isn’t doing anything…until one day (about 18 months later) I went for a run…and I could do it. Not only did it not ruin the rest of my day from overdoing it, it didn’t ruin my next day either.

My fatigue got better. Slowly.

My fibromyalgia went away.

That weird taste in my mouth went away.

I’m still moving forward with treatment and it is SLOW, but I have more of my life back today than before.

Here’s the other part to this story. I did strength training, yoga and HIIT (when I could do it) for years. I still had neck and shoulder pain sometimes, back pain, poor posture. All that changed when I was able to add running into my repertoire. Not to say you can’t get rid of those things other ways, but I’m not a physical therapist or skilled personal trainer.

The changes in my posture and my pain decreased within a month. I always make sure to stretch my quads, hams, and psoas muscles after. I take my favorite Electrolytes and Amino Acid recovery powder to rehydrate and reduce soreness. If you’re a client, shoot me a message in the portal so I can send you the info!

What are amino acids? Amino acids are the individual molecules that form to create proteins. We need amino acids for enzymes, neurotransmitters, hormones and tissue recovery. Tissue recovery includes muscle repair as well as replacement of cells in all of our tissues (heart, stomach, intestine, etc.). This is why eating protein is important; to maintain these things.

After a workout, taking these AA helps your muscles recover more quickly to reduce soreness. I’ve noticed a big difference when I use them.

All this to say, if you feel good, take advantage of the freedom to move your body or do something new and make healthy choices. I’ve developed a love for running after literally turning my nose up at it my whole life. Now…I have no plans to go 5K crazy or run a marathon…I’m not THAT into running, but I love a 30-minute jaunt around my neighborhood and feel great afterwards.

What did I use to get started? There are a couple of things I used, but feel free to check with a running coach (and your doc) to make sure these are okay for you first:

1) Beachbody on Demand (BOD) has “30 Day Breakaway” that includes both running and weight training.

2) I got an Aaptiv workout through Audible, but Aaptiv also has their own app. The one I used is “5K Training” with Rochelle. I prefer this one because the music is WAY more fun and energizing, plus I got it free on Audible vs. paying $100/yr for BOD.

3) An acquaintance of mine used the Nike Run Club App when she started running.

Lot’s of options to get started, but no matter what the thing is that you want to do, it’s never too late to start. Just put it on the calendar and go, I’ll always cheer you on!

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Autumn is the Founder and CEO of HopeWella Nutrition in Los Angeles, California. Featured in publications, podcasts and documentaries, such as Eat Play Diet, she is well-known in and around Southern California as a nutritional specialist in the areas if Digestive Health, Hormone Balance, Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Nutritional Genetics and Metabolic Health.

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