#70: Societal-Level Solutions to Burnout with Angie Alt

Societal-Level Solutions to Burnout with Angie Alt

When it comes to burnout, no amount of bubble baths are going to help while we’re still living in a world that demands so much (too much!) from women – and at a fraction of the paycheck. In this episode Angie Alt shares about taking personal responsibility to create change in the world…not just for ourselves, but at a societal level.

You’ll hear about:

  • How Angie views her work in the autoimmune community as a form of activism
  • Why societal level solutions are needed to address burnout
  • The importance of community care
  • The intersection between health, wellness and feminism

Mentioned in this episode:

  • Exclusive for She’s Got Power listeners: Get 4 of my favorite Annmarie Skincare products in a $19.99 bundle at ShesGotPower.com/skincarebundle – quantities are limited!

Connect with Angie:


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Angie (00:00):
The reality is we need policy and reform at like a national level in order to address it. And I think that's really true about burnout too. You know, we saw, like for instance, a lot of women, especially with young kids who went through this pandemic period, they just got to the other side and they just couldn't continue forward. And a lot of that is about the policies that we have in place that are it's too much expectation, no amount of bubble baths, bubble baths, and yeah, no amount of bubble baths in boundary setting is gonna help women get through that. We need something that's at a higher level.
Michelle (00:39):
It's time to stop being the victim of your overscheduled life and become the most powerful version of yourself. Welcome to she's got power.
Michelle (00:54):
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Michelle (02:29):
Last week, I was talking about this idea of paving your own path. And in this season of the she's got power podcast, you're gonna hear from women who are doing just that, including today's guest, Angie alt. Angie is an entrepreneur. She's an autoimmune protocol specialist, researcher, and activist, and she's just smart. , you know, she's just such a smart person. I met Angie through the AIP certified coach training that I did last year. You're gonna hear about why I, I knew I needed special training in autoimmune disease in this episode and how it's made a world of difference for my clients, but bigger than any of that, we talked about taking personal responsibility to create change in the world, not just for ourselves, but at a societal level, when it comes to burnout, you know, it's like no amount of bubble bass. They're gonna do the trick while we're still living in a world that demands so much too much from women and at a fraction of the paycheck. I want you to listen in particular to Angie's definition of politics and think about how you can get involved at a larger level, how we can collectively lift each other up because alone we're thinking,
Michelle (03:48):
Hey Angie, thanks for being here. Yeah.
Angie (03:51):
Thanks so much for inviting me, Michelle.
Michelle (03:53):
I knew you were a perfect person to have on this show for this season in particular and nothing summed it up better for me than when I saw in your Instagram bio, that you describe yourself as aware of big girl panties . So where does that come from?
Angie (04:09):
So that's something that I've been saying for a long time, a lot of years, longer than a decade, longer than I've been, uh, actually working in this space. And it's just meant to kind of, you know, emphasize that I care a lot about taking personal responsibility and really being willing to get in there and do the hard work, you know, like Brene brown talks about the quote about being in the arena. I'm one of the people who really wants to emphasize getting in the arena and really, really going for it. Not just being somebody who talks about what the problems are, but somebody who takes it upon themselves to try to solve the problem,
Michelle (04:48):
To do something about it.
Angie (04:49):
Yes. To do something about it.
Michelle (04:51):
Yep. Okay. So my next question, have you always been this way?
Angie (04:54):
Yeah. I pretty much have yeah, yeah. That's, it's, it's pretty much me, you know, I think another thing that's in my Instagram bio is that I consider myself to be an activist and that's on a lot of fronts, but particularly what I do in health and wellness space, what I do in my work for the autoimmune community, that's really activism my, you know, creating a business in this space and looking to get research going about the autoimmune protocol and figuring out how we can change the standard of care for autoimmune disease. That's really all just activism. That's me trying to solve the problem. .
Michelle (05:30):
So were you like 11 years old in middle school? Like solving problems? I'm just picturing like a life of this.
Angie (05:38):
Yeah. I was definitely the kind of person who, uh, spoke up a lot when I was a kid spoke up for things I cared about a lot and was always trying to figure out like, how do I like show people what I've learned in a way that like empowers them and helps them also be part of the problem solving? I think in my senior year book, I got voted like most likely to become a politician. I definitely, I definitely did not go in the politician route, but maybe some of that same, like let's solve this problem underlying framework was there. Yeah.
Michelle (06:14):
Amazing. And, and there are pros and cons, you know, when you're a person who gets in their arena. So it, it sounds like a, a very noble thing and it, and it is, it's a very cool character trait. And at the same time, I wonder, have there been points where it burns you out?
Angie (06:30):
Yeah, absolutely. I'm so glad you asked that in fact about that. I mean, I think being a very passionate person who's really willing to get in and do the work and do their best to solve a problem. That's affecting more than themselves. There's a very high chance for, for burnout to occur. I think you're kind of at a, at a higher risk for that to happen. And, you know, I would love to, I would love to tell your audience that I've like magically figured it out and I avoid burnout now. And I'm great at managing that, but it's not always true. I, you know, sometimes my passion gets pretty ahead of me and I find myself in a pretty burnt out spot. Yeah.
Michelle (07:11):
Has there ever been like a rock bottom point, maybe that changed the way that you were managing yourself managing your time?
Angie (07:19):
Yeah. I mean, I think I've gone through a couple rock bottom points, to be honest. I'm, I'm just like starting to come out of one. I think a lot of us right now are really, are really facing that. Just everything we're, we're going through as a, as a country, as a world collectively, um, with the pandemic and everything. I think that that a lot of us are struggling with that even kind of, regardless of our, maybe like personality set points and ambitions, but yeah, I mean, I'm, I think I'm learning each time and finding ways to tweak it a little bit more each time. I'm also starting to formulate new opinions about burnout. And I, you know, it's not necessarily something that I've articulated very much and shared with my community yet, but I kind of feel like we have a really big emphasis on burnout being an individual's problem and individual needs to set better boundaries and individual needs to manage their time better. You know, they need to say no more, whatever, you know, that, you know, all the stuff mm-hmm that we read in every single article about how to manage burnout. But from my perspective, when you get to the point where large groups, many, many members of the society are experiencing burnout regularly, this is particularly true for women
Michelle (08:36):
Angie (08:36):
I think, I think when, when you see a problem, that's like at a societal level, you have to stop expecting an individual process to be the answer to it. Sure. There's personal responsibility and there's things that you should do on your own to try to manage, um, something like that, or even avoid burnout. But I think we might have like a societal level problem and we need societal level solutions.
Michelle (09:01):
Yes. Oh, let's talk more about that. It, when you were describing it just now I had the thought of an individual deciding to not use a plastic straw and that's all well and good, but when it comes to the environment, like we need change at a high, much higher level.
Angie (09:15):
Yes, totally, totally. That's exactly right. It's not that you can't do anything at the individual level to try to address a problem like that. But the reality is we need policy and reform at a much, much higher level at like a national level in order to address it. And I think that's really true about burnout too. You know, we saw like for instance, a lot of women, especially with young kids who went through this pandemic period, they just got to the other side and they just couldn't continue forward. And a lot of that is about the policies that we have in place that are it's too much expectation, no amount of
Michelle (09:54):
Bubble baths, bubble baths and
Angie (09:56):
Yeah, no amount of bubble baths and boundary setting is gonna help women get through that. We need something that's at a higher level. This kind of feeds into my whole thing about community care
Michelle (10:07):
Yes. Let's talk community care. So like, one thing that comes to mind is affordable childcare,
Angie (10:12):
Michelle (10:13):
That's right up there. What
Angie (10:14):
Else? Right. Exactly. Affordable childcare, equitable pay for women so that they get valued for the same kind of work, right? Putting policies in place that help us in terms of healthcare and education that make it easier for women to get the support they need or the resources they need to, to go further and care for their families. Well, and not be, you know, managing multiple burdens at one time. I think that this came out of my experience, working in the health and wellness space. The longer I did this work, the more I saw that there are many levers that an individual can pull to increase their, their quality of life and get closer to an ideal level of health. But a lot of the inputs are at a social level at a societal level and they need a societal solution. Like there are things further upstream in the river that need to be addressed so that folks don't get, get ill and have their health and wellness compromised in the first place. I'm just starting to see so many areas where that lens applies. For instance, burnout, like is burnout really about all these women and men who didn't set a good enough boundary or say no enough times and didn't manage their email inbox efficiently enough. Is it really about that? Or is it like a bigger problem that we have?
Michelle (11:39):
Yes, absolutely. So tell me more about the term community care, because that implies that societal level change. And it also sounds like taking care of each other, not just ourselves.
Angie (11:52):
Yes. Yeah, exactly. So I think, you know, probably in the last like five to six years, I started kind of shifting more and more my focus and definitely my like public facing work in health and wellness space to kind of emphasize this more. I felt like we had kind of, we had kind of overemphasized we'd gone too far in the direction of self-care and the, and the self-care talk. And I saw it all over social media and I saw it on websites and I know that it was emphasized in a lot of coaching and nutritional therapy spaces that I was in in. And the more I wor you know, I, one of the big things that I did in the last 10 years was develop a group program for helping people go transition to the autoimmune protocol and kind of get there from the standard American diet.
Angie (12:48):
And then in a group space with group support, fully adopt the protocol and start to kind of see positive changes in terms of managing their autoimmune diseases. And the longer I did that work and the more I saw the like social media emphasis on selfcare, the more I was like, actually, no, like we're too far that direction. We need to do some correction and, and get a little more towards the community side because I saw how powerful that was. You know, community is a form of medicine. Uh, most of us believe that food is a form of medicine. Community is also a form of medicine. And pouring into that I saw had bigger impacts than when people were just individually trying to pull those levers. I think the thing that's hard, the message that's hard about community care for like the general public is, oh, I have to help even more people like I can barely help myself, but when we're kind of all putting in that the burden is, is spread out. And I think you see more people able to enjoy a happier, healthier life
Michelle (13:53):
You're so right there is that medicine and community. And as much as we may be lacking nutrient dense foods or whatever in the food system and healthcare that isn't just hell bent and giving you pharmaceuticals, we're missing community. Yeah. We are our culture of what are your favorite five shows and then watch it on your little device. Just you, no one else and personalized, personalized, personalized. Yeah. But what about this larger world that we're in and everybody around us?
Angie (14:24):
Yeah. I mean, we need connection. You know, Mickey Truscott is my partner at autoimmune wellness and AIP certified coach when we were researching and writing the autoimmune wellness handbook. You know, we got to the section of the book where we talked about connection as a pillar of the autoimmune protocol as a lifestyle pillar connection, both to humans and to nature. And as I was doing research for parts of that section of the book, you know, I read about how our brain registers disconnection from other humans, like the end of a relationship or the passing of a loved one, our brains register it the same way we register physical pain, you can treat it with ibuprofen. And that was really a powerful piece of information to me. I thought, oh, it's really like crucial. That community aspect is incredibly crucial. Our body thinks it's a threat, just like getting our arm broken. That was probably, you know, that was like an early 2016. That was probably when I started to like, change how I talked about it publicly. Like, let's stop talking about whether or not you set enough boundaries and took enough bubble baths. Like let's start talking about what we can do to be in community and support ourselves through community care,
Michelle (15:42):
That transition that you seem to have made, not transition, but the way they've sewn together, health and wellness, and then this larger, like political view. Yeah. I completely agree with you. Like I thought for a long time, I'm not a political person. Mm-hmm I probably even said that. And then it was probably, oh gosh. When Bernie Sanders was running and somebody said like, if you care about where your food comes from, you're into politics. And that just made me sit up and listen. Yeah. Like I was like, wait, what? Like, I never thought of it that way. And yes, I've been helping women like eat more vegetables and set those boundaries and yet take care of themselves. But I was like, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. You know, so there's a strong intersection between health wellness and then feminism and feminist issues. Mm-hmm and political issues. I mean, most of what I see speaking about, like in your social feed has nothing to do with food per se.
Angie (16:35):
Mm-hmm mm-hmm yeah, that's true. Like the longer I did this work, the more I emphasize those kinds of political messages, because it, we political has like a lot of connotations in our country. Right. But the truth is politics is really just humans talking about how to organize themselves and organize policy. And those policies have direct impacts on our health and wellness. They are the further upstream. They are the more powerful lever for us to pull in terms of feeling our best and, and functioning well as individuals and as a society. And that made me wanna talk about those things more and point out how we in this professional space could draw the connections and help our communities kind of expand their, their concept around what impacts health and wellness.
Michelle (17:29):
So there's one issue that's been pretty big lately, and everyone's talking about it, this anti diet culture message, the body positivity. And actually my last scene season of the podcast, we talked extensively about this dichotomy between I wanna take care of myself and make good decisions. And on the other hand, I don't wanna succumb to a message from society telling me that I have to be a size zero and spend my whole life striving for that. So is, is it like a one or the other? Is it a yes. And kind of situation, and particularly since you're so involved with the AIP world, and this is a very specific, fairly restrictive diet, how do you think about that issue?
Angie (18:09):
Yeah. I mean, I, I think it's just like so many things in our world right now where there's like a really, there's definitely a, a segment anyway, of, of our world. That's like really wants there to be black and white answers, right. Like either or answers, but most of life is like a lot of nuance. Most of life is happening in the gray area. Right. And I don't think that it's anti diet or AIP. Like, I, I actually think that the two things can, uh, exist together. I also think something that's really important about the autoimmune protocol differently than maybe other dietary protocols or, or diet mentalities, the autoimmune protocol, we are not utilizing this diet. So we look better naked, right? Like we're not utilizing this diet so we can get to that. Supposedly magical size zero. You know, we're not getting our summer bodies ready.
Angie (19:06):
Like mm-hmm, , we are doing this because we have diseases. Some of them are life threatening. Some of them are gonna have a very detrimental impact on quality of life. And they are not curable. People will have to manage those diseases for the rest of their lives. And the autoimmune protocol is a tool to help with disease management and as best as possible restore a higher quality of life. And it's not the only tool in the box, you know, again, back to that either or dog model community, right? Yeah. Like we, when Mickey and Dr. Sarah Valentine and I teach AIP certified coach, when we instruct other coaches about using this protocol, one of the things we emphasize, I'm sure you remember this, Michelle is that we're not into the dogma of only conventional approaches to managing autoimmune disease are only, you know, a dietary approach, actually, any tool in the box used thoughtfully to get you to a higher quality of life, despite need to manage this disease for the rest of your life is worth it. And I think the same kind of thing kind of replies to the anti diet movement. I think that there's a way to combine and it's important to understand what is the purpose and motivation of the particular protocol.
Michelle (20:27):
I like what you said about quality of life. I mean, that might be a good litmus test is the thing I'm doing leading to a better quality, like truly leading to a better quality of life. Is it like, yeah. Dropping one dress size? Is that really a quality of life thing?
Angie (20:44):
Yeah. Or is, you know, like if I could, could manage most of my symptoms of my autoimmune disease and maybe be able to get off of medication or lower my medication dose and have to worry less about any potential side effects. And I can, I can feel my best. I can play with my kids. I can yeah. You know, show up in my profession and feel like I'm functioning. Well, I can be more present with my partner, whatever it is that is a major quality of life improvement. That's probably worth some, you know, temporary changes to your diet while you learn what's what best supports your health,
Michelle (21:18):
Right. Especially in the case, autoimmune disease, women are muddling through the brain fog and the lack of energy and the aches and the pains. I mean, it's a real, real quality of life issue. Yeah. Um, I sometimes sometimes share, you know, my mother stayed in bed for 10 years. She missed out on my whole, you know, high school into college. She just wasn't really there. She missed out on life for a decade. And yeah, I think I might change a couple foods that I'm eating and this isn't diet culture.
Angie (21:46):
No, no, it's, it's completely, it's a completely different basis than motivation. You know, like we're not giving up croissants because we wanna, you know, wear a tinier swimsuit. We're giving up croissants to figure out what will best fuel our bodies and what will help us achieve a higher quality of life so we can get out of bed.
Michelle (22:08):
Yes. It's not too much to ask right now.
Angie (22:10):
That's not too much to ask
Michelle (22:11):
And if we want societal change and we want women sitting in seats of power, my God, they need to be able to get out of bed. And can you remind us the percentages of women dealing with autoimmune disease?
Angie (22:22):
Yeah. So about of the there's approximately 50 to 55 million Americans in the United States with a, with diagnosed autoimmune disease. That is not all the people who do not have a diagnosis yet. And, you know, autoimmune disease kind of exists on a spectrum. And when people are early on that spectrum, they often don't get a diagnosis. It's not till they're, you know, quite sick and dealing with a lot of the impact of the disease. That's according to the American autoimmune disease, it's a AR da, what is it? Research? And gosh, I forgot lots of letters. Yeah. I forgot their whole acronym. But anyways, and of those of that 50 to 55 million, 75% of them are women. The reason that women tend to suffer autoimmune disease at a higher rate is because of the nature of our hormonal system and how much it changes over life. We're very vulnerable at puberty at pregnancy and postpartum and again, at menopause for developing autoimmune disease.
Michelle (23:18):
Yes. And that's one reason that I took your course because so many of my clients through the years, yes, everybody was feeling better when, you know, we stopped drinking the diet Coke and drank more water cetera. But so many of them actually had autoimmune diseases going on and I saw the increase over time and thought, what the heck is going on? You know, this is a much bigger issue and, and it is a feminist issue because it's affecting women disproportionately.
Angie (23:44):
Michelle (23:44):
Exactly. It's a big, big deal. I know you have personal experience here. You're out there writing books, creating courses, you're out there as an activist and a researcher. And what's been most important for you lately in terms of managing your own autoimmune diseases.
Angie (24:00):
Well, you know, speaking of those, those periods of, in our life where we have more vulnerability, I'm in the Peria menopausal phase at this point, I'm 43, I'll be 44 in six more months. And I noticed over the last, like three years around the time I turned 40, something started to change. And the way I had been managing my autoimmune diseases, particularly like in sclerosis. So I have a skin condition, that's an autoimmune disease. The way I had been managing it previously, which was really successful with just diet and lifestyle measures alone had started to change. And I was having more trouble as my hormones shifted. And as I got further into per menopause, I realized, oh, I'm gonna need to go back to a specialist and find out what I need to do. And I did actually end up adding some medication and it made all the difference. I got back into remission and I realized that's a it's okay. Like all the tools in the box are what's most important. And as my life changes and my body changes, I need to adjust my approach.
Michelle (25:04):
I think that's a very, very intelligent way. I love the way you guys stress that all the tools in the toolbox, it never has to be one or the other cuz sometimes in the holistic health and wellness world. Yeah. They get very hell bent on, oh no, I'm gonna solve this with herbs or, or nothing. Yeah. And it doesn't have to be that way. It it's so beautiful that it can all coexist.
Angie (25:25):
Yeah, for sure. I, you know, in particular, one of the most theory, the, the most prevalent autoimmune disease is Hashimotos thyroiditis. And I mean, I'm sure you've noticed in your own practice, it's, it's practically an epidemic. And just only last week, you know, we came out with information from the EPA saying, oh, there's some, there's a group of chemicals called forever chemicals that previously we said were not super impactful to human health, but now we realize that it has a very, very big impact on human health. One of the areas that it impacts is thyroid function. And so that explains in part why we have this. So again, now we're at a societal level. Like we need to pull the lever on policy that protects people from that, like an individual can't make enough decisions to support her health and wellness to overcome that. Right.
Michelle (26:13):
A lifetime of exposure to a chemical that nobody was testing
Angie (26:17):
Properly. Yeah, exactly. And nobody was recognizing what an impact it was having on women. Right. And then the thing at the individual level is, you know, I've seen so many women in the Hashi's community try to manage with diet and lifestyle alone and just really struggle, really struggle to, to show up and be their best self and feel, you know, that they were living a high quality life and that medication, I mean the, the thyroid hormone is so crucial to so many processes in our body and like getting, getting medication on board and properly dosed is so important and worth it. So being open to combining to achieve your, your health goals, I think is a very important message that we try to emphasize a
Michelle (27:04):
Lot. That's an important message for everybody listening. Uh, I, I never wanted to go there too strongly in the natural holistic yeah. Woo, woo direction. When we have so many smart people working in so many areas yeah. To, to create different forms of help. And we didn't even get into, but like spiritual, um, there's all these other realms of healing. Yes. Which, you know, sometimes we don't think about, but that could be just as important as yes. The pharmaceutical.
Angie (27:32):
Yep. Yeah. I think I'm sure you've seen me, like, you know, going off about it on, on social media, Michelle, but like a lot of us in this space refer to ourselves as holistic practitioners, holistic means whole all, all of it consider all the tools. And so often I see folks using that word, but then not practicing in an, in a truly holistic fashion. And I'm always like, you're using that word, but I don't think you, you know, what it means like
Michelle (28:02):
You're excluding in the other way.
Angie (28:04):
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Michelle (28:04):
Oh, that's fascinating. So for our listeners, and I know I have many listeners who are either dealing with autoimmune disease or know someone who is where would be the best place for them to go to learn more about the work that you're doing, cuz you're doing a lot of good
Angie (28:17):
Work. Yeah. For anybody who's just like interested in learning about the autoimmune protocol for themselves, getting resources for it. They can go to autoimmune wellness.com. That's my website with Mickey Truscott. Um, at the bottom of every page on the site, you can subscribe to our newsletter. You'll get a quick start guide with lots of resources, for any coaches or other practitioners in your community who are entrusted in training for the autoimmune protocol. They can go to AIP, certified.com and join our wait list. There you'll be the first to get information when enrollment opens up for the upcoming fall course.
Michelle (28:51):
And I have to say that using what I learned through your course has definitely been helping my clients in ways that I just, I wasn't putting the pieces together the same way before. I just didn't have the information specifically about how autoimmune disease develops in the body. And wow, it's, it's a big game changer for women who have been seeking answers sometimes for nearly a decade.
Angie (29:14):
Yeah. Yeah. Oh, I love hearing that. I'm so glad it's helping
Michelle (29:18):
This. Is it making an impact and no carrying it for, and then they go tell their friends about it and their sisters and anybody else who's suffering in their family. And I mean, if we could get policy change, that's amazing. If we can get that sort of ripple effect change. That's amazing. This is all good things. Yes. Angie, thanks so much for being here today.
Angie (29:38):
Yeah. Thanks for having me on. It was great to talk.
Michelle (29:45):
Maybe you're like me and you never considered yourself political or maybe you're like Angie and you were actually voted most likely to become a politician either way. It makes good sense that societal change is needed when the vast majority of women are burning the candle at both ends and autoimmune disease is spiking not to mention diabetes cancer. So many other diseases on the rise. There are things that you can do to turn that ship around, taking personal responsibility for yourself. But what about taking responsibility for the bigger picture? This episode really made me think, you know, what is the next step on my own journey? My own career. I've been dedicated to helping women live powerfully. Yeah. What comes next with that? I got a lot to think about. I hope you do too. Thanks for joining. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a written review on apple podcast that helps us reach more powerful women. I'll see you next week.