148: How I Turned My Psoriasis Around + Got My Life Back {CLIENT STORY} w/ Lisa Stodola

I am so grateful to today's guest for being here because she's actually one of my clients. She asked if I could share her story, because her journey with psoriasis has definitely had some low lows. And, she dug herself out of those lows.

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My guest today is Lisa Stodola. Lisa is a stay at home mom of two kids: a girl (9) and a boy (8). She enjoys photography, being outdoors, traveling, and spending time with family, and friends. Lisa loves hot weather, but she lives in the midwest where winter is long and summer is never long enough.

Join us as we talk about Lisa's journey with psoriasis, and how she managed to turn it around.

Have you had a similar experience with psoriasis? Let me know in the comments!

In this episode:

  • When and where did Lisa's psoriasis start?
  • Why did Lisa feel like she'd exhausted the conventional treatment options?
  • Common diet changes Lisa made that actually made her feel worse
  • Why did Lisa start looking at her root cause?


“It was down to where I was eating a banana a day because I was so afraid to eat anything else.” [5:47]

“Get some testing done just to see where your levels are at with your vitamins, minerals and thyroid.” [15:15]


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Healthy Skin Show ep. 101: Psoriasis-Thyroid Connection

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148: How I Turned My Psoriasis Around + Got My Life Back {CLIENT STORY} w/ Lisa Stodola FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer: Hi everyone, welcome back. Today I have a very special guest and my guest is someone who I am so grateful for her being here because she's actually one of my clients. And, she asked if I could share her story because her journey with psoriasis has been one that has definitely had some pretty low lows. And, she used dug herself out of those lows.

Jennifer: It's not to say that she's a hundred percent perfect but she's come to a much different place and wanted to share her experience with you. And, I am so grateful that she's willing to do that. Her name is Lisa Stodola and she is a stay at home mom of two kids, a girl, nine and a boy, eight. She loves photography being outside, traveling, spending time with her husband and her husband's large family, as well as friends.

Jennifer: And, we were just talking a moment ago about our mutual love of hot weather because she lives in the Midwest, where winter is long and summers are never enough, this is a really great treat as we're sitting here getting to record this as the seasons begin to change to those warmer times. So Lisa, thank you so much for being here and sharing your story with us.

Lisa: Thank you for having me. I'm excited.

Jennifer: So I want to just dive right in and I think you are the best person to tell your story of where did psoriasis begin for you?

Lisa: Right after I had my daughter, I had noticed a patch of skin, this is back in 2011, on my hand that was dry. It was just always dry, it wasn't getting better. And, after a couple of months of that, I finally went to see a dermatologist and they had said that I actually had eczema.

Lisa: And so, for six years I thought I had eczema and then it was getting worse and worse and worse. And, I finally got a skin puncture test back in, I believe it was 2017, and that's when they had discovered that it was actually psoriasis.

Jennifer: And so, were they like, “Oh, oops, you have psoriasis this whole time”?

Lisa: Nope. They were just like, “That's what you have, sorry.”

Jennifer: And so, I assume at this point, what type of medications had you been using?

Lisa: Oh my gosh, I think every cream out there I had tried. Steroid creams, Eucrisa, I had tried… Oh my gosh, just everything, I can't even list them all. And, it was almost like they would work for a week maybe if I was consistent.

Lisa: I was actually a little afraid to use the steroid creams just because you had heard so many things about when they stop working, it could be terrible. And so, I used very minimally but enough to feel like, “Well, I'm using it where it should do something” and it just wasn't doing anything. And then, they switched me to some oral pills and then eventually I went to Humira which…

Jennifer: And, well, why did you not… I know you were saying you didn't really end up even staying on Humira.

Lisa: No, I took it for four weeks and on the fourth week it almost felt like I broke out in hives. I was itching terribly all over my body and then I also noticed that my psoriasis had, it was mainly on my hands and my feet, those were the worst areas.

Lisa: But then, after the Humira it started going all down my neck and into my scalp. And, after that reaction, I couldn't stay on it. I mean, we all know if you're suffering from this, that itching can drive you mad. So I went off it and after that I started trying to do my own research on how to help my psoriasis.

Jennifer: And so, it was interesting because you had exhausted, at least you felt, you had exhausted the conventional medicine options. And so, you're like, “Okay, I've got to figure this out. There has to be something else.” And so, the first thing I would assume that you probably went, is looking at your diet.

Lisa: My diet, yep. And, I had nothing against dermatologist but I had asked several times if I could do anything with my diet. And, I was just always told no, that there's no research to say that you could change your psoriasis through your diet. And so, I just kind of put that out of my mind. But then, when you're at your last straw because the next thing they wanted to put me on was methotrexate, which I wasn't going to do anyway, I knew that.

Lisa: So then, I thought, “Well, my last chance is diet.” And of course, I scoured through YouTube and anything I could find. And, there was a lot of research saying that if I went vegan, that it was the Holy grail, you're psoriasis is going to go away. So I did that and it ended up being very bad for me.

Jennifer: And so, we say this with love and respect to other people that maybe this does work for but this is Lisa's journey. And, it's important for people to hear that diet may not… A diet that works for some people, may not be the best for you guys.

Jennifer: So Lisa, do you mind sharing what happened with your diet? So you went vegan and you also started eliminating other foods, as well. So do you want to talk a little bit about that?

Lisa: Yeah. It started out with just eliminating my dairy and all meat protein type, well I still had legumes but then you would hear that nightshades would have a bad reaction for psoriasis. So then I cut out nightshades and then you're hearing sugar, anything with sugar could have a flare up, so that I'm getting rid of anything with sugar.

Lisa: And, it was down to where I was eating a banana a day because I was so afraid to eat anything else. And, that was probably two weeks just water and a banana. And, that was after three months of already dieting with a vegan diet. So yeah, it got pretty bad, pretty quickly. And then, the depression started even worse and it got, like you said, pretty dark. I was in a pretty dark place.

Jennifer: Yeah. And, I remember when we first spoke and your husband was with you on the call and you guys were clearly very motivated to try and sort this out. And, I was like, “No, you can eat, you can eat other foods. I want you to start eating more food.”

Lisa: Yeah.

Jennifer: And, you were very apprehensive. You were very afraid. Do you want to talk a little bit about that fear that you had developed around eating food as a result of this excessive cutting out or elimination of food?

Lisa: Yeah. Well, interestingly enough, when I had first started going vegan, I had this, I would say two week period where I felt great. My skin almost felt like it was getting better, I hadn't slept well in years. I didn't realize how bad my sleep was until I realized what sleep actually was. But, that two week period I'm like, “Oh, food is everything.”

Lisa: Here I'm feeling so great but then all of a sudden it was this huge dip. And so, I'm thinking, “Well, if food can have that big of effect on me, well then if I eliminate more and more and more, I'm going to feel better again.” Until, the point where you just eliminate so much that you're depleting your body of everything it needs. And, you don't even…

Lisa: I mean, I think you're so afraid that you're going to get that itching and it's going to spread. And, this fear that if I eat this and I have the reaction of my skin getting worse, that it's like, “Okay, I'd rather not eat and and have my skin better or not itch.” I think that the itching, to me, was it was maddening.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Lisa: So I thought I can just eliminate anything and then I'm going to at least not itch anymore.

Jennifer: Yeah. And, what we discovered, right, was your thyroid really needed help.

Lisa: Yeah.

Jennifer: It needed a ton of help. And, some of you might remember, I actually talked about a client, in the thyroid and psoriasis connection podcast, and that was Lisa.

Lisa: Yes, it was.

Jennifer: She was like, “Yes, please share. Please share about my experience.” Her TSH was at 33, which optimal is considered in functional medicine to be between one and two. So it's a pretty sizable… I had never seen someone's TSH that high. Eight was the highest I'd ever seen in the past and so I was taken aback and I said, “Lisa, you got to go to a doctor.

Jennifer: You need to get some medication here, we need to get this.” And, we also found a lot of nutrient issues and also encouraging you to look at this from a different perspective. And so, do you want to talk a little bit about how you shifted, so to speak, from just being food focused, to looking more at root causes?

Lisa: Yeah. Well, mainly it was obviously through speaking with you and realizing that protein was a huge thing for me because I think once you told me to get that 70 grams of protein per day, at least that, that I would say it was even at about two weeks later, maybe even before that, it was just noticeably night and day. My energy came back a little bit more, I was sleeping better, just a lot of different things. So just getting the protein.

Lisa: And then, we talked about vitamin D, vitamin A and just getting my body to process the food, was huge. When you started putting me on the regimen of fixing my gut, that too, I would say within two weeks, when I started on my first protocol, I was seeing a lot of difference. Maybe not necessarily in my skin yet but in the way I slept and feeling like I had more energy during the day. And, you kind of want to start spending time with people again.

Lisa: Whereas before, all you want to do is lay in bed and be alone. So yeah, those kinds of things were the first noticeable things that I noticed. I think when you're going into it, you want to notice your skin improving first. But, I think once you realized that you can improve the other things, you're willing to deal with your skin and wait it out until it starts to improve.

Jennifer: Yeah, so it was sort of like the skin needed other things to correct or rebalance before it could do its thing.

Lisa: Yeah.

Jennifer: And so, with that said, I mean, right now where are you? I think people are probably going to want to know. Where are you with your psoriasis and your health at the moment? So this is, we're looking at you… So this is about what? Six to eight months later ish?

Lisa: Yeah. Right around there. Yep.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Lisa: Yeah.

Jennifer: So since we met, it's been about six to eight months. So where are you now?

Lisa: Yeah. Well, I mean, if I could do it in percentage wise, I would say I'm right at around 90% better. I still have days where, and as you know, my thyroid is still not on track. So there are days where, especially on my hands, it'll get super dry and then I just make sure I increase my water, my breathing, just different things that I try to do to cope with that. But, it's never been where it was back in August and September of last year, which is where I think I was at my peak of feeling terrible.

Jennifer: Yeah. And, can I ask from an emotional standpoint, what's the shift there? Because I mean, when we first talked, you… And, I can understand why your husband was so concerned, you sounded like you were standing on an edge, really weak, really uncomfortable and then when I spoke with you, I think it was maybe a month later, I was like, “Wait, are you the same person?”

Lisa: Yeah.

Jennifer: So much had changed, the sound of your voice, the strength in your voice. So how has that shift been for you?

Lisa: I think, honestly just getting sleep. I think when you're woke up constantly with your skin itching and the sleep part for me was the first step to mentally feeling better. And, when I noticed that shift, I think everything else kind of fell into place for me. Like, ‘Oh, I can get through this.” I want to wake up and spend time with my kids and I have the energy to do that.

Lisa: And, I think once you start building on just even that one simple thing, I think it lines you up and you can kind of see this brighter picture at the end. So I think it, honestly, the [inaudible 00:12:59] for me was the first thing that made me mentally shift and realizing that breathing was a big thing. I didn't realize…

Lisa: I'd never focused on that really before and I think for me, the breathing, when I was feeling stressed out just to take a couple minutes for myself and just breathe through it. And then, all of a sudden you can kind of come out of that slump that you're in. And, it sounds so weird. I think a year ago I would have been like, whatever breathing is not going to help me but it certainly did.

Jennifer: Yeah, learning those tools are… They're incredible life skills, in a sense. And, we do a lot of times blow them off because we go, “Well, that's free, it's breathing.” Like you said, “I just do that and I don't feel any better.”

Lisa: Right.

Jennifer: But, it's more… There's a sense of presence and consciousness in what you're doing. You are being intentional, right? In being focused on your breath and also too, for those who are listening who want to check out some breath practices, I do have a great podcast episode about that, that has three tutorials.

Jennifer: So I'll make sure to share that in the show notes. And, that might be a really helpful tool for everyone. And so, I'm really glad that we were able to help you really, truly shift things. I mean, the 90% shift is amazing because quality of life is probably a lot different now than it was last year.

Lisa: Absolutely. Yeah. If my husband were here right now, he'd come in and thank you and be like, “Thank you, we're back.”

Jennifer: So for people who are listening to this, who feel like they have no other options, they've in the process of trying all these drugs, maybe they've dabbled with their diet or they have tried AIP and vegan and all these different diets and see no hope. What would you say to somebody who's feeling like maybe that they're almost damned and stuck with this awful issue for the rest of their life?

Lisa: Yeah. Do some testing. I mean, work with you, obviously, if you can. But, if you can't at least get some testing done, just to see where your levels are at with your vitamins, your minerals, your thyroid. I think you touched on as many times, as many people go with thyroid issues thinking it's just depression or they just have trouble sleeping.

Lisa: And, I think if you have a thyroid issue and you don't even know it and they're just testing you for the minimal of what they can test you for, that might be a huge component right there. So I think testing, you certainly taught me that you can find out a lot through that and you can see major changes once you can put those back into your body.

Lisa: Another one was, I think it was on your page, you had your stomach acid test and that's another thing that's free. Just find out if you have stomach acid to take care of your food and process it. And, I had none. At least, according to the test I didn't have any.

Jennifer: And so too, do you think that if you were… You were in a really dark place and if you think back to where you were before and for people who are there, do you think that in coming through everything that you've experienced, that there is potential for change, for hope and maybe there…

Jennifer: What would you want someone… What do you wish someone could say to you in that moment? You might not be a hundred percent ready to hear it but what would you have wished someone would have said to you at a certain point?

Lisa: Gosh. Honestly, if you take care of your body, you can see improvements. Now like you said, it might not be a hundred percent, it's not going to be overnight. I think we all, with the way that our medical… Going to the doctor we think this bandaid approach, it's going to be really quick, you're going to feel better within two weeks, so if not come back and see me type of thing. And, it's not. It's not going to be this quick, overnight, where you're going to be a hundred percent better.

Lisa: Just give yourself the time. I think too, is because when you're in such a dark place, you feel like you just need relief immediately. And, I think if you can give yourself that grace to just slowly start noticing the things that you're going to feel better with, don't expect to feel better overnight and be okay with these small changes.

Lisa: And, I think if somebody would have told me, just focus on little things, don't focus on the big picture because if you focus on your skin, you're never going to get there because it's not going to be where you're seeing this huge result quickly. It's going to be, like I said, you're going to notice in your sleep, you're going to notice it with your energy, in other things and then you'll get there. And, I think I just wanted a quick result and that's not how it's going to work.

Jennifer: No and it's interesting too, because the body, when you think about it, you were struggling with this for a really long time. You also thought you had eczema and you did not.

Lisa: Yeah.

Jennifer: Very different things or different beasts. There's some similarities but for the most part, they're different. And, I think that the one thing I really appreciated about you, your willingness to share your story is that you want to help people feel hopeful. That there is a possibility out there.

Jennifer: Any thoughts on, maybe a final thought on…? I know sometimes people wait a really long… They literally are like, “I have exhausted every option and only now, will I ask for help?” Do you think that, that… What do you think about that type of approach? What would you tell someone?

Lisa: I think I get it, to an extent, because psoriasis and eczema, because it's so visual, people can see it, I think you kind of close in upon yourself. You don't want to tell people that you have it. I wore a glove. I know you wear gloves too…

Jennifer: Yes.

Lisa: …everywhere because I did not want to shake somebody's hand or have anyone see just how raw my hand was. And, I think that embarrassment keeps you from talking to people and it keeps you from realizing that… Like I said, if you can take the time and get some answers about your lab tests or something, that there is definitely hope. But, I get how you try to exhaust, maybe what your dermatologist is telling you that you can take to help these things. And, you're hoping that one of these, just one of them is going to be that miracle that's going to help you. And sometimes it's just not going to work.

Lisa: And, there is another way and do some research on your own too. The podcasts for me were wonderful because you did have people on, even other doctors that came on that had either eczema or psoriasis, that would talk about it. And, I think that was really helpful. Like I said, you put a person, another face with what you're going through and that was helpful too.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Lisa: But, when you're just starting out and you've exhausted everything or you just… It's hard to put yourself in the place that you're willing to talk about it. And, I think there's so many people we don't even realize that have eczema and psoriasis because we're all hiding it.

Lisa: And, it's okay to share and let other people know so that you can maybe meet that magical person that leads you in the right direction. For me, it happened to me, my mom talking to a stylist. And then, I had that stylist get me in touch with a nutritionist and that nutritionist giving me your name.

Jennifer: Oh my goodness, that is so random. I did not know that.

Lisa: Yeah, it was crazy. Yeah, she was a nutritionist here and she's more on longevity and she's like, “I would love to help you, I'd love to work with you but there's a woman named Jennifer Fugo that deals with skin and gut and I think you need to go with her.”

Lisa: And so, it was like I said, if you can put yourself out there and just give yourself this sense of saying, there's nothing wrong with me, I'm just dealing with this thing that is not something I want but it can get better.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Lisa: It's I think it's the embarrassment, more than anything.

Jennifer: Yeah. And, I just want to thank you so much for your courage because it does take a lot of courage to come on a podcast. I know that you're not used to doing this type of thing.

Lisa: No.

Jennifer: And, to share your story and be so forthcoming about the ups and downs because you flat out told me, you're like, “No, I want to make sure that I help somebody. I want to make sure that someone hears my story, so that they don't give up.” And, there are people that give up and it breaks my heart. It's so sad.

Jennifer: And, we want to make sure that people know that there are other options out there that you can investigate other things, you don't have to feel stuck with just food as the only intervention, once you've exhausted everything else at the dermatologist's office. And, I just thank you so much. Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.

Lisa: Thank you. Thank you for having me, thank you for letting me share my story. I appreciate that a lot.

“It was down to where I was eating a banana a day because I was so afraid to eat anything else.”