Hi! My name is Sara and I am the face behind Real Balanced. I'm so happy to have you here and to share my favorite low-carb, keto, paleo, and low-FODMAP recipes! Learn more about me here.

Alexa Federico of Girl In Healing

Alexa Federico of Girl In Healing

Who are you?

Hey! I grew up and still live in my childhood home north of Boston, Massachusetts with my parents, sister, and brother. I am currently 22 years old and graduated from college in May 2016 with an elementary education degree, but I am now pursuing a certification in nutritional therapy and hope to have my own business running in the beginning of 2018. I have two cats who are brothers and a female goldendoodle, all of which I love to hang out and cuddle with! I started my blog in September 2015 to share what has worked in improving my Crohn’s disease and my connecting with like-minded people is an amazing feeling.

Did you grow up in a health-oriented household?

I definitely grew up on a food-oriented household- we’re Italian! I am lucky that I didn’t grow up on frozen and microwaveable meals. My parents both cook and we always had home-cooked dinners. My mom never had soda in the house so none of us ever acquired a taste (or addiction) for it, and she also somewhat limited what sugary snacks we could have. Although I ate my fruits and veggies, there was a lot to be improved upon in my diet that we just didn’t know about.

I became passionate about living a whole foods based, paleo lifestyle because of my Crohn’s diagnosis. Medical doctors only wanted to prescribe me medications and told me diet wasn’t much, if at all, a factor that caused symptoms in IBD. At the time, my parents were wary of this, but we followed what the doctors said and I took their medications. About 14 months after my first hospitalization/diagnosis, I was just as sick and had to be admitted into the hospital two more times, one month apart. Because my condition was so severe, we had to contemplate surgery and/or very intense drugs that can have lasting side effects down the road. We just weren’t comfortable with that. A family member referred us to a doctor in environmental medicine who helps people by testing them for the specific foods they don’t tolerate and what supplement and vitamin levels they need.

I stated seeing improvements almost immediately in how I was feeling and I was able to gain some weight back. It took a few years for me to accept this lifestyle and understand that this was the best thing for me. Since that point, my passion has become greater and greater.

What fitness regimen do you currently follow?

I enjoy yoga and walking. Even before my diagnosis I was never enthusiastic about exercise although I did do sports in my youth. With the fatigue I sometimes feel because of my Crohn’s, light exercise is much better suited for my body.

How do you fit eating healthy into your daily life?

I make healthy eating a top priority. That means food shopping once or more a week, spending more for higher quality foods, and meal prepping. All of these things help me stay on track even during busy times. I try to fit walking and/or yoga in everyday. On days where I am feeling energy-depleted, I leave it out and listen to my body.

What does your diet look like? Is it strictly AIP?

I follow a modified paleo diet. In general, paleo is meat, seafood, fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds. But it’s really important to allow foods that work for your body. In my case, I do extremely well with rice and some other gluten-free grains and grass-fed butter.

How do you handle staying on track over the holiday and weekends?

Like most people, I let myself indulge when the timing is right and I feel it is worth it. This past holiday season, I went overboard and felt so much better when I reset my diet after then new year. Weekends aren’t very difficult to stay on track for me. Sometimes there are temptations, but if I want to veer off, I take into consideration if it’s a food I really want and also how my body is feeling at the time.

Have you ever experienced a significant setback? How did it affect you?

I have become a lot better at not getting frustrated over things I can’t control.  When life throws me curveballs in my health, I do my part by taking care of my body and try to show it love and compassion, not hate.

Have you learned any really important life lessons in the last few years?

That health is the most important thing in your life!

What is your favorite meal?

My favorite meal is ribeye steak with rice and a veggie, yum!

Who inspires you?

Other people rockin’ the paleo and autoimmune lifestyles. When I am feeling down or uninspired, I look to them and get rebooted.

Do you have a favorite quote?

I love, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” It’s so empowering.

Do you have any major goals for 2017?

I’m focusing heavily on healing. I have reversed a lot of inflammation and I am not going to stop until my next tests are better than the last! I am also going to continue putting a lot of energy into my blog. I have so many ideas in my head and I want to execute them all for my readers.

Where can readers find you?

My blog is and I am on the following social media platforms:

Katie Olivera of GainzAndGlitter

Katie Olivera of GainzAndGlitter