Meet Abbylee Bonny; mother, business owner and LH Woman.
Your upcoming book Everyday Essentials is a handbook for getting started on your gut healing journey. How important is this concept of "essentialism" in your daily life? Across lifestyle, fashion, relationships, etc.
I love the idea of 'back to basics' a less is more approach, but honestly, I have more than I need in my home. I certainly have a lot less than others but more than I would say I 'need'. There are many areas of my life where 'too much' creeps in; in my Tupperware drawer, my washing pile, my workload - my mental load, too.
In saying this, there are some areas that I have just what I need. For example, my underwear, I'm very particular with the brands I like and wear and actually have two sources of underwear* - it's hard to find good underwear, so when I find some I like, I buy multiples of the same.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your gut healing journey and why you decided to start the Gut Healing Protocol?
The start of my gut healing journey was life-changing. It began approximately three years ago when I was experiencing secondary infertility. My partner (now husband) and I had fallen pregnant with our first son Cassius within a month of meeting. However, a couple of years later, it wasn't happening for us when trying for a second child. This was incredibly frustrating, particularly when all the tests we did with doctors said nothing was wrong with either of us. After 27 long rollercoaster months of hope, disappointment and no answers, I turned to my Naturopath, Twyla. I said, "I will do anything you ask of me". I can't quite remember the extent of my symptoms, but I know I felt physically and emotionally exhausted, experiencing awful bloating and unexplained infertility. The protocol to heal my gut was an elimination diet alongside a range of practitioner-grade supplements. It was hard, like really hard. I had to learn to cook and eat food I wasn't used to making or eating. I felt isolated from socialising because my meals consisted of veggies, veggies, and veggies with some animal meat and broth. But I also felt fantastic, the best I'd felt in years, and that made it all worth it. Plus, afterwards, I fell pregnant with our second son! Along the way, I was sharing my journey with my community online. I was constantly receiving messages asking what I was doing and who I was working with, so Twyla and I came together and created what is today, The Gut Healing Protocol.
What exactly is The Gut Healing Protocol?
The Gut Healing Protocol (GHP) is a community, an educational resource and a trusted store - a home for healing from the inside out.
It is a collaborative effort with practices and words of wisdom from our Naturopath, Medical Herbalist and Nutritionist, Twyla Watson. While I'm here to help bring Twyla's messages to our community.
The wellness industry is wild; everyone with an online community has an opinion. We're constantly bombarded with marketing for another product they say we need. Twyla and I wanted to create a space where people can get sound evidence-based support for healing.
The Protocol itself is an online elimination protocol so anyone can participate anywhere in the world with connectivity. Developed by Twyla after years of private practice working 1:1 with clients where she saw no matter the reason they had come to see her, be it skin, hormones, nervous system, urinary, fertility, performance - whatever. She always had to start with some form of gut-healing to reach that main goal. Our offering is similar to what I did but with expert and community support, practitioner-grade supplements, recipes, resources - the things I felt like I was missing while I was going through my own protocol.
When creating offerings, do you have a specific result in mind? Do you craft these based on outcomes you want people to feel?
We just want people to feel well, incredibly well. But not in the way of 'I've been told to do this, and I will be well'. But rather for people to reconnect with themselves and their bodies. These bodies of ours are so very clever and each one unique. They're constantly communicating to us, but somewhere in this modern-day living, we've lost touch with ourselves.
We recently ran an online group guided elimination for those who wanted to test their unique tolerance to dairy. Our participants had some incredible personal results and realisations. These mini eliminations will continue in the lead up to releasing the full Protocol, and we're exploring guided eliminations for gluten, caffeine and sugar in the future.
Our next offering is a recipe book, 'Everyday Essentials, the first step in your gut healing journey', with pantry replacements and easy to digest information about gut health. It is the what, when and how to get started on your gut healing journey, including food, lifestyle and herbal support. The recipes are a collection of Twyla's go-to's, which are delicious, easy to make and based on healing whole foods. We've been working on this for the last couple of years, and it's so exciting to have this offering for people who want to start their healing journey but are unsure where or how to start.
We're long time fans of your Instagram feed and deeply resonate with your raw aesthetic. Have you always been drawn to this style? Why is it important to you to be authentic in your portrayals online?
Ah, thank you, that's very kind. I must say, though, while my IG feed is raw in a sense; however, it is not a true representation of my day to day. My house is turned upside down daily by my children (and myself). I can never keep up with the washing, and the dishes are never-ending. I do attempt to offer little glimpses into my life without giving too much away. Over the years of sharing on the internet, I've become more and more reserved in what I share, keeping special moments for those whom I share my time with in real life and when I have the capacity to share thoughtful musings. These days I mainly shoot on film and in that there is lovely patience and mystery which I love. Shooting film is like saying 'here is a moment captured', and that's it - maybe there's a couple of similar shots. Still, it's nothing like shooting on digital *trying for the perfect shot*. That's not what inspires me or what I'm looking for.
You're a mother to two adorable little people - how has motherhood changed you? What is the biggest lesson you've learned? And has it changed the way you engage with clothes?
Wow. I don't think I can quite comprehend how motherhood has changed me, or at least in my sleep deprivation can I put it into words.
Motherhood has shown me the best and the worst versions of myself. It's stripped me right down to my core, and to be honest, I'm at a stage right now where Jonjon (nearly 2) is finding a little more independence. For me, it feels like a rebirthing of self; I'm building myself up again, an unveiling of 'who am I?'. It's kind of terrifying and exciting. I remember experiencing this when Cassius (nearly 7) was almost two. I love my children dearly; they teach me lessons of love, joy, trust and pure peace and are a constant reminder that the people in life are the most precious 'thing'. Having children forces me to think of the future and the world I would love for them to experience. With that in mind, it's certainly changed the way I consume everything, including clothing.
When choosing to buy from a brand, what are some things you consider? What brand values are your non-negotiables?
On the brand's side, I think about who has made the items, their working environment, pay, and their value within the business. I consider the sourcing of fabric, yarn and labels, even the packaging of how the garments are shipped to me. I consider the brand's transparency of values and practices; the authenticity of their business ethos. The environmental impact of creating the clothing, right down to what their office practices of care for the planet and mindfulness in their own consumption. I think about the size and diversity they show and also consider what that might look like behind the scenes. Now, these are all important factors and things I care about and are important to me. However, on top of this brings with it an element of fatigue. Some days, I dream of being ignorant of the impact of purchasing anything and the impact that is having on people and the planet. The mental load that comes with this known responsibility on top of modern living, motherhood and general mental health affects me highly, so much so that I have a lump in my throat writing this.
And still, I'm not perfect, not in any sense of this expectation - instead, I do my best with what I have each day.
You often post pictures of yourself and your family out amongst nature. How important is the outdoors to your creative process?
Nature is everything for me; it is my healer, my inspiration and my guide.
You've recently introduced Pillar Pant and Top in cream, as well as the Roman Coat, into your wardrobe; why did you select these additions to your wardrobe?
Comfort, warmth and flexibility of wear. I refuse to wear anything that isn't comfortable. I literally feel grumpy if I'm in clothing I can't move or sit in. I adore the Pillar Pant and Top as a set and as stand-alone pieces. The top under a cotton shirt allows me to wear my favourite shirts in the cooler months. The pants pulled over a bikini in summer and with my cosy socks in winter. And the Roman Coat, I'm obsessed with this piece. I got mine a couple of sizes up for an oversized look to wear jerseys underneath. I've worn it every day since I received it, thrown over activewear, with jeans or perfect over a dress.
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*Abbylee's go-to underwear brands:
To find out more about The Gut Healing Protocol and Everyday Essentials visit the website.
Or follow Abbylee on Instagram @abbyleebonny