We All Have a Journey...
My journey started with an eating disorder.
The pinnacle health challenge of my life was my struggle with eating disorders, food addictions, and yo-yo dieting. I can remember the day this all started in 9th grade, but for the life of me, I cannot determine why it started.
I remember sitting in mid-high the lunchroom staring at my pepperoni pizza and consciously deciding to blot all the excess grease off with my napkin. I remember thinking that wasn’t enough and soon took off all the toppings to just eat the crust. Fat had become my enemy!
That’s when my obsession with dieting began, and it changed my life forever!
I honestly don’t know where I got the idea that “fat was bad”. Though this was the “diet culture” at the time (mid-1990s), I do not have a conscious memory of learning this information. I assume I heard or read somewhere that "fat made you fat", and that simple (but wrong) idea then made its home in my young and impressionable mind.
I also had an incredibly low self-esteem, which was fuel for the dieting fire. I felt that my friends were all so beautiful and trim and had so much more to offer than me. I not only wanted to look like them, but I wanted to feel beautiful too. In my mind, avoiding fat and exercising like a boss was my ticket to success!
I made sure I had full control of everything I ate, which generally included carrots, saltines, and fat-free milk. If I ate out, it would be a plain, dry piece of grilled chicken and vegetables - hold the dressing, of course! I keenly remember logging a grand total of 5 grams of fat per day most days of the week.
I was verging on full-on anorexia, and I was also struggling with mild bulimia. When I did eat something that was “off limits”, I taught myself to purge without the use of my hands – it was a physiological and mental purging. My body knew what to do without any outside assistance.
My friends teased me, likely because they didn’t understand and maybe because I drove them crazy with my obsession. Deep down, they were worried about me, but I chose to ignore their concern. My mom also made comments as I scraped the food around on my plate, avoiding any pieces that contained fat. I ignored her comments as well. Inside, however, I knew there was something wrong.
I was obsessed with food. It was all I could think or talk about.
“How much fat is in that?” “Will I gain weight?” "What happens if I miss my workout?" I worked out every morning for an hour or more and would obsess if I missed a day. Don’t get me wrong, I loved exercise and found a love for weight lifting during this time, BUT THE OBSESSION DROVE THE PASSION.
It just so happened that my English class was assigned a research paper on the topic of our choosing. The idea crossed my mind to research eating disorders, since this had obviously been brought to my attention. I’m not even sure I told anyone about it, but I immersed myself in the information.
my passion for nutrition, the body, and health had begun.
Though it took many long years to finally break the chains of disordered eating, I spent those years reading every nutrition book I could get my hands on - the first book being my aunt's copy of Dr. Atkin's Diet Revolution (this is so funny to me now!). I ate, slept, and constantly talked about food, nutrition and exercise (and I know that I drove those around me crazy!)
In ten years time, I think I tried every diet plan known to man - low-fat, high-carb, Carbohydrate Addicts, Daniel Fast, Maker's Diet, and so many more! Though I was a slave to food and exercise for longer than I like to admit, this experience taught me so much about the body, the mind, and how the food we eat can positively or negatively affect our health.
This very personal experience awakened my voracious love of learning, and it ignited a fire in me to help others going through similar struggles.
Additionally, working at a local health food store over the course of my school-age and adult years was pivotal to my understanding of holistic and alternative health. The people I met, the lifestyle and information I absorbed, and the environment I worked in all whetted my appetite and piqued my curiosity about the emerging world of holistic nutrition and alternative health.
I started to look beyond the scope conventional health and dug deeper to find a system that made sense to me and appeared to be a successful approach for those looking in the same direction.
Nutritionally speaking, most of the books and articles I read were more holistic and alternative in nature. Terms such as "raw", "organic", "fermented", and "non-GMO" were just beginning to emerge on the health scene, let alone in the general public. So, among my friends, I was being branded as the “hippie” or “tree-hugger” – lovingly so, of course, but nonetheless, I was on the fringe.
However, I didn’t come across the Paleo lifestyle until some 10 years later.
Discovering The Ancestral & Paleo Lifestyle
About 6 years ago, my 3-year-old daughter started having some digestive issues and my 1-year-old son was starting to show signs of asthma. I was not the type to just head to the pharmacy to deal with the issue; I innately knew nutrition and lifestyle could play a large role in my kids’ ability to “heal".
This was during the precipice of the gluten-free era, and the Paleo lifestyle was breaking the surface of the health world as a potential way to circumvent the conventional standard of care treatment of so many different health concerns.
I was working at the health food store at the time, so I had access to a plethora of different food products and health information to guide me through this new lifestyle. I started blogging about the Paleo diet and how to meal plan and grocery shop on a budget.
I noticed significant changes in my children, which sealed in my mind that I was on the right track. And though staying completely gluten- & grain-free wasn’t always feasible, I did what I could to keep this the norm for most of our meals.
I kept reading and learning more about the ancestral lifestyle, whether through Weston A. Price’s influence, the GAPS diet, Paleo blogs, or what have you.
From Health Mom to Health Coach
I eventually enrolled in a Masters of Holistic Nutrition program to pursue what I always knew was my passion and my path. I continued to learn more about the measurable and significant benefits of nutrition and lifestyle as a means to prevent, reverse, and/or change the course of one’s heath.
During that time I came across names like Chris Kresser, Nom Nom Paleo, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. David Perlmutter, and the Primal Blueprint.
In the three years it took me to complete my masters, I experienced some health issues directly related to the stress of school, raising four kids, and other life challenges.
I was physically and mentally exhausted, though determined to reach my goals. I sought some help from a local MD with a holistic approach to get my body back in balance.
After reviewing my lab work, we determined that some nutritional tweeks, regular exercise, and implementing more self-care were all that I needed to get my body back in gear.
I knew a paleo approach would be my ticket back to health.
Three months later my lab work proved that I was right!
Chris Kresser’s book, Unconventional Medicine, had just come out in which he dialogued about the serious need of health coaches to change the landscape of this nation’s healthcare.
His words deeply resonated with what I wanted to do as a nutrition professional. I not only wanted to teach others about how to eat, I wanted to guide and encourage them through the transformation process. This is what I have always done.
Kresser was getting ready to launch his own health coach program, and I was considering how I could be a part of this exciting new adventure.
Right about then, Mark Sisson & Christine Hassler put out a webinar about out how to build your health business, which is where I learned about their health coach program. I was pretty much sold right then, and after talking to one of their associates, I signed up!
My own heath transformation, that of my kids, and so many others I’ve talked to solidified my resolve that I wanted to be a part of this community and movement.
Attending Paleo f(x) this past April 2018 gave me the opportunity to meet hundreds of other like-minded people, as well as Mark Sisson, Brad Kearns, and a large percentage of the Primal Health Coach Community.
It is such a blessing as a person and as a business leader to be a part of this group, who continually works to further the message of food as medicine and lifestyle as a vehicle to optimal health!
I am constantly motivated to share this message with my clients and those around me seeking new and effective methods to improve their life, their health, and their outlook on life.
A Paleo & Ancestral approach is not just about diet - it's about a lifestyle, a mantra, &/or a perspective - and it works! I want to help it work for you!
Whether it's with meal planning, goal setting, exercise accountability, breaking the chains of dieting, or just a listening ear - I'm hear to help you on your journey.