Discovering My Purpose Through Pain
The truth is, I wasn’t always healthy. I grew up on Captain Crunch, was overweight as a child, and developed serious body image issues and disordered eating habits at the age of 12. Throughout my teens and early twenties, I struggled with digestive issues, yo-yo dieting, and a serious lack of self-worth. Simply put, I hated my body, and I tried everything to change it.
Eventually, my vicious cycle of extreme dieting and binge eating, work/coffee addiction, lack of sleep, chronic stress, and completely toxic lifestyle finally caught up with me one morning in July 2009 when I couldn’t lift myself out of bed. I literally could not move. Specialists, scopes, and scans later, I was diagnosed with UCTD (an autoimmune disease), IBS (digestive issues), and Mono. I was 24 years old.
At that moment, I realized something significant – I have one body, one life on this earth, and I needed to start taking care of myself before it was too late!
So, I did just that – I started researching how to heal my body naturally and read every holistic health and nutrition book I could get my hands on. Luckily, at that time, I was entering my second year of graduate school and had access to a wide range of public health researchers and natural health experts. I quickly shifted my focus from solely studying weight loss and obesity to studying autoimmune diseases and using food as medicine.
I had no idea that what you ate had such an impact on all aspects of your health (beyond your weight).
Drink vegetable juice? Yuck! Eat berries? Does strawberries n’ cream oatmeal count? Apparently not. Reluctantly, I listened to the experts. I adopted an anti-inflammatory approach to nutrition, eating nothing but high-quality, nutrient-dense, whole foods. I stopped eating sugar and started drinking green smoothies. I slept more. So much more.
Within a few months, I felt like a new person. I had more energy, my acne-prone skin cleared up, and my digestion improved.
After 12 months of adopting healthier eating and lifestyle habits, I completely reversed my symptoms and had no signs of UCTD or any autoimmune disease when tested the following year.
Turning My Mess Into My Message
In hopes of inspiring others to take charge of their own health, I became a personal trainer and started helping women achieve their fitness goals through bridal boot camps, group fitness classes, and natural health seminars. You can find fun articles about my first business at The Buffalo News and UB Today Magazine.
Now, I wish I could say my life was full of rainbows and butterflies from there. But it wasn’t.
A few years into my business, I found myself slipping back into old habits (working 12 hour days, staying up late, flogging my body at the gym, and counting every morsel of food on my plate) all in the pursuit of “success” and the “perfect” body.
My physical appearance may have looked healthy, but my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors were FAR from it.
I became obsessed with fitness to the point where I was diagnosed with athletes amenorrhea (I didn’t get my period for 3 years) and adrenal fatigue. I was “fit” on the outside but still felt miserable inside.
At this point, I had ENOUGH! I wanted to be happy and healthy – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
By the grace of God, my cry for help led me to the largest nutrition school in the world, Institute for Integrative Nutrition, to start my journey to become a certified holistic health coach.
At IIN, I quickly learned that health is SO MUCH MORE than your physical appearance or food on your plate. Health is…
…your greatest asset.
…influenced by your beliefs (such as “I’m beautiful”), thoughts (such as “I’m so fat”), feelings (calm vs. stressed), actions (such as what you choose to put in or on your body), and environment (such as the air you breathe and the people you surround yourself with).
…a journey, not a destination.
And I’m living proof.
Fast forward to 2016-2018; I found myself entering a long, stressful season. I moved 3 times in 9 months, won a wedding, planned it in 4 months, got married on TV, got our first puppy, and started a new full-time job; our apartment flooded, and we found ourselves living in a hotel for 6 weeks. We were strapped for cash and putting the hotel expenses on our nearly maxed-out credit cards. Various stressors like this kept piling up as I worked 60+ hours/week at my demanding job just to pay the bills.
I’m not proud to admit it, but I let my temporary circumstances get the best of me.
I experienced panic attacks for the first time in my life. Despite eating well and exercising, I noticed my autoimmune symptoms were coming back. My digestion was off; my legs were swelling randomly, I developed an underarm rash, lost my libido, and was always tired. My health was taking a nosedive, and I knew I had to make it a priority.
So, I closed my personal training business and stopped taking health coaching clients. I felt like a failure. I wasn’t living my dream anymore, and it crushed me.
The good news is, I knew exactly what to do. I became my one and only health coaching client. I plugged into support groups. I went inward, sat in silence, and started the healing journey I needed from the very beginning. I focused on transforming my mindset FIRST. I turned to the natural solutions I already had in my wellness toolbox. I used essential oils to keep me calm, focused and energized throughout the day. I learned how to resolve negative thoughts and feelings using various aromatherapy techniques.
My circumstances didn’t change, but my mind, body, and habits did.
I developed a deeper appreciation for essential oils that I HAD to share with the world. I rediscovered my passion for nature, preventative medicine, and teaching others how to take control of their lives.
Even though I’m healthier, happier, and more in tune with myself than ever before, I’m still refining and adapting my habits, and I know I always will be.
My focus is on progress, not perfection.
My personal health challenges and triumphs are the reason why I do what I do. I’m passionate about helping women take impeccable care of themselves, no matter how busy life gets. Because the truth is, impacting the world and people around you becomes increasingly difficult if you don’t feel your best.
I truly believe that with God and good health, we can do ANYTHING! I also believe that we’re better wives, mothers, daughters, friends, and leaders when we’re well-rested, nourished, and fulfilled.
I created this blog to share my favorite healthy recipes, simple DIYs, practical wellness tips, and convenient health solutions for busy women on the go. If you’re ready to explore a holistic, intuitive, and balanced approach to healthy living, stick around.
I’m thrilled to be on this journey with you!