My journey towards natural health started nearly a decade ago. Like any journey, mine has been filled with twists and turns, tears and laughs, celebrations and losses. Once I connected the dots that food is the root to our health, I’ve been on a mission to expand my knowledge base one book, one conversation, one lesson at a time.
While today you’ll find me nourishing my body (and my family) with organic veggies and fruit, grass-fed, locally sourced meats, homemade raw butter and other happy, wholesome fats, eggs from backyard chicks, kombucha and other fermented loves, bone broth, and using an abundance of essential oils and herbs, I’ll be perfectly honest, it didn’t happen overnight. The love and kindness that I show my body today didn’t come full circle until I became pregnant with my son at the age of 29. The word nourishmentwas the game changer for me. Prior to that, my history is rich with lessons learned. These are lessons that I long to teach women with open minds.
Before my journey even started, I was a junk food and caffeine addict who didn’t think for a second about popping a pill to “feel” better. My relationship with food went sour at an early age and I quickly evolved into your typical closet binger. I wouldn’t dare destroy a bag of Oreos, Doritos, followed by a few bowls of ice-cream in front of people, not even family. Behind closed doors, this was a common theme. Driven by emotions, hormones and fatigue, I would cave to cravings. Sometimes, I even made late night trips just to get my hands on fast food, or something sweet. Following a binge, I would bury my wrappers deep into the trash so no-one would know my secret. These periodical, uncontrollable binges followed me throughout my late childhood, adolescent years, and the first half of my twenties. Although so much has changed, it is still a behavior that I have to be mindful of today.
I never let my weight reach the point of obesity, but I did loathe myself, specifically, my lack of willpower and my stomach. Get in a swimsuit? No way! I wanted to change, but just didn’t know how. I failed miserably at every attempt to lose weight; purging, starvation, endless diets, diet pills and even laxatives. All of these methods came with hefty side effects. I also made countless attempts to commit to a workout schedule. I would join gyms, commit for a week, a month at most, and quit. There were several times that I would get dressed to go to the gym, only to sit in the parking lot and watch with envy as others entered the doors with a bounce in their step.
“I wanted to change, but just didn’t know how.”
I ended my gym attempts and found running. I trained and ran several half-marathons. Frustrating enough, my body, my physical appearance didn’t change. During the course of this newfound passion, I subjected myself to an injury that led to knee surgery. I reflect now and know that if I had been active with the chiropractor like I am today, this would likely have been avoided. Tears and losses noted here, a lesson in the book.
I’m not sure if it was a blessing or a curse, but people didn’t see me the way I did. Every weight loss attempt I made, people would say, “You don’t need to diet. You’re perfectly fine the way you are.” To the average person, I was viewed as “normal,” and to some I was even seen as “skinny.” This is when it became clear to me how easy it was to hide “bad health” underneath a few layers of clothes.
The Turning Point
In May 2007, my life changed forever. I scheduled a bilateral reduction mammoplasty. I decided to have my breast reduction for the reasons most women do. I was uncomfortable with my body, both physically and emotionally.
Each physical activity, brought aches and pains to my back due to the size and severe disproportion of my bust, or in the doctor’s words, “very large, pendulous breasts.” This meant, they hung without any muscle tissue to hold them upright. The years of wearing wrong fit bras, riding horses, and running had essentially tore the tissue and this is only remedied by surgical means. With further examination, I had grade III ptosis (severe ptosis) and grooving of the shoulders. Emotionally, I was extremely embarrassed and ashamed of my breasts. This seemed like the end to a lot of misery. Once I made the decision, I was surprised at how easy it was make it a reality.
I poignantly remember sitting with my mom one-day pre-surgery and she brought up the issue of breastfeeding. Children were a far off dream at that point of my life. My fiancé at the time had a five-year plan before we even planned to try for a baby. Five years then seemed like a lifetime away. I remember sitting there quietly thinking about this possible interference. I began reflecting on the doctor’s’ words that while there may be ramifications, he couldn’t be certain. This meant there was a chance I would be able to breastfeed just fine. So, I brushed off her probing with the casual reassurance, “I’m sure it’ll be fine, but if it doesn’t work out, there’s always formula.” As you can imagine, that statement still haunts me to this day. I have since learned just how inadequate formula is. I have realized how very much breastfeeding does matter to me. Being supportive, my mother who breastfed her babies long after one year, didn’t contradict, having faith that my decision was thoroughly considered.
So, I moved forward. Recovery was wicked. I couldn’t even bring myself to look at my breasts for weeks. My mom, husband, and best friend endured the responsibility of cleaning my wounds. Finally, my husband had enough of my closed eye tactic, and made me look at them. I couldn’t believe how small they were. While covered in scars, they were beautiful. My breasts were perfectly sized, as the saying goes, just a handful. I felt so grateful for a safe and successful surgery. I was grateful for the change in shape, knowing that this was something that would have been truly impossible for me to accomplish on my own.
About seven days into my post operation, I began to feel severely ill. I had reported signs of extreme nausea, fever, headache, fatigue, abdominal pain and tenderness. I reached out to my family doctor. Mid-June through the end of August, I was tested, poked, and prodded more times than I can count. Twice a week I had a series of blood work done, several ultra sounds, MRIs, and the worst of which was the liver biopsy. The clinical diagnosis was drug-induced hepatitis.
You read that right. Between all the Tylenol I had popped with a recent half-marathon, followed by the breast reduction surgery and painkillers, and all the dangerously, disgusting food post-op, my body was struggling to process the overload of toxins.
I knew in my heart that while I was going through this, feeling so sick, that this would mark the turning point for me and my relationship with food. In order to heal, I need to swap the junk food for loving foods. I gradually immersed myself in the world of nutrition and taught myself to rid the junk, and eat real, wholesome foods. At the start of my journey, I went full out vegan. I was a newbie at this, so at that time I did what most “newly vegan” people do and picked up everything processed and everything soy.
My dietary lifestyle molded from one year to the next, but for the most part was based on clean eating principles. Key to this change was that I was finally in control of my food choices. At the time, the only ingredient I believed to be missing was my lack of lean muscle. I was incredibly weak. I was skinny fat. I wanted so badly to be as committed to fitness, as I was to clean eating…but excuses for not working out was seemingly endless. Years went by, and finally in 2011, I overcame the resistance. I worked out consistently. Through trial and error, I discovered what worked for my body. Weights. I absolutely fell in love with lifting heavy weights. Strong was indeed my new skinny.
The five-year mark was slowly knocking on my door, and I was thirsty for more knowledge before having children. In 2012, I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and graduated a year later as a Holistic Health Coach. I immediately started working with clients and watched with bliss one client success story after another. I felt like I had everything figured out. I was clean eating, in the best shape of my life, how much healthier could I get? Oh boy, A LOT!
The summer of 2012, I became pregnant with my son. All of a sudden, I became keenly aware that there was more to natural health than clean eating and working out. I prayed for enlightenment. I didn’t want to look back and have regrets.
At eight weeks pregnant, I crossed paths with a Naturopathic Doctor who I immediately hired as our doula and family Naturopath. It was truly a divine connection. She entered my life at the exact moment that I needed her to. With the foundation of years of reading and discovery, it was through my time working with her that I was truly the most challenged – and most empowered to take not only my health, but also my family’s health, into my own hands.
Enter the word Nourishment
“I desperately wanted to bottle up the beauty I felt being pregnant. The only way I could think to capture the moment was through photos. At 32 weeks I did a boudior photoshoot. These photos are truly a cherished gift!”
My whole mindset changed and I was on a mission to nourish my body with foods that made me feel so alive.
I discovered essential oils, herbs, flower essences and homeopathics. I learned to trust my body to the fullest. I had never felt more beautiful than I did while pregnant. Every pound I gained during pregnancy was a silent cheer. I knew each pound was nourished pound. I knew that I was providing my body, my baby, with everything he needed. I mapped out a plan for a natural childbirth, and I was tested beyond measure, but successful. I stayed in control of my body, of my choices, of my baby.
The birth story and breastfeeding woes and successes are deserving of their own series of posts. Truly, there’s so much could tell on that end. While everything went according to plan, it was a traumatic experience for me. Thankfully I have healed tremendously simply through my work of helping other mamas honor their body and achieve a healthy pregnancy, natural birth and successful breastfeeding.
“Every pound I gained during pregnancy was a silent cheer. I knew each pound was nourished pound. I knew that I was providing my body, my baby, with everything he needed.”
Finding ME Again
When it came to finding my body postpartum, I’m so proud of the patience that I gifted my body to heal, rebuild and reshape. It’s amazing when you put nourishment in the forefront of your thoughts how it changes everything… It’s not about being skinny, it’s not about pigeonholing yourself to one “diet” – it’s about being nourished from the inside out. There was no neglecting, no depleting, just simply tuning in with your body and making positive choices on a consistent basis.
Today, I’m raising my son – alongside my husband – and embracing natural parenting to its fullest. The more I learn about natural health, the more I want to learn. As a student once again, only this time in the Naturopathic Doctorate program, I’m stretching myself to whole new heights. My commitment to meditation, nourishment, workouts, self-care and seeking truth has never been stronger.
If you’re ready to love yourself in the body you have, let’s connect.
I’d be honored to be part of your transformation story. The biggest gift I can give this world is helping woman like yourself shift from a state of powerlessness to empowered. When we simply begin to reflect inward to our innermost source of truth and wisdom, pure magic will start to unfold in all aspects of your life. Promise.
May you find peace, serenity and love on your journey to a life of balance,