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My Journey To Wellness

I’m finding my way.   This is lengthy, but sometimes getting a glimpse into someone, who they are, where they have been, and where they are going is good.

My 10 year old son found this graphic online, printed it and left it laying around the house: “Don’t forget to be awesome.”   So I hung it by my desk.

We are always encouraging him to do his best. And then I realized, I am not always doing my best.  So, as I wrestle with what this new journey in life is, what my route will be, and how to map my coordinates…. I thought I would share a little background as I work toward “being awesome” and creating an upward spiral of positive change.

In college, my favorite place for breakfast was the bagel sandwich shop across from campus. As often as I could , I would stop for an everything bagel with cream cheese, and a large cup of coffee with cream and sugar. Even though I spent a good part of my life in Florida, I was born in Chicago… so you know deep dish pizza is also part of my DNA. Of course, that carried over to college too and dictated many of my meal choices. There were three amazing pizza & pasta restaurants that every college student solicited regularly and I was no exception. I LOVE BREAD!!! And all things like bread. Gumby sticks (garlic breadsticks) rocked. Don’t forget Burrito Brothers…. yes – all high quality food that most certainly was giving me all the high quality energy I needed right? NOT

It was no big deal really, I maintained my weight by riding my bicycle everywhere. I rode to class, I rode to work, I rode with members of the cycling team. I had a gym membership and went to the gym on a regular basis. So, I didn’t think much of what I was eating because it adhered to the recommendations of the food pyramid and our dietary guidelines.

Surprisingly, I didn’t party much in college, which was likely my saving grace. My parents instilled a strong work ethic and I stayed involved with church and Young Life. So, I completed my degree in Nutrition and Food Science within the normal four year span. And I was out of there. It was textbook ideal.

Oh, yeah…. The regular stomach aches that kept me up at night since high school. I forgot to mention those. I used to lay on the floor in the store room of my parents’ store curled up in a ball from stomach pain in high school. It continued in college. I went to a few doctors and the diagnosed me with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. They told me to take fiber, ibuprofen, and drink water when the pain was bad. If it got worse, they would prescribe a stronger medicine. Nothing to see here folks… just look the other way and take some more medicine.

Is anyone’s jaw dropping yet??????  Can anyone relate?

The above formula isn’t making you shake your head???  Maybe not, because this has become so common in our society.

Bagels, pasta, pizza, burritos + irritable bowel syndrome + degree in Nutrition = A BIG MESS

BY THE WAY, I forgot to mention that my absolute favorite indulgence – ICE CREAM!!!!! The dairy and sugar was the “icing on the cake” for an upset stomach.  Where are the fruits and vegetables?

I am after all, human.

As I navigated my way through adulting, I improved a little. I ate more fruit, added in oatmeal for fiber, and upped the salad intake. I began to force myself to eat cooked vegetables, even though I despised them. I was in various outside sales roles, so I had a fairly active job versus a desk job. Maintaining weight well, YES. Feeling generally good, aside from always having a stomach ache, YES. But I still loved bread…. so much so my Father-in-law called me the bread basket lady because I would eat the entire basket of bread when we went out to eat in a matter of minutes.

I just thought that the irritable bowel syndrome was a disease. I had to live with it just like my asthma and allergies I had suffered with all my life. You figure out how to deal with it.

Fast forward several years. I just welcomed a healthy baby boy into the world after suffering through a horrible pregnancy. I felt terrible every minute of everyday and gained a significant amount of weight (almost 100 pounds). I avoided all the “danger” foods during pregnancy, but I ate…. I was always hungry. The following years were just as rough as I struggled through the first years of motherhood suffering silently from excruciating pain throughout my body, terrible digestive issues, extreme exhaustion, migraines and mood swings. I went to multiple doctors that told me I was just going through normal motherhood. But – I KNEW SOMETHING WAS WRONG. Despite always having stomach cramps and asthma, I had never felt so terrible in my life. It was all catching up with me.

I was working 60-80 hours a week as a busy real estate agent trying to establish my career during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. I was volunteering and attending networking events. I was doing “everything right.” But, I was run down and sick. I finally found someone that listened. I will be forever grateful. I found a doctor that decided to DIG DEEP and figure out what was going on. I spent many appointments in a cancer center. I woke up many mornings worried that I wouldn’t live to see my son graduate. I was scared!  And, as the doctors finally diagnosed me with hyperparathyroidism, my eyes began to open to what that was and lead me to this place. POOR SELF CARE.

The excellent medical team removed the “abnormal growths” and part of my parathyroid. They sent me on my way after a two week follow up appointment and advised that I have my calcium levels checked regularly. Wonderful. I was beginning to feel better. But not completely. And I kept coming back to the question: “How did I get here?”  “How am I having surgery in my thirties?”

I began scouring the internet and stumbled on holistic approaches to wellness. All of a sudden I had the “AHA” moment that so many people muse about in life. I had a freakin’ degree in NUTRITION. Could food be playing a role? How did I miss this? I had to learn more. What I realized is, the methods and general paradigms I was taught in college had become outdated and there was a mounting body of evidence following the idea: what we put in our body either hurts or helps it. PERIOD!

My degree in nutrition and food science gave me the scientific background to really understand what I was re-learning and researching. I understand the general body systems and the basic chemistry of what happens in our bodies. I also began to understand how many toxins are present in our everyday life and the effect they have on our health and wellness. I began to understand the chemical response stress has on our body and our health.

I was mentally done selling houses. I began to experiment with different diets, eating plans, and exercise. I began to use essential oils. I started taking supplements. I lost weight. I still had some digestive issues. It was not until I went on a low carb diet to loose the last bit of baby weight that I had more energy and FINALLY stopped having digestive issues. It took some time for me to link it all together.  It has been a bumpy road.  I am making a course correction, a u-turn, and taking a new path.  I am feeling better and have lots of victories on the scale and off the scale.

My journey to wellness is still on going. I am still mapping out my journey, my route, my waypoints. Life is like a big map and you have to find the path that works for you, and where your perfect LATITUDE is. Your Happy Place. What is the place; mentally, physically, emotionally that keeps you in balance. I am finding out who I am and learning from the mistakes I made and am still making. My journey to wellness isn’t just about food. It is about finding out who I am, who I was meant to be, and working to become my best self. Because, as I reflect on the past twenty years, I realized I did some things well, and I really screwed some things up. For a while, I was so caught in the rat race, I lost myself. I lost a bit of my soul….. I made mistakes. I know all of that journey brought me here. To this place of awareness and strategic growth.

So here it is, I am finding my voice, my truths, my beliefs, my curiosities ….I want to shout from the rooftops:

  • that you too can learn about wellness

  • what we have learned about food and nutrition in the past has some low points

  • life throws us lots of curve balls, but we have catchers’ mitts and bats of all shapes and sizes to manage them

  • how we as Americans can make a true shift in the massive paradigm that our healthcare system has created

  • we can learn to treat ourselves better and take care of ourselves

  • give our bodies more of what they need and less of what they don’t

  • create an environment and lifestyle that supports health instead of illness

  • you CAN feel better

  • it is so important to advocate for yourself and your family

  • identify what true health food is, versus what so many of us learned previously

  • we can support local farmers to create a better food supply in our country

  • we can limit our exposure to harmful toxins and environmental threats

  • we can boost our immune system

  • we can work with our healthcare providers to get to the ROOT of our health issues instead of just masking them by treating symptoms

  • we can learn to like healthy foods by experimenting with new and interesting recipes

  • we can teach our kids what a healthy lifestyle looks like

  • our gut health and microbiome is absolutely fascinating and influences our wellness

  • we can manage stress

  • we need to start moving more

  • we need to honor ourselves, our successes and our failures

  • we can slow the aging process

  • a majority of chronic disease is linked to inflammation… which we CAN control and influence

  • relationships matter

  • sugar sucks

  • there are great compliments and/or alternatives to tradition healthcare that we can embrace

  • our ancestors did “healthy” well, they ate real food...we need to revisit and relearn some traditions and methods

  • healthy is cool

  • cooking can be fun

  • food is medicine

  • everyone has to process emotions and life’s curveballs on their own time and in their own way

  • support one another, listen and practice random acts of kindness

  • find joy

  • be grateful and appreciate the little things and the big things

  • know grace

  • surround yourself with people that raise you up and challenge you

  • explore nature and travel more

  • creating a space that brings you peace

  • we can have fun and actually feel good

  • embrace your spiritual beliefs

  • be ambitious and set goals

  • even though we live and we will eventually all dies, it is better to feel good and enjoy life while we are here instead of suffering

  • eat REAL FOOD

I want to empower and inspire you to make changes to feel better and live well. I want to have fun, learn more, know peace, love, nurture my family, enjoy moments and keep working on developing my best self with grace.

Stay with me as I share, explore, and advocate all of these ideas on this blog and start my personal coaching business.  I hope this blog will become a compass to help you along your journey too.  Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to receive updates and new posts at the bottom of the website.

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