Take a moment to imagine having a day without low energy, without anxiety, digestive disorders, mood swings or depression. Imagine being the best version of yourself. Imagine finally coming home to you.
I have spent an enormous amount of time and money healing myself. I researched symptoms of low energy, exhaustion, poor memory. I’ve navigated my poor concentration, up and down moods, and digestive issues. I listened religiously and studied under some of today's thought leaders when it comes to these topics. I started to uncover the truth that there is no one right way to heal and that we have the power to heal ourselves. This is something that most, if not all, health and wellness experts agree upon.
There is simply no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach. Each and every individual may need more of one thing; more meditation, more vegetables, more fulfilling relationships, more playful movement, more compassion for themselves. While others may need less; less coffee, less stress, less toxins, less exercise, less staying stuck in emotional patterning.
My Health Journey:
This story is long, so buckle up. I tried my best to condense it, but that didn’t work out. Each piece of my story is relevant to the big picture of health, and if you can resonate or relate on any level, please share! I would love to hear from you. This world can be one of struggle at times, and through the power of vulnerability and sharing we create a connection that allows us to know we are not alone.
A little bit about what brought me here: I had brain fog. I couldn’t focus. Retention was a challenge, and my energy was non-existent. I continued to replay the same negative patterns while having a pessimistic and unmotivated outlook on life. I was consistently agitated, tense, and I was overly reliant on coffee to keep me functioning. I struggled to focus when people were speaking to me, I could barely hear them, as if I I would instantly forget what they said. I had a hard time processing thoughts. Both at work and at home, I would have to reread paragraphs over and over, in order to retain information.
I would wake up exhausted, crawling out of bed. I was so incredibly drained that I would have to take frequent naps during the day. I would find myself falling asleep at my desk at work or having to take naps in my car. My heart raced constantly, which turned into anxiety, on top of up and down moods that felt like a rollercoaster of depressive episodes.
I felt like I was living a life that was separate from my body. It took a great deal of effort and research to realize that this was not who I innately was. I started to look into the various potential health problems that my symptoms were reflecting, like anxiety, depression, adrenal insufficiency, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s, Epstein Barr Virus, Lymes, Alzheimer's, and others. I spent hours, days and weeks listening to and reading the latest research from various types of medicine. I kept thinking I finally was eating the right foods only to be told that they aren't right at all. I tried all the fad food trends only to feel empty and exhausted from it all. I tried so many different types of supplements that I heard on the latest podcast because it claimed to be the next, new, be-all, end-all supplement. I turned toward conventional medicine, functional medicine, Ayurveda, naturopathy, yoga, ayahuasca, medical mediums, energy healing, hypnotherapy, you name it! All of which had their place on my healing journey.
I turned myself into a human guinea pig. I became incredibly obsessed with finding the answer to the root cause of my symptoms. What I discovered was there were a number of reasons for my current state of health. Some of which began in my childhood and were showing up in the form of a sluggish, unhealthy liver, adrenal dysfunction, mineral/vitamin deficiencies, toxicity from a few different sources, and blood sugar imbalance.
Looking back and reflecting on the past and my childhood, I realize that it is difficult to pinpoint where symptoms begin. I could gather that mine started from a young age. Having had grown up on a diet of mostly processed foods and a hell of a lot of sugar, my eating habits were pretty standard to today’s typical diet, but worse, I was not getting nutrients into my body. I had lost touch with my bodies natural ability to heal at a very early on.
What did years of these kinds of habits do to my body when I was young? I had allergies so bad, that I would go to sleep with a wet cloth over my eyes every night to stop them from being so itchy. I stuck tissues up my nose on a regular basis because my nose wouldn’t stop running, this was even when I wasn't sick. I got bronchitis and colds three times a year. I had sport-induced asthma and acne. I had cavities upon cavities. I even remember having seven at one time.
Upon reflection, I can acknowledge that my college lifestyle only made it worse. Living in close quarters, lack of sleep, and drinking from other people’s drinks took a toll on my physical body. I had recurrent throat infections, mono, continued allergies. I received multiple rounds of antibiotics, and took TUMS almost daily because my stomach hurt after every meal. I continued to eat processed food, ramen anyone? I continued to abuse alcohol, coffee, red bull, excessive amounts of Adderall, was under constant stress, and created virtually no time to myself. My self-care game was not happening.
My brain fog, cloudy thinking and scattered thoughts left me to my own devices in trying to do well in school. I had to work three times harder than everyone else, while taking unprescribed Adderall. Sketchy, right? These lifestyle habits developed negative thinking patterns. I had horrible self-image, and over-analyzed everything. Indecision became commonplace, relationships were impossible, and commitments to events/get together’s were a struggle to follow through with. I was running on auto-pilot, where it was “normal” to go out all the time and drink until black out.
Several years later after living in this cycle long after my college years, I found myself living in Ukraine, teaching English for the Peace Corps. It was a truly beautiful experience in so many regards. The people, the culture and my students were some of the most incredible people I have ever met. I was about a year into my service with the Peace Corps when I started to feel overwhelmingly isolated. I felt alone. I was alone. No consistent Internet to distract me, winters were pretty damn lonesome. I found myself stuck in my head. The stories I created were real and loud. The feeling of anxiety encapsulated my entire body and it led to physical pain. My inner critic was screaming at the top of its lungs. No one could understand, not even me. I felt like I couldn’t reach out to anyone.
I kept telling myself I chose to be here. I signed up to live in another country for two years to volunteer, to teach English. I left my friends, my family, and placed myself in a new community. I lived in a small town where only a handful of people could understand my English and my ability to speak their language was incredibly limited until about a year in.
This is what I dreamed of. This is what I wanted to do. Yet how could I ever feel this form of suffering? Had I ever felt this? I didn’t think so. And this little fact scared me to the core. I discovered that it wasn’t my surroundings that left me paralyzed in my own thoughts. It was a combination of heartbreak, feelings of abandonment by someone whom I had grown very close to, along with the underpinnings of low self-worth.
I was trying to use the same old patterns of self-sabotage to end my suffering and it was working against me. I tried distracting myself. I tried to get the words on paper, tried changing the story, attempted to reframe the situation, meditation, and listened to Louise Hay’s affirmations on repeat until I fell asleep. Nothing worked. I remember writing in a journal about how I believed that achieving a state of presence was impossible. I truly thought that my mind had full control and there was nothing that I could do about it. I felt like a victim.
Being compassionate with myself was not something that ever crossed my mind. Instead, I relentlessly beat myself up, judged, criticized, chastised myself for allowing what had happened to happen. I got lost in the world of comparison, alienation and not living in the present moment. This needed to end.
I threw myself into different projects, as a way to distract myself from my heartbreak. I found a Ukrainian tutor, who ended up being an amazing older woman who taught me quite a bit about food. She taught me the benefits of bone broth, making sure food comes from a known source and eating mindfully. She used to playfully hit my hand when I would try to do something other than eat during meal time.
I continued to distract myself; I found a deep passion for helping my female students achieve a sense of self-worth, to be strong in their convictions, to know that they can achieve anything. I wanted to teach them how to be less self-critical and inspire them to create a positive body image. At times, I felt like a hypocrite. Here I was, preaching to 14-16 year olds, yet I could not let go of all of these behaviors and habits myself.
Those moments in Ukraine are still imprinted in my heart as some of the most growth-oriented experiences of my life. The highs were high and the lows were low. It allowed me to set off on a journey of self-healing. This is where I began to figure out how food, relationships, spirituality, and physical activity equally play a role in the pursuit of happiness. When I arrived home after my service in the Peace Corps, I went job to job feeling unfulfilled after such an impactful experience. I soon realized that corporate America was not for me and spent several years in jobs just to pay the bills, where I was miserable and just existing.
A few years after getting back from Ukraine, I stumbled on an 8-week self-compassion based training.These 8-weeks were eye-opening for me. It provided me with the resources to develop a relationship with myself. This idea of self-compassion is something that I am truly grateful for, and has slowly, but surely, changed how I view myself and others. I realized that this is a necessary part of coming home to ourselves.
I started to get real with myself and noticed that I had to start healing my body through nutrition on a deeper level. After studying integrative nutrition and becoming advocate for myself in my health journey, I discovered that I had an underactive thyroid and was dealing with adrenal insufficiency. I finally received an answer to underlying cause of the confusing nature of my moods, exhaustion, and my hopeless attitude toward life. I learned that most of us who are dealing with similar symptoms will have had nutrient deficiencies.
I did more and more research on what this means to the body. I found that what I had going on can cause weight gain around the waist (no matter how much you are exercising), nutrient deficiencies that cause the brain not to function properly, (i.e., trouble staying organized, memory is starting to fail you). The body may experience symptoms of IBS, bowel movements may occur only once a week, or experience frequent diarrhea. Anxiety around decisions that feels debilitating, and a negativity bias. My body experienced pure exhaustion in the morning, yet feel wide-awake right before going to sleep.
I began to see doctor after doctor without much result. Our healthcare system is currently practicing a style of medicine that separates the body into parts, rather than treating the whole. It unfortunately does not recognize these systems all work together. However, I do see a change coming, and that more and more doctors are turning towards health coaches for the in-between times, i.e, the whole year you go without seeing them after they give you a diagnosis.
This thought process of conventional medicine, and an over-reliance on doctors to tell us what we need to do, has caused a disassociation of the body. We tend to disconnect from our inner guidance and we don’t listen to our intuition. I started to believe my symptoms were in me, that they were part of me, and that I could not change my circumstances.
I was initially afraid of discussing my emotional symptoms of memory loss, concentration issues, excessive worry, and constant negativity bias. It was embarrassing. I didn’t know anyone else dealing with this. I fell into this same trap of not listening to my intuition; I was told my symptoms were all in my head and that I just had to deal with it because it was in my genes. I hit a breaking point where I began to look within; I discovered my lifestyle choices in the past were leading to this dilapidated sense of health. And although the healing journey had begun, there was still a lot of work to do.
Being healthy went from being my biggest frustration to my biggest obsession. I went on to study functional nutrition, implemented a whole foods diet,, eliminated personally reactive foods, and instituted lifestyle changes that overall have drastically improved my wellness. I live and breathe this health style, and I am very proud of it. I want to help others who feel stuck achieve a sense of vitality and freedom of the mind and body. This journey has had many setbacks, but the transformation has been well worth it.
If you had asked me five years ago if I thought my future self would have a clear mind, a feeling of energy, a motivation to chase my dreams, and an actual feeling of worthiness, I would have laughed in your face!
We have been told a story that allows us to outsource responsibility for our own health. We want a quick fix, something easy and fast. We have shit to do, we don’t have time to get healthy. But, we do have time to heal, we simply need to make ourselves a priority. It doesn't matter if you have kids, a needy partner, a career that you spend every minute at, or are taking care of your parents. It's time to choose you, even for a short time time to see how much it heals you as a result.
What I learned through all of this, is that you have to be your own health advocate. What you are feeling is real, and you know yourself better than anyone else. The most important relationship you can have is with yourself and the healer within.
I am most grateful to have come into alignment with what I am here for and I aim to change the story about how we view our health as women and men.
My passionate belief is that every single person can change their story when you begin to understand the power of nutrition and lifestyle shifts. Take a moment to be proud of yourself for taking this first step. And get ready to meet your most authentic, healthy self!