This story is long, so buckle up. 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.
Life can be challenging at times, but through the power of vulnerability and sharing, we create a connection that allows us to know that we are not alone. This is why I created this space. This is what I needed when I was going through the most challenging parts of my health journey.
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 was consistently agitated, tense, and 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 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 just to retain information. I was pessimistic and had an unmotivated outlook on life.
I would wake up exhausted, crawling out of bed. I would find myself falling asleep at my desk at work or having to take naps in my car. My heart raced regularly, which turned into anxiety and confusing moods, that felt like a rollercoaster of depressive episodes.
I spent hours, days, and weeks listening to and reading the latest research from various types of medicine. I kept thinking I was finally 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 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. When things started to get really bad for me, I started to look into the various potential health problems that my symptoms were reflecting while working with multiple practitioners and studying holistic nutrition. I came across quite a few that overwhelmed me, for example; anxiety, depression, adrenal insufficiency, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s, Epstein Barr Virus, Lyme’s, and others.
While working with practitioners and getting certified in integrative nutrition, 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 learned was that there were several reasons for my state of health. Some reasons for my poor health began in my childhood.
Like many American children, I grew up on a diet of mostly processed foods and a lot of sugar. My eating habits were pretty similar to today’s typical diet. I was not getting nutrients into my body. I had lost touch with my body’s natural ability to heal very early on.
What did years of these 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 an everyday basis because my nose wouldn’t stop running. I got bronchitis and colds three times a year. I had sport-induced asthma and acne. I had cavities upon cavities.
I can reflect back on my college lifestyle and know I only made my health worse. Living in close quarters, a lack of sleep, and excessive drinking took a toll on my physical body. I had recurrent throat infections, mono, and 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, including daily microwaved ramen. I continued to abuse alcohol, coffee, Red Bull, unprescribed Adderall daily, was under constant stress and created virtually no time to myself. I was not taking care of myself in any way.
My brain fog, cloudy thinking, and scattered thoughts left me to my own devices in trying to do well in school. It felt like I had to work three times harder than everyone else, even while taking unprescribed Adderall. These lifestyle habits developed negative thinking patterns. I had a horrible self-image, low self-worth, and over-analyzed everything. Indecision became commonplace, relationships were impossible, and commitments to events/get-togethers 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 blackout.
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 wonderful experience in so many regards. The people, the culture, and my students were some of the most incredible people I have ever met. I met many amazing American volunteers, and entered into a relationship that turned into quite the learning experience for me.
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. There was no consistent Internet to distract me. Winters felt really long. 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, and 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.
I discovered that it wasn’t my surroundings that left me paralyzed in my own thoughts. It was a combination of heartbreak, feelings of rejection, and 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 decided to get the words on paper and somehow reframe or change the story. I got into meditation and listened to Louise Hay’s affirmations on repeat until I fell asleep. Nothing felt like it was working. I remember writing in a journal about how I believed that achieving a state of presence was impossible. I honestly thought that my mind had full control, and there was nothing that I could do about it.
When I was living in Ukraine, being compassionate with myself was not something that ever crossed my mind. Instead, I relentlessly beat myself up, judged, criticized, chastised myself for allowing every single thing to unravel the way it did.
I began to regret each decision I made. I second-guessed who I was and why I was there. I started to think about how I wasn’t making any impact at my in anyones life whatsoever.
Here I was, yet again, trying to control every aspect of my life and seeking validation in everything and everyone besides myself. My fear of losing “me” in another person, and of betrayal of self for said person had fully manifested.
So I stayed paralyzed in my thoughts, and ultimately got lost in the world of comparison. My fear of abandonment turned into jealousy. My fear of rejection allowed me to isolate myself even more. I continued to live anywhere besides the present moment.
I tried to throw myself into different projects as a way to distract myself from my heartbreak and overactive mind. I put on a smile and forced myself to rally. I thought maybe I could fool myself into thinking everything was all good. I diverted my attention by being a counselor at a few different summer camps. I discovered a deep passion for helping female students achieve a sense of self-worth. I had a hope to guide them to know that they can be strong in their beliefs. I wanted to teach them how to be less self-critical of themselves and inspire them to create a powerful identity where they can accept where they are on this path.
I felt like a hypocrite. Here I was, preaching to 14-16-year old girls, yet I could not let go of all of the critical voices screaming at me. My self-worth had hit an all-time low.
While living in Ukraine, I had a tutor. This woman was incredibly kind and patient. She ended up teaching me quite a bit about real food. She taught me the benefits of bone broth, fermented foods, detoxifying beets, and dandelion greens. She showed me an ancestral way of eating. She taught me how to eat mindfully by playfully hitting my hand when I would try to do something other than eat during mealtime.
Moments I spent living there are still imprinted in my heart as some of the most growth-oriented experiences. I learned a lot about how I operated and how the health of my mind was an ever-present factor that needed to change. This first glimpse of awareness 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 our health. These were some of the building blocks that led me to want to help others begin to wrap their heads around health.
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 only existing.
At one point, I stumbled on an eight-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 genuinely 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.
Being compassionate with yourself is hard when your inner critic is so loud. I started to get real with myself. I noticed that I had to start healing my body through nutrition on a deeper level to begin to see changes in my thought patterns.
I studied integrative nutrition and started to step into the role of being an advocate for myself in my health journey, I realized I had a lot of symptoms that I could have swept under the rug. I didn’t know that these were things that I could heal. I know now that we do not have to go through life feeling sub-par.
I saw a few different practitioners while in school and I learned that I had a very typical dynamic of an underactive thyroid and adrenal insufficiency-- basically a hormonal imbalance with an over-reactive immune system at play. With that came liver congestion, lots of toxicity in the body, and several nutrient deficiencies These were the root causes that I identified.
It felt good to receive an answer to the underlying cause of the confusing nature of my moods, exhaustion, and my hopeless attitude toward life.
I continued to research and learn from my teachers more on what these dynamics meant to my body. It meant that it was tough staying organized, and it meant that my memory was not doing so well. It meant that forgetfulness and lack of concentration would become an integral part of who I was unless I continued to make proper lifestyle changes. All symptoms I was very familiar with.
The thyroid is in charge of a lot of metabolic processes; my underactive thyroid was causing infrequent bowel movements or the exact opposite; bloating was commonplace. Feeling sick after meals was an every day challenge. I had serious anxiety around decisions that felt debilitating, along with an extreme negativity bias towards most everything. I was losing quite a bit of hair and had very brittle and weak nails. All of this accompanied by pure exhaustion in the morning, fogginess for hours after lunch, and then feeling wide-awake right before going to sleep
I remember being really 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 had hit a breaking point where I began to look within. I hope you are at that point as well. It feels dark, but it is truly the definition of a blessing in disguise. My healing journey had already started. I got certified in holistic integrative nutrition. I was practicing self-compassion. I was finding movement and exercise that I loved. I became a movement educator. I figured out my self-sabotage behaviors, which are now incredibly apparent! I gained knowledge of what foods to put in my body that didn't cause some kind of reaction.
Over the entire course of my journey I turned towards primary care doctors, functional medicine, Ayurveda, naturopathic doctors, yoga, ayahuasca, medical mediums, energy healing, hypnotherapy, you name it! All of which had their place on my healing journey.
Because I started to see the impacts of life-style changes, I went on to study functional medicine. Functional medicine is a modality we use to get to the root cause of dis-ease in the body. It is a personalized and individual approach to chronic illness. It can be both preventive and healing. There is a lot of investigative work that goes into it. It is a process, not a quick fix. We all carry the sincere belief that the body has the power to heal itself.
So here I am today--I want to help others who feel stuck achieve a sense of vitality and freedom of the mind and body. This journey has definitely had many setbacks, but the transformation has been well worth it.
Honestly, if you had asked me ten 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 the power is out of our hands when it comes to our health. This 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. Whether 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, it's time to prioritize yourself.
What I learned through my own health journey, is that you have to be your own health advocate. You know yourself better than anyone else. The most important relationship you can have is with yourself and the healer within. I am only here to provide tools that can guide you along the way.
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.
My core 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. Get ready to meet your most authentic, healthy self!