When I moved to Portland, Oregon for culinary school, as a 19-year-old vegetarian, I found myself incorporating a lot more movement into my life. Within two years I had decided to invest in a local, organic, community supported agriculture (CSA) box as a way to support my local farmer and I also, eventually, took up running. I didn't know who I was becoming, but it was approaching Fall 2011 when it dawned on me that I couldn't remember the last time I felt depressed.
Though I was starting to grasp fitness as an anti-depressant, I also thrust myself into the realm of calorie counting, portion control, and weekly weigh-ins. About a year after graduation, I had lost the 20 pounds I gained in culinary school and decided to go back to school for personal training. During this 6-month, hands on course, I learned functional movement and posture analysis, began to crack my skull open to a slightly alternative view on nutrition, all the while chasing that number on the scale and the longing to be skinny.
After moving back to Seattle a couple years later, I started to eat thoughtfully sourced meat, I got an amazing job working at a local gym where I started weight lifting and teaching fitness classes, I got involved in roller derby, yet I was simultaneously living a type of double life. I was sassy, lovable, and professional by day and come nightfall I consistently had some of my craziest drinking years on record. A deeper, darker part of me thrived on this. I literally became a different person and I subconsciously loved it. Clearly, something wasn't right, however I didn't give this much thought. I truly thought I was the happiest and healthiest I had ever been in my life that far. Nothing could slow me down or change my perspective. Though a roller derby induced dislocated knee injury surely taught me some foundational self-care practices, I still drank a lot and went out every chance I got. It was just who I was. I continued to ride the waves of life and eventually my intuition piped through to a decision to leave everything I knew to go travel. I started planning one year out.
This was the original spark of my now minimally minded lifestyle that lead me on a nine month excursion through Mexico and Central America that was nothing short of life changing. This is where I fell into love and practice with yoga. This is where I fully dislocated my left shoulder for the first time. This is where I felt most connected to spirit and the Universe, and sort of started trying to drink less. This trip was eye opening, heart-filling, with one cultural and spiritual experience after the other, after another, finally ending my adventures with a three week intensive 200hr yoga teacher training on a nature reserve in Costa Rica - where I truly learned a lot about myself.
Yet, upon returning from those travels I turned my back on the self-care, yoga, and spiritual routines I had grown into. I was catching up with old friends and family, I traveled a bit more short-term, fell in love, and before I knew it seven months passed and my drinking finally got the best of me. I decided to give it up for good November 2015. I decided to settle down in my home town of Skagit Valley, WA for a couple years and this is where everything really and truly, finally, caught up with me. I fell into culture shock, depression creeped back in, and with it brought two new friends formerly unknown to me: high stress and anxiety. Though it was a struggle, I used this time for self reflection and getting back on my feet. I delved into many self-experiments revolved around fitness, mindset, and food.
Over the past decade I have experienced the reward of fitness as a type of overall anti-stress medicine. I have learned the value in working on one's self, flipping your perspective and being open minded. I have realized the tie back to nutrition - food - and our earth. In these realizations, I have found my love and gratitude for life.
It was in completing four nutritional resets (Whole30s) over four years and consistently checking in with my food/mood relationship, that I started to not only suspect food as a leading component of this intricately woven wellness puzzle and my mental battles, but I started to become aware of sugar addiction patterns in myself, as well as my clients. This drew me to the nine month nutrition course at The Nutritional Therapy Association where I studied in-depth the body's systems (digestion, blood sugar, adrenal health, and much more) and the affect of food and mindset on our overall wellbeing.
It is here that my love and instinctive pulls towards real food and nature itself as powerful medicines to our body, mind, and soul truly blossomed. The realization that everything I had felt drawn toward my whole life is actually grounded in science and there is a whole tribe of beautiful people who also know this to be true and live by it, totally rocked my world! I still feel immense gratitude and excitement to be a part of the holistic, natural medicine, alternative therapies, and healing arts communities.
Through my personal experiences and education I have come to see the healing powers that are gifted straight from our earth, our minds, and the way our food choices directly affect our perceived realities and mental health. I've made friends with and practiced along side people who have single handedly overcome their own auto immune diseases and other ailments by adopting a real-foods diet and having a positive outlook on life. I've now been humbled with the opportunity to work along side doctors of all kinds, (medical, natural, chiropractic, sports, and more) as well as other healers and therapists. I've attended many lectures and heard all about the "new science" grounded in ancient traditions that is emerging: Most everything we've been led to believe about our health and our bodies over the past century has been deeply flawed. In fact, it's caused more damage than healing, which is easily seen by the epidemic of various health conditions prevalent in today's society.
I'm here to take a stand and make a difference, because I know it starts with me and it starts with you. We can live optimally healthy and happy lives, and we do have the power to take our health into our own hands. I've done it myself, I've helped others, and I want to help you. Why not love the life you live?
My journey is never ending. I will always be learning, growing, sharing, helping, guiding, healing. Let my mission be clear: with self-care focused around growth mindset, daily movement, and a delicious real-foods diet, you can live a truly happy and healthy life, and you don't have to do it alone!
Keep these things in mind and remember a positive mindset goes a lot further than you might imagine...
1. TEXTURE + TASTE
Have you ever tried "gluten free bread"? Yeah, the products are getting better more often these days, but especially when it first started coming out, GF bread blows. It's hard and nasty and makes you want to give up all hope on ever finding a good bread substitute. This, my friend, is part of the journey into a Real Foods diet. Things ain't gonna taste the way you're used to. That is in part because our modern day food is designed to be more pleasurable than nature can actually provide. This gets us addicted and keeps us coming back for more. That is the sad truth behind food being produced in labs these days. It's not a joke. There are books and movies produced on this stuff. The point being: give yourself grace and...
2. THE LONGER YOU STICK WITH IT,
THE BETTER IT GETS
There is nothing more glorious than experiencing sweets from nature the way they were designed to be enjoyed. At first, it'll be easy to think "you'll never get there." You just wait. This one is hard to put into words, for it's not easily convincing. You must experience this for yourself. Have faith. It's coming.
3. FOOD ADDICTION IS REAL
Hello, sugar! It is true that you can become literally, physically addicted to things like gluten and dairy, but let me tell you the biggest killer of them all is sugar. Become aware of what it is that you LOVE and feel like you just can't give up. You really and truly, might be addicted and it's time to face the dragons head on. You can do it. It's so worth it.
4. YOU ARE GOING TO FEEL DEPRIVED
You're going to feel deprived, but I promise you my friend, you are not. Back that mean-mind talk up with a hefty load of empowering self-talk. You are doing this because you want to. You are doing this to get in touch with your body better. You are doing this to understand body and your mind on a deeper level. It seems silly, foolish, exhausting - especially when all you want is chocolate and popcorn. From here on out, you are on a food freedom journey and you must approach every interaction with conscious decisions. Become aware what is and isn't worth it, for your health and happiness - your body and your mind.
5. YOU MUST ALWAYS PLAN
This sounds draining, but again, with a little practice, in no time it will be second nature and you will always have your go-to back-ups on hand. My best advice is get a system down. You're going to fall off the wagon here and there, but if you have a system in place, it makes it that much easier to get back up. My favorite meal planning service is Real Plans. I love them so much, I dedicated a whole page on my website so you can learn about them!
Feeling frustrated, feeling like you "failed" is all part of the process. I would be worried if those things didn't happen to you! So embrace them when they come along and just keep getting back up. Give yourself grace and a positive pep talk. I've been on my journey for six years at the time of this writing and I've come a long ways, but I'm still figuring out a lot of things. You just have to commit to the process, dear friend.
PIN IT & NEVER FORGET IT!!!