How did I arrive here with these awesome, inspirational, and experienced health coaches writing for a health conscious and nutritionally-based magazine?
Have you noticed that I am currently the only one on the Your Healthy Hustle Team who does not have the distinction of being a certified health coach? What’s up with that? Well, here is how it happened…
Currently, I am teaching 14 rambunctious and marvelous kindergarteners in a full day public school. I love watching my students learn, grow, and change in this most critical and influential first year of school. As a teacher, I have a unique perspective on their growth and development. Yet sadly, as a 33-year veteran teacher, I’ve witnessed a significant decline in the overall health of our children.
Thirty years ago it was very rare to have any of my students or my colleague’s students suffer from food and seasonal allergies, asthma, eczema, diabetes, obesity, anxiety, cancers, sensory and attention issues. (Not to mention common colds that last for months – not just a week, and often turn into a more serious respiratory/sinus/ear infection). Unfortunately, these illnesses are all too common now!
When it began
Since my teen years, I struggled with my weight. I tried the usual “fad diets” as well as some of the more “conventional” approaches. You name it, I have probably tried it or at least some version of it! My teaching career began and the added stress of a full-time career only made my struggle more difficult. My weight increased and my self-confidence and energy plummeted. Again, I turned to the diet books, programs, and plans. Of course, I had some success in losing but never in maintaining a healthy weight for any length of time. Sadly, it took me decades to finally look at the quality of my food, my emotional connection to it, and how it was all ultimately robbing me of my health.
My first major wake-up call came in the summer of 2002 when both of my parents died within 10 days of each other. Their causes of death; a sudden diagnosis of an aggressive form of sarcoma in Mom and kidney failure in Dad after many years of his declining health. I began to recognize then that their nutrition, lifestyle and their environment were all contributing factors to their suffering. This heart-wrenching time heightened my awareness and thirst for true health through deep nutrition and wellness practices.
A few month later I had my own health scare. I found a small lump in my left breast. Biopsies and lumpectomy followed. All benign. (Phew!) But the impact of experiencing how quickly one’s life can turn upside down was driven home once again. I remember thinking how so many things in life are out of my control but some things can be a choice. My choice.
Baby steps towards healthy choices and “clean” eating
Through numerous books, articles, documentaries, nutrition magazines and journals I discovered that food additives make us addicted to eating more. Chemicals sprayed on our food cause earlier onset of diseases that were once only seen in the elderly. Food substitutes wreck havoc with our digestion. Our soil is depleted. Food does not deliver the nutrition it once did. Toxins in our environment causing strange illnesses. (No wonder I saw a decline in my students’ health over the last decades!) Lots of bad news…
For many more years, I tried to eat healthier and be more active. I continued to search for the best “eating plan” (thinking that one would be the perfect fit for me). I joined several gyms or exercise classes, purchased yoga and cardio DVD’s (back in the day, VHS tapes!) and went in spurts with exercise routines. I had pretty much given up on “dieting” and resolved to not fall for any more of those quick fixes. Learning what ingredients to look for and which ones to avoid was key! My biggest “aha moment” was when I realized that too often we may take one or two pain reliever pills to provide relief for the whole body, yet the foods we take numerous times and throughout the day supposedly “make no difference”. Our food is our greatest drug! It either heals or harms. Every. Single. Bite.
So when my friend Karla invited me to her friend’s home for a health and nutrition talk in January 2015, I went. Before I entered Mandi’s home, I promised myself that I would not buy anything that had ingredients that would harm my body any further. I was just there to support my friend and listen. With skepticism.
One look at the label on the containers and one taste (ok, several tastes) of the products gave me hope. Hope that there was a simple way to get deep nutrition on a daily basis. I saw only whole, green, live, raw ingredients on those labels. No additives. No artificial flavors or sweeteners. And it was organic! I ordered that evening.
Several days later my order arrived and I began my new life. A life that experienced changes in my health almost immediately. My acid reflux disappeared by the third day, my brain fog and skin were clearing by the end of the week, aches, pains, and bloating lessened by the middle of the next week. I realized that I had gone almost a whole week without needing the alarm clock to wake me. My husband and friends started to notice the positive outward changes while I was amazed by what I was feeling inside. A sense of wholeness, calmness, yet excitement for my future. Many months later, this approach became a lifestyle and the improvements continued. By the end of the year, I had released over 60 pounds and had learned so much about myself and my health improved more than I ever thought possible.
Now for the rest of the story
It has been almost 3 years since that night in Mandi’s kitchen and I haven’t detoured from that decision. And the health benefits continue. My immune system has battled numerous cold and flu seasons with many kindergarteners and won almost every time. I have quickly recovered from two surgeries (shoulder and fibroids). And now am sailing through premenopause after balancing my hormones. All of this I accredit to proper nutrition and wellness practices. Hippocrates said it best; “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Through it all, Mandi was my coach, mentor, and became my valued and dear friend. She introduced me to Susan, then Geoff, and eventually Sandra. This is a journey I began with one decision. A decision to take my health into my own hands by giving my body the best, purest, cleanest food I could so it could heal itself. To continue to educate myself and anyone else who cares to listen has become my passion. This led me to join with this team of “Healthy Hustlers” in sharing with you the best we can in health, nutrition, and wellness. We hope to serve you well.