By taking control of my own health, I have not only turned my health around, but also found a passion that I turned into my career and job that I love. At my low, I tipped the scale at 170 lbs - I ate a pastry vegetarian diet, had pain in my abdomen, excess weight, foggy thinking, skin problems, and experienced so much stress I felt sharp pains in my chest.
Initially, I went to conventional medical doctors and went through a whole host of very invasive medical testing. I was offered heavy-duty medications, and was basically told “I was fine, just getting older”.
Through a lot of trial and error, I discovered the foods that best fueled my body. As I advanced my education, I started running functional lab tests on myself, and that is when things really took a turn for the better! My knowledge as a health coach did not only come from studying and my interest in gut health and hormones, but also from addressing my personal health struggles by changing my own diet and lifestyle.
When I first began the journey to improve my health, I was confused about what to eat in order to be healthy and lose weight. I struggled with pain in my abdomen and had other digestive problems. I also faced many hormone imbalances that made my day-to-day life more difficult. I’m not shy about sharing these details. My intention is to help you realize you are not alone if you are experiencing similar problems. While I don’t offer a magic pill or quick fix, the services I provide to my clients support them in optimizing health and feeling their best once again!
I Had No Idea What to Eat
As a child I remember my parents both did a lot of home cooking. Any trips to the fast food restaurant were more about the jungle gym than the burgers. However, my mother likes to tell the story about when I discovered candy. I guess when I entered school and had my first sweet, I was totally hooked and obsessed. I had a sweet tooth!
During my teenage years, I was a competitive horseback rider (I love it and still ride now as a hobby). When I was 14, my love for animals influenced my decision to become a vegetarian. I maintained this diet for about 15 years, occasionally re-introducing chicken and fish. I also thought being a vegetarian was the healthiest way to live and would help me to lose weight. As a horseback rider, there was pressure to be thin so your equitation (style and position on the horse) looked good when jumping fences in competition.
One of the flaws of my vegetarian diet was that it was loaded with so-called healthy whole grains and sugar. I ate cereals at breakfast, whole wheat bread or bagels at lunch, pasta at dinner, and of course candy and dessert. I would buy gummy strawberries by the pound! My entire diet was actually void of nutrient dense veggies until the last few years of my vegetarian diet when I incorporated veggies I bought at the local farmer’s market.
When I was a vegetarian, I constantly felt low on energy and I was hungry all of the time. It’s no surprise really given the foods I was eating and the lack of fat and protein in my diet. I’m sure my blood sugar was up and down like a roller-coaster and I definitely wasn’t sleeping well at all either. I remember at one point in my 20s, I downloaded an app that helped me count calories and I felt starved the one week that my recording lasted. I was desperate to feel good and lose weight.
During my career in corporate marketing, I worked for a luxury health club where I was exposed to countless dietary theories and fitness routines (both good and bad). This influenced me to pursue a new career in nutrition. It was through learning and experimenting with my own diet that I determined what works best for me. I actually thrive on animal protein and have found that cutting out certain foods helped other symptoms that weren’t even my main complaints. My skin cleared up and the general bloat and inflammation I felt throughout my body went down. Interestingly, in addition to my clothes dropping a size, I actually went down half a shoe size and my ring size got smaller too.
I later took a Metabolic Typing test, and discovered that the few years of experimenting proved to have put me on the right track. I am a protein type and am fueled best by consuming protein, fat, and some vegetables (usually cooked). My new diet keeps me satiated, my energy is more stable, and I’m not reaching for snacks between meals. My sweet tooth has also calmed down a bit, although I do indulge in extra dark chocolate!
It was amazing to me how much my diet could change the way I felt. As a health coach, diet is one of the foundations of my Self Care 90 program, where I guide and encourage clients on make food choices that are best for their unique bodies. Instead of looking at what you can’t eat, it is important to add in quality, health-giving foods that will essentially crowd out the foods that deplete energy and add to the scale.
I remember my client, Brian*, came to me expecting restriction, calorie counting, and deprivation - he was confused about all the information he was reading and hearing about weight loss. On one of our calls, he was absolutely blown away when I told him a quality, grass-fed butter was a good source of bioavailable nutrients, that it was great for cooking and, of course, adding flavor. He had avoided butter for years out of fear he would gain weight from eating it.
Brian made numerous adjustments to his diet (including the addition of healthy fats). At the end of his program, he not only lost weight in the form of body-fat, he also lost the mental-emotional weight and stress he experienced from not knowing what to eat and being confused about how to stay healthy. Best of all, he discovered new foods he enjoyed and was able to stick to consistently eating healthy foods, not crash dieting or being driven by guilt.
Unlike the popular dietary theories (such as Paleo, Zone, Weight Watchers), focusing on a diet that is practical for your lifestyle and specific to your goals will lead to long-term success. Of course these diets can be a good template - but remember, a diet that makes one person feel their best, may leave you feeling run down and cause you to gain weight. Learning these bio-individual needs will put you on the right track with optimizing your energy and supporting your overall health!
Are you interested in learning more about how you can support your health through dietary changes that are unique to your body? Let’s set up a time to chat!
*name changed for privacy
I have suffered from numerous health challenges conventional medicine couldn't fix. This blog is a place for me to share my experiences and information with others who want to feel better again too. Please share your thoughts in the comments. I always look forward to supporting you to improve your health!