My journey to Holistic Nutrition began a little “late” in life, but let’s begin in my childhood. At the age of 10 I found myself gaining weight at a rate that was not “normal” for an adolescent girl. By the age of 12 I was 5 feet 5 inches tall and tipped the scales at around 200. I don’t think I actually knew how much I weighed, only because I was so ashamed of the way I looked that I didn’t want to see it in numbers. Being 100% open and honest, 7th, 8th and 9th grade was pure torture. I was bullied for my weight by classmates (mostly boys) and many of my “friends” were no longer interested in being friends anymore. My 10th grade year I lived on pretzels and mustard; of course, the idea was that pretzels were low in calories and mustard had ZERO, so I was losing weight, great, right? Well, as you know, that is not a healthy lifestyle nor did it help my weight when I was forced to begin eating again, one can only keep that diet going for so long. I did not understand the importance of water, vegetables, protein, carbs, etc.… but then again, what 15-year-old does?
When I graduated from high school I was still on the larger side, but felt OK. My freshman year of college I was in a very severe car accident that left me with a broken jaw; 9 weeks of a liquid diet and I was 30 pounds lighter! I used to joke about how I was “fortunate” to have been in my accident because it had “prevented” me from gaining the “Freshman 15”. At about 21 I began taking diet pills and going to the gym 5-6 times a week, I dropped even further down and at my 5 foot 8-inch frame (yes, I grew 3 inches between 8th grade and 12th grade) I was 143 pounds. I was a size 4/6, which made me SO happy… after being a middle schooler that was in a 16/18, I felt amazing. Then graduation from college, a break up with my longtime boyfriend, a job that allowed little time for exercise and eating healthy I GAINED IT ALL BACK! I found myself at 185 pounds, which is the weight that my body (used) to rebound to.
Throughout my 20’s I bounced between 165 and 185. Married in 2006, at 27 I became pregnant, gaining 40 pounds and weighing in at 215! I knew that it was baby weight and I was OK with that, until, I was unable to lose ONLY 20 of it. In 2008 my (ex) husband and I split, I started taking back control of my weight when I moved from Michigan to Arizona in late 2008. It was just my 14-month-old son, 3 dogs, a cat and me. I started walking and really watching what I ate and the weight just DROPPED off! In 2010, I met an amazing man… we were married in December of 2010. We did what a lot of couples do, we were happy, so yep, the weight piled back on. We both did Weight Watchers in 2012 and were semi-successful, about 20 pounds apiece, we came to the realization that we did not want to count “points” for the rest of our lives. Besides, just because you “save” points to have a cupcake doesn’t mean that you are being healthy! In July 2012, I found out I was expecting again. In March 2013 we welcomed a tiny, happy, healthy baby girl. Again, I found myself struggling to lose the 20 pounds I gained during the pregnancy.
The Turning Point
2015 was the year that everything hit home, literally. My father, a long-haul truck driver, was admitted to the hospital with what he believed to be a “chest cold” … well he wasn’t too far off. He had pneumonia, was almost in kidney failure, had COPD and needed a QUADRUPLE bypass ASAP. My father had always been a bigger guy, 6 feet tall and always 230 pounds or more. This time, he was weighing in at 319 with a blood pressure of 192/119; the doctors had no idea how he WALKED into an ER, how he had not had a stroke or a heart attack. After 16 days in the hospital the doctors made it CLEAR that he needed to lose at least 80 pounds. My father was off work for 6 months and in those 6 months I took a leave of absence and began researching lifestyle changes that would help not only him, but my husband and me as well. After 6 months, my father had lost 50 pounds, was feeling great and had a new lease on life. He returned to truck driving and his healthy lifestyle went out that semi-truck window. He eventually gained 40 of the 50 pounds back and began having health issues again. My husband and I kept to our new lifestyle, allowing treats every now and then.
Then in 2017 we were hit again; this time, my father was diagnosed with Stage 4 Esophageal cancer. This time, I quit my job to be his full-time caregiver. From the day of his diagnosis (Jan. 11, 2017) I spent hours reading and understanding how you can help heal & support your body from disease, yes even cancer, by the food that you eat. I found a certification program that would help me dive deeper into Holistic Nutrition so that I could help my father. I spent hours upon hours at doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy sessions, naturopathic clinics and more, I studied and researched and did assignments while he was being treated. I put my dad on a strict vegan diet, he had a feeding tube placed in his stomach because the tumor was blocking 95% of his esophagus; my job was to feed him and make sure he was maintaining weight during treatment.
Sadly, on August 12, 2017 my father passed away due to complications of the cancer treatment. His kidneys could not take the treatments anymore and they began to shut down. After speaking to his oncologist and his naturopathic oncologist they both expressed to me that he would not have lived as long as he did (after his diagnosis) had I not changed his diet and researched how to help cancer patients with nutrition. Although I lost my father, I am humbled to know that all of my reading, research and constant questioning was key in having more time with him.
I have seen first-hand how changing what you eat and how you eat can drastically heal your body. Lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, reducing risk of some disease, helping inflammation, reducing arthritis, increasing energy and SO MUCH MORE! I have experienced being overweight, being bullied, judged and I know the feeling of desperation. I am HERE, RIGHT NOW, a REAL person that has been there, to help you take control, to educate, and to change how you look at and eat food!