We all have a turning point, that day when you say to yourself, enough, enough of what you have been doing. Enough of feeling bad, both physically and mentally. Enough feeling sorry for yourselves, saying why me, or why them and not me. Enough of the self-pity and self-loathing. That time for me, was about six months after my daughter, Shea, passed away at the age of twelve. By this point in my life I had spent 20 years raising two children with terminal illness and had two other healthy children as well, I was on my third marriage, (and that one wasn't going well), had been through some abuse on many different levels, and now found myself in severe depression. I felt I had plenty of reasons to say, "why me" and "poor me". But where was that getting me? Stuck in bed with the covers over my head? Shea would not want this. Shea was strong, a fighter, and she taught me some of her moves! I just had to get through the grieving process and start living again...or maybe for the first time in my life. Somewhere inside of me, I knew I wanted to feel good, to be whole, to live life, and I felt Shea on my shoulder, pushing me to do more, make a difference. So, I started with myself.
Before I started my journey on the road to better health, my life was like living in a deep fog. Everything I did is now a very hazy memory, if I can even remember at all. I was going through the motions, doing what I had to do, just to get us all through to the next day. It wasn't fun, if there was excitement, it was always something bad, I just pushed through it. I ate what was in front of me, which was usually crappy. I made meals at home when I was there, but, not always with the best ingredients. I probably spent half of those 20 years in hospitals, eating cafeteria food (which one would think would be healthy, I mean it is hospital food, right?!). I ate a lot of deserts, and snacks, and most of the time, got no exercise, just sat in a hospital room, eating. By the time I lost my precious angel, I had gained 20 pounds. I was overweight, lost a child, going through a breakup in my third marriage, and still had other children at home I had to take care of. It was not a good place to be. I was on anti-depressants, and anxiety medication...at one point, I had to rush my two-year old to the emergency room because I had left my medication by my bed and didn't tighten the cover. He got the bottle and took some of the pills! (He was fine, by the way, thank God! My life was not.) It was shortly after this that my turning point occurred. I had children to live for...I had ME to live for.
So, I bought a gym membership, and started eating very differently. (Today, I have learned that the diet I chose wasn't exactly the healthiest, but the whole world around me was hypnotized into believing that it was.) So, I ate healthy, and I exercised, and I lost weight. I started to look like my old self, and that felt good! I started going out and doing things on my own. I connected with long-lost friends, I had a job outside of the home, I was slowly finding myself and becoming human again. For the next year or two, I continued with the gym and the better eating (a yogurt cup with bananas for breakfast, a Lean Cuisine for lunch, and then whatever home cooked meal I made for dinner, this was what we all believed to be healthy, right?) And it worked, I lost the 20 pounds, I gained lean muscle, I looked good when I turned 44 the next summer! I looked and felt the best of my life, at this point. I found the true love of my life and things were really good! But something was missing, there must have been, because the high I had been on, slowly, and progressively, started to change. I settled down again, I bought a house I worked for a great company, but I wasn't feeling it. This was still not the end of my journey. I felt I still had a lot more to do, and my angel was there, nagging at me on my shoulder. So, what now?
I decided to visit a local college and see what types of classes were out there. (I had already put myself through a year of college a few years back, in the midst of sick children and having another baby at the age of 39, to get a diploma in Medical Coding and become a certified medical coder.) I was making decent money, but it was not fulfilling to me in the least. So, what more could I do? I had thought, at first, of physical therapy. I had a lot of experience with this from the side of a consumer, and thought I could be very good at it. But at my age, the education to become a therapist was too long and grueling. I had heard about health and wellness coordinators somewhere along the line, and had done some research. This sounded right up my alley! I loved exercise and thought I was eating healthy, and I love to help people. So off to the college I went to see what they had. As soon as I read the curriculum for the bachelor's degree in health and wellness, I knew it was what I wanted to do!
Fast forward to about seven months ago. I had my bachelor's degree, which I obtained while maintaining a 4.0 average through every class. But, I couldn't find a job. Oh, there were a few of them out there, but they wouldn't even look at, or talk to me, without 5 years of experience. Well, how was I going to do that without a job?! But, I was not about to give up now. Life and the universe had not brought me this far, just to see me crash and burn! I thought, I will just start my own business, BAM, done! Yeah, ok, you know and I know, I had no idea how to do that, so back to the internet I went. That is where I found IIN, or the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. As soon as started researching this school, again I knew, this is what I am supposed to do! It was more than a corporate health coordinator, it was an integrative nutrition coach, which involves every aspect of your life as vital nutrition. Yes, this was what I wanted to do, help people become whole through healthy life choices from an integrated, holistic approach.
I started on my own journey, again, while I am learning to help others, as well. I have learned so much, things I thought were right, maybe are not. Things I thought were healthy, definitely are not. People I thought were healthy, might not be either. It is a continuous journey, of learning self-care and self-love. One I will never be finished with. I am so not perfect, which scares me to say, because I thought I had to be 100% perfect and healthy before I could help anyone else. But that is so not the case. I can help you, and by helping you, you are helping me! Together we grow, and thrive!
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