When I was a kid, I wanted to be an artist. Any kind of artist – it was always changing. At various points throughout my childhood and teens I dreamt of being a painter, a novelist, a dancer, a playwriter, an actor, an illustrator, a filmmaker. I was constantly creating things and getting involved in new modes of self-expression. I had aspirations of working in the creative arts and even went to an art school for college.
I never thought I’d ever ever ever become a health coach. I didn’t even like to eat healthy!
But my life has been permeated by illness.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve had rocky health. My mom tells me that I was even born covered in a rash that had been passed from her to me at birth. Some of my earliest childhood memories involve severe allergic reactions to various triggers in my environment and/or severe motion sickness.
I was very sensitive – to smells, to noises, to experiences. Extreme motion sickness would kick in from any car ride that lasted over 30 minutes. Which unfortunately meant a lot of time spent nauseous as a child since my dad loved to travel and was always taking us on road trips!
I seemed to be allergic to almost everything when I was little. Grass, trees, flowers, dust, pollen, cats, farm animals, nuts, lots of random fruits and vegetables like celery, plums, peaches, carrots. Every spring for 2 months I would develop intensely itchy rashes on the insides of my arms and spent a lot of time wearing arm bandages to stop from scratching myself to the point of bleeding. My pollen allergies were so bad that I could barely function sometimes – I’d wake up with eyes almost swollen shut and my throat closing up.
One memory I have is getting a permission slip from elementary school that allowed me to wear sunglasses in class – I thought that was really cool 😎 That provided at least a measure of relief from my allergies, as it helped create a little barrier between my eyes and the pollen in the air.
I got sick constantly as a child, catching everything that went around. Strep throat was something I’d get at least half a dozen times a year – losing my voice and not being able to eat or drink anything for days because it was so painful was a regular occurrence. I spent a lot of time communicating with my mom by writing things out on scraps of paper or napkins.
I have so many weird health memories as a child – for example, sometimes the joints in my fingers would seize up so that I couldn’t bend them for a while. Then there were the “heart attack” episodes… those were the worst because I always felt like I was about to die. They would literally happen only when I was eating fast food sometimes – a testament to how toxic fast food really is! I’d start eating and soon feel a tightening across my chest that felt like my heart was being squeezed to death. The pain would get so intense that I’d be gasping for air, clutching my heart and hardly able to breathe for several minutes.
Looking back I realise a lot of this could have been eliminated with a better diet but my parents just didn’t know. They were never taught that what you eat has everything to do with the state of your well-being. They certainly didn’t know there were viruses like epstein barr running in the family as well. Looking back, my childhood diet was so bad I have to laugh about it now – because I’m surprised I’m even alive! We lived off fast food, doritos, TV dinners, soda, boxed cereal, pop tarts, sugary fruit snacks, cans of soup, kool-aid, frozen pizza…. the only vegetable we ate occasionally was broccoli. And I rarely ate much fruit because I was strangely allergic to so many of them!
It’s no wonder that growing up it felt like my body was in a constant state of reaction. And the older I got, the worse it got.
By the time I was 7 I was getting chronic bladder infections.
By the time I was 15 I had developed hypoglycemia and was getting chronic yeast infections on a monthly basis.
By the time I was 20 I had developed psoriasis, an auto-immune skin condition that covered over 80% of my body.
By the time I was in my mid-20s I was showing signs of another auto-immune condition, rheumatoid arthritis. That was also around the time I lost the ability to walk.
I’ve dealt with adrenal fatigue, eczema, IBS, sinusitis, mystery heart palpitations, chronic fatigue, a menstrual cycle that had me regularly curled up in fetal position with shooting pains, and tendonitis that took 3 years to get rid of because it wouldn’t heal. My body was that sick.
I got into health initially, not out of interest or passion but out of sheer desperation.
I got into health because there was really no other way for me.
I definitely tried to live a “normal” life despite everything that was happening and progressively getting worse. I spent my early 20s as a party girl – drinking beer, taking shots, smoking, going out dancing all night, recovering on hangover pizza. I was a bit of a wild child, partly because I desperately wanted to prove that I could be. Just like all my friends who were doing the same.
Except unlike my friends, I always paid dearly for it. One night of drinking would inevitably result in terrible flare ups and psoriasis outbreaks that I’d then be dealing with for weeks. Not to mention my heightened sensitivity as an HSS, which would result in most party nights being followed by days of recovery in the cave.
I couldn’t go out and eat “normal” foods with friends either like burgers or pizza or sandwiches, cookies or cake. Anything that contained flour or sugar would result in major flare ups of all my conditions.
Gradually I learned it just wasn’t worth it. And I stopped pushing myself to take part in things that were obviously hurting me.
All the while I was also learning what foods and environments my body seemed to do best with. What made my health conditions ease up (nature, green smoothies, a spiritual practice) vs what would tend to ignite them (alcohol, fried food, letting myself get run down). I went on a 4-day juice fast in 2011 and learned from that experience that I feel much better without gluten in my life. From that point on I’ve been gluten-free and in 2012 I went grain-free – another experimental diet that I discovered I did even better on.
Through trial and error, I started learning how to create a strong selfcare practice and slowly began to eliminate many of the symptoms that had been plaguing me for decades.
As my interest in the health world grew and I started seeking out more and more of what made me feel better, many of my relationships also began to change. I lost contact with a lot of the people I used to hang out with in my party days – not even deliberately but just as a result of us having less and less in common. I couldn’t keep up with that kind of drinking anyway! I realised that I didn’t want to date someone who was getting drunk and staying out all night either – I couldn’t partake, it didn’t make me feel good, and my interest was moving elsewhere.
Watching my health transform through food became the gateway to greater personal development and a huge desire to feel amazing in all areas of my life.
I discovered that building up my energy through meditation and a very clean diet creates a natural high that FAR surpasses any drug or alcohol-induced one. Ever.
I started seeking out not just food that uplifted my health but uplifting people. My tribe. I became less concerned with fitting in with mainstream society and finally comfortable in my own skin, doing my own thing. Plus as I’ve started sharing my own health story more and more, I’ve realised there are a lot of other people out there dealing with major health challenges too. People who are experiencing many of the same frustrations over not being able to “just live a normal life.” It’s made me feel less alone, less of a freak in this world.
And somehow along the way through seeking out how to make myself feel consistently better, I became passionate about teaching others how to do this too. I’m still super passionate about the arts and love being creative but it’s taken a backseat to my work in the health world. Because if there’s one thing I deeply know and understand, it’s that the state of our health and the quality of our energy dictates everything else in our life.
Sometimes I wonder if certain things in life happen for a reason. My whole life I’ve been so frustrated with my debilitated health and everything it’s prevented me from doing – however, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be working in this sphere right now if I hadn’t gone through so much misery. I wouldn’t have the understanding of what illness and suffering really feel like.
I say this with so much compassion – we can let our struggles in life try to take us down or we can USE them – use them to create something positive in this world. It’s taken me a long time to realise this but it’s an important message. I’ve held back in sharing my health story for a long time because it’s such a painful and personal topic. It’s not easy for me to talk about even though I’ve only grazed the surface here.
But I think stories can be powerful – they have the power to heal and to inspire. They also create hope.
For anyone out there who believes that health only worsens and declines as we age, I’m here to tell you that IT’S NOT TRUE.
It doesn’t have to be true – not if we take the necessary steps to clean up our diet and our energy. Not if we decide to take action now and set up a lifestyle that gives back instead of depletes. If you’re not sure where to start and feel in need of more support around your health, I offer coaching and mentorship programs here. If you’re dealing with skin, digestion, or other auto-immune issues, I want to work with you because I’m positive I can help!
Keep on reaching for that better feeling, keep on exploring, keep on aiming to thrive in life ♥
With love and inspiring vibes,