Do you believe that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose,” as it says in Romans 8:28? I really do. I used to think it meant things were going to work out as I planned in high school- I was going to grow up and be a missionary and a doctor- but that didn’t exactly happen.
In high school, I was always the one that looked like I had it all together. I had the perfect grades, I was active in many different activities, and I did my best to get along with everyone. Inside I was going crazy. Ever since I was a kid I had put so much pressure on myself to be perfect that it was bound to backfire. I was constantly plagued by stomach cramps, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, anxiety and depression. Even though I was in complete denial about the anxiety and depression, the stomach problems were hard to hide.
After high school, I went to the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY and it got worse. I was so homesick and I comforted myself with food- and the food there was made for 200 pound athletic young men. Then I stressed about the weight I had gained and how that meant I didn’t fit within the military standards. Of course, the food and the stress both made my stomach problems get worse.
I finally figured out how to lose the weight- by using unsafe weight loss pills and over-exercising. I would comfort myself with food, add up my calories after every meal, and then I would make sure that I exercised enough to burn off all of the calories. Some nights I would spend 3 hours doing cardio. I don’t know how I was able to pass my classes- I was so obsessed with counting calories and exercise. I read Dante’s entire Divine Comedy while sitting on the exercise bike in Arvin Gym for hours every night. I still have that set of books sitting on my books shelf to remind me of my own private “Inferno” that I put myself through.
I did eventually graduate and went on to the Army where I was assigned to the 82d Airborne Division. While I didn’t continue the same obsessive eating and exercising pattern, I did believe that because I was so active- running miles and miles to prove that I could hang with the boys, road marching, jumping out of airplanes- that I could eat pretty much what I wanted to. My body had somewhat recovered from what I had done to it in college so I wasn’t overweight, but I wasn’t healthy. I still suffered from terrible stomach pains and bloating that I was lucky to be able to hide under bulky uniforms.
Fast forward a few years to when my husband and I got out of the Army. We changed careers, moved to a new area, bought a house, and had a baby in a very short time-period. Needless to say I suffered from post-partum depression. I was still exercising on a regular basis, almost as if on auto-pilot from my time in the Army, which was probably the only thing that helped it not progress into something much worse. But it was bad enough that I went to my doctor and asked for help.
After a while on anti-depressants I was finally brave enough to try to wean myself off. But I went back on them soon after the birth of our second child and stayed on them while getting my MBA and going back to work at a job that required a lot of travel. I thought I was just one of those people that was going to be on anti-depressants for the rest of my life.
Then I decided I was going to clean up my diet- not because I believed that my diet had anything to do with my stomach problems or my depression- but because I wanted to do a bikini competition. I joined Cathy Savage Fitness and started using Isagenix meal replacement shakes. The amino acids from the quality protein were amazing. As I continued to clean up my diet with real whole foods, I felt better and better. I was able to get off of the anti-depressants for good.
The stomach problems still hung on though. I was able to do competitions, but I still struggled with stomach problems and as soon as I added foods back into my regular diet my stomach would go right back to where it was before.
Then, one of my friends through Cathy Savage Fitness told me about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). I thought it looked great, but couldn’t afford it at the time. Then I found out I won an essay contest to get a scholarship- talk about things working out! I immediately started absorbing all kinds of new information that was not part of the standard fitness, nutrition, and even medical information put out by the media. Some of it (okay, a lot of it) was stuff that I didn’t want to hear, but after years of experimenting with my own nutrition I think I am finally figuring out what works for my body.
One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 139:14, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” After completing the Personal Training and Corrective Exercise Specialist certifications through the NASM, Health Coach certification through IIN, as well as unofficial courses and independent study on the topics of thyroid health, anxiety and depression, gut health, and the body’s detox pathways, I am more and more in awe of how we truly are fearfully and wonderfully made. But I know we sure can mess ourselves up too.
So, maybe I’m not where I thought I’d be almost 20 years ago, when I thought I had it all figured out (but who really is). However, from going to the Military Academy and meeting my amazing husband, to everything I experienced in the Army, to having my two beautiful babies, and even learning everything that I have along the way about health and fitness, I do feel like I’m right where I need to be- helping people find their own path to health as a personal trainer and holistic health coach. It’s like it says in Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
I’m not perfect- to say that I still love dark chocolate and an occasional glass of wine is an understatement. I’m not perfect as a mom either- I discovered healthy eating after my kids had already established some bad habits. It’s amazing to watch them change little by little and make food choices that will benefit them. I can see a little of myself in them as well and I don’t want them to face the same stomach problems and depression that I did.
If you are tired of not feeling your best even though you have been trying every fad diet out there, counting calories and macro-nutrients, and not getting anywhere; if you’re confused about all the diet fads out there and really just want to know what works for you; if you’re a busy mom that needs to get healthy meals on the table quickly for your family, then get started with me now. I’ll help you figure out what will work for you and your family.