You could say that my lifelong quest for health began around 12 years old, when one day, I decided I would be a vegetarian. Growing up surrounded by nature and animals, I felt a deep connection to other living things. Having recently learned about slaughterhouses and animal testing for school, I was disgusted. I couldn’t participate in that kind of treatment to animals. I came home that day and ended up eating a hot dog for dinner. I had no idea how to be a vegetarian.
Fast-forward five years and I had my first real job at a natural foods co-op. There I learned about the amazing variety of vegetables in the world, tofu, GMOs, and how to feed myself nutrient-dense foods. At the same time, I was a straight-A student in high school, with an extremely demanding course and extracurricular schedule. I was burnt out. Environmental allergies combined with stress and malnutrition led to constant colds and a nasty bout of mono. (You would not believe how many curly fries my 15 year old self consumed!) Teachers were always complaining that I was missing too much class, and I periodically had to meet with administrators to prove my illnesses via paper trail.
Soon I found myself repeating this pattern at a challenging liberal arts school named one of the “New Ivies” by the Princeton Review. The academic and social challenges combined with poor culinary choices (who wants to eat a salad when belgian waffles and Lucky Charms are available 24 hours a day?!?!) led to a spike in anxiety. Chronic stress and a party-focused support system led to unchecked depression and the first signs of PTSD from prior trauma. In my senior year I burnt out so badly that I was asked to leave the college to address physical and mental health issues.
During my leave of absence from college, I started to examine what had made me so unhappy at school and what would make me happy in the future. I was depressed, overweight, and suffering from chronic headaches and back pain. I decided I needed do to some soul searching via a complete change of scenery. I found an ‘abroad’ program in Hawaii and went for it. I studied on Oahu for about 9 months. During that time I learned as much about myself as I was learning in my classes. I became more aware of my emotions and my body. I discovered that my chronic pain was directly related to stress. Through self-talk and gentle exercise, I was able to eliminate my pain and allergies. I lost weight, became more social and gained self-confidence. I was also introduced to ancient Hawaiian herbal medicine called La’au Lapa’au. This practice spoke to me. Rooted in the mind-body connection and focused on humans relationships to each other, themselves, and nature, I devoured every bit of information I came across about La’au Lapa’au. I decided that I wanted to help others to overcome their chronic health issues that Western Medicine couldn’t heal.
After graduation, I moved to the Boston, MA area and got a job working at Cambridge Naturals, a store specializing in the sale of natural health supplements. I saw how many customers came in looking for ways to take charge of their own health to avoid the expense and frustration of the doctor’s office and their health insurance (or lack thereof). I saw how happy people were when I was able to steer them toward a supplement that worked for them. It was during this time that I found out about the Institute for Integrative NutritionTM and the profession of Health Coach. I was thrilled to learn that there were other people out there who were practicing the profession that I wanted to and were making a name for themselves and the profession (and a great living) and helping millions of people get heathier.
These days I have moved back to my native state of Vermont to embark upon the journey of creating my own health coaching practice. I see clients in person, by phone, and via Skype all over the world! Currently, I am working on starting a local group program. As for the future, my dream is to open a state-of-the-art integrative health care facility that breaks down the boundary between “Western” medicine and “alternative” therapies and promote innovation in our health care systems.
If my story speaks to you, please let me know by ‘like-ing’ this post, commenting, or sending me an email! If you would like to learn more about health coaching and possibly sign up for a free health consultation, please visit the contact page and submit an inquiry!
olakina maika’i nou!
(to your health!)