Junk Food Junkie
To be perfectly honest with you, the fact that I am a Functional Health and Wellness Practitioner still blows my mind! You see, back in the day I was far from the poster child for healthy living. Don’t get me wrong, I have always been an active person, participating in competitive sports from middle school through college. And, I had the luxury of a mother who loved to cook — and was really good at it too — so, I ate my three square meals, was introduced to many delicious, gourmet foods and (somewhat) understood the importance of using food as a source of fuel. But….. I was also ‘cursed’ with an insatiable sweet tooth. Dessert after every meal? Sounds good to me! Convenient snacks and candy bars? Yup, Twix Bars and Cool Ranch Doritos were never far from reach. Truly, the greasier, sugarier and junkier the better in my sugar obsessed mind!
Throughout my childhood, into college and through my twenties – even early thirties, I never paid much attention to what I put in my mouth and certainly didn’t take time to make the connection between what I was eating and how I was feeling — even if I felt down right awful. I remember being in middle school and complaining of stomach cramps, leading to a diagnosis of a dairy allergy — do you think that stopped me from daily bowls of ice cream or college binges of late night pizza? Nope. I might have tried lactose free milk in my cereal for a few weeks, but ultimately decided to ignore the issue with hope that I would simply out grow it! I just plugged on and dealt with the discomfort with a dismissive shrug. Do you feel like you are just plugging along?! I hear you.
Young, In Love and… A Little Lost
In hindsight, even though I maintain I never paid attention to what I put in my mouth, it is now very clear to me that just the opposite is true — while I may not have been conscious of it, food played an incredibly big role in my life — for better or worse. My junk food habit eventually caught up with me. It first started as a freshman in college when, as a late bloomer, my body started to change from this gangly, skinny kid into a curvier, ‘fuller’ version of myself. The ‘freshman fifteen’ was a real thing and I was a living example! Beer, snacks and pizza were my pals — these and other comfort foods were fun to be around and made me happy, even if only for the short term. But, our ‘relationship’ was a rocky one and ultimately left me feeling horrible about myself (physically and emotionally).
Fast forward to my second year of college when my boyfriend left campus to study abroad for six months. I was so sad…you know, that ugly crying-never-want-to-spend-a-second-without-my-boyfriend, sad…I wasn’t quite sure how to cope with my sadness, but learned very quickly that controlling what I ate and when I ate gave me something focus on, something to think about instead of my missing boyfriend.
Ugh…my now wiser and experienced adult self wants to go back and empower that poor little girl, tell her to focus on her schoolwork, hang out with friends and pursue her own exciting adventures instead of being weepy about a boy. But alas, my younger self decided to make a plan. I remember thinking the time would pass much faster if I set some goals — not a bad idea in theory — but my goals were pretty vain and certainly not backed by self- love. I decided that when my boyfriend returned from his studies, I would be different (why I assumed he would want a different Amy, I’m not sure) — meaning, I was going to lose that ‘freshman fifteen’ I had yet to fully shed and when he got back to campus I would be a better (at least on the outside) version of myself. Say what?!
Yes, it’s pretty humbling to confess this superficial plan of mine, but I mention it because it is a problem many young girls (and women) face on a daily basis. Does this ring true for any of you? Or, anyone you know?
My thought process was that if I looked better (aka skinnier) my boyfriend would love me even more, want me even more, which in turn would make me happy…ugh… I know, right?! So, the plan was: stop eating so much, go for lots of long runs and ultimately, lose weight and be skinny….maybe even happy. Sigh….
Long story short, I subsisted on salad greens, black olives and dried cereal for about six months! I gave up alcohol, ran 8 miles a day, stopped hanging out with my friends and studied -alone- in my dorm room.
Did I lose Weight?
Yup - In fact, too much of it!
Was this Healthy?
Was I Happy?
No Way! I was super irritable, in a constant state of hangry, lonely and still very sad.
Did my Boyfriend love me more?
Nope. He came home confused, concerned and proceeded to call my family for help!
Thankfully, with the unconditional support of my family, friends and that loving and devoted boyfriend, I was able to quickly crawl out of the rabbit hole and rejoin the land of the living! However, I still didn’t get it. Although I no longer starved my body or punished it with excessive exercise, I continued to jump in and out of unhealthy relationships with food throughout my 20’s and early 30’s.
A Wake up Call
Eventually, I married that sweet college love of mine and we started a beautiful family together. And while I made sure my little babies ate healthfully, I still didn’t pay much attention to nourishing myself — or my husband for that matter! We were a pair of sleep deprived, frazzled and over caffeinated, young parents. We didn’t have the time, energy or frankly, desire to cook healthy meals or practice self care (what was that?). Good god, snarfing down a spoonful of mac and cheese and chasing it with a beloved glass of red wine was about as good as it got in those days! As a result, we got sick – a lot. As is the case in many households with young children, we were always battling some sort of snotty cold, feverish flu, or god forbid, the dreaded stomach bug!
We trudged along in this dirty diaper fog for a few years and even though these were some of the most trying times of my life, they were also extremely gratifying. We were happily living in our bubble surrounded by Elmo and goldfish crackers until life threw a curve ball as it tends to do when you least expect it.
On a sunny day in July, my husband’s father passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack. I’m sure many of you have suffered similar blows in life and for me, this was a huge (and painful) awakening. Losing such a cherished loved one was crushing for sure, but it was also an alarming wake up call. I realized I was taking a complacent backseat when it came to my health and the health of my family. So, I decided then and there that things were going to change. My father-in-law was only in his late 60’s when he died — far too young and far too soon. I shuddered at the thought of losing my husband at such a young age and feared if we didn’t get our act together, we wouldn’t be able to care for (and enjoy) our kids, grandkids and great grandkids down the road. It was undeniably an ‘Ah Ha’ moment. I took the bull by the horns, put on my big girl pants and set to work.
Passion Into Purpose
I had been introduced to a natural nutrition and supplement company by my sister and decided to jump in, become an independent distributor and learn the business. It didn’t take me long to realize a genuine passion for nutrition. Ultimately, I ended up being a lousy supplement distributor — mostly due to the fact that I was far more interested in learning about the brilliant complexity of the human body than I was in selling supplements.
In fact, I watched first hand how good nutrition and a few shifts in lifestyle dramatically changed MY life! Due to making necessary changes in my diet and lifestyle, I was no longer in a junk food induced fog, my energy levels soared, my painful (and confidence sucking) cystic acne cleared up and I was no longer catching every nasty bug going around town. While all of this was beyond amazing for myself and my family, I realized I didn’t want it to stop with me! This juicy new life I was living (and loving) was too good to keep to myself. As a result, I felt a strong pull to spread this word of good health to as many people that would be willing to hear me out!
So….ever the lifelong student, I enrolled in a Masters of Holistic Nutrition program and spent the next five years working toward my degree and board certification…all the while learning how to help YOU find the joy, peace and health you deserve!
My Hope For You!
I feel compelled to tell you my story because it is my belief that genuine health and wellness is achievable for all of us — even those who feel as though they are a ‘lost cause’. I assure you, I have been there. I have been at the bottom, overwhelmed with the idea of working my way to the top — and let’s be honest, my journey is ongoing, as will yours. However, what does not waver is my mindset. I believe I am worthy. I believe I can do it. And, I believe in my WHY!
At the end of the day, my hope is that I can inspire you to shift your mindset, be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and take that first step toward living the life of your dreams. What is that first step you ask? It’s finding your truth and defining your WHY. Food, nutrition, fitness and lifestyle all play a role in wellness, but by far the most important component begins deep within you — and that is your WHY.