My Journey to Health
For 20 years I struggled with my own weight, digestive system, anxiety and body shame. I craved sugar all the time because of my anxiety and digestive problems. I was very angry inside and had a lot of shame and embarrassment with my sugar addictions so I became a closet-case eater of anything sweet. I hid all of my embarrassment and shame so that I appeared to be “normal.”
My journey began when I was 11 years old. That was when the digestive issues began to create chronic pain and anxiety around using the washroom. I would cry to myself while sitting on the toilet having massive pain, “why can’t I just be normal?” The digestive problems began to consume my mind and I stopped living a joyful life and could only worry about where the next washroom was going to be, “just in case” I couldn’t make it.
In the midst of all of the digestive struggles, I began having acute low back pain that eventually turned chronic, because the abdominal pains created functional hyperlordotic scoliosis (hyper extension of my low back) I wasn’t able to contract my core because I was in so much pain. I had no abdominal strength. This combination lead to multiple back injuries and a constant fear of tweaking my back, leaving me on the floor in agony for days.
The low back pain, abdominal pains and anxiety became so debilitating that I contemplated suicide on multiple occasions.
Despite all of my troubles, physical activity helped relax my generalized anxiety. However, I was lost and had no idea how to workout properly. I tried many different trainers to help educate me in exercises and what to do, assuming they were the expert in the field.
Unfortunately, the trainers I confided in and gave up my hard-earned money to, saw me as a pay cheque instead of someone who was in desperate need of training and education. I was eager to learn, however instead of losing weight, I ended up with more low back injuries due to my weak core and lack of mind-body connection and muscle engagement. I had never worked out and definitely wasn’t active in sports as a kid so I had zero foundational knowledge of how to flex muscles, stabilize my body with activating my core and glute muscles.
The Ah-ha Moment
I quickly realized that the trainers had been active their whole lives and took for granted that they were able to understand and utilize the proper muscle groups years before they became trainers. Instead of correcting the postural problems, or tweaking a few movements to ensure I was firing the proper muscle groups, the trainers seemed to just want to add more weight until the injuries happened again. I felt so lost and untrusting of anyone who was trying to tell me what to do with my body.
Along with the desire to workout, I had no idea how to eat properly. I thought cereal and cheese and crackers were healthy. How wrong I was.
Because I have a thirst for knowledge, I began to research how to relieve low back pain, beginning with stretching the legs. Interesting how stretching the thighs/legs would relieve low back pain. How did that work? I began to fall fast into the rabbit hole.
After all the ups and downs, highs and lows and excitement then utter disappointments of yo-yo dieting and feeling like I could never get off the rollercoaster, I began to take matters into my own hands.
I began eating a gluten free/paleo diet, adding more vegetables and fruits and cutting out the sugar. Wow, what a difference: my body was beginning to settle and feel calm for the first time in years. I learned how to eat for nutrients and seeing food as fuel instead of eating based on what emotion I was feeling in that moment.
Looking good! Feeling good … not so much
To take it further, I then signed on to train for and compete in a fitness show where I won first place in the local competition, taking me to Provincials in Toronto. I trained excessively, pushing my mind and my body to crazy lengths. I looked incredible. I had the body that I always wanted. Unfortunately, I was still feeling empty and flat. I didn’t understand why I felt so low and even though I had just won the show and looked better than everyone else, I still felt empty. After the highs of the show, I became really low and developed adrenal fatigue, coupled with depression and panic attacks. The suicidal thoughts came back. I felt worse than I have ever felt before, even though I should have been so proud of myself for winning and achieving a massive goal!
I realized I needed better balance in my life instead of continually swinging from one goal to the next, not listening to what my body needed. I began sitting still, deep breathing and doing exercises like yoga instead of plowing through a 4 hour workout routine. Working out in a simple way that gave me enough time to devote to my body, enough energy to last me throughout the day and mental clarity that enabled me to make better decisions instead of working out forcefully, punishing my body and hating myself, and each exercise the whole time.
I learned how to incorporate small changes to my exercises to ensure I was utilizing the proper muscles instead of just trying to burn as many calories as possible to lose weight. My mind was now involved with meditation, mindfulness and listening to my inner guide and intuition.
Being a Registered Nurse and having a background in cardiac surgery care as well as the intensive care unit, I have seen a lot of people who think health is taking medication and listening to what the doctor orders. This is helpful, however, taking a proactive approach will get you results far beyond what medication can do for you.
Nursing helped me see that there was more to health compared to what the majority of the public understood. It also gave me the physiological background needed to understand the internal organs, like the digestive system, including how the adrenal glands work to help provide hormones and energy, as well as the pancreas, liver, gall bladder and how they all work together to provide digestive assistance and also encourage the body to gain and lose weight.
Becoming a Registered Massage Therapist gave me the skills to understand what muscles to relax and which to strengthen, how to identify imbalances, how to develop proper posture and what exercises target what muscles and how the muscle moves through full range of motion. I also learned how to identify a muscle injury from a trigger point (from a tight muscle). All of this knowledge has allowed me to create a foundational base of muscular, exercise and mind-body connection knowledge that I would have never created on my own.
True self care
Recognizing that there is a deeper mind-body connection to pain management, exercising and muscle engagement, I became a mind-body connection coach to encourage and educate women like you to work smarter by connecting and tuning into your body and listening to what your body needs instead of lying to it and demanding so much from it without providing TLC in return. I want to pass on this knowledge to you so you can look and feel your best: thriving and not just surviving life.
I began to implement small muscle engagements movements throughout the day (while walking, bending, lifting, etc), keeping my body flexible with foam rolling, fascial work, stretches and functional movements with light weight or my own body weight. If the spine and joints are in the correct position the correct muscles will be utilized and engaged to move the weight/get the job done. If you constantly lift weights or do a movement with the joint out of it’s proper range/position, you will get RSI – repetitive strain injuries, tendonitis, pain and breakdown of the joint and soft tissue around it.
I went from being a weight loss and exercise failure to feeling successful by utilizing proper posture and calculated exercises up to 30 minutes a day. No more weight gains and losses. No more deprivation diets. No more highs and lows with sugar cravings and food addictions. I finally felt like I was able to take control and keep my body at a balanced level with a bare minimum of work and effort, incorporating physical movements and being fully intentional with everything that I did instead of busting my ass and feeling exhausted throughout long and tedious gym workouts. It became about working smarter not harder, incorporating efficiency and an understanding of my body’s needs instead of using a cookie cutter weight loss approach that had me torture myself at the gym.