When I was in school I was bullied and made fun of a lot, and it got even worse in high school. I felt lonely in a big high school with nobody to talk to. I was isolated and terrorized. I desperately wanted a champion. I would run to the bathroom during lunch so I could hide from the bullies. On a typical Friday night I would be found locked in my bedroom eating food under my covers hiding in shame. I would hide food from my family, and I would spend the weekends gorging on food and crying in pain. I dreaded going to school every Monday. Since I didn’t have a lot of friends, I turned to food as a source of comfort and companionship. I wasn’t eating lunch alone if I was eating it with 3 slices of pizza, right? As I started to gain weight and feel like I was losing control, I started struggling with depression which led to even more emotional eating. I desperately tried to fit in, even joining the dance team when I was the tall, chubby kid in the back, behind the beautiful, skinny popular girls, but I could dance with a lot of heart! But I still had to do the fitness tests which included running “the mile”. I remember being the last one to finish and having to run the last lap all by myself while the rest of the dance team watched. I came to the last corner with tears streaming down my face. I was humiliated, embarrassed and ashamed. But I couldn’t let them see me cry. I was already the chubby girl. I couldn’t be the crier on top of that. So I pulled myself together before I got close enough for them to see how I was really feeling.
This continued for the next 4 years, and by the time I graduated high school I was the most unhappy and unhealthy I have ever been. I was obese, the only girl in my class who had never had a boyfriend, and the only girl who didn’t get to attend prom since I did not have a date, even though I was president of the prom committee and planned the whole thing. After high school right before I left for college, I was getting in the shower and out of the corner of my eye I saw myself in the mirror. I was disgusted with what I saw. I began to sob, and decided at that moment I would not gain ANY MORE weight! After I decided, “I’m going to lose this weight”! I started doing every fad diet and taking every diet pill I could get my hands on. I was obsessed with losing weight and I didn’t care what the cost to my health was. There wasn’t much I wouldn’t do to figure out a way to get diet pills so I could be one of those women in the Hydroxycut ads. For the next three years, I completed over 15 crash diets, and started a cycle of daily dieting and obsessing over my exercise routine. And I couldn’t stop. I could never lose enough weight. I was constantly frustrated by what I saw as a lack of progress. My junior year in class I was given the assignment to start tracking my food. It instantly became a hardcore obsession, I tracked every single calorie I consumed. I started cutting my calories slowly until I was eating just 500 calories a day. I became so scared to eat and so terrified of food that I got to a point where I would deny myself a piece of gum because I had already had my 500 calories for the day. One afternoon as I was going back to my dorm, everything went blurry, then pitch black and I passed out on the stairs. When I finally came to, I realized if I kept living that way I would end up dead. I finally admitted to myself that I was struggling with an eating disorder and that I had to go seek professional help. I called my mom and confided in her, and she immediately came down to take care of me, and get me into a treatment program. That changed my life forever!
I began working with a nutritionist who recognized that my relationship with food was one built on guilt and shame and that my own sense of self-worth was based on what I would and wouldn’t allow myself to eat. If I only ate salad, I could start seeing myself as being worthy of love and happiness. But if I had a cookie, that small glimmer of hope was shattered, and I was a failure and a disgusting piece of garbage who needed to punish myself for 2 hours at the gym and not eat for the rest of the day. I had twisted myself into knots and completely lost my joy and sense of self. I was spending every waking moment and ounce of energy obsessing about food, counting calories, weighing myself, and debating the pros and cons of eating a meal. I would keep myself on such a tight leash until it became so exhausting, that I would snap and find myself eating a whole pizza and a pack of cookies in my car. I would then beat myself up, cry and feel worthless for the rest of the day, but then the first thing that next morning I would jump back on my “diet” and tell myself that I had to be “good”, and that “today is the day I turn it all around”.
My nutritionist recommended that I participate in a mindful eating program called, Am I Hungry? in order to learn how to untangle my messy relationship with food, and learn how to tune in to my body and learn to eat from a place of love and acceptance. I took her advice, enrolled in the program, and hired a Mindful Eating Coach to help guide me through the program, and out of this hell I was living in. It was the hardest and most rewarding thing I HAVE EVER DONE!!!! The day the program ended felt like getting to the top of a mountain I had been too exhausted to climb before. Over the course of those 8 weeks all of my beliefs and feelings about food, my body, and how I was living my life transformed forever. I could finally see so clearly, what I was missing during all the time I spent torturing and tormenting myself. I finally understood exactly how I got to where I had been, and why I was feeling so hopeless and out of control. From heartbreak to relief, I knew I would never have to feel that level of pain again. I WAS FREE!!! I was liberated from the pain of a lifetime of distorted eating and body image, and from that point on, intuitive nutrition and wellness became my life calling. So I went back to school to earn my second Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, and jumped at the chance to become a licensed Mindful Eating coach and Am I Hungry? trainer.
All of that was over 10 years ago! I broke the cycle and have been living an amazing diet-free and vibrant life ever since! Today, my passion and my purpose are to guide other women to rediscover food in a healthy way that is not surrounded by guilt, shame, and fear. To stop using exercise as a way to “earn” food, or punish yourself for something “bad” you ate. Food can be such a beautiful thing that brings vibrancy and joy to your life! Eating can be fun, you don’t have to live a life depriving yourself of what you want! You can have the foods you love, indulge in flavors, eat when you’re hungry, be in a body you love, and live the life you crave! Yes, it is possible and I can show you how to do it!
When I take on new clients or launch a new program, my goal isn’t just to help them lose weight and change their bodies, but I work toward helping them transform their lives. I take a “mind/body/spirit” approach to everything I do, and I truly believe that long-term results are only achievable and sustainable when your head and your heart are working together and building you up to the point where you can achieve anything your heart desires. I have committed myself to help women understand food is fuel for your body, your mental capacity is not about obsessing about calories. When you are consumed with thoughts about food, you lose track of who you really are. I have watched countless women become empowered and excited about their lives, find their happiness, and end the dieting drama cycle and abusive eating patterns. I have made a commitment to dedicate the rest of my professional life to helping other women who are ready to break free, believe in themselves, and gain unshakeable confidence in themselves and their ability to live and eat on their own terms, and by their own rules!!