Updated: Jul 3, 2020
We all have a story, don't we? A dialogue that connects all the dots explaining how a person got to be where they currently are or where they intend on going... A story that disentangles or rather unravels all the bullshit and beauty that has led us to this moment, that is right here, right now.
This is a challenge for me as my story webs out, in many directions. All these directions, being rerouted, uprooted, and unaware are all pieces ghat later became revealed to me.
I started practicing yoga when I was 16 years young. I took a yoga class as an elective in high-school. If I am being honest, ironically I really didn’t like it. I found it to be restrictive and challenging as I wasn’t allowed to talk to my friends during the class… I am an energetic and talkative person so I am sure you could imagine why I found this practice problematic at the time... My mind would race a mile a minute so the concept of stillness, or one point of focus, was an impossible sounding task!
During this time I had a one-track mind - gymnastics. My tunnel vision for this sport resulted in my academic life revolving around it. I barely went to school. In fact, I went to a self-directed high school that enabled me to excel at both academics and athletics on my own terms. In order to squeeze in six-hour practices on top of a full course load, I left at lunch for practice.
This meant that my courses where only the core ones. I rarely did any electives. Perhaps, if I had taken a cooking class, or understood the role food had on the body, the rest of this story may look differently. Alas, that is not a rabbit hole worth going down, so let's keep going down the path of what did happen.
I truly believe that I am part monkey because I have always preferred to be upside down rather than upside right. Something about flipping my perspective has consistently appealed to my senses. Of course, pushing your physical body to its maximum has its consequences.
Reluctantly, my body has let me down twice in my life in ways that most humans do not typically experience. In hindsight (which we know of course is 20/20) perhaps assessing the quality of foods was reliant on for fuel to better support my body would have helped the integrity of my bones. Access to this information was not quite the same as it is today so I did not know better.
To demonstrate what I mean, I thought dairy was best for making the bones strong (I did not know that other methods are less inflammatory to the body and accomplish the same thing in a more optimal way) and meat (no matter what form) was how to get protein (I did not know that quality (organic, grass-fed, free-range, etc.) interfered with the body absorbed, repaired and utilized it. It was a black and white approach to food.
The first serious moment where my body let me down was when I crushed the growth plate in my knee ending my career as Canadian National Team gymnast. I then re-purposed my flipping ability and become a national level springboard diver and was recruited by Southern Methodist University based in Dallas, Texas.
Based on the high demands I had put on my body, it shouldn’t be all too surprising to find out that I got medically disqualified during my sophomore year. I broke my back, which would not heal so I got forced to shut down. At the time yoga seemed like a middle ground between high-performance athletics and pain management as it provided me with the ability to be upside down while teaching me skills to control my body.
Looking at my diet during this time... well let's just say I could have made better choices... It was a daily occurrence for my best friend and I would walk to the pharmacy and buy 1-3 bags of candy. At the time my go-to choices were Hershey's Cookie and Cream JUMBO (yes I'm talking the massive ones only sold in the USA), and the gooey filled red and yellow Twizzlers. They don't even sell these Twizzlers anymore... for those of you who had tried these, you might recall that they tasted like plastic Play-Doh, so perhaps that is why they stopped selling them...
Suffice it to say, I had a full-blown candy addition. Seems silly, but it's real. At the time, my partner and I were doing the long-distance relationship thing. He was the one who brought awareness to it. During our video chats, I would begin our chat with my friend "Twizzlers" and become super energetic, then near the end of the call, my mood would plummet. BIG SURPRISE, a sugar crash is of course going to happen when you have consumed an entire bag of Twizzlers...
Sophomore, I began to get a handle on my addiction, I learned the concept of moderation, I began to connect that my food choices were influencing my mood and how my physical body felt throughout the day.
Another villain was lurking and I had no ideas of "his presence." The lactose monster. You see living in Texas means Tex-Mex errrday. The perfect cuisine... Queso (melted cheese) with chips was my fav. A Friday night ritual would be going to a restaurant and ordering a bowl of Queso with either heated tortillas or tortilla chips. Seems harmless until this becomes a repetitive few day behavior.
An eye-opening moment for me was when my roommate had a bought of diarrhea and told me that his stomach was mad. This for me was normal, but for him was such a rare occurrence, it had me question my own stomach and what I put inside of it.
Gas, bloating, and stomach upset was my norm. My mom had IBS while I grew up and this shaped my perception of "normal." I didn't realize I was lactose intolerant until I moved to Florida. Tex-Mex in South Florida is tragic so it wasn't worth spending money on. I quickly correlated that dairy really upset my stomach and that impacted my mood.
I then changed my cooking habits and started becoming slightly more self-aware of how my actions were impacting my body and my mood. Don't get me wrong I still indulged in goodies every now and then, but at home, I began cooking more of my own meals.
On an academic front, I turned to anthropology and psychology to better understand myself and the world around me. At this time my physical body and my mental body functioned independently of one another. At the time, I did not know that the two were so intricately connected.
Since I graduated from University, I worked in psychiatric practice in South Florida. I was treating patients suffering from various mental illnesses with non-invasive brain stimulation. Afterward, I began working with the manufacturer of these devices. This gave me the opportunity to travel most of North America to train mental health practitioners (doctors, nurses, technicians, etc.) on how to use this device. The adventures were amazing but it also meant that each night was a different city in a different hotel room.
Although I love to travel the magnitude of my travel compounded and became detrimental to my health. I developed a migraine disorder, I would wake up in the middle of the night in a panic as I had no idea what city or hotel room I was in. My eating was inconsistent, I was stressed as my job was always about putting out fires, and flying randomly to different cities. A schedule of 80 plus hour work weeks that was inconsistent takes its toll.
The one constant I had with me was my yoga mat. This mat became a safe place that I could fall to no matter where in the world I was. However, a lack of consistency was seen in the kitchen. When you live in restaurants, it makes you question food quality and how it impacts you. I missed my kitchen. Although I am not a phenomenal cook, I have become passionate about creating meals that fuel my body. I am a fan of quick cooking. Even when I bake I call myself "The Lazy No-Bake Baker" as most of what I create is in one bowl and doesn't require an oven. It is tasty, nutritious and quick!
I have become passionate about wellness, this to me is defined by multiple facets such as mental, emotional, social, environmental components. This is because what I observed working with patients and observing my loved ones and my own mental and physical health, revealed themes to me. I noticed that improper stress management, lack of exercise, lack of connection from the mind and the body, insufficient diet, and sleep, has massive implications to one's overall health. Leading to both physical and mental diseases when it is not properly addressed.
I decided it was finally time to make the leap and delve deeper into my practice through a teacher training course. During this process, I realized that my favorite part of my previous job was teaching others; breaking down something that seems intimidating, or daunting and making it simpler.
Through my personal experience of treating patients, I have seen the impact of an imbalanced life. Through the imbalance of sport and diet, I have seen those closest to me and my own mental health deteriorate. I have seen first hand and felt first hand how nourishing your body, exercising good sleep habits, moving the body, and practicing mindfulness through breath can change your life.
I then found the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. Every class touched on how the mind and body are connected, and how through proper diet and intention behind every action will increase one's capacity to heal.
As a holistic nutritionist ad yogi, I believe fully the power behind balancing the foundational pillars of health. Health and wellness is a balance and optimal function in social, environmental, physical, emotional, mental, spiritual realms. As a holistic nutritionist, wellness, Hatha, meditation coach, together we decipher where an area may need support.
That is where the idea for the "Skyfecta" took place, a trifecta protocol. A recipe that although is unique to the person, follows the skeleton of mindfulness (meditation), movement (yoga), and vitality through nourishment. By enhancing these foundations one can live a life of balance.
In my adult life, I have worked hands-on with death as a death investigator; helping to determine the cause of someone's unforeseen death. I have been a technician assisting in various clinical trials with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS); where I treated some very ill patients who were on the edge of life and death. What I've realized is that I've seen both sides of the coin of aliveness (or therefore lack of) and now I want more than anything to teach people how to live!