For most of my life, food was my poison, and I didn’t even realize it. However, for the last few years it has become my medicine. I am hoping I can help others make food their medicine as well. I am so excited to announce that I am studying to become a Health Coach. I started in September at Institute of Integrative Medicine.
Let me start at the beginning. I have always had hormonal and stomach issues. It was my normal. At different times in my life I would go to a doctor, have tests and be told, “All tests look good; there is nothing wrong with you.” When you don’t feel well, those words do something to a person. I started to doubt myself. It must be in my mind. Am I a hypochondriac? Am I crazy? I know I am not making it up. I guess this is just the way I am.
I won’t go into all the different issues, but some of my issues ranged from lack of energy, brain fog, bad breath, and acne to horrible PMS and periods as well as four miscarriages. Then in early January 2011 I had testing done because I felt like there was always something stuck in my throat. I finally received one diagnosis of GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) and Barrett’s Esophagus. Even though I had stomach aches all of my life, (when I was young I used to sleep with a bucket next to my bed because I always felt like I might throw up), I was surprised at the diagnosis. I always thought acid reflux had symptoms of burning in the chest which I never had. No doctor had told me that acid reflux could be causing the feeling of something stuck in my throat. It is a symptom of acid reflux, so if you have that, go get checked out for acid reflux.
The diagnosis scared me. Not only was I told that I could have a higher risk of having esophageal cancer, but besides watching what I eat, raising the head my bed, and taking pills for the rest of my life, there was nothing I really could do. That did not sit well with me. Oh and by the way, the diagnosis was given to me in a letter from the specialist. Some how that seems wrong.
I was not willing to accept the fact that I had to stay on a proton pump inhibitor that clearly was labelled, “Do not to take for longer than 2 weeks” and had many side effects. That just didn’t make sense to me. The first thing for me was to figure out how to change my diet. I worked with a nurse practitioner who specializes in nutrition. I also took a blood test to look for food sensitivities. It came back with a large list of items that I was sensitive to. Two of them, peanuts and yeast, were staples in my diet. What I found out is that when someone has acid reflux many times the only time they feel good is when they are eating. That was the case with me, so I ate snacks throughout the day. My snacks were sugary, white flour items, and peanut containing items. Most white flour items contain yeast, so I would eat to feel a little better, but eat the foods that I was sensitive to which only made me feel worse. It was a downward spiral.
By the end of Dec 2011 I got off my proton pump inhibitors. Let me tell you it was so hard. I got down to just one a day, but I couldn’t stop. I felt miserable if I didn’t take it. The best thing happened to me…I got the flu. Yep, I couldn’t eat or take anything for about 4 days. When I finally could eat, I didn’t take the proton pump inhibitor. I got past the “addiction”. I have not gone back.
Over the past three years health, food, and nutrition has become my passion. I continued to work on my diet. I have tried eliminating foods from my diet to see how that effected me. I worked on adding regular exercise to my life. I walk at least 10,000 steps almost every day as well a few other eccentric and burst type exercises, and I am working on sleeping more and better. I even stopped drinking my daily Coke.
Health is a journey. It is not a one time event or change. Our bodies are always changing, so we need to change as that happens. I have spent hours reading, listening, and researching to understand food, nutrition, and health better for myself and my family. Some days I think…why don’t I feel 100%, but then think back to how terrible I felt for most of my life, and I see how far I have come. I am making good changes and creating great healthy habits that continue to improve my health.
So what is a health coach and why am I studying to be one? A health coach is someone who is trained on how to coach people to reach their health and lifestyles goals by making small incremental changes in a practical, enjoyable way, so they eventually become a habit. I want to help others focus on food, exercise, stress, relationships, faith and other aspects of their lifestyle to support them to improve their health and lives. If I can make changes to help me feel better, so can others.
As I looked at my life I knew I was on the precipice of a new stage. My oldest was going off to college and my youngest was starting his sophomore year of high school. My days as a homeschooler were numbered. What did I want to do next? As I spent time in reflection I knew that it had to be something around health. Before I had children I had been a Human Resources professional. One of my strengths was coaching employees and managers. What could I do with that strength?
As I learned more and more about health and food, and as I realized that my health was forever changed because of the changes I made in my eating, exercise, sleeping and spiritual practices I knew I wanted others to know that too. It was so hard to make the changes mostly on my own. It was so hard to stay the course when a change didn’t give me an immediate positive benefit. In my busy-ness I would slip backwards. Physicians aren’t trained in nutrition and diets. They don’t have time to work with their patients to make sure the changes needed to help them keep on track. That is where I want to come in. I want to help others who want to help themselves.
A health coach would be a perfect fit for me, so I started studying over 100 diet and nutrition lifestyles in September 2014 through Institution of Integrative Nutrition (IIN), and I am loving it. I chose IIN because of their emphasis on bio-individuality and primary foods. Bio-individuality is a concept that all of us are different and all of us need different foods and lifestyle changes to make us feel and live at our best lives. Primary foods is a concept that not only food but things such as exercise, relationships, careers, and spirituality all impact our health. Those key concepts were right in line with my values. By late winter, I will be ready to start working with others, and by September 2015 I will be a certified health coach.
Life has taken an unexpected turn again in my life. I am grabbing on and running with it. I continue to make food and other aspects of my life changes, so they can be my medicine. It is exciting and am filled with energy to see where the next year takes me. Because life is good, it is all good.