My wellness journey has been quite a ride! And I know it doesn’t end here. This journey is what compelled me to make wellness my life’s work, first with yoga as the center of my career, and now with growing this wellness center in our community at Inner Light. There is more work to be done, yet today I want to share how it began and a glimpse into the road thus far.
My journey began in 7th grade when I became a vegetarian. The sight of the raw chicken in home-ec class made me nauseous, and when I got home that night my mother had - you guessed it - chicken for dinner. That evening I announced I was vegetarian. My vegetarianism started simply by being turned off by meat. However I soon developed an interest in the ethics and environmental aspects of plant-based eating. I dove deeply into the researching watching Food Inc. innumerable times, reading The China Study, talking to nutritionists, and I fell in love with Michael Pollan and his work.
In high school I struggled with an eating disorder. I was not eating properly for the amount of exercise I was partaking in. I would lunch at school and go run stairs, I would eat a bite of dinner and go on a run, I’d stay up past my bedtime doing sit-ups, I drank diet coke like it was water and most days breakfast and lunch combined was a half a protein bar. I lost weight, my strength, my energy and ultimately lost time. I was more concerned about my eating and exercise regimen than my homework or friends. It became all consuming and dangerous very quickly. I was fortunate my parents saw what was happening and brought my incredibly reluctant self to an adolescent & teen primary care doctor who specialized in working with teens with ‘complex health problems’ in New York City. As much as I resented her at the time, she truly saved me during that challenging and troubling time. She helped me understand that calories are energy, and if I was to be stronger and “fitter” I needed to eat more, I needed that energy. Through my work with her, the support of my family and a deeper understanding that “healthy” doesn’t necessarily mean “skinny,” I was able to regain my strength and get back on my two stable feet. By the beginning of junior year I was doing much better, was at the top of my game athletically and stronger than ever. It took years of diligent self-work to cultivate the truly healthy relationship with food, exercise and my body that I now have.
For college I went to school in San Diego, CA, where fresh produce was bountiful and the city was filled with vegetarian and vegan restaurants. I decided to become vegan my sophomore year - I had been eating mostly plants anyways - and being out there it seemed fairly easy. I became what’s commonly known as an “unhealthy vegan.” I was big into pasta, eating a lot of processed foods and primarily eating out. Late night trips to the Mexican spot down the street from us - overindulging on rice & bean burritos and guacamole didn’t help either. About 6 months into being vegan, my hair began to thin and my nails were breaking. About a year in my whole body felt weak and tired. When deciding to transition to a vegan diet I never consulted a doctor or nutritionist - there was a lack of protein in my diet and I was not getting enough B12. I decided to introduce eggs back into my diet - however the damage was done - I ended up with stress fractures in three of my toes. My bones were simply not strong enough. It was at that point I decided that listening to my body was more important than anything else. After the eggs came fish, and I slowly began to add more and more protein back into my diet. It was after those stress fractures that I took up yoga and fell in love with the practice. Yoga gave me not only physical strength but mental clarity and stamina as well. I believe my time in San Diego was pivotal in my wellness journey. It taught me the biggest lesson so far - balance. Balance in all things is key and it’s something I continue to practice and strive to find to this day.
Where were we? Graduation. I moved back to CT and that’s when all of the stomach issues presented themselves. I started suffering from all sorts of digestive and immune issues. I came down with colds far too many times a year, multiple ear infections, mono, tonsillitis, the flu, costochondritis and more … a very large spectrum of different health problems. Not all of which seem to relate to one another which continues to be a challenge for me - why am I always getting sick? It’s been a long process filled with more tests and procedures than I can even remember… tonsillectomy, endoscopy, colonoscopy, MRI of my intestines/gut, ultrasounds of my abdomen, trips to the ER, never ending blood work, procedures and tests.
Despite my unanswered questions I am so grateful for the journey thus far. I have become deeply connected to and knowledgeable about myself and my body. I have found out what works for me vs what doesn't, I’ve learned to have patience and that things don’t always go our way, I’ve learned about various healing modalities and practices and ultimately, I am healing. I feel so lucky that I have access to wonderful doctors, healers, coaches, therapists and a large support system in this area. I am deeply grateful to have found yoga to help me deal with the stress that discomfort and sickness can bring. A key in my healing journey was when I found infrared saunas about three years ago. Infrared has helped me release toxins, sleep better at night and give me time to relax. Meditation has been a savior. There are tools we can use, tools we have and can tap into to assist us along in the healing process.
I share all of this to let you know I’m in this with you. I’ve made my health & wellness my number one priority and I want to help you on your journey as well. Because why shouldn’t we all have the chance to feel our best? Whether you are healing from a chronic illness, a physical wound, an emotional trauma - whether your wellness journey started 17 years ago or last month - we all are worthy and deserve to feel good, to feel better than before, to step into our greatness - and we are not alone.