‘Listen to your heart.’
That catch-phrase sounds pretty cliché, but it is so true.
Often times, your heart is your best guide.
I just came off of an intensive 3-day weekend with my Nutrition Therapy program, and boy, I tell you what…I feel like I just came off a crazy music festival or youth group church retreat—on cloud nine!
I am definitely doing one of the things I was meant to do, and so thankful that God has answered prayers for direction in finding (and living out) my passions.
This weekend was spent from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. in a ‘classroom’ setting at the Hilton Hotel in Downtown Austin, discussing and digging deep into digestion and gut health, sugar handling issues, hormonal imbalances, fatty acid deficiencies, stomach acidity, healing diseases—from autoimmune conditions, to Autism, cancer and more.
It was way cool—and I definitely walked away from the weekend with even more ‘tools in my tool belt’ and applicable skills for incorporating in my practice—and genuinely help clients heal their bodies and lives from the inside out.
It’s funny what a difference listening to your INTUITION (ie. Going with your gut) can do for ‘falling in’ to the things you were meant to do.
Earlier this year, as a new clinician in the Austin area, I sat down to meet with a fellow professional to introduce myself and discuss a little bit about what I do and my specialties in eating disorder recovery, lifestyle redesign and nutrition therapy.
She laughed at me in my face.
“Why would you waste your pennies on education in nutrition therapy? Everyone knows that if you are going to do anything with nutrition, you should become a Registered Dietitian.”
I kindly thanked her for her time when all was said and done, and went home from that meeting a little disheartened—taking her opinion to heart, while trying to take it with a ‘grain of salt.’ (“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me”).
Nevertheless, I have continued to learn and incorporate nutrition therapy and nutrition counseling as a component of my occupational therapy practice for a mind-body-soul approach, through my training as a Nutrition Therapy Practitioner—and you know what?
I am doing what I was meant to do.
Just the other day, I was chatting with a client who has finally begun to experience the effects of what a balanced diet, plenty of water and good sleep can make in her life.
“I just have more energy! I went home to visit my family for Thanksgiving, and we went on a walk—from the car to the store on Black Friday. They just kept complaining about how far it was to walk from the car to the door! That used to be me. Now I have so much more energy!”
She’s sleeping 7-8 hours now, instead of a broken 4-6.
She’s drinking 80-100 ounces of water each day, instead of 2 Diet Cokes and 2 cups of coffee, with little water.
She’s eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with a balanced plate of protein, veggies, essential fats and quality carb sources.
Her jeans fit better.
She’s cooking (and having fun with it), instead of dining out or ordering in every night.
Her daughter is eating and demanding vegetables now!
Had you seen her 6-weeks ago, she was a completely different person.
“I just want things to be different—and I am tired of wishing for them to be different. I want to be healthier for my daughter and want to see her grow up. I don’t want to die at a young age from a heart attack or develop Diabetes,” she said.
Another client of mine, in recovery from her eating disorder, is beginning to experience the positive effects that fueling the body throughout the day can provide. Two-months ago, she was not eating until about noon each day, and on the hamster wheel of exercise, upwards of 12-hours per day. With some specific work towards learning how to view food as life-giving energy—not a toxic substance—and gaining a greater grasp of how exercise can be part of her day (not consume her day), the more life she can truly experience.
Call me uber passionate—but I want to help people, and I love celebrating them when big things happen.
Where did this passion come from?
Listening to my heart.
After all, I know think experiences we all go through shape and define our passions and our purposes in mighty ways.
For these clients, their life experiences of living sub-par lifestyles, coupled with poor nutrition and fitness choices led them to desire, and ultimately, take steps to make the life changes they have.
I am the exact same way.
Five years ago, on death’s doorstep, I was drowning in a life-sucking and soul-sucking eating disorder that had my body (my mind and my nutrition) completely out of whack!
I hit rock bottom, and with only two options (to die or to live), I chose the latter, and through good nutrition, and making some major life changes, life began to unfold…my mission, my ‘one’ thing, began to unfold as well—I wanted to guide others to experience life change.
Prior to my ‘breaking point’, for years upon years, nutritionists, programs, dietitians, doctors tried to help me overcome, heal and get well—all with failed attempts, time and time again.
They wanted to help, but why did these not work?
- I struggled to feel empowered in the process—instead, I felt like I was told what to do and how to do it, instead of being asked: “What do you want? What are your goals? How do you think you can get there?”
- I thought I was invincible—poor health doesn’t always strike us fast…it took many years for me to begin to experiencing the ill effects of malnutrition (Chest pains and heart issues, low glucose levels, digestive dysfunctions, hair falling out, etc.).
- I never learned how to fuel my body and sustain a healthy lifestyle—it always seemed like extremes. Instead I learned how to forcefully eat what was plated on my tray in hospitals and treatment centers, and used my people-pleasing tactics to listen to what others told me and wanted me to do.
- I never connected with my food as a nourishing experience. Instead I viewed food as meal plan checklists, calorie counts and food pyramid exchanges in order to fuel my body as I was directed.
- I was never guided in how to cook and prepare meals that brought life to my body. If anything, I dreaded and was intimidated by any mention of the words ‘cook’ or ‘kitchen,’ and easily resorted to Lean Cuisine dinners and take-out turkey patties with Crystal Light by the pitcher.
- I never was educated on how to address all the vitamin and mineral deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, mental and emotional struggles, headaches, breakouts and gut digestion issues I experienced time and time again through the re-feeding process without being given a pill like Lactaid, told to take a prescription medication, or pop a Tums tablet or Colace (stool softener).
My training as a Nutrition Therapy Practitioner has taught me how to heal and manage disease and improve overall well-being through, first and foremost, food as medicine, as well as address each client in an individualized way (every body is different) and allow them to be the captains of a guided ship in the process (call me the co-captain).
This past weekend’s intensive workshop weekend with my Nutrition Therapy program (Nutrition Therapy Association) confirmed to me that I am doing what I am made to do—regardless of a more traditional route or not.
The end goal is the same, like any healthcare practice: Help others to, ultimately, help themselves.
The moral of the story?
Listen to your heart, your intuition, and tap into your passions.
EVERYONE (and their mom) is going to have an opinion in some form or fashion and some point or another about the things you should do with your time, your career, your passions, your hobbies, your goals, your dreams.
Dig deep. Seek wisdom. And ultimately, listen to that little ticker.