One of the most commonly asked questions (ESPECIALLY if you’re a college student) is something along the lines of, “What do you want to do with your life?” Pretty loaded question, if you ask me.
And yet, most of us have a standard, default response that’s basically a reflex to someone asking that question.
For about 5 years of my life, my answer to that question was, “I want to be a neonatal nurse.” And I did. (Until I didn’t, but we’ll get to that part of the story later.) First, we need to rewind… back to middle school.
My Wild Journey to Health Coaching
Unlike most people, I (mostly) loved middle school. I had amazing friends and loved my classes, but one class in particular was my absolute favorite… P.E.
I know, I know, I HAVE to be joking, right?
Nope. I LOVED P.E. My teacher was the best of the best, and I made a lifelong friend in that class.
Because I loved P.E. so much, my middle school career goal was to be a P.E. teacher. It was related to health and fitness, which I had loved since I started running in 6th grade. And it was a teaching job, which I had been interested in my whole life. (That’s what happens when you have two teacher parents.)
So, as you can see, my love for health and wellness started from an early age. I mean, I literally RAN for FUN. I was a weird kid.
But in 8th grade, I hit that infamous puberty growth spurt. My body changed, and it changed FAST. I got my period, gained a lot of weight, and felt like I was in a completely different body. I always had a wider, athletic build, but until I actually grew boobs and a butt, I didn’t have a whole lot of muscle or body fat.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t become an 8th grader body builder overnight (or ever), but I felt different. My boobs were *slightly* larger, and my hips were widening. Unfortunately, the growth spurt didn’t really affect my height, so I was still stuck at a whopping 4’10”.
But this change was enough to send me down a rabbit hole I’m sure many of us have gone down… Weighing ourselves daily, hoping for a lower number. Paying more attention to what we eat. Counting calories. Exercising more. Low self-esteem.
For a few years, I was constantly comparing my body to every other girls’. I was body-checking in the mirror ALL THE TIME. I wasn’t totally miserable in my body, but there was always something I wanted to change about it.
During high school, I was falling deeper and deeper into the world of disordered eating and exercise habits. I was counting calories, working out a LOT (often on an empty stomach), and doing workouts based on what I thought they’d make me look like.
I would get extremely stressed (sometimes to the point of crying) when I ate something that I thought was “bad” or “unhealthy,” and I would re-take pictures of myself SO MANY times in order to get the “perfect” angle to prove to myself that I wasn’t that bad-looking.
Basically, I hated myself, and I hated most parts of my life.
Before my senior year, I realized that something needed to change. I was tired of constantly complaining and comparing, always seeing the negative parts of every situation, and just feeling miserable every day. I wanted to change my mindset and start being more optimistic. But I wasn’t sure how.
That fall, I was on my high school’s cheer team, and my coaches created mindset workbooks that they passed out at the beginning of the season. I completed every single page and loved it. I felt so much lighter and happier after working through it, but I knew one workbook wasn’t going to change my entire life. The real mindset shift came about a month later.
I was out for a jog (remember, I like to run for fun) around my small-town neighborhood when I was hit by a car. My shins collided with the front bumper, and I rolled over the hood, landing on the side of the road, a few feet away from the vehicle.
When I realized what had happened, I was in shock. I almost didn’t believe it had actually happened. But what I was more shocked about was that I was still in one piece. I could walk and talk and breathe. No bones were broken, nothing sprained… just a few cuts and scrapes.
It was in this moment that I realized our bodies were not made for us to criticize, starve, overwork, and abuse. They were not made to be molded into a certain size and shape that’s “pretty to look at.” They were made to keep us ALIVE and HEALTHY.
Suddenly, I was so GRATEFUL for this body of mine. I was so thankful to be given another day on this beautiful earth, and I started seeing the positive in everything.
I remember telling my then-boyfriend/now-husband that it felt like my brain did a complete 180, and I truly believe it did that day. I think The Universe knew that I needed a big shove in the right direction.
Of course, it wasn’t all uphill from there on out. I still massively struggled with disordered eating and exercise, self-criticism, and more. But what was different was that I had an inkling of hope in the back of my mind. I knew what it felt like to be grateful for my body as opposed to hateful. I knew how freeing it felt to be optimistic and loving toward the world.
So as I finished my senior year and graduated (COVID class of 2020, baby!), I was starting to feel better.
But then came summer. And what was different about this summer was that I spent a month with my boyfriend and our best friend in Colorado… which meant we had to buy (and make) our own food.
Now, for most people, going to the grocery store and cooking are relatively simple tasks. They might be slightly annoying or inconvenient, but they’re not, like, some of the most stressful things on the plant. But for people who have struggled with disordered eating or an eating disorder, cooking and shopping for food are so exhausting.
Although I was never professionally diagnosed, I’m pretty sure I had orthorexia, which is essentially taking “healthy eating” way too far. So you can imagine how my grocery shopping and cooking processes went.
I was always looking at labels, comparing calorie counts, trying to find the healthiest options. And I was shopping with two boys. Do you think they cared at all what we ate? Not really. We were also fresh out of high school, so do you think we had a lot of money to spend on fresh, organic food? Absolutely not.
Basically, I was stressed the f*ck out.
And to make matters worse? We were primarily there so that the boys could run at altitude.
So there they were, running at least an hour every day; and there I was, a probably orthorexic 18-year-old girl, just trying to survive. It was mentally exhausting.
I was so checked out, in fact, that I can barely remember much of that trip. Collectively, I have probably less than 10 memories from the entire month. And one of those memories is me calculating how many calories I had eaten that day using the calculator app on my phone (so fun!).
When I got to college a couple months later, things started to improve. I was in a brand-new environment, surrounded by people in similar stages of life, and my campus cafeteria had pretty healthy (but still yummy) options for mealtimes.
I was definitely still struggling, but it wasn’t quite as bad as it had been. For the most part.
At the end of February during my freshman year of college, I was going through a major rough patch. This time, I completely broke down and told my boyfriend everything that I had been going through for the last few years. He had known some of it because we had been dating the entire time; but I had never told him the full story (until then), so he never knew the severity of it all.
Just the simple (yet also incredibly difficult) task of telling him everything that had been going on inside my head helped me SO MUCH. Slowly but surely, my stress around food and exercise began to melt away. I was feeling more confident, and my mindset was shifting to a positive space again.
Okay, now here’s that part that I promised you at the beginning.
In the spring of my freshman year, I had to make the tough decision to leave my college because I was getting married, and I didn’t want to have to commute an hour each way for classes. I also started to question whether or not I truly wanted to go into nursing (which had been my plan since sophomore year of high school).
I just couldn’t get myself to work in the front lines of a healthcare system that I KNEW needed to be changed. I wanted to be part of that change instead of going along with the brokenness that is the American healthcare system.
While I was doing some research on schools I could go to in my new area, I came across a public health program, and I immediately knew it was right in my gut. I enrolled, and now I’m 9 months from graduating! ((:
A couple months after I enrolled, I heard about health coaching for the first time, and I grew super interested. For months and months, I looked into different programs and tried to come up with plans to fund my health coaching certification. In March of this year, I decided to just go for it, and I’m so glad I did!
Now, I get to help other young women who are going through the same thing I’ve been through. I get to help people shift their mindset, learn to eat intuitively, and boost their confidence. AND I get to help be part of the ripple effect that’s working to change the entire definition of healthy living!
My journey to becoming a health coach was full of twists and turns, and it’s not what I would have expected myself to end up doing if you’d asked me a year ago, but I know this is how it was supposed to work out.
If you’re interested in hiring me as your health coach, fill out this short application! Once you submit the form, I’ll be able to give you more information on what I think you could benefit the most from. ((: