At 4 years old I began dancing and this became my physical activity of focus for the next 14 years. I recall being as young as 5 and calling myself fat. After years of negative self talk, disordered eating escalated when I was 15 and I struggled with food choices in the final stretch of my dance life.
I stopped dancing at age 18 and started going to the gym. Away from the dance world I developed better feelings about my appearance. However I binge drank off and on for years battling my self worth through a different outlet. At 27 I realized I had neglected the gym for a couple years and that self destructive partying was defining who I was.
I made some lifestyle changes and worked with a personal trainer for a year. When I was 28 I joined an online group formed for fitness enthusiasts. The group's focus was strict restrictive "clean eating". My opinions of food and my body started to transition negatively and I developed severe orthorexia. Sadly in the fall of 2012 I ventured into a powerlifting program on a very low carb diet, I stopped menstruating, and was obsessed with my food rules.
At age 29 I made a career change, transitioned out of marketing and began personal training January 2013. I felt that in order to be successful in fitness I had to suffer to look a certain way. I had a nutrition advisor who used guilt association with food tactics and my eating disorder took a turn for the worse. By spring I met the criteria for anorexia. I went on to battle the restrict/binge/purge cycle, including sporadic binge drinking. My metabolism and body composition changed, and I existed in a dark mental space.
I was well aware I had an eating disorder and was proactive in my recovery. I was fortunate to meet my counsellor Tiffany Brown of Inspiring Pathways. Tiffany was the most influential person in my recovery and I am beyond grateful for her. When emotional issues are brought to light and understood, it is then that one can transition out of self sabotage into a healthy lifestyle.
I had an abundance of health problems including adrenal fatigue and long term amenorrhea. I stopped training for a long time. This was difficult but it allowed me to work on my interpersonal issues and step away from making body composition a priority. I entirely changed my perspective making the decision to love and honour my body through each phase of my life. I got back into lifting as I could and took breaks as needed.
I met Lou Noel and Mark Crawford AKA Ripped Geek Fitness in May 2014. I started working with Lou and Mark to understand food as energy to provide my body with sound nourishment. They helped me reverse my metabolic adaption and up my energy levels by increasing my caloric consumption and guiding me to eat enough protein, carbohydrate and fat while I consumed foods of my choice. I learned that I thrive on a relatively high carb diet and restructured my dietary protocol to suit my needs. Ripped Geek started helping me with exercise programming so that I could gain muscle mass and strength optimally, while improving my skills as an exercise coach. It wasn't smooth sailing to start. My right sacroiliac joint was over-flexible from my dance background. This is a small joint where the base of the spine meets the pelvis. I didn't have the stability to handle my squatting potential. I had to completely rehab my pelvis and as such took a significant amount of time off training. Lou and Mark restructured my training protocol to work around my injury and I returned to the weight room once again.
As I discovered some of my personal training clients had body image issues, I realized they were training with me because I was helpful on an emotional level. June 2015 I ventured to Toronto and studied Neurolinguistic Programming in an intensive format in order to pursue life coaching and specialize in helping others overcome body image struggles and find balance with food. Upon returning to Vancouver I obtained life coaching clients through word of mouth and Instagram. As I gained experience I began working on the You Are Weightless brand behind the scenes.
Although mentally recovered from my body image and food issues for quite some time, and despite the physical progress I had made, my mind and body were not fully recovered from my past. I developed a challenging digestive condition fall of 2015 and encountered another set back. Amongst painful stomach flare ups, I dealt with chronic pain as my sacroiliac joint issues flared up again. My small intestine was inflamed and I was not able to rehab my SI joint as a result. I did not obtain adequate care through western medicine and after months of struggles I found a health care practitioner who could provide me relief. I met Dr. John Pidutti, ND of Springs Eternal Natural Health Clinic in March 2016. Near the end of my initial visit Dr. John kindly said to me "well, you've lived a hard life" and from there we began thorough testing followed by treatment. Dr. John is a brilliant holistic healer and one of the most compassionate healthcare professionals I've had the pleasure of meeting. Thanks to him my health has transformed, I no longer live in chronic pain and I even obtained an elite level bench press during my treatment as my energy levels soared.
I had been practicing various methods of mindfulness with wonderful success. However I knew that in order to feel a higher sense of connection to myself and my surroundings, I would benefit from more in-depth spiritual guidance. In the summer of 2017, I reached out to Rehana Ali: Healing Arts and Wellness. Rehana is a very gifted spiritual healer and teacher, and she helped me make some profound shifts in my life beyond recovery. Working with Rehana not only enhanced my own life, her teachings have strengthened my skills as a life coach. I love to continually educate myself about the mind, body and spirit connection through various workshops and practices.
Today I eat for performance, incorporate all food in healthy moderation, I don't drink at all, and I’m grateful for my beautiful life. I value my body for its capabilities and happily embrace a balanced lifestyle. I have a passion for helping others discover what lies beneath their struggles and shift into a place of freedom, inner peace and self love. We all deserve to live a mindful and fulfilling life.