Hello there and Welcome to A life Nourished!
A Life Nourished is letting go of societal standards to allow us to seek liberation. Through the journey of understanding our unique stories we can stand in a space of self-nourishment and free ourselves from our skewed perceptions.
I chose to continue pursuing my synchronized swimming aspirations after graduating high school and signed on as a varsity athlete for the synchronized swimming program at The Ohio State University. As a high-level athlete at Ohio State, I learned quickly what the freshman 30 looked like. I had a skewed body image and a binge eating mindset stemming from years of food and emotional restriction. What I can see in hindsight, is that my use of food to comfort was an attempt to suppress un-dealt with pain that was deeply rooted, and in reality had nothing to do with the actual food. My struggle for control was developed out of a lack of emotional understanding and a need to subdue my internal dialogue while feeling like my body was directly linked to my self worth (thank you diet culture).
I am an introvert at heart, although it has taken me years to realize that. Resulting from this lack of recognition about myself was a constant feeling as though I never quite fit in. Out of a need to quiet my critical inner voice, I binged and deprived in a constant state of self-hate for years.
I realized after two years at Ohio State that I was burnt out of swimming. I had a difficult time finding the motivation to go to class, which in turn led me to believe that I was a bad student with a lack of direction. This seeped into every aspect of my life, resulting in late night eating and difficulty getting up for practice in the mornings. Following sophomore year, I was fortunate enough to find a summer job at a European pastry shop called Pistacia Vera. I had no idea how much this place would change the trajectory of my life. I quickly fell in love with the pristine yet inviting atmosphere the store projected. I was taught the proper French pronunciations of the pastries and the difference it makes when you use high quality ingredients. One day of learning in the kitchen turned into many, and the next thing I knew, I was making the difficult decision to quit synchronized swimming after 12 years and follow my heart into pastry. I grew up with a mother who is an inspiring cook and got to experience fine dining at an early age, but to learn how to make these breathtaking desserts with my own hands was an experience that will forever be ingrained in my heart. I was taken under the wing of Pistacia Vera for a year before being pushed out of the nest to go to The French Pastry School in Chicago, Illinois.
My journey to becoming a Registered Dietitian has been full of opportunities to learn and grow in my understanding of food in all its many facets, as well as the importance of overall well being and self-care. I have always had a passion for food, but really took a deep dive into nutrition as an athlete. At the age of 16 I moved from my home state of Ohio to California, to pursue my career as a synchronized swimmer. I had hopes of going to the Olympics one day and moving to the west coast was the necessary, and dramatically life-changing route, to pursue that dream. I learned so much about myself during that period of time and met a group of girls that, to this day, are my soul mates. We bonded over bonfires by the ocean and 8-hour practice days with baby butt cream on our faces as we attempted to keep from turning into fried tomatoes (food pun intended). It was a demanding sport and, as with many sports where you are judged on your appearance, disordered eating was common. During my senior year of high school, I was diagnosed with a sports-induced eating disorder. I was not fueling my body well physically or emotionally and had a hard time coping with what it meant to truly connect with my bodily needs.
Attending the French Pastry School was a wonderful experience and led me down a path of life-changing opportunities with restaurants like Perennial, Blackbird, and Publican. Eventually this path led me to NYC where I worked my way up to Pastry Sous Chef at a well-loved Italian coastal restaurant on Central Park South. I moved up the line quickly, and found myself needing solace outside of what the restaurant industry could give me. I wasn’t done learning, and still carried with me those deep-rooted difficulties with self-worth, a lack of confidence, and using food as a cycle of comfort and guilt. It was in NYC I found myself in my first 200-hour yoga teacher training. Through yoga, I was able to dive into my own practice and re-connect with my body in a way I had not been able to since I left the swimming pool.
After two years in NYC, five apartments, 90+ hour workweeks, and a life far from balanced; I again made the tough decision to change paths. I moved back to my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio in hopes of finding something I had lost along the way. Soon after moving home, I committed to an 11-month intensive 500-hour yoga teacher training and eventually returned to school to finish my degree. Through the process of going back to school, I was forced to learn what balance looked like in terms of managing school life, social life, and work. I experienced how showing up in school tended to help with good grades, a sarcastically shocking revelation. I learned that nurturing relationships was more important than the perfectionist in me wanting the highest score in class. Finally, I adopted a foundation of grace and gentleness for my village of support and myself. After 4 years back in school, acceptance to the University of Cincinnati’s Coordinated Program, 1200+ hours as a dietetic intern, an apartment move, a new husband, and the passing of my boards to become a registered dietitian, I can say with full confidence I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I truly believe we will keep encountering the same lessons over and over until they teach us what we need to learn.
Through those last couple years in school, spending time on my yoga mat, and LOTS of support, I was able to start learning to accept myself as I am. Through that acceptance, I was able to begin changing my relationship with food with an understanding that restriction wasn't a healthy place for me. I learned more about a science-based process of tracking macronutrients that I thought might be a productive tool for me to experiment with. For two years I tracked my food intake, which enabled me to let go of many of my food fears and find flexibility in the structure that tracking provided. I started learning how to listen to my hunger cues and intuition. Beginning the process of healing my body through self-care, compassion, and self-acceptance was monumental, but the journey is a long one. I now see how deeply engrained diet-culture and fat phobia has been in my life, and my propensity towards food restriction/control, even under the guise of health. I made the transition from tracking my food to learning how to eat intuitively, while diving deep into what anti-det, Health At Every Size really means. It has helped me step away from diet-culture and begin to better understand how weight stigma has been showing up in my own life, and our culture as a whole.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to your health and well being. YOU know your body better than anyone ever will.
As I continue down this path of what I now truly believe is my calling as an Anti-Diet Dietitian, with all the experiences of my past, I am grateful for the opportunities it has given me to learn, grow, and connect with others. I know how hard it is to transition from being a full-time athlete to living a life where athletics has become a hobby, if anything at all. I know what it it's like to have your body feel foreign to you. I know how difficult it is to let go of the fear surrounding food and begin to nourish from a place of abundance not deprivation. I know what it feels like to be exhausted mentally and physically, while feel shame towards your "lack willpower". I know what it feels like to have an internal dialogue that feels eerily similar to the movie Mean Girls.
We live in a culture that's diet and weight obsessed, and marginalizes individuals in larger bodies in a way that is harmful and scary for us all. By joining the anti-diet, HAES movement, my hope is to create a safe space for body liberation in a way that feels freeing and nourishing. Intuitive Eating is about making peace with food and learning to act from a place of self-care. It is about taking back control of your own body and learning how to drop diet cultures food rules and weight stigmas, in a way that feels empowering.
I have lived with a skewed perception of food and body for years, and I’m no longer allowing that relationship to define me.
Let me help you do the same.