What inspired my approach to Whole Nourishment?
I came to Whole Nourishment with a desire to find a gentler, happier, and more complete way of taking care of myself. Whole Nourishment is a mindset and collection of small daily habits I’ve established over time that form a lifestyle. My story is worth sharing. Though we’re all unique, we have similar struggles. And my work now as a Health Coach is to support others in overcoming obstacles and live a nourishing lifestyle.
During my university years, like many women, I struggled with body image issues. I remember the day when mild self-awareness turned into major hypervigilance. I was walking on campus with girlfriends on a hot Austin afternoon and suddenly became self-conscious of my body in comparison to theirs. After that, I began pegging my self-worth to how I felt about my size. Around the same time, I also began noticing mindless eating habits. One particular day I ate a rushed lunch between classes, only because that was when I always ate. I realized I wasn’t hungry and didn’t enjoy the food. But I ate out of habit. Following a mindless schedule rather than listening to my body’s hunger cues made me feel yucky and disappointed.
These abrupt shifts in perspective illustrated something important. The mind-body connection had been made for the first real time in my adult life, but not in a positive, intuitive way. That would come later. At the time, the only principle I had to work with was a narrow definition of health: eating low fat, counting calories, and going on daily runs motivated by a sense of obligation and fear of losing “balance”.
A Vicious Cycle
Once that hypervigilant state of self-awareness took over, a vicious cycle of comparing myself to others, shaming parts of my body I didn’t like, and being rigid with diet and exercise ruled the way I related to food and my body. This was an impossible and destructive quest to feel better about myself. Each step was triggered by fear. And driving the fear was anxiety about failure, lack of confidence, and mistrust in my own abilities.
My self-worth was shallowly rooted in appearances and external validation. Being accepted into prestigious academic programs, getting perfect grades, and winning running competitions were expected and necessary to feel “OK” in life. (A classic example of rewarding the result, not the effort!)
But the core problem was that I didn’t know how to separate my thoughts from the real me. I was my thoughts! I allowed them to define me, impacting how I felt and, in turn, how I chose to treat myself.
Bit by bit, I came to realize I was much better than these thoughts. Even though I couldn’t initially “feel it”, I rationally “knew” there had to be a smarter approach to health than my narrow view was allowing. Undergraduate and graduate studies in Health Education and Public Health affirmed this.
Therapy took on a new meaning as I read inspiring, life-affirming books, such as about French women and their secrets to a seemingly balanced lifestyle rooted in pleasure and moderation. I was naturally drawn to several elements, including their:
- slower, thoughtful approach to daily life
- rustic, easy cooking style
- celebration (and certainly prioritization!) of everyday meals
- pride in embracing individual unique beauty rather than fitting into an idealized one-size-fits-all mold
This was a liberating and refreshing approach to health. How could I bring these elements into my own life?
A New (Yet Familiar) Lifestyle
Deep within, this mindful lifestyle rooted in pleasure and moderation felt familiar, like how I was meant to live all along. Growing up, my mom (single with a full-time job) and grandmother prepared every meal from scratch with the intention that it be enjoyed together, without distraction. So I already knew the value of good food and prioritizing mealtime. And being raised in a home with a strong female presence also taught me to be self-reliant: naturally confident, assertive, and proactive.
I had only temporarily lost touch with this inner-knowing. And the underlying message of these French books profoundly resonated…
Less discrimination, more discernment, full pleasure.
… helping me reconnect, giving me new perspective on a healthy lifestyle and a vision for moving forward.
This became my mantra. Changing thought patterns is an ongoing process. But as I made small tweaks to my thoughts, guided by this mantra, it became easier to change my behavior. Over time, new habits took shape. I began:
- Creating space in my day to enjoy the process of planning and cooking meals
- Exploring markets
- Experimenting with a range of new recipes, cuisines, spices, and fresh produce
- Embracing a broader range of exercise, from walking, yoga, and meditation, as new forms of activity for body and mind, rather than for their basic utility
- Integrating affirming thoughts about food and my body that eventually crowded out negative self-talk
My inherent passion and curiosity for good food and how it made me feel was growing, reaffirming at each step, and beginning to outweigh negative thought patterns. The rituals and creative expression of cooking I was discovering were rewarding and encouraged me to keep going.
Today, I’m motivated by the desire to be truly physically and mentally well.
I lead a sustainable lifestyle that allows me to feel good in my body and about my body. Having experienced both the worst of the negative cycle and the best of the positive one, I know intimately that this shift takes time and benefits from support and guidance.
A personal passion to help, and professional training to educate, guide the formation of lasting habits, and recognize differences in how each person needs support, prepares me to help others shift to a more nourishing lifestyle.
Why is this work important?
When we feel good in and about our body, we're more energized, creative, and vibrant. This benefits the individual and everyone around us. We can more easily recognize and use our natural strengths, become more outwardly-focused, and give more to our partner, family, friends, work, and community.
For the last 10 years, I’ve read, experimented, and studied from top experts in the fields of functional nutrition and holistic health. During recent years, my work with groups and private clients as a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach is driven by the question:
How can we take care of ourselves in a whole way and make it part of our everyday?
My aim is to explore and answer this question by looking at daily habits for how we cook, eat, and think.