“The most important investment you can make is in yourself.”
“Ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.”
My wellness journey goes back to when I started junior high school. My mom was always trying to lose a few pounds, and Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda were getting people to sweat with them on TV. So I started exercising and experimenting with eating as little as I could get away with. I enjoyed working out so much that I even “taught” aerobics classes to my friends.
For quite a few years, I considered myself a night owl. I worked all kinds of crazy schedules—starting in high school, working full-time at Ponderosa Steakhouse. Yes, I was a full-time student, getting good grades and working 40 hours (often until 10 or 11 at night). So, of course, it goes without saying that I wasn’t getting the amount of sleep that a teenager needs.
That pattern continued as an adult. I had many different jobs. I worked in a call center (talk about high stress), office jobs, and at a gym as a personal trainer.
Most days, I ate dinner no earlier than eight or nine o’clock, and there were a lot of times that I wouldn’t even get home until ten o’clock or later and then still had to figure out what to eat.
With those late nights, I would sleep as late as possible, which meant that I started my days feeling like I was already behind the eight ball.
My body was way out of rhythm back then. My stomach was frequently upset—so much so that I kept Pepto Bismol caplets in my purse, and I almost always had ginger ale at home “just in case.”
I was a single mother, working long hours, trying to make ends meet, doing “all the things,” and was incredibly stressed out.
I had other health issues too. I was constipated and had frequent headaches and skin issues, like acne and eczema. Sometimes the headaches were so bad that I’d wake up in excruciating pain. But, again, I thought all of this was normal. I grew up with my dad taking aspirin daily for headaches. My mom had stomach issues from when I was a little girl, so I just accepted all of this without thinking that I had the power to change any of it. I felt that these ailments were genetic and not something I had any control over. It took me quite a few years to get out of that spiral.
I started paying more attention to what I was eating. I began reading labels for more than just calorie count. I started focusing on ingredients, looking up ones that had long, mysterious-sounding names. This was a significant change for me—because I had been obsessed with counting calories. I used to count every calorie that went in my mouth. I would double-check my math throughout the day to ensure I didn’t eat too many calories.
I hate to admit it, but I also drank a lot of diet soda back then. I also ate foods with artificial sweeteners because I cared more about the calories in my food than how I was nourishing myself. I ate processed foods and frozen meals because they were convenient, and I felt like I didn’t have the time to cook from scratch every day. My main concern was how many calories I was consuming.
Slowly, I began to make changes like eating more plants and whole foods. I started eating less processed foods like crackers and store-bought cereals. I tried out new vegetables and different recipes. I discovered ways to swap healthier ingredients to increase the nutrition in my meals.
I gradually switched to a vegetarian diet about 10 years ago. Soon after, I decided to cut out dairy products and eggs. Most people tell me how hard they think it would be to stop eating dairy, especially cheese, but it wasn’t that hard because my changes were gradual. I’ve even discovered how to make several cheese alternatives using cashews that have amazed some of my family members.
The best part of going plant-based for me is that I stopped counting calories altogether. I went from being obsessed with every calorie that went in my mouth to eating what feels good for my body. As a result, I feel better connected to the nourishment my body needs, and I crave healthier foods.
I also kicked my diet soda habit several years ago. That was major for me. We drank nothing but water at meals when I was a kid—tap water, and I thought it was terrible. Then, when I was a teenager, we started having diet soda in the house, and it became a part of my every day.
When I worked at Ponderosa, they allowed us unlimited soda. So I would keep a cup filled throughout my shift. It continued even after I graduated and had “real jobs.” So I’d always have some diet soda in my lunch bag or have money for a can or two.
I’m not sure when, but I realized that diet sodas weren’t doing me any good even though they are calorie-free. I knew I should drink more water. So, I decided to quit drinking diet soda and other diet drinks (Crystal Lite was another favorite). But, my whole family drank diet soda. Even when I tried to stop drinking it, I’d go to a family birthday party or picnic, and I’d start drinking it again.
I quit drinking diet soda a couple of times before it stuck. So I’m not sure how long it’s been—at least 7 years or more. I know it sounds like I’m talking about cigarettes or drugs. Still, it was an addiction because I knew it wasn’t good for me, but I kept drinking it.
Another significant transformation came when I decided to become a runner. I say that I chose to become a runner because it really was a conscious decision. Before that, I thought running was boring. I owned a treadmill at the time, but I only ever walked on it the first couple of years that I had it.
My turning point was when I signed up to compete in a sprint triathlon—swim a half-mile, ride a bike for 15 miles, and run a 5k.
Once I started running, I discovered that I liked it better than I thought. When I started doing more sprint triathlons, people would ask me which of the three sports was my favorite, and I was surprised to learn that it really was running.
So, while I kept with the triathlons, I focused primarily on running. I found that training fit best in my life if I could do it early in the morning before work. That meant I had to start getting to bed earlier, suffer on the run, or miss it entirely.
I had changed to an office job, which came with some long hours. Still, for the most part, I wasn’t working as late anymore—although I frequently ate lunch in front of my computer at work, and dinner was late due to the long commute that I had at the time.
Running started as a fun hobby for me. I enjoyed it, and I quickly signed up for my first half marathon (13.1 miles). I did a few more, but at that point, I couldn’t conceive of running a full marathon (26.2 miles). I would joke about it with friends, but it seemed impossible.
That all changed when I looked at a running pace calculator, which estimated that I could complete a marathon fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I knew it was just an estimate, but that gave me the push I needed to sign up for my first marathon.
I remember the fear and excitement that I felt as I sat at my computer. After I hit the enter button, I had a moment of “what the heck did I just do?!?” followed by the realization that I had some serious training to do.
I became committed to running; I did long runs, tempo runs, speed work, yoga, and strength training. But a huge component of my training was working on my mindset. I believed that I had it within me to do the training and then endure 26.2 miles.
In September 2011, I ran a local marathon, and I loved it. But, I won’t lie, it was A LOT of work. At times the training and the actual race were less than comfortable, but I was hooked. Unfortunately, I didn’t qualify for Boston at my first marathon, but I did on my second attempt!
Suppose you’re a runner and know about the Boston Marathon. In that case, you know how amazed and grateful I was to qualify for such a prestigious event. Some runners try over and over again to get a qualifying time. I had never really considered myself an “athlete” before that, so going to the Boston Marathon was surreal.
My first time running the Boston Marathon was in 2013, the year of the bombing. I had already finished when the bombs went off, and I was waiting for my drop bag of warm clothing. It sounded like fireworks or a cannon. Everyone around me was pretty confused at first, and chaos ensued. We scattered in every direction. The day certainly didn’t end the way that I envisioned it. I had many mixed feelings because I went from celebrating my accomplishment to feeling all the sadness and devastation that came with the bombing in just a few moments.
I’ve run the Boston Marathon six times and more than 30 full marathons. And none of it would’ve been possible if I didn’t first believe in myself. If I had kept the mindset that “other people run marathons,” I would have never done the work to get me to that first starting line and create some fantastic memories.
As my running increased, I found myself practicing more yoga. Yoga opened a whole new world to me that I never knew existed. When I first started taking classes, I thought it was all about the workout. I viewed it as a way to cross-train and care for my body between runs. I really had no idea that yoga can also be a “work in.”
I loved going inward and noticing how my body was feeling when I was on my yoga mat. So I began to pay attention to how yoga could make a big difference in my mind and spirit. And I learned that I could use these same tools off my mat.
I eventually decided to get certified as a yoga teacher to share yoga with others.
Through my yoga training, I found Ayurveda. It is the sister science of yoga, and it literally translates to “science of life.”
I read more about eating, sleeping, and living in rhythm with nature. I learned about working with my circadian rhythm—not against it as I had earlier in life.
I started to align my habits and day to fit what was becoming important to me. I realized that I had a lot more energy and felt more vital than ever. I also discovered that my stomach issues, headaches, and skin issues radically decreased when I started keeping a more dependable schedule. I started sleeping better and waking up energized for my early morning runs and face that day.
I continue to evolve and change my habits in small ways, and the more I do, the more I feel like I’m thriving and growing. At 54, I’m more vibrant and energetic than at 20. In fact, I often almost forget my age because this is not what I had imagined 54 would feel like.
I know that my purpose, or dharma, is to share all that I’ve learned to help others achieve their health and wellness goals.
Now, I help people let go of limiting beliefs that keep them stuck in bodies that don’t look, feel, or move the way they want
If you need some guidance on your journey, let’s chat!
- ACE (American Council on Exercise)-Certified Personal Trainer – 1997 to present
- RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) Running Coach – 2013 to present
- E – RYT 200, RYT 500 Yoga Teacher – 2016 to present
- ACE-Certified Health Coach – 2019 to present
- Yoga Health Coach – 2020 to present
- Ayurvedic Lifestyle Coach – 2021 to present