My interest in nutrition began on a whim. As I was registering to enter Texas A&M University, I had no clue what I wanted to study. I literally thumbed through the *paper* catalog (yep, BEFORE the internet) and landed on nutrition. I thought, "that sounds a little interesting and knowing that I could change my major later, I penciled it in. I stuck with it and fast forward 4 years, I graduated with a BS in Nutritional Sciences.
By the time I graduated, I had married my Marine and we started to move like military families do. A few years later we moved the middle of the Mojave desert, had a baby, he deployed for the first time, and my career was the last thing on the list. Baby turned into babies, and deployment turned into deployments. Food and exercise kept me sane.
Fast forward a few more years, and my youngest "baby" started kindergarten. I thought, "NOW, my life is back!" I loved being a stay-at-home mom and wouldn't trade it for anything, but I was excited to pick out this new hat for myself and to expand my role in the world. But, as often is the case, plans change. My same baby who had just started kinder was diagnosed with cancer. My world stopped. Somehow, what I wanted for my life didn't even make it on the list anymore.
My dear Marine was in Afghanistan at the time, and though he came home for a month in the beginning, back he went to earn an income and keep us insured. That was a dark time, even though I hardly remember much of it. Our family was ravaged. My baby had to endure many rounds of chemo, radiation treatments and surgery. My other children felt neglected (understandably) and confused by their emotions. My marriage felt it. My health felt it. For almost 2 years, that was our reality. By the time she finished treatment, every cell in my body was effected. This was the first time in my life that I truly understood how important it was for me to take care of myself...because I hadn't. I mean, really work hard to care for this body that supports so many others. I was wrecked, and because of it I didn't have much to give to those I loved.
Thankfully, I have the benefit of an education that gives me insight in how to heal from this. I devoured my class work (I was enrolled in this health coaching program at the time), and read anything I could get my hands on to understand what I was dealing with. I determined that I had completely overtaxed my adrenals (the glands that release stress hormones-among others) which had led to weight gain, fatigue, and depression. Around the same time, I watched my mother succumb to a life-long battle with mental illness. It was hard for me to see her in so much pain. It also motivated me to do everything I could manage my own depression. With clean food, exercise, supplements, and some self-love, I was able to re-energize myself, lose 20 pounds, and manage my own symptoms of depression.
I wish I could say it was easy sailing from there. Unfortunately, my little ladybug is back in treatment for cancer. She relapsed in September 2015. There is almost nothing a cancer momma can hear that is worse than "it's back." My breath left my body. Our lives collapsed again. But what is different this time? Going in, I was determined that I would do all I could to take care of me (and with the help and encouragement of my dear Marine). Because how can I truly care for these people that I love so dearly, if I am an empty vessel? I can't say that it's been perfect...far from it. I'm slow at the gym and some days I drink too much coffee. But, I am committed non-the less. I am intentional everyday for the benefit of my health.
In a few months, I will be completing my Masters in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (emphasis Holistic Nutrition). I started this program while my ladybug was still in remission, but have been determined to finish since she relapsed. While part of me feels conflicted about wanting to help others when it seems like I am the one who needs help...the authentic part of me realizes this is why I am meant to do this. My trials in life have prepared me to carry the burden of others. Our food and exercise choices can become such a burden, but, they shouldn't be.
That's why I say I am crusader for selfless self-care. It's what we all deserve.