People often ask about how I made the transition from my corporate jobs in investment banking and product development to health and wellness.
The truth is, my journey to wellness has been gradual, and it has taken most of my life. As a teenager, I had terrible abdominal pains. From the age of 15, I can remember being doubled over. Often, I had to dig my elbow into my right side to cope. I felt as if I were “bruised on the inside” and also was so bloated that I wished someone could pop me with a pin. It was an awful existence.
It got so bad that I had a battery of tests: Upper GI, Lower GI, parasites, barium enema, you name it. All were inconclusive. Eventually, I ended up in the hospital for exploratory surgery, and doctors removed my appendix, which appeared “shriveled.” They labeled my condition “chronic appendicitis,” but I wasn’t convinced, especially since the pain continued. Through all of that, not one doctor asked me about what I was eating — at lot of dairy and carbs. After all, skim milk and bagels were FAT FREE!
In San Francisco after college, I went to see a kinesiologist I found on the Internet. The first visit was $500 out of pocket, a hefty investment, but I was desperate. I met this woman in a consultation, and she explained to me that flour and water were acting as a glue in my system and causing my ileocecal valve, the joining point between the large and small intestine, to either get stuck in the open or closed position. She manually adjusted me to pop it into place (which felt amazing) and advised me to “stop eating carbs” for 2 weeks before my follow-up appointment.
I tried for a few days but failed because I didn’t know what to eat instead. The lack of education on this was a big issue because at the time I was running marathons and training for triathlons. How would I train without “carbs”?
I fueled myself for a 14-mile run on Saturday with eggs, canned tuna and mixed greens. On Sunday, I rode 40 miles through Woodside and literally collapsed on the side of the road. My friend had to bike to his car and come back to pick me up. We went to Bucks, and I lay in the booth unable to move. Yet I refused to eat anything other than egg whites.
I continued to feel so awful that I eventually went back to eating normally. I couldn’t sacrifice my job or training for this silly health practitioner who clearly didn’t know what she was talking about. I never went back to see her. I never gave it a chance.
Eventually, I did make small changes to my diet, including switching to better carbs, such as sweet potatoes and quinoa, and began to feel better. I realized the kinesiologist was probably right. After giving birth to my first daughter in 2010, I got really serious about my nutrition. I decided to do tests again to see if my gut issues had a diagnosis, given that “celiac” wasn’t a label in my teens. The endoscopy results showed that I don’t have the disease, but the most interesting finding was that 15 years later, no doctor asked about my nutrition…even in California.
I love Western medicine, and I respect doctors. I do, however, feel there is a significant gap between preventing disease and discomfort and treating it. I believe food can be the best form of medicine or the worst form of poison. I also believe that many ailments can be helped by changing what we put in and on our bodies.
I acknowledge that we all go through different journeys and that we are all individuals. In the Nourish program I’ve developed under my Alkalign brand, my goal is to guide you through a journey of self-exploration so you can really understand what does and does not work for you.
Nourish is a 21-day group health coaching program that guides you to take a holistic view of your health. The emphasis is on discovering how what you eat impacts how you feel, but you will also learn how paying attention to your sleep and hydration and incorporating mobility and mindfulness contribute to your well-being. Nourish provides a supportive community setting as well as structure and motivation to help you learn and grow. You get access to a Facebook group with health coaches, daily emails, a Playbook (the how-to), a Recipe Book (the yum) and a Journal to keep track of it all. Most of all, you get control of your energy, your health and your quality of life.
During each Nourish cycle, we start slowly and work on one thing at a time. It is better to make one lasting change than many changes that don’t stick. Sustainable change comes with repeated behavior over a long period of time. We host regular sessions, seasonally, so find out when the next one starts and sign up as soon as you can!