The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lao Tzu

How I Started My Health Journey

Those who know me, know I love to share photos. Maybe it’s a photo of my family, a special outing we enjoyed, the pretty lunch I created, or our beloved silver lab. But pictures are so much more than the moments we choose to share. They often don’t tell the whole story.

A few months ago I ran across a photo.

Yes… This. Is. Me.

This was 20 years ago. I was 28, married with 3 young children.

My husband and I both worked full time after a couple of long years of putting ourselves through college. I had been working in the corporate world as a Senior Graphic Designer right out of school when we made the decision to move our little family across the United States for a new beginning.

Obviously, by the photo anyone can tell I was overweight, but my heart breaks for all it doesn’t say.

I was a fully functioning mom on the outside but on the inside…  I was a total mess.

I struggled my entire childhood with my weight and spent many countless hours at doctors and hospitals with “diagnosed asthma”, sinus infections, and several episodes of pneumonia. Steroids, inhalers, decongestants, pain relievers… I took them all.

I remember when my parents divorced and my stay at home mom quickly became a single, working mom with 6 young children. Life as we knew it… had changed. Along with the physical changes came the emotional changes as well.

Mom took classes during the day and worked the graveyard shift so she could put food on the table. And at 11 years old, I found myself bathing babies, cooking meals, cleaning the house, coloring eggs, wrapping presents, etc. I saw the need and tried to fill it.

At the age of 12, I was diagnosed with scoliosis and due to the severity of it, I had to wear a full back brace 24 hours a day – through Jr High and High School.  The doc informed my mother that I probably wouldn’t be able to carry children.

For the next 6 years, I was treated like a handicapped individual. At times I was laughed at and talked about. Mentally & physically… I was a mess.

Fast forward…

I had my first child at age 19 and was immediately diagnosed with cervical dysplasia (a precancerous condition) and had to undergo cryosurgery. I had my second child and spent the next few years battling alcohol and tobacco addictions that I allowed in my life to mask the physical and emotional pain I was hiding behind.

I went to college and quickly landed a job in the corporate world. To my detriment, I was a people pleaser and often struggled with limiting my availability to others. This led to neglect of my own health and physical well being. I didn’t eat right and I wasn’t getting much sleep at all.

At the age of 26, I was pregnant with my 3rd child and during this pregnancy after many tries, I was able to stop smoking.

In April, after his birth, my health spiraled downward. I was put on birth control pills and within weeks I went to pick up the baby from his playpen and I had severe pain down my left arm and was brought to the ER. I was told I had experienced all the symptoms of a stroke.  I asked about the pills I was taking and was told they were not a problem at all. With no answers as to what had happened, or why, I was sent home. For the next 6 months I experienced migraines & blurred vision. I didn’t even want to leave the house. I sought answers from doctors who sent me to an optometrist and neurologist. Nothing. In December of that year, my New Year’s resolution was to stop taking the pills. So I did. All symptoms left with the pills!

Throughout all of this, I was experiencing severe back pain from the scoliosis. I would lose feeling in the entire right side of my body while driving, standing in line at the grocery store, taking a shower, etc. It was horrible and I had no idea what was happening…so I panicked. My husband was taking me to the emergency room more often and it seemed to be a normal thing for them to check my oxygen and send me home. I started walking out myself. Again… no answers.

It was around this time we moved. I couldn’t stand for more than 10 min at a time without ending up on the floor in tears. I was working from home for a big company in Boston and I stopped driving because I was afraid.

I had to keep going, with so much on my plate. I was miserable and figured this is just how it was going to be. Over the years, we had more kids (7 total). We started homeschooling, got involved in a church and while my husband worked full-time, I ran a freelance design business from home.

Yeah… I was super busy. Barely 4 hours of sleep a night and lucky if I ate one meal a day.

I needed help but everyone I thought could help me had no answers. This was just how it was going to be.

Then I met Dr Jen…a chiropractor. She was more interested in trying to help me then I was in letting her touch me to be honest. But I seriously had nothing to lose.

 

After a few weeks, I started to notice I could stand a little longer and the pain was a little less. The adjustments were actually helping, but what I found most valuable was the encouragement, information, and education she shared with me – with us as a family. She made it her mission to educate families and individuals to make better choices in nutrition, medications, movement, etc.

I listened closely. I researched everything. I began to trust her and decided it was time to do something for myself. I realized that my life decisions were going to quickly become my children’s decisions. Isn’t that how it works?

So, 20 years ago, I began my journey.

I wanted to feel better. I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to take walks and do things with my kids. I was so tired of living with pain day to day.

My transformation began because someone genuinely cared about me and shared their knowledge. I am forever grateful!

My journey hasn’t ended. This is a lifelong journey. I have learned that sometimes I have to let things go and make myself a priority. I have learned that I can take control of my health.

Today… I am healthier. I know what triggers my pain and how to deal with it.

Today… I am climbing mountains.

I am now on a mission to help others do the same.

I am still the same person in that photo…

Just today… I am a better version!

Climbing a Mountain