Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and owner of Root and Branch Nutrition
Helping women get to the root of their symptoms and create sustainable nutrition to balance their bodies and restore their innate vitality.
An overweight, always-sick child with a strong love for processed, sugar-laden junk food, I entered the dieting world before I even hit my teens. I hated how I felt- I was always low in energy and had digestive and hormone issues for as long as I could remember- and even more, how I looked. I was uncomfortable in my body and decided to make a change. At age 13 I began following a classic “portion control/everything in moderation” diet program- complete with low calorie, low fat, sugar-free “diet” foods. I combined this new diet with an exercise program that focused on cardio and emphasized burning calories and lost over 50 pounds in a few short months!
And while losing that weight was life-changing, I struggled regularly for years to not regain what I had lost and most importantly, establish a healthy relationship with food and with my body. I maintained the weight loss, but I found myself constantly yo-yo dieting and over-exercising in order to do so. It was not until I shifted my focus that I finally could abandon my “always dieting” lifestyle, stop obsessing over my weight, and find freedom with food and peace with my body. Here's how it all happened...
Over the next 10 years, I read everything I could about nutrition, health, exercise, and weight loss and continued to adapt and adjust my approach. I started slowly eliminating the processed foods I was relying on and found weightlifting. My body changed significantly and my eyes opened to a whole new world. I began working at a chiropractor's office in college, where I was introduced to supporting overall wellness and treating the body and individual holistically.
After graduating with a Bachelor's degree in English, I realized quickly that my original career plan no longer felt like the right path for me. I knew deep down that I had found my calling. A year later, I enrolled in a Health Education & Promotion graduate degree program, excited to combine my desire to teach and help others with my passion for health and nutrition.
Throughout grad school, I continued to gather professional experience not just in the chiropractor's office, but also in a variety of settings such as a private gym, a hospital, and a nonprofit organization. My knowledge and passion grew, but also evolved as I was exposed to new information and began working more with others. I began teaching weight loss classes, and discouraged by the curriculum, developed and began teaching my own nutrition class (which I still teach to this day!)
But regardless of all of the information I was obtaining and the progress I was making, I still struggled with symptoms and wondered why.Why was I always exhausted? Why was I still having digestive issues? Why was I struggling with anxiety and panic attacks? Why were my periods still so painful and irregular? Why did I "need" to exercise for hours per day to avoid weight gain?I realized- Yes, I'm at my goal weight, but I don't physically (and sometimes, mentally) feel good. So what's the point if I don't feel my best?! I always was looking for "the answer"- the one thing I was doing wrong that was preventing me from feeling as good as I had worked for.
In early 2013, I found CrossFit and the Paleo diet. Things suddenly clicked- the years of yo-yo dieting, calorie counting, and struggles with personal health challenges started to come to an end once I cut out problematic inflammatory foods from my diet and began adding in nourishing foods I had always avoided because I had been taught otherwise. I was amazed at how I felt, both physically and mentally. I resented the fact that I had essentially been on some form of a diet for over a decade, struggling to be fit and healthy, and most of all feel good, when there was a better way.
So was that it? Did I find "the answer"? Not exactly. A very strict paleo diet coupled with high stress and intense physical training left my energy in the toilet. Hormonal issues resurfaced. Digestion problems arose. I was doing everything right- what was wrong with me? I tried tightening up my diet and removing more foods. I tried counting macros. I tried eating more carbs. I looked to all the external answers, but ignored looking within.
Hoping to find some answers and dig deeper, I enrolled in the Nutritional Therapy Association to become certified as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, which I achieved in June 2015. This changed my whole world. I learned more about nutrition and the body than I had ever learned in all my years of study. I finally discovered the underlying reasons why I was struggling with so many issues, despite eating so "healthy." I learned how to hear what my body was communicating to me and most importantly, to listen.
I realized that I had found a framework- a way of eating that should be used as a starting point. I had found a way to experiment and find the right way of eating for me- the foods that made me feel and function my best, and the foods that didn't. From here, I needed to focus on addition instead of subtraction- adding foods in that my body needed even though a particular diet "plan" told me these were off-limits. I'd always focused on what not to eat, instead of what to eat,. I'd always focused on what I "can't" eat as opposed to what I "can," and most importantly what I choose to eat.
I learned that nutrition is never black and white. We need to let go of the rules and plans that others (who don't even know us) tell us to follow, and instead find what works for us individually. It became my goal to help others weed out the misinformation, the dogma, and all the confusion about what to eat- by figuring out just what each body needs to function at its best. To help others find that food and nutrition are about more than just what you eat, but also how you eat and how you think about what and how you eat! To help others embrace and find peace with their bodies, and create a nutrition approach that's sustainable, enjoyable, and freeing..
I officially opened Root and Branch Nutrition in August 2015, and the rest is history. (You can take a look around my website to get more information on my practice and services!) Put simply, my main goal is to lead a fulfilling, adventurous, and meaningful life doing what I love: educating, guiding, and motivating others to use nutrition as a tool to change their health and as a result, their lives. I'm passionate about helping women overcome and avoid the issues I so painfully experienced my entire life. My mission is helping women get more in tune with their bodies, create a healthy relationship with food, and live a life they love in a body they feel their best in.
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