what's your story?
I was recently asked what I do for a living. The inquirer, a friend, was highly insistent that my answer be that I am specialized in one exact area as a holistic health coach. Despite my same response to “What do you do?” over and over with my answer being “I am a holistic health coach and yoga teacher”, my misunderstanding was that the inquirer did not understand what ‘holistic health coach’ means. Likely the word ‘holistic’ was simply not understood.
ho·lis·tic - /hōˈlistik/ - adjective
PHILOSOPHY: characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.
MEDICINE: characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease.
I am so grateful to have discovered many like myself over the past decade who are not focused on only a couple components to complete the “well-ing” of human beings. A friend of mine worked on the upcoming documentary HEAL which led me to Peter Crone. While I have learned from and followed many of the amazing doctors, scientists and healers on the expert panel, Mr. Crone, who is a Mind & Performance Coach & Ayurveda Practitioner, explains coaching in a holistic fashion in this interview. I was literally fist-pumping in my living room after the conversation with the interrogating friend just days prior. In this interview he states, “You can’t ignore any one part of somebody. You have to look at everything from their relationships to their diet and lifestyle, not just their symptoms.” As a holistic health coach, this is what we do. I also weave the teachings of yoga, the sister-science of Ayurveda, into my coaching. With many considering yoga to also be a psychology in and of itself, the coupling of holistic health coaching and yoga toward optimal well-being and performance just makes sense. I believe in this because of my experiences, my healing myself, and the opportunity my self-study has granted me to perform the best possible in all realms of life – today.
As a lifelong athlete with a natural tendency toward health and wellness, even as a young competitive gymnast, I had my eye on what would help me perform better. That being said, even today to assume a professional athlete has a firm grasp on holistic living would be to assume a lot. I grew up in South Louisiana where cuisine is king, yet found my own small ways to find balance within the excessive foodie culture I grew up within. I also lucked out and was completely unaware of the eating disorders within gymnastics and dance so many succumbed to – grateful to say the least. My parents always made sure we had well balanced meals with salad on the table every day without fail and instilled what they knew to be best at the time. So nutrition was obvious from a young age and as I matured into my 20’s I test drove vegetarianism, veganism, and clean eating of different variations, finding what worked best for me personally both then and to date. I sometimes felt something was wrong with my way of trusting what I needed because I wasn’t adhering to one exact way of eating, but I continued to trust my instincts and listen to my body, which proved to be beneficial. And knowing what I somehow instinctively knew then, eventually learned to extend that trust into other avenues of life. But I will save that topic for another post.
My 30’s were spent navigating several seas of major change and simultaneous upheaval across all realms of life. With nutrition, exercise, and a relatively clean-livin’ outdoor mountain lifestyle in place given a move to Jackson Hole, Wyoming at 22 (again trusting instincts), I was thankfully unknowingly ahead of the game. I was extremely healthy, but the happenings that occurred such as moving several times state-to-state, divorce, car accidents, career change, major injuries, severe family illness, plus the devastating economic downfall of 2008 leading to loss of career, finances and related, which were all built entirely solo since a teenager, were stressors that nutrition, exercise, and an overall very healthy lifestyle were simply not enough to withstand.
These tumultuous times began around 2002 then became even more exasperated when 2008 brought the Great Recession. After being recruited by Master Sommeliers and opening several businesses within the upper echelon world of food & wine, and then moving on to co-founding a fashion line, I was forced to walk away from a company I really enjoyed dedicating myself to building for two solid long years toward a hope of longer term stability for my future. I begrudgingly went back to working in an industry I had left prior for many a good reason. Five years later, even after again building my own business and engaging collaborators enough to work completely on referral, enough was enough. I had created a tiny bit of stability again, and while it was not enough, I knew I had to take a total leap of faith to begin a career change – to wellness and optimal performance.
While so much of what I experienced was beyond my control, it was blow after blow and I really had to reframe a lot over a long period of time – physically, mentally and emotionally. But I actually could not even begin until I first found ways to heal myself after the fall out. From addressing unusual pap smear results potentially leading to cancer, chronic fatigue, along with severe inexplicable pain in my body, a body that appeared athletic, strong, flexible and in superb condition to the outside eye, to re-patterning of the brain, the mind, the emotions from immense amounts of trauma and stress that occurred over so many years. Creating new neural pathways takes considerable time and effort, which includes so very much including deep acknowledgment of what is ours, what is not, where our self-work lies, and then actually doing that work.
So from adrenal fatigue to abnormal pap smears to the intense pain in my body that kept me curled up in fetal position every morning unable to get out of bed, yet still dragging myself to yoga daily, working over-time, and doing my best to maintain the rest of life, I was led to intensely study, explore and observe on my own accord what the hell was going on. I essentially taught myself how to heal myself through more traditional methods as well as diving deep into several non-traditional avenues in order to truly find resolution. And eventually you realize that it is never-ending and we are all continual works in progress.
My prior careers in food & wine and fashion did not exactly foster wellness, but I had always somehow found balance by squeezing in trail runs at dusk and practicing yoga, often at home, due to time constraints. But when the shit hit the fan, over and over, even with a lot of basics and balance already in place, it was not enough to survive the many layers of happenings. The severe levels of stress and lack of any support essentially led to several other implications including a state of complete exhaustion. I slowly made the rest of the changes necessary to my lifestyle to compensate for what was going on, some of which were not fun at all such as extremely limiting my social life until I could add more fun back to the menu once recovery took place. While it took years, I eventually started to revive.
Thus one of my main mottos: Everything Is Connected.
Sure – specialized work has its place. I collaborate and refer out to specialists regularly. However, it is imperative that we look at the whole human system to not only heal, but to perform optimally.
Our stories can be long, winding and incredibly intertwined. What took the longest to learn toward turning everything around was that I was raised to figure every little thing out on my own with little to no communication about much, so I was constantly assuming that I really had to figure every single thing out for myself by myself - perhaps the largest contributor to what arose under the circumstances. Without support of any kind, my body and mind had finally caved. Once this light bulb was illuminated, I began to change not only my career, but my whole self, regardless of where the old patterns came from, recreated new patterns, holistically, and learned to embrace the fact that even a little bit of support, especially neutral support, goes a long way. It has been an honor to share this layered approach to help others arrive at the place they really want to be and beyond. We can only teach, coach and consult to what we know. We only know what we have experienced. This is a tiny peek into my experience.