For as long as I can remember, I struggled with my weight and body image. My earliest memory of feeling bad about my body was at eight years old!
My self-worth, defined by how much I weighed, was constantly shoved into my face growing up, and when I hit my growth spurt of 5’10” in 5th grade, I became significantly larger than the rest of my classmates for years. This eventually led to me experimenting with diets at the ripe, bold age of 13 years old, not good.
From there, I developed a poor relationship with food, going through multiple failed diet attempts, where I would restrict and then binge resulting in a yo-yo effect on my weight for years—feeling like a failure each time. I would have the willpower to reach that “ideal” weight, only to fall off the bandwagon, shoving my face until I was physically sick. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t keep the weight off and control my freaking appetite!
It was when I moved to the mountains from the city that I began to view nutrition in a different light.
I was living in Leadville, Colorado, enrolled in school for my Associate's Degree in Ski Area Operations, where I took an avalanche safety course. As a part of this course (back in the day before splitboards were a thing), snowboarders had to snowshoe up the mountain while carrying their snowboards on their backs. I was not only at the end of the line behind everyone else, I was 30 minutes behind everyone else, huffing and puffing; I may have even puked because the effort was so challenging for me. This was my ah-hah moment, always the last picked for sports and the last to finish the mile in gym class; I didn’t want to feel like exercise or physical activity was extremely difficult anymore. I began questioning what you could eat and how you could train to have the stamina to spend all day in the mountains.
From there, I enrolled in school to become a Registered Dietitian and shortly afterward pursued my Personal Training Certification.
After working in the fitness industry as a personal trainer and dietitian (still dealing with body image issues), I still didn’t fully understand how to fuel for exercise properly. So I returned to school to pursue a graduate degree in sports nutrition.
I have healed myself from my body image issues by understanding how to properly fuel and train for outdoor activities. I have developed a healthy relationship with food because I know my body needs it to fuel these outdoor adventures. I realized that you don’t have to restrict yourself to achieve a healthy weight. It is empowering to see that if you give your body what it needs, it can accomplish incredible things. I am now an avid backcountry snowboarder, mountain biker, and road cyclist. If you had told me years ago that I would be doing these activities regularly, I would have looked at you like you had lost your mind. Focusing on what my body can achieve, not how it looks, showed me how to love myself again. I love sharing with my clients the healing aspects of regular physical activity; it can truly change your life for the better.
“Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate.”
What do you love about working at INC?
I love INC’s team atmosphere. They recognize each employee’s strengths and empower them by providing a working environment for them to shine. Everyone is so knowledgeable in different ways, and they provide a collaborative, open atmosphere where you feel heard, supported, and recognized as an integral part of the team.
How do you believe INC makes a difference in clients’ lives?
INC focuses on working with THE CLIENT, not just their nutrition-related concern or illness. Health is multifactorial, and the focus shouldn't only be on nutrition; mental health, enjoyable exercise, and lifestyle changes are just as important. INC is here as a support system for their client; they are not here to pressure them; INC dietitians are here to collaborate, listen and empower the client in making realistic and achievable changes.
What does the correlation between nutrition & mental health mean to you?
There is a link of communication between our gut and brain through the gut-brain axis. More research still needs to occur exploring the relationship between gut microbiota and brain architecture. However, there has been evidence to show an association between microbiota diversity and neurological and psychological disorders. So long story short, I believe there is a direct link that what we put in our mouths can influence our mental health on a biological level.
What is your favorite nutrition quote?
“Let food be thy medicine” – Hippocrates
Your top 3 favorite nutrition Podcasts/Books?
Motivational Interviewing in Nutrition and Fitness by Dawn Clifford and Laura Curtis
Found My Fitness with Dr. Rhonda Patrick
Eating in the Light of the Moon by Anita Johnston
What are the values that drive you?
Empathy, transparency, respect, appreciation, empowerment, kindness, collaboration, happiness, determination, just to name a few :)
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
Mountain biking, road biking, backcountry snowboarding, hiking, basically anytime I can be out in the woods and nature.