139 Linn St.
Ithaca, NY 14850
Monday to Sunday
8am to 6pm
Living in a state of health where my body no longer feels like an enemy is a key ingredient to my emotional and mental wellbeing. I share my story because I believe that empathy honed by lived experience is a great gift for a health practitioner.
I was a high school athlete playing a varsity sport for each season. I was driven and determined but I struggled with episodes of unexplained muscle fatigue that hindered my performance. My family was ovo-lacto vegetarian though we still ate our share of processed food and pizza, often the Friday night meal of choice. I had an inkling that my fatigue might be related to poor nutrition but didn’t know the first place to start. I had very little nutrition background beyond the cultural and environmental reasons for our vegetarian diet.
In my junior year of high school my father developed a neurological disorder. Searching for a lifestyle solution, my parents spent 3 weeks at the Kushi Institute of Macrobiotics. I came home upon their return to find our kitchen cupboards and refrigerator scrubbed clean of all processed foods, dairy, and eggs. I was thrilled to have the junk food out of the house as a constant temptation and joined my parents on their new macrobiotic adventure. The increased focus on dark greens, cooked grains, and seaweeds led to some overall health improvements but addressing the fatigue still eluded me. I maintained a loose macrobiotic lifestyle through my first two years of college and spent half of my second year doing a nutrition independent study at the Kushi Institute. Not until my sister was diagnosed with Celiac in 1994, however did the root of my symptoms become clear. Having very similar symptoms of fatigue, headaches, brain fog, and digestive distress as my sister, I committed to weaning myself of all gluten products. This discovery also inspired a shifted in my college studies to biology, biochemistry, and nutrition.
Decades of gluten consumption as a celiac combined with several severe cases of parasitic infections during four years living, studying nutritional insufficiencies among the rural poor, and working in Ecuador, South America resulted in severe IBS symptoms surfacing in my late 20s. In 2003, while pursuing a PhD in Nutrition at UNC, Chapel Hill I was finally diagnosed with microscopic colitis. This condition was compounded by degenerative disc disease resulting in several inoperable herniated and ruptured discs resulting from a collagen disorder. For 4 more years I juggled high stress, IBS, and chronic back pain until the completion of my PhD in 2007.
Over the past 10 years I have focused my energy on managing my own healing journey physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. My body has become my arena for exploring the impact of different diets and lifestyles in a pursuit to heal my gut, minimize inflammation, and control my chronic pain. I have slowly and steadily crafted a diet, exercise plan, lifestyle, and outlook that honors the needs of my body. A significant part of this personal practice has been reading my body’s needs as they change through varying levels of stress and life demands.
As with my winding journey, I find that everyone is unique and every individual’s lifestyle that will lead to optimal health is equally unique. The one unifying quality is that an active appreciation for the intricate connection between our physical, mental, and emotional states is a key to unlocking whole health.