My journey to health and wellness has really been on-going my entire life, except that for the first 27 years I wasn't keenly aware of it. I was an athlete my entire life- as a ballerina, a lacrosse player, a swimmer and eventually, a Division I athlete competing for Penn State. While my family had some cardiovascular issues (my father had a heart attack at 45) and nutrition was something that was on my radar, it wasn't something I was overly concerned with in my daily life. From 18-22 I was working out from 4-5 hours a day, usually 5 to 6 times a week. After I graduated and stopped competing, I still exercised- alternating between running, weights and spin classes. I started working in a job that required extensive travel around the country, usually requiring long hours at my job site for the week
It was the summer of 2013 that changed my life dramatically. For a few months I had been increasingly tired and run down. I was working with a personal trainer at the time and felt like work outs were getting progressively harder to complete, despite the fact that I was eating like a monster and losing weight. I would get out of breath easily and was hypersensitive to heat. I was sleeping for hours on end during the days and a total insomniac at night. Right before Memorial Day, I was in the gym for a session and experienced one of the scariest moments of my life. About five minutes into our session, my heart was racing uncontrollably and I started to black out. I'd never quit a work out in my life and I literally couldn't stand up off the floor.
I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, an autoimmune disease causing hyperthyroidism. My metabolism was so high it was causing my heart to race, my anxiety and insomnia and my ferocious hunger, among other symptoms. For the first time in my life, I had no control over my body and I think that scared me more than my diagnosis. As an athlete, I always felt in control. I could play through and push through any injury or amount of pain, but this I couldn't do. I couldn't push my body anymore.
The next four years would be a rollercoaster- in terms of my weight and my health. My work schedule continued to be insane, and despite my drop in metabolism, my eating habits remained almost the same. I ate huge portions, I ate out a lot, and I substituted low-cal, low-carb fad foods for real, clean and healthy meals. I was so used to eating as an athlete and then as a "sick" person that my view of what my body really needed was skewed. As my weight fluctuated, I always had an excuse...my medication, my work schedule, my Graves. They were all reasons why I had no control.
It was January of 2016 that was my breaking point. I got on the scale after another football season and saw a number I had NEVER seen before. 153 pounds. On my 5'3" frame. I swore up and down that their scale was broken- there was NO WAY that number was right. But whether or not that number was correct, there was no doubt in my mind that the lifestyle I was living was unsustainable. I was run down- physically and mentally. I was constantly sick. I was bloated. I was unhealthy. I needed to take accountability and change.
This is usually the point where you say "and then I met Jenna" but luckily for me, Jenna has been a part of my life for the better part of 10 years. She was the one that first encouraged me to try Orangetheory, a workout that has literally reinvigorated my enjoyment of exercising, and she always supported me in giving me tips and tricks. Slowly but surely I came around to the fact that while I couldn't control what happened inside my body, I could control what choices I made to be as healthy as possible. It was this summer that I committed to working with her and to improving myself. I wasn't going to let another football 15 come back when I had worked so hard to shed it.
And it's funny, while I finally have my "dream" body (or at least something close), I've come to find that being skinny or having abs isn't what's made me happy. It's been the investment in myself, the self-love and self-care I've put time and effort into making a priority. Happiness isn't found in a size 4 dress, or a smaller pants size. And I found all this because of Jenna. What she offers is beyond just a meal plan. Every nutritionist offers you a road map to weight loss, but few offer you the support that she does. She is deeply invested in every journey and every client. She believes in the best of you and she helps you to see your best. As an type-A workaholic, she's taught me patience and gratitude and helped me reaffirm my commitment to consistency. I've tried fad weight loss diets and shake plans and have never been able to consistently stick to them because they all felt like a chore. Jenna has taught me to enjoy food in its best form, and has given me a road map to a healthy lifestyle that is sustainable and for life.