Hi I am Elizabeth!
I am a Maine native and still live 10 minutes from the house I grew up in. My story started in 1982 (yes that means I am almost 40). I grew up in the 80’s in a small town where we played outdoors from sun up to sun down, and on rainy days we built forts and played board games (monopoly was my favorite) with the neighborhood kids. I thrived in sports through middle school, but when high school started, I was hesitant to participate because the sports I played were super competitive and I had seen that the excitement and fun of the game was being lost. In the end I decided not to play in high school, but I did volunteer for two years to work with the middle school field hockey team. This is when I really think I found my passion for teaching and coaching.
During my sophomore year of high school my body started to drastically. My clothing size increased by 4 in a matter of months (we didn’t have a scale so weighing myself wasn’t a thing), my body hurt, and I was so tired and sluggish that I would fall asleep sitting upright in a chair or on the couch waiting for my ride to school. After meeting with my primary care doctor, and lots of blood work, they took me out of school under the assumption that I had Mononucleosis, but that it medically couldn’t be confirmed. I missed over two months of school with tutors coming to the house and not being able to see my friends. Eventually in the last rounds of testing they decided to test for thyroid levels, something that they hadn’t up to this point. Ding, Ding, Ding! That was it. I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism. The thyroid controls hormones and your metabolism, and mine was under active resulting in all of those symptoms. The solution was to take a pill daily for the rest of my life and have blood work done regularly to ensure medication dosage was where it needed to be.
With the additional weight I gained I was so uncomfortable in my body. As I moved through my young adult years my weight ebbed and flowed and I tried just about every “diet” I could think of. All I really wanted was to feel comfortable in my body again.
In 2008 I had my daughter, and it was then that my struggle with heath hit its all-time high. I weighed the most I ever had and was generally unhealthy. Stress ruled my life, I ate unhealthy food, physical activity was non-existent, and I was a smoker (I quit in August of 2018). In the three years that followed, there were a lot of personal struggles and stress both in my personal and work life, all of which aided in the bad habits that I had formed. Things like drinking coffee all day and then only eating one meal at night, or ordering out due to convenience. I was never one to have a scale around, but in about a year due to these unhealthy habits that I had formed, I lost about three clothing sizes dropping from a size 20 (at my peak) to a size 12. Then in the year that followed I gained much of it back.
I felt lost in my struggle, listening to every doctor I saw tell me that I was overweight and needed to lose weight to improve my health. So many times, I wanted to scream and cry, because I knew I needed to but I felt like every diet I tried would work for a few weeks only to be unsustainable beyond that due to all the restrictions. The doctors and thyroid specialist I had been seeing never offered information on HOW my thyroid issue was affecting my body. There was never anything more; no recommendations, no next steps.
Then, in 2012, I was introduced to a new primary care doctor who had a background in Thyroid issues. Through working with her I found out that my hypothyroidism was an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s. This was the first time I had heard this almost 20 years after being diagnosed. I had no idea what having an autoimmune disease meant. In brief conversation with the doctor and my own research quickly realized that there was more to it than managing my fluctuating thyroid levels with medication. My high hopes for this doctor fell quickly when I realized that she was focused on just trying to manage the thyroid levels rather than what I really wanted help with. Finally, two years later in my last attempt to ask questions about what I could do to improve my health, lose weight, and feel better, she scheduled me for an appointment with a registered dietician that worked with her.
During that appointment she started to share about how foods impact those with autoimmune diseases (such as Hashimoto’s). For just a moment there was this fire in me thinking that this was it; I had finally made it to the right person, the person that was going to really help me in my uniqueness. She explained the Autoimmune Protocol Diet and then asked if I had questions. That is when it happened. She handed me a piece of paper and said, “Ok, so you are going to eliminate all foods on this list for the next 3-4 weeks and see how it goes.” She left me wanting more, so much more. Most of all she left me hanging with no plan. When I asked how people do it, her response was generic; “Well it’s hard but you have to if you want to really want to feel better.”
I walked out of that office angry, sad, and disappointed. At that moment I knew that I was on my own and that is when a major shift in me occurred. I started reading about autoimmune diseases, about the autoimmune protocol diet, Hashimoto’s, changing habits, and food. I even enrolled in a college course on food and nutrition. I wasn’t going to keep looking for the right person to help me. I was going to learn everything I possibly could to improve my health. It was during this learning and experimenting period that my passion for nutrition really started to come alive.
I often thought a lot about my struggles and feelings of wanting and needing help and not knowing where to find it. I knew that there was a good chance that I was not the only person in a situation like this. It was then I realized I could be the solution that I had looked for and hadn’t been able to find. I enrolled in a Nutrition and Dietetics program and found Precision Nutrition where I completed their Nutrition Coaching Certification.
While doing this I also started my endeavor into learning more about myself. I took the AIP diet and broke it down. I came up with a list of what I was going to have to eliminate from my diet if I was going to do it. I spent a few weeks slowly eliminating items and checking in to see how I was feeling physically. I was so tired of feeling sick and tired! I thought it was normal to have an upset stomach all the time, to have diarrhea daily and to have digestive issues. I was done normalizing.
I quickly found out that gluten really upsets my stomach (as in I would spend the next morning on the toilet, it was so bad). Gluten also made me feel bloated and foggy the next day. Cheese, I realized, increased my level of phlegm. As I eliminated added sugar, I recognized how severe my cravings were. I couldn’t believe how bad they were some days, but it made me realize I ate so much of it because as soon as I had a little, my body craved so much more.
Overall as I eliminated foods, so many of my “normal” symptoms (upset stomach, diarrhea, low energy, sluggishness, joint pain, and stiffness) all started to improve. Using the knowledge, I gained through these experimentations about how foods made me feel physically is something I continue to use as a tool today. Knowing that if I choose to eat something I know the physical feeling that will ensue. I also know I can make choices in having foods that are effective for me and how I WANT to feel.
My experimentation didn’t end there. I also experimented with other things that impacted my journey. I started journaling (some days are better than others), working on mindset, reading for learning (and pleasure), and added activities like yoga, spin and CrossFit to my health journey. I have learned about nutrition and guiding others on their journey with health. My learning will never be complete when it comes to nutrition and my journey is far from over, but it has been an amazing 5 years of forward progress.
All these experiences are what lead me to this place right here today. A place where I am able to honor the challenges and celebrate the successes, and where I can share this passion with others.
My hope is that if you are struggling, looking for someone for guidance, looking for accountability, are ready for help with changes you are looking to make or changes that your doctor keeps telling you to make, and if you feel like you don’t know where to start, then I am here for you. I am extending my hand; all you have to do is reach out and take it.