About Me

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My Story – Agony to Victory!  

Where do I begin? Or better yet when will the agony cease to exist? These are questions that repeatedly ran through my mind after my parents divorced (mom and step dad) in high school. Two months after this mind blowing event occurred I also had a falling out with my biological father, resulting in the loss of all of my parental figures and my brother. Talk about pulling a rug and I mean a gigantic area rug out from underneath my feet. This left me weak, insecure and reeling in pain! 
 
How does one cope from pain? Well, that is an interesting question considering everyone has their own medicine! Some are harmful, some are illegal, some are illicit and some are healthy outlets. At first, I was sitting in the “healthy” camp because I had supportive friends. However, that was short lived as I grew into a bitter teen who was angry at the world for taking my family away. I also grew skeptical that my friends would even stick around. So, to avoid loss I pushed everyone away at my own accord! Where did this get me? No where! Well, I shouldn’t say completely nowhere, I did manage to graduate from high school, but I was shattered into pieces! 
 
Not knowing where to turn or how to channel my pain, I turned to an eating disorder. It started the summer after freshman year of college and grew into a downward spiral of total disrespect for myself. When my eating disorder stopped “comforting my pain” I started cutting my wrists. Really? Oh, yes I did! Probably too much info, but creating this blog is my way of healing, forgiving myself for the mistakes I made and explaining my horrible actions at times. 
 
Anyway, fearful of my future my dad and step sister (bless her heart) encouraged me to get away from everything and work in Alaska for the summer. With nothing to lose, I packed my bags and headed to the most beautiful place in the WORLD. There I met the most inspiring, high spirited and loving friend who helped me enjoy life once again. Unfortunately, we parted ways at the end of the summer. I always thought we would reunite the following summer, but this hope disappeared when I got the phone call … “Jess, Josh died in a car accident last night.” I will never forget that day, what I was doing, where I was in the house and thinking, “No, that is impossible…I just got an email from him last night and he said he was heading back up to Alaska!” My last memory of Josh was a tearful hug as I boarded a ferry out of Alaska. Even though our time together was short there is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss him! Call me crazy, but I still get periodic reminders he still in my life. Bare with me, but Josh was an avid bird enthusiast and I saw a Cardinal perched in a bird feeder on the night of his memorial service. The irony is after I returned home, I was greeted by a Cardinal every morning on my way to class. I even went for a run one day and a Cardinal followed me flying from tree to tree. At first, I thought it was coincidence, but when I was talking to my roommate about it one flew on the telephone pole outside of our window and went nuts, chirping away. Still coincidence, maybe, but I saw one in Paris. Yep, Paris, in the middle of the French quarter singing away exactly one year after Josh died. In fact, a Cardinal greets me on March 24th every year! This little symbol is exactly what I have needed to provide warmth when all I felt was sadness. I think Josh knew I needed it or something! 
 
I digress. Back to the story (if you are still with me). So, how do you recover when someone brings you out of the darkness and then in a flash they were are gone forever? Everyone says time cures all. Does it? It does, but man it takes a long time! For me time passed as catatonic years….in the process I got a four-year college degree, spent some time in Europe, lived in Alaska again (however, it never felt the same). Over all these years consisted off just getting by as I had very little drive, ambition and eating disorder still running rampant! 
 

Then I got a gift! My dog! Picking her up and holding her in my arms for the first time brought an overwhelming sense of purpose and pleasure (even though she puked all over my car on the ride home). Something came over me with Scylla. I cold turkey, and I mean COLD TURKEY stopped my eating disorder after years of trying. A dog? Well, she is truly special and I will be forever grateful to the instant therapy she provided! Having Scylla I also started pounding the pavement (aka…running). I have always been a runner, but she gave me inspiration to use it as a healthy outlet. During this time, my ambition grew and I also got the courage to start my first master’s degree (Masters of Business Administration – finance and economics)! 

With each passing day I gained more confidence, continued to strengthen my relationship with my mom (who is now one of my best friends and has provided me with strength throughout the years; she is the strongest person I know), developed a healthy relationship with food, reunited with my brother (he helped develop this website even)/biological father and started to regain lost friendships. One of which was reuniting with my best college buddy. After years of being unhappy this same friend set me up with handsome, funny and carefree husband! I knew it was love at first sight when he busted out “Bust a Move” by Young MC at karaoke! I loved this song growing up and so much so that I memorized the lyrics. The best part is, since meeting Luke, I have learned to love others again and trust that there are people out there with good intentions. Now, grant it, I still approach relationships with skepticism, but each day I try to show others that I care about them! Before Luke, I just let things slide.  

Besides having a wonderful marriage, I am also lucky to be a MOM to the greatest gift of all to Mason and Kaeden! Every day they learn something new melts my heart! It is truly amazing watching little ones grow. All I can say is being a MOMMY is fun! YEP, trust me when I say it is TOTALLY AWESOME! I also want to give thanks to two special people, one is my step dad (who I refer to dad). Despite my mom and him no longer being married he has continued to be there for me throughout the years. I would not be here today without his constant support and listening ear when I was all tears. Also, thank you to my lovely sister for showing me strength and love. Her love for family and the size of her heart is something that I “try” to emulate everyday! 
 
To make a long story short, I started my gluten free and Paleo journey three months into my pregnancy. I was having horrible stomach pains, indigestion and bloating. I couldn’t make it five minutes into my morning runs without having to dash off into the bushes to deal with other business! TMI, yep probably, but get used to it because that is who I am (a little blunt). Okay, so I made the leap and cut gluten from my diet. I then went a step further and started to remove dairy milk (I still eat yogurt and cheese). Dairy milk is a killer for me so I stay clear of the stuff! Our family is also nuts about buying from local farmers (meat that is fresh air, grass fed and free range) and getting organic vegetables/fruits whenever possible (many of which we grow in our garden in the summer). Lately, I have also experimented with Paleo cooking, which I completely love! It is light and refreshing. 
 
This new food journey has left me feeling fabulous. In fact, I just recently ran my fastest marathon of all times! Who would have thought by cutting out grains that I could run 26.2 miles without the standard carbo-loading most dietitians preach. Well there you have it folks, I ran a 3:23 marathon on a 70/30 Paleo diet (e.g. I eat a modified Paleo diet 70% of the time and gluten free the other 30%), which was 7 minutes faster than my gluten rich and bloating to all get out diet! So, you too can be a high performance athlete without all the fluff (and by fluff I mean wheat….you don’t need it, you just think you do and it is really not as healthy as it is cracked up to be)! 
 
All in all, my road to success was rocky and felt like I was stuck in sink holes along the way. However, after two master’s degrees, five marathons, marriage, motherhood, 3 peer-reviewed journal publications, blog creation (if I ever get it figured out) and becoming a fitness coach through Beachbody I can say my life turned out wonderful. I still have days that are tough, but they never last. Plus, my family and friends make up for the bad, any day! So, I encourage everyone who is struggling to hang in there. Get a dog, go to school, eat healthier or do something to build your self-confidence & you too will find peace! Through my blog and fitness coaching I sincerely hope I can help others heal, learn to love life with a gluten free lifestyle (and Paleo too) and be the best person they can be. Okay, enough of my rambling! Feel free to share your journey. I would love to hear it!  
 
FYI……..For me, Paleo is not about completely cutting out dairy. I use Quinoa (which is technically a seed), cheese and Greek Yogurt in my recipes to add protein considering my son refuses to eat meat, will rarely eat eggs and daycare restricts nuts/coconut from being served due to allergies. Doesn’t leave a lot of options, huh? For strict Paleo folks, I know this is against the diet guidelines, but it works for us. 
 
 

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