My Journey – Part 3

atmosphere blue bright cloudiness

Missed Part 1 and Part 2?

Finally….

I discovered something that I was passionate about, but didn’t know it until I was doing it. Which, in retrospect I find very interesting and how having a strict plan in life, may not be the way to go. A road map, guideline..perhaps. But one thing I realized writing this story is that the road to where I am now was not the one I planned on 10-15 years ago. The universe had its own plan, I just had to listen to it.

Teaching has become a primary focus in my life. It was something I really wanted to be good at. I spent (still do) a great deal of time researching for my nutrition lectures. I always wanted to make sure I gave them good science background for every topic (with my own experience trickled in too). This was a science class, technically. I actually really like reading biochemistry and nutrition journals (yes, I am still a science nerd, haha). Truthfully, I never cared to “research” for any other job before, because the material never excited me to the same extent. This is material I can get excited about. I truly love learning about this stuff, so it makes it very easy to keep learning.

Nutrition is a weird subject because everyone can have a different spin on it. “Eat meat, or don’t”. “Is fat really bad, and how much”? Everyone has a different opinion when it comes to food (some people can treat it like a religion, ever noticed that?). Its the only “science” where both sides can have valid arguments or be “right”. So then what does one do?

I knew from the very beginning that I could never teach one way of eating because everyone is different and has different needs. I also really cared about my students. I wanted them to actually get something from the course. I didn’t really care if they understood the chemistry or got straight A’s. I always joked that I had to grade them, but I didn’t really want to (which is true). I was just happy showing them this stuff. I just wanted them to learn healthier habits, especially because they were in college. I wished I took a course like this in college. It would have set me up in a much better way when I got out on my own. Perhaps, I wouldn’t have struggled for so long during my twenties, if I knew what I know now.

After a few years of teaching nutrition, I came to a realization. “How can I teach this stuff and help people outside of the school”? That’s what led me to becoming an Integrative Health Coach. The program I found has met my expectations and so much more. I am amazed how much more information there was still to learn! Healthy living really is more than the food you eat. Its everything in your life being in balance. This was something I think, I intuitively realized through my own health journey. Its why I named my site “Balanced Life.”

Then a few weeks after I enrolled in the course, my life met another big change. We found out we were pregnant. So, I am currently involved in two major transitions in my life that are happening at the exact same time. Which has made both journeys better (and perhaps easier?), I think. Because I am navigating the ever-changing process of being pregnant (and what’s to come after), plus being ingrained with all these new holistic teachings. (I rather write another post on this topic or this post really will be a novel).

I realized these past 10+ years that “being healthy” really just means being happy and calm in life. If something is off, like hating your job situation, it really affects other areas of your life. For me, when I was miserable at work, it led to other problems like not eating right, constant stress, which led to gaining weight, grumpiness, and just feeling crappy all the time. When, I started following my passions and doing what I wanted, and changing my mindset, things made a dramatic turn with my health (and sanity too, honestly). I ate better, slept better, lost weight, exercised consistently, made time for myself, which snowballed into just being a better version of me. Also, when I did put time into bettering myself, the other areas of my life improved too. When I ate better and took better care of myself,  I was more productive, energetic and just handled stress better. This was a huge epiphany moment for me.

Now, I always think of it as a circle:

food stress health circle

If one is off, it will affect the other two. They all have to balanced for you to feel your best.

This is what I hope to bring to my health coaching practice. I want to help people improve their circle. I want people to follow their passions and truly enjoy life. Its more than just eating better. Of course, that is one major piece. But sometimes there is something blocking it. And that’s ok. Everyone is on their own journey. It took me a long time to get here and who knows where I will be 10 years from now. I am scared again because it is something new. But, the last scary thing I did, I ended up doing well and everything worked out better on the other side. Sometimes, its good to be scared, especially when its something new and exciting. I know that I will only get to the life I want, but pushing through this and just letting the universe do its thing.

 

 

 

 

My Journey – Part 2

close up of flowers

If you missed part 1, see it here! 

Where we left off…

Even though I had this new outlook in life and newly found confidence in myself, I was still stuck in my current job situation. I still haven’t figured out my new path yet. I still very much felt lost in terms of work and what to do about it. Do I job search? Go back to school? I had no clue. Then something happened out of my control: I was laid off. Or, as they put it: ” I am being displaced.” Thanks.

Yes, most people would probably freak out at being laid off. Which I was, at first. Really, I felt hurt (and maybe embarrassed) that I was one of the chosen ones. But it was the best thing they could have done. I would have never left on my own. I still didn’t have the courage to or a point of direction that would have allowed me to leave on my own. I needed that kick in the pants. I needed a push. Yes, it helped that I got a severance and unemployment. But those funds really don’t last long when you have bills (plus thanks to taxes, they take like half that money away right off the bat, so you really don’t get as much as you think you do on paper).

I got let go in November, so I decided that the following spring I would go back to school full time and finish my Masters in chemistry. For a few years at this point, I was going to school part time, which was taking forever since I was only taking 1-2 classes at time. I took this opportunity to at least finish this degree and be done with it. I only had four classes left, so I just took them all at once.

It was nice being in school full time again. Felt weird because I felt like the oldest one there (I was only like 29, but everyone else was right out of college, so I felt old). I also came from working full time for like 7 years, so I really felt like I was in a different mental place than everyone else. Even though it was a graduate program, majority of the students were in their early twenties and haven’t really entered the work force yet (just out of undergrad). I remember thinking, “you have no idea what you are getting yourself into, “ haha.  (Mind you, I was just burned by the industry, so of course I was bitter).

However, during this time, I really enjoyed being home. Like a lot. I loved getting up and just starting my day when I wanted, and the only worry was going to class. I really wanted to take this opportunity and just catch up on life. Since I had this newly found time freedom, I told myself I have no excuse for getting myself healthy again. I realized that years of job stress contributed to me gaining weight and not putting consistent healthy habits first. I started to workout, everyday (no excuses!). I discovered Zuzkalight and HIIT workouts. I found out that I loved to workout at home and loved the intensity of the shorter workout model. I still workout to her everyday (well, not so much now during pregnancy, but still a few times a week. She is amazing.).

I created my own schedule and routine of getting up, having coffee, relaxing a bit, working out, and then continuing on with my day. I realized that working out first thing was the best for me, and it really set me up for the day. I had more energy and confidence throughout the day on the days I exercised first thing.  I realized the importance of having a good morning routine to creating less stress for the rest of the day (now “morning routines” are all the rage, but back then you never heard about them, so this really was new found knowledge for me).

All these practices I started then, but I still do to this day because I realized that starting the day right, is very important to me. Getting up, having a cup of coffee, and just relaxing for the first hour of the day really does set the tone and mood (plus does anyone else notice that your first cup of coffee (or tea) is the best thing ever?). So, when I eventually did go back to work full time, I never gave this routine up. I rather go to work late, but in the right frame of mind, then start my day with stress and not having “my time.” My productivity is actually better when my mornings are about me, so I always kept these little morning rituals going.

After the semester ended and it was was now summer I realized, “OMG, my first summer off in like 10 years”! It was amazing! I was able to visit my parents during the week and go to the beach. I was able to actually have a summer where it felt like summer. Forgot what that was like. Yes, I was starting to become a little more broke as time went on but I never really actively job hunted.  I hated the idea of going to back to the pharmaceutical industry or corporate life, because I was so miserable before. Yes, finances were starting to stress me out, but I still wasn’t ready yet and honestly, I didn’t really know what to do. (I might have applied to some things online, just to say I did something, but my heart was never in it). I spent this time, still reading and listening to personal development books to keep my mindset in check. I knew that I had to in order to get through this. If I had dwelled on being unemployed or freaked out over my situation, I knew it would not help me. I sort of had this mentality, that everything will work out. I just didn’t know how yet. (Yes, I know I was very lucky to go this long without a job and be able to do this.  Disclaimer: I was still a consultant with Arbonne at this time too, so it wasn’t completely like I was doing nothing. Doing that really helped with the sanity too).

To this day, I am very grateful to my husband for just letting me have this time without pressuring me to get a job. I told him,”everything will work out, it just sucks now”. He really was good to me during this time and allowed me to just figure things out on my own. Yes, our savings was taking a huge hit and we had to cut back on a lot of things. However, reflecting back on this period now, I realized that I really needed time to “reset.” It was like I had left a horrible relationship. I had to rediscover what I really wanted again and to put “me” first.

Right when money was about to become a real issue, something happened. I received an email from the chemistry department chair from my school about becoming an adjunct professor to teach lab. What?! Talk about timing. She knew I had industry experience, and was unemployed so asked me if I was interested. Mind you, I had no teaching experience and if you had asked me to teach like 5 years ago, I would have definitely said no (and thought you were crazy for even asking).  But, I accepted. I felt very flattered that she would even consider me, so I jumped on it.

I was given a freshman chemistry lab course. It was the scariest thing I have done in a long time. I literally had no idea what I was doing. I just followed one of the other lab professors and thankfully, they have a really good lab coordinator who helped me a lot that year. But every single time I had to talk in front of the class, I turned beet red and basically fumbled my way through. This was entirely new territory to me. Since, I was home during the day, I was able to take the time to learn the material before each class so I didn’t look completely stupid to them. I really wanted to be good at this. I would practice in front the mirror a lot and just walk through what I was going to say before each class, so I would feel more comfortable. It was a whole new experience for me.

It didn’t take me long to discover something: I loved teaching. The students were so much fun and I loved showing them lab stuff. It did take me a looooog time to feel at least somewhat confident to talk at the chalkboard, but if I was showing them how to set up experiments or lab stuff, it felt very natural to me. I still loved being in a lab, even if it was just a freshman college lab. I spent 7-8 years in a industry lab setting. I knew some stuff (haha). I taught in a way that felt the most authentic for me. This whole teaching thing was actually kinda cool.

I taught two semesters of just lab. Loved every second of it. Plus, I liked the flexibility of it. Yes, class times were set, but the rest of the time was mine. Since I was only an adjunct, I only had to be there during my class time. I could prep and grade at home on my schedule. Before my third semester at working at the school, I was offered a class upgrade: lecture course. I had a meeting with the department chair and she offered me a chance to teach a lecture in the fall. I had two choices: forensic science (which, yes would have been an interesting class), and nutrition. Well, more specifically, Chemistry and Nutrition. In my head, I was shocked. A nutrition class!! Something about this opportunity felt very good. I mean, they were offering me a class to teach two of my favorite subjects: chemistry and healthy living. Talk about the universe talking. Of course, I jumped on it. I spent the last 10 years teaching myself how to be healthier and obsessing over all the nutrition info I was learning and reading. I really felt this was something, I was meant to do. It may sound so silly, but it felt like the universe really was telling me something at this moment. It truly felt like I was given a huge gift or a big slap in the face, “This is your path! Seize it!”

However, teaching a lecture is completely different than teaching lab. In lab, you are given everything. I didn’t have to write up anything and the whole syllabus was given to me to how to run the class. But for lecture, I had to come up with everything. The lectures, the exams, and all the materials. I was given a book at the beginning and some old lectures/exams from when it was taught years ago which was a starting point. It gave me a baseline to work on. I basically just lectured straight from that book that first year. It gave me structure and a foundation.

That very first day, I was scared to death. Probably more freaked out than when I first starting teaching lab. This was my class. These students were completely dependent on me. Scary thought.  I still feel bad for those first semester students. I had no idea what I was doing or what I was talking about. Also, I felt like I looked like a student, so it was a real test to my confidence. I somehow survived (and so did the students). But after that first semester, I realized that that was the most fun I have had in a long time “working.”

 

(Stayed tuned the Part 3 and where I am now!)

My journey

I feel like the journey to becoming a health coach (and where I am now) wasn’t exactly a planned one. It really was a specific set of circumstances over the past 10+ years that sort of led me down this path. Ten years ago, or even right out out of college, I would have thought you were crazy, if you told me this is what I was doing in my life now at 34 (I can’t be the only one who feels like this, right?). I split it into parts, so this post wouldn’t end up being ridiculously long. I wanted to write this out because I seem to be in a reflective state at the moment (either due to the impeding life change that is about to happen in my life or that I just had a birthday, which is always a weird reflective time for me anyway, or maybe both).

I also felt that if there is anyone else who feels stuck in life, or hate their job situation, maybe this can help you too. Because I was stuck too, for a very long time. It hard to feel like things will work out for the better when you are knee deep in a crappy or unsettling situation in life and don’t see the light at the end. Also, reading other people’s life stories have always helped me. Or maybe you just like reading other people’s stories, which is totally cool too. 🙂

Part 1

I went to college with every intention of majoring in chemistry. I literally picked the school I went to for three reasons: it had a chemistry major, the campus was pretty, and it was close enough to home to be able to drive home, but still far enough away that I was on my own. I never did a campus tour or really mulled over the decision. Those were literally my reasons (Now come to think about it, I still base a lot of decisions that way. Very to the point. I guess I just had a good vibe from the place and went with it). At first, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the major, I just liked the idea of being a “chemist” and thought I would probably get a good job afterwards. I didn’t exactly have a thought out plan or anything. I just liked chemistry and was sort of decent at it.

The summer before my junior year of college, I was able to get a research job in a chemistry lab for the summer at school. I loved it! I had the best summer that year. It also helped that my best friend stayed on campus too that year and we basically spent the summer hanging out, partying and doing fun things on campus (like crashing campus functions for food and alcohol, or raiding empty dorm rooms, because apparently people leave a lot of stuff behind when they move out, who knew? I remember collecting a broom and a mirror, haha). We had the best time.

In addition to getting myself into crazy campus shenanigans, I had a real summer job, in my field! This job was the first time I realized that I loved working in a lab, creating something that could potentially be useful for the future. I liked mixing chemicals and using the fancy equipment and actually seeing real life results that weren’t from a boring book. It was way different than what I was during for class. It was actually fun! From there, I realized that I wanted to do research as a career. I wanted to work in a research lab, doing fun lab experiments everyday.

During my senior year of college, like most seniors, I started to think about getting a “real” job.” At this time, I wasn’t sure how to even begin to get a research position (or really in what type of lab). I just did things that seemed to make sense to me at the time. I learned how to write a resume and went to a job fair. I didn’t want to completely overwhelm myself because my classwork was hard enough as it was to deal with. I also really wanted to enjoy my last year of college, since I knew it was ending soon.

Also, during this time I started dating someone new (who ended up marrying me 10 years later 🙂 ) He used to visit me on the weekends and we used to go to this diner for breakfast every time he came to visit (can’t exactly make him eat my (nonexistent) dorm food or go to the school cafeteria, so a diner it was). On our way to this diner, we would past a big pharma company. Every time we passed it, I would think to myself “This is the type of place I want to work.” Literally, I thought this every time. Doubt I even said it out loud. I don’t even think I knew what company it was or what exactly I would do there. I just knew that it was the type of place I wanted to be at. It just seemed so flashy to me. It had a nice campus and it was a big company and it just seemed the place to be. “Very professional” looking, I guess.

Flash forward to about a month before graduation, I got a interview (from a contract company I met at that one job fair I went to) for a temp research position in a lab. I made it through the pre-interview, then phone interview and then I was invited for the in person interview. However, when it came time to go into the in person interview, it turned out to be for the company near the diner!  (The location wasn’t specific on the job description.) The same campus, I had told myself that I wanted to be at. Crazy right? I met like 3 different people at this interview and as I was given the lab walk through, I just kept saying to myself..”This is perfect, I have to work here”. The lab was super fancy and new and it seemed so cool to work there. I remember literally sending brain waves (“I want to work here..”) to the interviewer the whole time, no joke. They hired me that day. It wasn’t until I read The Secret many years later, that I knew that I totally used mindfulness to get me this dream job (and why I am so passionate about that book now). I had the research job at the location that I wanted. It was perfect! For the first few years, anyway. I was happy and I felt very lucky and worked very hard.

Then the recession happened. My company was bought by another company and literally overnight everything changed. It went from being a good “research position” to a politically charged corporate one. Sucky new managers, super competitive environment, major layoffs, relocations which gave long commutes..everything. During these next 3-4 years, I began to become very disenchanted with my job. I looked at people who were older that me, doing this work for longer, and realized they all had one thing in common: They were miserable. “Is this my future?”, I thought. I lost a lot of my motivation at work. I just couldn’t “play the game.” I didn’t care to. I just wanted to be in the lab, doing fun lab experiments. That’s what I signed up for. I never thought that this fun research job would turn into this. The fun was over. I felt like no matter how hard I worked, it was never enough. It was all metrics and numbers and fighting for “visibility” (Anyone, who has worked in corporate understands what I mean by this). Plus, they moved my location twice, each further away, so my commute got increasingly worse. Also, imagine that every single person you work with is unhappy? How is that for morale? Remember “misery loves company.” It was horrible. Life got really crappy and when you aren’t happy at work, the rest of your life suffers too (I know this now, but at the time I definitely did not pick up on this). I was tired and grumpy all the time. Which isn’t good or fair to the partner you live with. I drank more often because I was stressed everyday and needed a stress release. Not a “healthy” situation at all.

Since, I was bored and unmotivated most days now, what did I do? Peruse the internet, of course. I discovered blogs at this time, which was a good source of time passing. I loved reading about other people’s stories. I mainly read the healthy living ones (with some interior design and food ones too). Rewind back a few years: Right after college, I realized that I had gained some weight (maybe like 20 lbs-ish), especially during my senior year. Which honestly, shocked me because I never had to worry about my weight before. I also remember one day looking down at my thighs and saw stretch marks for the first time, which was a total wake up call for me too. Like “where did those come from?” Granted, I partied a lot in school and never once thought about whether I was eating healthy or not. I would routinely eat a bag of candy multiple nights a week when I was studying at the library. I doubt I even ate one vegetable most days. Pretzels, chips, sandwiches, burgers..whatever I could scrounge in the cafeteria was what I lived on. Also, since my parents never really allowed a lot of processed food or soda in the house growing up, I also binged on a lot of these things once I was on my own too. After college, I realized that the super fast metabolism I have had my whole life wasn’t permanent and I needed to start to watch what I ate. So, during this time is when I started the long journey to healthy living.

At first, I thought it was just age getting the better of me! (which is funny to me now). So of course, I wanted to lose this weight and I did what everyone else does when they try to lose weight…diets. Well, I tried, anyway. Never was good at it. I tried the traditional low fat and low calorie for a while..which sucked and did not work (and I know why now, but at the time it baffled me. I mean it worked for those people!). I started working out and going to the gym. Actually, I was pretty consistent with working out. I loved it. I was a “runner” for a minute. I did all the exercise classes on my lunch break. I liked the variety of trying new things and I really did enjoy group classes. The scale never moved, however. Actually, kept creeping up (again, I understand now that you can’t exercise away a bad diet (plus I was still stressed out all the time), but I was just doing what these “experts” were saying to lose weight).

However, this whole time I was fascinated by what I was reading online. I wanted to know everything. I tried all the trendy “health” foods and recipes (still guilty of this! But I love to cook and try to new foods, so I consider this is a good thing). I read a lot of books about eating better. I read the China Study and lots of vegan books, which prompted me to stop eating meat for a few years (which my husband calls the “dark time,”  haha). I credit those books to my first nutrition knowledge and food experimenting and also learning what really happens at factory farms, which, even though I eat meat now, I am very conscious of where my meat comes from. I even drank those slim fasts everyday for a while, which (in retrospect) never satisfied me (Haha, I cringe thinking about that now). But I kept learning. I kept reading. I kept following blogs, because I loved being a part of this little community, where there were others out there who liked this stuff too, and liked to talk about it.

I started to want to leave my job, badly. In fact, I wanted to leave the pharma industry completely because it seemed to be the same crappy, political, corporate, culture everywhere, so what was the point of just going to a different company? That definitely didn’t make sense to me. Plus, not having a PhD in the pharma industry really set me back, which frustrated me. I had the experience, but because I didn’t have that degree, it didn’t mean anything. It was too competitive of an environment now. So, I didn’t know what to do. I researched becoming a nutritionist, which would mean going back to school. I researched just going back to get a PhD (I did get my Masters, but I will get to that), but I wasn’t sure in what. I felt extremely stuck and miserable for a long time. Then, something pivotal happened. I was introduced to Arbonne. Mind you, I have heard of it and was asked about it way before this and turned it down. I never even tried any of the products. But this time was different. I hated my current situation. I needed something new to put my focus on. I was super scared to try something new, but I signed up anyway. I just needed something different. I knew nothing about social marketing, but I figured I would learn (plus it was a health and beauty company, so how bad could it have been?). I still remember the day I signed up (which in retrospect was not a big deal at all), but I was so freaked out, that my husband thought something was really wrong by the look of shock on my face (so funny, thinking about that now).

My Arbonne journey is totally a roller coaster in itself, but there was one major thing that it taught me: There is a whole life outside what you are currently doing and there are people who are willing to help you figure that out. I needed that. Desperately. I did not want to become one of those miserable people who stayed in their current situation for the next 10, 20+ years because that is all they knew what to do. I saw that there was hope. I found a new group of friends who were loving life and were happy. There was this whole other world out there beyond what I was seeing every day in my current situation. Just having something different to focus on, being with people who were doing the same things and wanting to be better and more successful at life was mind blowing to me. (Remember, all I knew was misery and complaining, so this was a whole new territory for me). I also learned what personal development was and how important it was. That alone was life changing to me. “Personal development” wasn’t even in my vocabulary before. Now, it was something I was doing on a consistent basis. I started reading books that helped grow confidence, leadership skills, success, and just how to improve mindset. I started to learn how to build meaningful relationships and getting out of my comfort zone (I am totally an introvert, but have learned to overcome it in many ways because of these new teachings). I started to face my fears about talking to new people, talking in front of people, and just getting out there more. Who am I? My husband even noticed a change in me.

All of sudden, I wanted to be a better person. Not just a better “worker, ” but a better, happier, and more balanced person.  I wanted to succeed in life and actually be happy doing it. All of a sudden, a light bulb switched on inside me. I don’t have to settle anymore for a boring life “just because everyone else has.” I can do whatever I want. I had hope for the first time. Still no real direction, but for the first time, I had hope.

(Continue reading in Part 2….)