I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Registered Yoga Teacher, and Board Certified Mental Health Coach. I am the sole owner and employee of Whole Self Care, LLC. Whole Self Care started as a blog around four years ago. It grew into a side hustle, and has now become my main gig. My specialties include Intuitive Eating, Eating Disorders, disordered eating, gut and hormone issues, stress management, and nutrition for active people. I work with adults, teens, and parents of little ones. I also teach yoga and dance fitness classes at B.Loved Fitness and Gifts, and offer one-on-one movement sessions with clients.
I use a functional nutrition approach which means focusing on the underlying causes of symptoms and treating them at their source. I use a holistic approach by considering the whole body, not just one aspect of what may affect health. I help people connect, or reconnect, with their bodies, get to the root of what drives their eating behaviors, and help people find more peace and satisfaction with eating. I don’t merely focus on changing the body. Rather, I focus on behaviors that affect health, optimize metabolism, stop weight cycling, and help the body settle at a weight it is meant for. I help people work with their bodies instead of against them. My goal is to offer people hope and be a compassionate source of support for them on their journey to better health and feeling better.
Before I go any further, I would love to share my background, and what led me to this point. This is where things get a little more personal. To be perfectly honest, I never saw myself having my own practice. My experience and background brought me to this point, and it has all been a journey of faith. In the midst of going through school, and starting my career along the conventional path, I experienced much suffering and couldn’t quite pinpoint why.
I started having health issues which started with upper respiratory symptoms, then digestive symptoms, then lower respiratory symptoms. I went through a period of getting bronchitis once a month. Over time, things got worse and not better. I also dealt with extreme fatigue, brain fog, skin issues, and hormone imbalances. I saw conventional doctors who helped me as much as they could, but it got to the point where they couldn’t help anymore. Many times, it felt hopeless.
God used people and resources to help me find answers as I was praying for healing. I met with a functional practitioner who uses a similar approach to what I do now. I found, like many people, my compromised gut was at the root of many of my symptoms.
Addressing my gut, and implementing lifestyle, food, and supplement interventions were the first steps to actually feeling better. Along the way, I learned more and more as to WHY I had these gut issues to begin with.
Looking further back, I should mention I am a perfectionist in recovery 🙂 I have been a lifelong dancer and started a habit of pushing myself beyond my limits very young. In high school, I began struggling with disordered eating, but didn’t have any formal support to help me during this time. I often focused on controlling my body more than taking care of it, which looked like eating based on rules and not hunger, and pushing myself too much with exercise for many years. Add in an extremely stressful and exhausting schedule, terrible sleeping habits, and being prescribed antibiotics way too many times…it really wreaked havoc on my gut.
My journey to healing included reconnecting with my body and listening to its cues, eating enough, reevaluating the way I exercised, adding more white space and downtime into my life, sleeping better, and learning how to better manage stress. I had to learn to do less and be ok with it 🙂
Today, I feel so much better, and I am so grateful. The symptoms I previously suffered with are either gone, or drastically improved. I feel more connected to my body, and my eating, exercise, and lifestyle habits reflect this. Health is really all about being able to listen to your body, and give it what it needs.
As I mentioned, Whole Self Care started as a blog during these seasons of healing. I simply wanted to be the support I needed when I was suffering and needing direction. Over time, this turned into my practice. I absolutely love being able to help others on their own journeys, and offer HOPE to those who may feel they’ve lost it.
So, this brings me to where I am today. Because the gut affects so many aspects of health, and is often a root cause of symptoms many struggle with today, I wanted to share a bit more on this topic. Here are just a few possible symptoms of a gut out of balance:
Bloating, abdominal distention, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, brain fog, pain, headaches, anxiety, depression, insomnia, frequent colds, skin rashes, acne, altered metabolism, and hormone imbalances…just to name a few.
Why is the gut so important? Our digestive system regulates what goes into our bodies, and what goes out. The gut is involved in making certain neurotransmitters, and regulating certain hormones. Our brain communicates to our gut, and our gut to our brain.
We have a vast ecosystem, called the microbiome, residing in our gut. This consists of over 100 trillion microbes which are mainly bacteria, but also include viruses and yeast. These guys are supposed to be there, and help regulate many functions in our bodies including digestion, immunity, metabolism, and protecting our gut lining. Our microbiome also influences our mood and brain health.
When the microbiome is out of balance, this is called dysbiosis. This may mean having an overgrowth of unfavorable microbes, not having enough beneficial microbes, and/or not having enough diversity. Dysbiosis is one part of a “trifecta” of root causes of a gut out of balance.
The second possible issue driving symptoms is a compromised gut lining, often referred to as “leaky gut,” but officially referred to as increased intestinal permeability in the medical community/research studies. The lining of our gut is one cell wall thick, and consists of tight junctions which carefully regulate what goes through, and what stays in the digestive tract. Ideally, only fully digested food should pass through this barrier. When the gut is compromised, and these junctions aren’t as tight, other substances may leak through into the bloodstream such as partially digested food, microorganisms, and toxins, causing our bodies to react to them.
This often leads to the 3rd possible issue—inflammation. Inflammation is an important function in our body. Ideally, it should be an acute reaction, helping us recover from an injury or illness. Chronic inflammation over time may lead to widespread symptoms, and drives or worsens many health issues people struggle with today.
Dysbiosis, leaky gut, and inflammation have been referred to as a “trifecta” because having one leads to eventually having all 3, because they are related and drive the other 2, creating a perfect storm.
Where do I come in? I help clients address all three of these root causes through nutrition, lifestyle, and supplement interventions. This includes a thorough assessment of symptoms, current habits, and current medications and supplements. This may also include testing when indicated.
Interventions are individualized, holistic, and synergistic. These may include reducing overgrowth of harmful microbes, looking for possible (often temporary) food triggers when indicated, eating enough nutrients, supporting digestion, repairing the gut lining, adding in and supporting the growth of beneficial microbes, and managing stress which hugely affects the health of the gut.
In addition to helping clients heal their gut, I also work with women with suspected hormone issues who are of childbearing age. This may include PCOS, infertility, miscarriages, and painful cycles to name a few. I use a similar approach in that we look for the underlying driver of issues, rather than only addressing symptoms. For many women, the gut is involved in hormone issues, but is usually just one piece of the puzzle.
A huge focus of my practice is also working with individuals in eating disorder recovery, dieting recovery, or disordered eating. Many of my clients have co-occurring digestive/gut issues which we address in addition to helping them normalize their eating and address food fears.
Because we are diverse individuals with a variety of concerns, I use a very individualized and holistic approach in my practice. My work with clients takes time, and I encourage them to take the long haul view. Overall, my goal is to help others take better care of themselves, and to offer hope and support on their journeys.
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