I know how frustrating it can be to live each day like it’s a chore, forcing yourself out of bed in the morning, often with a headache and having to push through the day on coffee (and likely chocolate!). It is overwhelming and often feels like no one understands. I do. I get it. Without getting all scientific on you – it’s our hormones at play here, along with our digestion. Sound weird? It’s actually quite simple. The health of our gut is directly linked to how our hormones react in the body. I want to help you re-balance your life – by re-wiring your digestion and endocrine system to play nice.
2012 was a year that will forever be in my mind. Trip to across the country not to see the sites of Ontario but to meet with the leading cardiac surgeon in the Canada and have open heart surgery to repair what turned out to be expansive tears in my mitral valve.
Surgery was not a surprise. I had known since my diagnosis of mitral valve regurgitation (or leaky valve) in my early 20’s that inevitably surgery would be it… but in my 60’s, not at the age of 42! I’m not going to lie, it was a shock. I hadn’t been experiencing the usual symptoms I was supposed to feel – shortness of breath, swollen feet, constantly feeling tired – or so I had thought…
I wouldn’t say I was a sickly kid, but I wasn’t interested much in sports and hated PE in school. I was always told I was a good baby and let my parents sleep until 8-9am. I played outside until being called in for dinner (fresh from my grandparents HUGE garden – but that story is for another day!)
Looking back I remember sleeping A LOT, especially in high school – I’d come home after school, sleep on the couch until my mom told me dinner was ready. I’d eat dinner, do my homework and go to bed. My stepfather called me lazy – I thought it was normal. This continued into my college/university days but then I started playing volleyball, biking, hiking and dancing …it proved very beneficial for my heart – I would pass my yearly stress tests with flying colors – my cardiologist telling me I had the heart of a teenager…so when I was stamped with “it’s time for surgery” … I couldn’t understand. I ate well, exercised, got a good night’s rest so why now?
What I understand now, is I was meant to do this early – when I was strong, “relatively healthy” and could bounce back quickly – and share what I had learned. I put “relatively healthy” in quotations as my heart condition was not my only health concern.
I suffered monthly migraines – which I learned in my later years was due to hormonal imbalances and like most of us, I had a high stress lifestyle and job that led me to further imbalances and adrenal fatigue to near burn out. My breakfast consisted of a piece of toast with jam and a cup of coffee in the car on my commute to a job I disliked. Lunches were often a quick salad or cheese on toast & sometimes leftover pasta (eaten at my desk) and dinners were often drive thu fast food. I craved sugar & burgers as I worked long hours. Sound familiar?
In the spring of 2006, I was devastated when I was “let go” from my dead end job…but was I? Looking back now it was the best thing to happen. I took my time (6 months) to find another passion and in that time I started to look after me. Cooking became my passion, reading (mostly health magazines and books) and enjoying the incredible place I call home and all things outdoor. I needed a recharge. What I didn’t realize then was my body needed this recharge to prepare myself for the fall of 2012.
Heart surgery. It sounds catastrophic. It can be catastrophic, but isn’t a death sentence. I was 42, I had support of my loving family, and I was prepared. I had spent my 6 months of “time off” to develop healthy eating habits, looked after my body with exercise & continued my yoga practice.
I hadn’t met my incredible surgeon until the day before the surgery but had done my research, he was the best (not only in surgical terms but in bedside manner), and the video of my mitral valve repair eased my mind (maybe not for everyone, but for my scientific mind – I needed to know!). Even though I will not admit I was ready – my body was. I spent a week in the hospital (normal I think), a week in a Toronto hotel and then home to recover. I will not lie, not having the energy to wash my own hair or dress myself the first couple weeks cannot be imagined until you live it. Hospital food was…well…hospital food. I have MSG, and gluten intolerances so my meals on a good day were microwaved fish with dry piece of lettuce, boiled egg in a plastic wrap and a banana! …but I was lucky, I had family support, to bring me smoothies, sushi and all the goodness (nutrition) I needed to thrive. We got a hotel with a kitchen so we could make healthy whole food meals.
I’m not sure when the ‘aha’ moment actually happened but at some point during my recovery I began researching nutrition programs and schools. I wanted to learn more, I needed to learn more. I knew that if I could help just one person going through hormonal issues (call it PMS, menopause, stress!) or an invasive surgery, change one daily habit to make them less tired, anxious or just feel better…it was worth it. While my journey sounds like it began with my heart diagnosis…my true health journey has only just begun…and I am ready to embark with you on your journey 🙂
Smiles, Laughter & Love
“I have known Michelle for years as a friend and earlier this year had the opportunity to sit down with her to receive nutritional advice and guidance. Michelle did a thorough assessment of me and my nutrition in a relaxed, friendly and non-judgmental manner. Her questions were very appropriate and delved into just the right amount of detail. I found her advice to be on point and not intimidating at all. She does not apply an “all-or-nothing” approach which makes her nutritional advice manageable and accessible. Her easy to follow advice made an immediate impact on my overall feeling of health and wellbeing. I particularly sought her advice as I was trying to prepare my body for becoming pregnant and within no time of starting her nutritional plan was I in fact pregnant. I am now 6 months pregnant with that little baby and I continue to feel the effects of good nourishment for my body and that of my growing child. I feel very strongly that I would not feel this good in pregnancy if it were not from the help I received from Michelle. I highly recommend her to anyone looking to improve their life and health!”
“Michelle was an obvious pick for me. She is as genuine and sympathetic as she appears. She’s very knowledgeable in the field of menopause and was able to trouble shoot the symptoms I wanted to address and provide me several great suggestions. I feel I can count on her to help me understand my own misperceptions of this stage of life so I can transition with grace and confidence.”
A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be complicated. Small changes will have a cascading effect and impact how you feel. Change can be challenging but those habits keeping us from living the life we desire just need modifications. I’ve been there, and not gonna lie, it’s a work in progress, but I also know first hand how making the choice to switch can impact your life. I used to wake up daily with headaches, no energy, extremely moody and just had no idea why. My journey has taught me a lot and I would love to work with you so together we can transform your life to live healthy, smile, laugh & love.