TRUTH TELLER, TRUTH SEEKER
Transparency: without it we are incomplete. We often walk around costumed, gowned, and layered; the true self completely hidden beneath heavy garments. Our hearts heavily guarded.
BEGINNING: Innocence Broken
As a child, I recall always being hungry; food was locked away, I was forbidden to take food. Everything was secured. Daily portions were doled out at sparse intervals. As a teen, even feminine hygiene products were rationed. I was required to ask permission daily, in order to receive only two pads; one for the day, and one for the night; my requests constantly scrutinized. This experience stifled my femininity, robbed me of a healthy girlhood, and shaped my image into adulthood.
Growing up, everything was severely limited, from food to love. There was no demonstrative love; nor did in exist in any form of love language that I understood. (Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages. They comprise acts of service, physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, and gifts.) Neglect, however, was abundant; our Family Crest. And I wore it like a badge with a pin so sharp that it painfully pierced my skin right through to my heart.
In enduring extreme emotional abuse as one of a trio of sisters, I lived a childhood of powerlessness, and I battled for my own survival. A tragedy in the making.
Back then I didn’t know these circumstances would eventually lead to a decision to heal myself, and through that, to support others to heal themselves. I knew only that I didn’t fit in. This feeling of being a misfit stayed with me into my forties. Words matter. It’s ironic I became known as Miss Fit, building a successful career in both fitness and nutrition coaching.
THE MIDDLE BIT(E): Control By Proxy
In my twenties I involved myself in an abusive relationship with a sweet-talking character named food—a twisted and possessive association. Food was my prison. I always thought about it. How NOT to eat it. How to convince other people I DID eat it. I worked out ALL THE TIME (and rarely ate) so I could have what I believed to be a great body. By society’s standards I got that great body. I was ‘it’.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was killing myself by attempting to maintain that body that I thought would meet with the approval of total strangers. Through my lies, I destroyed connections with those closest to me so that I could be admired by people I didn’t even know.
I know it sounds insane, but that was my reality at the time. I still felt like a misfit.
I recovered from anorexia. I learned a lot. And then my relationship with food took another turn. In my mid-thirties, food became my comfort. In an attempt to feel better during a tragic time of suicidal depression, I ate my way to a body that was thirty pounds heavier than healthy.
Imagine the contrast I created. Obviously I hadn’t dealt with the undercurrent of the relationship with self and food. I despised my body. I was tired, lethargic, cranky, and miserable to be around. Diagnosed with clinical depression, I also experienced severe anxiety. Every day was a struggle.
THE GIFT: Presents, Presence, and Sacred
And then a colleague gifted me a book on Natural Nutrition. There was a suggestion that I read it. I remember the circumstances clearly. I rocked back and forth in the fetal position and said, “Brushing my teeth is a chore. How the hell can I read a book?
Well, I did.
It transformed my life.
I learned how to eat my way into great health, more energy, and a fit body. Vibrant and alive, I began living the life I desired.
I immersed myself into Natural Nutrition. You know that phrase, You’ve Come A Long Way Baby? Well, I have. A loooong way.
Reaching a point of clarity and peace took lots of work. I have learned, and continue to learn, so much—knowledge and experience combined into practical and attainable bytes that I share from a place of truth, love, and transparency.
I have come into myself, understanding the Sacred Gifts* I have. I treasure my ability to relate to, and with, others. I hold dear my sacred gift of teaching. I am proud my ability to lead, using my awareness, without judgment, to invite others to self-examine and self-lead. This sacred gift of teaching, is key to my ability to deliver opportunities to those who seek change.
I also possess the sacred gift of challenge—that means I am a truth teller; I speak to others to ensure they recognize their gifts, and so that they can welcome what they hadn’t seen before. This sacred gift of truth telling is often uncomfortable for others… at first. Some immediately recognize that my spoken word opens the door for growth, allowing them to take personal responsibility. Others take a little more time to choose. I get that. The thing is, this style results in ‘stimulating’ and ‘expanding’ people; that kind of growth is painful. Through the sacred gift of challenge, I am able to evoke a power in others that has been lying low for years, even a lifetime, and spark it to create growth and independence. Like passing a torch.
We each have Sacred Gifts. Recognizing them is the start of celebrating them and using them for growth.
*Note: I have been blessed to meet Monique MacDonald, (yoursacredgifts.com). She describes herself as a Shift disturber. I encourage others to identify their Sacred Gifts and live in them.
THE MENTORS: It takes A Leader To Bring Out A Leader.
A truth seeker, I am privileged and grateful for stellar leaders. I’ve studied under Lars Gustafsson and Paul Chek. My formal education is from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition (CSNN). My current title is: Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant. (See notes below in education.)
I built my team with members who possess skills that I do not. By sourcing specialists to provide service where I cannot, I am able to enrich the lives of others with my specialty. This makes for great balance in my business. And I am forever grateful for my mentors and team members.
Take, Tonda McGillis, my friend first, my mentor in nutrition, and valued colleague. Tonda holds a BSc, a degree in holistic nutrition, is an Orthomolecular Health Practitioner (OHP), a Nutritional Consulting Practitioner (NCP), and, at the time of writing, is completing her Masters in Holistic Nutrition. With a solid friendship and working relationship that began in 2011, I am ever grateful for her skill and courage.
In 2015, I was unaware that I was in a severe state of adrenal fatigue. Once again, I experienced clinical depression and debilitating anxiety. As my own provider, I felt I must keep going. I pushed forward in business. Despite my teambuilding skills, as I became more fatigued, I lost perspective and the underlying misfit identity kicked in. I felt I had to do it on my own, that I had no one to help me. I operated in warrior mode, hands on both swords, fighting battles of anxiety, depression, crippling fear. Trudging through the mud.
All the things I could identify in others, yet I burned out and could not turn the mirror on myself. We humans seem to be better at identifying issues in others more than we can in ourselves.
It was Tonda who had the courage to confront me. She basically said, ‘I am here for you.’ Tonda saved my life. At that time I was barely sleeping. My nutrition choices were the reverse of my philosophy. Instead of the 80/20 rule, I reversed it to 20/80, eating poorly eighty-percent of the time. Tonda turned the self-care mirror toward me. She stayed beside me and created meals at a time when I had no emotional wherewithal to choose anything healthy. She revived me. And she continued in an intensive role as my leader for eighteen months. Today, she continues to be my right hand in business, and our friendship is ever strong.
In order to be outstanding, one is required to step into his or her truth, celebrate strengths, grow those strengths, work on that which is interesting, and surround oneself with others who are committed to goodness.
Years ago, my title began as Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN). After an industry court battle with the Alberta College of Dieticians, the RHN designation was replaced with Certified Holistic Nutritionist (CHN). Following that, the ‘College’ returned to court to battle the use of the title Nutritionist, suggesting the public would become confused. Due to the most recent Alberta Health Professions act (AHP) my current title is: Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant (CHNC)
Included in myriad studies and certifications are: Holistic Lifestyle Coach, HLC; Iyengar Yoga Practitioner; Usui Reiki Master Teacher; Reflexologist, and of course Personal Trainer.
My education continues to grow as does my passion for life. My enthusiasm for helping others discover the vitality in themselves through Healthy Living (and dispelling the myths of a Diet Industry which is not interested in weight gain but financial gain, and has no investment in the complete, healthy and whole person) is unbounded.
THE AHA, THE IT.
As a leader in the fitness industry, for over two decades, teaching and certifying thousands of Personal Trainers and Healthy Nutrition and Weight Loss Coaches across Canada, I’ve coached thousands to make better decisions to improve the quality of their lives.
Speaking my past and my present comes to me with ease and grace, as I feel no shame or guilt. I want to create the space for people to give themselves permission to eat what they want and be who they want. Regimented programs are bullshit; a guaranteed recipe for failure. With the intention to create a space where all individuals feel at peace with self and food, I wrote a book, In One End and Out The Other. It’s a straightforward guide to everyday nutrition. www.InOneEndandOutTheOther.com. From that book I developed the Never Diet Again course (NDAC): a ten week journey to confidence and peace. www.NeverDietAgain.today.
The premise of NDAC is: there is nothing wrong with you; there is something wrong with the food you eat. Put simply the course is based on the 80/20 rule, Simple Shifts and Upgrades, clarity around treats and cheating, and the power of words and questions.
I help others weed their way through an overgrown media-dominated, billion dollar diet and fitness industry—and show them how to make sensible decisions based on reality. No one ever has to diet again.
With NDAC, there are no complicated preparations or expensive add-ons to purchase—there are small changes to food choices that can be made right away. In a short time people celebrate health as something more than a number on a scale. Time is freed up by ‘not obsessing about diets’ is phenomenal. Money is saved by not signing up—over and over—for versions of programs that, in effect, make most people feel flawed.
The thing is, there is no magic pill, lotion, potion, quick fix, or secret food. Everyone knows that. Everyone just hopes for some kind of miracle.
What does work is consistency. Health improves when small changes to current lifestyle are applied consistently. The body will flourish when fed natural foods in balanced amounts consistent with activity.
When it comes to health, many people turn away from natural and seek out unnatural solutions with a large price tag and fancy label to match unrealistic expectations. When busy we turn to convenience.
Conveniently, NDAC is delivered LIVE online, with full participation from the group members from anywhere in the world. A bonus from this format is that there is a dynamic generated by the live on-line group. Tight bonds are formed, and shares are passionate. The extra benefits of the online groups are new relationships, solutions, brainstorming, and support. Connections are established and each feels the power of a tribe. Together attendees travel the path toward peace with food. Though still in its infancy, NDAC has surpassed my vision.
DEEP DOWN PERSONAL: The Value of What I Do.
I spent a great deal of my career attempting to fix others believing I would fix myself in the process. I believed if I guided and protected others that I would feel complete. Of course, that’s not true. Now that I know this—having been mentored and having tapped into my own worthy self—it’s important to me to engage in a pay it forward journey.
My deepest desire is to be for someone else, what no one was for me.
I desire to be what no one was for me although it’s not connected to me or my own healing any longer, it’s truly from a ‘pay it forward’ perspective. I have peace with me. Years of therapy, introspection, team building, lessons, and, a phenomenal therapist of late.
Dr. Owen Shwartz, in Calgary, Alberta, is the one who facilitated the greatest change in me. I remember during one session I said, “Owen, I don’t’ get it. Everybody says if you want something ‘go GET IT,’ and the next sentence we read is: ‘if it’s meant to be it will be.’ Owen, when these two statements are side by side I’m thinking, how can that work? I don’t understand let it be or go get it.”
I have a clear recall of his reply. He smiled and said, “Andrea, be actively calm, and calmly active.”
This sentence changed everything for me. Gratitude to this phenomenal human.
From that point on, the ‘pay it forward attitude’ combined with my Sacred Gifts, and, more than ever, allowed me to put tools in the toolboxes of others—nutritional tools and behavioural tools. Through that those people will have a shorter path to body, mind, and soul peace.
I show others the tools and then I explain those tools. One might say I’m the Home Depot of love of self, of natural nutrition. I adore seeing the relief in the faces of those who realize they never have to diet again.
I say, start where you are. Through my passion I deliver the opportunity for others to find clarity and experience abundance. To feel peace with self and food.
In a healthy life, every cupboard and every heart should be unlocked. The freedom of choice is powerful.