HOW EMMA GOT REAL
My wellness journey has been a long and amazing one – and it all started when I fell in love with sports. Since before I can remember the only thing that was important to me, the only thing that I thought could define me, was being an athlete.
And for the longest time, I thought that was my only option, it was all I was good at, all I was worth. This carried me through Division I Field Hockey at the University of New Hampshire – it pushed me to be the best athlete I could be. It lead me to my first job coaching at Boston College – a top ranked DI NCAA program. But this is where “being an athlete” came to an end. This is when I had to take a long hard look at WHO I was, WHAT I wanted to be and
HOW I would get there….
It took me 22 years to realize that I had another passion that had been inside me since I was a little girl – a passion for nutrition and being healthy.
At 5 years old, I would demand to have “sport snacks” (which was basically a large fruit salad). I would tell all my friends how great it was and how “healthy” it makes you. And so began my know-it-all stage…
Fast forward to high school and being insecure in my body (which looked like a little boy’s) and me researching ways to SUPPORT my hormones?!?! I was so eager to develop into a young woman – I would spend hours diving into articles and chewing ice instead of having a full meal in hopes of “getting curves” – because every 15 year old girl thinks skinny = curves, right!?
I was in a constant battle between wanting to be “sexy” and feminine or to be taken seriously as an athlete. I would tell myself I couldn’t have both.
I would use my athletic build as an excuse to myself for not being “sexy” – I convinced myself I would never have that sex appeal, that body that made the other girls jealous. I threw hateful words at myself any chance I got.
Speed it up another few years – now in college, still eager to learn about how to be the best looking I could be, but now it became how to be the best looking ATHLETE.
I didn’t need to be sexy, I needed to be fit. Because back then, they weren’t the same thing – you were either sexy or you were fit.
I began to form not so healthy habits. My relationship with food was addictive and restrictive all in one. I battled this all through college.
I wanted to LOOK like the athlete I thought that I was. And I thought the only way to earn respect was to fit the part. I wish I could say I figured it out before graduation, but I didn’t.
Jump to post grad life – coaching at BC. I was an adult now, you know, with a 45 min commute to work! So began my obsession with podcasts. But – only health and wellness podcasts. I began to tell my friends and family all the cool and HORRIFYING things I had learned that day – like sugars effect on the body, what gluten is, etc.
After season ended I was on the hunt for a new job and came across a graduate assistant coaching position in Brooklyn, NY.
I was like “BROOKLYN, UM YES – but what would I get my masters in?” Well, being as oblivious as I was – I turned to family and friends for some guidance.
They all unanimously said “WHY WOULDN’T YOU STUDY NUTRITION?! It is all you talk about!!!”
And just like that, the ah-ha moment. I f*cking loved nutrition. 3 weeks later I moved to Brooklyn and began my journey to obtain my Masters in Sports Nutrition.
The thought was with this degree I could still be that athletically focused person, who would now be able shoot the sh*t about health and wellness.
Living in Brooklyn, alone, was the best and hardest thing that I have ever done. My first few months there I found myself in a tailspin of doubt and self loathing. I abused food and alcohol. I was studying how food works in the body and trying desperately to find a DIET that would make me “happy” – aka SKINNY.
I counted calories, macros, I did intermittent fasting, ate 1 million grams of protein a day, all while working out 7 days a week, for 2 or more hours. Nothing worked. I never got the body I wanted.
I wasn’t happy. I was lonely. I felt worthless.
It wasn’t until I began to listen to holistic nutrition podcasts, reading self-love books and looking at someone in the mirror that I did not recognize – that I saw I needed to love myself first.
With 1 semester left of my masters program I decided that before I can help anyone else, I needed to get my sh*t right. I began to dive into the world of intuitive eating, yoga, journaling and doing LESS. Within weeks I had dropped weight, my skin cleared up, my anxiety went down and I broke out of my “must be an athlete – must have a perfect body” mindset.
I was happy. I never felt more myself.
SPEED IT UP AGAIN to graduation day – I had a job being a sports nutritionist and performance coach all lined up ready and waiting for me in Portsmouth, NH. I was so excited with my new outlook on life – to help others achieve what I had. So I packed up and headed north.
I worked at this job for 3 weeks. That was all it took – to realize this isn’t giving me the joy I thought it would. And without another job or another plan – I quit. I decided I would do what needed to be done to make money but I wasn’t going to waste another day doing something that did not resonate with me.
3 weeks later I wound up in the ER (shoutout to my boyfriend for driving me in middle of night) for insanely bad abdominal pain and extreme distention.
I told the doctor that I had been getting this pain off and on since high school, and that after endoscopies, tests and lots of meds, I had been diagnosed with IBS (which I know I don’t actually have).
The ultrasound in the ER showed an excessive amount of gas built up in my abdomen – and all they said was “weird – here are some anti-inflammatories, good luck” and sent me home. CLASSIC.
From that day on, I had these stomach pains after every meal. I would be doubled over in pain with tears streaming down my face not knowing what it was that I ate to cause this pain. Or maybe it wasn’t food? Maybe I am getting stress stomach aches? But f*ck these pains aren’t even in my stomach they are in my upper abdomen?!
I was at a loss. No doctors would help me figure it out. I was so upset that after finding my “wellness” in Brooklyn – I was not well, again. Not myself, again.
And not knowing how to fix it this time.