My Personal Story:
If you want to know more about me personally . . . . .
I have been interested in health and fitness for as long as I can remember. I was fortunate as a child to have parents who encouraged plenty of sunshine, physical activity, playing in the dirt, experiencing nature, and healthy eating. They also taught me to value family, community involvement, growing and preserving my own food and sharing the bounty with others. Education and lifelong learning were instilled in me and my two siblings. I am in the middle with an older sister and a younger brother.
Me with my grandparents, parents and brother and sister,1976,
just before the Teton Dam Disaster in Rexburg, Idaho
My childhood was idyllic, mostly. I have fond memories of dressing up and performing in parades, searching through abandoned houses, making countless mud pies, walking behind the combines during the Idaho potato harvest to pick up misshapen and ginormous (I’m talking the size of a newborn) potatoes, picking chokecherries for syrup making, bike riding, swimming lessons and many church activities. I learned to ski on the mountains of Idaho and Montana. We camped and hiked up Pebble Creek and in Grand Teton National Park with the breathtaking Grand Tetons looming always above us.
There were laundry baskets of fresh picked green beans to clean and break, peaches and pears to put up and fruit leather to dry in the sun. I took hunter’s safety and accompanied my dad on deer hunting trips, watching the sun rise and secretly hoping the deer would stay away from the life-ending power of the rifles because I did not want to witness an animal’s life ending, even though I benefitted from the food its life provided. As a family, we processed deer, antelope, rabbits, chickens and fish for the freezer. Strawberry plants fertilized with rabbit droppings produced an amazing abundance of berries used to make my mom’s mouthwatering freezer jam.
Times weren’t always rosy. We lived in Rexburg, Idaho, during the Teton Dam disaster. The town was devastated. Our home was miraculously spared and became a shelter for a family who lost almost everything. We children were sent away to stay with my dad’s co-worker in a nearby town because the flood water was toxic. Being separated from my parents during that crisis was frightening. However, as the town received outside help and fired up internal fortitude, the rebuilding efforts solidified my sense of community and resiliency. I felt such a part of things when I journeyed into town with my dad several weeks after the flood to help shovel dried mud out of the church basement. Amidst the crisis, the entire town stopped working and celebrated with a 4th of July parade on the still-dusty and dirty streets lined with closed shops.
After the flood we moved to Pocatello, Idaho, where I completed my schooling and my college degree in dietetics. My next stop was Colorado where I raised my three daughters. The early adult period of my life included so much happiness raising my girls and building my fitness and health business. I struggled through some health issues and a sad divorce, but my childhood resilience and wonderful supportive tribe of family and friends helped me pull through. As a single mom, I needed a more steady income with insurance benefits and a schedule that matched my kids’ so I made the decision to complete Colorado’s alternative teacher licensing program and added teaching to my resume while continuing my fitness business on the side.
Eventually, I felt a strong desire to have a bigger impact on health inspired by my work as a teacher. I quit teaching and went to graduate school to add public health to my expertise. I also met my honey, Craig. He is a fantastic human being and I am so happy to have him in my life!
While attending Colorado State University (CSU) I happened upon one of the many influential people in my life. You see, I had been trained, early on, in conventional nutrition. I spent years in health and fitness and as a teacher, educating many people on the traditional food guide pyramid and about the energy balance equation for weight loss: eat a low-fat diet and upset the balance of calories in and calories out to achieve/maintain a desirable weight and experience health. Only, it never seemed to work. Over the years I observed clients, students and the public at large decline in health and increase in size despite following the traditional rules.
Then, when I was in graduate school at CSU working on my public health master’s program, I needed a couple of elective credits that fit my schedule, so I signed up for an advanced body composition course. I had never heard of the instructor before: Loren Cordain, exercise scientist turned anthropologist and author of The Paleo Diet.
Dr. Cordain quickly covered the body composition material and moved into teaching about his real passion, ancestral eating. He challenged every notion I had about nutrition and the foundation I had been taught in my earlier education. He patiently answered my questions and referred me to countless research papers backing his claims about how/what the human body was meant to eat (I have an entire file drawer of papers with this evidence).
Here are just two examples of many newer findings about nutrition that I learned:
- I was traditionally taught that the human body needs 0.8 g/kg protein or about 10-15% of calories from protein. Dr. Cordain provided evidence that the human body thrives on more protein, depending on the individual, 18-32% of calories from protein.
- I was also traditionally taught that a low-fat diet would help with weight loss/weight maintenance and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Dr. Cordain presented scientific evidence to our class about how a low fat diet has actually contributed to increased weight and an increase in cardiovascular disease. The ancestral diet, depending on the location of the early human tribes, was comprised of 35-60% fat.
Not only did I sign up for the next course with Dr. Cordain, “The Evolution of the Human Diet,” but I started applying The Paleo Diet principles to my own life and assisting personal training clients, family and friends with the concepts. I lost eight stubborn pounds that I could not budge before! I also saw improvements in my own gastrointestinal problems and other health issues.
Personalizing principles of The Paleo Diet has helped many people in my tribe improve aspects of health such as improved blood lipid profiles, lowered inflammatory markers and even put type 2 diabetes in remission. Learning about The Paleo Diet has helped expand my nutrition knowledge about ancestral eating. I have also learned that trying to strictly follow this diet doesn’t work for everyone. I like the challenge of personalizing nutrition for clients, using genetic information and scientific evidence to support practical real-life applications of diet and health interventions.
I completed graduate school with more tools in my nutrition tool box, an appreciation for exploring scientific evidence on my own, and a passion for food systems and food sustainability. I started a thriving not-for-profit in Berthoud, Colorado, called Berthoud Local. This organization is founded on providing healthy, environmentally friendly local food and gardening education to residents of this small town.
Recently, based on a renewed passion for nutrition, I applied for a dietetic internship program. I was gratefully accepted and Craig and I (and our dog Sheldon) dug up our Colorado roots and transplanted to Kansas to the University of Kansas Medical Center for a year of intensive training with full time internship work in dietetics and full time graduate school. Craig spent the year gardening, (yep, even in the winter with grow lights inside and a small green house outside) and provided me with gluten free meals in-between work and late-night studying (did I mention that he is super great?). I received specialty training in integrative and functional nutrition, a new expertise in nutrition.
Hiking with Craig and Sheldon in Missouri
while attending KUMC, 2016
I now work with individuals and small groups using my cutting edge training to personalize nutrition and wellness programs in-person, via phone or video chat. I also am available for guest speaking on many topics related to personalized nutrition and lifestyle. I help empower people with tools to take personal responsibility for improved health and refer to other healthcare providers when needed. I would be honored to be part of your healthcare team. My life has been a blessing that I hope I can use to help people!