• Rachel

The Story Behind the Story

Life is Complicated Enough...Your Food Shouldn't Be!

Welcome to my blog! If you read the About Me section-you would have learned all about my journey as a mom with two children suffering with food allergies and Crohn's disease. It's what ultimately led me to becoming a wellness coach. However, despite the last 12 years of writing, recipe development and certification, when I really look back on it, it has taken way longer than 12 years to get to this point.

When I was 16, I wanted to be a dancer. My junior year of high school, I attended an intensive summer dance program at Harvard and was afforded the opportunity to work with some very famous dancers/instructors. One particular choreographer surveyed my body up and down-(I even remember I was wearing a brown leotard and pink tights-which goes to show how we crystallize troubling events in our mind and are able to recall them even decades later) and said, "if you just lost 5lbs. you would have the perfect body." It seems like I have always been chasing those elusive 5 lbs. Seriously, all my life, I have been trying to lose 5 lbs as if losing them would magically make me happy or perfect.

When I had my first child, I gained 60 lbs! As soon as I got home from the hospital, I weighed myself-expecting a huge weight loss. Let's just say, 18 years later, my husband is still traumatized by my meltdown that day. Instead of just focusing on loving my baby, I hyper focused on my weight loss as if that was going to normalize my life!

Diets I have tried in the past have included but not limited to-Slim Fast, Weight Watchers, South Beach, Atkins, Body For Life, Military Diet and there's probably a few more. All had some kind of restrictive nature to it, or had me obsessively counting carbs, calories or protein, eating or drinking something that had way too many synthetic ingredients (which tasted crappy by the way). This yo-yo dieting schedule usually left me mentally exhausted-still chasing the weight loss dream to perfection.

Here's where it changed..

Food allergies were a wake up call. Thirteen years ago, it was a huge struggle with limited resources and food items. It took a lot of work, dedication, education and patience to achieve a new level of normalcy. As a result, my focus began to shift from dieting to keeping my child safe. The importance of food and its effects became my priority. This isn't to say, I swapped one anxiety out for another, it just means that I began to appreciate food more, and what it meant to treat my body with the respect it deserved. However, as time went on and I began to get a hang of things, like most people, I began slipping back into old ways of thinking, again with my determination to rid any "fluffiness" I had acquired.

Five year's ago, my daughter got sick. After months of trying to figure things out and a long week of hell at Georgetown Hospital, she was finally diagnosed with Crohn's disease-an autoimmune disease. This is where your immune system attacks your small intestine making it impossible to absorb any nutrients. My daughter was 35 lbs underweight, weak and very sick. During those few weeks, I lost 12 lbs-I didn't really eat at the hospital because I never left her side even to go run down for a sandwich.

I was suddenly very thin myself. I did it! I lost those pesky 10lbs and was wearing a size 4-but I wasn't happy in the least. In fact, my daughter's diagnosis was two weeks before her bat mitzvah- a milestone life cycle event. I had nothing to wear so I bought a suit which only came in a size 4. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and then I remember sliding down the wall of the dressing room in a miserable heap-crying. The weight loss didn't take away the pain from my daughter's diagnosis away or any of the hurdles, struggles, or lifetime implications the disease brings. I hurt, I was sad and angry and it didn't matter whether I was a size 4 or my usual 8.

Over those next few weeks, I continued to lose weight. My appetite completely gone. She was now on a very restricted diet and I felt guilty that I could eat anything-so in solidarity I didn't.

Eventually, we found a rhythm. I started to eat again and made it my mission to find things she could eat and enjoy. At one point, she had lost all interest in food. I diligently worked through her limitations to get her to like food again and somewhere along the way, I began to enjoy food again as well. I wasn't counting, or obsessing because I now focused on nourishing foods that would keep us all healthy and interested. Her food restrictions were eventually lifted and we thankfully achieved remission-we began to add in more things that she once loved and slowly over the last two years, she achieved a healthy weight.

My thoughts on food and body have shifted dramatically these last five years. I no longer obsess over calories and I finally stopped feeling guilty for eating a cookie. I eat what makes me feel good and that includes chocolate, and a latte! I nourish myself with lots of veggies, fruits, complex carbs, lean meats and some dairy. I don't cut out whole food groups and I try avoid synthetic foods. Some days are better than others.

Each of us that struggle with our weight have different reasons why we struggle. My quest for the "perfect" body put some much obsessive stress on me mentally, that I often went off the rails. My sons food allergies and my daughter's diagnosis gave me a shot of reality. It's not about the weight, or perfection, rather, taking care of ourselves and feeling nourished and whole-body and mind. This is my goal when I work with clients-whether it's a cooking demo, one on one, or speaking engagement. My tag line MatzoBall Fitness...Because You Can Eat Healthy and Still Have a Ball is my mantra. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and whether you have food restrictions, allergies, etc... or not, there can be a beautiful balance.

Nourish yourselves, love your family and live to the fullest.


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