I’d love to introduce myself and share a bit about my journey and how I got here. My name is Shanna and I’ve always had a passion for food, cooking, research and medicine. I’m smart and sassy, yet sweet and shy…When I was 15, I joined the local fire department on a dare from some of my guy friends who said a girl couldn’t handle it. Yeah…I won Junior Firefighter of the Year that year 😉 I still have my helmet, too! At 16 I started EMT training, and was licensed when I was 17. In 2003 I graduated from Virginia Tech with an honors degree in Biochemistry, and upon graduation was a PhD candidate in California researching stem cells as targeted cancer therapeutics – talk about amazing stuff!! Most recently I support infertility patients through their journey to parenthood using donor eggs, sperm or with a carrier, and help coordinate any of our ongoing clinical research studies. It wasn’t until my own personal journey to health and healing in 2012 while trying to discover the underlying causes of a variety of symptoms my children and I were experiencing that I found my way to starting my health coaching career.
A little more to my story: At the age of 27, I was diagnosed with early menopause….what!?!?! I was really healthy! And rockin’ it out with a personal trainer three days a week getting ready for my wedding when this all went down. I was devastated. Thankfully we were able to conceive naturally a short time later, and we were blessed with not one, but two beautiful miracle babies in the span of 2.5 short years. I miscarried in between, and it wasn’t until my daughter was safely in my arms that I stopped worrying about it happening again.
Fast forward 2.5 years, and my children who were ones who NEVER got sick suddenly had recurring respiratory infections, requiring ER visits (sometimes weekly..) and frequent nebulizer treatments. I was told they had severe allergies, asthma, bronchilitis….They were so YOUNG! My son was around 2.5 and my daughter only 18 months…It just didn’t make sense! I was also tired of feeling toxic and lethargic – my baby wasn’t a baby anymore, so why was I feeling like this!! And why couldn’t I lose weight?? I wasn’t a big caffeine person and when I found myself addicted to black tea to function in the morning I knew I needed to change something. I went to see a nutritionist and all she did was tell me to to eat 1200 calories a day and I’d lose the weight…when I asked if that was safe to do while doing the Insanity workout with Shaun T, she said it was fine and that I’d definitely start to trim down….smh… She also had some supplement recommendations, but I pretty much blew those off as I wasn’t a “pill person.” I wanted to know WHY this was happening to me so I could STOP it, or reverse it. I didn’t want to take something to mask the symptoms only to have something pop up down the road that was more serious. I tried the restricted calorie thing for about 2 weeks, and had never been so miserable. I never went back to her. I started researching different diet related theories more intensely, and continued this hunt during a family-run biggest loser competition set up by the mother of one of my girlfriends. I was frustrated that I was “eating healthy” and working my butt off, and not seeing real results. Would you believe I ended up winning, even after a sluggish start! I was the most surprised of everyone! I lost 14.93% of my body weight!! When the contest began, I was learning about the healing properties of whole foods – and it was after I identified food sensitivities I never knew I had – dairy, gluten and wheat – and removed them from my diet, in addition to processed foods, that the weight flew off. When I add those foods back in, I suffer. It isn’t pretty – physically, mentally, or digestively.
It was during the competition I realized I needed to go back to school so I could truly heal my family, and fill in the gaps in my knowledge because there is just too much information online, and I didn’t want to miss anything, or waste my time on hype. I needed structure and a guide. I also realized there was a career potential, where I could actually do something I love: help others heal!! In May 2012 I enrolled in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, and ended up putting my contest winnings towards my tuition. Ultimately, it was my own personal transformation that proved to me the healing power of food and proper nutrition on the body, and the confidence in knowing I can help others transform themselves through sharing what I have learned and experienced. We are all different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s called “Bio-individuality” – We are all unique – our personal nutritional needs are no different. And it isn’t just the food we put in our mouth that affects our health. The more time I spent in school and in the beyond since, the more I learn about the relationship between diet, lifestyle, emotions, stress and disease. It’s pretty amazing stuff!
Although I didn’t realize my interest in nutrition and passion for helping others would lead to a career change, my motivation in starting my health coaching business comes from the fact I KNOW what it feels like to feel sick and tired all the time – to feel uncomfortable in my own skin. To stress about how to feed the family, especially my children, and keep us healthy, only to see my best laid plans fail. I also know what it feels like to make changes in eating, lifestyle and exercise habits, leading to a remarkable transformation and discover what truly being healthy feels like! For probably the first time in my life that summer, I was proud of my body and even sported a bikini at the beach 😉 And I felt goooood in it! The last time I felt good in a bikini (not proud, but goood) had been my senior year of high school when I had taken a weight training class all year. I had moved my senior year from rural Pennsylvania to Northern Virginia (OMG – culture shock!!) and the school had one of those weird 6 day schedules – Day A-F, so every other week I was either lifting twice or three times a week for 90 minutes. I LOVED that class! So 1999-2012..that’s quite a leap in time from feeling comfortable in my skin again!
So in closing, I’d love to support you all on your journey to health and happiness – to help you create happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives. What better time to start than now! I’d like to invite you to a free health consultation where you can talk about your life, what you’ve always dreamed of, and the goals you’d like to accomplish for your health and wellness. It’s also an opportunity for you to be heard and to get a sense of what it feels like to have more support in your life. You’ll learn how to reach those goals by working with me. I work with clients in person, over the phone or over facetime/skype/google+ – whichever is most convenient. If you are interested, shoot me an email, or sign up below!
May 2015 be the year you take back your health and embrace the life and purpose you are destined for!