About Me (Tiffany) ((obviously))
I used to wake up at noon every day, hungover + exhausted.
Breakfast was cigarettes, fast food + coffee. Then I'd lounge around for a few hours, probably watch a movie, but definitely do nothing substantial. Eventually, I'd shower + get ready to go sling drinks at a local strip club. As soon as I'd get to work, I have a drink, eat something greasy from the kitchen, then snort the first of many lines of cocaine.
The next 8 hours would fly by as I'd progressively get more wasted. Around 2 or 3 am, I'd go to an after-hours club until the sun came up + I was finally ready to drag my ass home. The next day I do it all over again.
I lived like that for over a decade.
At almost 30 years old, I was underweight, malnourished + almost always hungover. I constantly had a lit cigarette in my hand, a chronic runny nose, a mouthful of decaying cavities, irregular + painful menstrual cycle, cysts in my ovaries that would painfully rupture, nail beds that would peel + bleed, thinning hair, high cholesterol, no muscle tone, + no confidence.
To say that I didn't give a damn about my health is putting it lightly. I was neglecting and abusing my body without ever considering the damage I was doing to my ability to earn money, enjoy my relationships or pursue my dreams.
Hopefully, you've never been quite such a hot mess, but maybe you've lived in a similar state of unawareness and poor self-care - feeling like it was hard enough to just get by, held down by the weight of it all, breaking your own heart by consciously ignoring your own minimum, common-sense care.
I wanted to be better, I really did, but every time I thought about how many things I wanted to change, I'd get so overwhelmed that I gave up before I ever got started. I wanted to be better, but every time I thought about not going to my favorite restaurants with my friends, the feeling of loneliness stung me so badly that I thought I'd be happier staying as I was.
The whole idea of changing my lifestyle felt like it was just too difficult, too painful, too complicated, too time-consuming, too restrictive, too isolating, too boring, + hey, I was just trying to live my life + have a little fun before I die so get off my back why don't ya?
It wasn't until I got my second DUI that I realized I had to make a change. Yes, SECOND. The first I brushed off as a fluke, a childish mistake (one of too many, looking back). But when I got the second, I had to face the fact that I was in real trouble & if I didn't get my act together I was going to end up a big fat l-o-s-e-r (just like they said I would). It was a difficult moment for me to say the least.
When I thought about my actions + all the time I spent acting like an idiot, I felt stupid + worthless. There were red flags the whole way along + I completely ignored them. Everyone around me ignored them because they loved me, loved spending time with me + didn't want to rock the boat. I was in complete denial + no one around me was calling me out.
It had been easier to keep going as I was than to change course (it always is), the cost of that mistake was high (it always is) & I paid dearly for it (we always do). I ignored my problems for too long + finally had to face serious consequences.
In healthcare, we hear stories like that every day... Someone who ignored or justified too much weight gain + now has to face disabling, disease-causing obesity. Someone who ate all the sugar + saturated fat they wanted + now has to face heart disease, diabetes or Alzheimer's. Or someone who ate meat at every single meal for their own life + now has to face kidney failure.
I wanted so badly to become the woman I was created to be. I wanted to do work I was proud of. I wanted to be someone others could look up to. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to feel sexy inside + out. I wanted the healthy glow that makes a woman stand out in a crowd.
As I started to take full ownership of my health, there were a few issues:
- I had no health insurance. I didn't have access to any support, medical, emotional or otherwise, so I was going to have to work my issues out on my own.
- I had no healthy role models. No one around me was living the kind of life I wanted to live, there was no one for me to emulate, so I was going to have to figure it out on my own.
- I was dead broke. I wanted to change my diet, but every book and blog I read talked about organic vegetables, pastured meat, a $700 Vitamix, $100 supplements + I couldn't afford any of that, so I was going to have to make it work on my own.
There was no way around it - I dug my hole, it was deep af, and I was going to have dig myself out of it. I had to create the pathway to the results I wanted + it had to be something that I could stick to, starting from the beginning, with absolutely zero experience.
Slowly, I started changing my habits. It was NOT EASY.
I had to make MYSELF the priority + not in the closed-off, selfish way I had doing for so long. I had to learn how to let go of the stinging guilt I felt when I disappointed the people around me as I slowly started to change how I showed up in my relationships.
I had to sort out my mixed feelings. I learned to prepare myself for the awkwardness of other people's resistance + still trust the people I knew honestly loved me.
"Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind!" (Dr. Seuss)
I had to heal the damaging memories + harmful old beliefs of the past. It's an ongoing process but I've found a few super-effective tools that really work wonders.
I started practicing yoga + fell in love with it; to this day, it's my favorite way to move. I loved it so much that I took a few workshops at the local Urban League + they granted me the tuition for a 200-hour training so I could become a teacher. But after just a couple months I realized that I was a much better yoga student than teacher + decided to quit teaching.
So, I started to think about what else I might be interested in + by that time I had read a hundred books about nutrition + had an obvious passion for it, so my mom generously paid my tuition for the Institute of Integrative Nutrition + I got certified as a nutrition coach. I loved it + I realized that a lot of the little things I started doing intuitively over the years were exactly correct!
I started customizing diet plans + was really excited about building a coaching business, but after just a couple weeks I realized that no doctor's offices would ever refer their patients to me unless I had a license to practice nutrition.
Just like that - BOOM! - I was stuck. Again.
I had to make a decision, do I start pushing out applications, or do I push through, embrace the journey + go to college for the first time - as a 30-something ex-cokehead with a record + a history of failing every math + science class, who's finally chasing her dreams for the first time.
I chose the latter. On my first day, the girl sitting next to me was 17 - exactly half my age - + it triggered every single one of my insecurities, but I turned it into fuel for the fire.
While pursuing my bachelors of science in dietetics + nutrition, I took biology, microbiology, chemistry, advanced chemistry, biochemistry, advanced biochemistry, food science, statistics, + research methods.
I earned a 4.0 GPA, Dean's List recognition, a nomination to the ICUF Presidential Fellowship, + the respect + friendship of all my peers. 🙂
Now I'm excited to wake up in the morning! In November, I'll take my board exam to become a Registered Dietitian + I'll make a meaningful career inspiring healthy breakthroughs in others.
I've been able to apply what I've learned + I’ve been a happy 126-131 lbs., 22-25% body fat, for the last 10 years, even without eating “organic” or “clean” (gasp!). My blood lipids are in healthy balance, + my resting heart rate is athlete-fit, below 60, even without being an intense exerciser.
At 38, I'm the happiest, strongest + most able I've ever been. Needless to say, my days are very different. I wake up full of energy + purpose around 6am, + every day the Lord shows me how to trust Him more + better let him guide my way.
It's a sharp contrast to my life "before" - but that girl would've ended up with cancer or a stroke or worse, probably wouldn't have landed a good man, + would've definitely lived a life of pain + regret. I don't even know that girl anymore.
Even with all my struggles, I wouldn't change much of my journey. After all, it led me here, to this place in time. And here is where I get to see you + meet you exactly where you are, to show you the simplest path to your most brilliant self - because I've been all-the-way there + back, + I know the way through.
I'm currently paying my dues to become a Registered Dietitian and plan on earning a masters degree in Family Science. My dream is to enrich the lives of families & individuals facing a diagnosis through thoughtful diet & lifestyle choices.
BS in Nutrition and Dietetics, Keiser University (Graduation & licensure 2019)
Certified Holistic Health Coach, The Institute for Integrative Nutrition
Certified Yoga Teacher, The Yoga Connection
Certified Sleep Science Coach, The Spencer Institute
That diet isn't the best place to start a big lifestyle change, because it's too difficult & emotional. And besides, if your lifestyle is ruining your body's ability to absorb nutrients, the time & money you spend on fresh food is wasted anyway.
That healthy eating is simple but not easy. Experts overcomplicate it because it makes you feel like you need them to do it "right" (hint, you don't).
That healthy eating patterns start in the home, with the family.
That every US citizen should have access to healthy food & healthcare (among other things), and our public policy should care for those who struggle.
My nutritional philosophy:
Finding the answer to the classic question "what should I eat?" isn't as complicated as the interwebs might make you feel like it is.
Personalized nutrition based on your DNA may be the hottest trend in nutrition right now, but the truth is that our diets are more alike than they are different.
The fundamental nutrition rules of adequacy, balance, calorie restriction, nutrient density, variety, and moderation apply to healthy people everywhere. Everyone's body is built to run on unrefined carbohydrates, healthy fat, and protein. Where people differ the most is in needs, goals, culture, geography, and preference.
The best diet and lifestyle plan is one that suits your personality. If you're a hard-lined Type A, then very clear & fixed boundaries may be for you. If you're an easy-going Type B, then a more intuitive & flexible approach might be best. There is no one right answer for everyone.
Personally, I like to call myself a meat-eating vegetarian. While I eat mostly plants, I invest in high-quality meat and I almost never turn down any food served with love. I enjoy a simple & traditional eating style that feels good and leaves room for the indulgences I love.