Simple Changes for Long Term Wellness

Written By: Audrey Byker, Health Coach

When heavy drinking, smoking, late night partying, pizza binging and many other destructive decisions turned into my lifestyle less than 20 years ago, I watched a once balanced and healthy self-turn into a foreign, almost unrecognizable body, mind, and spirit.  As a post dedicated athlete, motivated by competition, sweat, endorphins and the true connection of team, I found myself dragging through the day, sleeping more and feeling—or perhaps forcing—myself into isolation (with a mother pushing St. John’s Wort).  It was at this time that the genius marketing schemes, promising a quick fix and therefore happiness to “love thyself”,  began to snag my attention, almost as much as the Natural Lite and Camel’s my friends and I managed to work retail to pay for.  

What I know now could have saved me a lot of abuse, self-destruction and many bad decisions along the way, but as the saying goes, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know” and there were a few lessons being had to create my story—or purpose for the holistic health coach I am today.  Something big needed to change, and the option of heading back to high school and begging for my spot on the basketball team was not the answer.  Apparently, coaches frown upon a party girl who graduated a few years ago?  The Slim Fast Diet, calorie restriction, over exercising, processed food vegetarianism (was that a thing?), Atkins, Body for Life, The Zone and eating zero fat among many, many more extreme and impossible dieting plans became my all-consuming and unbalanced obsession—believed to be the answer.  

As it turns out, deprivation leads to cravings, cravings to self-sabotage and self-sabotage to shame and guilt—only to cycle through again, and again, and again, left with a lifeless, depressed, anxious, lost and very nutrient deprived human. In talking with many—if not most—individuals in my coaching practice today; they’ve all been there in their own way.  In some aspects, it’s a right of passage, phase, step on the journey to nutrition as passion or simply part of growing up. Unfortunately, it’s not always that positive or short-lived and can often result in a lot of problems including eating disorders, addiction, hormonal imbalance, digestive disorders, insulin sensitivity, allergies, immune dysfunction, inflammation, thyroid issues, infertility, obesity, emotional eating and more.  When quality-of-life and longevity take a hit, it’s time to approach wellness differently!

There is still hope!  All of the struggles, experiments and lifestyle overhauls were the farthest thing from balance everybody is constantly striving to maintain.  What if drinking and late night partying is cut back to 1x per month or a glass of red wine after dinner a few nights/week was part of a self-care routine?  White flour and sugar-indulging every-other-week?  How would it feel to trade calorie counting for the challenge of adding in as many real food nutrients as possible?  To experiment 1x each week with a new recipe?

The simple change approach continues to pick up momentum and is helping so many individuals—as well as my own family—feel better and better over time.  While the all-in ways of the past can and do—with proper education, produce dramatic healing and results quickly, it’s rare to find the average American sustaining it as a lifestyle. 

Ditch that scale, grab another head of broccoli and toss it in your cart, walk a few more steps down the hall, take a day off of work just because, then watch your body mind and spirit transform.  Wouldn’t you like to taste the freedom with me?

Audrey Byker specializes in health coaching and has a background in education, whole food cooking, and supporting busy people on their healthy lifestyle journey. She received her education degree from Hope College and is a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Audrey believes the human body knows what it needs to thrive and is constantly sending messages about what is missing. There are many forms of nourishment and each individual has different needs. Helping clients discover their potential in all aspects of health is Audrey’s passion. She offers free 30 minute consults to interested clients.

* Audrey Byker, Health Coach is an independent practitioner within the Grand Rapids Natural Health office.

To see a list of Audrey’s services, please click here.