People who have known me during my adult life assume I came out of the womb eating smoothies blended with kale, bee pollen, chia seeds, spirulina, and tumeric. However, that is not the case! I grew up in a typical American home eating sodium-laden canned vegetables, frozen Tv dinners, butter noodles, and Captain Crunch cereal. During my early teenage years, I had my fair share of abdominal cramps, bloating, and irregular bowel movements, diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Even the Gastrointestinal doctor didn’t know that the simple prescription was in changing my diet.
In the year 2000, my life changed drastically after I attended the Canyon Ranch Summer Camp, highlighting nutrition, cooking, spirituality, physical conditioning, and healthy eating. I made my first trip to Whole Foods Market and experienced a well-rounded healthy lifestyle.
My health and nutrition journey continued during my enrollment at The University of Vermont, surrounded by local farms and green mountains, I sought out new information and new adventures every opportunity I got. I then attended Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, spending 4 years learning about the human body, metabolism, and maybe 1 or 2 nutrition classes thrown in the mix. After graduating from medical school, my residency solidified my nutritional education and gave me the reinforcement I needed to treat my body like a temple. I saw countless patients who battered their bodies through lack of exercise, drugs use, or poor diets. I saw their quality of life; one 30-year-old patient who became blind secondary to uncontrolled diabetes, other patients with missing limbs, bed-bound, comatose, unable to live their lives in any fulfilling way. I pictured myself in their shoes and vowed that I would never let that happen to me. I learned to respect my body and realized that I only have one shot to treat it correctly. If I chose to misuse or abuse it, the repercussions would be catastrophic.
In my last year of my Residency, I decided to further my education by enrolling in the University of Arizona’s Integrative Medicine Fellowship. I have been taught by many well-respected professors including Dr. Andrew Weil, Harvard-graduate and founder of Integrative Medicine, Dr. Siri Chand Khalsa, specialist in Ayurveda and Nutrition, and Sensai Koshin Ellison, co-founder of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, helping to relieve the suffering of those in hospice care. I spent a week out at the University of Arizona in April of 2016, and further connected to my spirituality and love for nutrition.
The last portion of my nutritional journey ended with Temple University’s Renaissance Periodization (RP) program, lead by C.E.O. Nick Shaw. RP focuses on the science behind nutrition and macronutrient ratios involved in body composition and athletic performance. I decided to read their book and use their theories to experiment with my own body and athletic performance. I suddenly put on lean muscle mass, increased my energy, recovered faster, and performed better. I was hooked!
I then molded and evolved all of my prior knowledge to form my own nutritional gestalt. A gestalt, for those Psychology nerds out there, is an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts. What I mean by “my own nutritional gestalt” is that I had to formulate my own nutritional guidelines using all of the knowledge that I have collected over the course of the past 17 years. I don’t follow one set diet or nutrition plan, but rather use pieces of information from each source that resonate with my body and my medical education, and this is what I focus on day-in and day-out.