July 26, 2013
WHO ARE YOU, AND WHAT DO YOU WANT?
It’s graduation week for me! I’m in the final days of an amazing year of nutrition and health coaching school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. One of my teachers is the great Deepak Chopra, and those are his words up there. In a lecture the other day, he said: “If you really want to know someone, ask these two questions: ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What do you want?’” This is a story of figuring that out.
In 2008, I got sick.
Up until then, my asthma had been pretty well controlled, with the exception of an occasional puff on my inhaler. Suddenly, it seemed, in the middle of an extremely stressful year of nursing school, I couldn’t breathe. My allergies (once nearly non-existent) flared and post-nasal drip took up a seemingly permanent residence in my throat. Every day was a struggle to breathe. I was using my inhaler multiple times a day and experimenting with anti-histamines and such, but nothing was helping.
In middle school, after years of embarrassing sprints to the bathroom and popping Imodium AD more frequently than could ever be considered safe, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and prescribed Metamucil. (Lot of good that did me…) The symptoms persisted into adulthood. I’d learned how to manage it as best as I could: no greasy pizza, no raw onions, easy on the tomato sauce. Figure out where the bathrooms are as soon as you arrive. Don’t leave the house without the Imodium. Fun, right? There was no alternative. So I lived with it.
I also developed a severe case of acid reflux. Burning in my chest and throat, feeling like there was something stuck there, and constant belching and bloating. A pulmonologist told me it was the post-nasal drip – but that just didn’t make sense to me. The increased frequency and duration of bad colds? Yes. But the belching and burning? No.
Fancying myself a pretty healthy person, you can imagine my frustration, anger, and confusion. Where the heck did all this come from? It was like everything I’d ever experienced “just a touch of” in the past was roaring to the surface and kind of ruining my life.
That may sound dramatic, but if you’ve ever spent most of your day gasping (praying) for a full breath of air, every free moment Googling your symptoms and finding no answers, or you sought out and visited countless specialists who all told you they couldn’t find anything, or felt like you were way too young (and healthy?) to have all these problems and be taking all these medications that aren’t even helping – then you’d understand why I felt that way.
Over the course of three years, I suffered with intense, persisting flares of all these wonderful afflictions, the most troubling of which was the mysterious surge in asthma. I graduated from nursing school, moved, got a great job – and still, the symptoms remained.
I was depleted and depressed.
Home sick from work one day, I decided to watch a movie to distract me from my misery. Scanning my options on Netflix, I found Forks Over Knives. A woman giving a Vitamix demonstration in Pittsburgh had recommended it to me during a recent trip there to visit friends. I remember her telling me, “It’ll change your life.” I thought, what the heck, let’s see what it’s all about.
After that, everything changed (that lady wasn’t lying!). Forks Over Knives was so impressive that I honestly questioned its validity initially. I know very well that not all science is good science, so I had to dig deeper to be sure. It took many additional books, articles, and additional research for me to fully understand and accept this claim. I even took a course and got certified in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University. Gradually, I adopted a whole, plant-based diet for myself – and I began to feel the healthiest I’d ever felt: no asthma, allergies much less severe, colds shorter, digestive issues resolved, skin clearer, and even lost a few pounds.
I want others to experience the same thing I had - and to have access to the same information. What most affected me from the documentary was the work of several doctors practicing a “food as thy medicine” kind of medicine. Their results were impressive to say the least. I instantly knew that I wanted to be involved with this kind of work and needed to learn more. The time I’ve spent in healthcare has led me to believe that, generally speaking, the hospital and the traditional provider-patient relationship are not enough.
Real change requires a significant amount of education, support, and guidance along the way – and the typical hospital experience simply doesn’t allow for that. It also requires a holistic approach. I’ve found that something really amazing happens when you finally get healthy. You discover that health is not the end goal, but rather a vehicle – to living well and achieving your goals. You discover there is so much more to life than the school-work-stress-sickness cycle – and you find a way to break free. Food is powerful medicine. Of that there is no doubt. But there’s more to the story – so much more.
So, back to Deepak Chopra. Who am I? I am love, support, listening, encouragement, empowering, surviving, thriving, and grateful. And what do I want? Healing, happiness, and freedom – for everyone.
Katie Hussong is in LOVE with the Great Sage Vegan Restaurant and is constantly begging them to open a Baltimore City location. She’s a health coach, nurse, and teacher – and the founder of Gratitude Wellness. It is her passion to help big-hearted, giving people build lives of health, happiness, and purpose – without deprivation or restriction. If you are sick of being sick, and ready to feel more alive, live your vision, and tap into your purpose, then she’s your girl. From start to finish, she’s with you.
From now until August 15th, save 15% when you sign up for her signature One-On-One Coaching Program, a six-month transition to healthy living. Learn more at katiehussong.com.