June 21st 1995, the day I came into this magical world. It took a few days but my parents final settled on a name. From that day forth I was to be known as Marie Nicole Wilson. Youngest of three and continually full of energy.
I look back on my years as child with such fondness and gratitude. I genuinely believe that I had an absolutely wonderful upbringing full of love, laughter, and adventure spent outdoors. From skiing at the local mountain to going of vacations where we would bike and hike, I never once felt like being active was something I consciously thought about. I had more energy than I knew what to do with which often led to my parents telling me run laps around the house outside. I now see what I thought of as a competition with myself was a clever tactic to get me out of the house; well played mom and dad.
In terms of food I never thought about it that much if I’m being honest. I ate whatever my parents fed me and didn’t think twice about what it was or where it came from. My love of sports greatly influenced my childhood; going straight from a basketball game to soccer practice and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Growing up I was always the “small” one. I was extremely short and thin and had the appetite of someone twice my size. I didn’t mind being small, in fact I liked it quite a bit. I found people often underestimated me which I particularly enjoyed using to my advantage when it came to sports. From the time I was 3 until 18 I was involved in sports. Never once thinking about my body or the food that fueled it. But the summer before college that all changed.
I had been experiencing some serious back pain, and I mean like BRING ME TO TEARS sort of pain. I tried heating pads, ice packs, ibuprofen, and tylonel but nothing seemed to alleviate the pain. I remember going on a final family trip before I went off to college. As we waited to be seated at a restaurant I broke down in tears, unable to bear the pain. Now as the youngest of three children I definitely have a track record for being the “kid who cried wolf” so I most certainly don’t blame my family for thinking I was begin a bit dramatic about the whole thing. The next day our family went bungee jumping (like I said we enjoy an adventurous vacation). In hind sight this probably wasn’t the best decision and I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m lucky to not have done some serious damage or become paralyzed.
A few weeks later I made the short trek down to Portland, beyond stoked for the next chapter of life. The first weekend was full of ice breakers, awkward encounters, and late nights making new friends. However, every day I was still struggling not to cry out from back pain. When I told my parents this they made sure that I went and got a MRI just to be safe. At the time my sister was a senior at the same college. Thus, one of her close friends drove me to the other side of town for the MRI as I laid there anxiously, just wanted to get back to school. Five minutes after leaving the doctor’s office I got a call telling me that I needed to check into a hospital ASAP. “Okay”,I said, my voice trembling as I fought back the tears. It wasn’t until 3 days later that it was confirmed I had osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone, in one of my vertebrae. Now this is common in 65-year-old males who have recently had back surgery, so why the hell was a relatively healthy 18-year-old girl suffering from this? Well my friend your guess is as good as mine. To this day the doctors don’t have a clue how this came to be.
Once they knew what had been causing me to experience so much pain, I was given a PICC line in my arm. For all of you non-healthcare people a PICC line is a thin catheter that is inserted in a large vein in my arm. This PICC line was then hooked up to some heavy-duty antibiotics that were pumped to my heart and throughout my body. I spent the next month of my college experience carrying around what looked like an industrial fanny pack full of antibiotics that I was hooked up to 24/7. Needless to say, it wasn’t the most ideal college experience. After that I got to ditch the fanny pack and pump drugs into my PICC line just a few times a day. At long last I had the PICC line removed which was immediately followed by 4 months of oral antibiotics multiple times a day.
Now I don’t say this to have a pity party because I recognize how lucky I truly am. My illness could have been MUCH worse or I could have not been able to afford the care I needed (thanks parents). But this was quite a rough start to my college experience.
When I first got admitted to the hospital and received the PICC line, I was told that I wouldn’t be able to workout (or let alone sweat) for many months. THIS is what was the hardest part for me. I had so many hopes of joining intramural teams, going on runs around my new town, and trying new forms of fitness with my friends. Instead I was told to not got faster than a brisk walk and make sure I didn’t consume any alcohol.
As the weeks turned into months, I slowly began to accept this new form of reality. I still had a great time at college, full of laughter, adventure, and copious amounts of rather unhealthy food. By the time I was FINALLY off of the antibiotics I realized I had gained the infamous freshman fifteen. I was no longer the skinny girl I had grown so accustomed to seeing in the mirror. I was physically weaker and slower than I had ever been and I began to start overanalyzing EVERYTHING. I remember searching for diet plans and ways to lose weight which only further perpetuated the thoughts inside my head. When I wasn’t eating a bland salad, I found myself indulging in ice cream, alcohol, and bacon grilled cheese sandwiches. I went to the gym rather inconsistently, lifting weights and doing HITT workouts because that’s what I thought I had to do. On top of it all 6 months of antibiotics had done quite a number on my digestion. I was constantly experiencing stomach pains, indigestion, and acid reflux.
Now this went on for about a year. And while I can say that I never had an eating disorder I would say that I did have some disordered eating. Food and fitness weren’t always on my mind but they were thoughts that I had at least once a day. As time went on I began to do something radical; I listened to my body.I stopped going to the gym so much and started running again, something that made me one happy gal! I began to figure out which foods were the worst for my indigestion and slowly started cutting them out of my diet.
Around the same time, I began to learn more about vegetarianism. It was something that had always interested me and I began to make the connection to the food I was eating and the animal it was coming from. I saw steaks as cows, ribs as pigs, and fried chicken as the chickens we had growing up. I vividly remember sitting on bed, the night before we had to move out of the dorms my sophomore year, watching a documentary called Cowspiracy and deciding in that moment that I was going to become vegetarian. I stopped eating meat for the animals and for the environment. However, just a few days in I began to notice a significant improvement in all of the gut issues I had been experiencing for the past year and half. Turns out meat was the top trigger for my sensitive little stomach.
A few months later I returned to school, feeling better than I ever had while not eating animals and training for my first marathon. I remember crossing the finish line to the Portland Marathon that October feeling amazed and grateful for my body. I’d only been able to work out/ run for the previous 15 months and I had never felt more thankful for what my body was capable of. Over the next year I began to become more immersed in running and nutrition, not from a place of self-loathing but from a place of self-love! Summer after my junior year I had the wild idea of seeing just how much my mind and body were capable of, so I signed up for a 50-mile ultra-marathon. When I crossed the finish line of that race I was overcome with happiness. I realized I was SO much stronger than I previously thought I was. Not only was I able to complete the race but I did so without needing to eat animal products; a true win win in my books.
As I began my fourth and final year of college I began to research, read, watch, and learn more about veganism. I figured that being vegetarian was “good enough” but was curious about what this whole plant based vegan movement was all about. I also realized that I still experienced some minor indigestion when I ate cheese, milk, ice cream, and yogurt (I was never really into eating eggs, always just seemed a bit odd to me). I soon learned that just because a chicken laid eggs or a cow produced milk didn’t mean that they lived happy joyous lives like the pictures portrayed at the grocery store. I now understood that cows only
produced milk after they were involuntarily impregnated, only to have their baby calves taken away from them moments later. If the baby cow was a boy it was either killed or sent away to gain a few pounds only to be killed for veal. Suddenly EVERYTHING made sense.I knew that I personally could not know this information and continue to eat dairy. For whenever I saw cheese or milk I saw the pain and suffering that the animal had to endure. I therefore decided to make the switch from vegetarian to vegan and haven’t looked back since.
Getting to where I am today was most certainly a process. I now eat a whole foods plant based diet because it makes me feel SO DAMN GOOD. I don’t struggle from digestive issues and I genuinely LOVE moving my body. I do what makes me happy which often includes trail running, hiking, biking, skiing, swimming, climbing, and yoga. I eat delicious food and don’t stress or restrict myself when it comes to indulging in tasty vegan treats.
I became a health coach because I KNOW all too well what it feels like to be struggling;to feel overwhelmed by the thought of wanting to live a healthier lifestyle. As corny as it may sound, I believe that health is a journey and not a destination. And while diet and exercise are part of our health as a human, they are most certainly not all there is to it. You could eat all the kale in the world but if you are in a career you hate or struggling with your self-worth, you will never be able to reach your peak health. To me holistic health is about approaching someone’s health in a personalized and multi-dimensional way. What works for me may not work for you and THAT IS TOTALLY OKAY. I work with women and help them to get to the root issue of why they are struggling. For me it was a lack of self-love for my body and all that it does for me. Now I wake up full of gratitude for what my body is capable of. I fuel my body in a way that lets me thrive. Once I began to heal my relationship with myself, everything else began to fall into place.
Now I guide other women to tap into their inner wisdom so they can reach their peak. So, are you ready? CLICK HERE and let's connect, because the best time to make a change is right now!
Interested in going vegan?
(Check out Cowspiracy on Netflix)
FORKS OVER KNIVES
101 REASONS TO GO VEGAN
THE BEST SPEECH YOU WILL EVER HEAR