Hi! I'm Stefanie, holistic health coach and founder of Evolve Well with Stefanie.
My health coaching career is the culmination of 20+ years of my own health journey, which included everything from body image issues & eating disorders to postpartum depression & anxiety to symptoms of Lyme Disease. I spent many years struggling upstream through the waters of these conditions, but through this process I found my personal definition of "health," and I want to help you do the same.
Since my teenage years, I was interested in nutrition and exercise as a form of weight control. It's the all-too-familiar story of yo-yo dieting and dragging myself to the gym and a refrigerator full of fat-free everything. I could spend hours--days, even--in bed. I was always tired. I spent so much time promising myself that tomorrow would be a new day. For years, I ran around in circles and managed to stay completely stuck. Things improved a little after I got married in 2008, but I was still obsessed with counting calories and dragged myself through workouts that I never enjoyed.
My interest in nutrition for health's sake didn't blossom until after the birth of my first daughter in 2011, when (like many moms) I became dedicated to providing her with the best nutritional foundation possible. It started small: I began buying some organic fruits and vegetables, reading ingredient labels, and casually followed a few wellness blogs. A few months later I started cooking more for our family and experimenting with plant-based recipes. I found an exercise regime that addressed my desire to connect with other people, provide stress relief, and most importantly, have some FUN. My transformations happened slowly and organically. One small change led to another. My health evolved, and at a pace that was appropriate for ME, in my life at that moment.
By the time my 2nd daughter was born in 2014, I was on the road to a healthier, happier way of life. But about 5 months postpartum, I was stricken with crippling anxiety and an onslaught of strange symptoms: numbness, tingling, burning, joint pain, visual disturbances -- the list goes on and on. I visited specialist after specialist to diagnose a condition that at different stages mimicked MS, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid dysfunction, PPD, fibromyalgia, and Lyme disease. I remained undiagnosed for over a year.
They say there is darkness before the dawn, and I have come to believe this is so. In the beginning of this very dark time, I was paralyzed with fear and doubt. I didn't know what was happening to me. At the same time, I had enrolled in IIN (Institute for Integrative Nutrition) in an effort to integrate my passion for health with a desire to heal my body through nutrition. I dove into food-as-medicine with a new kind of gusto. I nourished my body with the foods it needed to thrive and heal itself.
When I was finally diagnosed with Lyme Disease in 2015, everything made sense. I realized that my immune system had been under attack and that I needed medical treatment to fully heal. But I also realized that I had been taking care of my body all along: in a way that doctors scratched their heads at, I was experiencing more vibrancy and energy than ever. I was raising 2 kids, working part-time, completing my IIN certification, managing my home, dealing with a mystery illness, and yet I felt like I could run a marathon on top of it all. My sleep was rock solid. In many ways, I felt healthier than I'd ever felt before.
The most important thing I learned on my journey to wellness was that health is not just about nutrition. IIN introduced me to things like yoga, meditation, and the mind-body connection. It emphasized the importance of spirituality and relationships and self-esteem. It nudged me, gently, to learn balance in all areas of life. This was my turning point. I had not signed up for a complete lifestyle overhaul. I had not expected it. But it was exactly what I needed. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, I became stronger and more whole. This is the transformation upon which my program is based.
Today, I have three girls (my youngest was born in 2017) and I continue to evolve every damn day.
I now embrace "Health at Every Size" and I lean away from deprivation diets and highly controlled food plans (with the exception of a true allergy or disease process that calls for nutritional restrictions).
It is important for me to say here that I am NOT perfect, and that I have struggles like any normal human being. I consider myself a "Success-in-Progress" because we always have room to grow and to keep evolving. And I am loving the journey.