Contributor, Kara Stout, shares her personal story that led to her becoming a nutritionist and inspired her decision to work with women to prioritize their health, self-care and well-being. Read on for her story and encouraging takeaways.
Because we are celebrating health and wellness this month on Glitter Guide, I thought I would share my personal story of why I became a nutritionist and wellness coach. Really, my hope is to encourage you in some way through what I share, whether that is to inspire you to make those health changes you’ve been wanting to make or whether it is to have the courage to improve your career or make a career change that will feed your soul.
The road leading me to where I currently am in my career as a nutritionist has been full of twists and turns, ups and downs.
Two major life events fueled my desire to study nutrition, health and wellness.
A little more than 10 years ago, my father was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away three-and-a-half months later. In addition to the shock and heartbreak, I couldn’t help but think, “What caused this? Was there anything he/we could have done to prevent this or reverse this or stop it?” I didn’t immediately jump into studying nutrition, but it sparked a deep interest in me to find out if there is anything we can do to decrease our chances of battling cancer or preventing it or any health-related diseases for that matter.
Fast forward three years after my father passed away and exactly one month after I got married, I had a spontaneous carotid artery dissection at the age of 29. This is definitely rare, especially being so young.
Let me paint a quick picture of how my life looked at the time this happened. I was living in Chicago as a school counselor in a public school with three job titles feeling miserable and completely overwhelmed. I was working way beyond my paid hours and wasn’t even providing much counseling—I was mainly doing tons of paperwork and test administration. I would often miss lunch and then come home at night and eat supposedly “healthy” microwave dinners, definitely not ideal and not nourishing in the least. I would also get migraines constantly because of the high amount of stress I was under.
My body could only take so much. The night I had my carotid artery dissection, I was 10 minutes into my spin class, and all of a sudden I thought I was going to faint. I have never fainted before, but knew something was off. Luckily, the gym was across from where we lived so I left class and called my husband to come home. I kept sitting down and standing up to see if anything was changing, I felt numb and tingly in my arms and legs. By the time my husband came home, I could not use my phone as the numbers were blurry and ran together. I also could only see one of my husband’s eyes, so I knew my vision was off and knew it was a serious injury affecting my brain.
My husband rushed me to the hospital where they asked me a bunch of questions like my birthday, and I couldn’t provide the information to the nurse. It was like I knew what my birthday was but I couldn’t retrieve it and tell her. As I write this, I know this must sound so scary, but oddly I was very calm during the whole experience.
We spent 12 hours in the emergency room, running tests, scans and an MRI until they finally figured out what it was. The doctor explained that although I had the symptoms of a stroke, I did not have one. They also could not give me a clear cause of why it happened. I spent the next five days in the hospital and luckily, I did not have to have surgery, but was on blood thinners for three months, which allowed it to heal on its own. I can’t tell this story without sharing how much I felt God’s protection and peace throughout this whole experience.
I ended up taking a medical leave from work, which allowed me not only to heal but also time to reflect and think through what I really wanted to do with my life. I had gone to graduate school for counseling and followed the path I thought I was supposed to take, as a school counselor.
After my medical leave, I decided to go back to school and study nutrition to become a certified holistic nutritionist. My master’s degree in counseling definitely still comes in handy as well when coaching women on building a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.
Not until this event, did I finally take the time to think about how I really wanted to serve others and how I wanted to spend my time and energy each day. Although very scary, this event turned out to be such a blessing in my life. It fueled my desire to empower and encourage women to truly prioritize their health and wellness. If we neglect our health, it will affect us one day one way or another.
Many clients do come to me for weight loss, but it’s so much more for me. I want to help them feel healthy, full of energy and overall really good in their bodies. Women are too special not to take good care of themselves.
Life really is short. Days seem to fly by more than ever before. It may sound trite, but it makes all the difference when we are living each day to the fullest, happy in what we are doing, serving others well, and feeling full of life and energy. When we are feeling healthy and content, we are kinder to others, and it helps us to be the best employee, boss, friend, sister, wife and overall person we can be.
It can be really tough to be positive or pleasant when we are not properly taking care of ourselves. When we feel unhealthy and unsatisfied, it can affect every aspect of our lives. Trust me, I know from experience. Even now that I’m in a career that I love, I have to be careful and continue to focus on my health and well-being so I don’t get burnt out, otherwise, I can’t support and love others to the best of my ability.
I hope by sharing my story, it encourages you in a couple of areas:
- To really prioritize your health and wellness and not push yourself to the limits. Your precious body, mind and heart can only take so much hustle, lack of sleep and poor health choices.
- To encourage you if you’re in a highly stressful, disheartening work environment to begin to take steps necessary to reduce your stress and possibly speak to your boss about changes that could be made or to step out in faith and take a leap to that other career you’ve been pulled to or maybe within the same career but with a better company. Go for it!