It’s crunch time! It took some time to get here, with a few unexpected turns and detours, but I’m here and ready. I knew during the tail-end of my time at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition that I wanted to keep learning. I was on a roll and didn’t want to stop my momentum. I felt I was only at the tip of the iceberg of uncovering my passion for health & wellness, and the thought of it coming to a haltering stop was anything short of terrifying. Yes, undoubtedly, as practitioners, we learn more outside of the classroom than in it, but I knew I wanted to keep pushing forward in my studies.
This chapter, phase, time – whatever noun I put to it – of my life was new and revitalizing. I had put school off in my younger adult years for numerous reasons; fear, anxiety, uncertainty, trepidation, doubt, travel. But above all, I was scared shitless because I knew I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
As a young adult, I use to ramble off career options in my head and would feel this overwhelming heat sensation climb up my neck as I reached the end of that list and realized I was left feeling, at best, mildly intrigued; engineering – my brain’s not hardwired that way, business – heck no, psych – super interesting but.., accounting – me + numbers?…nope, human relations – hard no. It’s not to say that any of these jobs are bad, not at all, but for me, the thought of being in an office or crunching numbers filled my gut with anxiety. I knew right then and there that those career paths weren’t for me – no matter how many zero’s could’ve been at the end of my pay cheque.
In 2014, when I started Reaching for Greens, it served as a creative outlet. Having a blog of my own was always something I had dreamed about; sort of a distant dream that I never really thought would be put into action. When I finally did, I discovered more about myself with every post. My love for cooking deepened, my online tech-skills developed (after countless hours of watching ‘how to’ videos), my self-esteem rose from seeing the results of my hard work, and, finally, for once I was doing something for me; something that made me happy, where I called the shots.
I played around with recipes, made carloads of apple loafs and tossed a ton of dense, flavourless muffins. I ate curries for days on end and made enough soups to feed an army. Some recipe testings were epic fails, while others succeeded. I learned new techniques and strengthened old ones. It was one of the best things I could have done for myself. Some people throw paint on a canvas, while others get creative in the kitchen. I definitely fall in the latter group. This chapter was exciting because I was discovering more about myself every step of the way.
When I came across of The Institute of Holistic Nutrition something shifted, something felt right. Like those shape sorter toys for infants, all my pieces started to fit; the square fit the square slot, and the triangle, the triangle. The classes were captivating and I was left with a hunger for more material. For once in academic my life, I had found something I was passionate about. Fast forward towards the end of my time as IHN, and I felt a sense of panic that my classroom time was winding down. I know I had more to learn.
I had the honour of being nominated valedictorian by my peers and was asked to give a speech upon graduation day. Besides it being the most anxious day of my life (where I thought of 101 ways I could sneak out and run away without anyone noticing), it was equally the most rewarding and gratifying day, too. I knew I was safe in the hands of my supportive peers, alumni, friends and family. I ended by expressing my hope that our passions propel us to push beyond barriers and to uncover new depths; to never stop learning and to never stop striving to be our best. Leaving the hall that day, filled with boundless ambition, I knew I didn’t want that feeling to dissipate; that that stage wouldn’t be the last graduation stage I stood on.
During my 18 month in stay Toronto, I was faced with health issues that set off a alarms; amenorrhea, sluggish thyroid/adrenal glands, sleep disturbance & weight gain. Luckily, I had excellent nutritionists for teachers and ran my symptoms by them. It was suggested to place my vegan diet ‘on hold’ and to reintroduce clean, organic animal proteins back into my diet. This was to boost my sluggish thyroid and adrenals. Underactive thyroid = low energy = sleep issues = weight gain = amenorrhea. I quickly learned that the body works, and fails, similar to a domino effect. One problem causes another problem which causes another and so on. As practitioners, we aim to treat the root cause of one’s health issues, rather than silencing their symptoms. I learned it was a sweet cocktail of immense emotional and psychological stress, mixed with a massive drop in my caloric intake and an increase in alcohol consumption.
I learned that stress is more acidic and detrimental to your health than any junk food; and emotional and psychological upsets are heavy forms of stress. Pair that with a lack of nutrients and minerals to metabolize the effects of stress (adrenaline, free radicals, etc.) and you’re setting up a sweet line of dominos ready to fall. If you don’t nourish your body with the proper nutrients it needs, it slowly begins to leach nutrients from our bone, skin and hair. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Your body thinks, ‘hey, if I can’t get those nutrients from an external source (food), then I’ll have to take from my reserves’. And that’s what mine did. I had completely threw my system out of whack. This, of course, wasn’t on purpose. I had to remind myself daily that I was going through some heavy emotional stuff back then, and I coped to the best of my ability. But, I realized then, if I wanted to get my health back, I have to take my health back. I quickly introduce supplements into my daily routine to help support my system. I filled my diet with colourful, nutrient-dense foods and fell in love again with pasture-raised eggs & wild fish. I took on gentler forms of exercise (swimming, yoga, walking) than running/weight lifting. I read in bed until I fell asleep at 10pm. I drank more water. I learned to listen to my body and allowed myself days to do absolutely nothing. I didn’t push or pull at it. It was the first time I really listened to what my body was trying to tell me.
One day while getting my hair coloured, I was talking to my technician and we were sharing life experiences & our similar health issues and she mentioned acupuncture. No, she swore by acupuncture. She had been receiving acu treatments and said it had helped her leaps and bounds. I had only one previous experience with acupuncture and it was in Bali during my yoga teacher training in 2013. We were given a complimentary treatment and I fell it love with it that day. I didn’t have any health issues at the time, but I asked for something to help calm me down; a deep relaxation from the many hours of physical practice we were doing each day. So, she put a few needs on my face and neck and a few other places and that’s the last thing I remember. I had knocked out and the 45-minute session felt like a snap of the fingers. Upon waking, I felt so rejuvenated, like I had taken a 5-year nap.
I took her recommendation and went online and booked a consult with Eight branches. What I later discovered is that I had booked my appointment at the Eight Branches teaching clinic instead of with a licensed graduate. So, instead of playing the full price of $100+, it would cost $20. Three students meet with you, complete their patient intake, review privately and design a ‘treatment’ plan. They then take this to their teachers whom review and approve or tweak the treatment. Once approved, the students return to the patient and administer the needles. At the time, I, too, was graduating from IHN and was beginning my stage placement. I could empathize with the students and knew how it felt to be a rookie in your new career. I felt at home in that clinic and loved seeing all the students upstairs studying/learning. I loved how the students were taught other techniques under the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) umbrella, like Tui Na Massage, a massage aimed to stimulate acupressure points, which I received one during my second session. I quickly got the feels and, as the kids say, #fomo (fear of missing out) that this was something I needed to do. Oh, and if I didn’t call completely in love with acupuncture then, I got my period back after my second session! I had been trying for over a year with food, supplements, meditation, yoga, you name it. And, yes, perhaps it was a combination of those natural remedies, but in my heart of hearts, I knew it was the acupuncture that flicked the switch back on. I knew from that point on that I wanted to commence learning Traditional Chinese Medicine, more specifically, acupuncture.
I began the hunt, researching the best acupuncture schools globally. I had lived abroad before and knew I could swing it again, but this time solo. I looked at a few schools in Asia, one in South America, a few in Spain and all across Canada. I considered applying to Eight Branches in Toronto, but knew I didn’t want to live there again. I had checked that city off my bucket list and was time to try some place new. It was a toss up between two schools in British Colombia; one in the city of Nelson and the other, Victoria. My maternal grandpa lived in Victoria and we used to visit him back in the early 2000’s before his passing. I have only a handful of memories of Victoria, but could not forget the immense beauty of the nature and ocean that surround it. I’m a full on outdoorsy girl. Take me biking, hiking, camping – you name it, I’m game. The thought of living by the ocean again, surrounded by hiking trails less than an hour away filled my heart with absolute excitement. Not to mention, Vancouver and, well, BC itself is home to endless outdoor adventures!!! SIGN. ME. UP. It’s an extra plus that I will still in beautiful Canada and (relatively) close to my family. Just a 5 hr flight away. Peanuts.
The hardest part about leaving Montréal again is leaving my family. Since returning home in March, these past 8 months here has been the longest stretch of time I’ve spent in Montreal since moving away in 2012. I thought long and hard about staying and making a life here, but low key BC and acupuncture have been calling me. Leaving be very hard, though. I got used to driving out to see my folks 2-3 times a week, and Cooper, who I have to say is even more chummy with them, will be missed dearly. My parents fell in love with big Coops and the feelings are mutual. Coops is certainly a family dog; he wants to be were the action is and lying by my feet or my dad’s. My mom, who always said they wouldn’t get another dog, probably asks my dad 3 times a week if he’s keen on adopting a dog of their own. I was even asked by a family friend if I planned on leaving Coops here, which I immediately shut down. After all, BC was the main reason why I got him in the first place; for companionship while out there solo. This little guy has become my best friend. I can’t imagine life without him now. I can’t wait to discover Victoria with my little man and go on all the adventure hikes with him.
I managed to lock down an apartment online and saved myself a flight out there and back. Yeah, it’s risky signing a lease without seeing the place in person, but I went by the pictures and, I gotta be honest, it’s slim pickings out there. Victoria isn’t cheap, not as pricey as Vancouver, but the market is hot and apartment postings come and go daily. I packed up my apartment in Montreal and have put my belongings in storage in the meantime. Worse case scenario, I move again once I’m out there. I counted and, since 2011, I’ve moved 14 times including this BC trip. This girl knows moving, but she sure is ready for some stability.
I’ve been going back and forth choosing a departure date, but think I’ve settled on November 13th; 3 weeks. How crazy. I’m trying to squeeze in as much family time as I can before then; friends, too. Another exciting thing to look forward to is my adventure to BC. I’ve decided to drive across Canada with a friend and Cooper. I’m currently researching route options (through Canada or the States) and ‘must-see’ sightseeings along the way. I’ve already put my winter tires on because who knows what the weather will be like in the Prairies, more specifically, Calgary. I heard they’ve already received some snow. I think this is a limited opportunity, to drive across Canada, and I want to capitalize on it. I know it’ll be an adventure of a lifetime and it makes driving away from my parents house a little more tolerable. If only I could explain to Cooper that “the next 5 days will involve a whole lotta car time – but it’ll be worth it, bud.” <3 🙂
- 6-8 medjool dates
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 tsp maca powder
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- pinch sea salt
- 1-2 medium sized McIntosh apples, sliced using mandolin
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- pinch sea salt
- 1.5 cups cashews, soaked 2-8 hours
- 2 tbsp coconut butter
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 2 tbsp maple syrup OR 2 medjool dates
- 3 tbsp almond milk (or nut milk of choice)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp maca powder
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tsp cinnamon sieved overtop final product
- In a processor, blend base ingredients. You can choose to have a crunchy base layer or smooth. For a crunchy base, blend for 15-20 seconds, and for a smooth base, blend for a longer. Press into a 9" quiche pan. Note: I used a quiche pan with a removable bottom. This way, it is more presentable when you remove the outer rim.
- Place crust in fridge while preparing the apple layer.
- Using a mandolin, slice apples into whole rounds. Place apple slices in a bowl with lemon juice. Coat evenly. Note: the citrus helps keep apples from oxidizing and turning brown.
- Place apple slices on crust starting from the outer edge and working your way into the centre. Place back in fridge.
- In the food processor, mix all cashew cream ingredients until smooth. You may need to add more almond milk at this stage. Taste & adjust sweetness if desired. Pour cashew cream over apple layer.
- Using a sieve, sprinkle cinnamon overtop.
- Place in fridge for 30 minutes before serving.
- This raw goodie stays fresh in the fridge for up to 7-10 days!