Growing up in Southeastern Europe is something I look back to often. Most of the food we ate was farm to table and most meals were home cooked. We only ate out 1-2 times a year, if that! There was no such thing as a “ snack” or “dessert” after meals. We didn't have iPads, rarely watched TV and after school outside play and bike riding was a must on daily basis. We spent our summers and winters in our village house that is high up in the mountains where everybody only ate what grew in their yard, milk was from the cows we took care of and meat we ate was wild caught in the woods.
Fast forward to year 2000. I was 19 years old, in a foreign country where everything was super-sized, where eating out was the norm, and everyone drove everywhere because walking around was a burden.
In the first 6 months here, I gained over 10 lbs. and I would have gained even more if I didn’t have a fast metabolism. I smoked, my drink of choice was a Diet-Coke, and although my mom cooked, I loved fast food restaurants and would visit them often. After I started dating my childhood friend, and today my husband, Boris, I started cooking more but my diet was still very unhealthy. I enjoyed white flour bagels daily, sandwiches at lunch and endless bowls of home cooked spaghetti and meatballs at night.
I became a chronic dieter who began a new diet as soon as the last one stopped working. I went to the gym 5 days a week where I spent my time doing endless cardio. I created a vicious circle that lasted for years.
Fast forward a few years, I had 2 beautiful kids, Mia and Luka. I ate really well in both my pregnancies (because books said I should) and I made my own baby food (again, books). Interestingly enough, babies plates were much greener then mine!
It was not until my son turned 8 months that cards started reshuffling. I was exercising more and more (weight training was a big part of my life then, and still is) and I started reading, not only about workouts, but also about what exactly I was supposed to be eating. My husband, who had started his journey of losing over 50 lbs., and I supported each other and really embraced the new lifestyle of being active, nourishing the body in the right ways. Living healthier made us happier.
So did I discover a new and revolutionary way of living and eating? No. I just went back to what I used to eat growing up. More fresh fruits and vegetables, home cooked meals, high quality meat and dairy and less processed foods. My meals became smaller and my main hydration was water. I replaced most white flour foods with whole wheat and ancient grains, such as quinoa. The super-sized meat cuts were no where to be found at dinner time. Exercise became a daily routine in our household and weekends were filled with outdoor play and walks with kids, just like what I remembered from when I was little.
My interest in nutrition and health grew more and more and not only that I brought myself and my husband to a great physical and mental state but I also developed a deep passion for helping people feel the way I do. I discovered that I loved talking to moms and dads at kids' schools and sharing my ways on how to make kids' healthy lunches, how to balance work and kids and how important it is to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others better. I found out that I love helping people discover their love for food and to see exercise as a stress reliever and not as a chore. When I would get an email from someone saying, “Hey I tried what you suggested and it really worked and I am so happy”, that’s what made me smile and my heart pound. This is how I know I have found my true calling!
Soon enough, I decided to pursue my passion and I enrolled into Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). Being part of this school and community taught me many life lessons that I will cherish forever. It gave me tools that I did not have before, tools that I can use to do exactly what I love doing, which is helping people thrive and become their best!