My journey began the winter of 1995 (a few months before I became pregnant with our first child) while watching an episode of Oprah, featuring Dr. Andrew Weil an integrative physician. Intrigued, I later bought his book, “Eight Weeks to Optimal Health” and followed the plan. Those eight weeks forever changed the path of my lifelong journey.
Let me explain why my journey was and is so wonderful. Previous to my Oprah “a ha” moment, I had always led a very active life involved in sports, outdoor activities or workingout. I was a trainer at President’s Health Club, a lifeguard and taught swimming lessons at the YMCA. I considered myself “healthy” because I wasn’t overweight and I didn’t feel bad, sick or have any reason to think otherwise. My parents had coded me genetically to not have problems with weight, NO MATTER WHAT I ATE. I never thought twice about the food that entered my body, so you can only imagine what I indulged in for 30 years. If the food was fast and cheap, I was eating it. My gauge – FLAVOR! My food attractions were greasy, creamy, fatty and heavily processed. I didn’t know any better. I did what everyone else around me was doing.
While the bad eating habits lasted a better part of my life, the book initiated a whole new way of thinking about food and it’s importance for my body. Embarking on this journey, indirectly included my husband and four children along the way. I adopted a lifestyle with hopes that I could reverse the tremendous damage done from an extremely poor diet and set a good example for my children to follow. What made me make the shift? It is simple. I learned about how eating an apple, a few carrots or a handful of cashews (for example) provides incredible phyto-nutrients, vitamins and minerals – essential for my body to function how God designed it to function. I made small easy adjustments and I FELT BETTER. The irony is that I wasn’t even aware that I didn’t feel good until I started to REALLY FEEL GOOD. My energy level, mental clarity and immune response increased. I was lured, hooked and transformed into a new lifestyle. I am now passionate about food and its process from seed to stomach; which makes the food taste more delicious than ever.
My journey has taken me on many different paths, one of which led me to become completely allergy medication free. I feel so fantastic without all of those nasty meds! For the first time in many years, I am clear of congestion, I’m not suffering from sinus infections or headaches and I can fully inflate my lungs to capacity without coughing or the use of an inhalant. I do not have to live in fear of trees, grasses and all the other allergens that testing revealed as the enemy.
Another path is attending the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. There I learned about various dietary theories and applying a holistic (the whole person) approach to living well. God graciously supplied all of the tools for the upkeep of my earthly vessel: whole food, clean water, a vast environment for movement and His Holy Word.
My current path has directed me in my 4th year studying at The Science & Art of Herbalism with Rosemary Gladstar. I absolutely love creating tonics, medicines and home care products. Involving me even deeper, I work at our local apothecary, Homsted, with Chrissy and John Lee who are master clinical herbalists.
Daily I strive to make the best choices possible, however, because I am imperfect – I will make mistakes.
Paula Suarez, B.A., H.C.
Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners