Ask A Health Coach: Meet Michelle, Thrive's Resident Health Coach

October 7, 2015
by Michelle Pellizzon for Thrive Market
Ask A Health Coach: Meet Michelle, Thrive's Resident Health Coach

For most of my life, my health was an afterthought. As a kid, I wasn’t sick often, and even when I was training rigorously as a serious ballet dancer throughout my teens, I rarely had tendonitis or even sore muscles crop up.

So when I was diagnosed with epilepsy—a neurological seizure disorder—at 17, it was pretty shocking. And scary. I remember thinking it was strange that this relatively common ailment (1 in 26 people are diagnosed with seizure disorders) had no reliable cure other than a lifetime of medication.

I’m lucky. Other than a handful of prescriptions that left me with weight gain and insomnia, not being allowed behind the wheel of a car, and the advice to “not get too stressed” because it could trigger a seizure, my life didn’t change too much in the year following my diagnosis. And then I moved to New York City.

A broke college kid, I stumbled into a free yoga class after years of sidestepping the practice. I thought yoga was too boring, too slow, too easy, and I was already flexible enough, so obviously I didn’t need it. Wrong. Yoga slowed my racing mind and helped me deal with anxiety and stress that I couldn’t even pinpoint, plus it helped me get a full night’s sleep (without medication!) for the first time in years.

From there, things just started to happen. I started reading and learning about the effects of exercise and meditation on the body, and was amazed to learn that what we do to and put in our bodies actually has an effect on them, for better or for worse. Certification in yoga? Check. Sweet job in health and fitness where I trained athletes, supermodels, actors, and some awesome everyday folk? Check. Plus, a new understanding of how my health affected my diagnosis.

After attending the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I truly saw what a difference healthy living could make in my life and the lives of the people around me. Modern medicine is amazing, and like me, so many people are dependent on it every day. But there are additional ways that we can help heal our bodies.

Food can restore us in so many ways: It can make us stronger, it can give us energy, it can even help us manage our emotions.

And so can movement. Whether it’s from yoga, running, spinning, dancing, or lifting weights heavier than their body, I’ve seen my clients transformed mentally and physically when they started moving their bodies again.

But with all the diets, fitness fads, and alarmist headlines out there, it can be hard to navigate the waters of health and wellness on your own. And I know you’ve got questions. So that’s why I’m here—to help you create your healthiest and happiest life, one answer at a time.

Have a question about anything related to food, health, fitness, or wellness? Ask me in the comments below or on our Facebook page and I’ll answer here in this weekly column. I can't wait to hear what  you have to say!

Michelle Pellizzon received her bachelor's degree from New York University and is certified through Institute of Integrative Nutrition and the National Academy of  Sports Medicine.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho

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This article is related to: Ask a Health Coach, Diet, Fitness, Health, Nutrition, Wellness, Medicine

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  • Thornton Melon

    My feet hurt sometimes. Why do you think that is?

  • Melanie Pellizzon

    I have mild rosacea on my cheeks, and I've been using calendula oil in the morning and a calendula cream at night as recommended by a facialist, but it doesn't seem to be improving much. Any tips on what I should be using to reduce redness/irritation, especially with winter coming up?

  • Erica

    For the life of me, I couldn't fathom why for two weeks straight I had these crippling migraines. After I finally got up and went to the ER, the doctor told me the migraines were a result of constant stress. Of course they gave me medicine for the pain, but they weren't able to tell me how to limit my stress and ultimately, get rid of the migraines. Do you have any advice for a young woman (24) looking to reduce her stress load?

  • Yas Adam

    I've just moved to Texas from the UK and have a streaming nose - an allergy to something seasonal it seems. I have eaten healthily for many years - no gluten plus dairy and sugar free. Would love any tips on how to alleviate this! (Thank you!)

  • Mary Kay

    My 17-year old grandson grew about 6 inches in 6 months (!) and is now a bean pole. he plays basketball and seriously needs to beef up, but only by eating the right foods. do you have suggestions?

  • Linda McGlamory Kitchens

    I am 67 and doing the Virgin Diet elimination of soy, corn, gluten, dairy, peanuts, sugar and artificial sweetener. My doctor thinks my Hashimoto's may be related to my gut.. I have a history of EBV, h-pylori, IBS, restless legs, vascular insufficiency, chronic skin problems ongoing for 25 years high b/p, hypoglycemia, depression and more. I am committed to doing this and just completed 15 days. I have made some mistakes so after my two medical procedures next week which I have to do a bowel prep for, I am going to repeat the 3 weeks. Do you have suggestions to drinking water, black coffee and green tea? I am not craving cream, sugar or artificial sweeteners or anything and am glad to have them out of my system. y Is HINT water organic or meet the criteria? Any suggestions will be appreciated.

  • mj

    Hi! I'm having problems with muscle loss in my left leg. Which type of protein (hemp, whey, etc.?) do you recommend to best rebuild muscle? Thank you.

  • Tina S.

    I'm 27 and recently had a single level spinal fusion because of arthritis compressing nerves. I am an introvert and have depression (and very few mild anxiety attacks, no meds needed to overcome them). I'm currently in grad school and was working full time before surgery. However since surgery I have noticed that my depression seems worse (already on an antidepressant and had my dose increased a few weeks before surgery) and I am having frequent anxiety attacks (several per week) that are lasting longer (longest 2.5 hours, most around 30 minutes) and are requiring medications (sometimes my max dose) to return to a normal state. I have recently started experimenting with essential oils and have found several calming blends that I diffuse or apply topically daily. I do believe those have helped to a small degree but I continue to have the longer attacks. I have attempted meditation but can't stop my mind from racing during that time and it almost brings on an attack because I have time to think of everything. Do you have any suggestions? I have a lot of physical limitations right now (no bending) so I don't think yoga would be an option now. Any suggestions are welcome.

  • Jessica

    First, I'd like to say thank you for what you're doing. I believe in your cause. I'm one of the millions of people in the United States to be diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis -an auto immune disease that attacks the thyroid gland-and leaves me unable to effectively lose weight (despite healthy eating habits, steady exercise, and syntheroids prescribed by my conventional doctor.) There are many studies out there that believe a gluten-free diet is the only way towards remission. I'd like to know your opinion on this disease. It affects millions of people and is growing exponentially across the globe. I'm of the belief that gmo's are the culprit-but that's just an opinion-something I'm avidly studying. If you could help shed light on this topic-I would love to hear your thoughts.
    Thanks again,

  • Tiffany K

    What is a healthy postpartum diet and exercise regimen I should follow? I've had 4 kids in the past 5 years, so I'm sure my body is lacking in some vitamins and minerals.