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