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WHY BRAIN + GUT HEALTH BECAME MY PASSION... and true calling

Mar 12, 2019

ER VETERINARIAN TURNED BRAIN + GUT HEALTH COACH?

Um. I bet you read this title and was like… what, the what? Am I right? Because it’s my life and even I didn’t see how this twist was going to unfold. But, I’ll try to share with you the bullet points as the WHOLE story is a wee bit too personal to just throw up on the screen in words and if being truly honest, it’s still a raw which is CRAZY as it began almost 6 years ago!

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Spring of 2013, I was wrapping up the second year of my emergency/critical care residency program in veterinary medicine. And I was pregnant… with twins which was a complete surprise and blessing. For those folks who ask:

  • Twins do not necessarily run in our families… the hubster’s great aunts or something were twins and I have distant cousins that are twins but that’s it.

  • The twins were conceived naturally… which is a tad bit private but I get a lot of folks asking if we were doing “in vitro”. Let’s paint the picture, I was making literally PEANUTS in the residency program with 6-figures in my student debt not including the hubster’s school loans… fertility treatments were NOT an option for us at that time even IF I wanted it to be. There was no way we could swing it.

  • The twins are not identical… we were blessed with a boy and girl, so… one has a penis.

Alright. All that fun stuff out of the way, back to the story. The twins were overachievers in their arrival into the world… coming in at 27 weeks and some change. I remember the whole day in slow motion every detail still vivid in my memory as if it happened yesterday.

The shirt I was wearing… the resident who came to check on me… the panic look on the nurse’s face as she reached into her pocket to call the OBGYN on call. Every detail etched in my mind forever which is crazy seeing how the 100+ days we spent in the NICU following their arrival is blurred. Like I blacked out some of the experiences to protect my heart from what we experienced.

Here’s the thing about NICU life in case you are experiencing it or have a friend experiencing it… NICU life is different from every family that enters it. The battles your little one(s) and you face is NOTHING LIKE what the person next to you is facing. Not saying it’s good or bad, just know that the only thing that’s the same… is you are there and you are fighting for your little’s life. That’s it. The struggles you face will be different, the joys you celebrate will be different, etc. If you have a friend experiencing NICU life, the BEST thing you can do for them… is BE THERE for them in ways that were second nature for them, such as: go to their home and do their laundry, stock their fridge with food, walk their dogs, feed their cats, pick up their mail, take them for lunch and just listen. Don’t just ASK if there’s something you can do… they can’t think about anything else but their little one and probably don’t want to be an inconvenience to you… so just do it! Tell them what you are going to do… and help out if you can.

Okay. I got off track again. NICU life… blurry.

What I do remember is learning quickly that we needed to focus on brain health for one little and for gut health on the other. It was like a whirlwind of emotion those weeks… and feeling like I had no control over ANYTHING. But, the one thing I did know how to do was “RESEARCH”. So, that’s what I did when we took an hour or two break from the NICU… I studied. How can I help with brain health? What is important about gut health? And most importantly, what can I HELP WITH?

As a newborn mama with twins in the NICU, I had very few things in my control… but one thing I did was MY NUTRITION because I was breast-feeding. I realized what foods were important for brain health and gut health… and then BAM there was a connection.

I’ll fast forward a year or two because the details are really unimportant at this time… and it’s quite lengthy, but I focused hard on nutrition for me and the twins, the Gillies. So much that folks were reaching out to me to make meal plans focused on brain + gut health… and I began sharing our meal plans for a small fee. { Hey, I had twin babies with NICU bills… and remember those 6-figure student loans, still there }.


“The first wealth is health. ” — Ralph Waldo Emerson


Now. This Is where things started to come together for me… and the “birth” of NO BRAINERS truly began. See, one meal plan lead to another which lead to another and soon I began hosting group coaching with brain + gut health being the main focus; however, behind-the-scenes I was still exploring health hacks, reading, researching and going to conferences for me (and for one of our littles).

One type of conferences I was attending was for one of our little Gillies. Without getting too personal, when our Gillies were one year old we began attending a therapy conference recommended by our therapist… I was taking less shifts as an ER veterinarian so I could stay at home and provide daily therapy for him and the therapist thought it would be wonderful for him to receive intense therapy for a week while I receive “first hand” experience on what he needs. WIN-WIN, right?

It was at this conference my viewpoint on things OPENED UP drastically… while there, I met with other parents who also grasped onto things they could control for their little ones. The things which they were focusing on included:

  • using essential oils and diffusing them in their household

  • being cautious of products they were using on their little one (such as shampoos, lotions, toothpaste) and even their household products (air fresheners, cleaners, laundry detergent)

  • using affirmations during therapy and even starting their days with positive words

  • adding movement to their day in the form of yoga and walks outside in the sunshine

  • spending quiet time in meditation

  • being cautious of the “noise” their little one heard and using music to help with brain healing

Each parent had their own way of healing for their little one and it was amazing to me…. because as I later discovered listening to Dr. Amen speak at a Brendon Burchard event, everything is connected. Everything is connected and everything matters. Even rest.

So. How did our digital magazine + community, NO BRAINERS begin… well. It was at another conference. I shouldn’t really say, conference. It was a mastermind event where 10 business women were selected by Jasmine Star from her community, Social Curator. At this weekend event, we all listened intently on to how to build our brand and take actionable steps forward in our businesses. There were times we would have a break to simply chit-chat and brainstorm ideas with others… and it was during these breaks that I BROKE DOWN!

WHAT?!? I bet you didn’t see that coming, did you. I wept. BIG TIME! And I knew what, but not entirely why… if that makes any sense at all.

 See. Everyone was supportive of my focus on brain + gut health and where eagerly sharing with me ideas to get my “brand” out there so I can best serve women. However, their ideas didn’t feel right in my heart. And I left the event more confused, angry at myself because I thought I was just living in fear and how could I waste a weekend away from my family to only come back home more confused than ever before. I mean… my main goal was to gain clarity and go home with a “PLAN”!

And here I was on the plane in tears, confused sitting next to a man named, John or Bob. I’m not sure anymore, he kinda left me alone as I bawled next to him during takeoff. Thank you, John or Bob. I needed the silence.

Why was I confused, exactly? Because I didn’t want to do group coaching any more… I LOVE coaching, do not get me wrong. It’s all about teaching women and camaraderie while learning, exploring and trying to live your best life. However, it’s only for 4-6 weeks and at the end of the group coaching program. I felt like I was a mama-bird pushing her little one out of the nest… hoping they would fly, but concerned they were just living the program overwhelmed with all the information which if like me, in a state of overwhelm would just slip back into old habits without support.

So. I took out my blank journal which I bought specifically for the trip and began to write… I wrote down everything I WISHED I could have had while starting my journey… all the way back in that NICU LIFE. Here’s what I wrote:

  • a community filled with positive-mind, inspiring women who are on the same journey as me… just trying to live their best life possible for them, for their spouse, their family and their community

  • bite-size consumable information which allows me to focus on ONE ACTION ITEM each month to be the best version of my self… these action items should be focused on: mindset, organization, movement, clean beauty products, household items, nutrition and eco-friendly clothing

  • family-friendly recipes which were healthy, simple, quick to make and filled with brain-healing, gut-nourishing foods which would bring a smile on my face knowing I was fueling my kids’ bellies with good food… but just a few recipes, not 30… just a handful to try out… maybe one a week

  • information to dive deeper into WHY certain foods were healthy and what to look for when purchasing them… sometimes, the market place is SO confusing… eggs are healthy, now they are not, wait… healthy again! someone do the research and just tell me already, right?!?

  • learning more about beauty products, how to make my own in the kitchen and also which products like shampoo, lotions, soaps, sunscreen is non-toxic. plus a way to know WHAT TO LOOK OUT for on the labels and why is it harmful…. because the more you know, the more you can grow

  • having a VOICE in the community but not the only voice… would love to have guest speakers share their journey so you feel like you aren’t alone but that it is DO-ABLE plus their own tips on how to make small impactful changes

  • just a place where I know someone has done the research, someone has lived and is living the journey… exploring health hacks, recipes, green beauty tips, products and research then dissecting it all to give me THE BEST INFORMATION possible. basically someone to weed through all the B.S. out there and share with me the goods: here’s what you need to know, how to do it, what you may experience and a cheering squad to get you there.

And in a nutshell, that’s how we came to be with our NO BRAINERS magazine + community. As of March 2019, we are in our 5th issue of NO BRAINERS and each issue gets, in my opinion, better and better. The guest contributors have been amazing… we have talked about sticking to our New Year’s resolutions, reducing toxins from our beauty products and intermittent fasting, to name a few. Future discussions on the docket include: benefits of sleep, adding movement to your day, getting kids involved in the kitchen, quick + healthy lunch ideas, etc.

Besides spending my time in our NO BRAINERS community, I also go a wee bit deeper into my health hacks + wellness journey with the women in our complimentary community over on the “BOOK OF FACE”… aka. facebook. So, if you would like to join in on the fun. COME ON ‘VER, Love! Doors are open!


“Every person is defined by the communities she belongs to... ” — unknown


Alright. Before I wrap up this blog post about how this ER veterinarian got started on brain + gut health… and the plot twists along the way to have me end up being an editor for a digital magazine. I’d love to fill you in on what brings me the MOST JOY (besides my family, of course!)… and that’s the words I hear from the women in our NO BRAINERS community. CHECK IT OUT:

From the lovely, Kat:

 

No Brainers has been the most amazing help! I’m always curious what the foodie of the month will be and how I can incorporate it our home. Each month I look forward to the new recipes that I know will nourish my body & mind. I let my kids pick one they want to try and we prepare it together. The guest contributors have brought value to each issue that have opened my eyes to to consider the bigger picture of my whole health - body, mind, and spirit - so that I can be my best for those I love and serve. I’m thankful No Brainers gives me actionable steps to improve my health each month. I feel more confident in how I fill my plate and feed my family, as I understand the connection between my brain and gut a bit better. I am sleeping better and have noticed improved mental clarity since implementing the things I’m learning in the No Brainers magazine and the Facebook group! With my doctor’s permission, I’ve even been able to come off of one of my prescriptions, (which is a huge deal for someone with lupus & fibromyalgia) and I believe No Brainers has played a vital part in this milestone! “

Did you catch what she said, I’ll put it in bullet points because I’m still BLOWN AWAY!

  • recipes I know will nourish my body and mind

  • guest contributors brought value + opened my eyes to the bigger picture

  • actionable steps to improve my health each month

  • confident in how I feel my plate and feed my family

  • sleeping better

  • improved mental clarity

  • came off one of my prescriptions (with doctor’s permission)

Can we all take a brief pause to celebrate this momma-bear and her success… because the magazine + community is a tool but SHE TOOK action! Pause for celebration…. 5…. 4…. 3…. 2…. 1…. Okay. Whew!


Here’s a few words from Sabrina:

NO BRAINERS helps me with easy tips which I can incorporate into my life immediately. I love the simple wholesome recipes with surprising ingredients I wouldn't think to use in that way. I also love how Amber brings in guest contributors to pour into us their wisdom!

 

Seriously. it truly fills my heart with so much joy to think of all those moments where I was struggling… lost… confused:

  • NICU life with two wee ones fighting for their lives and parents struggling to figure out HOW to help them

  • Conferences where parents shared their tips on what their household was focusing on: meditation, oils, products, movement, affirmations, etc.

  • Learning it’s all connected but how can I serve others with this information

  • Crying in an airplane next to John or Bob, wondering how can I take group coaching which I thoroughly enjoy but HELP women take actionable steps… so they can take care of themselves, explore health hacks which help them, fall in love with recipes and eating good, real nourishing foods…. all of which will trickle down to their families developing health habits

All those confusing, challenging moments lead me to this moment of clarity… which is:

creating our NO BRAINERS magazine + our growing community

Everything is connected. Everything matters. These words from the ladies in our NO BRAINERS community show me, through my struggles (our struggles)… I found my purpose using my passion of science, brain + gut health, cooking, teaching and serving. If you want to join in on our NO BRAINERS community and snag your own copy, then click the button below. I would LOVE to see your face there!


Love. Thank you for giving me this space to share my story… I know over time, as the Gillies grow, their story will be revealed fully in bits. But, I truly appreciate you for reading this and if you do follow me on social or in our complimentary community your support is felt + I thank you. Now, if you are just starting your journey… or love exploring health hacks yourself, I would absolutely love to hear from you! Fill free to drop a “HI” in the comments below or share a wee bit about yourself in our community!

Because the more you know, the more you can grow!

love + gumption.

a.

Brain + Gut Health Explorer

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