Hello, my name is Tara. Thank you for being here! Let me give you a bit of my story so you understand why I became a health coach.

As a young child I was quiet, sensitive and introverted.  For example, I would “forget” to bring something for Show and Tell hoping I wouldn’t have to talk.  As I approached my teen years I started to emerge from my shell.  People started to notice me. They started to notice my body. As a result I become a target for judgment, disdain, or admiration.  Girls hated me, and boys liked me.  It wasn’t my choice to be given the body I was in.  As a self proclaimed introvert the last thing I would have wished upon myself was center stage.  I didn't want people to notice me for my body, I wanted people to like me for who I was, a kind, quiet, vulnerable girl just trying to figure life out.

Like most teenagers I loved magazines. I admired the beautiful women, and loved to learn about food and body. I went from a normal girl who ate pretty much anything, to a young woman who was a vegetarian and ate virtually no fat.  At first I wasn't trying to lose weight, or look a particular way, I was just trying to do the “right” thing and eat healthy. By being so rigid with what I ate I became more rigid and controlling in other aspects of my life. My world became smaller and my mental space became obsessive. The number of fat grams on a package was my gatekeeper and the number on the scale my addiction.   Everyday I would run, stretch, and lift weights. I did this because that is what I thought I needed to do to be healthy. And to me healthy meant loved and accepted. 

As the number on the scale diminished, so did my self worth. My original desire for health evolved into a greater state of dis-ease. I had stopped menstruating (as my hormone levels were pre-menopausal at the age of 18). I couldn’t run without getting a side ache, and I couldn’t even give blood during the school blood drive because I was underweight.  Some how the number I had been obsessing about didn’t seem important any longer.  I found a hole within myself. My heart was empty and I was lost.

I went to college in that state of utter confusion.  I joined a sorority, which made absolutely no sense.  Knowing my track record with the female gender this was like walking into hell and setting up camp.  I didn’t know how to be friends with women, let alone myself.  Within a matter of weeks my old habits started to fall away, but not by choice. I no longer had control over the food that I would eat. What the cooks served is was I got.  Counting fat grams was no longer an option. Eating foods that I had written off years ago, deeming them bad, left me feeling bad, full of “unhealthy” food and full of shame.  

Lacking the ability to have compassion for myself, and offer forgiveness I instead found myself in a new whirlwind of self punishment. For the next two decades I would live in the painful world of bulimia. 

When life got tough, I would turn to food to comfort, to numb, and to create a sense of control. Not knowing that was the choice I was making consciously, but the choice I was making out of familiarity.  Those behaviors that stemmed from a desire of health, love and acceptance became just the opposite. My behaviors became a place of pain, punishment and dis-ease.  

In college I found myself in pharmacy school. I was drawn to sciences and heath, and on paper, pharmacy sounded like the answer. Within my first year of the program I knew I was not where my heart desired me to be. Treating preventable disease went against everything I believed in.  I felt stuck. Committed by time and money, I forged on the path I had started, not knowing what an appropriate exit option was. 

I graduated from Washington State University as a Doctor of Pharmacy in 2003, still stuck on the path that didn't feel right.  I had a respectable job, in a great city.  Yet I still felt empty and lost.  The next decade was an exploration of self. I searched for peace within and looked to clarify my place in this world (since doling out drugs wasn’t it).  

When I moved to the city I started bike commuting, which evolved into longer riders (like the STP), then to racing. For the first time I was a part of a community. The bike racing community was fun, supportive, and full of empowering women. I also discovered yoga, and for the first time found an inner peace, and a connection with spirit, something I had never known before. Once again, I found a community (mostly women!) that were so loving and positive.

I started to travel, opening the door to even grander experiences.  I went to Thailand and practiced Vipassana Meditation for three weeks at a monastery. For the first time I sensed an opening within my being; a place of contentment and forgiveness. I took a yoga teacher training course through The Samarya Center to gain a deeper perspective on the history of this ancient practice. It had become clear to me that there is another part of life. It isn’t just mind and body, there is more!  I discovered an online holistic health coaching certification course through The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.   The blinds that had been covering the windows of my inner world were removed and a new direction in life became clear. Before I could consider coaching others to health, I needed to find a deeper, truer health within.  After work with therapists, programs, clinics, and more therapists life became mine once again.  At this time The Institute for the Psychology of Eating entered my path.  This last element was the missing link between Yoga and Health Coaching. This last certification course provided the tools needed to teach what I had spent the last 20 years learning on my own. Food is not the problem, food is the symptom. My body is not perfect, my body is perfectly lovable. My thoughts are only my reality if I choose to believe them.  The spirit within me knows where to find love, acceptance and happiness… I just have to dare to listen.

I struggled with an eating disorder for nearly twenty years. When life was tough (which we all know it can be) my symptoms and behaviors ruled my life. Today I am able to see how my eating disorder can be my compass.  When my life starts to stray from my hearts desires my behaviors (symptoms) let me know. When the voice in my head starts to speak to me through a mega phone, or when food becomes a distraction, when the mirror becomes a torment, I know that something in my life needs to be seen, felt and loved.

My life has been a journey to love my body, and fall in love with who I am.  So many years ago that was all I wanted. To be seen and loved for who I was.  No one else could do it, and at that time, nor could I.  Love and acceptance had to come through me first. I am now able to accept my body for all that it gives me, listen to my body when it has something to say, and forgive myself for the times when I am unable to.

If I can guide a shift half this size in other women, then I can't believe there could be a greater feeling in life. If this story speaks to you, take my hand, take a seat, and share with me your story. I truly want to know.