As a transformational health coach and lifestyle strategist, I am honored to marry my personal quest of achieving optimal health and performance with my coaching skills and passion for guiding others to create their best lives. With two degrees in psychology, training as a life coach with a focus on health, wellbeing, and positive psychology, additional studies in advanced nutrition, a lifelong interest in and aptitude for biology and human health, 600 hours of yoga training, several meditation courses, endless self-study on all levels of health, psychology, and performance, and a life-changing personal healing journey under my belt, I can quite literally say I’ve trained my whole life for this career.
I help clients unlock their potential and live a life where flourishing is the status quo. Peak performance is only possible when healthy habits and mindset are firmly established, enabling the actualization of our ambitions. The aim of my teaching and coaching is to guide clients step-by-step in establishing sustainable habits that are in service of their goals and ultimate wellbeing.
Whether you’ve landed here by chance or by design, my intention in sharing my journey is that it may inspire hope and renewed purpose, and I would love the opportunity to share more of my knowledge and experience as a guide on your own journey.
“But you’re the healthiest person I know!” This was the most common reaction I received from family and friends when my world was turned upside down last year at the age of 30 with lymphoma – a cancer diagnosis. It didn’t make sense. My form was rare and had no genetic link. The doctors told me they had no idea why some people develop cancer, particularly this type. I was (am) the healthiest in my family – both immediate and extended – and was an active, fit yogi and longtime healthy eater. I was always conscious of the vegetarian food I put into my body, hydrated with loads of water, never drank soda and almost never ate candy or ‘junk’ food, never touched a cigarette, drank socially but never nightly, and had never in my life experienced serious or chronic illness nor gone to the hospital with so much as a broken bone. I had no digestive complaints, no food allergies – not even any cavities for crying out loud! By any modern standards, I was a very healthy child; a very healthy human.
Then bam. All of a sudden I had a growth the size of a grapefruit in my chest. All of a sudden I was facing 600 hours of chemotherapy to treat a very aggressive cancer. Fortunately my non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was rare but highly curable; treatment was aggressive, but it worked. In spite of the positive prognosis, I was terrified. Our family had been touched by cancer before – my grandparents and a couple of my aunts and uncles lost their battles due to treatment complications. The traditional cut, poison, burn methods hadn’t worked very well for my family, and I was entirely terrified and opposed to willingly poisoning my theretofore healthy body with drugs derived from the instruments of chemical warfare.
Before I had a confirmed diagnosis, I immediately began researching natural and alternative methods of healing, because the initial CT scan results showed a ‘growth’ the size of a grapefruit encroaching on my left breathing apparatus (which explained why I was getting winded after one flight of stairs), and ‘growth’ implies tumor implies cancer. So, while I hoped for a benign diagnosis, I operated under the assumption that I had some form of cancer in my body: using my foundation of wellness as a baseline, I did my research, devouring any information I could find that seemed reputable, and put myself on a raw vegan diet with lots of vegetable juice. I went all organic and loaded up on turmeric and ginger. I even cut my deepest love from my life: dark chocolate. I detoxed and I cleansed and I spoke with Naturopaths and saw a kinesiologist who helped release my body of past physical traumas. He determined my vitamin deficiencies and recommended supplements of Vitamin D and selenium among others.
Throughout this self-imposed healing project, I continued through the diagnostic process: PET scan, appointment with a top surgeon in NYC who deemed this ‘not a job for him,’ needle biopsy, confirmation of initial results (lymphoma, tbd which form), appointment with first oncologist who confirmed official diagnosis of Primary Mediastinal B Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – Stage 2 Bulky, appointment with second and chosen oncologist, bone marrow biopsy (to be safe), and finally the egg freezing process to protect my future fertility (just in case) because treatment was in fact unavoidable, and several vasovagal (fainting) episodes throughout to boot.
In spite of my best efforts and highest hopes, I was told I had to go through with treatment: while there are many stories of people who have healed themselves naturally of cancer and experience what the medical profession calls ‘spontaneous remission,’ aggressive forms of cancer grow quickly and must be treated accordingly: in just one week between my CT and PET scans my ‘growth’ had increased measurably. I was lucky – we caught it early, stage 2. It was contained. Many patients don’t catch it until stage 4 and it has spread.
By the time I started my first round of chemo – which I tried my hardest to think of as my ‘magic elixirs’ – my system was thoroughly cleansed, I had my fertility back-up plan in place, and I was already feeling significantly better having been on the steroid for a couple of weeks. I walked into round one feeling confident and alive. Several days later I finished up feeling just a tad tired due to difficulty sleeping – between the prednisone and the hospital noises and constant check-ups, it’s hard to get a solid night of sleep. But I walked out feeling good – no reactions to the drugs, and they had even sped me up so I could get out more quickly. Afterward I experienced a few days of fatigue and the bone pain that accompanies the Neulasta injection which stimulates white blood cell production. But otherwise, no side effects. Before my second round, my hair fell. But round two went smoothly – again no side effects. Then I got a follow-up scan: after two rounds out of the prescribed six, the mass had decreased in size by 86% and activity was down 87% – treatment was working and super well at that: it was nearly gone. And to top it all off, I felt great, all things considered.
I stayed as active as I could in the hospital and hopeful and upbeat throughout. I stuck with my clean, healthy diet, and read books on healing and recovery. I took stock of my priorities and took steps toward creating the life that I wanted. I was inspired by everything I had learned about nutrition and was invigorated by the blogs I was posting to keep everyone updated. And most importantly, I took major steps to manage the stress and insomnia that had dominated my life for the previous year: this was my magic bullet.
Treatment rolled along and before I knew it I was sailing through round 6, and walked out for the last time with doctors and nurses wondering how I had gotten through it all so well.
On the surface, yes, I was a healthy individual pre-diagnosis. I did hot power yoga regularly – I could do handstands and splits and touch my toes to my head. As mentioned before, I ate healthy. But in the year leading up to my diagnosis, my stress levels had gotten out of hand; insomnia crept into my life then had my by a stranglehold. My mind was constantly wired and my body agitated. I did as much yoga as I could squeeze in, but work and fatigue often got in the way. One stressful situation after another hit and life seemed to be throwing curveball after curveball. I tried my best to keep up with work but I was just treading water, barely keeping my head above the surface.
No matter what I tried, things didn’t improve, and I seemed to be slipping further, sinking deeper. I was perpetually exhausted, too tired to do anything after work besides throw a quick dinner together and crash on the couch. The life that I wanted was further and further from my grasp. I craved sugar and sweetness and never felt satisfied. I knew what I wanted but didn’t have the energy to engage in my passions. My life had gotten away from me.
With what I now know about illness and disease, I am firmly convinced that the chronic stress in my life triggered my cancer. To be sure, cancer is a perfect storm situation: there are several factors that come to a head that allow it to take root and infiltrate the body. It’s difficult, or even impossible, to pinpoint one precise cause. But stress suppresses the immune system and contributes to inflammation, which creates the perfect environment for cancer cells to thrive. Furthermore, sugar cravings and the caffeine I drank to sustain me throughout the day likely fertilized this environment: cancer feeds on sugar and thrives in a body out of balance.
My body simply became overwhelmed by the regular toxification of my system from my stressful city environment and strung-out lifestyle. Stress triggered inflammation, sugar fed it further, and my immune system just couldn’t keep up. Lymphoma is literally a malignancy of the immune system – in the understanding of traditional, eastern healing approaches, my body did the best it could to protect me from the mounting levels of toxicity and inflammation in my body and my lymphatic system did a marvelous job protecting my other vital organs (my growth was literally adjacent to my heart and left lung), but I wasn’t doing it any favors and it simply got overwhelmed. The way I look at it, cancer was my body’s cry for help – a cry for me to slow down, catch my breath – literally – and address the deeper healing that needed to be done.
My healing process had two phases: step one – clean up my diet and clear out my system; step two – clean up my thoughts and clear out my mind. The more I study illness and modern disease, the more firmly convinced I am that stress and inflammation from modern lifestyle and diet are the major underlying factors behind every dis-ease in the body. Addressing these factors in a step-by-step approach – working from the foundation of food (we literally are what we eat) and making our way up the ladder to address factors that are holding us back from living the best version of our lives – is the key to healing and returning to our natural state of wholeness.
My wellness journey consciously began 8 years ago when I discovered yoga, but truthfully, I’ve always been active and healthy – as a young child I was enrolled in dance and gymnastics, and after cartwheeling my way through Disney World at the age of 8, my parents took that as a sign that I should take gymnastics to the next level. Throughout my grade-school years I competed in gymnastics at the national level. Competitive gymnastics is a rigorous discipline, so my diet was devoid of excess and too much junk. I was a picky eater and have had a sweet tooth for as long as I can remember, but I did not have tendencies to over-indulge and generally speaking made healthy choices – my sport dictated such and I was happy to comply.
I stayed active through my college years as a cheerleader for both football and basketball – flipping and flying on the sidelines required a balanced diet and regular fitness regime on top of our multiple practices and games each week. I can’t say I made 100% great choices throughout my career, but those crop tops and short skirts were motivation enough kept me more or less on track.
On the career front, my initial plan when I enrolled in college was to go to medical school and become a doctor. Throughout high school I had excelled in science and I loved kids so pediatrics seemed like a natural path forward – it was the ‘right’ choice, the expected choice – however once I was in class and labs with fellow freshman future doctors and grappling with the reality of this choice (11 years of medical training), I realized this was not my passion.
Health and healing appealed as a career path, but not in this capacity. I switched majors to psychology, and a whole new world opened up. I figured I could still help people heal, but on emotional and psychological levels. Courses in neuroscience, trauma, and social and emotional development started to click things into place for me, however I was still put off by the false dichotomy of the Cartesian separation of mind and body that still reigned. Pursuing a doctorate in the field of psychology – clinical or research – did not feel right either. I graduated college with a sense that my journey was just beginning.
By happenstance I found myself teaching English in Tokyo several months later, and while immersed in Eastern culture, I became more interested in zen heritage and the contemplative traditions. Japan was a fascinating contradiction of new and old – modern Western flash clashing with the serenity of ancient tradition. It became apparent to me that these ancient methods might be the key to modern unrest. I sought out yoga and began a personal practice in my Tokyo apartment. I traveled to the zen gardens of Kyoto and relished the stillness after the frenetic pace of Tokyo.
As my contract was ready to expire, I made the decision to travel and the next thing I know I’d signed up to do a month-long yoga teacher training at an ashram in India: a full-on immersive experience with meditation and chanting and hours of yoga each day and plenty of yoga philosophy and psychology. I was still a newbie but I can’t say I was apprehensive – it just seemed like the natural next step.
Immersing myself in this way of being opened my eyes and ignited my curiosity, and I extended my stay in India to absorb as much of the culture and teachings as I possibly could: I enrolled in an introduction to Buddhism and meditation course up north in Dharamsala and a zen meditation course all the way south in the hills of Tamil Nadu, signed up to volunteer outside of Pondicherry, and stayed at another ashram in Kerala for a few days on my journey back. Upon returning to New York, I decided to brush up my skills and experience Western yoga through another teacher training in Manhattan.
I deepened my yoga knowledge, but something still felt missing. Life took some twists and turns, and grad school called me to London, where I studied decision-making through the lens of social and cultural psychology. I wanted to further understand individual psychology through the wider lens of community, society, and culture, and how that impacted our personal development, behaviors and choices. This deeper understanding of behavior and decision-making through this lens of society and culture informs my perspective on lifestyle strategy and habit change.
I returned to the US and engaged in another yoga teacher training, this time drawn out over a longer period of time. I deepened my own practice dramatically and pushed my physical and mental limits further than ever before. I was focused on reaching my potential and optimizing my personal performance. In the meantime I worked as an academic coach, helping students perform to their own potential and as the director of performance I developed training programs to help students overcome test anxiety. I got most excited when I worked with my students on the fundamentals behind optimizing performance: nutrition, sleep and managing stress and anxiety.
Yet during this time, I put myself way down on my own priority list and placed my own self-care on the back burner. I put off pursuing my true passion and purpose of helping people determine their unique formula for health, happiness, and success.
After my medical crisis aka wake-up call, I re-focused my life and dedicated my energies in full to my true calling on the path of holistic wellbeing, so that I can help others strengthen their foundation of health, re-energize their lives, and ultimately live a life where performing at their peak and fulfilling their potential is the status quo.
Today I am healed and healthy and happy, and so grateful and humbled to share my journey with the world. My mission is to help others reclaim their vitality and create a life that enables them to truly thrive.