Embracing the chaos of life and intuitively finding peace in Motherhood by Stephanie May Potter

I am a recovering CPA, caffeine and sugar addict turned holistic health coach. By the age of 35 I was burnt out, stressed out and fed up. My motto was work hard play hard and I wore lack of sleep as a badge of honor. I was always trying to prove my worth, that I belonged in this corporate environment with many smart, drive and successful people. I spent years feeling like an imposter and was waiting for the moment when I would be called out. I moved through most days on auto pilot.

In 2010 I went through a stressful period in my life that included the birth of our third child and a move to Minneapolis without family or many friends. If that wasn’t enough, I started my new role at work just two weeks after moving.

While my intuition told me that our new home in Minnesota was indeed a better quality of life for our family, I underestimated the impact that the stress would have on me.

Shortly after moving, I remember going to my new OBGYN and breaking down in tears with the pressure and anxiety I was feeling. I had a hard time being nimble because of the systems and programs I operated under stemming from my past, such that any time life threw a slight curve ball in my day, I would immediately “freak out” , usually at my husband. I also had a hard time saying no and wanting to be a good mom while also being a high performer at work. I started taking an anti-anxiety medicine and my husband and I started couple’s therapy.

Several months later I was serendipitously introduced to a Chinese medicine healer, which was the start of my very long healing journey (which I’m still on today). He helped me focus on what activities bring me joy, supported me to wean off the anti-anxiety medicine and helped calm the eczema issues that had persisted for over two decades; it was Warren who enlightened me about the key role that our gut has on our health. I believe this part of my journey is what pulled me towards leaving my corporate job at the age of 40 and embarking on my true life’s purpose to guide and help others to live their happiest and healthiest life in mind, body and spirit.

While I was interested in health and nutrition since I was a teen, I must admit that my relationship with food was quite unhealthy. I was always trying to weight. I tracked my calories and my workouts in a little notebook (way before My Fitness Pal), and have vivid memories of emotionally eating when I was lonely, bored or sad. I watched my mother yo yo diet as was the trend in the 80’s/90’s. I jumped on any food fad or diet never listening to what my body was telling me.

Flash back to my childhood. When I was in second grade my mother was diagnosed with bi-polar or manic depression as it’s also called and was hospitalized

for six weeks. Several years later when I was in the middle of my formative teenage years at the age of 15, she was hospitalized again for three weeks and spent several months at home in recovery. During this same time my father was out of work for over a year and money was very tight. While I have only vague recollection of her first hospitalization, I do recall a few key memories such as the yelling/screaming/crying and unusual behavior of my mother, the uncomfortable hospital visits, worry about lack of money and her spending what we didn’t have and not having a “normal” family. I now realize that no one’s family is “normal” and that our journey and life experiences contribute to the beautiful humans we are on this earth today.

When I first heard about health coaching as a profession I was intrigued; ironically, I almost transferred colleges to pursue a degree as a dietician before deciding I was not “smart enough” to pass all the science classes. I always knew I was destined for something more than my corporate job; but couldn’t sit still with my own thoughts long enough to know what that was, and I could never imagine quitting without my next step mapped out. Afterall, I had a job since I was 15 years old and had never taken time off for fear I’d run out of money. I operated out of a scarcity mindset, not out of abundance.

During those first few years as a health coach I was very much focused on healing my client’s physical body through food and movement, after all most of my clients came to me with weight loss as a primary goal. During this same time, I became more restrictive with my food, which had many positive aspects such as getting to the root cause of my eczema, increasing my energy, mental clarity, and weight loss. I also started doing more intense cardio workouts early in the morning several days a week. The combination of my anxiety, childhood “trauma” that I had never discussed, stressful workouts and diet eventually caught up to me and I stopped getting a menstrual cycle. My central nervous system had been on high alert for many years, thinking I was running from a bear and therefore, shutting down certain non-critical functions, like menstruation. I have been on a healing journey for the past 4+ years to recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea (“HA”). I was later diagnosed with osteoporosis at the age of 43.

For the past four years I have tried everything to get to the root cause of my HA including, completely changing my exercise routine (no high intensity, running, etc), being less restrictive with food while still eating a primarily whole foods diet, countless medical doctors’ visits, a hormone patch, functional medicine doctors, hormonal lab testing, acupuncture, energy clearing, modern therapy, meditation, yoga teacher training, books, podcasts and more.

Over the last few years, as I progress along my personal health journey, I now recognize that optimum health is much more how our mind, body and spirit are connected. I’ve opened up about my own relationship with food, growing up with

an immigrant mother who was diagnosed with bi-polar when I was eight years old and the shame and lack of self-worth that I’ve experienced since I was a young girl.

I had no idea that my experiences could possibly be contributing to the way my physical body and subconscious mind were responding by way of my hormonal imbalances and HA diagnoses.

My passion for wellness led me to become a health coach so that I could guide and empower high-achieving and driven women to prioritize their health, improve their energy, nourish their mind and body and integrate simple and sustainable healthy habits. I understand first-hand the challenges of maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle in mind, body and spirit while juggling a successful career and family. My approach with clients has evolved over the past few years and rather than focus solely on weight loss, I guide women to transform their health by trusting their intuition, ditching the diet culture, and creating a sustainable happy and healthy lifestyle. My clients often realize that addressing their stress, career and mental health is what allows them to thrive and making changes in these areas propels them closer to optimum health than focusing only on the food on their plate.

There is a good reason why airlines tell us to put on our own oxygen mask before helping others in the event of an emergency. You must take care of yourself to be the best version of you for those around you.

So what does all of this mean? Life is a beautiful, complicated, and often challenging journey to discover our true authentic selves. Addressing the patterns that you’ve kept under the surface for years that you know deep down you want to change as an adult is liberating. Once these old programs and limiting beliefs are addressed and deprogrammed the true healing will naturally unfold.

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