I sparked an interest in health and fitness at a young age. In 1989, at age 15 I became a vegetarian (I am no longer) believing that was the move I needed to make to propel me on the track team. More than that I connected with the cause due to its relationship to the environment and animal welfare. Fast forward to 2007, I had gone through many bouts of illnesses, broken bones and eventually found myself in a hospital. At this time, I was pregnant and hemorrhaging, which led to the loss of our child. I was weak and in order to heal quicker, my doctor told me I either needed a blood transfusion or to go eat a steak.
That was the first time since becoming a vegetarian that I considered my diet choices affecting my health in a negative way. (Read “The Vegetarian Myth” if this topic interests you). With these two options, I chose a steak. That launched a whole new campaign for me to determine what was a healthy diet for me. With an extra 50 pounds on me from the pregnancy and not sure where to start, I chose weight loss as my initial goal. During this time, I began Weight Watchers and saw results with decreased bodyweight. I saw the value in counting “points” or calories and wanted more information. I took some college classes on nutrition and began reading, reading, and more reading of the current information on diet and nutrition. I began to realize meat was necessary for me and within a year after converting from a plant-based diet, I was in the best health shape of my life. I no longer had consistent gas and I no longer carried the extra 10 pounds of fluff weight that I carried my whole life.
At this point I had jumped into the Zone Diet and with my Type A personality, I was 100% compliant. Until one day someone mentioned a cheat day, what is a cheat day? I had never really heard of this. I had gone 6 months of strict Zone with no cheats because I didn’t understand that was an option. The cheat day began to increase over time – from a meal, to a day, to multiple days. I now understood a lot about nutrition but not a lot about the psychology of eating. I spent a few years slowly putting on a few pounds without really noticing when or how it happened. At the peak of my obsession with nutrition I had been at 8% Body Fat (in 2008) and now was 15-20% (in 2014). Which by any means is normal but I wasn’t sure what had happened – I was eating 97% real food. Was it the cheat days? The travel? The comfort with life? The jar of almond butter? I now had a lot of knowledge, I had never stopped researching it. However, I believe I was unintentionally hiding behind that knowledge, as if knowing made my behavior okay.
The year 2007 wasn’t the only year my husband Matt and I lost a child, we also lost a son in 2009. That year I fell into a pretty deep depression that only Ben & Jerry’s could comfort. I never fully “bounced” back from the loss of our son as I had seemed to before. The weight gain in 2007 was from a lack of knowledge. So I educated myself and that fixed the problem. Well in 2009 I had the knowledge, I knew how, I just couldn’t do it? So what was the problem now? From 2009 to 2014, I ate great around 80 percent of the time. I was dialed in enough to even qualify for the 2011 CrossFit Games as an individual female. However, eating at this compliance took my body weight from 130 pounds to a new 150 pounds (above 20 percent body fat). Something was no longer working. I knew what to do, but I had no motivation to do it – no “why”. I had lost my “why” with the Ben and Jerry’s years ago. Until…I found it. I was diagnosed with a lung disease, Sarcoidosis, in 2014. I had been having trouble breathing for several years and it had progressively gotten worse until I couldn’t walk up a hill without a 2 minute coughing fit. These fits increased to every hour or two and got increasingly worse with exercise.
Once I was finally diagnosed, I had the information I needed to see if I could affect change by manipulating my diet. Sarcoidosis is an autoimmune disease, this means it is affected by inflammation. I began to eliminate inflammatory foods, which meant no more Ben and Jerry’s. After 6 months, my husband suggested a coach, so I hired a nutrition coach from the company Working Against Gravity, Adee Z, to further help me dial in my quantities with macro-counting. She was great and having the accountability and tracking proved to get me over the hump. With treatment (18 months of a strong dose of methotrexate) and diet, my symptoms are now nearly 100% gone. During the 2.5 years it took me to figure out what was going on with my lungs and heal them I had found a new why my health. It fueled me to come out of hiding and take a look at everything I was putting in my mouth. This had a profound effect on my recovery and my body composition. The last I checked my body fat was at 9 percent, weighing 135 pounds in 2016. Now (2017) waiver between 137-141 pound and find that to be my happy place. I have learned a profound amount – not only nutrition, but the layers underneath why we eat the way that we do.
I understand that nutrition is a science and it will continue to evolve so I must keep learning. However, with all the books, classes, courses, clients and personal experiments I have done over the last 10 years, I know that real food and portions matter. Quality comes first to lay the foundation and then comes quantity to dial it in. Through this knowledge “The Hatch Society” was born. I, with my partners, want to share what we have learned so that others don’t have to go through the roller coaster we’ve been through. We want to help the many with simple weekly changes that add up to a lifestyle change that is profound. I am grateful for the opportunity to share what I have learned and more importantly excited to continue the journey of learning from each of you.