I dedicated myself to a fitness routine. I committed to eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. I engaged in intense therapy. I dealt with my problems and emotions head on and made efforts to heal. I got adequate sleep and focused on stress reduction. I made myself, my total wellness, a priority. For the first time in a LONG time, I felt feelings of happiness creeping back in! Then I decided to take my new-found love for self-care to the next level. I signed up for a 5K because I was ready to tackle a challenge I CHOSE to do, not one I was FORCED to do. One where it was all about me, me, me. Crossing the finish line of that race was a moment I remember vividly. It was the start of a new life. One where I was not only living and surviving, but thriving. One where I was happy, and my cup was full. I could now be everything I wanted to be for myself, and for those around me. Things continued to improve in all aspects of my life. I credit the discovery of total wellness to saving my life.
From that moment to now, many more difficult things have happened. I survived cancer, I experienced careers difficulties, I dealt with (more) marital challenges, I muddled through moving to the middle of nowhere and feeling alone, I struggled with “doing it all” and developed anxiety, I suffered from disordered eating and body dysmorphia, etc. etc. etc. Life can be hard. HOWEVER, I also stayed in therapy, and
continued to make my self-care a non-negotiable. I chose to remain positive and strived to find the good in all experiences. I chose to focus on maintaining a positive mindset, and took the time to heal properly from all the wounds the bad experiences dealt. I chose to keep my total wellness a priority. Because of this, I experienced so many wonderful things during this time as well! My husband and I had two more babies, I ran a half-marathon, I finished a couple of triathlons, I got on stage as a natural bodybuilder, I crushed career goals, I developed new friendships, I learned how to tackle my anxiety and overcame my disordered earing and body dysmorphia. I developed a balanced and healthy relationship with food and exercise. Finding a balance and investing in myself saved my life.
Realizing we must focus on our TOTAL WELLNESS truly made the difference between life and death. I am happier today than I have ever been. Mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, etc. - this is the best version of Hiliary I’ve ever experienced. And while I’ve always had dreams of sharing what I’ve learned with others, the timing finally feels right. I am so excited to share with you. I am so excited for you to be the best version of you, too!
My Life. My Journey. My Story.
When I sat down to write my “about me” section, I initially struggled. This isn’t about ME. This is about YOU! I want to focus on all things you, always. Because of that, I didn’t feel the need to share about myself. However, I decided it was necessary for me to share my story, in hopes you can see you are not alone. Throughout this journey, you will never be alone. I want to walk alongside you and encourage you, support you and be there for you, because I know sometimes having someone there is all we need.
So where to start……. At five years old, I was diagnosed with congenital heart failure. Days later, I received my first pacemaker. At the same time, I became a victim of a diagnosis and convinced myself I would never amount to much more than my new label. I used my diagnosis and victim status as an excuse to avoid actively taking care of my health and wellness throughout my childhood and early teen years. In high school I became an athlete and discovered a strong physical wellness, but put zero priority toward my mental health. I experienced a horrific depression that made me spiral internally for months. Not a single person in my life knew what I was going through, and I had zero idea how to get out of the slump I was in.
When I entered college and fell into the BEST friend group and I realized physical wellness wasn’t all that mattered. I began seeing the world with a different lens, and I began feeling hope for a way out of the darkness! I started focusing more on myself. I did a lot of INTERNAL healing and started to love the person I was becoming. Junior year of college, I met my now husband, and life was so good! However, after graduation I began to feel the depression creep back in. Our relationship wasn’t progressing as I wanted it to. I started second-guessing myself and my value. I was determined to gain control and stop the downward spiral before it got out of control. This is when I realized we are so much more than just our physical wellness. I realized our mental health is equally as important as our physical health. In neglecting one or the other, total wellness isn’t possible. Following this epiphany, I went to therapy for the first time.
Through therapy, I discovered myself. I found my strengths and discovered my weaknesses. I came to learn what was important to me and what was insignificant. I learned how crucial feeling and processing hurt is if we ever want to truly heal. I started to understand the holistic approach to total wellness. Mental. Physical. Emotional. Social. It all mattered.
The years following college were full of ups and downs. My husband and I eventually got married and had our first child. While this was supposed to be one of the best times in our lives, it was one of the worst. Our baby was born premature, and we spent many weeks in the NICU watching him fight. This was a hit I wasn’t prepared for, but I attempted to do what we’re “supposed to do” – put on a strong face and push on! Shortly after, my husband suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm and stroke. Within three months, both my husband and child nearly died. As you can imagine, this took a major toll on my total wellness – mentally, emotionally, physically, etc. I immediately entered survival mode. Anyone who has gone through something traumatic knows survival mode is unavoidable. You know, the go through the motions and avoid the pain. The put your life on hold to manage the situation at hand. The complete neglect to yourself. Yes – that happened to me, too.
A year after these events, I was headed to the lowest place I’d ever been. My marriage was nearly over, and I had no clue who I was any longer. I was sad. I was miserable. I was defeated. I spent so many months as a caregiver, avoiding my feelings, simply surviving. I had NO CLUE how to LIVE. I knew if I wanted any hope of seeing happiness again, I had to do something for myself. I knew I needed to focus on my total wellness. This is when my REAL journey with total wellness began.