Hi, I’m Elaine Gardner, Holistic Nutritionist. Now that I have the health I deserve, I am able to live my life fully, with purpose and passion. And that’s exactly what you deserve too!
I spent more than two decades of my life struggling with poor health and I’m NEVER going back to that misery!
It’s likely that I had symptoms when I was really young, but the first issue I remember having was in 8th grade. I had agonizing abdominal pains. One of my sisters had recently had appendicitis, and my symptoms were similar. So off to the hospital I went. Imagine my embarrassment when it turned out to be severe premenstrual cramps. It’s hard enough to discuss those intimate issues at the tender age of 13, let alone end up in the hospital where they do lots of probing and ask embarrassing questions! Thankfully the pain subsided with my period, but came again each month. All I knew to do at the time was to take pain relievers, curl myself into a fetal position and wait it out. Fortunately, it decreased in severity over time, but the cramps didn’t fully subside until many years later.
Other unwanted hitchhikers during my teenage years were fatigue, intestinal discomfort and mood swings. Being on my school gymnastic team was the highlight of my high school years. I loved the sport and many of my teammates became close friends. But I was always in pain and getting hurt. I wasn’t able to progress and perform in a way that was satisfying, and I couldn’t take the pain and constant injuries. I quit the team my senior year. Abandoning something I loved because of my health was crushing. Thankfully, I still had dance to sustain me. It was less intense and manageable.
Near the end of high school, I started having problems with my gums. They bled easily and were swollen, irritated and receding. A deep cleaning was performed first and a rigorous home cleaning routine was initiated. This brought more comfort but did not change the recession of the gums. Surgery was scheduled and pieces of skin from the roof of my mouth were cut and grafted onto my lower gums. Each side of my mouth required a separate procedure. The initial injection to numb the roof of my mouth was excruciating and the healing process wasn’t much better. Fortunately, it stopped the recession, alleviated my discomfort and reduced the level of care I needed to do on my own.
My teenage years were also filled with emotional struggles. Most of it was typical teenage stuff – falling in love for the 1st time and having that relationship unravel in a way that I did not choose and did not understand, navigating the complexities of the high school social scene, keeping up with sports and school work while trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. I also experienced three tragic deaths. I lost a young cousin I grew up with in a car accident, my cherished pet dog was hit by a car and my amazing godmother was taken from me by cancer. The loss of my cousin and my dog were difficult, but the loss of my godmother was devastating. She had been an angel in my life, doting on me whenever she could and blessing my life with extra love, attention and the most amazing, interesting and thoughtful gifts for holidays and birthdays. I also lost my grandfather. Thankfully he was old and didn’t suffer much. But I was hurting and confused by all of it.
Despite my issues, I managed pretty well.
I remained active, earned good grades and most likely appeared to be a normal, fairly healthy teenager. And then I slipped the disc in my jaw in my second year of college. I had just switched schools and there wasn’t enough housing on campus, so I was commuting about 45 minutes using a car a I borrowed from a friend while he was out of the country. The car broke down a few weeks into the semester and I didn’t have enough money to replace it. Without a way to get to school, I was forced to drop out. I went to work full time as an aerobics instructor. I loved the job, but it was hard on my body.
And then all hell broke loose with the slipped disc. Severe muscle spasms, numbness in my arms and hands, and constant body aches kicked in. In addition to wearing uncomfortable appliances in my mouth to allow the disc to move back into place, I was prescribed high dose muscle relaxers that provided some relief, but created unpleasant side effects. Acid reflux, more intense and more frequent intestinal discomfort, and severe seasonal allergies were now part of my already long list of symptoms. Needless to say, teaching aerobics was no longer possible.
I utilized physical therapy, muscle relaxers, pain relievers and chiropractic care to manage my symptoms. I was still symptomatic, but functional. Most of the time. I went back to school locally and studied health sciences, but did not pursue a career in health after graduating. I was under the impression that I wouldn’t make much money without furthering my education and narrowing down a niche, and I needed some time just to live a little after all that I had been through.
I managed to survive my 20’s without any further injuries or increased challenges.
And I was blessed with a healthy baby boy at age 29. I had my second son when I was 33 and my health issues were once again exacerbated. I was in constant physical pain, which made it impossible for me to get quality sleep. I had severe muscle spasms that literally made my bed shake. I was constantly in and out of bed, trying to get comfortable. I was ridiculously overtired and uncomfortable all of the time, and felt like a walking zombie. I managed to keep my life going, maintaining a part time job with big responsibilities and caring for my young children and our home. But every day was an immense struggle. Looking back, I honestly do not know how I managed to function at all in that state.
One morning, while dropping my children off at day care before work, I broke down. I had two beautiful, healthy children, a loving husband and a welcoming home. The most important things I had longed for were mine, but I was so miserably unhealthy that each day was a challenge for me. I desperately wanted to feel good and enjoy my life!
I made a commitment that I would find a way to get better, no matter what.
That commitment led me into the world of nutrition and holistic healing, and my health finally began to improve. But not before I had another scare.
I was having trouble breathing and I was home alone in the early morning with my two young sons. I was afraid I would pass out and something would happen to my boys. I ended up having a full-blown panic attack, but didn’t know that at the time and thought I was having a stroke. Fortunately, my husband, my parents and the ambulance were all on their way before I could no longer speak (or feel my body).
I was very fortunate that it wasn’t something serious that day, but it took months to figure out what was causing the breathing issues, which continued. It was a very rare symptom of indigestion (GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease) which was finally controlled with medication, and which I was later able to heal with holistic intervention.
While it took me several years to truly recover full health, including the GERD, I had incremental improvements from the beginning.
This confirmed for me that I was on the right path and gave me the faith I needed to keep moving forward. It was not easy or quick, but it is the best thing I have ever done for myself.
Each increased level of health I achieved, inspired me to commit to accessing the next level. I am eternally grateful for the lessons I learned during those challenging years when I struggled with my health, but I will never go back to that miserable state that I barely existed in!
I am very proud of and grateful for what I have achieved with my health.
I find great comfort knowing that I do everything within my power to protect my health from day to day. My journey is far from over. I am, and will always be, a work in progress in all aspects of my health. The notion of achieving perfect health and then stepping away from it is outdated and risky. We have far too many interference factors at this point in time. Chemicals in our food, water, and in the environment, the demands and stresses of a fast-paced lifestyle, and many other factors challenge our bodies in ways we have never experienced before.
My success in my own healing reignited a passion from my college years, and I dove into learning everything I could about holistic health.
I explored nutrition, whole food, herbal supplementation, and various kinds of bodywork such as craniosacral therapy and myofascial release. I studied privately, devouring books and programs created by brilliant minds with great insight that had been pushed aside in the name of advancement and technology. And I studied with wonderful practitioners who were seeing the benefits of implementing holistic healing modalities every day with their own clients. Along the way, I completely overhauled my lifestyle and found great success in shifting my choices. I started by addressing strictly physical issues, but later became very passionate about also examining and upgrading my mental, emotional and spiritual health. This combined approach has brought me to a level of health that I could never have imagined possible during all those years of struggle.
I knew I couldn’t possibly be the only one who had been suffering with health challenges that weren’t relieved through traditional health care.
My experience, the healing I found, and my new knowledge created a deep calling to help others. In November of 2004, I opened a private holistic practice. My initial focus was bodywork, but I became more passionately connected to my clinical nutrition work as I saw what worked best for my clients. I continued to learn and refine my offerings to support others in the quickest, most comprehensive modalities available. The changes I witness in my clients never cease to amaze and inspire me! But by the end of 2013 I was starting to realize that I could only help a limited amount of people in a one-on-one setting without overworking myself. So I set my sights on helping more people by launching a second website to share all my accumulated knowledge and resources in a more public way.
My vision is to change the way people take care of themselves.
I dream of a society that truly understands how critical excellent health is, a world where every child is raised to prioritize their own health and is given the tools and support they need to make excellent choices for themselves from the earliest possible age.