My struggles with health and wellness are not the typical struggles that you read about from health coaches. I was never obese, nor did I have a physical condition I had to overcome. But I do relate to my clients by sharing my story with them and hoping sharing it hear now will offer you some insight to how I work. I believe through sharing honest stories our society as a whole can heal and I hope you find some healing through reading my story.

My struggle and drive to become well was more cerebral and less tangible. Like I said I was never diagnosed with obesity or a chronic disease. There are signs of heart disease in my family but my signs for potential heart disease leave me on the very not likely side. My struggle involved anxiety, depression, and other self destructive behaviors that stem from these feelings.

At a young age I identified as an athletic healthy person. Not right off the bat, my little league career a bit of a disaster. “Off the bat” :-), get it, lol. Trying all the other sports besides I could, wrestling, football, rugby, golf, snowboarding, the list goes on. All with moderate success most notable wrestling, which I continued to compete into college.

Like any athlete looking for a competitive edge I started to research nutrition. Wrestling is a weight class sport, so the ability to control my weight and be healthy at the same time was important. The internet at the time wasn’t the same internet we know today. So I looked for information the old fashioned way I signed up for classes, talked to other athletes, coaches and personal trainers. Advise I got included: 

“After not eating for three days (to make weight for a competition) what your body needs is a weight gainer shake before you compete and a protein shake after.”

“Pizza has all the food groups so it’s actually very healthy, just sop the grease off the top before you eat it.” 

“Just put your fork done in-between bites so you don’t eat so fast.” Because you know the only way to control your weight is to restrict calories. Eye-roll and deep breath. 

Wrestling and being an athlete was important to me. Both because I wanted to be better but really because I identified as someone who was athletic. If I wasn’t good at my sport, what did that say about my person. Needless to say that I had a lot of pressure to be a certain weight. Self-imposed and social pressures from my community which helped when I was young to severely restrict calories at the time. To this day I wonder how that effected my young physique and mental development. I would find myself fantasizing how nice it would be. To not care about health concerns or my weight. To just accept being overweight or slightly unhealthy. After college athletics ended I did get to experience this, for a short time atleast. 

Without the pressure for wrestling to stay at a certain weight I was able to relax. Eat more of the food I loved. Not to much though of coarse. I mean, I still wanted to look good for someone special. This slight feeling of reprieve without the pressure to fit into a weight-class was short lived.

At some-point around my late twenty’s I started to gain weight and signs of aging were piling on rapidly. Happening quicker then I would have liked. As an athlete and someone with a general light hearted spirit people always guessed I was younger then I was. 

It did not feel good when this people started to guess my age or older. 

Looking at myself in the mirror I started to notice puffiness, dark under eyes and wrinkles. I told myself, “this was just the way life was now and I shouldn’t be so vain.” It started a very unhealthy relationship with my body. Not wanting anyone including myself with my shirt off. Because here was a problem I could do something about. At the time I thought it was because I was lazy and would only get worse, because I knew the answer. We all did. Eat less and workout more, it was that simple. There was something I was going to have to face.

I had peaked and this was something I needed to accept as a fact of life. 

Keep in mind I wasn’t in “bad shape.” According to doctors, medical professionals and friends I was “perfectly healthy”. Low signs of delaying cancer, heart disease and low risk for heart disease I wasn’t sick. But I didn’t need any medications and I was above the average for signs for all common modern conditions. It was nice to hear these things but never really helped me feel good. I wanted to be more then “not sick” I wanted experience health. I wanted to have control of my health rather then watch my control slowly slip away the more I aged. 

I wanted more then to avoid being categorized as being “not sick”. 

To have the power of knowing what I needed to do if I wanted to be healthier. Maybe I wouldn’t take the option but to know if I wanted to stop the slow decline in health how to stop or reverse it. I’m not sure if I knew it back then but so much of my anxiety was caused from not knowing what I could do to change, if I wanted to. But the general understanding left me confused. I mean it seemed to make sense but why did it stop working for me, eat less. Move more, avoid saturated fat, floss daily and you’ll be ok. But why was it getting so hard?

Why was it getting so hard?

Anxiety and depression feelings fueled destructive behaviors like drinking and poor intimate relationships. My identity as an athlete was slipping away as I had old injuries that seemed to get worse not better with time. Wearing a knee brace constantly weather at work or in the gym and popping Advil like Tictacs was how I got by. Not knowing what chronic inflammation was and that I could do something about it I just accepted it. A sense of learned helplessness set in and I just explained it that I had peaked. 

Peaked - I told myself thats just the way it was and I was going to have to get used to it. 

Through some dumb luck or perhaps just trying to keep an open mind I got introduced to the benefits of eating real food. It sounds silly but really this that was the turning point. It didn’t accuse to me earlier that fresh food, with flavor could help me. You might think of it as low/slow carbohydrate and less packaged/fast foods, but I just think about eating real food. Like any change I had to hear it a few times. Hearing it from friends at first, then lectures and then diving into my own research. 

Gary Taubes book, ‘Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It’ was a bit of a water shed moment for me. Other thought leaders like Mark Sisson, David Asprey, Dr. Atkinz, Robb Wolf, Michael Pollan, Charles Poliquin, Heather Kelly and My Father helped inform my opinion’s about health and food. 

My father was a Three Star Classically trained Master French Chef. Which I feel was a big reason why I didn’t like answers that didn’t involve real food. I know lots of people find enough of the success they are looking for from quick fixes like powdered meal replacements. But that was never an option for me, I love food to much. 

After endless research and personal testing I find that what tastes better is better, when you used traditional methods and avoided sugar. Once I realized that I started to get really excited about living healthier. Even the struggles I had all made since with this new way of thinking.

“What tastes better to you is better for you, use traditional methods and avoided sugar. Basically trust what your body is telling you”

My body started to change in ways that I had struggled for before. Now things were just falling into place. Finally my “perfectly healthy” midsection fat just disappeared. Not only was I better then when I was at my worst, I was looking better then my best. Better then when I was a college athlete and more then 10 years later. 

I didn’t peak after and still haven’t!

Once the fat came off my skin looked better/younger started. The extra weight and puffiness gone. Then my dark under eyes and wrinkles slowly faded. I really don’t know how to explain it other then I just looked younger. Skin tighter, brighter face, I looked and felt like I had more energy. 

I am all about body positive and loving who you are no mater what your body looks like. But people should know that looking healthier can be a sign of being healthier. Which means you can feel better in the body you have.

This new found health came with extra energy I didn’t have before. Energy to live more life the way I wanted to. Staying athletic and sexy while I age.

At this point I was studying more then just whole food nutrition. Nutrition is the biggest game changer but not the only understanding needed to know to master natural health. I was studying all sorts of preventative-holistic lifestyle habits. My guiding question being, “does this fix the cause or just treat a symptom.” With food I had found what I was missing in my diet, through behavior change I was able to fix it. With other health avenues I was excited to apply this same strategy.

I stared sharing what I knew with my friends at first. Then friends referred other people to me. I like helping people in many ways so It’s been really wonderful helping others make sense of their world and bodies. Teaching people how to make better choices then working with them to help them fit it into their life.

Always food first then sleep, water, breathing, mineral/nutrient deficiency, flow state, emf exposure, mental blocks, grounding and anything that would help get to the root issues that our modern world caused.

I struggled for a while how to define myself and role of helping others. Finally I settled on a Health Coach. Coaching not teaching, not prescribing, not casting judgment or telling people how to live their lives. By coaching and being with people in their experience making sense of what life through at them, with them. Only succeeding when the team, my clients and I succeeded to achieve their goals. 

It’s been rewarding work so far and I love hearing all the success stories of how I’ve helped people throughout the years. It’s been nice putting my story into words. 

Thank you for reading this I hope you gain a sense of hope in gaining control of your life’s challenges if thats something you seek. 

All the best,

Jerry LaBonté