wellness warrior feature: meredith gerstenby sincerelycaroline
I am so excited to kickoff my a brand new feature, Wellness Warrior, where I highlight an ultra-cool guy or gal who is making his or her mark as a health mover and shaker.
Today, I’m chatting with Meredith Gersten, a stellar gal I met through our mutual studies at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Meredith is a fitness, whole foods and lifestyle expert who beautifully shares her personal wellness story with anyone who might need a bit of inspiration. She is a dynamic powerhouse with a personality that sparkles. Her Instagram feed (@meredithgersten) alone will have you hooked on her vibrant, dazzling viewpoint on a healthy lifestyle.
Meredith is also a well-known supporter of endometriosis research and efforts as a result of her personal struggle with the autoimmune disease. She is currently raising money for the Million Women March for Endometriosis 2014 in Washington, DC on March 13th, a worldwide awareness campaign. Her goal is to raise money to help shuttle as many people as possible (women with endo and their supporters) to the actual walk in DC. Meredith is also one of the Precinct Managers for the upcoming walk. “I’ve met so many amazing women who also have this disease and am actually going to be able to meet a handful of them at this walk,” Meredith said. “We are just trying to really get the word out there about endo.”
Learn more about Meredith’s efforts here, and read below for her total wellness philosophy.
sincerely caroline: Can you tell me a bit about your health history (road from endometriosis to where you are today)?
meredith gersten: I have endometriosis, an autoimmune disease, that effects over 176 million women and girls worldwide. In a short sweet statement, endometriosis happens when the cells of the lining of the uterus grows in other areas of the body. This leads to extreme pains, bloating, emotional trials, physical activities can be extremely limited and even possibly trouble with getting pregnant. I have been dealing with this disease for over 10 years, had 2 surgeries, been to multiple doctors, put on tons of different medications, given tons of shots & had countless tests done on me. After my second surgery, my doctor told me that he will give me these shots twice a month that will stop my period to see if that helps with my pains. No other options. My immediate response was “OK.” I mean he’s the doctor, right? I woke up the next morning and thought that can not be my only answer. So, I made the decision I was going to allow my body to naturally recover and I would find a way to heal myself.
Once I started really looking into how I was going to do this, I realized how much food played a huge role in my daily pains. I immediately removed red meat, dairy, soy, eggs, chocolate, all refined sugars and wheat from my diet. Within two months I felt and physically saw a difference. Endometriosis causes extreme bloating to the point where I would actually look six months pregnant. Once I changed how I ate, the bloating was COMPLETELY eliminated. My stomach was instantly flat! Something that I’ve never had. I still ate chicken and turkey but after learning about the food industry, doing my own research on where my food was coming from the ethical side of me just knew I could longer even eat that. Everyone around me didn’t understand why I gave up the poultry. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy because I’m a very social person and going out at least I knew I could eat chicken. But I knew what I was doing was the right thing for myself and my body. People are going to have their opinions regardless of what I do. I couldn’t take anyone else’s opinion to heart besides my own.
Not even a month after going full vegan, I no longer had any pains, bloating and was able to fly through my workouts (I’m a huge fitness junkie). The experience I felt within the first two months of being vegan was life changing. I started playing around with new recipes, vegetables and ingredients I never heard of. Fruits actually started to taste like candy. My body would crave all natural whole foods. I also love being able to prove to everyone that yes as a vegan, I do get enough protein for someone who exercises daily.
Today I am pain free, I ran my first ever half marathon and I am able to workout every day. I even have baby abs in the making! Changing what I put into my body has given me such freedom from pains that I had to deal with for years. This one change in my lifestyle altered my entire life.. Something that no doctor could ever do for me. I am such a believer that food can change lives! I am living proof that you can control a disease through what you put into your mouth.
sc: What health changes did you make when you first started and what is your dietary/fitness routine like today?
mg: I have only been physically active the past 4 years. I was never that person who liked to workout or watch what I ate. I ate for the enjoyment and the social aspects. Not for health or ethical reasons. Once I started working out, I saw my body changing and just kept pushing. When I first started I removed red meat, dairy, soy, eggs, coffee, chocolate, all refined sugars and wheat from my diet. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and no one believed I could do it. I even almost cried (OK, I did cry!) at a bar watching football with a bunch of friends when everyone was drinking beer, eating nachos and other typical bar food. It hit me in that moment that my life was forever changed. I was not going to be that girl drinking beer and eating nachos watching football. It was emotionally hard when you have that connection to food. Today I am full vegan and a health and fitness instructor! I workout almost every day, am 100% plant-based and have full control over my endometriosis pains. And it’s football season again … and guess what?! I’m not crying! But I am that girl who now brings veggies, homemade hummus and corn chips, and drinks water!
sc: What are some of the major differences between old Meredith and today’s Meredith (symptoms, energy, outlook on life, etc.)?
mg: This one is hard –– ha, ha! I am 100% a different person. The old Meredith was a little on the heavier side, never worked out and my favorite meal was a cheeseburger, french fries and diet coke. I was a coffee addict and Sweet ‘n’ Low lover (gasp!). I ate junk and fast food like it was my job. Most importantly, I was unhappy. If you met me today, you probably wouldn’t believe any of that. I am caffeine and sugar free with the most energy I have ever had in my life. I have zero endometriosis pains. I am an extremely positive person today and believer that food can heal and change lives. I went from knowing nothing or caring about food or fitness to becoming a Health, Wellness and Fitness Coach.
sc: How has discovering your health path opened up doors in other aspects of your life (relationships, job, etc.)?
mg: My health journey has transformed into a new career and life for me. I am a huge advocate for endometriosis awareness and am a Precinct Manager for the Million Woman March for Endometriosis that will be in Washington, DC on Thursday, March 13, 2014. I have been able to meet celebrity fitness trainers and workout live with them, travel all over the country and meet others like myself. Having such a positive career change has transformed my personal life and relationships as well. I am closer to my family, in a great long term relationship and have been able to meet some truly amazing people and create lifelong friendships. I am also able to help my parents get off their medications and have them be with me a lot longer.
sc: Knowing what you know today, what would you say today to the “you” you were when you first began your journey?
mg: Take a deep breath and trust yourself fully.
sc: What is your advice for people who are seeking a healthier life? How would you encourage them to take the first step?
mg: The first thing I always ask is what is their WHY –– Why do they want a healthier life? Once you have a full understanding of why you want something, the process is that much easier. Knowing your end result is so powerful and will guide you through the journey.
sc: What’s your personal motto to live by?
mg: If you want a change, you have to make a change. No one will do it for you. I knew what I wanted my life to be like, so I did something about it and made it happen.
Meredith Gersten is a fitness, whole foods & lifestyle expert in helping women with autoimmune diseases take control of their health through fitness & whole foods by teaching them alternative ways to live the lifestyle they dream of without any pains. Meredith is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (AADP), certified TurboKick & INSANITY Fitness Instructor & a Beachbody coach (recommends at home fitness and workout programs). Meredith’s philosophy is to take charge of your health, gain back parts of your life that became struggles from diseases. Focusing on Family, Relationships, Career, Spirituality, Finances – this is what it means to be healthy, happy and whole. Follow Meredith on Facebook, or Instagram (@meredithgersten) and Twitter (@meredithgersten).
♥ Want to be a featured Wellness Warrior? Think your story will inspire others? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story!