I have a passion for living the best life I possibly can, and sharing that life with as many people as I can to do exactly the same thing. Though I’ve been a lifelong student of nutrition, health and fitness, I found myself facing the same dilemma most face in midlife. I felt stuck in a high level, high stress job. I felt sick, tired and literally like I was suffering from a terminal illness without a diagnosis.
I knew I had to make changes in my life or I would quickly become one of the medical statistics in America. I grieved the thought of being active all my life, only to lose it all at a time when I should have been enjoying it the most.
The day I left my corporate job, I was:
- More than 70 pounds overweight
- Suffering from significant health decline
- Feeling hopeless and fearful about my future
If I was going to expect any reasonable measure of a happy and healthy life, I had to take control. What’s more, it dawned on me that the job I’d been killing myself for was not at all as stable and secure as its brick and mortar once led me to believe. My career ended on March 5th that year and I walked out of that position and that industry for the last time. I never looked back.
I determined I was going to do what I love, what I’m passionate about and find a way to make money at it. I knew if I could figure out how to undo the negative impact my previous career had had on my life, my health and my emotional well-being, I could then show others the way. So I set off on a new mission.
Honestly, it was a trial and error process trying to figure out where I fit into the world where my role was no longer being dictated to me by an employer. I dabbled, brainstormed, and changed focus about every two weeks as I tried on new roles and niches. None of them felt quite right and, although I was able to help others, I also felt I was walking back into the same situation I’d left.
In the end, I knew my place and purpose in this world is to help others live healthy, happy and whole.
My Own Journey
I’ve been physically active all my life. I went to college on a tennis scholarship and played competitive sports for twenty years. I never had any sort of weight issue. I took up running in my mid-thirties and to this day I love to pound the pavement.
At the age of 35, I was diagnosed with a very rare form of thyroid cancer—Hurthle Cell Carcinoma. When I was diagnosed in 1993, I was one of only 30 or so cases documented in the US. This type of cancer is slow growing, extremely aggressive and had no known treatment. To make matters worse, the surgeon did not get clear margins, meaning the tumor had invaded the capsule surrounding the thyroid and could be growing in my throat or even spread to other parts of my body.
They had only removed one lobe of the thyroid during the initial surgery. I opted for them to go back in a second time and remove the other half nineteen days later. I also made the tough decision to not try any other treatment the oncologist suggested because he already knew they would be ineffective. Instead, I turned to a plant based diet, exercise and trusted God with my life. That was over twenty years ago and I’ve had no recurrence of the disease.
I continued to eat a plant based (vegetarian) diet for over fifteen years and felt terrific. I ran marathons, century bicycle events (100 miles on a bicycle in one day) and backpacked in the back country.
In 2006 while backpacking during winter on the Appalachian Trail, I slipped in ice and plummeted down a mountain, suffering multiple fractures in my lumbar spine. For several years after the accident, I accepted my new normal of inactivity, pain medication and muscle relaxants. The doctors gave no hope of a better quality of life than that and wrote prescriptions for three hundred pain pills at a time. Seriously.
I gained weight, became weaker and felt incredibly old. One day I determined I would find a way to reverse that. I explored, experimented and finally found routines that improved my pain level. It continued to improve until finally I was consistently pain free. When I reached that milestone, I knew it was not a fluke, placebo effect or just my imagination. I truly had recovered.
I flushed the meds and moved on with life in a healthy way.
Unfortunately, I worked a very stressful corporate job. Due to market considerations, governmental regulations and a serious general economic downturn, the industry I worked in made changes that placed me at odds with it. Every day I was forced to make decisions and conduct business that was no longer congruent with my core beliefs. Quite frankly, I no longer believed in what I did, a critical component to my sense of purpose and ultimately my overall success.
As the stress increased, I slowly migrated away from my effective vegetarian diet to the All-American unhealthy diet. I even began to eat fast food, going through drive thru windows and ate comfort foods based on my emotions rather than the desire for good health as a motivation for eating. It was easy to order pizza online. Chips and salsa were a staple. Vegetables were a fading memory.
The result was disastrous.
My blood pressure began an upward trend for the first time in my life. Weight packed on and refused to come off. My fasting blood sugar was borderline. I felt awful. I began suffering from ocular migraines (a visual episode that is a precursor to heart disease, stroke and more). I spent weekends sleeping or lying in my recliner chair flipping through hundreds of channels on cable TV, eating ice cream or popcorn. I isolated myself from the rest of the world. I was killing myself. Literally.
What Was Really Happening
I knew better. My decades of study, teaching and experience could cite chapter and verse on what my new lifestyle was doing to me. So why would someone as educated about this allow this to happen? For the first time in my life, I felt stuck. I was no longer the invincible youngster who could conquer anything. I was a fat, middle aged woman.
I accepted the lie that there were no options. I listened as well—meaning friends told me I had the middle aged spread and that I needed to face the fact that I was getting older.
What I knew and did not want to admit was that I had plummeted from an amazingly healthy lifestyle to one that was killing me. I was suffering from a self-inflicted wound, one that would be fatal if I didn’t treat it quickly.
What I Did
I began to exercise regularly and forced myself to keep up my routine, even when I didn’t feel like doing it, which at first was all the time. I alternated running, weight training in the gym, riding my bicycle, just to keep myself from getting bored. It also helped protect my body from suffering an overuse injury, something which often occurs when a person goes all-in on any one particular form of exercise.
When I packed my desk and walked out of my old job, one thing immediately changed. I was at once out from under the stress of that industry. Although I’d face other challenges with their own stressors, I was no longer at odds with my work. That quickly brought my stress level back into balance.
I eliminated the bad foods I’d grown accustomed to eating and returned to a plant-based diet. All I had to do was view a few videos on Netflix about animal-based foods, processed and fast foods to provide the motivation to eliminate them from my diet for good.
I integrated walking and riding my bicycle into my daily routine. If I could walk or cycle to any place, I did that rather than drive. I became skilled at living life without the use of a motor vehicle and discovered not only the health benefits, but a completely liberating lifestyle as well.
In 2013, I set off on a solo, self-contained around the country bicycle tour. Dubbing it the Road to Freedom Tour, I sought out women who had been the victims of violent assault and helped them. I rode over 4,000 miles and ministered to thousands of women. Eating beans cooked over a fire not only fueled my body, but my pioneer spirit as well.
While on the Tour, I was introduced to an incredible nutritional supplement. Being from the lineage of Doubting Thomas, I would have nothing to do with it at first. I DON’T do supplements. But with every tomato I ate from the grocery store that tasted like wax and knowing it had been genetically altered in some way, I kept coming back to the stark reality that I was not getting the complete nutrition my body needed solely from the foods I chose to eat, no matter how healthy the choices appeared to be.
So, I tried Reliv products. The results were astonishing. During 2013, I lost 75 pounds and am back to my normal weight for the first time in almost a decade. The aches and pains I had are completely gone. In fact, I did not even have Tylenol in the house. I remember going to the pharmacy thinking, “I should pick up some, just in case.” I stood in the isle looking over my options. In the end, I didn’t buy a single pill. I didn’t need to.
Like thousands, today I get up in the morning, drink a shake and am set for a day of amazing productivity. I love life and am passionate about helping others do the same.
What I Actually Do, and Why I Do It
People ask me frequently what I do for a living. When I tell them I’m a wellness coach, they look at me with the puppy dog look, tilting their head to one side trying to understand what they see or hear. They just don’t get it. They can’t conceive of the notion that individuals need a coach to help them do the right thing.
Like me several years ago, so many Americans feel like they are stuck. They can’t (or think they can’t) afford organic foods, so they settle for McDonalds drive-thru. Really. They do. They jumped from one extreme to the other, without even noticing all the choices in between they were passing up.
Life is cluttered. Confusing. Contradictory. We’ve become polarized in our thinking about health. TV ads and our doctors have conditioned us to take a pill for what ails us. Many times the side effects of the pills are worse than the original symptoms. Fortunately, there are alternatives.
It really is possible to live a healthy lifestyle AND live it on a budget. Even a tight budget. With a little planning and execution, my clients completely turn their train-wreck approach to life and enjoy feeling the best they have in decades… perhaps ever.
I work one-on-one with them to determine what needs to change. Then together, we devise and implement a workable solution and craft a new lifestyle they love, is healthy and propels them to reach the goals they set for themselves.
There are some folks who have the ability to accomplish this on their own. Kudos to them. However, the rest of us need someone to come along side us on this journey to:
- Remind us we’re not as “stuck” as we feel like we are
- Bring their vast knowledge and decades of trial and error to our situation
- Recognize not only what’s going wrong but WHY it is… and to help fix it
- To point us to resources that can truly change our lives
- Help us discern between the correct and incorrect information that is out there.
- I have a PhD in Clinical Counseling
- I have decades of experience helping others, dealing with and finding ways to thrive in spite of chronic physical and emotional challenges
- I have studied the human body, and what effect our actions have on it for decades
- I have the God-given gift of encouragement and utilize that gift in working with every client.
- I have served in almost every arena and job force, providing a unique insight into how that environment negatively impacts your health and well-being.
- I am an Independent Reliv Distributor
Do you have a question about me that I didn’t answer? Don’t ponder it. Contact me and I’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have. You can contact me by:
I look forward to connecting with you and helping you live the best live you possibly can!
To Your Health!
Reba J. Hoffman, PhD
Master Wellness Coach
Independent Reliv Distributor