My desire for health was with me even as a kid. I chose Kashi cereal and did every sport I could fit in after school. I would have argued that I was healthy, and most people would have agreed with me. In many ways I was healthy, but reflecting back, I was missing a whole lot.
At the same time, I struggled with chronic migraines, digestive issues, anxiety, depression, and stress. For some reason I never attributed those symptoms to my “health” being out of balance. Living the “rat race” was contributing greatly to my health problems and I wasn’t making the connection.
After visiting a family member who is the most organic, granola person I knew, I was exposed to other aspects of health. She grew her own food, used non-toxic products, lived a much slower pace of life, and I liked it. I came home determined to do exactly that. But what was that? The information available was endless and I wasn’t sure where to start.
In 2017, I became pregnant with my second son. By then I understood there was more to health than eating clean, non-toxic products, and working out as hard as possible, which was what I believed I should do during my first pregnancy.
During my second pregnancy, I decided I would try slowing down. I searched for prenatal classes near me (instead of hitting the weight room at the gym). Mind the Mat’s Prenatal Yoga 6-Week Series description spoke to me. It wasn’t only an exercise class that was safe for pregnant women but was also educational and empowering.
I soaked up so much during prenatal yoga classes – breathing techniques, birth information, and the radiant energy of the other mamas and the instructor, Sara VanderGoot.
I was so excited when I learned that Mind the Mat also offered a Get Fit After Baby 6-Week Series and Mommy & Me classes. I loved those classes because after having a baby was when I needed even more support and community than before.
Post-pregnancy classes at Mind the Mat helped me build strength in a functional way. The exercises were tailored and safe for moms to realign and stabilize all that had shifted in our bodies during pregnancy and childbirth.
Attending post-pregnancy classes was incredibly beneficial for me in other ways as well. I felt emotionally healthier being surrounded by mamas experiencing similar emotions and difficulties. Sara provided a sacred space for moms to come as they were – tired and raw – and to strengthen and tone while holding and attending to their babies as needed. I signed up again for these specialized classes at Mind the Mat as soon as I found out I was pregnant with my third, a girl!
My pregnancy and childbirth with my second son was unpleasant. I suffered from a severe case of hyperemesis gravidarum for the first four months. I had an emergency cesarean due to his position.
My son had terrible colic which lasted four months. I found out I was pregnant with a third, my daughter, when my second son was nine months old. My husband and I decided we had to prioritize and commit to taking care of me and the baby girl, so we hired Sara to be my doula. I learned so much from that experience about how to nurture myself. I knew slowing down was going to be necessary. I craved it. I knew it was deleterious to continue the fast-paced, high-stress lifestyle so typical of city moms.
The difference between my second and third pregnancy and post-pregnancy experience was like day and night. My third pregnancy was amazing, and my birth was a three hour, unmedicated vaginal birth (VBAC). Post-pregnancy I felt joyful and energized. I believe this was all due to taking better care of myself and slowing way down.
The health journey I set out on in 2015 when I was pregnant with my first son was blossoming. I was determined to continue down this enlightening path. I started working at the front desk at Mind the Mat to nourish and surrounded myself with a wonderful environment and community.
At the time, I also began studying at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a health coach. This was pivotal for me. I deepened my understanding of health in a holistic way. It changed my life not only because it gave me a meaningful purpose and profession but also because I was able to apply the knowledge to elevate my own health.
Today I own my own health coaching business called Mind Body Health Coaching specializing in stress management. I coach individuals and groups and host workshops. In fact, I am teaching a Specialized 6-week Series at Mind the Mat called New Year, New Eating Habits which starts in January 2021.
Reflecting back, I understand why the “rat race” mentality was affecting me so negatively as a kid. Now I can put that experience into words and information to help myself and others. I do not have to succumb to the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” motto to be successful. For a while, I thought I would give up success in turn for peace. I was willing to do it.
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition gave me the opportunity to feel fulfilled in my career and in other aspects of my life at the same time. Taking care of myself means attending to my diet, body, faith, relationships, and career. That’s holistic health. That’s balance.
Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga was founded in 2008 by Megan Brown, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Sara VanderGoot, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 200, RYT 500). In their private practices as physical therapist and massage therapist respectively Megan and Sara observed that many of their clients were coming in with similar needs: relief for neck and shoulder tension and low back pain as well as a desire for more flexibility in hips and legs, stability in joints, and core strength.
Together Megan and Sara carefully crafted a curriculum of Pilates and yoga classes to address needs for clients who are pregnant, postpartum, have injuries or limitations, who are new to Pilates and yoga, and for those who are advanced students and are looking for an extra challenge.