Through Personal Trials, Health/Wellness Coach Monica Parodi Changes LivesBy Kaylene Peoples | July 18th, 2013 | Category: Fitness, Fitness Couture, Health, Interviews, Nutrition | 1 Comment »
“If something ever happens to me, I will be able to look my children in the eye and say with all of my heart that I made choices each and every day to do everything I could to be healthy.” –Health/Wellness Coach Monica Parodi
Interviewed by Kaylene Peoples (Bold)
Responses by Monica Parodi
After reading your background on your website, I think you are what most people would call a walking miracle. Coming from losing lean muscle from a high risk, bed-ridden twin pregnancy to a cancer scare, please tell me in your own words where you channeled the strength to regain your physical acuity and muscular strength.
Yes, I was on bed rest from 10 weeks on with my twin pregnancy, which not only made my muscle fade away but also every ounce of motivation. It was torturous but necessary to endure. One would think that I would be counting down the days to be active. But with a two-year-old and newborn twins, it took every bit of energy just to keep up with them. As time passed, I took on the thought process that I was a mother of small children, and gone were the days of being “selfish” and taking time to work out. I had always stayed in shape for vanity, and the importance of health was something I took for granted. I thought that having a lean, toned body was a thing of the past and that I was supposed to settle for Mom jeans and the fact that I would never look the same after having three children. It’s a sad reality that many mothers think that it’s selfish to take care of ourselves and that we accept that we will never look the same.
My world changed when I went in for my annual OB appointment. The doctor was concerned that there was a mass in my abdomen large enough to feel just by touching my stomach. I had an ultrasound right away, which led to more tests, ultrasounds, CT Scans, and specialists. I had masses on my ovaries, bladder, and a fistula that showed up on a cystogram. There are many causes of fistulas, like a hysterectomy, radiation, etc.; but none of the known causes were applicable to me, leaving the last known cause—stage IV cancer. I had cared for my aunt in the final weeks of her cancer battle, and I knew all too well what that painful journey would look like. I did not have one thought of a bucket list the way you see on TV. What I had was GUILT. I would look at my children and feel physically ill, thinking about how selfish I had been by NOT working out and eating healthy. What if I had been exercising regularly? What if I got more rest? What if the sweets and sodas I used to get me through the day caused this? The guilt that I lived with is difficult to describe in words, but hell on earth comes close. I knew that my children would be devastated and be forever changed if they had to watch me lose my life to cancer. I felt responsible and was consumed with “should-haves.”
I went in for surgery with my OB and Uro-Oncologist, and even though I was nervous, I had a feeling of hope that I didn’t share with anyone else. After the surgeries, both doctors that performed the surgery came in to give me an update. The Uro-oncologist did the talking, and said, “I don’t have an explanation for you, but I am positive that fistula we saw was not there. I removed part of your bladder and all of the initial tests of the tumors appear to be benign. We will know for sure in a couple weeks, but I couldn’t be more pleased with how the surgery turned out.” When they walked out of the room, I let out a sigh that was most likely heard down the hospital halls. I took a deep breath and said to myself, if my results come back benign, I will take care of myself and eat right, workout, and do everything in my power to never experience this fear again, or have my lack of health hurt my children. And that is exactly what I have done. That same doctor told me to hold my horses; that I had to wait at least six weeks to exercise, and that considering I hadn’t worked out in years that I could wait a little longer.
I immersed myself in studies, reading as much information on the power of nutrition to prevent disease and especially cancer. I slowly eliminated all of my bad habits and began to feel better than I had in my entire life. I could not get enough information and knowledge, so I enrolled in Cornell’s Plant-Based Nutrition Program, and then on to my Master’s and am currently pursuing a Doctorate in Holistic Nutrition. It’s a really simple choice for me. When people say, “Live a little. Have a bite of this or that,” I just smile inside and say, “No, thank you.” My mind immediately goes to the film from the cystogram that I keep in my office as a reminder. Even with my untrained eye, I can see the mass and the fistula. There isn’t any harmful food in the world that would be worth that feeling of guilt that is forever etched in my mind and heart.
If something ever happens to me, I will be able to look my children in the eye and say with all of my heart that I made choices each and every day to do everything I could to be healthy. I will have no regrets. When that day comes, my children will know that they were my priority, and that I lived a healthy lifestyle. They will be proud of the Health Legacy that I leave as I pay it forward not only to them but to everyone that crosses my path. I never knew when I was eating poorly that I felt “bad.” Now I know what LIVING truly feels like, and it’s not enjoying junk food. I am more patient, focused, and a better mother, and an all around better ME. I want to share the powerful feeling of true health with the world.
You mentioned P90X. Let’s talk about your fitness regimen.
P90X is the program that I started with the moment I was cleared from surgery to begin exercise. When I was on bed rest, I watched the infomercial countless times, and I was ready to experience a transformation on the outside as powerful as the one that took place on the inside. I started the program and completed the 90 days, 6 days a week, and never missed a single workout . . . and Tony Horton made it fun. I had a six-pack for the first time in my life, and the results gave me the motivation to stick with it. I lost the “mommy apron” and the jiggly thighs, and I surely never wanted to see them again. I workout at 5:30 a.m. before my children get out of bed, so at home workouts were ideal for me. P90X and P90X2 are the base of my fitness program today. I finished a large home gym, and I do a combination of power moves, athletic training and P90X.
What obstacles did you face before reaching your goals?
Criticism from family and friends was the hardest part, and that remained an obstacle for a long time. I would hear things like, “You barely have time for anything with three small children,” and “I can’t believe you want to spend your second chance working out instead of with your kids.” Now mind you, the people that said this were surely sleeping while I was up working out. My friends and family weren’t ready to change. I started talking about nutrition, studies, exercise, health, and they did not like the new me and were very vocal about it. Luckily, I have a strong personality and did not give in just to fit in, or because they had negative opinions about my new lifestyle. I strongly believe that if you are doing something GOOD and have the right intentions that you must plant your feet firmly in the sand. I was not going to bend, so eventually they did. It wasn’t easy, but I now have healthier, happier friends and family.
Please tell me about your career as a Health/Wellness Coach?
I was born to educate. It’s my purpose in life. I had to experience my struggles in order to be able to teach people how to go from junk food and surviving to living life and THRIVING. I’ve been on both sides, so I can relate to the struggles and temptations. It’s incredibly rewarding each and every time I have someone tell me that I’ve changed their life and that they feel better than they ever have. A healthy lifestyle and nutrition has the power to SAVE lives. I get to be a part of miracles each and every day. My children are extremely proud of me and what I do as a career. They ask about my clients, care about them, and tell me often how awesome I am for helping other people. It’s a blessing to do what I love, something I am passionate about and have my family proud of what I do. My career as a Health & Nutrition expert is based on holistic nutrition. I help people achieve optimal health, increased energy, enhanced natural beauty, and to live a balanced life. To perform your best, feel your best, act your best and think your best, you have to have the biochemistry right in the body, and that starts with nutrition and exercise. I work with individuals and families on how to transition to physical and emotional wellness.
What are the biggest pitfalls some of your clients face when getting into shape?
Trusting the process and being patient. There are so many shiny products dangled in front of people for quick fixes. I see so many people quit right before their breakthrough and take the easy (but not effective long term) way out. Most great things in life only come from a hard, uphill climb, and it takes some longer than others to realize that.
How do you overcome the proverbial “plateau”? I know for me, after I’ve lost a certain amount of weight, it just doesn’t want to come off. What advice can you give?
Change. Keep doing more. I do two things every Sunday, and that is meal prep and setting my intentions for the week. I pick one area in nutrition and one in fitness and come up with a plan to turn it up a notch. I accomplish those goals and move onto the next. There is that saying that “results only happen out of your comfort zone,” and that is the absolute truth. Your body adapts, so it’s important to keep pushing past what becomes comfortable. During a plateau keep a journal. Track your energy, moods, what you are eating, and the intensity of your workouts. Be honest with yourself, and identify areas where you can make changes. If you have the resources, then go see an expert. Maybe it’s a trainer needed to write you a new program, or even going to get blood work done to make sure it’s not hormonal or health issues. If those options don’t help, then I would recommend seeing a Holistic Health expert like myself.
Highest High in your career/journey?
There have been so many it’s hard to pick the highest. I am blessed to be on this amazing journey right now. I am a cast member of P90X2, and that was a highlight and experience of a lifetime. I have been part of the P90X crew doing QVC shows, live group workouts, and an epic military tour. Those experiences make the top five as well. Each time I watch my children share their passion for nutrition and health with others, that is an accomplishment and proud feeling like no other.
This one is easy! I’ll never forget this moment as long as I live. At the time it was rock bottom but has turned out to be a defining moment that has had a positive impact on my life. I was sitting with the Uro-Oncologist going over the latest tests, and I was doing the “woe is me” pity-party. I said to him, “How can I have cancer when I don’t drink or smoke and I’m so healthy?” He looked at me and said “You need to put your big girl panties on and realize you are not healthy. As an oncologist, I’d rather you have a pack of cigarettes a day over all the sodas, sweets, and junk you eat on a daily basis. Monica, we went over your history, and you don’t take care of yourself and I’ve never seen you walk in here without a fast-food cup.” I immediately broke out in hives for the first time in my life and got hives every time I had to see him. He put the thought in my head that there was power in nutrition, and he could not have been more right. Each choice we make either moves us toward disease or prevents disease. I owe this life lesson to him.
What advice can you give for those people trying to get fit without a trainer?
Recruit friends to join you or find an accountability partner. Social Media allows you to expand your inner circle, and you can look for a partner online. There are many home programs and workouts available online to get you started. It’s critical to have support because you will surely have criticism along the way. I STILL have an accountability partner and always will. I do change partners every 90 days or so. I text my partner and let them know that my workout is complete and my nutrition is on point. There are times I have goals like getting more rest, working on flexibility, etc., and my accountability partner keeps me focused on those goals.
Any last words?
I would love to tell your readers not to settle. If you don’t wake up feeling amazing and have sustainable energy throughout the day, then seek it with a vengeance. It does exist! If you are moody, depressed, overweight, find it difficult to concentrate, then don’t settle for that. LIVE! Make changes until you are living a life that’s the healthiest, happiest, and most passionate version of yourself.
What else is going on in your career? I understand there is talk of a possible TV career.
I was keeping that one a secret. Yes, the opportunity to host a nutrition show for a top network has been discussed with me. We shall see. It’s important that I evaluate each opportunity presented to me against my priority statement. If a sparkly opportunity doesn’t put my family first, then it’s an easy decision to say no. I want to change the health of people and make a difference but only through outlets that keep my children proud of what I do and not resentful. I would love to write a book one day, and am thrilled to have a column writing health information for families in Vegan Health and Fitness Magazine, which is an internationally circulated magazine. I am releasing some meal plans on my website and will also be offering a three-month course. It’s educating that’s my passion, and my website will provide a platform for that, as well as some projects in the works.