I am a Nutritionist and Wellness Consultant, food photographer, and owner of The Healthiest Me – a healthy lifestyle company based in Youngstown, Ohio. The Healthiest Me grew out of my lifelong passion for nourishing foods, simple nutrition, and finding happiness within it all. Guided by a holistic and always realistic approach, my mission is to inspire a healthy daily lifestyle through balanced nutrition and real food recipes.
From the beginning
I enjoyed playing soccer, playing tennis, and running around the farm. I enjoyed the occasional trip to the gym, stopping by my favorite yoga studio, or a simple run in the park. I enjoyed eating colorful fruits and vegetables, burgers with fries, and pizza with a side of barbecue chips. I loved helping my grandmother cook, watching her bake, and chowing down on each batch of delicious, yet imperfect, Christmas cookies that she often referred to as the “rejects.” For many years, this was my normal. I never thought about my weight, the shape of my body, or my “muscle mass to fat ratio.” I never thought about counting calories, consuming enough protein, or if I should skip out on Friday night pizza. My thoughts were innocent, my intentions were pure, and I really didn’t think eating food and being healthy was all that complicated.
As I entered high school, I began noticing the many comments from girls about their bodies, and how or why they would or would not eat. I honed in on key phrases and words that I was constantly hearing such as “low calorie” and “fat free.” I gave the issue little attention until the problem itself was right in front of me. I was a junior in high school and had just begun my road to recovery from an intensive knee surgery. I was out from any activity for at least six months, intensive rehab three days a week, and missed my entire junior soccer season. While I sat on the sidelines, I was constantly reminded that this was my fault; I didn’t properly strength train, I didn’t eat enough protein, I was too heavy, I wasn’t toned enough, and therefore, I wasn’t good enough. Those moments changed my life, and I was never able to look at food and exercise the same again.
Once I was approved to begin working out again, I feel like I never stopped. I signed up for my very own gym membership, I followed as many #fitfam influencers as possible and I promised myself that I would transform my body. I went to the gym before school (4:00 a.m.) for my “fasted cardio” and would repeat the process after school, after soccer practice (7:30 p.m.), for my “strength training.” All the while, eating as little as possible to ensure that I would look my best. I lived off of protein bars, protein shakes, turkey burgers, tilapia, and vegetables. I rarely enjoyed fruit of any kind; pasta and pizza were completely off the table, and dessert? Never.
During the summer of my senior year, a few weeks prior to leaving for college, I was inspired to share my thoughts, experiences, and journey with the world. At this point, I had been strength training for nearly a year, and began to recognize a newfound confidence within myself. I was obsessive and restrictive, but skinny and more toned; to an eighteen-year-old girl, I think we all know which is mistakenly more valuable. I was utterly terrified of the notorious “Freshman 15,” and I felt distinctively inclined to help other girls live a healthy lifestyle while away at school. I decided to start a blog known as “Keg Stands & Kettle Bells” – the blog for balancing health and university life.
I left for college with the best intentions, but was not at all prepared for what was to come. Within the first three months, I gained twenty-five pounds, I became even more obsessive with my diet, and I found myself in a very anxious place. I was reaching and looking for answers in everything; I tried powerlifting, following a gluten free diet, reverse dieting (in my case, binge eating on everything at night), following more and more ‘influencers,’ and so on. It wasn’t until I visited a Clinical Nutritionist that I recognized my body as being unhealthy. I began having complications with my liver and kidneys, my hormones were all over the place, and I was terribly anxious all the time. I felt like I had failed myself, like I failed my body and that I failed my community. I wanted so badly to be the face of health and wellness; I wanted to be someone who brought women together to talk about and support one another through nutrition and exercise, but I was so far from it.
In that moment, I felt so defeated. I cried all the way back to school, and then I cried some more once I got there. Looking back, I know in my heart that my sadness wasn’t due to what my body looked like or the number on the scale, rather my purpose was taken away from me and made very unclear. I was left with one of the biggest decisions of my life: continue on this path of disordered eating, anxious thoughts, and a sense guilt every time I even thought about food, or quiet my ego, find my healthy balance, educate myself, and grow from the experience.
I transferred back to our hometown university where I enrolled in the Nutrition and Dietetics program. I finished my freshman year while slowly losing weight and gaining a whole lot of knowledge and happiness. After coming to terms with who I was and who I wanted to be, I decided to transfer to Arizona State University and pursue a degree in Nutrition Communications, and work in the field of nutrition counseling and education. So yes, that’s three universities within my first year in college – to my parents, I am sorry! I’m sharing these moments not because they are my proudest moments, but because they are the most defining. I’ve gone through many phases, tried many things, and failed countless times along the way. It was in those moments of complete unhappiness and vulnerability that I was able to learn, understand, and grow. I was able to find what did work for me, what nourishing my body truly meant, and redefine my definition of health and wellness.
I am now a proud graduate of Arizona State University, where I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, as well as gained four years of experience with Nutrition Counseling and Holistic Nutrition. The Healthiest Me has truly become my world; I have never felt such fulfillment than I do when working with clients, creating change, and helping others find what The Healthiest Me means for them. I aspire to continue my work in my hometown and eventually have my very own space where anyone and everyone can come and chat about all things nutrition and wellness, make friendships, be open to change, learn something new, and maybe even enjoy a delicious and healthy treat.
My goal is to provide you with the knowledge, support, and confidence to live the healthiest you, day in and day out. I believe in nourishing my body with real food and real ingredients, indulging with a treat day every now and again, and loving my body every step of the way. The Healthiest Me is learning how to become mindful in your choices, create space for new goals and opportunity, and redefine your own definition of healthy. It’s about learning how create balanced and nutritious meals that taste as good as they look, and look as good as they make you feel. My name is Hanna, this is The Healthiest Me, and I am so glad you’re here!
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