I had the great pleasure of meeting a passionate transformational life coach, Nicolle Buchanan. A small town girl from Wyoming who now lives in Utah, Nicolle saw patterns in her life that she wanted to shift. Her own struggle with obesity and other health issues spanned a decade long journey to health and now she’s on a mission to help others resolve similar issues in their lives through her company Awakening Wellness.
Nicolle was a massage therapist for 16 years, so she understands that health is more than just physical activity. Her personal experience, as well as those of her clients has proved to her that total health includes physical, emotional and spiritual aspects. I was able to catch up with her to get her perspective recently.
What do you believe is the way to whole body health?
There’s an old chinese proverb that states, ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. That single step, for me, was March 12th, 2001, when I found myself sitting at a desk in a classroom belonging to the Utah College of Massage Therapy.
I embarked on a journey of my own health; physically, emotionally and spiritually. I didn’t know it at first, but now I understand that the only way to true health is to address all 3 of these aspects. For what happens in one of these areas, will affect all of these areas. I know now, because I lived it.
What happened that led you to your health crisis?
Addiction began at the tender age of 12 for me. Over the years, I internalized a vast amount of shame, guilt, self- hatred, and sadness regarding these behaviors that had so much control over me. From all outward appearances, I looked like the girl next door. No one knew of the anguish I felt on a daily basis. There was no outlet for all the emotions I experienced. I spoke to no one about this until I spoke to ecclesiastical leaders when I was 19. By the age of 21 I felt like I had it all under control. At age 25, I weighed in at 297 pounds. I clearly did not have anything ‘under control’. My addictions had merely shifted form.
How did you come about realizing what this was really all about?
While attending massage school, I discovered that emotions are not only stored in the body, but they shape the body as well. We may recognize this without even knowing it. If someone has a posture that is slumped over or looks at the ground when they walk, we may assume they are depressed or have a low self-esteem. The emotions I experienced shaped my body in such a way that I was diagnosed with multiple disorders; Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and hypothyroidism. My emotions were creating my reality and this was not a reality I wanted to live with.
Structural Integration was one of the modalities I was introduced to while in massage school. Ida P. Rolf, the woman who created this modality began to see the body in a different way than it had previously been seen. Her goal was to create a human being from the ground up; integrating each individual physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. As she would begin to change the shape of her clients’ bodies, emotions would start to surface. Immediately I connected with this modality and decided to continue my education after massage school to learn this.
Was that all there was to your solution?
No, there was still something elusive regarding my healing. Life wasn’t shifting the way I wanted it to. No matter what fad diet I used, my weight would only shift a little. It would take me years to admit my food addiction and start attending an addiction recovery program.
One day at an addiction recovery meeting, the thought struck me that I didn’t hate myself because I was overweight, I was overweight because I hated myself. Years and years of addiction had built up so much emotion in me that I loathed myself; I was worth nothing; I was never enough. I created a 150 pound armor around myself to shield me from all the pain.
So you ended up with another crisis. What happened then?
Eventually the emotional pain was so intense, I knew I would need to try something I had never tried before. I began to get very serious about healing. I returned to school to finish my Bachelors degree in Exercise Science with a minor in nutrition. It was then that a dear friend introduced me to belief work.
Belief breakthrough work is identifying thought patterns like ‘I’m not enough’, and teaching you how to shift these thoughts in powerful ways. This work creates an opportunity to begin shaping the life you want with powerful, present tense, and positive new beliefs.
This was the final piece I needed to really make strides in my healing. I knew how to exercise. I had spent years studying nutrition to aid losing weight. Structural Integration contributed to being physically healthy as well. With belief work, I was finally able to shift those emotions I had carried for so long.
With all the other programs I used, nothing changed me as dramatically as did belief work. I learned to love myself deeply. I learned greater compassion for myself. I have more patience with myself. I see the world through a different lens. I live in peace.
And now? What have you come to realize?
In addition to the love, compassion, and patience that are my life, I lost 100 pounds. I live a life free of medication. Using Structural Integration and belief breakthrough, I identified the emotions creating physical ailments. Combined with nutrition and exercise, I enjoy a life of full health, no longer dealing with the symptoms of the diseases I had been diagnosed with so long ago.
What’s your mission today?
I am helping people achieve the same thing I did with their lives. Through my tutelage, people are experiencing the joy that is to be had in life. I want people to love their life and I can teach them how. I have practiced Structural Integration for 15 years now and many clients have received the physical and emotional transformation that occurs with SI through my hands. My program combines exercise, nutrition, Structural Integration, and belief work to create the results you have always wanted but have never been able to achieve.