A Peak Into Why I started TAP Health Initiative

Due to the nature of our upbringing, my husband, Josh, and I developed a non-profit from the ground up in Charlotte, NC called The Abandon Project. Our mission is to serve at risk communities that are not able to access basic needs and resources that would allow for a successful future. A few years ago Josh and I moved into a low-income area in the East Charlotte community so we could “put our money where our mouth is”, so to speak, and show our friends that we are willing to struggle with them. We believe this grass-roots, sustainable approach helps create raw and real diversifying change.

One of the most pertinent needs we see in our community today is the necessity for knowledge about health and wellness. Over the course of my time in East Charlotte, I have experienced situations where single mothers have bought into the lie that to feed a family of five on a family-of-two budget, they can only afford frozen chicken nuggets and oodles of noodles. This form of dieting has caused children to incurre type 2 diabetes, rotting teeth, and weak bones because they are not provided the proper nutrients required in a daily diet. The lack of education leads to a deficit in the knowledge of what a truly healthy lifestyle looks like. Along with this, much of the epidemic here in East Charlotte comes from a long line of generational misconceptions on dietary needs.

Though it will take a lot of persistent effort to break generations of bad habits, I am committed to providing this community with the resources they deserve. I have decided to pursue my masters in nutrition so that I can provide this community with these much-needed resources in order to ensure a beautiful future. Pursuing a masters in nutrition has already taught me so much about how I can change these communities’ lives for the better, and I believe that being certified through the Nutritional Therapy Association (which I will be in October) will only better my chances of combating the various diseases and lack of “wholeness” this community has.

I created a  “health initiative” for our community in East Charlotte about two years ago and have had weekly and sometimes bi weekly meetings with elementary to high school students, as well as with many mothers in the community. Not only do we cook, but we also participate in physical activity together. I  provide health education classes for older children and their mothers. We learn how to cook healthy alternatives, and in turn cook these meals for the families in our community. At our weekly cooking class, we learn about proper nutrition, why we need it and we learn the necessary cooking skills so that we can create these meals for ourselves in our own kitchen. Not only do we learn about cooking, we also learn about mental health and physical activity. We are so humbled to say we have already seen so many success stories because of the power of this community gaining this knowledge. Mothers are now starting to come to me requesting recipes for their children and asking when we are able to come and cook and teach them again. I get text messages about these mothers increasing their water intake and pictures of healthy recipes they are now feeding their families! We have also partnered with a local meal prepping company who donates wonderful meals to these families that are fresh and locally prepared.

I have a lot of dreams for my community, some that seem overwhelming at times. I know though, that as long as I continue to show up and stop for the one that is all that truly matters.  My organization has dreams of reaching so many more people in order  to pursue the hearts of others who otherwise would have no hope for their families or their families’ futures. I hope to fine tune a sponsorship tool in order to bring the upper and middle class communities together with my community to find a sense of unity. The idea of individuals coming together and pouring into one another is a huge piece of becoming “whole” and towards solving that divide. I would love to see partnership/ sponsorship opportunities coming out of this. Where individuals in the upper/middle class are able to sponsor those who might not be able to afford a health coach, and in turn we all begin to develop relationships with one another and push each other towards the same goal, health and wholeness.

We have also officially begun our community garden, more on that in a future post! I can’t wait to see my family get their hands dirty, find their worth in the soil and learn the value of nourishing their bodies from something they cultivated themselves. Thanks to the NTA Global Fund I am able to see some of my dreams come true in our community and I can’t wait to share!

Even though there is a long road ahead, I will count myself successful if I can even just give one person hope for changing his or her own life for the better.

Sleep Hygiene- Why It Is Important

Sleep Hygiene


This post is a little heavy on the science, so if you’re into it check it out! I will write a summary easier to follow soon ❤️

Our circadian rhythm is generated by clocks that are innate in nature and move about even absent of environment cues, and our clocks influence many different biological processes including neuronal, endocrine, metabolic, and behavioral function. A region in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) plays a role in circadian rhythm generation, and recent research has shown that different organisms in the body have different clocks and have their own circadian rhythm, and are linked together in something called the circadian timing system. I found it so interesting that different organs have their own timing system that regulates different functions, like the hepatic clock regulating fasting glycemic control and glucose tolerance. The SCN has shown be influential in sleep wake cycles, which partially determine feeding and fasting behavior, which can synchronize to photic cues (Johnston et al., 2016). Grens (2013), tells us that evidence has shown that when people fall outside of our daily rhythm, people are more likely to suffer from diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. He also tells us that according to current research, it isn’t just a disrupted sleep pattern that can lead to all of these risks, but it is also the timing of food consumption that can lead to chronic disease. The SCN guides the circadian clocks that are found inside of many of our organs, and they are guided by different cues, some as we have seen are guided by light, but some are guided by food intake (Grens, 2013).

I found it so interesting that genetics also plays such a large role in how our individual genetics can play a large role in defining our circadian rhythm, and how we respond individually to different timed environmental cues like light and nutrient timing. For example, for carriers of a certain snp of CLOCK, showed that they had shorter sleep duration, higher plasma ghrelin concentrations, delayed breakfast time, evening preference for food, and less compliance with a Mediterranean diet pattern. This is such useful information for individuals who struggle with sticking to a certain diet, and have difficulty eating at certain times of the day that have shown to be better physiologically. When our circadian rhythm is misaligned, this can cause decreased glucose tolerance, decreased concentrations of satiety hormone leptin, and increased wake time blood pressure. All of these effects can cause increased weight gain and risks for many different metabolic and chronic disease. If people were more aware of the fact that nutrient timing had such a profound impact on their health, I think people would be more viable to change.

One study shows us that timed feeding is a beneficial approach to enhance weight loss and glycemic control in humans, and also diet induced thermogenesis was almost twice as large in the morning than in the evening when the same meal was consumed. This shows us that individuals would work well by understanding that it is important to refrain from late night eating, maintain a fast, and eat the majority of their food intake early in the day (Johnston et al., 2016). Grens, 2013, tells us that the genome is at different states throughout the day, and Johnston et al., (2016), showed us that we are able to burn more of our meal by thermogenesis earlier in the day than later. Today’s society has made it easy to access food at any time of the day, and also presents food at times when the genome says that is time to fast, so when we eat during these times it might lead to increased energy storage, which leads to weight gain and metabolic disorders. Our bodies have adapted to eat during day light hours, and maladapted to eat at night. By opposing these adaptations, we are setting ourselves up for disease, and inappropriate storage of food (Grens et al., 2013).

Two strategies to help combat this issue I think would be to incorporate intermittent fasting, and refrain from eating late at night. According to Zilberter & Zilberter, (2014), late or night time eating was linked to multiple eating bahavior pathologies that led to elevated blood levels of insulin and glucose which showed metabolic syndrome. When late night eating in one study was excluded, and there was a timed eating phase, the subjects ate 244 less kilocalories than the control group that didn’t have a controlled eating time.

Intermittent fasting involves periods of fasting and feeding. Certain days eating will be restricted severely, and some days eating will be as normal. Thom & Lean, (2017), tell us that since weight loss can lead to different unfavorable metabolic changes in the body that make it hard to keep the weight off, these unfavorable changes can be offset by intermittently fasting energy intake to meet weight loss requirements, rather than doing continuous ongoing energy restriction. Intermittent fasting can help with many different metabolic effects, such as promoting ketosis for its appetite suppressing effects and results in involuntary calorie reduction. With the exclusion of late night eating, and possibly skipping BF, weight loss will occur through involuntary calorie restriction (Zilberter & Zilberter, 2014).

Obtaining from eating late at night, will help decrease calorie intake in the individual, and will also help the body regulate proper storage during the times we have adapted to store energy. Intermittent fasting could also help the individual obtain the benefits of fasting, as well as receive involuntary calorie restriction leading to weight loss.

Research Cited

Grens, K. (2013). Out of Sync | The Scientist Magazine®. The Scientist. Retrieved 19 June 2017, from http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/37269/title/Out-of-Sync/

Johnston, J., Ordovas, J., Scheer, F., & Turek, F. (2016). Circadian Rhythms, Metabolism, and Chrononutrition in Rodents and Humans. Advances In Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 7(2), 399-406. http://dx.doi.org/10.3945/an.115.010777

Thom, G., & Lean, M. (2017). Is There an Optimal Diet for Weight Management and Metabolic Health?. Gastroenterology, 152(7), 1739-1751. http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2017.01.056

Zilberter, T., & Zilberter, E. Y. (2014). Breakfast: To Skip or Not to Skip? Frontiers in Public Health, 2, 59. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2014.00059

Gut Healing Journey

Full transparency here, I haven’t written a blog in years. I thought I would get back into it by starting off with something that I have been struggling with for quite some time and was a large motivation in me pursuing a career in nutrition. I never thought in a million years I would land where I am today, but I am so glad that I did. Four years ago I spent about 4 months in Pemba, Mozambique. I tell people that this is the place where I felt like my life truly began. It was such a magical experience for me. While there I ate with the locals, lived with the locals and drank out of a well that was about 6 inches deep because we were in a severe drought. I wouldn’t have done it any differently if I went back today, but my gut took a huge hit. About 2 weeks in to my trip every morning I would have to sprint up a hill to the latrines to use the bathroom while in extreme lower abdominal pain, I will spare you the details. Let’s just say I was dewormed before leaving to come to the states. Since coming back, I haven’t had my period, haven’t had a solid bowel movement, am always bloated and have a constant stomach ache and many bouts of lower abdominal cramping. I have learned to live with most of the pain (nothing compared to individuals with chronic illness, I would never compare this to what so many people are going through, my dad included), but throughout “dealing” with this I took it into my own hands to try and “solve” the issue with proper nutrition. I went to see many doctors but none of their “treatment plans” worked for me. I have tried it all and I won’t mention everything on here because that just seems exhausting at this point. Bottom line, it has been 4 years and I am still on the mend. I am often discouraged, but I will not give up. Like most of you out there, you know your health matters, and I will continue to pursue full gut healing for as long as it takes.

This spurted me into multiple Whole30’s, eating a paleo template diet, trying low FODMAP diets, eating plenty of gut healing foods (which I love), practicing yoga and meditation, juicing etc. You name it. The amazing thing about trying to learn for yourself is that through the self experimentation and learning you really begin to discover yourself and your resilience in some amazing ways. I am so grateful that I turned to knowledge because of this and since I have pursued my masters in nutrition and am now in route to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. Even more important, my own healing journey pushed me into starting the health initiative program for the ones I love most and I am so honored to give what I have learned away to my neighbors.

Ok, back on track. I went to see a functional medicine practitioner about 6 months ago, my wallet wasn’t happy and neither was my soul because I felt like when I left I had paid for someone to tell me things I already knew and “we need to heal your gut with probiotics and a gut healing shake…” I felt so discouraged so I called the practitioner and I told her how discouraged I was because I left feeling even more defeated than when I went in and gained no new valuable information. She then suggested that I be put on a protocol of oil of oregano, berberine and a high powered probiotic. I have been taking this combination at different dosages for about 3 months now and I am FINALLY noticing some relief.

Below describes just a portion of what these supplements help with, noting main reasons why I am specifically:

Oil of Oregano: fights free radicals, inflammation and bacterial, viral and fungal infections. Helps with diarrhea, digestive problems, fatigue, menstrual irregularities, parasitic infections and urinary tract disorders.

Berberine: kills bacteria on the skin and stimulates internal movement

Saccharomyces Boulardii: a probiotic that is not affected by antibiotics, has a beneficial effect in improving intestinal microbalance.

I buy all of these by the supplement brand Biotics. Along with these, I take CBD oil and a woman’s multi-vitamin daily.

The first time I truly noticed a difference in my gut health was when I had to take a course of antibiotics (reluctantly but my face was in excruciating pain) for a severe sinus infection. My doctor asked if I needed an antifungal to go along with it (some people get yeast infections after antibiotics, I am one of them, TMI sorry) and I said sure, because I usually did. After I finished 10 days of the antibiotic I was waiting to have to take the antifungal, but I never did! This was the first sign to me that my gut was truly healing. Sign number two is we are now at the beginning of April and I haven’t experienced any of my normal terrible spring allergies. I am still hanging on and waiting for them to hit me hard, but I am embracing the days that I don’t have to suffer. These are both massive wins.

So, what’s next. I am currently considering shifting into the GAPS diet. I have been eating a paleo template for some years now, this means paleo with some modifications, like the addition of kefir and beans and rice every now and then because I have found my body can deal with a small amount of certain foods that aren’t on the traditional paleo diet. While I have been studying for my NTP course, they talk a lot about becoming more in tune with your own innate intelligence. What an incredible way to describe coming more in tune with your body and its personal needs. Following the paleo template and my own nutrition experiments has allowed me to really tap into my own innate intelligence, but studying and fully understanding the depth of this topic I really want to dive deeper and connect further with myself and my own individual needs to achieve more healing.

I am fully aware that full healing could never happen and that we are always on this journey of self discovery, but journeying through this and deeming myself worthy of it has been a huge challenge and victory for me.

Since I was a little girl I made it a large priority in my life to serve others and put their needs ahead of mine. This is still a natural practice for me, but as I have gotten older I have realized that I matter too. It is even hard for me to write that down, but just knowing and learning to believe that I matter just as much as the people I love and serve has been a huge feat for me, and taking the time to invest in my own healing tells myself I am really starting to believe I am worthy. In so many ways.

My gut healing journey has been a long one and I know it will continue to me. For the most of us, we will be on the road to healing for a very long time but I hope that we all never give up because guess what? We really are worth it. So for me, the next step on my own personal gut healing journey I will slowly adjust to the introduction GAPS diet. Who knows for how long, and who knows if my body will signal me to stay on this or if it needs other nutrients to heal that aren’t in this protocol. Luckily, I am beginning to fully know and trust my body. That is tremendous growth and healing in itself.

I am excited to share my journey with you all. It is a humbling and vulnerable place to put it all out there for people to read and this adds a whole new element of accountability for yourself as well. I hope I am able to share with you all fully the experience I am in and continue to be in, and I hope you will share yours with me as well.

Note: Along with following and learning to follow your own innate intelligence, you make conscience and intentional “edits” along the way. With that said, nothing here stands concrete, just am listening to where I am at in this moment.

Here are some of my goals in the coming few months as I transition into my gut healing protocol:

Continue taking supplements listed above

Decrease caffeine intake & drink more celery juice throughout the week

Increase yoga & meditation to 3 days a week

Increase intake of fermented and cultured foods as well as gut healing bone broth

Daily transition further into a full introduction to GAPS(?) protocol

Discontinue eating 2 hours before bedtime

Add in digestive enzymes (possibly HCl supplements)

I am also starting to add in additional ways to help support my bodies natural detoxification systems. I will post a different blog on those once I can comment on how they are working for me ❤️

I will let you all know when I begin my transition into full GAPS. Throughout it all, I want to enjoy every part of the process.

New Birth

Below is a blog post I wrote while living in Pemba, Mozambique 4 years ago. When I describe my time there, I tell people that this is where I was given new life, where I was re-born. Lately, I have been struggling with my purpose, better yet, what I want my story to be. When I went back to read old blog posts I stumbled upon this one, at such an appointed time. I was quickly inspired by my own words and belief and was quickly reminded of what my purpose truly is. Read to the end to find out ❤️


30 days and counting without running water, strategically hand washing my clothes from a dried out well, drinking through a life straw, being stung by killer baby ants, taking bottle baths, eating with my hands, eating more bread in a day than you could imagine, being attacked by crazy African bees, exhausted from the heat, worrying about malaria and worms, running up a steep hill to the latrine just to go to the bathroom, being caked by red dirt and sweat, being consumed by the smell of garbage, diesel and feces, yet still I’m more in love with Jesus, more than ever captivated by the smiles from an orphan who is adopted into a family of Christ, taken by the hand holds walking back from town by sweet Mozambican children, praying for the crippled man out side of the super market, kissing the cheeks of sweet old mamas who work long hours each day to provide for their children, and weeping while my feet are being washed by a Mozambican man training to be a pastor after years of abuse makes me count all of the hard things as amazing, unexplainable joy. Learning Gods heart in a mission school while doing missions enables you to learn about our creator while stepping into his heart as well. My life is already changed after a month because I have met Jesus in such a tangible way here. I’ve met him through the village people, the other harvest school students, and the 11 other girls I live with from 5 different nations, and trust me that isn’t easy, yet we are so united as sisters.

Along with the harvest school here in Pemba which has 300+ students from 40+ nations, they also have a Mozambican bible school that takes in mozambican men who have dedicated their lives to Christ and over the course of 4 years trains them to be mighty men of God to take back their nation!

I tried to think of one of the MANY amazing experiences here to write about that could sum up my experience so far, here’s a good one:

A few weeks ago I got down on my knees in front of a mighty man of God, one of my Mozambican brothers. I felt so unworthy to be in the presence of a man who has been through so much poverty, abandonment, starvation, and harm, yet he chooses to praise The Lord. I couldn’t help but to weep in his presence. I knelt down below, holding his feet and I prayed for The Lord to make me love and believe like he does. Depend like he does. I wept as I washed the dirt off of the most precious feet I have ever seen. I look up to see such a sweet illuminating spirit. As we switched positions and the Mozambican brothers knelt before us I then understood real love. I saw Jesus in them. Jesus was about to wash my feet. I was so overwhelmed with the love of the father, with the vast anointing he has laid on my Mozambican brothers. It was so unbelievable in the natural, but in the supernatural such a beautiful representation of how Jesus humbled himself in front of sinners. Jesus in front of me, taking his time, washing beneath my feet, and between my toes. Kneeling before me crying and praying over me. I can’t even explain the colorful healing that was taking place in my heart. The fire fell that day.

Jesus takes his time, he goes low and slow. He washes between the cracks, removes and dirt, and makes us pure. When we allow our selves to be positioned in the center of Gods holy heart we remember why we are here. We remember the beauty and unconditional love that Jesus showed by dying for us on the cross.

Jesus, you bring such an exhilarating thrill to my heart and life. I long for a love like they have for you. I’m so touched. To be in the presence of the most precious men I have ever seen washing my feet, to be able to get on my face and weep a heart wrenching weep in the presence of men who embodied my savior even through heart ache and pain. What an honor that was and will ever be. Thank you my sweet papa God.

So this is where my heart was born. This is when I realized I was made for more than just doing normal life on this earth. I was made to love and to be loved by our mighty father. So my heart is for adventure with Jesus. Taking the adventure to love his children no matter what the cost.