I’m obsessed with green smoothies, deadlifts, sweet potatoes, the smell of fresh limes, Thai food, and bringing hope to others. I love anything I can do outdoors: skiing, mountain biking, trail running, and hiking are my favorites. I love geeking out on biomechanics and watching people’s movement patterns; helping others pursue better health is what drives my passion.
At a young age, an opportunity found me: chronic pain. During my darkest hours, struggling with health issues, my passion to ease others’ suffering was born. Most people wouldn’t view chronic pain as an opportunity, but looking back, I appreciate the meaning of that pain. My chronic pain kick-started my purpose, birthing sensitivity, understanding, and a deep, loving concern for others struggling with pain.
I am a health and wellness guru, a kinesiologist, a certified Foundation Training instructor, and a personal trainer with over 15 years experience.
Chronic pain changed my life --- for the better. If you suffer from pain, I believe that you can enjoy the beautiful life on the other side. Pain or no pain, you can take control of the way your body feels and moves.
I worked nine years as a personal trainer before founding Kate’s Clean Life. For seven of those years, I wrestled with chronic pain, failing to find relief on the symptom-chasing treadmill of conventional health care.
I spent countless hours diving into research and consulting with fitness, nutrition, and wellness experts. My perspective on health and wellness shifted fundamentally. I felt it was time for a revolution: we don’t have to settle! We don’t have to rearrange our lives, adjust to symptoms, or compromise quality of life. Despite what conventional medicine says, solutions exist.
We can cure and prevent chronic pain and sickness.
Through Kate’s Clean Life, I share the life-changing and cutting-edge information I’ve gathered from years of research. We must revolutionize our approach to health in order to arrive at the root cause of our pain and sickness. My story is not uncommon. The freedom I experience, coupled with the solutions I’ve found, changed my life.
My neck pain and headaches started after a high-speed car accident. Flipping end-over-end at 75-mph did a number on my neck. I spent several years seeing different chiropractors. Adjustments brought temporary relief, but nothing lasted long-term.
After one adjustment, searing nerve pain ran up the back of my neck and head. A few hours later, a migraine set in as the muscles in my neck began to spasm. The pain was horrific. It lasted for weeks. I spent most days lying in bed.
A series of referrals, specialists, diagnoses, and treatments followed with no effect. An internal medicine physician ordered an MRI and suggested occipital nerve impingement/irritation. Multiple physical therapists, traction, acupuncture, rest, and massage failed. A neurologist ruled out multiple sclerosis. A pain management doctor prescribed painkillers and muscle relaxers. Over a dozen nerve block injections failed to address the pain.
If you’ve experienced chronic pain, you recognize the devastating long-term effects. I hardly slept. I was nauseous from the pain. My appetite was gone. I lost 35 pounds. I became weak.
The worst effects were psychological and emotional. The pain started only months after I married the man of my dreams and started my career. I was young, excited about life, healthy, and vibrant. But the pain, corrosive and constant, ate away at my life, leaving me isolated, withdrawn, and depressed.
Small victories but more battles
Months passed. Out of sheer desperation and against the advice of my doctors, I found another chiropractor. It took several months of work and adjustments, but the pain started to subside. I was ecstatic! My life could get back on track. But while my physical pain was relieved, my health was a mess. The years of struggle took a toll on my whole body.
My body was traumatized from the combination of the neck injury and the stress from the resulting pain. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I was prescribed antidepressants and referred to a psychologist. I was back in the vicious and frustrating cycle of diagnosing-and-prescribing.
I recognized the disjointed nature of my treatments. Specialists only saw one part of my body isolated from the rest. I wanted to be treated as a whole. I wanted someone to put everything together and recognize and respect the interconnectedness of my body.
I dove into research: books, blogs, and medical journals. I listened to podcasts and watched videos. I studied the findings of leading experts. I dug into a healthcare system fueled by drugs and profit. I drilled through symptom management to find arguments and solutions for not only healing, but also total preventative care. Most importantly, I learned to be my own advocate.
I found a naturopathic physician who helped restore and rebuild my body. My sleep improved. We remedied nutritional deficiencies. I gave up inflammatory foods. My thyroid function was restored and my hormones came into balance. Change took time, but eventually, I felt well enough to return to work and a regular exercise routine.
For the first time in over two years, I ran. That run felt like a milestone achievement. When I finished, the bottoms of my feet began to hurt. Maybe I overdid it, I thought. I gave myself a few days to recover. Days turned to weeks as the pain worsened. I tried new shoes, orthotics, rest, ice, and massage. I saw doctors, a podiatrist, physical therapists, and orthopedic specialists. Eventually, I was diagnosed with tarsal tunnel, or nerve impingement, in both ankles. Multiple doctors recommended surgery, but in my heart, I knew that couldn’t be the only answer.
The doctors told me to immobilize my feet and ankles for six months. I literally crawled out of bed in the mornings, showered sitting down, and rolled around on a physio ball at work. I spent no more than 15 minutes on my feet per day. Six months passed with no improvement.
I don’t know the exact word for a feeling of total hopelessness, despair, and frustration, but in those months, that defined my mindset. The pain wasn’t as debilitating as my neck injury, but all of the devastating consequences of chronic pain were the same. For two years, my feet hurt constantly, aching and burning with intense nerve pain. I felt depression creeping in as I was unable to exercise or even join my husband for a simple walk. Again, pain governed my life.
Dr. John Bergman, a renowned chiropractor, suggests that tarsal tunnel is a “double crush” syndrome, meaning the pain comes from somewhere “up the chain.” In the case of my ankles, “up the chain” meant my lower back.
As a young girl, I suffered a bad fall that damaged the connective tissues in my sacrum, resulting in hypermobility. A combination of chiropractic care and strengthening of my posterior chain brought stability to my lower back and settled the nerve irritation.
A new foundation
As I built strength in my lower back, I consulted a mentor, Ben Greenfield, one of the most influential people in the health field. He suggested the book, Foundation Training, by Dr. Eric Goodman. Foundation training (FT) works by targeting the posterior chain, the weakest and often most dysfunctional part of the human body. FT re-educates the body, teaching proper movement. Foundation training effectively brings strength and stability to the backside of our bodies. I committed to an exercise plan described by Goodman; in a few months, my back and foot pain went away. I repeat: the pain went away.
I began using the same exercises with clients struggling with severe, chronic back pain. Success stories piled up, and coupled with my own dramatic success, I knew I'd found my passion: I became a certified Foundation Training instructor.
We’ve been trained to trust the experts – our doctors – but we unknowingly surrender our own knowledge and responsibility. Conventional medicine focuses more on diagnoses and prescriptions to manage symptoms than it does on addressing root causes. As a result, we continually adjust to the “cure” and are pulled farther away from discovering the underlying cause. It took a lot of research, consulting, and patience to determine the source of my health issues, but I eventually got to the bottom of each one and removed, rather than simply managed, my symptoms.
Personal training, weight loss, six packs, and bicep curls have become much less important. Freeing people from pain, bringing hope, and helping others improve their quality of life is the most rewarding, meaningful, and exciting work I’ve done.
I’m so grateful for the struggles I endured because without them, I would have missed my passion, my calling, and my strengths. If I can offer hope during a dark and challenging time, that’s my purpose. If I can distill the knowledge gained through my fight and save you the struggle of finding your own answers, my purpose is complete. My goal is to empower individuals to educate themselves, take control, and become their own health advocates because without our health, nothing else matters.