The Wellness Spotlight Series highlights military spouses and their real world health and wellness journeys in a Facebook Live series. Below is an excerpt of Meg’s feature.
Meg is an Army spouse and mom to two boys. She started Sage and Thyme Wellness two years ago. Meg is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, certified in Nutritious Life Studio in Nutrition and Emotional Eating, and certified in Weight Loss Management through NASM. She enjoys spending time in the kitchen trying new recipes or cooking techniques.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE.
I met my husband, Brett, when he was serving at Fort Benning, GA. At the time I was working at Columbus Regional in their children’s hospital as the Certified Child Life Specialist and I was also a graduate student. You could say I fell into military life pretty quickly. After about six months of dating, Brett was deployed to Afghanistan. We got married that following November (roughly 18 months later). After our wedding we immediately had our first PCS to Ft. Bragg where I was indoctrinated into the Army wife life. We have moved three times and are currently in the Washington D.C. area. This is the first time we aren’t living surrounded by military and are without a unit, and it is so different. After almost three years here we are more than ready to get back to a unit and back to the Army culture and familiarity. Transitioning into a more civilian lifestyle for the past few years was a bit of a struggle. I never knew I would miss the military spouse community, but I have learned that it’s a community that I lean on heavily in times of struggle.
IF YOU ARE A HEALTH OR WELLNESS EXPERT, TELL US ABOUT IT AND HOW IT HAS IMPACTED YOUR WELLNESS JOURNEY.
I fell into the world of wellness a little late. I wasn’t active in my teen years or during college. Besides work, I lived a pretty sedentary lifestyle and ate/drank whatever I wanted. This meant a lot of fast food or convenient pre-made food. By my late twenties I was noticing that my metabolism was starting to slow down and I was gaining weight. I also noticed that my anxiety wasn’t improving with the practices that I had in place anymore. So, while Brett was deployed while we were dating, I joined a great gym that was located in the commercial space on the ground floor of my building. It was SUPER convenient and was fast-paced enough that I felt the hour would fly by. The gym was small enough that I didn’t feel insecure about my inability to do the movements or that I couldn’t ask questions. After a few months I really felt the benefits more than saw them. Sure, I lost weight, but I was now focusing more on what I ate and how I felt. My anxiety was better managed and I had more energy. After a few years of focusing on my own fitness and learning about my personal nutritional needs, I really felt that I could benefit others with what I learned, mostly that diets don’t work, and there’s no one method that works for everyone. Exercise is absolutely a requirement for everyone’s health, wellness, and emotional health. It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise it is. Movement is key. And figuring out how to fuel your body best is equally important. But this means there can be a lot of trial and error and a fair amount of frustration. Having a partner or someone you can go to when things get confusing can be so helpful. I want to provide that support for other women and families, to show others how important this balance is for everyone.
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY EXTREME LOWS SINCE BECOMING A MILITARY SPOUSE, WHEN YOUR HEALTH (MENTAL AND/OR PHYSICAL) SUFFERED THE MOST? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
Both pregnancies were really hard emotionally for me. I was uncomfortable and didn’t feel that “glow” that is talked about so much. I really had a hard time postpartum. A lot of emotional issues both times. With my first son, postpartum was difficult because there was so much unknown. My hormones were all over the place and I didn’t know what to expect. Add to that my husband went TDY for a few weeks a month after Noah was born. With my second son, I knew to expect hormonal issues. But it wasn’t until my husband left six weeks after Eli was born (yup, again) that I realized there was an issue. I was so angry and frustrated, yelling at my then three-year-old. When my husband came home I told him I thought I was dealing with some postpartum anxiety. The fact that my body didn’t return to its previous state was equally hard. I started taking my measurements routinely, closely monitoring what I ate, and how much I exercised. I was using my anxiety to fuel my dissatisfaction with my body and drive my compulsive behaviors. It was really hard, hard on me and hard on my family. I guilted my husband about a lot that was out of his control with work. It was a very difficult time.
With my oldest son, I tried to work through my hormonal imbalances and difficulties on my own. It took a year. A really hard year to feel like myself again. I was able to focus on healing and self care because it was just me and the baby a lot of the time. Brett had a lot of training and a deployment that year, so I felt like I was able to focus on myself. But postpartum with my second son, I needed a lot more support. I went to my doctor, who referred me to mental health. I was able to speak honestly about my anxiety and get the medicinal support I needed. I also have a wonderful support system in the exercise group I’m a part of (Stroller Strong Moms). Being able to share my struggles with other women was such a relief.
WHEN WAS YOUR HIGHEST MOMENT WHEN YOU FELT YOUR HEALTHIEST (MENTAL AND/OR PHYSICAL), OR ARE YOU ON YOUR WAY TO YOUR HEALTHIEST?
I have to say, training for, and finishing, my first half marathon has to be a highlight of my wellness journey. I have NEVER been a runner. I mean I never even passed the mile test in high school. For most of my fitness life I was into CrossFit: heavy weights, short bursts of cardio. When I got a bug in my ear about running I took it as a new challenge. I really see this as a high point because I finally felt like I got to a place where I was interested in not just being healthy and living a healthy life, but loving the challenge of pushing my body toward something new. It was exciting. It was so hard. I trained in the heat of summer and it was miserable. But I felt so much success crossing the finish line. My husband and oldest son were there, along with one of my mentors. I felt like I was really showing my son that he can accomplish whatever he is willing to challenge himself with.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FORM OF SELF-CARE?
My self care is waking up early in the morning, before anyone else, and enjoying a cup of coffee alone. I try to give myself an hour each morning where I can slowly wake up, drink my coffee, think about my day, or read a little bit of fun fiction. The house is quiet and no one is demanding anything from me. And during this period of social isolation, this time has been so necessary. I find that I am more patient with my family and more motivated in my work.
WHAT IS ONE PERSONAL HABIT THAT CONTRIBUTES TO YOUR SUCCESS?
I really take the time to focus on my body. I have learned how to listen to what it needs. This sounds so simple, but for me it’s always being prepared. I am the quintessential “hangry person”. I take time to make sure I have healthy snacks that I enjoy on hand. Instead of preparing the new “it” food, I focus more on foods that I enjoy and that satisfy not just my hunger quotient but my level of satiety too. Sometimes that’s an apple with nut butter. And sometimes that’s French fries. But I found that by allowing myself to eat the foods that I wanted AND foods my body needed, I removed the food guilt and body image obsessive behavior. For this, I lean heavily on meal planning. I provide myself with breakfast and lunch options each week in addition to dinners that I plan out for my family. I focus on a few things when meal planning dinners: our schedule, the weather, foods that we enjoy, and foods that the boys don’t really like. This way, I know that my family is eating, I know they are trying new foods, and I know my boys are getting enough to eat.
IF YOU COULD SHARE A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Stroller Strong Moms would have to be my biggest resource. While not just for military, it was started by a military spouse and primarily in military dense areas. I love the community, the support, the workouts, and the no judgment atmosphere.
IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK AND/OR PODCAST TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I just finished reading The No Nonsense Year by Meredith Atwood. When I say no nonsense, it’s not just the title or premise of the book. Meredith Atwood writes in a way that punches you right in the gut with the authenticity. There are so many parallels with her story and mine (and probably a lot of us). As military spouses we take on a lot of responsibility and we tend to accept more and more until we feel like we are going to implode. But working through the nonsense and learning to say no can be a wonderful stepping stone in your wellness journey.
Meg has been married to her husband Brett for five years. They have two beautiful boys, Noah and Eli. They are currently living outside of Washington D.C. Meg started Sage and Thyme Wellness two years ago. What grew from a curiosity for her own health quickly inspired her to serve other women and families. Meg has a masters in counseling, using her skill and knowledge in mental health to provide ongoing emotional support for her clients and community. In addition to this, Meg is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and NASM Certified Personal Trainer. She has additional certifications through the Nutritious Life Studio in Nutrition and Emotional Eating. She is also certified in Weight Loss Management through NASM.