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 Pamela’s feature.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE?
My journey to becoming a military spouse began in 2004 at Fort Campbell, KY when I was also in the Army. I was a combat medic, teaching a combat lifesaver course, and my now husband was a student of mine. He began to bring apples to class and gave them to me. We ended up dating, deploying to the same base in Iraq and after 3 years were married in 2007. Immediately he took off for school in Virginia and I, now out of the Army, headed out to Washington state to close on our house and begin settling into our first home. Our first year married would not be considered a honeymoon, but it certainly gave me a slap of reality for this new season of life as a military spouse.
ARE YOU A WELLNESS EXPERT? HOW IT HAS IMPACTED YOUR WELLNESS JOURNEY as a military spouse?
I am a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant and I completed culinary school. I love all things food, but what really gets me excited are meals that are quick, full of flavor and nutrient-dense. I always feel disheartened when someone thinks that healthy food is bland and boring. That couldn’t be farther from the truth, and I am always up for the challenge to show them otherwise. With all that is thrown at you as a military spouse it is easy to get down. It’s easy to get frustrated when you have to take care of most everything for the kiddos: from appointments, birthday parties, holidays, all meals, and bedtimes. When your spouse is constantly out of town or working long hard stressful hours, it is easy to fall back on fast food. You are overwhelmed, running low on time and energy, yet you still have to make it all happen. Years ago I began to focus on taking the complication out of meals. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate but it does have to taste delicious, leave you satisfied, and make you feel good and not weighed down.
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY HIGHS OR LOWS AS A MILITARY SPOUSE?
When we moved to Washington my husband began working for Special Operations. This was a great move for his career and personally it was very rewarding for him. He was doing some really cool missions! But he was always gone, or home for two weeks and then gone again. We had starting trying to conceive, and I had no idea of the stressful, emotional ride we were in for. I didn’t have an issue getting pregnant but there was certainly something preventing me from staying that way. The criteria for qualifying for any sort of fertility testing was four miscarriages, which I thought was an incredible amount of loss to endure. So I took matters into my own hands and began diving into research, I started acupuncture, and began an all organic lifestyle. Washington proved to be a great place for all of this to happen and that was where I began learning about a holistic lifestyle. Eventually after two years and three miscarriages, I became pregnant and stayed that way at the age of 35. We weren’t sure the road we would have ahead of us with our next child so we did not want to wait too long. Six months postpartum we began trying for another baby. I got pregnant again and soon we had two baby boys within 16 months of each other. However my husband’s schedule had not slowed down. He was always gone and I was drowning in exhaustion and high-maintenance babies. Fertility issues, loneliness, distance, and raising two babies on my own created the perfect storm of resentment. I thought my marriage and family weren’t going to make it. We were both determined to make it work, but it wasn’t easy and there were some very dark days. We made the tough decision to leave Special Operations, move to a family friendly unit, and seek marriage counseling. If we hadn’t reached out for counseling we would not have worked through the resentment on both sides.
My highest moment of late was when my recipe was published on Food Matters. I am so proud of all that I have built and accomplished so far in my nutrition consulting business. I really love being an entrepreneur, and I had no idea this was the route I was going to end up taking.
WHAT IS ONE PERSONAL HABIT THAT CONTRIBUTES TO YOUR SUCCESS?
I began my health journey with a green smoothie every morning. The only thing I had changed in the way I ate was that smoothie. I began feeling so much better and energized with that one dietary change. It got me thinking, if I changed more how much better could I feel? The thing is I never ate horribly, but I have certainly learned over the years what I need to eat to feel great, and the things I need to limit or remove because they do not make me feel well. That discovery process all began because of one healthy green smoothie every morning!
FAVORITE FORM OF SELF-CARE?
Yoga is my favorite form of self care and I only began doing it when we moved to South Korea. Shortly after arriving I realized that I need some mental release and physical activity.
WHAT IS A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE YOU WOULD SHARE WITH THE COMMUNITY?
Yoga with Adriene on Youtube. I didn’t have the time in my schedule to get to the gym and most days the air quality is really bad in South Korea, so working out outside wasn’t an option. I love the way Adriene teaches and her humor. She has tons of free yoga videos that made me fall in love with yoga. I had taken classes before, but a teacher never resonated with me, so I thought I didn’t like yoga. I am so thankful I found her, as yoga has changed me for the better!
IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Inspiralize Everything by Ali Maffucci. I am a huge fan of spiralized food. I think it reinvents veggies that you have been eating the same way for years and may have grown tired of. This book is filled with so many fabulous recipes and you are creating meals that are filled with veggies and fruit!
(Purchases using the links above will help InDependent cover administrative costs for our programs at no extra cost to you!)
ABOUT Pamela Chavez
Pamela is a military spouse, veteran, and mom to three young boys so she understands what it means to be busy and to be able to adapt to constant changes. She is also the founder of Nutrition To Heal Yourself, a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant and a Chef. Her mission to show busy women that healthy meals are quick, delicious and make you feel amazing. Pamela has helped countless women learn to eat locally, seasonally and fill their family’s meals with gorgeous, simple, nutritious food. She believe it is about making the unfamiliar familiar, setting new routines, and being open to positive change. Pamela also addresses the emotional side of health and the importance of managing stress.