Hi, my name is Gina Fontana, certified health coach, whole food lover, health enthusiast, and new-ish mommy. Growing up I had become accustomed to feeling like crap (for lack of a better word), and that became the norm for me. So I just thought that was the battle I was going to have to fight for the rest of my life. I suffered from extreme joint pain, migraines, tummy aches (tummy… preparing my lingo for my little one, ha), fatigue, chronic sinus infections, vomiting for no apparent reason, constantly battling what seemed to be the flu, extreme constipation, and mood swings that I just blamed on becoming a teenager. I went to numerous doctors, who just didn’t have a clue what was going on with me. I became agitated and stopped seeking medical help because quite frankly I was frustrated! It was no fault of the doctors; they had been comprehensive and had me tested for fibromyalgia, lupus, lime disease, and arthritis (among other things) with no conclusive answers.
Fast forwarding through high school and college, I find myself married and living in the big ol’ state of Texas. I had become numb to my body’s desperate cries for help because I thought I was eating healthy and was working out six days a week. Then one day my husband and I decided to engage in a 21 day fast through our church, the Daniel Fast. If you are familiar with it, you know that it is quite a commitment, eating only fruits and veggies; but we had been growing in our faith and we thought it would be something wonderful for us to do together. Little did I know the awesomeness that would come from it!
The first week of the fast was hard, but by week two I started to notice that I was feeling awesome! I had more energy, I was going to the bathroom regularly (sorry, TMI! Haha) my joint pain was almost gone completely, and I went from a migraine a few times per week to none at all! I very quickly stopped questioning why I was doing this fast; it had actually become quite a blessing! At the completion of the fast I felt spiritually refreshed and had noticed some improvements in my health, but when I went back to pigging out on my most favorite foods (pasta, cookies- haha, and my most favorite food, pizza) I would soon regret it because my symptoms returned, except it seemed like worse than before; perhaps because I now knew what it was like to feel great, and well, normal! (Light bulb! Could all my symptoms be food related?!) I began to experiment with my diet and I would keep food journals and take extensive notes about how certain foods would make me feel. Did I have a headache after I had cheese? Did I feel bloated after I ate bread? (Yes, was the answer to both of those by the way!), and that was when it became apparent that consuming foods containing gluten or dairy was not something my body applauded me for. After all those years of testing, I finally had an answer. It was determined later on that I have Celiac Disease, and I was going to have to make some serious lifestyle changes to avoid any further damage than what I had already unknowingly done to my body, and hopefully allow for self-healing (which by the way, our bodies have amazing healing powers if given the right foods). I had NO IDEA where to even start, heck- I didn’t even really know what gluten was! I was really overwhelmed and scared; I thought my days of enjoying great food were over. Luckily I had a friend who was newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease as well, and there was something comforting about not going through this lifestyle change alone and having someone to help coach me along the way. Between my friend graciously offering to help me and lots of my own research I was feeling more confident venturing over to the gluten-free world and I haven’t looked back since!
By this point I was used to giving up some of the foods that I loved, although still very tempting and very difficult, especially at family gatherings and going out to eat with friends. It was not easy but I knew the after effects weren’t going to be something I wanted to deal with. Sometimes I would feel quite terrible for days after I “cheated”. There were times I literally cried because I was so hungry and I just wanted to order a pizza so badly, but I knew I had to FULLY commit to this lifestyle change or it wasn’t going to benefit me at all. I continued to research different gluten free products and recipes, and read articles about the ongoing advancements in the gluten free lifestyle- and before I knew it, I was getting the hang of it! I was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I knew that it would be something that I would grow to love, and I do now more than ever! I am not quite sure what sparked the idea of starting a food blog, but I knew that what I had been through would have been nearly impossible if I didn’t have my friend by my side to help me. It dawned on me (there’s that light bulb again!) that I had to help people; and this was my starting point.
A couple years went by, and my food blog- Happily Ever After Gluten, was doing great! I love coming up with recipes and helping others from afar, but I was feeling a nudge that I needed to do more and on a more personal level instead of just writing to the masses and hoping I was helping people who would happen to stumble across my site. I became so passionate about food and what we put into our bodies that I enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a certified health coach. This is a one year program in which I would learn how to coach others on how to eat the right foods for their bodies. I absolutely loved this program and becoming part of this health revolution, continuing to spread the ripple of health care (not sick care). I quickly became a part of something big (you know, that something big I was searching for?!) I am so grateful for IIN and this path I have been led down, even though it meant reinventing foods that I love. Although I can’t indulge in that big cheesy pizza I crave (still after 4 years of not having one!) it has gotten so much easier, and the benefits far outweigh the 7 minutes in pizza heaven. AND I have come up with and discovered new pizza recipes that I love just as much!
Here I am today, writing on my brand new food blog, Healthy Little Vittles. I decided that in order to be the healthiest version of ourselves we need to do more than just “give up the gluten” and eat a variety of whole foods. Here on this blog I create/find and share recipes that are naturally gluten free + dairy free + mostly vegan. I truly believe that I would not have been able to give birth to my son five years ago because of the health state my body was in. I am so excited to start him off in the way he should go nutritionally, and you’ll also find that I post baby recipes + snacks from time to time.
I wanted to share my story with you because every day I meet or hear about someone who has been diagnosed with Celiac or has been told by their doctor to go gluten free. I wanted to share my story because it is not a fad diet for those who are desperately in need of going gluten free. And I want to share my story on any platform I can so that you can reach out to me to find help if you are looking for it. Although I do most of my coaching with those who are venturing into the gluten-free lifestyle, I am not limited to just that. Please contact me if you want to learn more about what I do and the services I provide as a health coach and how I help YOU start your very own health journey! If healthy eating and whole, nutritious foods is something you are passionate about, I would also love to share more about my experience at IIN and how you can get involved, even if it is just for your own health and wellness (or for investing in the health of your loved ones).
Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you!
Many healthy blessings,