Life is Sweet

Thursday, November 12, 2009

So far for Crohn’s Week, I’ve discussed my symptoms, diagnosis and journey to healing. Today I’m going to talk about the exciting place this has led me…

Last week I quit my job.
And enrolled in nutrition school.
And began actively working with my Weight Watchers Territory Manager to make leading meetings my full time gig.

Now do you understand why I’m smiling?!


For the last 4.5 years I’ve been working in an office. It started off as a way for me to pay off my musical theatre debt, and eventually turned into a career. I was hired by my soon-to-be-former company 2 years ago to be executive assistant to the CFO abd EVP. I loved the company and I really enjoyed my job. My bosses were great and I developed my role into something fantastic.

With my Crohn’s diagnosis, achieving health and wellness for myself became my main priority in life, which was fine because I loved it! I started reading more books, following more blogs and talking to anyone who would listen about achieving fantastic health through nutrition, activity and taking care of yourself. I found myself surrounded by people who shared a passion for these things and I couldn’t get enough.

Back in May, I remember taking a walk with a friend and describing Meghan’s cooking classes to her and this newfound passion for all things nutrition related. She asked me if I had considered taking any other sorts of classes in nutrition and pursuing this in some way. She hit the nail right on the head, because it had been something that I had been thinking about and casually researching for awhile, and Joey had even mentioned to me a couple of times. Leading Weight Watchers meetings brought me so much joy and so did nutrition, so wouldn’t it make sense for me to take it to the next level?

After looking at my options and the schools available in Toronto, I decided that I wanted to attend the Institute for Holistic Nutrition. I had heard great things about the school, had met with some graduates, loved the curriculum and just got a good feeling from it. I thought about going part time in the evenings, but realized that giving up shows for 2 years would be very hard for me and I thought that it would be incredibly challenging to manage a 9 to 5 job PLUS shows PLUS school twice a week.

Over the summer I was offered the opportunity to begin training in the HR department to cover the HR Coordinator’s maternity leave. It seemed like a great opportunity for me to learn another aspect of the business and keep me busy between our quarterly finance crunch time. In August I decided that I really wanted to go to nutrition school, but I also wanted to fulfill my obligations with my role. I decided that I would work for the full year and then enrol in nutrition school in September 2010.

Would you laugh if I told you that I started a countdown of 365 days on September 1? I wish I was joking.

As the days started to pass, the more I realized what I really wanted to be doing in my life and the more I realized how unhappy I was becoming. Doing both roles was challenging, stressful and overwhelming. While I work well under pressure, I was not happy with all that I was doing 5 days a week. I thought that the stress would pass, yet I still found myself making never-ending to-do lists and crying myself to sleep at night. In addition to the constant support of Joey, my friends and family 2 things kept me going were my weekly Weight Watchers meetings and the prospect of nutrition school in 330 days and counting.

I finally realized that I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing. I had worked so hard to achieve great health in the last year, and I didn’t want to screw it up with stress. Stress + Crohn’s are a bad combination and I knew that what I was putting myself through was not healthy. I also recognized the joy I found in my meetings each week. After coming home week after week, bragging to Joey about the great meetings I was having and the success of my members on the plan (all the while riding high on my happy-little-Ashley-cloud) I started to plan.

With the deadline for the January enrolment looming, I knew that I need to move quickly. It was either figure things out quickly or wait it out for another 10 months as originally planned. I moved with the speed of light.

After a lot of behind the scenes legwork, I told my boss during my yearly review last week. I felt like I was going to vomit for most of the morning, but in my heart, I knew I was making the right decision. I described the changes I had gone through in the 2 years I had worked there (from starting as a WW Leader to being diagnosed with Crohn’s and discovering my passion for health and nutrition) I started to cry as I expressed how overwhelmed and conflicted I had been feeling over the last two months as I realized how stressful doing both roles was and how I realized I wanted to do something different.

He took the news better than I ever could have imagined and applauded me for my courage. He told me that I should live without regrets and that he could absolutely see me in this new role.

I enrolled in school the following day.

In January, I will be leaving my role as an executive assistant and beginning the new year as a holistic nutrition student and Weight Watchers Leader. Words cannot express how excited I am.

Last year was a year of self-discovery and healing. This year I embark on a new journey, of learning, opportunity and following my dreams.

Life is sweet.


LizNoVeggieGirl said...


**jumping up and down with pom-poms**

GF Gidget said...

I wish I had your bravery.

The Modern Chimera said...

I am so happy for you that you took the plunge!! Congrats!

Lauren said...

CONGRATS!!!! I am so happy for you!!!! Good luck, you are going to do great!! Whoohoo!!

Unknown said...

Congratulations! You are so courageous for going after what you want. How admirable. Good luck with everything, I am really excited for you!

Anonymous said...

Yay! Congratulations, now you will be able to help so many people! That is wonderful news, I think you will be great!!!

Allie said...

Ash I'm so excited for you and your new journey!

I think you are going to make an excellent holistic nutrition student.

Your life is taking such new and exciting turns and I can't wait to hear about all that you learn.


Andy said...

Hurray! That's such exciting news! I'm so proud of you for following your heart, even though it was scary. I've done that a few times in my life and I can honestly say I've never regretted it. :)

Unknown said...

Very exciting news Ashley! Good for you for taking the steps to make yourself happy and less stressed! :)

Melissa said...


Pure2Raw Twins said...

Wow, congrats. I always wanted to go back to school studying nutrition, but I was got scared and other things just got in the way. I look forward in reading about your journey!! I am so excited for you!!!!

Alex said...

Yay! I'm so happy for you! I'm currently at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and I like to think of the IHN as a sister program. The curriculae are very similar and if your experience is anything like mine, it will be AMAZING! I'm honestly so excited for you...I think your background motivating people at WW is really going to help you understand people and help your practice.

I'm also an admin assistant right now, and would love to be doing something else, but school (I'm doing it part-time) gives my heart something to be invested in. I accept that admin doesn't have to be my career, but it's what pays the bills for now.


Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) said...

That is fantastic!!!! Congrats!!!

Melinda said...

Oh Ashley, that is SO great!!!! Congratulations! Yayyyyy you!!!!

xo Melinda

P.S. Thank you so much for all the posts this week. They have been fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

Ali Raney said...

Congrats Ash!!! So happy for you. But is there pre-beginner ballet available at this school?? that's all I want to know. hahaha ;)
All the best as you embark on this new exciting journey.

Catherine said...

YIPPEEEE!!! That is SO EXCITING! Way to follow your heart. Congratulations on beginning a new journey. I know it will bring you great joy!!

Jenny said...

That is so awesome. Congrats for following your heart and going after something that means alot to you!

All the best for your up coming classes in January!

Basht said...

I have a little surprise for you on my blog

The Raw Realist said...

Wow, you're post totally hit me. I am going through the same thoughts myself about going to nutrition school and how to balance work woth this etc etc...great to hear of someone who has taken the plunge!! *inspiration* Thank you xx

Linz said...

Ash, I am so very happy for you, and incredibly proud.


Crystal said...

I'm so proud and happy for you!!! I had a feeling your news was going back to school, I remember you talking about it awhile back!! I can't wait to hear about your new journey with school :)

K8 said...


And I need to know where all your WW meetings are and when! I may become your stalker cause I'm sure as maintenence/lifetime goes, I might need more than one meeting a week!

Ludmila said...

I'm so happy for you Ashley! I can see how genuinely excited and happy you are for your members, and how willing you are to help and mentor.

You are going to guide so many people to a healthier lifestyle. And you'll be living your truth at the same time!

I wish you all the best on this new adventure!

Ashley Gibson said...

Thank you, thank you THANK YOU!!

I can't believe the love and support in all of your comments and emails today.

Ali - there's no pre-beginner ballet :)

Andrea - so many people have told me the exact same thing -- I really believe in living without regrets and enjoying every moment!

Basht - Thanks for the bloggy award! So sweet of you!

Kate - I'll be sure to let you know where I am at all times!! I got a WW scale in the mail today to do @Work meetings, so I now have the ability to do a meeting ANYWHERE

Alex - I loved hearing about your experience at CSNN -- it inspired me so much at the bloggy lunch. We will have to have tea and be geeky nutrition students together.

I love you all xo

KRISTINE said...

Congratulations! I had the same vomit feeling when I decided to finally move out West. I had a good job but needed more. I thought everyone was gonna hate me, but they totally understood and (like you) applauded my decision. If I'm ever in the GTA maybe I can visit your meeting!

Nicole said...

I am amazed and inspired. I, too, am a Crohn's patient and have considered pursuing more knowledge on my own in nutrition and have been researching ways to do this. I'm so glad you have taken this step, it sounds like it's the right path for your heart led you on for the benefit of your health and hopefully for others as well. Good luck, Nicole

Nachos said...


Congratulations darling! How awesome/exciting/refreshing xxx

Robin said...

Had to do some catching up on your blogs, my girl. Nice work and i am so deeply proud of you. I hope we don't lose you at the Carrot Common meetings on Saturday. What would Saturday morning be without Ashley?

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