Why be a Health Coach? or Why teach people how to cook? I have been asked these same questions on a number of occasions and have even asked myself once or twice. As spring time finally seems to be showing up here at home and the weather has begun to improve, a voice has been hinting that maybe it is time for me to let some things go and put more of myself into what it is that I love.
Now I know that I usually write about stuff that relates to health and food, but today it is about me. I am Sean Pike, Chef, Nutrition Counselor and Health Coach. Kitchen Time is very much me and is a long story, beginning over twenty years ago...
When I started down the road of becoming a Chef, I was never prepared for where it would take me and looking back on life it is not without a good share of cringe worthy moments. Parts of my life have been filled with joy and other parts were much darker, which makes me not unlike most people I know today. I began training at Johnson & Wales University back in the early 90's and found that my skills in the kitchen were not nearly as effective as my skills in academics, that being management and accounting. I studied hard and after 4 years graduated with a pair of degrees, some memories, skills and almost no idea of what to do with any of it. I had struggled with learning my own identity and found myself being so many different people that it was an impossible task just to be me. Friends that I was close with became enemies and I was not what anyone would consider a 'good person'. My focus was becoming the best there was at what I did, it didn't matter that I had no clue what that might actually be. My journey brought me to the center of the hospitality world and I had an office in NYC, 50 floors up in a private banquet/restaurant. I was making great money, had a prestigious title and an Italian girlfriend who told me she loved me everyday. On the surface life was fantastic, underneath my struggles continued.
Back in those early days people didn't talk much about depression or anxiety. Life was stressful, but I was told that's what was going to make me more of a man. I didn't question any of these things as I continued to drink each night with friends, grabbing dinner wherever we could and getting home with just enough time to shower and do it all over again. I began to gain some weight but figured that it was OK, I had always been more on the skinny side and filling out was something that I was supposed to be doing. After a few years of this, I began to see changes in myself. Depression and anxiety were no longer just bubbling under the surface, they had come out and greeted the world each day. Problems began to surface everywhere and pretty soon work was crashing around me and that girlfriend had made the smart choice by heading to the hills. I remember sitting alone one night, crying and not understanding what was happening. So I did what any other scared kid might do...I called the people who would know what to do...Mom & Dad!
So I left NYC and returned to NH with a U-Haul, some clothes and lots of wine! Surprisingly or maybe not so surprising was that the cycle just continued. I was the big shot from New York, I was the local guy home from college, I was a Chef with all new skills and a manager who knew numbers better than anyone. My nights were filled with food and wine, while during the day I worked. Everywhere I went, it was just another Sean. My family used to joke around and say that I had different voices for people as I spoke to them. My life became even more complicated by the fact that I was alone and didn't have someone to spend that romantic quality time with. Enter Margaret, an old flame who I decided to look up after I returned home. We hit it off again and as expected we got to that point where we decided to get married. That wine collection from my time in the city was being consumed at an alarming rate, we were out almost every night eating and my troubles were only getting worse. I had issues holding down a job, I was restless and couldn't figure anything out. Each day I was inventing a new me that I thought would solve the problem. Nothing was working right and after the birth of my second son we soon split up. The fighting was out of control and so was I. Each day I was being told how to act, who to be and what I should do.
Enter some hope...I met someone who turned my world right on its head and her name was Amy. Somehow she saw through all the different and confused pieces of who I was and noticed the person that I wanted to be, the real me!! Time spent with her was amazing and I never had to be anything other then who I was. My issues however were not so quickly put to the side. I was torn between
worlds. On the one hand I was happy and content, with the other side being the person the rest of the world expected me to be. I didn't know how to merge the two together and the pressures of trying to be these different people living in one body finally gave way to falling and hitting the absolute rock bottom.
Having a nervous breakdown is nothing that I will take lightly again. I spent 4 nights and three days in the hospital. I was not allowed to shower, placed on a suicide watch, and diagnosed with depression. I almost lost my children and I did in fact lose Amy. I slept on the couch at Margaret's house, trying to figure things out and each night I took medication, crying into the fur of my Golden Retriever.
During this time on the couch and sitting in misery, some things happened which began to let me see clearly. I started to eat a little better and I began walking. The words that Amy used to tell me were strong inside my head and one night I began looking at the negative influences in life, those people who would tell me how wrong I was or how I would never amount to anything in life. I got angry, but I didn't lash out at the world like always. I was angry with myself for allowing my life to slip away. I told the people in my life that I was done being someone they wanted me to be and that I was going to follow my own path.
I did just that!! It has not been an easy road and yes I have had a few bumps along the way. I have grown and learned more about this world and my place in it. I will never forget the day that Amy handed me back the key to our house and hugged me tight as I was allowed back into her world. Home had never felt so good. Now as the years have passed it has been easy to see the pitfalls that led me down that dark road and caused so much pain to myself and those around me. I promised that it would never happen again and that I would stand up for anyone who was in a similar position. My weight has dropped from a whopping 270 pounds down to 232 pounds since I began the journey of Kitchen Time over a year ago. This is why I believe in being a Health Coach, my goal is to see the obstacles and help someone overcome the issues that hold them back from being happy. I teach people as a Nutrition Counselor that food is a great place to start their own journey and as a Chef I am able to give them the skills they need to succeed. Each part of me is built to compliment the other parts.
Today I am a better partner for Amy and I understand how to love someone with my heart and soul. I am a better father and my 2 boys have now been living with Amy and I for several years. I have watched them grow and try each day to show them the love and support that I missed while growing up. Amy and I have a beautiful daughter together who delights me with her laugh, her love and her smile. I plan on telling all my children that they can grow up and be whatever they want and whom ever they want to be. I will be proud of them, support them and love them without question.
So that's my story...I could blame my down times on childhood abuse or any number of other factors, but in the end it is about me taking responsibility for being me. My years of anger and depression are far behind and I am happily looking towards the future. That's why as part of Kitchen Time and being a Coach, my focus will be on helping people with mood disorders including depression, anxiety, anger, stress and sleeplessness. Help is out there and I will always extend my hand to someone who needs it.
I promise to get back to the fun stuff later on this month!! Writing is a therapy for me and right now that little voice is telling me that this was needed for me and the people around me. Thanks little voice, I hear you loud and clear these days.
PS...I have a need to thank a bunch of people who have shown support and friendship through this whole journey. Margaret, Jonathan, Connor, Rowan, Christina, Amanda, Travis, Seth, Shannon, Anne, Jacinda, Katrina, Jon, Sue, Erica, Liz, Eric, Sandra, Marcy, Stephanie, Danny, Andy, Corey, Kim, Brady, Missy, Jake, Lucky, the entire Health Coach community and lastly the two most important people.. Amy whom I love and who always saw the real me and Nana Pike, you may be gone from my life but I will never again fail to hear your voice guiding me along the right path in. I love and miss you.