Transforming My Relationship with Food Changed My Life

MARCH 25, 2014

Photo: Emily Long

I still remember the day, almost 10 years ago, when I arrived in New York City via Chicago. I had crammed every single one of my belongings into a U-haul and set out on a new adventure.

Just shy of my mid-twenties, I was lost. I had no idea what I was in for, but took comfort in knowing my best friend lived two blocks north and the man I thought I would marry, two blocks south. Sandwiched in between the two, little did I know this single move would change my life in so many ways. My journey to health, happiness and a dream career didn’t happen overnight. It’s been in the making since that day.

Adjusting to life in the city was challenging and exciting at the same time. I was working full-time, going to graduate school part time, meeting new people and experiencing all the nightlife the city has to offer. About a year in, my best friend moved for her own relationship and my relationship with the man I thought I would marry started to deteriorate. I pushed on. I was on a program and the goal was to 1) climb the corporate ladder and 2) find a husband. In pursuit of it all, I dated – a lot, went out – a lot, and worked – a lot. On the outside, my life looked typical of an urban 20-something. On the inside, I was empty.

My busy lifestyle left me little time to cook. My grab-and-go meals looked something like this: a croissant after the gym, a slice of pizza on my way to class and mac n’ cheese out of the pan for a quick dinner. One day, a conversation with a friend at the gym turned to nutrition and I realized just how bad mine was. Almost immediately, I became interested in cleaning up my diet. Within a few months of eating mostly whole foods, I realized how much better I looked and felt.

Being cleaner on the inside gave me more mental clarity ,and something in me started to shift. I felt an innate sense that I was meant to be doing more meaningful work in this world. But with a stable job, a good salary and a shiny new Master’s degree, I was scared to admit it. Besides, what else could there be?  The feeling persisted for almost five years as I became more and more stifled, uninspired and unhappy. It’s no coincidence that during that time, I developed a sugar addiction and an affinity for binge drinking.

Through a lot of self-exploration and chance meetings, I discovered health coaching and knew I had found my calling. But, fear paralyzed me from taking immediate action. Almost five years later, I enrolled in a health coach training program. My work as a Health Coach gave me purpose and put me on a path to finally feeling whole. As a result, the rest of my life fell into place. I started my blog, Where I Need to Be, launched my business, Marissa’s Well-being and Health, and met my now fiancé. My sugar and drinking binges started to subside.

The more I became immersed in health coaching and owning a business, the more disconnected I became from my corporate job. With a plan in place, I began working toward a goal of leaving that corporate job, and when the time felt right, I did. At the time it was scary and there were lots of uncertainties, but looking back, it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

The moment I let go of trying to control my life and instead let myself be guided was the instant that everything changed. By embracing and nurturing my passion I found my purpose and myself.


  • Taunja Bauman 4 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing Marissa. I am on a similar path and it is so great to hear from someone who has already been through it and taken the leap to follow your dream. Congratulations to you!