health

A Recent Diagnosis and a Journey Upward | Osteoporosis Awareness | Guest Blogpost by Daniella Dayoub-Forrest

As many of you know, what I appreciate and value most from the women I photograph is not only their courage to step out in front of the camera, but their willingness to share their stories to encourage, educate, and empower other women on a variety of subjects. Whether it’s physical health, body image, diversity, entrepreneurship, motherhood, or leadership, the voice that women have to share their stories is something I am privileged to be a part of as a photographer and writer.

A few months ago I had the honor of meeting and photographing Daniella Dayoub-Forrest, a health, fitness, and nutrition coach and owner of DFitLife, based here in the Bay Area. You can imagine my surprise that, given her background in fitness, a social media post she shared recently revealed her diagnosis with osteoporosis. I was curious to see if she’d be willing to share a bit more about her story and she graciously agreed to shed light on not only her own personal journey with this diagnosis, but also her her journey as a woman navigating and growing through many of the body-image challenges we as women commonly encounter today.

I hope Daniella’s post below helps you or someone you may know of. You can follow Daniella’s journey through her blog www.baredbones.net . Spread the word on something that will help improve women’s health everywhere!

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Here I sit, 42 years old, and seemingly at the peak of my health. 

I own my own health coaching business and personal training studio.  I have a thriving 8 year old daughter.  I am married to the most amazing man.  I eat my veggies and try not to overdo the wine.  I have a fabulous group of girlfriends.  Both of my parents are aging healthfully.  And I honestly like my own body when I look in the mirror. 

Basically, I have it all.  Except strong bones.  

The above paragraph sounds like I'm braggadocious.  But no.  I spent most of my life from my teen years through part of my thirties being the harshest critic of myself.  Nothing I did was smart enough.  Nothing I ate was healthy enough.  I wasn't skinny enough, or pretty enough. 

Portraits+by+Heartbox+Photography.+Copyright+2017.+All+rights+reserved._0080.jpg

Enough for what?! Who knows. 

But that self-criticism and need to be perfect manifested into an eating disorder.  And while outwardly I looked just like the picture of health I was selling to my clients, on the inside, my skeleton was starting to disappear.  

At 29 years old, I was attempting to snowboard (having been a skier my whole life), and struggling to say the least.  My boyfriend was really good, and I wanted desperately to ramp up to his abilities.  But as I was just getting my bearings, I caught a little air down a slope, and as my feet landed back down on the snow, my left lower leg shattered.  I knew instantly that it was a severe break.  When we finally got to the hospital, the X-rays revealed that I had indeed shattered my distal tibia like glass, and broken the adjacent fibula as well.  All from a very slight impact.  

That break took me 3 months to heal, which was much faster than the doctors thought.  But it was the alarm that finally alerted me to the fact that I was indeed in the early stages of osteoporosis.  Back then, bone density in the lower range was categorized as "osteopenia," but that term has fallen from the medical vernacular.  Now, however, I not only have low bone density, but have full-blown osteoporosis. 

Why?  Well, so many reasons, really:  

  • My first year of life was riddled with X-rays due to being born with severe hip-dysplasia.  (maybe an early warning sign of weaker bones)

  • I was raised in the 80's when most of us were told to avoid fatty foods.  You cannot absorb bone-building minerals without fat. 

  • In my teens, I developed anorexia and got down to a low of 92 pounds.  I only ate the bare minimum; calories, not nutrition being my focus.

  • I am a small woman, even at a heavier weight.  At 5'3" and an ectomorphic body type, I likely never had a chance to have truly dense bones. 

When I learned about my bone density issues, I made it my mission to fix the problem.  I did exhaustive research, and found that the medical advise I was getting to take a calcium supplement and lift some weights was just NOT enough. 

Over the next several years, I built my bones back up out of the red zone.  Even with having conceived and breast fed a baby (both calcium leaching activities), I still was in a better place with my skeletal health.  I started counseling other women on the basic things they could do to increase bone density besides the outdated suggestions of their doctors.  These included:  

  • Do impact activities with good form often (weight lifting, hiking with a pack, running, etc.)

  • Eat a nutrient dense diet with plenty of healthy fats

  • Take a multimineral supplement that includes magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and trace minerals

  • Get plenty of vitamin D from both outdoors and supplementally

  • Take a vitamin K2 supplement to make sure the body is properly metabolizing and utilizing calcium stores

  • Don't drink alcohol in excess, and do not smoke

In fact, I had started to help so many women that I decided to put together a workshop.  I really wanted to get the word out to as many people as possible.  I spent 6 months doing research on all aspects of bone health.  I started putting together slides that would encompass three days of learning for my clients.  In fact, I had organized the information in such a way that each person could fine tune their own bone building program. 

It was really coming together into something great!  While doing my research, I came across my old DXA scans.  I thought it would be a great idea to tell about my own personal journey to add validity for my audience.  So, I contacted my doctor, and asked him to order a new set of scans to really pull it all together.  

It had been 6 years since I'd had a check up, and was due.  Just a few weeks prior, I had fallen really hard at my studio while boxing with a client.  Running sideways, and full stroke, my dog tripped me, and I had hit the floor straight on my hip.  While it hurt, I had no fear of having actually broken anything.  This made me think, "Hey, I bet my bone scan is going to be great!"  Then I got the results.  According to the scan, I had lost 11% of my bone density in the last 6 years.  I cried.  I cried so hard.  

I felt scared, surprised, incredulous, and mostly just felt like a fraud!  Who the hell was I to be telling other women what to do, when I couldn't even fix myself?!  After my husband hugged me and calmed me down, I started organizing my thoughts and my plans.  I realized that I'd become complacent, and maybe even cocky.  I had stopped lifting really heavy, and had done lighter workouts lately.  I had stopped running mostly, and was doing way too many SoulCycle classes.  My weight had been decreasing into the low 100's and my cycles has mostly ceased.  I was having a few too many glasses of wine through the week.  Etc, etc, etc.  

So, I begin anew.  I got a weight vest and use it when hiking/walking.  I started lifting really heavy again!  I have ordered blood work to check my thyroid and inflammatory markers.  I am actively gaining weight until my cycle comes back, and will make sure to stay there.  I started a new blog, to air my thoughts, and hopefully reach others with the same struggle.  

But mostly, what this latest scan has taught me is that it will be a lifelong commitment.  I cannot, ever, drop the ball on this.  I must stay vigilant.  But I have faith.  The science shows I can fix this, and I can stay fracture free my whole life. 

But it starts now!

Preview | Eva, 2018 | Palo Alto, CA | Glamour & Contemporary Portraits | A Celebration of Phenomenal Women

You know what’s incredible about a woman?

She has this unique ability to bring glamour anywhere she goes. And part of why I absolutely love this photo of Eva is that it just exudes an enchanting classiness - a fierce beauty all her own.

Image | Heartbox Photography

Hair & Makeup | Kalani Brown

Portraits by Heartbox Photography. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved._logo.jpg

Preview | Daniella, 2018 | Palo Alto, CA | Glamour & Contemporary Portraits | A Celebration of Phenomenal Women

 

“A strong woman understands that the gifts such as logic, decisiveness, and strength are just as feminine as intuition and emotional connection.”

- Nancy Rathburn

The continued celebration of life doesn’t stop after each year you’re given - in fact, I would think that the celebrations get even better. There’s something to be said about a woman who recognizes that and exudes that belief in all that she does, whether it’s in her work or within her family.

Portraits by Heartbox Photography. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved._0086.jpg

Daniella is a beautiful wife, mother, and hustling business owner. As we chatted and spent time creating her images on a sunny afternoon in Palo Alto, I was inspired by her energy, drive, and confidence in not only the work that she does, but also simply as a woman who is proud to be where she is today. Here is just a small preview into Daniella’s photo shoot that I am honored to share with you all!

Happy Wednesday!

Many thanks to Kalani Brown of Kalani Style for Daniella’s hair/makeup!


 

Sandy, 2014. Santa Clara, Glamour Portrait Photo Session

Many of you know that I have embarked on a health and fitness journey for no other reason that to be just that...healthy and fit.

And part of what inspired this journey are women like the lovely Sandy.

I had met Sandy through Total Woman Gym + Spa, a gym and day spa dedicated to helping women achieve their health, fitness and wellness goals. Sandy's photo session too place on an afternoon that was as sunny as the bright smile she wore when she walked into the studio. Her joyous laugh and conversation flowed through the studio as she got styled and prepared for her shoot by the talented Kathleen Tinney. No doubt this was going to be a fun shoot!

In our initial correspondence, I learned that Sandy is a wife, mother, and woman who made a decision to change her habits to reflect a healthier lifestyle. For most of us, especially us women living in an image-laden world, I know it is not easy to be so honest with strangers and simply say that you made a decision to get healthy because high-blood pressure, or unintended weight gain could lead to something worse down the road. But honest is exactly what Sandy was as she detailed to me her reasons for wanting to be make her health a priority, to be fit, to be strong. (It was shortly thereafter that I began working with a trainer, too, to push and challenge me - one of the best decisions inspired by her story!)

Sandy, I am incredibly honored to have been able to participate in this celebration of you - a celebration of your life, your health, your beauty. Thank you for sharing everything you are and most of all for inspiring me to push myself to new challenges in my own health and be unafraid to work with a trainer who can help keep me accountable.

Here's to inspiring women everywhere to get healthy!

A heartfelt thanks to the talented Kathleen Tinney of A-List Makeup for Sandy's beautiful hair and make up!



"Kindness, compassion, humor, creativity, love.  I think that all shows on a person's face, and more importantly, the people in my life whom I think are beautiful are the ones that make me feel beautiful, too."



"I don't think there is just one definition of beauty. There are so many different kinds of people in the world and so many ways to be beautiful. I mean, obviously there are things that are considered aesthetically pleasing - smooth skin, symmetrical face, fit body, youthfulness - but I really feel that it's what one puts out into the world that makes one beautiful." 





"I was not confident about much when I was 18. But life teaches you so much. I'm more confident in what I believe, and what I don't believe now than when I was 18. I'm much more comfortable with who I am. It would have been difficult for me to say that I liked myself back then. 

I wanted to be someone different, someone fabulous. I do like who I am now, not to say that there isn't room for improvement, but I do like myself. I have recently rediscovered that I do have a strong body and that makes me more confident in what I can physically do. I also appreciate that, in general, I'm in good health and shouldn't take it for granted."







"If I put it in the context of giving advice to my daughters, I would say take care of yourself. Take care of your body, take care of your mind, take care of your spirit. That's where beauty is."




"I've been lucky so far and have had no major illnesses or injuries. Part of the reason for gettingin shape is that I need to stop pushing my luck! 18 year olds think they will live forever - 48 year olds know better!"

"Practice acceptance. Accept your shortcomings and imperfections and be accepting of others as well. Don't ever be afraid to ask for help. I couldn't have made the progress I've made in the last few months without the help of my fabulous trainer, Leily. I will be eternally grateful to her."






A Health Journey - No, I'm Not Showing You My Belly

Lately I've been noticing a lot of friends, family, and business acquaintances posting up various things on Facebook, their blogs, etc. about their health journey and the things they are doing to lead a healthier lifestyle.

A close friend of mine shares various photos of the meals he's eating as part of his journey to better his health after experiencing a mild-heart attack - in his 30's! A stylist I know started documenting her healthy meal preparations throughout the week as she could stick to eating right even in the midst of her busy schedule. Another friend is working hard with a trainer to help push her to accomplish new goals with her health. A client of mine is enjoying newfound physical energy and strength after committing to get healthy, work with a trainer, and get her blood pressure down.

And of course, my own dear hubby who never liked to run at all, started running in January, makes time for it in the early morning hours, and is now slated to run his first half-marathon in Disneyland next month.

After noticing just a few of these inspiring stories, I started looking at my own routines. It dawned on me that my eating habits didn't always reflect balance and health, and although I was a regular at the gym, my workout routines had long plateaued into simply "maintenance mode" exercise. I had stopped pushing myself, barely broke a sweat, and made excuses too easily when my snacking throughout the day consisted of mini-chocolate bars and potato chips. Not that potato chips or chocolate are wrong (ooooh, you will NEVER hear me say something that silly!) but when it was a Monday-Friday deal, well, something has to change.

I come from a family where high-cholesterol and blood pressure can be genetic and make life not so fun. I see many people around me who, unfortunately, really wish they could be healthy but because of illness they can't control, this is a tough goal for them to achieve. Needless to say, I don't have a good excuse for slacking.


I had recently signed up with a personal trainer and started taking hot yoga classes and, ooh, have mercy, I didn't think it was possible to sweat in buckets after only 15 minutes after either of this exercise routines. I'm finally feeling the burn, literally and figuratively, and have also started journaling my eating habits per the advise of my trainer.

Don't worry - I have no desire to go posting what my stomach looks like because, quite frankly, I'm embarrassed and don't want you to see how much chocolate and take out I've indulged in. However, in hopes that this inspires more out there to get up and get healthy, I will start journaling the next 6 months of this commitment - ALL of it. The easy days, the not so easy days, the potato chip days, the I-love/hate-my trainer, the oh-my-gosh-is-this-even-working? - days

Here's to making changes for a healthy and beautiful you.

Happy Friday!



Hiking Muir Woods and A Side of Fries

On my commute this morning, I got to thinking about health and weight. I'm not sure why weight crossed my mind - maybe because I'm a woman and that topic ranks right up there with chocolate-for-dinner as far as our daily thoughts go. Or, it might have something to do with the fact that in a few weeks I'll need to fit into a bridesmaids dress for my sister's wedding and extra weight isn't an accessory I'm wanting to sport in the photographs.

As much as possible, I try to be as healthy as I can. High blood pressure and high cholesterol run in my family which means that the gym and I have had a bit of a love/hate relationship for most of my adult life. (Really, why do people run for fun on a machine that goes no where?!?) I just don't want to have to suffer the possible diabetes and heart attacks and all the other health issues that tend to follow unhealthy habits. Believe me, there are days that eating broccoli when I'd rather eat a bag of potato chips with my dinner (mmmmm, Ruffles....) - can be a real challenge, but thankfully there are benefits that result from the effort.


We had recently hiked the beautiful trails through San Francisco's Muir Woods with some friends. It was a clear day and the fresh air mixed with the spectacular view of sun rays softly beaming through the towering trees along the path made for an awesome way to get some exercise in. Muir Woods is definitely a must see, a hike I truly recommend to anyone visiting the beautiful Bay Area.

Confession time - is it ok to say that halfway through our little adventure all I could think about was a burger and a side of fries? Mmmm...fries....

Happy Monday!



Be Well

I may as well just come out and say it - I am absolutely terrified of one day becoming  part of the statistics of folks who get that dreaded phone call from the doctor relaying news that I have a terminal illness.

Where is this coming from? Well, just yesterday, I was pulled into an impromptu meeting with a few colleagues at my day job to discuss something important. We all chatted cheerfully as we normally do before a meeting but that happy banter came to a screeching halt. We came to find out that the purpose of the meeting was to be informed that a co-worker of ours had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. I distinctly remember the wave of chills that overcame me as everyone's chatter fell into a cold silence once their ears registered this horrible news. I think what was even more shocking was that with this recent announcement the total number of women in our building who are currently battling breast cancer or have survived it now came to a total of 4. As crazy as it sounded, my colleague blurted out "Sheesh....what's going on? Is there something in the building?"

That meeting was a harsh reality check for all of us that cancer of any sort doesn't discriminate on age, race, background, or whether you're in sunny California or in snowy Alaska. At the end of the day as I walked to my car for the commute home, I couldn't help but be reminded once again that health is so far more precious than money or things in this world.


More than ever, I am extremely grateful for the life and health I have been given. And I hope you are, too.