Cathy McKinnon: Finding Joy Through Sorrow

Cathy lives in Illinois
Cathy McKinnon is the founder of Wellness Warrior Coaching, she works with ambitious women to create personalized success rituals to gain more energy, strength, beauty, and confidence along their journey to optimal living.  Her signature program “ The Warrior Way” is 90 days of 1:1 coaching to address health, wellness, and mindfulness habits to remove limiting beliefs, create habits that fit with your individual lifestyle and goals while reducing stress!  She came to this career through her own transformation and battles with weight loss, cancer, divorce, and infertility.  Now she shares her learnings to help other women not fall into the same pitfalls she did and start to show up as their authentic selves. 

After suffering 3 miscarriages, in my quest to understand my fertility struggles and why something that should come naturally as a woman my body wanted to reject. I searched for a logical answer, there had to be a rationale.  I went to so many doctor appts and underwent rounds and rounds of testing. I felt like a human pin cushion.  What I got was news that threw me sideways, that I had Thyroid Cancer.

Not only did I not have an answer for my fertility struggles, I now had another battle to face.  Admittedly I didn’t want to believe what the doctor was telling me and I still can recall that day as if it was yesterday.  I made the doctor give me a print out with the biopsy results as I had to see it to believe it.   I left the doctor’s office and remember just sinking to the floor, sitting there in the hallway, staring at the printout.

I spent the next 48 hours in a haze of trying to figure out how to respond, how to tell my family and my head just spinning.

But by Monday morning I woke calm with a clear plan of attack in my head, a clear course to fight not only for my life but for the ability to have the baby I had been fighting for years to have.

Within 2 weeks of my diagnosis, I had my thyroid completely removed and subsequently underwent radiation treatment. 

I’m happy to say I will be 11 years cancer free this September and am forever grateful for my 7-year-old son. 

All that said ……..

What no one told me when I was going through my cancer treatments and subsequent follow-ups is that this would mean an overhaul of my life.

The thyroid supports vital body functions including heart rate, body weight, muscle strength, body temp and more.   It plays a role in everything from mood to bone health.  While I am on thyroid replacement medication for the rest of my life; it mimics thyroid function but is not a complete replication of thyroid function.  Also, the medication comes with side effects, and I just recently learned that there are some lifelong impacts from the radiation I received as well.

What this meant was that I had to relearn my body; how it reacted to foods, exercise, and sleep patterns.  I had to gain a new level of awareness in my body in terms of foods that gave me energy when to set boundaries as my body burns out faster, and I need more sleep than I used to. 

Everything I knew and had worked before in terms of losing or even maintaining weight no longer worked- my body no longer responded the same.  I had to learn through trial, error, and frustration.  This level of frustration had me searching for a way to manage.  My journey to living mindfully started with a visit to a yoga studio, I was hooked and two years later my world has been overhauled.  I do not stress in the ways I used to, I go forth each day with an attitude of gratitude and love my body for what it is instead of what it is not. Even more so as a single mom, I had to learn how to make these new ways of living everyday habits that I could easily incorporate into everyday living as an army of one.

While it was initially incredibly frustrating to essentially start over learning my own body it brought an appreciation for the fact that there is no magic cookie-cutter formula that works for everyone.  I learned to question things for a deeper understanding of the impacts it has on the body and mind.  And truly give me grace as everyone is at a different place, in their life, body, and journey

Now I take my almost 11 years of learning and researching ways of healthy living to help others realize they can grow, stretch and move forward into the life they truly desire and show up as the best version of themselves.  If you had told me back in high school when I couldn’t run a mile that 20 years later I would be not only helping others with their health and wellness plans but also completing Spartan races, I would never have believed you.  I have such a different mindset, awareness, and appreciation for health now.

Health and wellness are individualized and needs to be re-evaluated as we go through life, major life events and our bodies change and react differently.  What worked before might not work now.

Nourishment is about so much more than Food, nourishing your movement, nourishing your soul.  Being mindful not just of the food we put in our body but also the thoughts we put in our mind.

Too often there is a focus on healthy eating or exercise and not enough time on mindfulness.  In order to achieve optimal living and live to your true potential- you have to balance the 3 pillars of mind, body, and energy.  If one area is at an extreme it will impact the others.   For example, if you are eating poorly likely you do not have optimal energy/stamina to exercise and potentially you are eating poorly due to stress.  Maybe you are incredibly stressed and therefore struggling to lose weight as your cortisol is constantly elevated. You can see how if something is out of whack in one area it impacts the others and impacts your overall wellness.

Through my journey, I was shocked to learn how many people feel trapped by their lives, schedules, and jobs.  That they feel it must be all or nothing.

Depriving ourselves of our best life is also depriving those around us.  They end up suffering as well.  They end up getting the drained version of us. We show up to our families as exhausted, depleted and disconnected from yourself and those around you.  Going through the motions of life with that aching feeling that you aren’t living the life you are meant to live. How you show up for them and yourself.  Step more into integrity with who you want to be. 

Today work with my clients to set up conditions for inevitable success, turning healthy habits into behaviors that last and deliver a whole new level of strength, beauty, and confidence as well as the energy to create the lifestyle they want.  This is not about doing more as we have limited hours in the day, what this is about is filling your schedule with so many positive things that the negativity no longer has space in your life.  Foods you enjoy and give you energy, movement that is fun, and an attitude of gratitude.  Creating a personalized path to your vision for your future.

“If it is worth it, it won’t be easy.  If it is easy it isn’t challenging you enough.”

Listen to Cathy on The Enlightenedhood Podcast

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