I’m Jessi. This is the story of how I found life after trauma.

I’ve been working in the health and fitness industry since 2000. My entire career has been dedicated to helping people feel good in their bodies, through means such as exercise, nutrition, massage, and other wellness-based practices.

For years, the same healthy practices I taught clients were paramount in my own life. They helped me come back from injury, compete as an athlete, and pursue my ambitions.

In 2011, something happened that derailed it all.

I was assaulted. And my world came tumbling down.

In the aftermath, as I suffered from post-traumatic stress, all those nice, healthy habits went out the window in my own life.

I couldn’t sleep. I had trouble eating. (Full disclosure: for a while, this nutrition coach was eating nothing but chocolate ice cream.) My once favorite form of exercise — running — now felt exhausting and intimidating.

Fear took over. I shut myself off from people, projects and life in general. My world was closing in on itself.

I was surviving but I was certainly not thriving.

Then one day I had a flash of insight.

I was feeling stuck, and sad, and wondering to myself if this was it. Would things ever get any better? Or was I going to stay stuck in this no-man’s-land forever?

Out of the blue, a little voice inside me perked up and said, “C’mon, Jessi. You already know what to do.”

I realized that all the healthy habits I’d been teaching others for years could be my breadcrumb trail back to life.

Beginning with the tiniest of steps, I started taking care of myself. Gently, slowly, and with greater compassion than before.

I replaced running with yoga. At the end of a difficult day I would hop on my bike and go for a ride and let myself cry. Exercise became an outlet, not a competition.

I began meditating for five minutes a day, with zero expectations of Zen-like “perfection”.

I got back in the kitchen and started cooking. There was no selfie-taking. No “cleaneating” hashtag. Just small, regular acts of kindness.

Meanwhile, I re-dedicated myself to my coaching practice with an even stronger sense of purpose: to help other trauma survivors go from merely surviving to thriving.

To use my experience to help others, I upped my skill set, adding new certifications and learning from the best coaches around.

In the process of caring for myself and pursuing my new mission of helping others, something started to take shape. Slowly but surely my old self returned: goofy, spirited, and joyful. I also discovered a new version of myself who is strong, confident, resilient, unstoppable.

Amazingly, life has become better than it ever was before.

Today, I use all the tools in my health, fitness, and self care toolbox to help others — including my own hard-won knowledge of what it takes to get back up after being knocked down.

Beach FitnessI’m dedicated to helping other trauma survivors care for themselves, so they can live their lives to the fullest.

If you’re wondering whether there’s something better around the corner, there is.

And if you’re wondering whether you’re strong enough to get there — you are.