Earlier this week, Gila Health and Wellness became an LLC. I created the name Gila Health and Wellness about two-and-a-half years ago, when I started a Facebook page dedicated to sharing nutrition and wellness articles and tips. Then, last summer, when I started my nutrition private practice, the question of what to name it came to the forefront. Do I continue with Gila Health and Wellness, or do I start at square one and find a catchy, more obviously nutrition-oriented name?
While I could have imagined a simple title of: Gila Daman Nutrition, I didn’t want to use my maiden name in my professional business title, since, while I go by Gila Daman professionally, socially I often go by Gila Daman Polon. I was grateful to my husband for not insisting I legally change my name (more on that, perhaps, another time), but I didn’t want to overly promote my maiden name by using it in my brand and business.
But it was more than that. Even before I was married, I chose the title of “Gila Health and Wellness.” Why?
Throughout the process of developing a nutrition private practice and business, I have been at a crossroads with whether or not to use the word “nutrition” in its title. On the one hand, I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and food- and nutrition-related topics are at the forefront of my work. On the other hand, I do not focus solely on nutrition.
I grew up in a health-conscious home with parents who fed me cut up veggies and fruits for snack and modeled healthy eating. My dad was an avid runner. My mom didn’t have as structured of a fitness regimen, but she loved dancing in our den (she taught me how to shimmy when I was 12), and regularly performed back-strengthening floor exercises. My parents not only inspired me to eat nutritiously, but also to be physically active. In my adult years, along with becoming an RDN, I also became a certified Pilates mat instructor and a certified yoga instructor. “Gila Daman Nutrition,” or the like, would not have reflected that.
But it goes deeper than that. In my own health and wellness journey (there’s that phrase again!), I have found that focusing solely on nutrition, on eating the “perfect plate,” can in fact be detrimental to one’s overall health.
How do I mean?
As I mentioned above, I grew up with two health-conscious parents who fed me nutritious food and modeled healthy eating patterns. Ever since I could read, I was reading nutrition labels off the cereal boxes at breakfast time. My fascination and passion for nutrition went a bit too far though when I graduated high school and went to study abroad for a year and then continued on to college. I no longer came home to the nutritious meals that I grew up with, and was forced to eat cafeteria food that was anything but nutritious. I missed having that control over my food intake, and even though I was thin my whole life, I was afraid that I would follow the stereotype of "Freshman 15" and gain weight. I therefore watched what I ate very carefully. I read labels and counted calories. When I went to the salad bar in college, I would add tomato slices to my plate, not because I felt like eating tomatoes, but because I wanted my body to get more vitamin C and lycopene. Many of my peers my year abroad had skipped their period for a few months, but mine hadn't come back by the end of my first semester in college. After that year-and-a-half of heightened fear of gaining weight and eating only healthful foods (I didn’t eat refined grains, only whole grains, and I trimmed the fat off my meat so meticulously that there was hardly any left to eat), my family and I grew increasingly concerned about my extended period of amenorrhea and I met with a nutritionist. Me, the girl who everyone asked nutrition advice from, was going to see a nutritionist. While at first I was resistant to broadening my food choices, after a couple of months, I became more relaxed and was able to eat regular cafeteria food again: spaghetti and meatballs, potato wedges, maybe even a slice of pizza. I realized that my tracking of my food intake was consuming my entire existence and while I may have been healthy from a nutrition standpoint, I was not well from a holistic perspective, and I was not happy. I then loosened the reigns of control on my eating, and I followed a more intuitive approach, eating when I felt hungry, and not eating when I did not feel hungry. I showed more compassion toward my body, instead of being a strict ruler over it. I trusted my body again, instead of constantly loathing it.
Over the past decade or so, my mental and emotional energy has been freed up from preoccupation with food, and I have been able to focus on other areas of wellness. Turns out food wasn’t the only thing I wanted to control in life (try, everything!) and I have been working on my overall mental health and well-being. I have come to recognize that nutrition is a means to an end: a healthy body, a sound mind. It is part of the greater web of wellness.
So that is why I didn’t want to highlight the word “nutrition” in the name of my business and brand. That, and the fact that “Gila Nutrition and Wellness,” just doesn’t have as good of a ring to it!