A Path To Support + 7 tips for supplementing

You can’t out supplement a poor lifestyle

This statement will always ring true. 

If you’re familiar with my story, you know I’ve walked many paths towards holistic health. 

From living in a constant state chronic & acute illness and leaning on buckets of OTC meds, antibiotics, and occasional steroid injections when those couldn’t calm the storm

To dropping everything -cleansing my system and life of the daily chemicals - from food, skin & hair care, cleaning products, you-name-it. 

I even eliminated anything that remotely resembled any kind of supplement. If it wasn’t whole food based and mostly in its original form before I used it, it wasn’t part of my routine.


Your life is a cycle of lessons.


And for me, learning from experience - and often extremes, offers the most valuable feedback to truly understand your why behind your choices and where balance comes together.


My first pregnancy cast a spotlight on major lifestyle imbalances. I had recently left my management position to return to entrepreneurship- personal training out of a private space, offering nutrition consulting, food demos, catering small events, & customized wellness programs, immersed in a yoga apprenticeship, navigating the loss of my father emotionally and logistically to help my mother get back on her feet, and using every last ounce of energy to keep up with social commitments

While attempting to celebrate my father’s legacy on the 1-year anniversary of his passing, I was struggling with what felt like a severe cold and extreme fatigue. I could not shake it. That’s the first time I remember truly acknowledging how depleted I felt. 

The next day, my yoga mentor called me out on what seemed to her like a lack of commitment, and I poured it all on the table. She didn’t know about the loss of my dad or the trauma that surfaced losing him by suicide. She only saw me running around town doing all-the-things until I got myself sick. In the midst of my emotional outpouring, she started immediately offering me Ayurvedic herbals from her arsenal for my cold and nervous system

She also didn’t know at that time I didn’t believe in taking concentrated supplements. I used food as medicine - incorporating herbals - but never took capsules or powders “just because.”


It had dawned on me the night before, I also hadn’t started my cycle in at least 7 weeks. I was that disconnected from my own rhythm that I hadn’t even noticed. I took a test when I got home that day. 

I can tell you, discovering your first pregnancy only moments after admitting to yourself how completely depleted your mind and body are - not quite the celebration one would hope. 


I called the doctor’s office; something I hadn’t done in almost 3 years. The earliest they could see me was 6 weeks out. I’d have to navigate the rest of this first trimester alone

Start a prenatal vitamin,” the nurse said. 

Didn’t she know I didn’t trust supplements? I hadn’t needed supplements. I found one that seemed the most food-based and choked it down as I also swallowed my fears and insecurities. And I moved forward. Like all was well.


Two weeks later, while training at the studio, the cramping began. I headed home early and tearfully experienced a miscarriage that night at home, just over 8 weeks pregnant. And again, at a point of extremes, with this unexpected cascade of events, my life was about to take another huge shift

As I’m writing this and reflecting, I was about to tell you that I took time off - and then I remembered - I miscarried on a Thursday night and that Sunday I still fulfilled a promise, and met a friend in Detroit for a 71-story stair climb called, “Fight For Air.” Such a mirror, as I was living what most would see as an extremely healthy lifestyle - and yet I was drowning, gasping for breath, among my own expectations


The next few weeks, I was forced to pause. The physical and emotional toll of postpartum symptoms, without a child, pouring out of an already depleted woman, were very difficult to navigate. And as I emerged slowly from this knock out- I knew I’d never be the same


As hard as this was, this was a blessing - yet another extreme wake up that I needed. 


✨I thought I could take a prenatal vitamin and ignore all the signs of depletion.

✨I thought I could experience personal trauma, bury my heart, and still fulfill my obligations because physically, I was capable of doing it. 

✨I thought because I had a lot of certifications, ate the right things, exercised, talked about my feelings, and handled-it-all that I didn’t need support - not from additional supplements, not from resting, not from asking for help


The way I teach is the way I learn -by walking the path.


I see all of branches that come off my route- take into account the unique elements from different paths. But when I experience the blind spots in my own path, I open perspective in learning. And from my own learning, I teach you how to witness your own shadows, before you trip on the root and fall into the hole, too. 

I want you to avoid the extremes that I’ve endured and instead, use these as lessons to shine light on where you can improve.



As I emerged from this dark hole, I began to take note of my depletion - the communication my body was sending me all along.

I had felt so much better after changing my nutrition years before. I had eliminated the symptoms that had become so familiar that I didn’t realize they weren’t normal until they slowly disappeared

And while my routine and lifestyle had changed significantly, I still hadn’t energetically shifted two major factors:


  1. Pausing to truly listen to my body & intuition everyday 
  2. Developing a realistic, balanced expectation of myself. Giving myself space to take care of me - letting go of the notion that just because I can do it, doesn’t mean I should. (We’ll dive into this another time 😉) 


After my initial huge foundational shift, I stopped listening. I was “cured.” And now, with this wake up call, it was time for me to start listening again to what my body & spirit really needed.


It was time for the next phase of understanding.


I started taking note of symptoms and taking into account my depletion - what exactly was I feeling

With the help of a naturopath, I began a protocol that helped me both physically and emotionally. And in the process, I essentially went through a personalized crash course on TCM, herbal remedies, homeopathy, energetics, and mineralization


As I began to feel the shifts, I dove deeper into my studies. I collaborated with functional practitioners, integrative nutrition practitioners, traditional naturopaths, Ayurvedic practitioners, and a circle of holistic specialists to understand how supplementation can truly upgrade a lifestyle based in foundational health. 

I found balance in practicing ~ what I knew, what I was learning, and by listening to the communication present within.


I began to trust my body again. To trust myself.
After 15 months of very intentional self-work (still in progress today!), I finally felt reconnected to myself in a way I’d never experienced before.
And soon after, I confidently felt the first signs of another pregnancy - as a much healthier, whole, connected, and emotionally-well(ish) person.

I had resources I trusted to advise supplementation. I had sources I trusted to get the best quality product. I could hear what my body was asking for. I could feel when my efforts with whole foods were enough and when I needed an additional boost. 


A supplement is a helping hand - not a crutch to hold up a broken limb or a bandaid to hide a scar. A supplement is a partner that supports you; that listens to what you’re doing and gives you the extra boost to keep going.

So while you can’t out-supplement a poor lifestyle, you can support yourself where you’re at today.


And you can continue to improve every day, with intention, simply by listening, learning, & responding

No one is perfect. And both you and I cycle through phases of life. One method that has worked for an extended time may gradually fade in effectiveness. Something yyou didn’t trust before may suddenly be exactly what we need.


That’s the beauty of staying connected, building resources, and learning. …And this is syncing to your rhythm of life.


Today I have a healthy almost 6-year old. He’s never needed any OTC or prescription medications. Such an opposite extreme from my childhood. I know there is a place for these and I’m grateful that I have access if ever needed. 

I choose to focus on our foundation. And it’s been challenging to navigate balance over perfection.

I offer the best quality nutrition available, clean mineralized water, and supplement based on what we need or any symptoms

I went from having no supplements to having an entire cabinet full. An arsenal. And that’s taken time to balance out, too. Trusting what’s needed. Building and understanding protocols. Having items on hand to boost support during acute illness. And knowing exactly how to use and source it all. 


Most importantly, I’m maintaining that I always listen first - to what my body is communicating. Everyday. And follow my intuition to guide me, leaning in on my knowledge and resources to support my path. 


Here are my top 7 tips on supplementing:


  1. Focus on your foundation first - eating whole foods & drinking clean water the majority of the time + eliminating chemical disrupters is essential before adding in supplements
  2. Know exactly how you feel - it’s not a time to guess. Take note of your symptoms or concerns. Rate these throughout the day. Give yourself a baseline so you can choose the correct remedy & awareness of whether this remedy is effective as you monitor your symptoms
  3. Always consider your full picture - what is your current routine. Are your lifestyle factors contributing to your concern (ex coffee drinking all day; waking up at 2a) Are you taking any prescription or over the counter medications
  4. Choose your protocol intentionally - don’t piecemeal vitamins & supplements together in a never ending stream. Start with putting together a full scope of what you’re taking daily and why. Allow yourself to consistently take these for a period of time (90 days is often a good frame). Evaluate throughout. If major concerns arise, stop & reset. Otherwise, continue, with frequent self check ins (take notes), and after your first cycle, determine if this protocol should continue as is or make appropriate adjustments. I often off-cycle or rotate to offer my body diversity.
  5. Choose wisely - not all supplements are created equal. While vitamin D, C , and magnesium may be available in every store with 72 different labels - the bioavailability is based on the form and where it’s derived from. Don’t just buy the cheapest form of the buzzword your looking for. If you’re not sure - consult your practioner. If you’re on the fence between a few brands you trust, I lean to closest to its natural form (ex food based vitamin C), least additional ingredients (generally a shorter shelf life if less preservatives), the form that best matches your concern (ex magnesium glycinate for daily, magnesium citrate for constipation), and if it’s paired with a co-factor necessary for absorption (ex D3 w K2). 
  6. Only source supplements from reputable suppliers - don’t make Amazon or the grocery store your primary stop for supplements. There are too many shade sellers and unknown elements. High quality supplements need to be in a controlled environment. Sitting far too long on grocery store shelves, non-climate controlled warehouses, or in the back of a random persons car that’s just trying to make a few dollars delivering for Amazon can diminish the effectiveness of your product. Order direct from a company, dispensary, or purchase from a specialty retailer that orders direct in small quantities and ensures products are cared for. 
  7. Ask for help from a trusted source - doctors are helpful and a good place to start. Yet often, they are not as familiar with the breadth and depth of supplementation. Once you’re ready, if you’re feeling unsure, a functional practitioner, integrative nutritionist, or naturopath can help guide your way. If you’re pretty familiar and confident with supplementing, simply speaking with a knowledgeable nutritionist or trusted wellness coach can give you guidance on choosing the best quality product and general guidelines. No matter who you choose to consult with - you are your own advocate. No one knows your body better than you. So know your body. Have your notes ready. Be specific. And before following the suggested protocol, make sure you feel it’s the best fit for you. 


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Shannon of Live Unprocessed is sharing her take and tips on wellness through food, movement, and mindfulness.