Shannon Quarantino

Health Coach

You may be wondering why I decided to become a coach. What my journey was like, and how I ended up on this path. I want to share it with you, not only to let you know that I can relate to many of the things you may be going through, but also to show you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. This may be a bit wordy, but my hope is that a piece of it comforts you in some way, knowing that you are not alone. Let’s start from the top. My parents were kids when I was born. At 19 my mom was thrown into motherhood knowing as she says, “that it was her only purpose in life.” My Dad worked two, three, and four jobs to make ends meet. We were poor, but both of my parents wanted to provide the best for me. On the brink of divorce when I was two, my mom got pregnant with my sister. It held my parents together, and we started our new life as a family of four. Money was still tight, and my mom worked off hours while my sister and I slept at night. Although we didn’t have much my mom focused on giving us the best food that we could afford, most things made from scratch, almost no processed food, and very minimal amounts of sugar. This sounds like a health coach’s dream right? That diet would never be an issue? Sugar cravings wouldn’t exist for someone like me because I had never had the chance to become addicted, hooray! The fact of the matter is that I became super conscious of my diet at a very early age. I can joke about this now, but when you bring a pita full of sprouts and cucumbers to the lunch table at the age of 7, it is an open invitation for mockery. I started to become self conscious about what I ate. I would try to fit in and buy school lunch occasionally even though I hated it. My mom obliged because she knew I was struggling, but to no avail. As I grew older my confidence slowly wained. I became more quiet and introverted. My thoughts about food started to take over, and at the age of 14 the beginning of an eating disorder started to take shape. I don’t blame this on my parents, or my upbringing. It was just the consequence of a major storm of factors. First, I realized I would never fit in with the crowd. Second, as a teen I had no control over anything in my life, but I could control my diet. Third, I was so uncomfortable in my own skin that I had to make a move towards something more desirable. As a girl who loved fashion magazines, being skinny was at the top of my list. Finally, my confidence was so low that if being skinnier meant disappearing into the background, than I would do anything in my power to make it happen, and so I did. I was in the throes of anorexia for three years. I lost tons of weight. I also lost my energy, some of my hair, the ability to have a positive relationship with food, and myself. My parents had no idea what to do with me. If I wasn’t at school, I was sleeping. I had no desire to hang out with friends. I never wanted to be in the position to have to eat in front of people. I hated school functions. I felt more alienated than ever, but I was skinny. Nothing felt better than skinny. The only person that understood this was my best friend. Her and I were inseparable through most of high school. She understood my habits because she had a lot of the same. We secretly challenged each other to eat even less, to fit into a smaller pants size, to just have one taste of frozen yogurt before throwing the entire container away. We had been friends since age 8, we had shared so much that it was easy for us to be entrenched in this dark secret together. She moved away in my junior year of high school. I finally met a guy, which spiked my confidence while simultaneously making it very hard for me to maintain my strange eating behaviors. I finally broke down one day on a pay phone in the cafeteria. My mom immediately hired a nutritionist, who put me on upwards of 30 supplements a day, and an elimination diet. “It must be a deficiency,” she said, not ever stopping to think that it may be a mental deficiency. I lost 15 more pounds. I was a skeleton. My mom was furious, and took matters into her own hands. Super healthy meals that I had to eat with my family, maintaining a food journal, healthy amounts of exercise. Finally on the right path I was able to think about college, having a friend of two, finally getting my license at the age of 18. Unfortunately my best friend wasn’t having such a great recovery. Over the next few years I battled with my weight. If any thing went wrong I immediately stopped eating. My friend went in and out of rehab. We were both in college trying to stay in touch when we could, when life didn’t get in the way. I withdrew from school, got a job, and tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. My friend graduated from college, and two months later, took her own life. To say that this was devastating to me is the understatement of the century. I was completely broken inside. I felt as though I may have been the cause of her eating disorder, and if we had kept a closer connection that maybe I could have helped her in some way. I now know years (and many therapy sessions) later that there was nothing I could have done, but it has lingered in my heart since the day that she died. I finished college with a fashion merchandising degree. I have worked in the fashion and design field for seven years. I liked it, but the yearning to do something more kept calling. About 3 years ago as a distraction from my mundane day to day, I started researching nutrition and health. I took an interest in making green smoothies, and the small juice movement that was coming about it NYC. As I read more and more I realized that this could be a way that I could use my past experiences, and my friend’s to better other peoples lives. If I could help just one girl or woman feel more confident, show her that her life holds so much value, that her body is the reason she is alive; Show her that a diet controlled by healthy decisions, and an exercise routine meant to build her up, not break her down could change her life than I would be paying a service to my friend who got away. So after 12 years battling with food, exercise, depression, and loss I have reached my light. I am happy. My intention for coaching is to minimize the time that you, your daughter, or a friend struggles with the pain that I did. Everyone has the right to be confident, feel fabulous in their skin, and live a fulfilled life. I have the skills to do that now, and I would love the opportunity to share them with you.