For Everyday Health & Wellness Conference organizer Pam Snyder, everything changed when she temporarily lost her sight in 1999. Her children were 2 ½ and 5 at the time, and she had to rely on the kindness of neighbors to get her family through a three-week ordeal that included daily steroid IV therapy lasting three hours per session.
Snyder was given a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis with bilateral optic neuritis, which occurred a second time days after the first incident had subsided. During those nearly-blind weeks, she had pinhole tunnel vision that allowed her to change a diaper and maneuver around her familiar house but not drive or cook. It became clear to Snyder that something had to change. Thus began her journey into holistic health.
Today, Snyder is on no medication at all, is healthy and fit with full vision. She goes in for regular neurological screenings but has found health and wellness through nutrition and lifestyle changes, including many of the simple and accessible strategies she hopes to share at Saturday’s Everyday Health & Wellness Conference in Fairfax. “Everyone had can get nuggets that they can start embedding in their lifestyle to have improvement in their health,” she said. Unlike other health conferences that may target foodies and those already familiar with alternative therapies, Snyder is aiming her event toward regular folks who want to want to feel good and are looking for practical and easy take-aways.
Snyder had grown up eating foods made from scratch but had gotten away from a whole foods lifestyle in college and her early days of work and parenthood. She felt invincible in her 20s, but after her vision crisis, it became clear to her that her body could not process anything artificial. “My body was working so hard every day just to function,” she recalls.
She went back to eating a nutrient-dense diet and has tried eliminating different foods over the years, settling on no one fad but just “eating real food.” She initially went to a clinic in Arizona where she received acupuncture and other wellness energy work. Over the years she has done many detoxes and cleanses to address heavy metal toxicity, which can bind up in the nerves.
Exercise is key for Snyder and always has been part of her life. She has always been an outdoors person and exercises every day. With a nerve condition, she’s aware that her muscles may stop working some day. Alignment of her skeletal system is important for her, so she sees a holistic chiropractor every few months.
When her children were young, Snyder never catered to their whims on food and has always maintained: “What’s for dinner is what’s for dinner.” Now that her sons are 17 and 20, she sees the effects of the healthy foundation she laid for her family. Both are strong athletes who have never been sick; she keeps no over the counter medication in the house. When her younger son shattered his leg during a baseball game five years ago, he came home from the hospital asking for strawberries and cantaloupe and eschewing pain medication after two days. The doctors were amazed how phenomenally he healed.
Today, that son gets a daily green smoothie, in addition to raw milk, and is setting his sights on collegiate golf. His older brother, now at the University of Michigan, requested that his mother send him apples and oranges. He also told her, “Can you please send some homemade kale chips.” Snyder said, “He knows his body wants it, which warms my heart” adding, “To be fair, he also asked for a jar of Nutella,” letting Synder put into practice her philosophy of everything in moderation.
Snyder’s background is in event planning, and she completed her holistic health coach training last spring through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She tried coaching individuals but found that she did not have a gift for gently encouraging her clients. She was the same tough nut she was as a parent. So, inspired by the recent Take Back Your Health Conferences organized by International Health Coach association founder Robin Shirley, Snyder decided to marry her passion for holistic health with her experience planning events and create the Everyday Health & Wellness Conference.
Several of the day’s speakers are nationally recognized health and nutrition figures, including the Vani Hari the Food Babe, raw food celeb Jason Wrobel , functional medical physician Liz Lipski and motivational speaker Andy Core.
Snyder also is quick to point out the importance of the physical fitness part of her tagline: “Be Healthy. Be Fit. Be Happy.” The afternoon will feature a fitness panel with local personalities, including Fairfax County P.E. teacher Bill Wilkinson and Amanda Shipe of Mind Your Body Oasis , marathon runner and health coach Liz Greelaw and personal trainer Je Battle. The panel will be heavy on Q&A to address attendees’ interests.
In addition to over six hours of speaker programming, conference attendees will enjoy a buffet lunch and have the chance to talk with some 30 vendors and try out locally-made MTO Kombucha. They will also get an impressive array of products in their goodie bags, including samples of Waxlene, Eat Green Tea Salad Smoothie, KIND bars, and The Perfect Snaque, as well as several others. More details about what to expect are on the conference blog.
Registration for the March 1 conference is available at http://www.everydayhwconference.com/, but the conference has just put up a group offer on its Facebook page: rather than pay the regular $125, register for $75 if two or more people join you, for a savings of $50 each. Grab two of your mom friends, hook up all your partners to watch the kids for the day, and contact info (at) everydayhwconference (dot) com for this email-only deal.
Disclosure: I was given a free registration to the conference in exchange for writing this profile.
Jessica Claire Haney is a Northern Virginia-based writer and editor and the founder and a co-leader of the Arlington/Alexandria chapter of Holistic Moms Network. She is a parent of two children and is building a new resource for DC-area families interested in natural living. MindfulHealthyLife.com will launch in April 2014. It has a brand-new Facebook page at /mindfulhealthylife.and Twitter feed @MindfulHealthy and a temporary home in version 1.0 at DC Healthy Green Families. She blogs at Crunchy-Chewy Mama and tweets @crunchychewy.