Amy Taft

First of all, I’m just a regular girl who loves fresh air, great food, and trusted friends.

I’m also a bucket list-making wife and backpack-toting mom of three precocious little people whose primary purpose in life is to be certain I don’t sit or rest or get bored for a single, solitary minute. Before motherhood, I was an elementary school teacher and high school varsity field hockey coach (proud to claim back-to-back State Championships with my Cougars) and later on, a ball-juggling administrator.

I love bringing organization to literal and figurative spaces that are chaotic. I get inspired by goals and plans and possibilities and enjoy networking with assorted people and personalities that somehow or another fit into my vision of what could be. I’m a person who sees the big picture, understands and embraces the work required along the way, and truly wants to make the dream a reality.

Whenever my husband blesses me with a kitchen pass (which is happening more often, God bless him!), you’ll find me looking for new recipes to try, cooking for pleasure, enjoying the great outdoors, brainstorming another family bucket list, or relaxing with my current favorite book or magazine.

My Story

Do you ever notice a recurring theme in your life? Something that resembles an unsolicited life lesson wrapped up in struggle, embarrassment, pain, or defeat?The older I get, the more I encounter this phenomenon as a common human experience. Some of us deny it or don’t recognize it. Others run from it with all they have. As for me, I finally decided to embrace it.

More than a few years ago, my teenage self set off for college with big dreams and lots of confidence. I had, perhaps, a slightly inflated view of myself as an exemplary student and talented athlete. I was quickly humbled by the sea of my amazingly gifted peers at a huge state university where I intended to play Division I field hockey. Tiny little fish in a great big ocean doesn’t even begin to describe the new reality I encountered. Following a string of upheavals in family, academic, athletic, and social arenas, I found my once-steady life compass had suddenly and completely turned sideways, and I began searching desperately for someone or something I could control.That someone became me. The something became food and exercise.

Just a few months into my freshman year, I developed an array of eating disorders and body dysmorphia that would haunt me for years, obsessively counting calories and exercising multiple times a day to maintain some semblance of certainty and predictability. This was the 90’s – the height of the low/no-fat craze and “no pain, no gain” mentality, and all my compulsive habits and insecurities fed right into it.

Depending on my mood and the events of the day, food and exercise were a reward, punishment, comfort, escape, or solace. I used them like an addict uses drugs – to dull the pain and soften the disappointments of life. At various points during this stage of my life, I was 40 pounds underweight at my lowest and 40 pounds overweight at my heaviest – and this wasn’t during pregnancy. This kind of behavior continued for another decade, as my weight would surge and then spiral in a relentless cycle that I accepted as my eternal fate and lasting identity. No longer that confident, athletic, out-going and healthy girl I once was, I didn’t see any way to divorce myself from the hollow shell of a person I’d become.

And yet, with divine help, I did. Or more accurately, I am.

Motherhood & Exhaustion

Buoyed by marriage and professional success, I launched into motherhood in my late 30’s thinking all my demons had been put to rest. But then, the sonogram announced that I was having a girl (always pictured myself as a Boy Mom), and suddenly a whole host of suppressed fears came flooding in. The thought of raising a girl and navigating my way – AGAIN – through body image, dieting, and all the accompanying nightmares with this perfect, unmarred, innocent little girl overwhelmed and terrified me. How could I raise a confident, healthy, active daughter without projecting all of my faulty beliefs and dysfunctional behaviors onto her?

Just over a year later, our second child, my first little boy, was born with significant health issues, among which was a severe phobia of food. He was almost exclusively breastfed until he was 12 months old. We spent the next year in weekly eating therapy sessions, approaching every meal with absolute dread. (To my husband – “I fed him breakfast and lunch. Dinner’s on you, pal.”). What child hates to eat and screams at the sight of Goldfish and graham crackers and ice cream? It seemed so ridiculous and unfair.

A few years later our third child, also a boy, joined in on our Crazy. In the months prior to his second birthday, he began getting sick ALL. THE. TIME. We would barely finish one round of antibiotics before he would pick up the next illness, and this would continue for months. He had chronic diarrhea and began losing weight rapidly. And he suffered with patches of itchy, scaly, sometimes oozing areas of skin behind his ears and on his thighs. He was miserable and mean and clearly not healthy. The pediatrician dismissed all of this as no big deal – probably just “toddler’s diarrhea” and common eczema. But none of this seemed normal to me, and I refused to settle for a constant cocktail of medications and lotions and steroid creams. Many months later, we discovered he was intolerant of all grains (rice being a possible exception) and also dairy. You can imagine the chaos and stress surrounding mealtimes at this point. I was spending countless hours preparing multiple options three times a day to satisfy everyone’s needs. Exhausting. And certainly not sustainable.

The clincher was my own deteriorating health – not only the sleepless nights and stress of addressing all of these food-related needs, but also my own stomach and digestive issues that were becoming increasingly more frequent and more severe. It got to the point that I was afraid to eat a meal because of the effects it might have on me a few hours, or sometimes only minutes later.

Frustration eventually led my husband and me to agree that, as a family, we would slowly but steadily identify and eliminate all problematic foods from our diet. This effort surreptitiously led us to adopt a paleo lifestyle – not just the diet, but fitness, too, and other areas as well.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

In researching new recipes and reading various books and blog posts, I began stumbling across the science behind the primal approach, as well as medical evidence detailing how seriously our dietary, fitness and lifestyle choices were affecting our health.

The facts and personal narratives astounded me so much that I decided to commit wholeheartedly to this new way of eating and living, and if possible, make a career out of sharing with others how this new approach to wellness was positively impacting the collective health of my family.  Just a few weeks ago, I became a certified Primal Health Coach, and the vision of Good Life Architect was born.