Good Health: Misha Vayner’s Journey of a Lifetime

A lot of us take our good health for granted. We try to live right, cut down on sweets, and get more exercise. But, in general, we just assume everything will be fine.

Misha Vayner was a lot like this — until her health fell apart. Almost overnight, she went from fit to an absolute mess. It wasn’t just one thing. It was everything. The sudden shock of it all was almost as bad as the pain and other symptoms.

“I always was in very good health — so I thought!” she said.

Things had not been all good. Her retail fashion business, with designs inspired by her Indian heritage, had gone belly up. Trusted partners had betrayed her and she was financially devastated. Then, thankfully, came a blessing: Vayner got pregnant. Like most first-time moms, she was excited and scared at the same time. And because this was all happening at such a low point, nothing was easy.

But she was happy and believed motherhood would turn things around and hoped for good health. Instead, it all got worse.

“After I gave birth, I had this massive health breakdown,” said Vayner. “I couldn’t walk, my brain shut down. Literally, I felt terrible after anything I ate — completely sick. Every single part of me was in pain.”

Vayner had always been fit and petite. Now, even through the pain, she was following a doctor-approved diet. She was exercising. But nothing helped. The symptoms were relentless: swollen joints, insomnia, digestive pain, fatigue, no memory, bleeding, even nail fungus.

Her legs hurt so bad that she was using crutches. One day, the pain grew so intense that Vayner couldn’t even press the brake in her car and she had to conjure up everything she had just to pull over off the highway before getting into an accident.

“I was a walking zombie…Not one part of my body worked,” she said.

That was seven years ago. Since then, Vayner has completed a massive transformation, and she is now teaching the success of her good health journey to others, mostly mothers, who have faced struggles of their own.

She spent years healing, self training through the Institute of Integrated Nutrition, and becoming a certified holistic health coach. Then she decided to put it all into a program to share with the world.

The course she’s has launched, called “Aligned,” runs for six weeks and will cover concepts in good health such as mindfulness, nourishment, self-care, self-love, movement, and sleep hygiene. Along with live, interactive Q&As and Facebook groups to build community for overwhelmed mothers, each module can be taken on one’s own time and revisited again and again.

“If you do this inside-out approach — aligning from the inside — you end up having this cascading effect on all areas of your life,” Vayner said.

“If you align your mind, body, and spirit — and really tune in to what your body is organically asking for and needing — it ends up balancing your hormones,” she said. “You’re sleeping better. You’re not having cravings. You understand nourishment. You’re no longer having to make these health decisions from an intellectual place. You’re naturally feeling very stress-free and able to follow your body’s natural clues by just tuning in and self navigating.”

Vayner’s goal is to help people skip the years of pain, confusion, and healthcare expenses she endured while looking for answers to reach good health. She wants to help busy moms streamline their way to the same place that she — finally, after years of recovery — eventually reached in her quest for good health.

“All of the sudden, I had this shift and my health drastically skyrocketed,” Vayner said. “It went from me struggling to get there to living on the highest vibe and feeling amazing. I was in the best shape of my life — even better than my 20s.”

Getting to a better place wasn’t easy. At all. After her health crisis, Vayner spent the next year just trying to figure out what was wrong.

She went from doctor to doctor — general practitioners, specialists, rheumatoid experts, sports medicine therapists, holistic healers — looking for an answer. She was living in agony and the pain was made worse by the fact that nobody could even explain what was physically wrong. “I was spending tens of thousands of dollars on different doctors,” she said.

Eventually, she was steered toward one functional doctor who had a shocking diagnosis. “Everything I was experiencing was from stress,” said Vayner.

Stress, at least, was the primary issue. But it precipitated many others. Chief among them was a severe case of leaky gut, an intestinal lining permeability disorder that allows large particles of broken down food and other substances to pass into areas of the body they don’t belong.

According to some health professionals, this can then trigger an immune system response as your body tries to fight off foreign bodies that it sees as invaders. For Vayner, that showed up as chronic inflammation, intestinal microbiome disturbances, and malabsorption, her digestive system being no longer capable of properly extracting nutrients from food.

 

As unlikely as it was, she was convinced she had some rare type of cancer or other disease. These stress- and diet-induced problems seemed to be what was giving Vayner inflamed painful joints, insulin resistance, adrenal burnout, brain fog, and fatigue for months on end. It all compounded into a situation that left her feeling like death.

All this was hard to come to grips with. But, in a way, just knowing the main causes of her breakdown was a big help. The healing could begin — even if it went slowly and was uneven during two more pregnancies.

“This journey became very much a three steps forward, two steps back process,” Vayner said. “But once I had that moment, I was mind-blown.”

Stress management and nutrition were the centerpieces of her journey to achieving good health. Vayner would come to try various protocols over the years, but the paleo diet served as a life line. Her gut responded very well, and it was enlightening to find this new way of eating that finally — after all these years — made her feel good.

In time, as the most debilitating symptoms began subside, she was able to make even more progress. Much of this came through creating a deeper internal mind/body connection, something Vayner had experience with through her Indian heritage. But that had never really clicked fully until now.

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The early improvements kept her motivated, and Vayner was feeling better than she had in years.  But, at the same time, she began to harboring some anger. How could stress management and diet be this powerful — yet nobody was able to tell her this earlier?

“Why was it so hard for me to get this information?” she wondered. “Why did I spend all this time suffering?”

Vayner does not want other people going through that same, slow path.

“I developed this philosophy and program that has been life-changing for me,” she said. “It helps you — through self-care, self-love, and mindfulness … I developed it based upon what I wished I had. Tell me what I need to know — from beginning to end — in a way that will be supportive.”

 

Some of the nutrition aspects may be eye-opening for those who take the course. For example, did you know cholesterol can be good and that a little fasting can rejuvenate your body? The focus on balancing hormones represents an approach many are unfamiliar with. Did you know this can lead to better sleep, less stress, and reduced inflammation?

Vayner also plans to incorporate holistic and spiritual teachings rooted in her heritage and her faith. Again, did you know that operating from a place of what feels good can yield more results than when you “kale and crunch” your way to optimal health?

All this, combined with the first-hand experiences of her unique personal journey and background, makes Vayner believe that she really does have something special to share with the world.

“Meditation and yoga are not boxes to check,” she said. “You actually have to have that mind/body connection … Everyone says these things in theory. But, in reality, when you’re living through it, I know exactly how to help you integrate it when you really can’t sleep with three kids. Because I’ve been there.”

For more ways to achieve good health read articles on mindfulness lessons and mindfulness while socializing

For more about Misha Vayner and her Aligned course, you can check out her website MishaVayner.com. The six-week course will be available starting in October.