When we least expect it, life can throw us a curve ball that completely changes the path we are on – that is what happened to me when I was 19 years old. I had just finished my second year of university and was a little frustrated with the world. I felt a sense of entitlement, a sense of recklessness, a bit of resentment towards my parents, and let’s not forget the feeling of being invincible. But that all changed one evening in June 1991.
I had just dropped one of my friends off at their house after going to a movie. I drove down to the end of the block and was about to go through a green light when a voice said, “Loreen, your seat-belt is not buckled”. I had forgotten it was not done up, and so I clicked my seat-belt into place. The next memory I have is being in excruciating pain, strapped to a table and surrounded by people I didn’t know.
I was told I had been in a car accident, and according to the medical staff it was considered a miracle I had survived. I had been broadsided on the driver’s side of my vehicle by an impaired driver. He was playing a game of chicken to see if he could get through the red light without hitting anyone. That didn’t turn out so well for either of us.
I spent one month in the hospital recovering from internal injuries. I had a twisted pelvic bone, pushed-in rib cage, lacerated spleen, collapsed bowel, severe whiplash, and extensive internal bleeding. The medical team told me that I couldn’t go back to university that fall, I would likely never be able to carry a baby to full term, and that I needed to take several medications to help with my injuries from the accident.
A month later, I decided I wasn’t going to just sit around. I needed to go back to school and get back into my routine. So, against medical advice I went back to school. To no surprise, it was not a fun year. I was in pain every day. I struggled to look at myself in the mirror; the left side of my body looked abnormal and I felt embarrassed. I started withdrawing from my friends and kept taking all the pills the doctors prescribed me.
I continued to go through the motions, until one day in February of 1992. I woke up, looked at all the pill bottles on my dresser, got out of bed and threw them all in the garbage. I then took a blank piece of paper and made two columns on it: titling one “Good” and one “Bad”. I told myself that I had to list all the good things that had come out of me being in this car accident (I was very aware of all the bad). I sat there for three hours and ended up only writing one thing down on that page: “It brought me and my parents closer together”. That was all I could think of which felt extremely deflating. But, there was this energy inside of me that I honestly can’t explain to this day. I just knew I needed to act. So, each day from that day forward every bad thought or every pain I experienced, I immediately replaced the thought with “yes, but this brought you closer to mom and dad”. Every time I thought of my parents, I was very grateful for their love and support. What I noticed is that over time I started to think of other things that were positive about my experience.
I soon concluded that there was a reason I didn’t die the day of my accident. Interpret it as you wish, but I truly believe that the voice telling me my seat belt wasn’t done up was my purpose to do something with my life that truly means something.
As I gradually started to find more and more positive things that happened to me because of the accident, the energy and determination inside me continued to build. I finished my science degree to become a dietitian, I went on to finish a psychology degree, I got married, and travelled the world with my husband – all before I was 32 years old. The fire inside me was still strong, and we decided to try to have a baby. I ended up having two successful pregnancies, but they weren’t without complications. Thankfully, both our children were healthy babies.
As rewarding and satisfying as being a mom and a wife was, there was still something else missing. Right after my son was born, my daughter being three and a half at the time, my 10-year marriage fell apart. Shortly after that, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and four months after her diagnosis lost her battle. In all this turmoil, as broken as I felt, the energy inside me kept me going. I remember being so grateful every day for my children as they gave me a purpose to get up in the morning. Somewhere in this storm my husband and I found our way back to one another. I quit my full-time permanent position with a pension and jumped into private practice, becoming a business owner with no guarantee of a paycheck or any vision of what the next day would be. Who does that?
Since September 2006, I have been busy growing Revive Wellness, a private practice dietitian firm. I was on a mission to figure out how to empower people to engage in their health, so they could live healthier and for longer. The problem was that I was only one person. So how exactly was I, one person, going to make a change like that happen?
One day Callie, our now Director of PR & Communications, and I were throwing out ideas trying to figure how to tackle this problem and she said to me, “I think we figured out our purple cow” referencing a popular book by Seth Godin about making your product truly different. My head was spinning as we had talked about so many things, I wasn’t sure what she was referring to. She expanded: “we need to take what we are doing and build a digital wellness program” – with that, My Viva Plan was born!
My Viva Plan is not just a treatment program- it’s a movement. It’s a program designed to help prove to people they have what it takes to be the best version of themselves. My Viva Plan is the product of my career and my life journey- it’s my purpose.
My Viva Plan is designed to support you along your journey, encouraging you to be kind to yourself, and to believe in the fire inside you. It proves to you that the baby steps for wellness you choose to take each day add up to bigger steps towards being the best version of you.