My Story

I discovered genealogy and family history research as a 12-year-old. I always had an innate interest and curiosity about my ancestors and history in general, so when I discovered that researching your own family was “a thing”, I was hooked!

As a young teen, I became rather obsessed with genealogy research. It was all I wanted to do. I was a pretty nerdy kid and didn’t have a lot of friends or confidence. At the same time, I was a closeted gay teen who was deeply troubled and conflicted about who I was. My religious and cultural upbringing did not provide me the opportunity to really understand and express myself; and I carried a lot of guilt, shame, and self-hatred as a result. Genealogy research gave me something to feel connected to. I discovered a natural gift for problem-solving, teaching others, and retaining amazing amounts of information. It gave me confidence, and ultimately, a safe place where I could escape and completely lose myself.

Joseph Shumway as a young genealogist (1995)

I never expected to become a professional genealogist. It just kind of happened; and I have been grateful ever since. In my mid-20s, I was married, but found myself again struggling with confidence and the increasing tension of a bottled-up “self.” I needed something new to escape to. That’s when I discovered health and fitness, and I dove in! For some reason, I thought if I could look like a Men’s Health fitness model that it would somehow give me the confidence to overshadow the stress and mounting pressure from a buried and gagged inner-self.

I became obsessed with weight lifting, chronic cardio, supplements, calorie counting, you name it! Ideal body composition and physique were my focus. I wanted to look awesome--and I did for a time. This went on for a few years with consistent maintenance of a body fat percentage in the single digits. Then, my work and personal life became more stressful. I had intermittent periods of heavy exercise, followed by crashes, weight gain, etc. I didn't sleep well; I lived with heavy amounts of stress, and what mental and emotional health I did have began to fracture. Finally, at age 36, I experienced a complete mental breakdown and nearly committed suicide. Years of mounting stress and tension about my repressed sexuality were the primary cause, but poor lifestyle habits were also a factor. As a result of my breakdown, I ended up getting divorced and found myself staring life over again as a fresh, new person. That was scary!

To help cope with divorce and starting life over, I discovered new spiritual wellness practices and also jumped back into fitness. If I was going to venture into the dating market, I wanted to look awesome! So physique, once again, became my focus. But this time, I started to feel differently than I had in prior years. My joints ached; my heart rate was lower; muscles were strained easily during workouts, etc. Then, while doing a heavy squat routine one day, I heard my knee lightly pop. It was painful, and I couldn't do leg exercises for over a month. A few more pounds on the bar or reps could have easily led to knee surgery. "What was wrong with me?", I thought! Was it just the fact I was now in my late 30s? I didn't want to slow down, get fat, and get "old"!

I wanted to be fit and healthy, but I also recognized that maybe my 10-year+ approach to a great body wasn't necessarily leading to great health. So I began researching other diets, fitness routines, health philosophies, etc.

 

Then one day, I had the idea come to me one day while meditating that I should focus my efforts on becoming a health and wellness coach. This really lit a fire in me, but I didn't know where to start. Less than a week later, though, I read an article in a special Keto edition of the Paleo Magazine, and on the next page was an ad for the Primal Health Coach Institute. On the ad, the phrase “ancestral health” caught my attention and I immediately knew I had found my health coaching vehicle.

In studying the Primal Blueprint model, I fell in love with the principles of ancestral health and wellness. I was excited and empowered to learn that many of my old exercise and eating habits were actually contributing to not just the physical stresses I was experiencing, but to a host of other unseen metabolic issues as well. I came to learn that reaching our optimal state of human expression wasn’t as hard as I previously thought; and that constantly stressing to look like a magazine cover photo won’t lead to long-term sustainable health. 

 

I passionately adopted all the beautiful new concepts I discovered. Then, by incorporating my genealogy and family history experience, along with spiritual and personal development concepts, I created my practice.

Today, I live a much more healthy and well-balanced life, which I get to share and experience with my incredible fiance, and love of my life, A.C., along with our three amazing kids! I am more happy, vibrant, alive, and healthier than at any other point in my life. But what has made it all the more fulfilling has been the ability to take my knowledge and experiences and use them to teach others how to discover and express their best, and healthy selves!

Joseph Shumway Family

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© 2020 by Joseph B. Shumway, AG, PHC