Whew! It’s been a hot minute, y’all. I’ve really been slackin’ on my blogging game, and I’m not proud of it. BUT what I am proud of is this new series I am launching for you all!
WELLNESS WOMEN SERIES
Each week I will be sharing mini-interviews with friends, colleagues, fellow NTPs, trainers, CrossFit coaches, and everyday wellness warriors who aim to live a healthy life and inspire others by doing so. Since I am not counseling clients 1:1 at the moment, my goal with this series is to perhaps connect you with someone you might identify with on your health journey, or want to reach out to if you are in need of specialized help and direction.
I believe each of our stories matter, and whether we know it or not, the journey we walk allows us to help others in need.
So, without me babbling on-and-on, I want to introduce you to Kim, a sweet NTP friend I connected with via Instagram almost 3 years ago. We went through the same nutrition program, graduated the same year, but were in completely different parts of the country. Kim is an inspiring girl boss who lives a life of balance, with a side of barbells. She is hosting a FREE “Renew Your Energy” Challenge January 22nd, so be sure to check out the bottom of the post to get details and sign up!
Tell us a little about yourself!
I grew up in the Hudson Valley, New York (just outside of NYC) in a very big, very close family who have always been a huge part of who I am. As a kid, I always loved reading and writing, so in college, I majored in English with original plans to be a teacher or writer. But my passions and life experiences led me down quite a different path! Through my own journey of healing, and increasing frustration with mainstream healthcare and medicine, I was lead to pursue a Master’s degree in Health Education & Promotion, and then became a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. I currently live in Nyack with my fiancé, work full-time as an NTP/nutritionist, and in my spare time, love to cook, shop, read, and spend time with the people I love.
Fun fact: I played the flute when I was younger (and was actually pretty darn good at it). My family is very musical (my brother and sister both sing and play instruments), but I quit because it wasn’t “cool” to be in band in middle school!
Favorite food? Treat? Indulgence?
I’m all about eating what makes you feel good—physically, but also mentally and emotionally. The majority of the time, that means eating high-quality, nutrient-dense foods that best support your body… but it also means treating yourself, too.
NTP’s favorite foods may seem ridiculous to most (I realize this)—but I couldn’t get through a week without kale chips or anything made with beets, and I always enjoy a good burger. But, I’m also a lover of dark chocolate (and by dark, I mean dark. I’m known for my love of 90% chocolate).
Weird ingredients intrigue me, too—ginger, chili powder, brown butter (my favorite: Alter Eco’s Dark Salted Brown Butter). Pour me a glass of red wine with that, and I’m good to go. Food is nourishment and fuel, but it’s definitely also comfort, love, and memories. I believe we need to recognize and honor that in order to create a healthy relationship with it.
Must have self-care item?
Self-care is quite an obsession of mine, especially lately. It was always the missing link in my own health practices, and I find most women I work with just don’t do enough of it! In terms of items, I think there’s so many amazing ones out there to help us practice more self-care, but in fact, sometimes, self-care is really boring. For me, most of the time it means unplugging and connecting with myself or those I love, staying home cuddled up on the couch on a Friday night, or asking for help when I need it.
Don’t get me wrong, face masks, bubble baths, and massages are really fun, but don’t underestimate the power of the simple things like sleep, enjoying a delicious meal, or reading a good book. (When I do need a little extra support, essential oils and an Epsom salt bath both do the trick!)
What type of movement brings you joy?
I’ve had this interesting relationship with exercise over the years. I’ve gone from not doing any, to being obsessed and spending hours in the gym each day, to immersing myself in CrossFit… to now. Especially over the past year, my workout routine has changed greatly. I spent the last 4 years doing CrossFit (and loving it), but my body began to disagree. Adding intense exercise to a bunch of other stressors + not taking care of myself properly just caused me to become exhausted and not even see the results I was looking for.
I’ve started looking to exercise as nourishment and moving in ways that make me feel good. I incorporate a bunch of different things and mix them up depending on how I feel. I’ll always love the barbell, so I lift weights and do some CrossFit-style workouts, but I also really enjoy yoga and need to relax and create more space in my life, so I incorporate that as much as possible. When the weather is nice, I love hiking and biking, but honestly, wish I did both more. I used to be the person who needed to get to the gym or else I felt defeated or was sent into a “F-it” spiral of eating (‘didn’t work out today, what’s the point?’), but I’m learning more and more to listen to my body and not let how much I exercise define how I see myself.
Share a bit about your personal health journey and what led you to where you are today.
I spent my childhood loving junk food, especially anything with sugar. That translated into always being a little overweight but then gaining a ton more once I reached my pre-teens and reaching over 200 pounds. My bad eating habits turned worse, and I constantly struggled between my love of food and my pure unhappiness with how I looked and felt in my body. I also always had digestive issues, hormonal problems, and low energy, and never felt good. Around age 13, I started dieting and learning more about food. This opened up a brand new concept for me—I started to realize I could use food as a tool to create change, and lost 50 pounds in less than a year with “ease.”
Looking back, it wasn’t really that easy. I was just a perfectionist and everything was all-or- nothing for me. I definitely changed some unhealthy habits for good, but the constant preoccupation with how much I could eat was exhausting. For the remainder of my teenage years, and even into my early twenties, I was always overly conscious of calories and scared of overeating and gaining the weight back. I did keep it off, but yo-yo dieted to do so and never had a healthy relationship with food. And although I felt much better in my body, I still suffered from symptoms that had always bogged me down, and then starting having debilitating anxiety when I reached college.
To make a long story short, I continued exploring and reading everything I could about nutrition and exercise, which led me down a path that finally brought me to the paleo diet, and then the Nutritional Therapy Association. I began to realize that my body was not against me, and that nutrition was not deprivation, but nourishment. I learned that I could actually fix underlying issues causing the stomachaches, irregular and painful periods, and crippling anxiety I was struggling with, and that maintaining my weight was not meant to be a challenging task. Most importantly, I started seeing that how I felt was not all about what I ate, or even how intensely I worked out, but that so many other factors were at play.
The constant strive for perfection and letting stress get the best of me were actually harming my health more than I ever realized. Immersing myself in a holistic and integrative approach to nutrition and wellness was a breath of fresh air for me. This complicated, lifelong journey propelled me forward into this passion for helping other women reach their own epiphanies about their bodies and their health and feel good, once and for all. I became certified as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner in June 2015, opened my business two months later, and never looked back.
If you are in the health realm, do you currently have a practice? And if so, what do you specialize in?
In my practice, Root and Branch Nutrition, I work 1:1, teach group classes, and soon, will offer online programs. I specialize in helping women get to the root of their symptoms, rebalance their bodies, and rediscover their innate vitality. I work with ladies who have symptoms like fatigue, digestive problems like bloating and constipation, thyroid disorders, and hormonal issues like PCOS and irregular periods.
Although I work primarily through food, nutritional therapy is much more than that. It’s also about addressing bio-individual needs, restoring balance to the body, and creating a positive relationship with food and self.
My work aims to help other women become the best versions of themselves—and it looks different for each person depending on their circumstances, but the common threads weave through each journey.
Dismissing the junk we’ve been told about our bodies and about food, switching the focus from quantity to quality, reconnecting with and taking care of self, and learning about balance and flexibility are all main themes regardless of the reason someone comes to me for help.
What do you hope to convey to other women seeking optimal health for themselves?
There’s so much I wish to help other women who are on their own health journeys to realize. For one, I want to show women that they can be friends with their bodies. For so long, I didn’t know I was in control of my health and how I felt and looked (and felt about how I looked!). I think we’ve become so detached from our bodies, and finding our intuition and learning to listen to our symptoms and signals is so crucial. Finding out how to harness the powers of food to create health and restore our best functioning is amazing, and I work to guide women to get to that place.
Secondly, I want women to know that striving for perfection and self-improvement are two very different things. We are given these really incorrect messages our whole lives—messages that tell us we need to eat less, be smaller, do and be everything. Messages that manifest in us as disordered eating habits, obsessions with food and exercise, and pressures to be perfect and overwork ourselves in order to be what society tells us is beautiful, successful, and enough. We concentrate so much on what others think of us and how they see us, instead of looking inside ourselves and creating space to learn and grow into our best selves.
And lastly, I want women to learn that nutrition is nourishment; not restriction, punishment, or obsession. Focusing on what we put in our bodies—not just how much—is a form of self-awareness and self-care. And although food a big piece of the puzzle, it’s just one piece. We can’t neglect other aspects of health, like stress, sleep, and the way we talk to ourselves.
If you could give one tip to someone starting out on their own health journey, what would it be?
My one tip to someone starting out on a health journey would be that perfection is unattainable. I think we’re all searching for the Holy Grail when it comes to health and how we look and feel. We’re always looking to achieve that perfect balance and feel that once we get there, we’ll finally be happy. But it doesn’t work that way. If anything, we make things worse by exhausting ourselves in the process. If there’s one thing I’ve learned on my own personal and professional journey, it’s that nothing is permanent—health is always evolving, goals are always changing, and the notion of balance is fluid.
What is important to us now, will change in time. We may achieve a goal, and then what? We move on to the next one. Sure, we all want to find the right balance in our lives—with food of course, but also with exercise, work, family, relationships, etc. How do we do it all and be successful and happy? Well, we actually don’t. Something is always sacrificed in the process of working towards goals, and we need to be okay with that. We’re never done. We can’t do it all, at least right now. This is a journey that will always change and evolve. It’s a daunting thought at first, but if you consider it, it’s actually freeing.
Share your favorite quote or source of inspiration.
I could come up with hundreds of quotes that have moved me, and my top source of inspiration can change from day to day (seriously, who hasn’t scrolled through Instagram or Pinterest and seen a quote and thought, “OMG this is speaking to me”) Where I find inspiration really depends on where I’m at in my life, what my current focus is, and what I’m working to achieve for myself and my business.
Right now, things are really crazy for me—I’m working full-time seeing clients, building my business, and creating programs, and also planning a wedding. Plus trying to find some semblance of a social life and spend time with the people I love, which is always a priority for me. So I tend to overwhelm myself with a lengthy to-do list every day. I found myself being constantly discouraged when the evening would come and I hadn’t checked everything off. Then I started reading and following Brené Brown, and connected with so much of what she speaks and writes about. This quote in particular always stands out in my mind when I’m feeling down on myself for not doing “enough”:
“I define wholehearted living as engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’ It’s going to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am brave and worthy of love and belonging.’”
I also always am moved by the fact that although my schedule is very “full” right now, being “busy” is a choice, and I can always make time for what means the most to me. I’ve learned that saying “yes” to everything not only drains me but also prevents me from being in tune with how I feel and what my true needs are.
How can someone reach you if they want to connect with you?
If someone wants to connect with me, the easiest way is on Instagram at @rootandbranchnutrition—that’s where I’m most active! My site is rootandbranchnutrition.com and you can sign up for my newsletter there to get tips, insights, and information on new programs and promotions.
I’m also launching an amazing FREE 5-day challenge for women looking to remove roadblocks to poor energy and learn habits to increase it naturally. My friend and business partner, Amanda, and I have worked really hard over the past few months to create our “Renew Your Energy” challenge, which starts January 22nd. Those who want more info or would like to join us can visit bit.ly/renewyourenergy.
If you could pick two words to represent your personal mantra, what would they be and why?
Narrowing down my personal mantra to 2 words? Not easy at all. But I like the challenge. If I had to choose, my two works would be Refresh & Thrive: reminding me of not only the work I aim to do for others, but for myself as well.
“Refresh” because I have a passion to give new strength and energy to the women I connect with, but it also reminds me that I need to look inward, take care of myself, and renew my own energy, too. Refresh means to “breathe new life into” and I think that’s a lofty intention to have for others, and for myself.
“Thrive” because when it comes down to it, I feel like that’s the overall aim—to grow into our best selves and flourish, despite the circumstances. It reinforces to me the idea that thriving is not an end goal, but a journey of ongoing evolution. It reminds me that I can always work on creating an environment conducive to growth and make healthier, more fulfilling and compassionate decisions for myself and those around me.
And with that, I can help other women take action in order to thrive, too, because I know we all deserve it.
Wanna be featured as the next Wellness Woman? Email us!