Easy Steps to a Balanced Life-Interview with a Health Consultant
Last week I was trying to get a group of friends together for a meal out at a new restaurant.
“I can’t. I’m on a cleanse,” said one.
“If I weren’t too hungover from the last night, maybe,” said another.
“I have a triathlon to train for,” was another reply.
From raw diets to raves, San Franciscans live in a life of extremes. After a night of vice we hastily chug virtue the next day in the form of wheat grass smoothies and long runs, hoping to undo our previous inflictions. I always used to tell people that I ‘moderated moderation’ which really meant I lived my life desperately clinging to a giant health pendulum. Although I longed to pack up and hit the ashram in southern India again for a body and mind rejuvenation (PC term for complete overhaul), I decided I needed to find a way to live healthier in my own daily craze.
Through my board work with the Fearless Women Entrepreneur Network, I met a new health coach E. Chloé Lauer. Chloé had started up her own business “Zest for Life Today” as a way to integrate healthy patterns in every day living. Because I was tired of writing about my own neuroses, I asked her if I could interview her and catch a glimpse of the life of the calm. Perhaps Chloé would have tips for me on how to make my life healthfully ‘zesty’ without having to feel to Asia.
Chloé heartily agreed, and we decided to meet at a downtown cafeteria for lunch. I was hoping to impress the health goddess by selecting colorful items from the salad bar but Chloé showed me up by bringing in her own organic lettuce cups that she had prepared at home. My boastful display of lettuce hidden under hunks of stinky cheese and excessive salad dressing didn’t fool her.
Chloé’s ocean eyes shone as she told me about her journey to start her own health coaching business. She didn’t start out working in health. In fact health consulting started as a part time side job. Chloé’s “day job” is as an urban planner. Inspired by city life, she went to Harvard to obtain a masters in Urban Planning and dedicate her life to improving the spaces around us. “I always wanted to improve people’s experience with daily life,” she said. Chloé came to California seven years ago, mesmerized by its focus on health and the outdoors. In California, Chloé continued to take her health seriously and seek out ways to live better. “I had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in high school,” she said. Chloé had been on and off medication to battle symptoms of the autoimmune disorder for years. “I didn’t want to be on drugs for my entire life, and so I was constantly looking for ways to manage the symptoms on my own by making life changes.” Chloé laughed, shaking her strawberry blond head. “It was years of experimenting and failing and trying again, but I finally unlocked it.” She smiled. Chloé had been off drugs and successfully managing her symptoms for almost four years.
After healing herself Chloé was inspired to help others around her. She wanted to show them that they could heal themselves with fun and delicious foods. “I want to empower people to be experts in their own health,” she said. She decided to obtain a degree from the Institute in Integrative Nutrition in New York City as well as launch a business.
Chloé believes that there is not a once size fits all approach to eating and living well and urges her clients to become ‘experts in their own health.’ She doesn’t approve of fad diets or the San Francisco mandate that one “must eat raw foods and do a triathlon” to be healthy. In addition, Chloé encourages a holistic approach to wellness that incorporates organization and meditation. Although people interested in a full program will need to talk to Chloé themselves, I summarized a few quick tips for a zestful life below.
1. Eat Whole
Although everyone has their own recipe for success Chloé follows a special diet that helps her keep Crohn’s in check. She eliminates all processed foods, sugars, gluten and dairy and focuses on whole foods. She said, “My diet is a ‘healing diet’ but in reality it is just how we should all be eating anyway.” Her mission is to get her clients off processed foods that inundate us in the grocery aisles. She accompanies clients to select ‘real foods’ from the Farmer’s Markets and gives them recipes to use. Swiss chard isn’t intimidating if you know how to use it! I timidly asked her if she drank alcohol and she looked at me as if I were crazy. “I love wine.” Whew! A Friday pinot noir was one thing my own Heidi health plan mandated. In addition to the occasional glass of red, Chloé is a huge advocate of fresh smoothies (see end of entry for a tasty recipe).
From gastrointestinal disorders to tumors to energy, I’ve know many that have cured themselves with food. The body is an amazing thing. If we treat it right it reciprocates by being healthy. As far as our bodies are concerned, there is no such thing as unrequited love.
2. Hold the Pose
Understanding that health stems from the mind, Chloé regularly practices yoga and meditation. She is in a yoga teacher training program right now so that she can spread her passions to others. My own bouts with yoga are sporadic at best. The 6 am class competes with sleep. The 6pm class competes with happy hour. At 90 minutes a session, people often have a hard time fitting yoga into their busy lives. It doesn’t burn as many calories as running, nor is it as social as bike riding. However, seeing how calm Chloé was made me resolute to try to get in a bit more downward dog into my life.
After returning for two sessions I was amazed at how easily my troubles melted off my back and became beautifully insignificant. Yoga teaches us how to both focus and forget. After a challenging bird of paradise pose, the class performs a chaturanga to ‘wash it all away’ and the difficulty of the pose (and our life) is instantly forgotten.
As far as the ‘body burn’ benefit, yogis are leaner than any athlete I know. There is something slimming about a dedicated mind. Or perhaps it is knowing you are wearing spandex yoga pants. (It’s impossible to crave a hot fudge sundae while in lulu lemons).
3. Organize your Environment
In addition to the time told advice of diet and exercise, Chloé is also a firm believer in clutter reduction. As an urban planner she is dedicated to improving the places and spaces where people live, work, and play. She now works to integrate space principals into people’s personal lives. She organizes people’s pantries and cleans out their closets. “Sometimes people need a fresh start.” I was wondering if I could hire Chloé to not only clean out my closet but also my desk where a pesky 1099 form was still hiding and preventing me from starting my taxes. Right now the pile of papers and “to do’s” on my desk interrupt my meditation and my sleep. Naturally, I am far from enthusiastic about paperwork but once my life is back in financial order, I will be free to focus on other activities uninhibited….like drinking wine.
It’s still early in 2011. Why wait for a specific time (Lent, New Years, Birthday) to start being healthy? Why not take a deep look in the mirror and make a change today?
Listen to Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror OR start the day off right with a Chloé’s freshly made green smoothie:
1 large handful greens (kale, spinach, and/or chard)
½ frozen banana
dash of vanilla
pinch of sea salt
½ cup coconut water or water
optional: spoonful of green super food powder
Blend with ice and enjoy!
Entry taken from the full interview from my post with Fearless Women Entrepreneur Network’s blog