Q&A WITH ALEXIS FROM MANA WELLNESS

I recently connected with Alexis via social media and was captivated by her poetic writings and passion for womens health - an area I myself am so drawn to and have much experience with both personally and professionally. Read on to hear about the work Alexis is doing in the health and wellness space, she has taken a holistic approach to womens health that encompasses mind, body and soul.

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Q: Tell us about what you do, what is at the heart of it?

My mission is to recreate women’s “health care” into a multi-dimensional journey of wellness. I work with women to detox not only their bodies, but their minds, hearts and spirits as well. I started in wellness about 6 years ago from the sport/fitness angle. The job burnt me out and opened my eyes to a new meaning of health. Over the years I’ve been drawn to more holistic practices such as TCM, ayurveda, meditation, yoga, etc. By trade I am a certified Holistic Health Coach, but my tool box is filled with practices from all sorts of philosophies. While nutrition is a huge component of my work, I also spend a good bit of time supporting my clients in emotional processing. The truth is a woman is not going to heal from green juice and cardio, she needs to get right down to the root first - which can be scary to do alone.  That’s where I come in!

How did it all begin?

I think this work has been lifelong for me and as I follow the breadcrumbs back I can see the evolution of how I got here. I’ve always been so passionate about empowering women and did so in many capacities throughout my life. However, becoming a holistic health practitioner was catalyzed by my own mysterious chronic illness. Throughout my twenties I struggled with all sorts of strange things that none of my friends struggled with. I was dealing with kidney infections, chronic UTI’s, ongoing sinus problems, etc. I had to lose my health several times before I finally started to surrender and take back my own power. The final straw was mysterious auto-immune symptoms that looked like extreme exhaustion, severe gut problems, zero libido, heavy brain fog, explosive anger, sleep disorder, hormonal hell, skin problems, anxiety, and finally heavy depression and weight loss. I was 27 and I was an angry mess. I was the “healthiest” person I knew yet I was also the sickest person I knew and that was enraging. This is when I really started to understand the depth of emotional health as a key factor in creating health or disease. I wasn’t dealing with emotional pain and it was festering in my body and manifesting in a way that I could no longer ignore. After 1000 blood tests, doctors visits, procedures, and pain, I found the right path with the right team.

The realization that finally changed my health was recognizing that I was the only one capable of healing myself. I stopped relying on external validation or tests to tell me how I felt or what I needed AND I started a gratitude practice that truly transformed my emotional health (among other things).  It was a long hard journey that has given me the empathy, compassion, and wisdom to support other women in healing.

Now, I have become the practitioner I wish I would have had at the very beginning before my whole life came undone. I empower women to activate their inner healer, reverse chronic illness and live wildly vital lives.

Q: You focus a lot on educating women around their own bodies, particularly their menstrual cycles, what does a ‘healthy’ cycle look and feel like to you?

Yes, body wisdom is super duper important. The first place to start understanding your body is in your cycle.  A woman’s cycle is not just menstruation as many women assume, but actually the entire 28-30 days. Each month a woman will move through the 4 phases of her cycle, each with unique needs and energy. Your cycle contains powerful information about how the rest of  your body is functioning.

Like most women I was always quite annoyed by my body, as though it were something I had to fight against. My periods used to be something to “deal with” not something to connect with. Whenever my body didn’t behave the way I wanted it to, I lashed out even further on it. I was “using” my body instead of honoring it. I wouldn’t consider myself a “hormone expert” but I do consider myself a translator. I help women listen to the language of their body and slowly decode the message.

Most women think suffering with menstrual pain every month is “normal.” I help them realize their cramps, migraines, bloating, and intense mood swings are a microcosm of the macrocosm. If you are dreading your painful menstrual phase, it’s more than likely you are dealing with gut imbalances and excess toxicity in the body. A healthy cycle means eating, moving and living in harmony with each phase. For example during your menstrual phase is not the time to be running marathons and hosting big important meetings. This is the time to rest and go inward. Meditation, journaling and restorative yoga are some of my favorite menstrual practices. During your ovulatory phase is a great time to be social, have a glass of red wine and enjoy group classes like dance or kickboxing. Getting in touch with these phases means you will work in alignment with your body and thus enhance it’s natural flow.

Q: Where can someone start on their way to learning about their own cycle and how to best support it?

Journaling is huge! I always have my clients do at least 1 week of food, mood, and movement journaling to start assessing their bodies. Alissa Vitti of Flo Living has pioneered a process known as “cycle syncing,” which teaches women how to follow the natural flow of their cycle. Her book Womancode is an amazing resource when first starting out and trying to educate yourself. While the book provides detailed suggestions around diet, exercise, &  lifestyle, I ALWAYS encourage my clients to be intuitive about their choices. Just because a book or a doctor tells you what to do doesn’t mean you should dismiss your own bodily intuition. Womancode is a great resource but again, every woman is completely different and should honor her inner knowing first and use resources as guidelines. My mission is to help women connect with their intuition in a way that leaves them less codependent on what others tell them and more self-empowered.

Q: What is your number one health tip for healthy humming hormones?

Rest! Women these days are struggling with so much fatigue, HPA axis dysfunction and overwhelming stress. Rarely do we give ourselves permission to rest without guilt. Rest is truly transformative and something I learned on my own healing journey. During my recovery I took 6 months off! I was petrified of what that meant because I had derived so much meaning from what I was “doing.” It took me some time before I completely surrendered to rest but when I did, WOW!  My mother actually said to me, “how many times in your life are you going to have the chance to rest for 6 months? Just embrace it because you have your whole life to work and produce.” I would say the same thing to all the women out there struggling to let go of the reigns for fear of losing “productivity” and thus self worth.

The truth is you could be eating the healthiest diet on the planet, but if you’re not regularly resting you will find yourself in a chronic cycle of dis-harmony.

Q: What is one thing you have daily or couldn’t live without?

One thing I have daily is green juice first thing in the morning. It makes a huge difference in my energy and metabolism. I usually make some mix of celery, cucumber, chard, green apple and herbs.

One thing I couldn’t live without though, would be meditation. Meditation is a form of rest that keeps me grounded and centered. Anyone who knows me knows I’m quite fiery and intense sometimes. Before meditation I had no grip on emotional/mental processing. I was always flying by the seat of my pants. I started meditating seriously almost 4 years ago and wouldn’t be the woman I am without it. It’s a tool I use with all of my clients because it is a cornerstone of optimal health. It fits perfectly with the whole concept of being your own healer, because when you meditate enough you truly realize that all of the answers are within. The trick is sticking with it long enough to connect with that channel. I suggest finding yourself a teacher or practitioner who can support you when you’re first getting started.

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Q: Where can people find out more about you and the work you’re doing?

My website or instagram page is a great place to start! You can find details about my story, my programs and my philosophy on both pages.

W: www.manawellnesshealing.com

IG:@_mana_wellness




THE KETOGENIC DIET

Written By: Brittani Kolasinski (BHSc Nut, Adv Dip Nut Med)

Please note this is not to be taken as health advice or used to treat and health condition. If you want to know more about how this information can be applied to you, please seek advice from your health care provider.

Both Personally and professionally I believe that being in a state of ketosis is beneficial for human health. However, I don’t agree that it is something to be sustained long term and I certainly don’t agree that being in ketosis is our default nutritional state. When we look back through history at traditional cultures and diets, how we ate was influenced largely by our environment, the seasons and the produce we had available. There would be periods of feasting and famine, times of increased and decreased carbohydrate sources from the varying local plant foods they had access too, something that we have lost in our modern times. Now we are in a constant ‘fed state’, rarely experiencing deprivation of caloric energy, but for many consuming a SAD diet (Standard Australian Diet) or heavily processed diet would be lacking essential nutrients.

Photo Cred:  Jordann Wood

Photo Cred: Jordann Wood

What is Ketosis

Ketosis is a physiological state, it’s something that naturally occurs in a state of fasting or starvation, or when there is limited carbohydrates (that are broken down to glucose) and glycogen (stored glucose) is depleted through movement. The end goal is to enter a state of ketosis, this occurs when our metabolism switches from burning glucose to burning ketones for fuel. In order to produce ketones, the diet must be carefully managed so that more fat is being consumed and carbohydrates are limited with moderate protein.

The ketogenic diet is a term used to describe a low carbohydrate and high-fat diet, this is to support and maintain this state of ketosis that can be difficult to maintain. There’s no one size fits all approach to this, due to our biochemical diversity some may maintain this ketogenic state far easier and be able to consume higher amounts of carbohydrates than the next.

Where most fall short in this is, they consume too many carbohydrates without realising. This can be through different milk products, like almond milk and soy milk, yogurts, cacao powder or chocolate and even nuts and seeds. Others may not track appropriately and simply not eat enough fat in their diet. Choosing the right fats is also important, more on this later.

So, What Are My Thoughts on Ketosis?

I think it’s great when done appropriately. A standard ‘keto diet’ is heavily focused on meats and dairy products like cream and cheese, which I don’t agree with. We need minerals, we need polyphenols as these are great for our health and there are many great high-fat plant foods that can be included in the mix.

I personally cycle in and out of ketosis quite easily. I practice of time restricted feeding, ensuring that I eat within a 10-hour window or less but not reducing my food quantity, I combine this with fasting intermittently for 16-20 hours only a few days out of the week, combined with a low carbohydrate, high fat diet allows me to remain in a state of ketosis. I’ll do this for 2-3 weeks at a time, no more. This feels good for me, its balanced and it gets me the benefits of being in ketosis short term. But this would not apply to everyone as we are all so wonderfully unique.

What Can Go Wrong

A true ketogenic diet is low in carbohydrates and high in fat, however its paramount that protein is moderate and at the right amounts for you. There are certain amino acids broken down from the protein we eat that are able to be used as glucose via a process known as gluconeogenesis. For women, in the long term low carb diets or restrictive dieting can influence female sex hormones and have negative outcomes on female fertility, our menstrual cycles, mental health, sleep and more. As women we have a beautifully complex and perfectly designed system which relies on our intricate hormonal dance, something we don’t want to disrupt with extreme dietary approaches.

Another occurrence with many low carb dieters is the demonisation of all carbohydrates that can take place, so its important to remind you all of the vast difference between carbohydrates found in refined flours and sugar or those that are from whole-food sources like potatoes and other starchy vegetables and whole fruit. Eating too many refined carbohydrates can have damaging effects on metabolic markers and blood sugar levels however I have not come across any research to show that eating carbohydrates from whole-foods leads to metabolic dysfunctions or conditions like diabetes.

I am mindful of the change to our microbiome that occurs with the restriction of carbohydrates. The bacteria within our gut feeds off of fibre from the diet, fibre is found in carbohydrate containing foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes and beans. A ketogenic diet restricts many of these food groups and as a result the bacteria starve. It’s important to ensure you’re consuming non-digestable fermentable fibres like resistant starch that don’t contribute to our carbohydrate load. I always advise you work with a health professional on this to ensure your diet is appropriate.

What Can Go Right

The application of a ketogenic diet has been shown to have therapeutic effects for many health conditions, however this does not mean that it is to be applied to everyone. We know from research that conditions like epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, PCOS, Parkinsons and Alzheirmers Disease may benefit from the application of a ketogenic diet as well as to support weight loss in some people groups, like menopause (working with a health professional, of course). There is no one-size-fits-all approach to diet.

Another known benefit of ketosis is that fasting mimicking effects it has within the body. This triggers autophagy a process of cell cleaning, removing old cells and repairing damaged ones. This can have benefits on our immune system, brain function, skin health, energy, inflammation levels and more.

I see many people benefit greatly from this style of eating, but many also don’t. We are so beautifully and wonderfully unique and this should be celebrated. I have seen differences between different body types that can help indicate whether a low carb approach is right for you, but please always consult with your health practitioner before radically changing your diet.

Some Food for Thought

When thinking about trying a low carb or ketogenic diet ensure that you’re still getting a wide variety of plant foods, this is still possible to do so while maintaining your ketogenic state.

  • Make it primarily plant-based. Eat plenty of low carb vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, and spinach.

  • If choosing to eat meat, opt for quality meat products like grass-fed organic beef, pasture raised hens, wild caught fish, and organic pastured eggs.

  • Drink lots of water, add a little sea salt for electrolytes

  • Eat a variety of fat-rich plant foods like avocado, macadamias, hemp seeds and olives

  • Always opt for whole foods, not binge on ‘fat bombs’ and coconut oil

  • Listen to your body and work with a professional, please!

Interesting in trying this out for yourself? Get in touch, I’d be happy to put together a tailored to you ketogenic plan to suit your needs and be aligned with your health goals.

Yours in health,

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