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




Q&A WITH JARROD TUCKER FITNESS

I am beyond exited to share this interview I had with Jarrod Tucker. Jarrod is a fitness instructor, Zumba presenter, Strong by Zumba master trainer and the owner of Energize Studios running multiple exercise classes throughout the week. I personally have been attending his Strong by Zumba classes weekly for about 1 year now and it is by far my favourite way to move, its fast paced and varied and, with Jarrod leading the workout, you’ll push yourself harder and achieve far more than you thought was possible. His energy is contagious, his passion is obvious and his own personal health and fitness journey is one to inspire and transform. I know you’re going to get so much out of this interview, and I highly encourage any and all of you to check out one of his classes here in Newcastle – you are more than welcome to join me for Strong by Zumba each Monday and Wednesday evening.

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Q: Tell us what you do?

A: What I do is two-fold, I am very fortunate to be the Australia/New Zealand Master Trainer for the Strong By Zumba program which is a High-Intensity Interval Training and Muscle Conditioning program synced to music and also a Zumba Education Specialist and trainer for the original Zumba Dance-Fitness programs. 

Q: What does this involve?

A: Basically my job is to travel Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the world and train instructors in how to teach these programs so they can run classes their own classes in gyms, community halls etc

 The second part of what I do is teaching regular group fitness classes every single week at my fitness studio, Energize Studios. I along with other members of our team deliver many group fitness classes each week in a variety of programs, styles and fitness levels to help inspire people to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Q: How did it all begin?

A: Strangely enough, my real journey through fitness and teaching began when a job I was at closed down and I was forced to fall back on skills I had which happened to be singing. So, with a few week’s notice I raced around to find out what venues I could hire and spoke to friends I had in the industry and I opened a dance and talent school. 

During that first year back in 2010, Zumba Fitness came to Australia and everyone was running classes. So I thought “we have to have this as well to stay relevant”. A dance teacher and I went to the training to become instructors (I was intending to be the backup) and when it came to crunch time, I ended up being the one who had to teach the classes. It turned out to be something I loved, and it helped me with my own fitness cause I enjoyed it (I was 110KG when I started. It also led me down the path of wanting to teach, help and inspire people with their health and fitness. 

Q: What does health and wellness mean to you?

A: Health and wellness is more than just about weight loss and looking good etc, although it often starts that way with many of us.

“I realized very quickly how important leading a healthy lifestyle was to my mobility, joint pain, energy, motivation, drive and also confidence. It really does help to remove limitations people place on themselves. Health and wellness is about being able to live your life feeling good and loving it on your own terms for as long as you are able to”.

Q: How do you have so much energy?

A: from the very beginning of my fitness journey I gave 100% to everything I did and even when I got tired I told myself “suck it up, you can do this”. So, my body has learned to adapt and operate at a high level.

Of course, you can’t do this without the right fuel and what you put in your mouth makes a huge difference to your energy levels. This doesn’t mean dieting always, or depriving yourself, but making smart choices about what you want from your health and your life.

Q: What is your number 1 tip for balancing everything?

A: Make time to enjoy your life. It’s so easy to get caught up in this cycle of training/crazy eating and chasing unrealistic goals. Make time to train, time to work, time to chase your dreams BUT don’t forget to make time for what you love to do and what helps you relax unwind and be yourself. 

Q: You’ve had an amazing fitness journey what do you credit to your success?

A: Two things mainly: find physical activities that you love and make you feel good so they become a want instead of a need, and always remember to continually push the boundaries of what you think you can do. The human body is capable of so much and there is little stopping you, except for you. 

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A photo of Jarrod himself from 10 years ago (2009)

 

Q Who inspires you the most?

A: In all honesty I am most inspired by the people I teach and train. I don’t follow a lot of celebrities or social media rubbish, but I am inspired when I have people in my classes or trainings that want it, and I see them continually strive for more. When I see those people achieve what they set out to do and continually improve it really drives me.

Q: What tips do you have for people starting a fitness journey?

A: A few simple points to remember: 

  • Start by finding an activity that appeals to you

  • At the beginning just try and make the chosen activities part of your regular routine so you don’t have to think about doing them instead of stressing about going hard and getting a huge workout

  • When you feel you can give more, give it

  • Make some positive changes to your eating habits 

Where can people find you if they want to connect?

You can follow me and/or connect with me on Instagram or Facebook.

If you would love to come and try a class you can see our full timetable here or stay up to date on Facebook.

If you would like to become a Zumba Instructor you can find training online here.

If you would like to become a Strong By Zumba Instructor and teach an awesome new high intensity program you can find a training online here.

 I hope you found some inspiration and encouragement from my latest interview. Check out a class near you and get in touch if you have any questions for myself or Jarrod about health, wellness, weightloss and fitness.

Yours in Health,

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Q&A WITH DR STEVEN LIN

My gosh, this was one super exciting interview for me - I’m such a fan of Stevens work. Steven is a Functional Dentist practicing from the Central Coast of NSW Australia, He’s the author of ‘The Dental Diet’ drawing the link between your teeth, real food and life-changing natural health - something we all must read. He shares his knowledge and passion across his instagram account which is worth the follow. You can also find more on Stevens work, keep up to date with what he’s doing and get in touch with him here or book in with him at his dentistry here.

I think you’ll be surprised by his tips for oral and dental health - not the typical ‘brush and floss daily’ kinda thing…

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

A:  I see people with problems in the mouth every day. Our view of dentistry has been that we go to the dentist when we have a broken tooth. However, dental diseases are 99% preventable! That means they are a long-term chronic process in the body. When we understand this, it changes our view of our teeth and our body. For example, gut health is intimately connected to (and most easily measured) in the mouth. One of the most significant problems is that crooked teeth (why kids need braces today), is a nutritional problem! We can prevent crooked teeth with the correct nutritional and functional habits in kids.

Functional dentistry is an exciting model that uses the mouth to  heal the entire body. We prevent braces in kids, heal gum disease alongside the gut, reverse chronic sleep disorders and use biocompatible aesthetic dental materials.

Q: How did it all begin?

A: I was taking some time away from dentistry because I was unsure if I could continue to practice for the rest of my life. It felt like my inspiration had left me. During a backpacking trip through Europe, I came across a book called ‘Nutrition and Physical Degeneration’ by a dentist named Weston A Price. He wrote it in the 30s and showed that all diet diseases linked to eating the modern diet. At first I didn’t understand it, however I began to realise that Price’s work was far more advanced than what my dental training had taught me. It would take me many years to fully understand crooked teeth as a nutritional problem and led me to write The Dental Diet

Q: What does health and wellness mean to you?

A: It’s always been a fundamental part of my life. When I see patients who are suffering from health issues, I always try to help bring this connection back into their perspective. Health is everything and we really suffer when we disconnect it from our everyday life.

Q: What is your number one health tip for general well-being?

A: Eat for strong teeth! Foods rich in calcium balancing fat-soluble vitamins are rich in vitamins A, D, and K2. These are organ meats, full-fat grass-raised dairy, egg  yolks, ferments & whole seafoods.  

Q: What is your favorite food/meal

A: So many to choose from! Lamb shanks braised in broth & butter soaked spinach comes to mind. 

Q: What is one thing people can do today to support their dental and oral health?

A: Sleep well. One thing we often miss is how important sleep is for our brain and teeth. You  have one job to do when you  sleep, and that’s to breathe. People often miss oxygen as the number on nutrient and if you don’t breathe correctly, you could be suffering from a tiredness/teethgrinding/headaches/digestive issues/anxiety & depression. In my practice we always use sleep as the foundation to  both dental and overall health.

I love the work and the message Dr Steven is spreading, helping us to draw the links between the importance of diet and dental health, we have known for years now the damage that sugar can cause but we don’t often think about the benefits of specific foods on our development of health jaws, teeth and bones. I strongly encourage you to get your hands on his latest book, The Dental Diet - its information we all need to read.

If anything has really stuck out for you, share it in the comments below - would love to know what your top takeaway from this interview was.

Yours in Health,

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Q&A WITH JORDAN PIE

It was such a delight to get to chat with Jordan Pie. This blond beauty is someone I gravitate towards and connected easily with over social media. I have been following along intently ever since, constantly being inspired, educated and encouraged. I love her food philosophy and approach to nutrition as well as her simplicity in her self care advice - definitely worth the read!

You can find out more about Jordan and connect with her through her instagram and her website - where you can also grab a copy of her incredible cook book Gutalicious.

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

A: I’m a Qualified Nutritionist, GAPS Practitioner, freelance food stylist and photographer, recipe developer, a health and wellness blogger, oh and a cookbook author. I believe food can be used as medicine, so I help to educate people to see food in a brand new light by providing delicious, easy, gut friendly recipes.  

Q: What does health and wellness mean to you?

A: I believe it’s different for each individual. However, my food philosophy never changes;

  • Eat food your great grandmother would recognise

  • Less is more when it comes to ingredients

  • Include a wide variety of vegetables—you can always add more

  • Just because the ingredients change, doesn’t mean the menu has to. There is always a healthier alternative to your favourite foods

  • Eat to be well, not to be thin

Q: What is your number one health tip for general well-being?

A: Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive or time consuming, and you don’t need a million and one things on your plate to make it tasty. It’s simple: Eat real food (preferably spray free/ organic). I truly believe that the worst thing you can put into your mouth is ‘guilt’. Because if you’re constantly stressed about what you eat or drink, it’s actually going to cause more weight gain, more hormonal imbalances, more digestive distress, and more sensitivities to healthy foods. This is why it’s so important to tune into your body, understand what YOU need, and ditch dieting all together!

Q: You’re a recipe developer and make the most amazing creations – what inspires you in the kitchen and how did you get such skills?

A: Cooking, creating new recipes, styling and photography is my creative outlet. If I wasn’t able to do this as part of my job, I think I would go a little cuckoo haha. I’m inspired by in-season produce and what I find at my local farmers market. I also get inspired by having only 4 or 5 ingredients in the fridge because I love the challenge of trying to create something incredibly delicious with only a handful of basic ingredients.

Q: You, like myself, do a lot of work from home and a vast variety of tasks, what are some of your hot tips for keeping on track with it all – do you have a routine or practice that ensures you get things done but also stay balanced and grounded?

A: As an entrepreneur, and someone running and growing my own small business, I find it so incredibly hard to stop myself and take a break sometimes. In the past I’ve definitely had the bad habit of working Monday-Saturday, slacking on taking my supplements, not leaving the house for 2 days and burning the candle at both ends. I can sometimes feel guilty if I take a break (even if it’s well earned). It’s taken (still taking) a lot of effort to put myself first. But the truth is, if you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not taking care of anything. So each week I try to remind myself to fill my own cup up first, and that I do have permission to rest. I’m not responsible for fixing everything and I don’t have to make everyone happy. This is challenging for me as I’m the classic nurturer - aka used to putting everyone else first. I have found planning out my days or week in advance super helpful because I schedule in research, meetings, one-on-one consultations, free-lance work, recipe days as well as down time and catching up with my loved ones.

Q: As a health practitioner it can be hard to remember to give back to yourself, and to keep your own health as a priority, tell us how you implement self-care:

A: I think a lot of people can get overwhelmed by the notion of what self care/ love is and may think they’re not doing enough. But self care can be as small as flossing your teeth. Or saving money for your future. Booking that holiday you’ve been dreaming of all year. Self care is saying no to a party you know you’re too tired to attend. It’s going to bed 30 mins earlier. It’s letting yourself eat your favourite chocolate or applying a face mask while you make yourself a cup of tea. I think self care and self love looks different to everyone, but the sentiment remains the same. We practice it so we can work on being the best version of ourselves. My favourite self care practice is to get out into nature, I find it so grounding, energising and it helps to re-set my body and mind. But I also love taking an epsom salt bath or making myself a cup of bone broth to drink or sometimes it may be as simple as watching a really good movie. 

Please comment below your key takeaway from this, I know I will be taking on board the self care practices and keeping things really simple.

Yours in health,

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