Have you spent your entire life on a journey in the pursuit of health? In one form or another, this is probably true for all of us. The journey for some can be a struggle to survive and for others a drive to thrive. Maybe some of us have been stuck in survival mode for a long time, or at best we’re a work in progress. Does great health just happen or does it evolve over time? We wanted to know so we asked the “Wellness Boss”, Jenn Malecha to share her struggles and success with us.
Jenn, thank you for taking some time to chat with us about why it’s important to look at the whole person when it comes to health. Why is your approach to helping people find the right puzzle pieces for their health different from other approaches they may have tried in the past?
The first thing is figuring out what foods are right for their bodies so the body can function at its potential. I like to educate my clients on the difference between eating healthy and eating right for your body. We will incorporate healthy foods but remind them that not every healthy food is right for their bodies. We need to gain a greater understanding of what that looks like for each individual. One of the things I believe is valuable is to test for food sensitivities to find out where their bodies might be reacting to foods. These might even be some really healthy foods but may not necessarily agree well with them. Also, taking a look at what we call metabolic typing to see how their body metabolizes carbs, fat, and protein. I look at the ratios and what might be the right ratio for them.
Next, I like to tap into the body’s natural intuition, which is kind of a mindset piece of figuring out what foods are right for them and tuning in to the body to find out how their body is reacting to food. Most people are kind of walking through life eating on autopilot not creating that connection with their body. Our bodies have these wonderful intuitive tests sometimes like the laptop, they’re just a snapshot in time and I believe the body holds all of the answers. We just need to reconnect our brain and body in order to discover the answers.
Another area I focus on with clients is using some core functional lab tests like at-home lab testing that helps to uncover other hidden healing opportunities. We can use these tests to help us find some missing pieces or clues to their health. Functional lab tests are going to look at the hormones, digestion detoxification, and the nervous system to reveal how the systems of the body are or aren’t working together.
With all of this information we can hopefully fill in some gaps to create a more specific and personalized diet that’s right for them, what sleep requirements are best, the right form of exercise to combat stress reduction in all different aspects of their life, mental-emotional as well as things like the removal of toxins based on the information of the test results.
And then the last part is really teaching the models of care so they know how to tune into the body at any point in time and give it exactly what it requires to feel their best. As far as the mindset side of things, I find that a lot of people have gotten into a place where they feel unwell because they’ve sacrificed their health in pursuit of their career, their family or other things. They wake up one day looking in the mirror wondering who am I? Where did all this weight come from? What happened to all of my energy?
In order to really help the body restore and attain long term sustainable results, we have to learn to navigate life differently so we can make ourselves a priority. Also, tuning in to see what’s the burden of stress on the body in relation to the foods they’re eating, the amount of sleep and overall lifestyle and where they might be looking for the opportunities to lift that burden. I say it’s like emptying my stress cup on a day to day basis, this can be a game-changer to help us learn to navigate life differently. For example, if we’ve had a really long hard day at work or a long week then we know we need extra sleep, tone down our exercise intensity or be super clean about our diet. This is where we work together to figure out those different pieces.
So looking at the whole picture! Yes, and that’s part of my tagline Wholistic Health Boss! Ideally empowering the whole body naturally or the whole person naturally. Sounds like a winner! What does your best health look like?
I love this question because I’ve gone through different phases of my health journey and what I always come back to “my best health” for me, is feeling at home in my body. Any time my health has been off being usually when I don’t feel at home in my own body. It’s almost like living in somebody else’s body or when I look in the mirror and think this doesn’t look like me. I just feel uncomfortable and I know something is not right! When you feel at home in your body this resonates health, you tend to have a more positive mindset, more confidence, self-esteem, and all those things positively influence the choices we make.
Okay! So the way we feel can positively influence us to promote health internally as well!
Exactly! Many people I’ve talked to will have glimpses of when they felt confident and sure of themselves a long time ago, maybe even as a child, before they had all these other things come into their life, including puberty, which is where a lot of this starts to shift. There seems to be this internal knowing of who I am, even if you haven’t fully experienced it! They seem to know themselves better when they get to that place and feel like “I’m OK” this feels familiar, somehow like the real me.
Along those same lines, I heard someone today say I’m grieving for the person I was! So yeah, that ties into what you just said right there! What about emotional stress what are the red flags or signs and symptoms?
People are emotionally all over the place and a big clue and I’ll refer to myself personally, is having an overall inability to handle stress like your quick snap, you know you have a short fuse and easily aggravated and that’s usually a surefire sign, that there’s been an accumulation of stress leading up to this blow up. This might have been chronically going on for a while and may even be related to the hormonal aspects of cortisol dysfunction. Literally you feel at the physical level, you have the inability to handle stress as effectively or peacefully as normal.
Another big sign of emotional stress is fatigue, which most of us probably don’t recognize as a red flag. Many times we just think we’re tired because of the physical labor we’re doing. However, when we’re emotionally or energetically drained fatigue can set in, we’re overdoing it and we become accustomed to this being normal.
Digestive issues are usually signs of red flags. These symptoms might include experiencing digestive issues like irregular bowel movements, wavering between diarrhea and constipation or a general upset stomach. It’s kind of like the old wives tale people say, “don’t worry so much, you’re going to give yourself an ulcer”. There’s actually some truth to this. If you’re experiencing digestive issues it can be an indication of emotional distress. Something I work on specifically with my clients when we’re working on a diet is understanding the connection between stress and metabolism recognizing that we live in a very fast-paced stressful world and how it affects our gut health. When we are under a lot of stress we can not optimally digest. I work with clients on deep breathing, instructing them to practice this before every meal. It takes like two minutes and it instantly resolves a lot of the digestive issues they’re experiencing.
So something everybody can do! Exactly! Yeah, that’s great! So the red flags are fatigue, emotions and stomach issues.
Yes exactly! Also, I would say anxiety would be another big one and negative self-talk because we get into a stressful place and start judging ourselves. When we do this we open the door to comparison paralysis, so I tell my clients if you’re noticing that you’re beating yourself up every time you look in the mirror that’s probably a huge indication that you’re under quite a bit of stress.
I agree! What about gut health, which diet is best for maintaining a healthy biome?
This is a trick question here considering I’m of the belief we’re all unique and our diet should be unique too! There’s no one diet that fits all because we can have varying food sensitivities with protein, carbs, and fats or have underlying autoimmune issues. Therefore, in order to understand which diet is best for a healthy biome, I would need to do some testing. I would start by looking at the body intuitively to see what is agreeing with you or not just by noticing. I might look at doing food sensitivity testing and/or metabolic typing to understand what are the challenging issues for the body and provide the needed nutrients in those areas including digestive support to find the right diet for you. I wrote a great blog about this recently something like a paleo diet, for example, is an elimination diet, same as an autoimmune paleo diet or a whole 30 diet. Those are all elimination diets. They don’t necessarily address the balance of macronutrients like carbs, protein, and fat versus something like a keto diet which is specifically structured off of macronutrient balance that’s high fat, moderate protein, and minimal carbohydrates, however, it doesn’t necessarily address food elimination.
When I work with clients it’s really kind of a blend of things. For example, you might be on the autoimmune paleo diet so we’re going to take the food structure of that diet and figure out what your macronutrient balance should be for you and measure protein, fat, and carbs to help produce optimal digestive power for the microbiome. This could be the same for Keto as well just because everyone is doing it does not mean it’s right for you! These are the people that usually show up at my door saying “it’s not working for me” It might not be the diet, there’s something else going on underneath the hood that’s making the diet ineffective.
Awesome nuggets! What about genetics, do you look at genetics to help uncover health issues?
I don’t do genetic testing, however, there’s value in it I believe, but genetics is only one piece of the puzzle. Whatever your genetic predispositions are your lifestyle determines 80 percent of the genetic expression. So it’s great to know those things if you are maybe a higher risk for Alzheimer’s because of this gene. However, you can control the outcomes of your genetic expression based upon your lifestyle so that’s where we focus as well as other functional testing and lifestyle factors.
Got it! What about anxiety, give us some of your best tips for dealing with anxiety especially among the young today.
Number one is cutting out inflammatory foods. They’re going to drive internal inflammation and disrupt the neurotransmitter balance which are the hormones that balance our mood. These include serotonin and dopamine and norepinephrine. Mental and emotional stress is big here so incorporating some type of proactive destressing routine into your day is super important. People tend to think about things like doing meditation or deep breathing as reactive when they encounter a stressful situation versus if we’re proactive and have some type of destressing routine on a daily basis around the same time each day. This can help make a huge difference in dealing with stress.
Next, looking to your exercise to make sure you’re constantly emptying your stress cup, along with getting outside and getting some sunlight in the morning specifically within the first two to three hours upon waking. If you happen to live in a place where it’s cold or it’s wintertime, sitting by the window and getting some natural sunlight helps to balance out the circadian rhythm.
Another helpful tip is definitely cutting out sugar and cutting back on unhealthy carbohydrates because they can spike our blood sugar and make us wired. As a result, our body can drop cortisol which can give you that anxious type of feeling. Next, exploring what’s going on with your gut health, do you have parasites, bacteria yeast overgrowth, or other imbalances in the microbiome as a result of those pathogenic organisms. This is going to disrupt the natural balance of your immune system, your hormones, and then your neurotransmitters. I had a client basically contained to his home because there was so much anxiety about leaving his home. Within a week of implementing an anti-inflammatory sugar-free diet and some supplements to boost his gut health, he was able to go to the grocery store and get to a yoga class.
Amazing! Yeah. What’s your preferred form of exercise and how many times per week?
I am of the belief that everybody should be doing some form of yoga. It’s like the universal form of exercise anybody can do. For the most part, it doesn’t require much equipment or resources and it benefits the body in so many ways. It can improve your flexibility, improve strength and improve balance. Also, there are certain positions that help to reduce cortisol levels, anxiety and stress in the body while helping to flush out toxins in the lymphatic system and the different organs and glands. Therefore, I believe everyone should be doing yoga which you can do as frequently as you would like but at a minimum, at least once a week. I understand there are other great exercise routines out there, I personally love to engage in high-intensity interval training, kettlebell training or even Olympic lifting, however, those are not forms of exercise that are available to everybody, especially if you’re already in a depleted health state. Most of those intense forms of exercise are just going to deplete you even more. In those cases, walking and yoga are pretty much safe and universal for everybody to do and have huge benefits.
Got it! What about EMF’s? Are we overlooking the elephant in the room?
I’m actually having somebody come out to evaluate our house to determine our EMF load in our home. I think that we are a big human experiment when it comes to things like EMF’s and toxins and they just haven’t been around long enough for us to understand what the long term health implications are. So it’s better to be cautious and safe than sorry down the road.
I consider EMF’s as a form of stress. I actually redefined what the word stress is to us. It’s anything that creates a burden on the body that results in inflammation and dysfunction fields. EMF’s do disrupt our natural homeostasis. They affect our vibrational frequency and the energetics of our bodies and can be like an energy drain or suck for us. I think it is important to recognize this as stress and look for ways of how you can empty your stress cup on a daily basis. The simple things that you can do to offset the impact of EMFs are getting outside, getting some sunlight and fresh air and being in nature on a daily basis. Some great ways to digital detox are grounding, taking your shoes off and literally getting your bare feet in some dirt or grass. You can also buy grounding mats or a bed sheet for your bed, and turning your Wi-Fi off at night time. You can buy Shungite, a type of crystal that helps to fend off EMF’s or Shungite powder to add to your paint, to paint your home or a Himalayan salt lamp. I have a Himalayan salt lamp in every bedroom and office where we spend the majority of our time.
So this covers the whole gamut! That’s great because I think that we have to educate people on these things because there’s not a lot of research out there on this.
Yes, we do. As a matter of fact there’s a guy whose been pioneering this area, his name is Nick Pinault, he’s the first person I’ve really seen in my functional medicine health coaching space that’s getting information out there on EMF’s. He’s got stuff that’s easily digestible for anyone from health coaches to professionals and consumers, educating them about the dangers of EMFs and some of the things that we can be doing to protect themselves against the dangers of radiation.
Awesome! Great resource!
Jenn, thank you so much for spending some time with us! We’ve gleaned a lot from your healthy insights! For more information on the Wholistic Health Boss check out her website or follow her on Instagram.