It’s a pretty crazy time right now. It seems like everything with an unstable foundation is just coming down around our ears. Some of it’s long overdue, but even necessary change can be stressful.
For many of us, this unraveling is happening right inside our own bodies.
Achy joints, bad sleep, tired all the time, hassled by cravings, worried about life, a little anxious, a little depressed, or something even harder…
I feel you, because I’ve been there.
After supporting my mother through breast cancer treatment, and then, a year later, going through it myself during the first COVID quarantine, a lot of my “tried and true” self-care strategies went right out the window.
In the end it was my spiritual practice of flow – letting life unfold – that got me through that crisis.
But being inside the healthcare system allowed me to witness firsthand many of its deeply embedded inequities. In this country there’s a profound disparity in access to and quality of medical care along binary gender, racial, income lines – and more – which often intersect.
In my work over the years, I’ve also noticed that some people seem to get better quickly and easily without a lot of effort, while others, like me, eat well and exercise, and yet are plagued by things like mysterious autoimmune issues and even cancer.
After 20 years of trying to understand how we heal, of looking for solutions in multiple healing industries, some strong, some with deeply embedded problems –
I started to notice a pattern among my clients with “sticky” issues they couldn’t seem to resolve, no matter how hard they tried…
I saw 3 common “stages of healing” in many of my clients on their quest for more energy, better health or weight loss.
The first stage is feeling like something fundamental is “wrong ”. Something more than a seasonal virus or a pulled muscle or any number of “regular” issues that are just a part of daily life. Maybe this is something you’ve experienced.
If you’re lucky enough to have access to medical care, you might start by seeing a doctor who runs some tests, which often come back negative or inconclusive. They might prescribe anti-inflammatories or something similar and suggest you “watch” the situation.
While the doctors may assure you nothing is “seriously wrong”, you still aren’t feeling better. So maybe you broaden your search to figure out what’s going on so you can get to the bottom of the issue.
This may lead you to various other medical or psychological specialists. When they can’t give you answers you might widen your scope even more to include alternative medicine practitioners, naturopaths, energy workers or even a pastor.
But no one can seem to pinpoint the issue. Just when one symptom improves, something new flares up somewhere else.
Ever had your anxiety start to ease, only to wake up with your back out…?
That’s exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about…
Eventually this leads to the second big revelation:
Traditional medicine and the “specialists” can’t seem to solve your problem.
In my practice as a food and health coach I found that some people could get to the root of their imbalances pretty quickly. Once they understood their own best lifestyle practices for eating well and improving their energy, they’d put them into place and have great success, even if they weren’t totally consistent.
But other clients could try the same “best practices” and wouldn’t get the same results. Ironically, this is the category I fall into.
My own daily diet, sleep and fitness routines, for example, would be on a par with many of my friends who were professional fitness trainers. They were trim and fit, but I always carried extra weight.
Not only that, but they could go out on the weekend, have beer and pizza, or eat cake and stay right on track. When I did that, I would immediately gain weight and my blood sugar would skyrocket.
It ended up being the place between my searches into body, mind, and spiritual healing that brought the third revelation.
We are not machines with separate parts. There are no hard divisions between body, mind and spirit.
Ancient Eastern healing systems like Ayurveda from India and Traditional Chinese Medicine, have always viewed us this way – as one interconnected network. They’ve actually mapped it pretty effectively – to the point of connecting certain organs with certain emotions.
Evidence shows that imbalances in one arena can and will affect problems – or progress – in another.
For example, it turns out that experiencing childhood trauma puts you at roughly the same risk for coronary heart disease as eating fast food several times a week – even if your diet is exquisitely clean!
What is a doctor or a dietician supposed to do with that?
Or a psychologist?
They’re going to run right out of rope at the “edge” of their specialty.
A growing body of research is proving this notion that health issues do in fact cross the mind/body barrier. And there is some pioneering work out there demonstrating the radical possibility that even our extended history – familial, cultural, racial – can and does have a profound impact on our health and our ability to heal.
Through this lens it became much clearer why I and many others like me with trauma in our lives, past or present, might struggle more to find healing.
In an attempt to further understand this, I created a new model of “Power and Drag” using the metaphor of a sailboat to start to frame some of the more complex mind/body “crossing over” I was seeing in my work with clients.
I marked things like trauma, negative core beliefs, a sweet tooth and a high waist-to-hip ratio as “anchor drag”, while eating lots of veggies or having a strong social circle or a positive outlook were marked as “wind power” in the sails.
It was a little crude and not particularly scientific, but proved to be a surprisingly accurate predictor of success – or lack thereof – in making healthy lifestyle changes over time.
For some people who are dragging a lot of anchors, even meticulous “diet and exercise” just don’t blow enough wind into their sails to get their “boat” to cruise.
And it works in reverse too.
Have you ever met a grandma who smokes daily or drinks regularly and lives into her 90’s? How?? If you look more deeply – she’s also got a huge loving family and an endlessly grateful attitude toward life that provides so much power that her little “boat” pulls that “anchor” right into ripe old age.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Our individual experiences of trauma and life challenge are not “common to all” in this country, but are socially, culturally and politically divided. And, in the case of non-white, non-sexuality-or-gender-typical folx – trauma and challenge are often also distorted, maligned, ignored and even perpetrated.
These revelations and my own experience ignited a need in me to blast past the popular notions of self-care and wellness into the realm of what I’ve begun calling elemental resilience.
The coaching and classes I offer don’t center around popular wellness industry “norms” like achieving a perfect weight, focusing exclusively on outcomes, ignoring personal intuition and deep knowing, or trying to fit everyone into one cookie cutter program or “solution”.
Our changing world is calling for a reckoning on many levels, and right now it’s up to us as individuals and collectives to challenge the popular and institutional norms that aren’t serving our highest good.
In my own healing from cancer I found that I needed to focus on my daily, sometimes hourly process, versus any particular outcome. I had to learn how to leave something in the tank for the hardest days versus stretching myself to breaking. I practiced taking smaller, more regular bites – of food, but also of daily tasks like to-do lists, chores and body movement.
Nowadays I’m writing and speaking less about “clean food” and more about things like learning to settle a stressed nervous system, finding spaciousness and presence, even in challenging times, and, as always, living in flow with the foundational rhythms of life.
I’m only one person, but I’m reaching out to people like you who are interested in healing paradigms that
- include our differences – versus assuming one standard for all
- address systemic inequities in our systems of healthcare
- are founded in community support
- lean into prevention and life balance, when possible
- encourage a “healthy at every size” approach
- are pro-age, which really just means pro-living
If you share these goals, I hope you’ll follow my blog and connect with me on social media. I’ll keep you posted on the development of projects – like a local “Compassion Kitchen”, training youth to prepare meals for people in cancer treatment, and the “Veboot”, an easy program to help you shift away from lots of animal foods to more plant-based foods for more energy and vitality.
That which stands in your way can become the way.
With thanks to Marcus Aurelius
Jeannette (she/her) has written or co-written 8 books on different aspects of healthy eating with over 100,000 copies in circulation around the world. She’s designed menu plans and recipes for superstar doctors, naturopaths, nutritionists and strength trainers.
Her clean food recipes and mind-body-spirit perspectives have been showcased in over 100 media outlets, including Consumer Reports, the Washington Post, Clean Eating, Dr. Oz Online, Self, Shape, Better Nutrition, Parenting, Better Homes and Gardens, Redbook, Martha Stewart Living, NPR and NBC News.
As a lifestyle writer, speaker and award-winning educator, she’s been privileged to work with thousands of people from many different backgrounds in everything from low income Head Start programs to yoga centers, businesses, hospitals and health departments. She has witnessed our struggles to change our lifestyle habits from many different perspectives and, with the help of new teachers from many different arenas, continues to evolve her approach to health and healing.
Cross-Modal Training – Body, Mind & Spirit
Jeannette spent the first half of her life studying holistic and eastern healing arts, including American herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. She’s had a personal meditation practice spanning over 20 years that has both anchored and guided her insights into the ways we all tend to repeat the same “conditioned” behaviors from a very young age – making true change or true freedom very difficult.
She is a seminary graduate and ordained as an interfaith minister. She holds certifications in multiple emotional healing techniques, including E.F.T. and the Wave Work.
She has a B.A. from Columbia College, Columbia University (writing/teaching) and multiple food certifications from among the world’s most cutting-edge trainers and institutions for nutrition and gourmet cuisine, including:
- The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (Health Coach Board Certification)
- Poliquin Strength Institute (Biosignature Certification – elite performance nutrition and supplementation)
- Marc David of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating (Certification in the Psychology of Eating and Soul-Based Nutrition)
- Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy (Raw Food Chef Certification)
Jeannette loves to synthesize the best lifestyle tips, techniques and recipe concepts from both the ancient natural and modern scientific worlds for practical, everyday use – power tools for the people!
Meeting in the thick of our daily lives to share inspiration, recipes, wins & revelations!