A Health and Wellness Dynamic Duo

I don’t know about all of you, but after the holidays I felt a major health and wellness slump approaching. I had eaten many foods I am intolerant of, had WAY too much sugar, and was having trouble sleeping. Needless to say, I was thrilled to join in for just over a week of detoxing with Dr. Katie Takayasu (who specializes in integrative medicine) and Health Coach Courtney Evans. It was a gentle way to ween myself off of processed foods, sugar, dairy, and gluten over a period of 10 days. It was such a good way for me to check in and see the things I was doing well, and the things I needed to work on to get back to feeling my best. Both Dr. Katie and Courtney were available to the “cleansers” throughout the process via a WhatsApp account created just for the detox group. They provided real time advice on healthy snacks, how to beat cravings, and what ingredients on food labels really mean. It was really fun hearing how the others in the program were doing too. You make your own food, so you don’t have to be local to do the the detox. But going forward prepared meal delivery will be available for Detoxers on a daily or weekly basis for a supplemental fee. These two healthy ladies have joined us on the blog today to share their story, why they teamed up for this great program, and how you can join in on their next detox.

Q&A with Dr. Katie and Courtney Evans

What does wellness mean to you? 

From Courtney: In my own life and the guiding principles behind Well Refined are inspiration, nourishment, support and self-love. I believe in discovering a personalized way of eating and living that fits in with your lifestyle. My deepest hope is that my clients peel back the layers to discover what authentic, achievable and sustainable wellness means to them. Wellness is about finding what works for you – in all aspects of life – nutrition, movement, spirituality, career, relationships, etc. It’s about feeling your best and being confident in your choices because you are the expert of your mind and body. It’s about tapping into your strong intuition and letting that guide you toward the answers – in all pillars of health. “Do the best until you know better. And then when you know better, do better,” said Maya Angelou. I hope to guide my clients toward finding that little bit of better on their wellness journey. 

From Dr. Katie: Wellness is a state of balance of the physical, mental and emotional body. Wellness happens when the body is in total alignment. It’s easy to feel when the body is out of balance because we just don’t feel good. Trust yourself – if you don’t feel great, then your body is not in alignment, and you’re not well. Wellness for me has four pillars: nutrition, movement, rest and attendance to the Spiritual Self. These are the most important areas to focus on. Finding balance among them is paramount to feeling your best.

What is your training and how do you apply it to your work?

From Courtney: I am a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. My training through IIN provided me with the education needed to coach clients in all aspects of holistic health. In applying my knowledge to each client I work with, I recognize the following: Each client is unique, with unique needs around food, movement, spirituality, relationships, creativity, sleep, etc. The external landscape (pace of life, concerning food supply, mixed messages from a deeply ingrained diet culture) is a significant barrier for individuals who want to achieve optimal wellness. Food is only one piece of the puzzle and lack of sleep or exercise can be as unhelpful as a bag of chips; The client knows themselves best and often intuitively knows the answer. Sustainable wellness is possible with commitment to small, daily actions that lead to lasting change; How you look on the outside isn’t as important as how your feel on the inside – and usually the former is accomplished by the latter. Everyone is wired for success – you can do it – and I can help. Prior to becoming an integrative nutrition health coach, I researched public equities in the Health, Wellness + Lifestyle sector. I received my MBA from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College. 

My training includes a personal layer, also. After my third child was born, I was constantly sick with rashes, recurrent tonsilitis and ear infections. At one point my doctor thought i had Lyme Disease because I was so depleted. My body was signaling a deep need for recovery. When I finally decided to listen, I changed so many aspects of my life that I now coach people through. I started emphasizing sleep, cut out sugar, eliminated a lot of inflammatory foods and started meditating. I focused on nutritional therapy and self-care. It was the powerful shift I needed to recover my immune system and feel well again. 

From Dr. Katie: I am an M.D. with special training in Integrative Medicine. I went to traditional medical school at Wright State University in Ohio, and I chose to do a residency in Family Medicine at Columbia-New York Presbyterian where I learned all about how to take care of a person using the bio-psycho-social model.  During residency, I worked  80 hours per week and didn’t take great care of myself…and I didn’t feel so great. I found Integrative Medicine personally when my own Family Doctor recommended I try acupuncture. I was hooked! I started eating home-cooked food, replacing high intensity exercise with gentle movement like yoga, sleeping as much as I could, and beginning to work on my spiritual health.  Because I had such a profound personal experience, I decided to pursue additional training with a Fellowship in Integrative Medicine through Stamford Hospital and the University of Arizona. Now I practice at Stamford Health as a full-time Integrative Medicine physician at the Center for Integrative Medicine & Wellness, a beautiful space that takes insurance. We are truly accessible to anyone who wants an Integrative approach to health. We do acupuncture, herbal consults, and counsel on lifestyle optimization for any type of problem, from digestive woes to hormonal issues to headaches and back pain. 

How important is food when it comes to wellness?

From Courtney: Food is a very important piece of complete wellness but it isn’t the only piece. Discovering an approach, or what I like to call your nutrition intuition and the foods that make you feel your best is one of the first things I work on with my clients. Through the process of food journaling and an elimination diet (the Dr. Katie Detox) to identify trigger foods, they begin to tap into this intuition. This can initiate powerful change and give individuals a sense of reclaiming their wellness. I love the quote, “Food isn’t the problem. It is the answer.” This means that food has become the answer to so many aspects of wellness that it isn’t a helpful answer for. If you are lonely, food isn’t a helpful answer. And a key part of wellness is having fulfilling relationships where people show up for you – this can address your loneliness in a healthier way than food. If you are bored, food isn’t a helpful answer. A key part of wellness is having purpose and passion and things you love to spend time doing – these are the solutions to boredom, rather than food. Understanding your personal relationship with emotional eating – why you eat and how it feels when you do – can be transformative in any wellness journey. Food is often the place I spend the most time initially with new clients but as we get further into our sessions together, we spend a lot of creative energy covering the importance of movement, breath work and meditation, sleep, supplements and more.

From Dr. Katie: Food is a vote in the right direction when it comes to wellness. Our bodies are not hungry for calories; we are hungry for nutrients. When we eat nutrient-dense food like vegetables, fruit, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein from plants and animals, our bodies reward us by decreasing cravings and signaling satiety. Our digestion is enhanced, so that we actually absorb what we’re eating. We feel energized after eating, instead of needing to take a nap. That said, wellness is more than just good food. In Fairfield County, we work hard and play hard. I can’t tell you how many patients who tell me they have a great diet, but they are drinking too much alcohol, working too hard, staying up too late, exercising themselves into the ground, and never taking a moment to rest. I have high aspirations for myself too, but I try to balance my internal drive forward with pumping the brakes. Finding your own sense of balance is crucial to thriving.

What is the theory behind your joint detox and coaching? 

From Courtney: We believe in a continuum of wellness and the important role a health coach can play for individuals who are looking for greater personalization and accountability than a group Detox can offer. A key tenet of the Dr. Katie Detox is connection to a community of like-minded individuals – with regular input and guidance from Dr. Katie and Coach Courtney. For some individuals this feels like enough. For others, they want more access to information, personal accountability, a longer program than 10 days and guidance to identify a desired outcome and discreet goals to achieve this. We also believe that the combined knowledge of doctor/coach enhances the Detox experience for participants. Dr. Katie is trained in integrative medicine and is an expert in the pathways of the human body. I have more “on the ground knowledge”, like how to implement your plan to optimize success and I know the questions to ask to get you thinking more deeply. I can coach you toward your intuition, advise you about products and resources, create recipes and meal plans and tailor an action plan to optimize your health.

From Dr. Katie: The Dr. Katie Detox was born out of my desire to help my clients and patients find more sustained wellness in a practical, supported way. It’s one thing for me to tell you in my office what to eat or that you need to meditate, but who is holding you accountable until we see each other at the next visit?  The Detox is my approach to hold you accountable to your desire for change. The Detox is a 10-day health reset centered on good nutrition, gentle exercise, restorative sleep, and attendance to the Spiritual Self with the support of a community lead by a physician and health coach. It’s really quite remarkable! One of the best parts about the Detox is that I get to know my clients and patients very well. One of the struggles I have in an insurance-based outpatient clinic is that I don’t always have as much time with patients as I want. I get to know  the ins and outs of my Detoxers lives very well over the course of 10 days, and this helps me take even better care of them in the office. Coach Courtney’s role in the Detox is crucial. She has been instrumental in providing on-the-ground, practical support for our Detoxers that is caring and collaborative. The two of us are able to mix hard science with behavioral change in a unique way. What’s great is that every Detoxer gets both of our knowledge for 10 whole days! Courtney also has innovative solutions for Detoxers who want a more personalized approach or a longer journey into wellness through her business Well Refined. I can’t say enough great things about her role in the Detox.

Supplements needed or unnecessary? 

From Courtney: Supplements are no substitute for a whole, plant-forward foods diet. Yet supplements can play a key role in helping to support hormone balance, gut health and optimal body function when added to a healthy diet. Supplements are not going to solve any recurrent nutritional deficiencies created by an unhelpful diet, but they can certainly enhance one. I always encourage my clients to consider supplementing with a high-quality multi-vitamin, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12, Omega-3 and most importantly, a probiotic to ensure the gut is constantly being populated with good bacteria. With supplementation, I always encourage my clients to get curious about their diets and recognize that our food supply can limit some important vitamins and minerals. Let’s take a couple of examples to help better understand the question about whether supplements are helpful. Sleep for example, is a complicated issue for a lot of people. Consuming almonds that are rich in magnesium can help boost this important mineral for healthy sleep but you probably can’t consume enough almonds to create the same benefit as a magnesium supplement at night. You can take a supplement like Calm at night that also helps to regular the bowels or a Magnesium Glycinate that more readily absorbs into the bloodstream. Gut health is another topic that gets a lot of attention. Because of the high quantities of antibiotics and pesticides in our food supply and the abundance of food-based gut destabilizers like sugar, inflammatory grains and also stress, gut flora in most individuals is not optimal. Eating foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, kombucha and probiotic rich foods like yogurt (dairy or plant-based) is a great place to start to heal the gut or improve its bacteria balance. And supplementing with a probiotic is a great way to enhance these food-based shifts. 

From Dr. Katie: You can’t supplement your way into good health. One of my favorite stories from practice was an older woman who came in literally carrying two shopping bags full of supplements – there were like 35 in total! – but was eating processed food every meal. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying fancy vitamins if you eat Cheerios every day for breakfast. We need to think about our lifestyle choices as the fertile ground in which we plant the seeds of things like supplements, acupuncture, skin care and medications. It doesn’t matter if you put $200 moisturizer on your face if your “ground” is barren because you don’t eat many plants, and don’t exercise regularly, and don’t sleep enough, and don’t pay attention to your spiritual needs. Wellness starts from the inside out. That said, there are a few supplements that are really helpful to most people, like Vitamin D, Omega 3s, and magnesium. I go over all of these with my patients at the first few visits.

Where can people find you? 

From Courtney: Visit my website wellrefined.com for information on programs, recipe inspiration and to read my blog – the latest post is a good one on healthy travel and includes tips and travel hacks. You can also follow Well Refined on Instagram @well_refined_health or Facebook @wellrefinedhealth.

From Dr. Katie: Visit my website at www.DrKatie.com. Instagram is @doctorkatie and Facebook is @drkatietakayasu. More information about my practice can also be found on the Stamford Health Center for Integrative Medicine & Wellness website at www.stamhealth.org.

On February 18th at 6:30pm we will be at Forme Barre Fitness in Greenwich, so come connect with us!

We’re partnering with Forme Barre Fitness to offer a 45-minute class at their Greenwich location and answer any questions about the Detox and health coaching in general. We’re offering 15% off the @doctorkatie Detox + Well Refined coaching bundle beginning March 1st using the code FormeBarreDetox. Registered Detoxers will receive one month of unlimited classes for the special price of $99 at Forme Barre in Greenwich. 

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