Structure your day. Just because you work from home does not mean you need to work all the time. I am running into quite a few patients who are having a hard time with work-life balance. You need a structured day with a clear beginning and end to your workday. If this is not possible, carve out some uninterrupted time to complete projects and make sure to have some personal time in your day/evening. I also encourage 45–50 minute meetings; we need time to get thoughts together between meetings, get a drink, move a little, and go pee.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lynn Green, Integrative Nurse Practitioner and Master Herbalist.
Lynn Green’s interest in health, wellness and plants began as a child, and she channeled it into a fulfilling career as an integrative health nurse practitioner. She has been a nurse practitioner for almost 30 years, graduating from George Mason University with a MSN, and furthered her education with programs including Dr. Tieraona Low Dog’s Foundations of Herbalism and a Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
I have always been intrigued by the body: how it works and how to keep it well. The human body is fascinating — not just the physical structures but how the mind and body interact. My career started out in emergency and prehospital care of the ill and injured; as I matured in my practice, I moved back to my roots. I love to help people stay healthy and teach them to find their best state of health.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the wellness field?
I have a unique background incorporating nursing, integrative medicine and herbalism. I also have been fortunate to have the best job on earth taking care of Nature’s Way employees, which has given me the opportunity to practice true primary integrative prevention and care.
In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I believe that my experience in hospital settings earlier in my career combined with my love of plants and their healing powers makes me unique, as does my current job — taking care of the employees at a supplement company, people who care about helping others live healthy lives just as much as I do!
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
My parents, who gave me a fantastic foundation, and my late husband Rodney. Without him I do not think I ever would have had the drive to pursue my dream regarding integrative medicine.
Can you share a story about that?
Rodney was diagnosed with cancer when we were newly married and in our 30’s, talk about a paradigm shift! We were both health care providers, he was a PA in Family Practice and loves what he did, especially the children. I was in a mainstream practice but had taken a lot of integrative medicine continuing education and had a passion for learning natural health and food/nutrition/herbalism. Once he was diagnosed, our lives changed as health care providers — we saw a whole other side of medicine, that of patients. On top of researching and seeking out the best care for his cancer, we embraced integrative medicine and it motivated us for me to obtain a Fellowship in Integrative Medicine and to complete Dr. Low Dog’s course in herbalism. By utilizing a variety of approaches he had a great quality of life for much longer than expected. Life takes interesting turns and his love, drive and support made all the difference in the world. His having cancer was a huge motivator — even though he was getting sick, toward the end of his path, he always supported my drive for education regarding keeping people healthy.
We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
- It’s very hard to change a habit. I like to start with the “why?” Why do individuals do the things they do? By understanding the basis and rationale for the decision, we can reframe the thoughts behind them to a healthier habit.
- I am a huge fan of picking one thing to work on that the individual feels passionate about, then helping them to integrate solutions that work for them. Once they have the first success under their belt, subsequent ones tend to come easier.
- The “all or nothing” mentality. Small changes can make big differences in health. Be gentle with yourself and celebrate the changes you make.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
- Salsa is a vegetable! A quarter cup is one serving of veggies. Think out-of-the-box when it comes to vegetables — they can be fun.
- Take time for tea. It is not only relaxing and great for you, but there is something about grabbing a cup, brewing tea, and enjoying it that can be almost meditative and if not at least a nice break. There are wide variety of teas — loose or bagged and can be a great source of nutrients and have a wide variety of herbal actions. My current favorites are Kava and Passionflower.
- Structure your day. Just because you work from home does not mean you need to work all the time. I am running into quite a few patients who are having a hard time with work-life balance. You need a structured day with a clear beginning and end to your workday. If this is not possible, carve out some uninterrupted time to complete projects and make sure to have some personal time in your day/evening. I also encourage 45–50 minute meetings; we need time to get thoughts together between meetings, get a drink, move a little, and go pee.
- Artificial sweeteners still cause issues with blood sugar and satiety — rid them from your nutrition plan.
- Incorporating vitamins and supplements is a great way to support your general health and well-being. I would recommend starting with these great ingredients:
Black elderberry extract. Nature’s Way Sambucus products are made with high-quality elderberry extract from elderberries grown in locations across Europe. Elderberry has traditionally been used for immune support for centuries, and it’s one of my favorite winter picks — but it’s great to take all year!*
- Sleep is so important in more ways than you think. Sleep can impact many areas of your wellbeing from stress to energy to immune health. If you suffer from occasional sleeplessness, try Nature’s Way Sambucus Sleep + Immune Gummies, which contain both black elderberry extract and melatonin.*
- Vitamin C is a big one! You probably know it helps support the immune system, but it can also support skin health and antioxidants.* It’s a go-to in the winter months.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
- Decrease of stress hormones, especially in this day and age. There is not one of us that is not stressed. Stress hormones also upregulate inflammation. Inflammation leads to pain, depression, increase in belly fat, weight gain, and a whole host of other physical and psychological maladies.
- Exercise enhances mental acuity and cognition. Studies have shown that populations with higher physical activity levels have greater cardiovascular and brain health.
- Motion is lotion to joints! Our bodies are not meant to sit; we are built to move.
- Exercise helps improve sleep. Physical activity during the day has been shown to benefit sleep/wake cycles and depth of sleep. Restorative sleep is crucial for all of us. We think a bad night of sleep just makes us have a bad day, but this has been proven to have significant effects.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend?
Keep it simple and just move! Try simple walking to get your heart rate up in the beginning. Gentle stretching is also a great addition, morning and night. It does not have to take long but will have great benefits and help prevent injuries.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story? Healthy at Home by Tieraona Low Dog MD. I have been learning from Dr. Low Dog for a very long time. She is a wonderful doc and herbal teacher. In her book she does a fantastic job of presenting excellent medical information, guidance on staying healthy and great recipes you can make at home. One of the challenges of medicine is presenting information in easy to understand terms and giving real world solutions; Dr. Low Dog’s extensive knowledge and finesse in how she teaches and tells stories to make the information come alive is inspiring. I hope to be able to do that for my patients as well. She inspires me to be the best provider I can be.
Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar is also a great guide to beginning herbalism.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Grow some of your own food! Growing your own food can be very empowering as well as fun and nutritious. When you grow it — and cook it — yourself, you’re more invested and feel a sense of accomplishment. Not to mention, food isn’t what it used to be so if you can grow it yourself where you’re not reliable on someone else, you’re getting a healthier food.
At Nature’s Way, we have our own community garden and produce is free to all employees! We grow vegetables and culinary and medicinal herbs. I would love to see more companies and municipalities facilitating the growing of food and expanding knowledge to their local communities.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“No illness which can be treated by the diet should be treated by any other means.” -Moses Maimonides, a rabbi, physician, and philosopher. It begins with the choices regarding how we fuel our bodies. In our society we are quick to medicate; I propose taking a broader and more holistic approach to identify root causes and fix those. Nutrition is key!
“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” -Thomas A. Edison. I am true believer in primary prevention — keeping disease from happening in the first place!
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman. Do what you love and are passionate about!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂 There are lots, but right now it would be Anthony Fauci, MD, as we are amid the COVID-19 pandemic. I would love to learn from his insights into our situation, both in the US and globally, and what he sees for the future, uncensored and private.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
You can join the Nature’s Way communities on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (@NaturesWayBrands) for support, inspiration, and motivation on your wellness journey. You might even find a few guest appearances from me!
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!