Continue to educate yourself daily. The more you educate yourself and expand your horizons, the more understanding you will have of the world. Spiritual wellness comes from knowledge.
Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?
As a part of our series about “How We Can Do To Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bianca Kamhi.
Bianca is a certified holistic health & accountability coach, helping to improve lifestyles by implementing small changes that collectively make a large, impactful difference. Bianca received her BA from the University of Wisconsin — Madison, her MA from FIT, and certifications from NYU and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
As a certified holistic health & accountability coach, Bianca holds people accountable to their own goals and commitments. Bianca believes that people seek accountability as a means to follow through with their intentions and create meaningful change in their life.
Living with Bianca is a program created by Bianca to help those in need of this meaningful lifestyle shift. She has created an opportunity for her clients to pause, reset and reprogram. Individual clients receive personalized, goal-oriented plans that cater to their exact needs and wants. Bianca also works with brands and businesses to help improve corporate culture, and allow employees to be productive, successful and achieve a positive work-life balance. Bianca recently launched a 3-month guided journal, which helps people achieve maximum productivity when implementing new goals and lifestyle shifts into a daily routine.
In addition to her own clients, Bianca also serves as the resident health & accountability coach at a private functional medicine practice in Manhattan.
Bianca does live sessions in both New York and Los Angeles, and works virtually with clients throughout the US and UK.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born in Sydney, where my extended family still lives, and was raised in Los Angeles. My parents are originally South African, so as you can imagine, there was a mix of many cultures flooding through my home during childhood. I grew up learning to appreciate travel, culture, art, and dance — all of which are topics that would allow a connection with my cousins and family members abroad as they all fell under the “universal language.” Dance and music became my main focus. I became a very serious ballet dancer when I was younger, and was eventually accepted a year early to the University of Wisconsin-Madison through the dance program. I ended up switching my major a year into college to Art History, and devoted the remainder of my schooling, both undergraduate and graduate school, to studying art history and art administration.
My childhood was different in many ways than others. My parents divorced when I was a few months old, so my version of a family dynamic was unique. My parents remained very close, best friends in fact, and raised my sister and I together. While our situation was different, it was a beautiful one and there was no shortage of love and support amongst us all. I strongly believe that my parent’s leading example of positivity and maturity shaped me to be the person I am today. Perhaps it also lead me to eventually enter the line of work that I am in today. I saw first hand at a young age that everyone can make choices in life. You can choose to be stuck, or you can choose to use your experiences as a lesson and create an even better version of yourself from it. Choosing growth is always the route to take, in order for us to live a life that we will be proud of. My childhood was filled with wonderful and happy moments that inevitably lead me to see that choosing to think and see in a positive light will get you very far in life. I hold this lesson near and dear to my heart.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
No doubt, there have been many people who have inspired me. However, I must admit that it was the years of working on myself and growing into myself, that pursued me to start my own career as an accountability coach. I realized, and am still realizing, that no-one can make changes for you and nothing will come knocking on our door. However, if you surround yourself with people that motivate you and remind you to be the best version of yourself each and every day, this a huge help. This is exactly what I strive to do for each of my clients.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
My husband has been a very instrumental source of encouragement throughout my journey. He is a total go-getter and has an entrepreneurial spirit that is contagious. When I started to think about creating my own company, I was fearful of the “what-ifs.” What if no one hires me, what if I make a fool of myself, what if I waste my time and energy on this and it doesn’t have any rewards? I lost the sense of myself that was needed to help others, because I myself needed help. His continual rebuttal was, “What if you don’t do it and regret it for the rest of your life?”
From the start, he encouraged me to block out the loud sound of the outside world, keep my head down and focus. This past year, when I was in the midst of trying to find my true “voice” for my brand, I was at a total road block. I wanted my company to be wholeheartedly true to me and not emulate what I have already seen. So we did the most unique and wild thing I have done yet…. We jumped in the car and drove across the country for 2 weeks in order to get rid of my road blocks.
It was, without a doubt, the most eye opening and grounding experience. We completely blocked out the sounds of our worlds, saw life for what it really is, learned the true meaning of gratitude and also was able to prioritize what it actually means to have a place on this earth. Every day in the car, we listened to inspirational lectures and podcasts, and wrote quotes down that we loved and wanted to remember. We embraced vulnerability and made uncomfortable topics approachable and easy. It was this experience that lead to the eventual foundation my program is based on — embracing and leaning into what makes you uncomfortable. There is no use in trying to fight it, but rather I urge you to speak to it and understand it. This is what sets the stage for secure growth and upward motion.
To this day, when I have a moment of despair — I turn to him for his guiding light, as he does to me. One of the biggest recommendations that I always give to clients is to utilize your partner to help lift you, constantly. Your life partner is not there because you are perfect, but rather is there because they help you see and understand the beauty in your imperfections.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
Where to begin! While there have been many moments of spelling errors or emails being sent out prematurely, I would say that the most interesting mistake I have made was trying to cover too many bases. I used to focus on just simply being “healthy” with my clients — which is such a loaded word and can mean a million different things to a million different people. I found myself all over the map. Over time, it became clear to me what I was best doing with my clients and how I was able to fully help people. I don’t tell people what their goals are, but rather they come to me with their goals. I then shape a path to help achieve them. It took mistakes in the beginning to gain this sense of clarity.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
While I have read many books that have had incredible significance in my life, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown is a book that I will continually reference time and time again. Truthfully, any Brené Brown book is one that I cherish and value. This particular book was presented to me at a time in my life that I felt I really needed guidance. I followed along on Brené’s journey in the book, while seeking my own clarity to explain my thoughts and passions. She taught me to lean into my anxieties and embrace them as a part of who I am, rather than trying to hide them and feel shame from them. The act of being vulnerable was described as empowering. The idea of speaking your insecurities and making them known was described as being authentic and necessary. This book taught me that courage speaks loudest when you are truly the authentic version of yourself.
The beauty of this book is that you can re-read it over and over again. It is continually relatable to life in each and every stage that one goes through.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement speech “This is Water” is by far one of my most favorite speeches, and filled with quotes that resonate with me each and every single day. This one in particular hits home to me. Living in a world where it is so easy to be voyeuristic and watch “versions” of lives unfold on social media, we start to believe that the images we see are depictions of reality. Wallace’s speech teaches us about the idea of choosing to think differently and continually stepping out of the “default” setting that life so easily can put us into. He emphasizes the very important value in acts of kindness and care for those we love and to make a conscious effort everyday to turn off the inevitable default setting.
“If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.
Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings. They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing. And the world will not discourage you from operating on your default-settings, because the world of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the “rat race” — the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.”
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
In general, I strongly believe that it takes at least 3 months to implement a new habit, and to make it stick long-term. This is why the minimum time spent together with my clients is at least 3 months. Of course, each client receives a completely personalized plan — but the one consistency amongst everyone is the necessary act of journaling.
This is why I created a 3-month guided journal for my clients and have now decided to expand its audience to the general public. I could not be more excited about this new project! The benefits of journaling are endless and I could not recommend it enough to anyone who is seeking meaningful change or reflection in their life. In this case, my journal is straight-forward and with absolutely no fluff. There is no distraction, and it is not precious. Consider it as important as the toothbrush that you buy from CVS… the most simple object in a very frilled bathroom, and yet still the most important start and end to your day. It can be 5 minutes in the morning, and 5 minutes in the evening — and just a few jotted notes or answers to prompted questions, as I am certainly not asking my clients to write a novel! It’s simply the habit of reflecting and releasing that is so important. I know that so many people can benefit from this, as it stimulates creativity, growth, productivity and gratitude.
OK, thank you for all of that. Lets now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
- Taking walks outside. I cannot express enough how helpful getting fresh air and walking outside is for mental clarity. I do not believe that there is any excuse to not do this. I live in New York City — and every morning, even in the winter, I bundle up and go outside for a walk. Sometimes I meet a friend, which allows for a positive time to create connection, and other times I walk alone while listening to a podcast or audible book. Either way, it is vital for mental health. Walking in fresh air lifts your mood and gives you a break from the distractions of your computer screen. I always say that taking a step back from what you are doing, and stepping outside, is one of the most productive things you can do for your day. You are giving yourself a chance to breathe, reset and let your creative mind flow.
- Connect with another human every day. Whether this may be with a partner, friend, the barista at a coffee shop or a passer-by that flashes a smile — making a connection with another human being is vital for mental health. It creates a sense of belonging, purpose and self-worth. I found that many people approached me during the harsh months of quarantine in 2020 to not only hold them accountable for their actions, but to be a connection source. I was thrilled by the idea of it — because connecting and smiling, laughing and sharing — it all helps to heal and improve mental wellness.
- Routine. Based off of what I have seen with my clients — routine has been a huge helping hand to stabilize and maintain mental wellness. Waking up in the morning with purpose, knowing that you have designated work-out hours, work-day hours, nutritious breakfast and lunch and then an enjoyable dinner and relaxation time… it sets a productive and purposeful tone to your day. Without routine, from the experiences that I have had and seen, days can become long and depression can kick in. On top of this — structure in daily life allows for special moments and vacations to be extraordinary because those are the moments where you can be off routine without guilt, as it is temporary and well-deserved.
Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.
I work with an incredible breath-work healer who has completely changed my mentality toward meditating. I used to find meditation to be quite difficult. I was never able to “relax the mind” the way that is described in so many books and lectures. My breath-work healer taught me that mediation comes in many forms and rather than focusing on the act of meditating, I needed to focus on the act of breathing. I could go a full day without actually taking a full deep breath in, all the way to my lower belly, and then a full deep breath out. Breathing has become my form of meditating. I breath in the morning for 3 minutes — sometimes with my eyes open and fully aware and other times while still laying down in bed with my eyes closed. When I am frustrated or stressed, I remind myself to breath into my belly, and it has become a sense of relief for me.
Yoga is also a wonderful tool for me. I love stretching and lengthening out my body, and also focusing on my breathing while doing so. I completed my Yoga Teacher Training certification a few years ago to fully understand and get deeper meaning of the practice. This is something I want to do again — as I think learning about the body and it’s capabilities is so empowering and forever evolving!
Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
I think there are 3 main aspects of optimum physical health. While I am sure you have heard them before time and time again, I stand by them as my mantra to remain physically healthy.
- Move every single day. Some days you may have more time than others, but never go a day without doing some type of movement. The one thing you will absolutely never regret, as difficult as it may be to start, is to complete a workout or go on a walk/run.
- Sleep. Simply put, the way you feel when you are awake is dependent on how many hours of restful sleep you get.
- Eating well. Eating nutritious foods is a sure way to optimize your physical health. When I was in my teens, I used to go with my mom to visit her nutritionist, the late Hermien Lee, and she taught me that at the end of the day, it is 80% what you eat and 20% physical activity. The term, “You are what you eat” is simple and true. If you can go about your day, and majority of the foods you eat do not require a nutrition label, meaning they are whole and natural, then you are on a good path.
Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, 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 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
In my opinion, the main blockage is time and effort. Let’s face it — it’s much easier to be unhealthy. Grabbing a bag of chips or ordering a pizza takes up much less time and effort than getting in the kitchen and making a nutritious lunch. On top of which, making that nutritious lunch requires a trip to the grocery store. I see this all the time with clients — many people would love to be healthy all the time but get discouraged by the work that it takes.
My solution to this is to designate one day a week to be your “prep”day. I typically chose Sundays to prepare for the week ahead. I go to the grocery store in the morning, and then spend the afternoon preparing three different categories: vegetables and fruits, proteins and whole grains. I cut and chop all my vegetables and fruits and place them in containers in the fridge. I then make a few different protein options for the week ( grilled chicken, boiled eggs, chopped feta, lentils….) and lastly, have containers of boiled brown rice, whole wheat toast, quinoa and baked sweet potatoes. And then that’s that! All the guess work is out the process during the week. All you need to do is grab, combine and eat. Sundays have become day that I look forward to.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
- Say no. The biggest lesson that I have learned, especially in the past year, is to say no. We live in a society where we are constantly trying to please people and saying “yes” is the way to signify effort or value. However, this could not be farther from the truth. Saying ‘No” to a situation that you don’t want to participate in, is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You no longer need to put yourself in a setting that you do not wholeheartedly want to be in. When you say no, the moments where you say yes become truly genuine and real. This goes hand in hand with the importance of making boundaries. When you make boundaries, you set the foundation of your own value system. You are loving and generous, while staying true to your self-worth and knowing your own threshold.
- Seek help. I strongly believe that everyone deserves help to articulate their thoughts and to grow. If I could recommend to everyone to have a coach or a therapist — I would. I speak for myself in saying that I find therapy to be such a gift. There is nothing more disheartening than being alone in your thoughts. The idea of having an unbiased, approachable voice to bounce off of and to help you work on yourself is something that everyone should have the opportunity to experience. This is why I believe a journal is such an important tool. If you are unable to seek help from a professional, using a prompted journal is such a great way to have an unbiased and approachable outlet.
- Self-Care. The biggest thing about self-care is that it creates balance in your life. There is nothing more beautiful for me than having a full work day, and then devoting an hour of my night to taking a bath. My form of self-care is bath time and reading without disruption. Your own needs are important and the idea of putting value into your own day will resonate when you are around others. I actually have a tab on my calendar that is designated to “self-care” hours. Sometimes, if I have nothing planned for it — the act of sitting on the couch and watching an indulgent tv show most certainly does the trick.
Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.
Smiling creates a sensation of gratitude and happiness. It’s the universal language of connection to another human being. While I do not know the exact science behind what a smile can do to you, I do know exactly how it makes me feel. I believe that smiling simply can make you happy, even if just for a split second. In a moment of tears, I know that when someone says something that makes me smile, those tears seem to diminish faster than before. In a moment of pain while doing a crunch or a squat in a pilates class, the instructor tells you to relax your face and smile, and it helps! There’s definitely something to it, and we should all be so lucky to go every day with smiling at least once.
Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
For me, the idea of being spiritual wellness is relating and connecting to people and ideas on a deeper level. There is nothing tangible about cultivating spirituality, it is an essence and an unspoken understanding with yourself, the world and the people around you.
- Empathy is a key ingredient in cultivating spirituality. Putting yourself in other people’s shoes, and trying to see life from their perspective, is one of the most profound and powerful tools to cultivate a sense of connection.
- Continue to educate yourself daily. The more you educate yourself and expand your horizons, the more understanding you will have of the world. Spiritual wellness comes from knowledge.
- Journaling. Journaling allows you to reflect and show gratitude for what you have in your life. The tool of journaling allows you to focus on positive affirmations and look at yourself in the best possible light.
Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?
Nature is healing. Nature allows for self-discovery. The vastness of nature reminds you that life has endless opportunity and it acts a wonderful reminder of true and natural beauty. Nature represents freedom in its truest form.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, it would be an empathy movement. I strongly believe that the world would be more a tolerant, peaceful and loving place if people chose to have empathy for others on a daily basis. Rather than judgment or disregard, I would ask that people put themselves in other people shoes always and to always show kindness and compassion to others because of it.
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, especially if we both tag them 🙂
This is a tough one! There are so many inspirational people out there that I would be honored to meet with. As of this moment, I would be really excited to have lunch with Lori Gottlieb. I think she is a fantastic writer! Her book, “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” was such an interesting and fun read for me. Her mentality of looking at life like a story, and considering ourselves the protagonist was eyeopening to me.
She makes me question: If I were reading about myself, what are the road blocks that are coming in my way and am I facing them head on or running in circles around them? If I were reading my own story, would I be excited and proud of the main character or frustrated by the main character?
I think about this metaphor often when I have to make tough decisions.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can find me through my website — www.livingwithbianca.com
My Instagram handle is @biancakamhi
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.