Cheryl McColgan of ‘Heal Nourish Grow’: “Plenty of people have tried that paradigm time and again and failed”

Exercise is not even necessary for weight loss and it’s not always a benefit of exercise. In fact, for many it just makes them eat more and may even impede fat loss by making you eat more. The myth of move more eat less we’ve been sold for years is so pervasive, but it’s just […]

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Exercise is not even necessary for weight loss and it’s not always a benefit of exercise. In fact, for many it just makes them eat more and may even impede fat loss by making you eat more. The myth of move more eat less we’ve been sold for years is so pervasive, but it’s just not necessarily the answer.

As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cheryl Mccolgan, Founder of Heal Nourish Grow.

Cheryl is the founder and editor of Heal Nourish Grow. Her passion for helping others create Ultimate Wellness and live their best lives drives her research and content creation each day. Cheryl helps people develop the confidence and habits needed to reach goals, create lasting change and better health.

She utilizes her background in psychology for coaching along with her wealth of health practices and over 25 years of experience in fitness, yoga, meditation, nutrition and wellness.

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?

My dad was concerned with healthy eating, running and lifting weights since the early 70s, really before a health and exercise focused lifestyle was popular. This obviously had an influence on my own interest in fitness and wellness. I played basketball and ran track in high school. I began distance running and practicing yoga consistently in 1992. Although I had to quit running in 2009 I’ve continued to walk, hike, practice yoga and snowboard. Fitness and wellness has been a lifelong passion!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

My most interesting stories about my career revolve around my travel for work. In one of my corporate positions, I traveled to Australia, Germany, Amsterdam, New Orleans, Miami, Chicago and San Diego within two years. I’m sure I’m leaving some places out, but travel always involves at least a little adventure and I met so many amazing people.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

My most humorous mistakes usually occurred when I was teaching yoga. Thinking off the cuff and speaking to what’s happening in the room in front of you can be a little challenging in the beginning. Some of the things that came out of my mount were quite funny.

My takeaway was that by being in the moment and present with my classes nobody seemed to mind. Unintentional humor actually took the tension out of the room and allowed my students to get deeper in their practice.

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

My unique contribution to the world of wellness is that I see it through a very diverse lens. Quite often people in the wellness community are focused on only one aspect of wellness, such as yoga only or nutrition only. My background in psychology and yoga paired with my focus on nutrition, sleep, stress management and fitness changes the way I write about wellness and the way that I work with people on their own “Ultimate Wellness.”

The definition of wellness is a little different for everyone. Seeing and honoring that as well as helping people hone in and definite wellness for themselves is my unique contribution.

None of us are able to 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? Can you share a story about that?

In regards to my fitness and wellness career, I’m especially grateful to one of my favorite teachers and friends. Katherine Roberts is the founder of Yoga for Golfers and I attended one of her trainings when I was a new yoga teacher. At that point, she had been in the fitness and yoga world for over 20 years and was a bestselling author.

After attending her training I approached her about working for Yoga for Golfers as her Director of Business Operations to help her grow her training offerings. To my surprise, she agreed. I continued to learn so much in the years we worked together and we’re still friends today.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. 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?

The three biggest reasons people give for not being able to integrate change are lack of time, lack of energy and the “all or nothing” mentality. The first two are self explanatory but I’d like to give some definition to the last one. When trying to make changes, people often try to do too much at once.

That’s why I always recommend taking small steps first when creating new habits.

Let’s take nutrition for example. Someone will be gung-ho on changing his diet and might even do well for a few days or weeks without “cheating.” Then one thing happens like going to a party and eating some “forbidden” food.

Rather than just starting again the next day with what he was doing before, he allows that one incident to take over his mind. The mentality becomes since he already “messed-up” once might as well keep eating “badly” for the rest of the week. Then it becomes a month and so on.

That’s the “all or nothing” mentality that so many people get into.

I don’t like the term “cheat meal” but most people understand that. The “all or nothing” mentality has people turn one treat into a “cheat meal” and then a “cheat day” and then “just the holidays” and it ends up being the old way of eating all the time rather than creating a new healthy habit in which you simply leave a treat or cheat meal in the past where it belongs and move forward with your new, healthy habit.

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.)

My five non-intuitive lifestyle tweaks that will dramatically improve wellbeing are: gratitude practice, joyful movement, cooking more, spending time outside every day and learning to say no.

There is plenty of research on gratitude and its effects on wellbeing. One of the most recent studies shows that practicing gratitude leads to a spiral of wellbeing. Gratitude increases life satisfaction and wellbeing which increases gratitude and so on. This practice can be as simple as writing down three things you were grateful for at the end of each day as a note in your phone.

Joyful movement is one of the lifestyle tweaks I’ve promoted for a long time. What good is exercise if you go into it dreading the workout? Instead, what if you could create a situation where you couldn’t wait to move your body.

Finding a way to move that brings you joy can be so transformative. For some that may be some traditional form of exercise like running, walking or biking but it could also be Zumba in your living room, YouTube ballet, yoga or just dancing in your kitchen as you make dinner.

Joyful movement could be separate from your normal “exercise routine”. But, it’s important to have a little of it every day, especially if you don’t currently exercise at al. It’s a great way to start getting your body moving in a way that doesn’t feel like a chore.

Cooking more may seem like a strange lifestyle tweak to some. However, it’s one of the simplest ways to improve your wellbeing and health. And it’s almost a necessity now that we’re living so differently during the pandemic.

When you’re truly nourished with healthy food prepared with love, your body will thank you by having more energy, less inflammation and less bloat. As many of you know, I’m highly focused on a diet for optimizing overall health, greater energy and improved brain function, but simply moving towards a more whole foods diet mostly cooked at home is a great start.

Cooking for yourself and loved ones offers an opportunity to cut back on all the unhealthy additives while showing people you care…both an amazing part of overall wellbeing. Cooking doesn’t need to be overly complicated either! There are plenty of tools that make cooking easier as well as simple recipes all over the internet, including I also am offering cook along on Mondays in 2021 which will feature simple, nutritious meals.

Sign up to receive the ingredient list the Friday prior to the live cook along on Mondays.

Spending time outside every day can do wonders for both your physical and mental well being. Spending time in nature, especially if you can connect your bare feet to the ground both emotionally and physically ground you. The sun provides Vitamin D while nature itself soothes your soul.

Ideally you should spend at least 10 minutes either just sitting or walking mindfully outside. It’s not possible for everyone, but bonus points if you can spend this time on a mountain, beach or forest at sunrise or sunset. All of these have especially soothing and healing properties, but anywhere you can see the sky and feel the earth works. Dress warm if necessary but get out there for at least a little while every day!

My final lifestyle tweak and maybe the most important one is learning to say no. This is so hard for so many people! However, if you can reframe it in a way that you know every time you say no to one thing, you’re actually saying yes to something else that aligns with your Ultimate Wellness plan and core values.

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?

Exercise is not even necessary for weight loss and it’s not always a benefit of exercise. In fact, for many it just makes them eat more and may even impede fat loss by making you eat more. The myth of move more eat less we’ve been sold for years is so pervasive, but it’s just not necessarily the answer.

Plenty of people have tried that paradigm time and again and failed. But this wasn’t really your question now was it? Just a passion of mine that I have to express this point whenever this topic comes up.

The main benefits of exercise are mental health, cardiovascular health and strength. I wouldn’t even include weight loss in the top three! So much research has been done on the link between exercise and mental health that I don’t need to belabor that. Same goes for heart health and exercise.

The third point about strength is maybe one of the most important points for this question. Maintaining muscle mass as we get older is a key factor in both overall and metabolic health. Most people would benefit greatly from adding a strength building component to their routine over adding more cardio.

For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?

The first component I would add as mentioned above is some kind of strength training. You don’t need to go to a gym or make it anything fancy. Body weight exercises like push ups and squats are fantastic exercises. You can also use household items such as milk cartons, tables, old boxes, etc. as things to lift.

The second component I would add is stretching or yoga. In general, people sit so much and are on phones and computers a ton which create so much dysfunction in the body. Adding stretches that counteract these habits is really important to avoid bad posture, back pain, joint dysfunction and overuse injuries.

Last I would add walking. It’s so simple yet effective. Almost anyone can do it, it gets you outside in nature, you can do it anywhere without any special equipment and it releases stress and tension.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

There are several books that have made an impact on me. In relation to wellness, the first one that comes to mind is The Four Agreemeents by Don Miguel Ruiz. It helped illuminate my limiting beliefs. One of the most powerful images created in that book is the idea that you are just a character in someone else’s movie. They can make you into the hero, the villain, the victim, etc.

Someone’s opinion of you is all about them, it’s not actually about you at all.

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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would absolutely love to inspire a whole foods or ancestral eating movement. With only 12 percent of our population being metabolically healthy, inspiring people to eat better would improve so many things. Less obesity, diabetes, heart disease among other things could greatly improve wellness for so many people. Unfortunately, this is difficult to achieve without taking on our current food system.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote is by Marianne Williamson. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

This quote resonated with me immediately the first time I heard it. It reminds me to keep practicing the idea that I am enough just as I am. The idea that you’re enough doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive for better, but rather keep yourself open to what’s possible and quit sabotaging yourself into never even trying.

This idea was really driven home by one of my teachers, Baron Baptiste.

Many people, and definitely myself included, struggle with the idea that we are “not good enough.” The idea of “not enough” creates fear and prevents us from pursuing lots of things, whether it’s a job, relationship or some other goal. This concept goes right along with the fear of failure. As in, “I’m not good enough, so I know I’ll mess this up.”

If you can continue to practice accepting that you are enough just as you are and let go of the fear of how you look to others as well as the outcome, it will free you up immensely to take chances on things that you would normally not even pursue out of fear.

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 🙂

This question was very difficult, there are so many wonderful people from which to learn. I have to admit, Warren Buffet @WarrenBuffett was the first to come to mind. However, since the movement I’d like to inspire is for more whole foods and an ancestrally consistent way of eating, I’d love to have a sit down with Dr. Paul Saladino @carnivoremd or Dr. Ken Berry @kendberrymd. They’ve both written great books that have been influential to me and are producing content each day to educate people on nutrition.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Please visit and be sure to sign up for my newsletter. I’m also very active on Instagram and publish stories and videos there daily.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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