Listen to your body’s need for sleep. Lack of sleep delays healing, can prevent weight loss, contributes to brain fog, and certainly is a factor in poor performance whether at work or at the gym. We have not — and likely will not — evolve out of requiring a certain amount of sleep. Get enough sleep for what you need. Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time, even on weekends. Go to bed on an empty stomach to allow for more restful Zz’s. By doing so, you’ll set yourself up for success, whether that’s chasing your kid, saying no to the 3PM cookie craving, or creating a promotion-getting presentation at work.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing author and health coach Katherine Kise.
Self-proclaimed “wellness junkie” Katherine Kise suffered from a severe nut allergy and asthma as a child. As an adult, she developed additional allergies, auto-immune imbalances, and chronic illnesses, despite a “healthy” and active lifestyle. Katherine began building a knowledge base of holistic health practices and resources that eventually helped her uncover the underlying causes of her health issues and overcome them. Now as a board certified health coach, Katherine helps others navigate their own health concerns. Her first book, Katie Can’t Eat Nuts. is a story that follows a young girl’s extraordinary life, revealing a strong and feisty girl who plays soccer, takes ballet, and happens to be allergic to nuts. Uplifting, informative, and spirited, Katie’s story helps children with allergies feel accepted and confident.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
As a child, I suffered from a severe nut allergy and asthma. Throughout childhood, I had numerous anaphylaxis reactions, which worsened over time, and in some cases, I barely survived. As an adult, I developed additional allergies, auto-immune imbalances, and chronic illnesses, despite a “healthy” and active lifestyle of eating low fat and low-calorie foods and following weight-management and longevity-building best practices. A menagerie of doctors and experts dealt with my symptoms from breakouts, to severe fatigue, to multiple sclerosis-like symptoms. Only one doctor thought to dig deeper to get to the root of all these issues, and she was an integrative, holistic practitioner specializing in auto-immune diseases with a strong background in research; she determined the underlying cause was chronic systemic inflammation brought about by a gluten intolerance and correlated dairy allergy, which was wreaking absolute havoc on my body. Feeling like my neurological system was deteriorating along with terrible pain, tingling, lack of balance when I walked, terrible breakouts on my face and more, I was willing to sacrifice the comfort foods of my Italian heritage, like breads and pasta, to feel better. I have always been a curious person (sometimes to my detriment!) ,and that intrinsic pursuit of knowledge helped to save my life. The education I received from traversing the terrain of the new healthy normal set me on a different path of wellness.
I began building a knowledge base of holistic health practices and resources, and I realized my health experiences were not uncommon. Moreover, few doctors took the time to provide the level of care that was appropriate to support a patient like me, and fewer even had the degree of expertise patients like me needed to actually live a normal life. (For instance, doctors take very few nutrition courses in medical school and certainly don’t learn about holistically preventing and treating stress and inflammation, which is the primary activator of disease; genetics play a role, but lifestyle is the most determinant.)
After elimination diets and a renovation of my mental framework of eating, I learned how extensively the human body can heal when given the proper conditions. Healing is possible in so many cases! The realization was a huge wake-up call, and I thought of my parents, friends, coworkers who faced health issues, yet had no idea the power they had to improve. Seeing a shortage of information available to people in need of accessible, doable lifestyle changes to navigate their own health concerns, I started to share my experiences and offer insights about how a holistic lifestyle can impact one’s body, mind, spirit, and professional success. I achieved national board certification for health coaching and established Sprout and Rosebud, a holistic health coaching business. I also switched careers, went back to graduate school, and wrote a children’s book, which allowed me to pursue my wide array of passions and have an even larger impact.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
Choosing to build a business instead of returning to Corporate America after I had been laid-off is one of the most vivid examples of a turning point — and transformational period — in my life. Soon after, I was creating, selling and delivering my first corporate wellness program. That era of my entrepreneurial adventure marked one of the most challenging, surprising experiences for me at that point in my career and personal journey. It symbolized a significant commitment to myself, my capabilities, and my passion that I had not stepped into before, and I was in my early 30s by this point.
Doing so was not without fear, self-doubt, and facing some of the most vocal naysayers who were some of the people closest to me. In fact, saying yes to myself in this way challenged a LOT of beliefs I didn’t realize I had about how the world worked and my place in it. What I was “allowed” to do.
I negotiated business deals with CEO’s on pricing of my programs, which, as it is for a lot of women, was heavily enmeshed with my perception of my self-worth. I also believed my Programs, public speaking, and coaching would only resonate with women. To be fair, they did resonate with women, but some of the most vulnerable, meaningful, and transformational conversations I had with Clients were with men. The entire experience was deeply healing and fulfilling to me, yet also allowed me to aid in others’ healing, growth and fulfillment.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Entering a coaching conversation, health history in-take, or speaking engagement assuming that how I worked through my own healing will be what the person listening needs. There’s a wide enough net I can cast that will likely hit the majority of cases and concerns; however, there are instances where open-ended questions and simply listening is more important to that person’s healing than any healthy lifestyle tip, tool, or technique could be. Each of us have our own relationships with food, eating, exercising, etc., just like each of us has a unique fingerprint; healing starts when a person feels seen, heard and valued, and that recognition and validation can catapult one’s healing light years. Meet the person where s/he is and from there, you can build a powerful health and wellness roadmap together.
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?
It has changed over time; as they say, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” That mantra has been true for me throughout my entire life, career, and health journey, through creating a business and moving into more writing and publishing, like the children’s book coming out in a few months. The analogy of a garden is so accurate for me; seeds of holistic healthful living were planted by my mother very early on and were further cultivated by a surrogate big sister who introduced me to alternative healing modalities. The doctor who helped me uncover the underlying issues of skin, digestive, and neurological issues was one of the first integrative doctors in practice; without her, I would very likely be taking a mountain of prescriptions and being treated for MS, even though simply removing gluten from my diet solved all those issues. She changed my life. As I kept learning, Kris Carr was a huge teacher for me (though I’ve never met her, personally; Kris, call me! :). As I advanced my knowledge in human physiology and the body chemistry that promotes or prohibits optimum health, I went back again and again to Dr. Mark Hyman’s work. Of course, along the journey, my own medical advisors, mentors and Board of Directors — including both of my parents, who I am convinced know the answers to some of the greatest questions of the ages — were incredibly powerful influences in my personal and professional development.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Our health and well-being — physical and mental — is deeply enmeshed in our belief system and thought patterns. For instance, I either believe I can lose weight, get stronger, recover from an injury, or I believe I can’t. Our beliefs and perceptions form our interpretations of the world, and what is “real,” what is possible. Research studies have proven the undeniable power of the mind over the body, in some cases reporting seemingly miraculous outcomes. Most of our beliefs are solidified before the age of seven, particularly those about the world, the people in it, and our own capabilities. As a child, I had food allergies and asthma, and as a result, I felt very different a lot of the time. Those feelings and experiences shaped how I formed my beliefs of the world, others, and myself; beliefs that were foundational to my self-identity, self-confidence, relationships in ways I didn’t realize until I was an adult. By rooting empowering, self-accepting, tolerant beliefs in children, particularly regarding the ways in which they may feel different or see others as different, they will grow to be more accepting and compassionate of themselves, of each other, and subsequently, we will have a society of more accepting, tolerant, empathetic, compassionate adults. It was important to me to write the children’s book, Katie Can’t Eat Nuts, about kids with food allergies as a tool to help normalize food allergies and other health issues that may lead kids to feel — or be seen as — “different” than the other kids. It’s a step towards creating more accepting communities and societies, which is a passion and pursuit for me.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- Listen to your body’s need for sleep. Lack of sleep delays healing, can prevent weight loss, contributes to brain fog, and certainly is a factor in poor performance whether at work or at the gym. We have not — and likely will not — evolve out of requiring a certain amount of sleep. Get enough sleep for what you need. Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time, even on weekends. Go to bed on an empty stomach to allow for more restful Zz’s. By doing so, you’ll set yourself up for success, whether that’s chasing your kid, saying no to the 3PM cookie craving, or creating a promotion-getting presentation at work.
- Pay attention to how your body reacts to sugar and regardless, cut back. Sugar is one of the largest contributing factors to developing disease including cancer, accelerating aging, and overall deteriorating health. It is more addictive than cocaine, and it is hidden in all kinds of “healthy” foods from spaghetti sauce to salsa to bread to even skim milk. Read the labels, know the ingredients that are code for sugar such as high fructose corn syrup, pay attention to what you eat, and commit to cutting back. Once you reduce your sugar intake, you’ll be much more sensitive to sweets, so don’t be surprised if those foods you once craved are too sweet for your tastes.
- Know and manage your stress levels. Stress — physical, emotional, chemical — all put wear and tear on the body, creating an environment that is more conducive to colds, viruses, and yes, even chronic disease. Genetics may load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger. Managing your stress means cultivating the best environment for your physical and mental health. It leads to more energy and a longer life. Get to know what feels good to you; is it gentle exercise, or high-intensity workouts? Do baths and deep breathing help, or do artistic or mechanical projects help you release that pent up angst from a hard day? Find the hobbies and natural stress-releasing practices that work for you, and it may change day to day. Pay attention. Make the time. Believe you’re worth it, and take care of yourself by including activities that bring you joy and release the weight you may be carrying.
- Mind your Mental Garden. Your mental health is critical to your physical health. For instance, depression has physiological symptoms. Athletes visualize a successful play, and it actually affects performance. Cancer patients have recovered when positive visualization and imagery was included in their treatment plan. Pay attention to the words you use to talk to yourself or talk about your world; find ways to improve your optimism and outlook. Be mindful about how you feel when you talk about certain topics. Surround yourself with people who lift you up; similarly, avoid too much news or social media which can be an onslaught of disempowering or disheartening messaging
- Say No, i.e. Delegate, Defer and Decline. Particularly during the quarantine, women have predominantly been the ones who carry the lion’s share of household duties and caretaking. For instance, if a child is sick, the responsibility usually falls on the mother to rearrange her schedule to accommodate the disruption to the usual routine. Whether because of cultural conditioning or biological wiring, women tend to say yes and take on a lot of emotional support roles without necessarily tending to their own emotional health. The result? Exhaustion. Burn-out. Loss of sense of self. The advice to “just say no” never resonated with me. Instead, I developed and use the 3 D’s: defer, delegate, or decline. It’s a different, gentler way to interpret that “say no” axiom. If something comes up that is important, but you can’t do it now, consider deferring your participation until a later time. If something has to be done, but it doesn’t have to be you, consider delegating. If something arises that isn’t critical and doesn’t make you come to life to say yes, consider graciously declining.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
You are so much greater than your physical body. You are the sum of so many parts — physical, mental, emotional, spiritual — and it is all interconnected. Take care of ALL parts of yourself. In essence, this is at the heart of holistic and integrated health. So many age-old texts and even religious references espouse the notion of helping yourself before you try to help others, and by having our own house in order, we are more easily able to expand and have a positive impact on the world, and that’s what it’s about. By making ourselves better, we can make our world better, which helps us all feel better. That’s the magic.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- You don’t know everything; you won’t know everything, and most important, THAT’s OK.
There’s freedom and flexibility in being ok with not knowing everything. By being hungry to learn, open to input, and curious for connection, you relieve pressure from yourself, which allows compassion and creativity to flow, and who doesn’t want to feel relief, compassion and creativity flowing? You’re never done growing, learning, evolving.
- It will take a long time to grow your social media community, and it likely won’t be the way you’ll grow your business in a meaningful way.
- Listen to your gut, but really though. (no pun intended ;o) ) Listen to yourself and your heart to know what is True for you. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. From developing a business, to a team, to a client base to who you are and the best version of yourself. Have a center and a True North.
- Build your Board of Directors, whether literally, or symbolically as mentors and coaches who can provide subject matter expertise across the facets of health, wellness and business
- When you feel stuck or stagnant, find a way to give back and invest in others. It will unleash innovation and creativity and restore your emotional energy.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental Health, including mindfulness as a key component to a healthy mind and mental state. Because of the brain-body connection and the power of the mind to dictate our reality, it’s critical to the health of the individual, the family, the company, the community, that we are healthy from the inside out, from the psyche out. With a healthy mind and mindfulness comes self-awareness, which is the starting point for real change — at home and in the larger world. With a healthy mind, again including mindfulness, we as individuals and as a society can do so much more — cultivate kindness and tolerance in the face of conflict, innovate and create to unleash solutions to problems of all sorts. The greatest possibilities start with an individual, with an idea, and a healthy mind is the foundation.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Thank you for these fantastic insights!