“Eat like your life depends on it” with Shawna Robins

First of all, food is medicine. So, eat like your life depends on it. This means eating whole, real foods with a focus on adding colorful fruits and veggies at each meal. Try to find new, fun ways to incorporate more plants into your diet. My current favorite is a morning smoothie with lots of […]

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First of all, food is medicine. So, eat like your life depends on it. This means eating whole, real foods with a focus on adding colorful fruits and veggies at each meal. Try to find new, fun ways to incorporate more plants into your diet. My current favorite is a morning smoothie with lots of greens (kale, arugula and/or spinach), ½ an avocado, almond butter and coconut milk. Simple and delicious.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shawna Robins.

Shawna Robins is a #1 best-selling Amazon author, National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach and CEO of Kaia Health and Wellness. She supports accomplished women who want to create their own roadmaps to better health so they can have more fun and adventure in their lives. Shawna’s best-selling book, Powerful Sleep — Rest Deeply, Repair Your Brain, Restore Your Life teaches women how to make powerful lifestyle changes that will help them sleep again. A free copy of her book can be downloaded at http://www.powerfulsleepbook.com.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

After a cancer diagnosis in my early 30’s, I became very curious about learning different ways to cure chronic diseases with lifestyle changes. I researched and studied everything I could about the power of diet, exercise, lowering stress levels and meditation to heal myself. I found great success with it but when my dad was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, my life once again turned upside down. We have no prior family history of Alzheimer’s and given his young age of 64, it came as a shock to my entire family.

After meeting with several top neuroscientists, functional medicine doctors and nutrition coaches, I decided to head back to school to get my health coaching degree and National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching certification.

A few years into my private coaching practice, I began to notice that all of my clients had similar problems. They were dealing with illnesses which resulted from their over committed schedules, trouble balancing responsibilities, high stress jobs, increased anxiety levels, and spouses and/or families with competing needs. With all the other things competing for their time and attention, my clients felt like it was impossible to make their health, energy and wellness a top priority.

It’s very important to not wait until a disease diagnosis strikes to focus on your health. This is why I created my signature program, Health, Your True Wealth, where I teach women how to build a personalized road map to their health so they can head off illness and disease long before the first cascade of symptoms appears.

My mission is not only to help women stay healthy, but I truly want them to experience what it’s like to have more mental and physical energy, stronger immunity, improved brain health and more vitality so they can enjoy their lives.

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?

Currently there are 5.6 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and two-thirds of them are women. Alzheimer’s disease is a woman’s disease. And if you are a woman who doesn’t make time for herself, then you are at risk. Why? Because Alzheimer’s disease is a lifestyle disease. So is heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity and almost every auto-immune disease. All these chronic diseases affect many more women than men. This is an avoidable tragedy that I want to help end now.

So why are women so sick? Why don’t we get the proper sleep, nutrition, exercise, or time to lower our stress levels? We all know why. Because we are expected to live like we don’t have a demanding career, a family to care for, or kids to raise. This trap is called the Superwoman Syndrome and it’s an unattainable lifestyle that is destroying our well-being.

But the way out is within our reach. After seeing many of my friends, clients and loved ones fall into the Superwoman Syndrome, I decided it was time for me to consciously choose to go down a different path. I had to authentically “walk my talk” by pulling myself off the spinning wheel of stress and exhaustion that leads to illness. Sure, there are some days when I don’t get it right. But I do try my best to focus on my own personal health roadmap and circle back to it when I get off course. By taking care of myself, it allows me to refuel and recharge, so I can be there in fullness for others.

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?

The biggest mistake I made when I first started health coaching was thinking that I had to fix other people’s problems for them. I thought I was the expert and that my clients were looking to me to provide all the answers. But every person’s body and genetic makeup is unique. So, after making plenty of recommendations that didn’t work, I finally stopped talking and started using a beginner’s mind to listen and learn. I believe that people know exactly how to heal themselves by themselves. Sometimes they just need time to figure it out.

This change in my coaching skills created a huge shift in healing for my clients. They began to take personal responsibility for their own health and became highly motivated to create solutions to their own problems. And their solutions had a much higher success rate than anything I could have suggested. Putting my ego and knowledge aside and just listening to my clients has been a great life lesson for me.

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?

My father is by far my biggest mentor and supporter. As an accomplished, successful entrepreneur, leader and philanthropist, my dad is my North Star. He often would tell me Wayne Gretzky’s quote, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” My dad raised me to believe that I should always take the shot, even if I miss it because mistakes are the best way to learn. He was my first growth mindset coach, always encouraging me to identify and acknowledge my progress, not focus on perfection.

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?

My work in teaching women how to prioritize their own health while dealing with competing priorities will hopefully have a big impact on their lives, their families and their greater communities.

Being in a global pandemic while working from home, caring for loved ones, homeschooling, plus trying to find time for self-care has been a huge challenge for millions of women. Covid-19 has accelerated many changes, pushed us all to develop flexibility, create resilience and find coping skills for a new heightened level of stress and fear.

Our “new normal” requires new skills if we are going to stay healthy during this difficult time. My signature program helps women develop these new skills, so they will not just survive, but actually thrive during this time of unprecedented upheaval and change.

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.

My top five lifestyle tweaks are all based on the “Butterfly Effect” which is the concept of making small, simple changes that over time will have a large impact.

First of all, food is medicine. So, eat like your life depends on it. This means eating whole, real foods with a focus on adding colorful fruits and veggies at each meal. Try to find new, fun ways to incorporate more plants into your diet. My current favorite is a morning smoothie with lots of greens (kale, arugula and/or spinach), ½ an avocado, almond butter and coconut milk. Simple and delicious.

Second, cook from your roots. Try preparing food and eating the way your grandparents and great-grandparents did. Use their techniques and family recipes. Sometimes cooking and eating food from our past brings back warm, wonderful memories that helps the body feel restored and rejuvenated.

Third, move your body every day. Get your heart pounding and body sweaty. Dance, run, walk, ride a bike, do yoga, hike, take the stairs, walk the dog uphill. Anything you enjoy and can easily feel motivated to do every day. Bonus points if you can get moving outside too.

Fourth, find a stress management technique you like and use it every day. Meditation, exercise, gardening, gratitude journaling, art, writing, breath work. Whatever appeals to you. Lowering your cortisol levels will go a long way to increase your energy, vitality and well-being by naturally triggering your body’s rest and repair response.

Fifth, make sure you sleep 7 to 9 uninterrupted hours each night. This allows your brain to repair and regenerate itself and your blood pressure to drop naturally. Plus, important immune cells are only made while you sleep. So the better you sleep, the less you will get sick. Sleep is one of the most healing gifts you can give your body.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would love to start a movement where women take care of themselves in the same way they take care of everything and everyone else. I hope to inspire a movement away from self-sacrifice and into self-empowerment.

The more women learn to value and prioritize their own health and wellness, the more power women as a collective force will have to make important and much needed changes in our world.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

The five things I wish someone told me before I started are:

1) That our daily lifestyle choices can either cause disease or prevent it.

2) Diets don’t work. There is no one diet, or lifestyle change that works for everyone. Each person has a unique blueprint and must find the right roadmap for their own body.

3) That writing a book and becoming a #1 best-selling Amazon author would be such a fun adventure. Had I known; I would have done it years ago.

4) The SAD (Standard American Diet) would lead to almost all chronic illnesses which would result in more than 149,000 Covid-19 related deaths in 2020 (as of July).

5) Adopting a growth mindset is the single most important healthy habit you can make. Learning to focus on your progress, not perfection, become more flexible, more resilient and open-minded are all growth mindset skills that can extend your life, lower your stress and anxiety levels and improve your overall happiness.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Sustainability is the cause which is dearest to my heart and the one that I prioritize the most in my health and wellness coaching program. When I work with my clients on how to make healthier lifestyle shifts, it can be challenging for them if they have family members or spouses who are not very open-minded to sustainable ways of living. So, we try to focus on small things they can do which will have long-term positive benefits on their health and our planet.

I always encourage them to consider options like eating locally grown meat, eggs and produce, growing a home garden, supporting a CSA (community supported agriculture), experimenting with plant-based recipes and identifying ways to use less single-use plastic. And I always encourage my clients try shopping each week at a local farmer’s market. It’s a great way to meet the farmers, get outdoors and try seasonal foods that you won’t always find in the grocery store.

By learning how to take small steps together, I truly believe we can all work collectively to create positive changes for future generations.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Instagram — @KaiaHealthCoach

Facebook — @KaiaHealth

LinkedIn — Shawna McKinley Robins

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

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