Habits. Behavior and eating are so tied together. We have to break the habit of eating in front of the TV, when we are stressed or bored, overeating at night, etc. Food is not comfort or entertainment. It is nutrition and that’s it.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kris Wallace, NMD
Dr. Kris Wallace is a Naturopathic Physician in Tempe, Arizona. She specializes in endocrinology including thyroid, weight and hormone management in patients of all ages. Her practice utilizes the most effective natural treatments in conjunction with the latest medical research.
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?
Istarted teaching group fitness classes when I was 18 and never looked back! After finishing a bachelor’s degree in psychology and biology and a master’s degree in health psychology, I started a career in health education and corporate wellness. I taught health education classes by day and group fitness by night for many years. As my children grew, I decided I wanted to continue my education and earned my doctoral degree in naturopathic medicine. Now I had all the tools I needed to find and treat the cause of those conditions that lead to “dis-ease” or otherwise stated a body that is “not as healthy as it can be”.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
My career in total has been over 25 years at this point so that is a tough question! I see patients every day that have made amazing changes and commitments in their lives. In fact, many are more committed than I am! Currently, I have a patient who turned 50 and was in despair. We balanced her hormones, she lost 100 pounds, she felt great. She went back to school to get her master’s degree and then we did some aesthetic treatments for her. She had a complete transformation — now that’s dedication.
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?
Now that I look back at my 25-year-old self who was trying to encourage people in my health education classes to “balance work and family”, “just get exercise in”, “meal prep”, “sure you can stay awake past 8pm”, it makes me laugh! Since I’ve had 4 kids, went back to school for my medical degree, married for 30 years…..haha sorry I get it!
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?
I’ve been working and living in the world of health and wellness for my entire career. I live it and study it. Going to naturopathic medical school gave me the opportunity to continue to find and treat the cause of those issues that are causing pain. I’ve seen the trends and fads come and go. In the end, we are all unique and require a unique approach to our own health.
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 husband. For 30 years he has supported my fitness, health education and medical career by holding down the fort at home (with his own career and our four kids). Also, funding medical school for me was amazing. I truly couldn’t have done it without him.
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?
- Habits. Behavior and eating are so tied together. We have to break the habit of eating in front of the TV, when we are stressed or bored, overeating at night, etc. Food is not comfort or entertainment. It is nutrition and that’s it.
- Not making it a priority. Eating what we know is good for us takes time, energy and knowledge of how to prepare it. We have to make eating healthy a priority. Meal prep, grocery shop for fresh foods every week, learn how to make preparation easier.
- All or none thinking. If I can’t eat healthy all the time then forget it. It’s ok to have treats in small amounts, 80/20 is a lifestyle. Eighty percent of the time you choose a healthy option, twenty percent of the time not so much, but overall you make those healthy choices. You don’t go “on” a diet, which implies you will go “off” a diet. It is a lifelong commitment to your health and longevity.
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.)
- Spend 30 minutes a day, every day, doing something you love or something fun. It should make you smile and help you relax. Don’t feel guilty about it. Just do it.
- Connect with others. Social connections with positive people and/or family increases mood and a sense of security — both of which lead to longevity.
- Give back, find a cause on your own, with your family or with your workplace. As a practice, we participate in volunteer organizations. Working together to help others gives a sense of purpose and doing soas a workplace is a bonus.
- Keep your spaces neat. Physical clutter is generally stressful, not to all but to most. Of course, we are all different. Organized piles are fine too but be honest with yourself. Is it a stressor for you or not? Allow yourself time to create your space, however you want it to be and watch the stress melt away.
- Plan for your success. Set goals whether they are directly related to health or not. Set the goal and then check in with it. Enlist a trusted friend or family member to keep you accountable. Achieving a set goal is powerful but take small steps and make sure those goals are attainable.
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?
- Mental health. Exercise will release endorphins, your body’s own natural, free drug. Countless studies demonstrate increased mood and decreased anxiety after exercise.
- Depletion of stress hormones. Exercise will release cortisol and utilize the sympathetic nervous system but after you are done exercising the body will actually relax, the parasympathetic nervous system engages without you even knowing it! It’s like forced relaxation.
- Sleep. Insomnia is a huge issue today. In those individuals that have a regular exercise program, insomnia is greatly reduced. And we all need a good night’s sleep!
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
First strengthen, especially for the back. From an all fours position on the floor, alternate lifting opposite arm and leg at the same time. This will strengthen and stretch those back muscles. Second, walk. Walk anywhere either outside or inside, fast or slow, with or without a dog! It is one of the best exercises to work the entire body including the cardiovascular system. Third, stretching which will prevent accidents and broken bones as well as other injuries in all ages. Discover yoga or another type of class to fully and slowly stretch the entire body.
In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?
Start your exercise program out slowly and do a variety of exercises. Use mineral replacement, especially Magnesium. Add electrolytes to water — no sports drink, just plain electrolytes or sea salt. A dehydrated body is a sore body, no matter how much you work out.
There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?
I recommend clean, whole foods — nothing fancy. Since the beginning of my career in the 80s when I used to run “grocery store tours,” I have encouraged people to “shop the perimeter”. For the most part this is still the case. Keep it colorful and basic. Learn to cook and take the time. This is the biggest obstacle to healthy eating. Stay away from anything processed. And most importantly, follow the 80/20 rule, everything in moderation.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story? I have a tendency to read for personal growth which can then be passed on to my patients.
As a practice, we recently read Brene Brown’s “Dare to Lead”. Amazing book (as all of hers are), but it created a positive and empowered work environment for all of us. In the span of a year, we each shared a chapter and “lead” a meeting. We all “leaned into life” together. An absolute recipe for success on many levels.
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. 🙂
It sounds very cliché but just look up and look around you. Acknowledge someone new every day, say hi, smile. Scientific evidence tells us that our social need to be connected to each other can predict health and wellness. In other words, the more you connect with others, in a positive way, the more you spread health, wellness and longevity.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Go out and make it a great day”. I grew up with Mr. Rogers who probably inspired my career at a very young age. I told my kids this every morning as they left the house and it’s always a part of my treatment advice. Your “view” of every day is in your power — make it great.
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 🙂
Brene Brown. I have used her books and inspiration consistently for the last several years for my own personal and professional growth, in addition to using it as a part of treatment plans and recovery for my patients.
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!