Our belief systems. We’re all born and raised with a certain set of beliefs and over the course of our lives, we never really question them. Some of those beliefs are that we have to diet and count calories, weigh a certain amount, look and behave a certain way…We’re conditioned to believe that our bodies will fall apart as we get older and that our symptoms are ‘normal’ when they’re not. Ads on tv. and in magazines tell us what we need, but no one teaches us WHY. So when one way doesn’t work, we try another and another and we end up on auto-pilot.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sharon Holand Gelfand.
Sharon Holand Gelfand, CN, FDN-P, is a functional, holistic nutritionist, speaker, business owner and author of “The G.U.T. Method®: Secrets beyond your plate for a healthier, more energetic life”. Sharon disrupts the way we think about food and how we eat. She has worked with a variety of clientele, ranging from Fortune 500 companies (including Priceline and Sysco Foods) to women over 40 who are searching for a healthier lifestyle. Sharon helps her clients get to the root of their most common health complaints with at-home testing and flexible food choices so they have more energy, less stress and feel great again. Sharon is a member of the American College of Nutrition and is a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner. She has been featured in FabFitFun and New York Lifestyles Magazine, to name a few and has been on dozens of podcasts including Voice America Radio and The Sheila Mac show on KCAA Radio.
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?
I first got involved in the health and wellness industry when my son was diagnosed with Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis and Ileitis. I was searching for answers and wasn’t finding them at the doctor’s office. I share that because within days of starting a medication, my son started to complain that he was feeling worse and insisted it was the medicine. When I called the doctor, she insisted it was the disease and that we needed to give the medication more time. After a week of my son being relentless about how he felt, I realized I needed to listen to him. He may have only been 12 years old, but he was listening to his body and my intuition told me to pay attention. My son was right. It was the medicine and he was reacting to the side effects. Now, don’t get me wrong. Doctors are amazing. They save lives, but what this taught me was that we have to be our own health advocates and detectives. I was on a mission to help my son heal and after spending many hours on Dr. Google and being more confused, I decided to go to grad school and get a Masters in Clinical Nutrition.
What amazed me through this journey was that I learned that my own body was falling apart and I wasn’t paying attention. I had been ignoring and compartmentalizing my own symptoms and minor conditions (like IBS, eczema, migraines, anemia, hypoglycemia, and more), which thankfully I was able to heal naturally and lose weight without even trying. Soon people started asking me for help and a business was born!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The most interesting story that happened to me was needing knee surgery for a torn meniscus. The surgeon told me I’d probably have a full recovery — that it was only a very small percentage who didn’t have a successful recovery. Well, I fell into that very small percentage group, and was told I would need another surgery. The old me, before learning about health, nutrition and healing, would have gone for the surgery. However, with the awareness of my body, and asking a million questions, my gut (no pun intended) told me to choose natural remedies instead of surgery. While it took longer to heal, it worked and was a great reminder of the capacity our bodies have to heal.
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?
When I first started, I used a regular calendar and would manually put in appointments with clients. One day I was on a call with one client and kept getting messages that another client was waiting for me, but when I looked at my calendar, all I saw was one appointment. I called the other client after and realized that I hadn’t saved the appointment when I entered it. I was so embarrassed! Fortunately, my client laughed and said she has had that happen to her. I learned quickly about the importance of a scheduler! They now get a link to my calendar so that they can schedule their appointment…lesson learned!
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 perspective and disrupting the way you think about food and about what it truly means to be healthy. We are looking at health completely wrong. We are so conditioned to diet, count calories, exercise and eat advertisements that we’re missing key pieces to the puzzle of our bodies and the importance of connecting to our inner guidance system. This is why I developed The G.U.T. Method®. It’s so important to GET CONNECTED to your symptoms, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Once you start connecting the dots, you can UNDERSTAND better what you need for your lifestyle, because it is not a cookie-cutter solution. Then you can TAKE ACTION…one step at a time.
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?
I have to thank my son Zach, for his diagnosis and all three of my children for their patience as I went back to grad school when they were teenagers. I truly believe that it was a blessing in disguise because it made me realize that there were so many parts of my life that I had been sleepwalking through. They say hindsight is 20/20 and I realized that I had been given so many signs to wake up and pay attention to my health and my life but never had time. I was too busy, like most of us are. I never imagined I would work in the health industry. It was never on my radar and I feel so blessed to have been given this chance to help us all heal.
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 3 main blockages are:
- Our belief systems. We’re all born and raised with a certain set of beliefs and over the course of our lives, we never really question them. Some of those beliefs are that we have to diet and count calories, weigh a certain amount, look and behave a certain way…We’re conditioned to believe that our bodies will fall apart as we get older and that our symptoms are ‘normal’ when they’re not. Ads on tv. and in magazines tell us what we need, but no one teaches us WHY. So when one way doesn’t work, we try another and another and we end up on auto-pilot.
- Our patterns and habits. We have blind spots and are not aware of so much that is going on in our bodies and in our lives. We don’t know what we don’t know, so we keep doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. We need to become aware of these patterns so that we can have a different perspective and look at our habits through a new lens, thereby disrupting and re-training our brain to develop new habits.
- Trying to do it on your own. Let’s face it. When left to our own devices, we start off with great intentions but without having someone there to help us stay on track, we end up on a detour and back to our old habits. You need an accountability partner. Finding the right person or group is key.
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.)
- Bookend your day with gratitude. Start and end your day with writing 3 things you are grateful for. The practice of gratitude improves psychological, physical and emotional health.
- Spend time in nature. Several studies show that being outdoors can improve short term memory, decrease stress and anxiety, reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. Taking time away from the daily grind creates space for you to breathe and relax and be present.
- Movement. Moving your body daily moves energy in your body giving you more energy to focus on your tasks at hand. It improves circulation, decreases body cramps and releases neurotransmitters like endorphins and dopamine that help improve your mood. You don’t have to run a marathon every week or do intense one hour workouts. You can take a brisk walk for 20–30 minutes a day or do jumping jacks or even dance! Turn on the tunes and get up and move! Your whole body will thank you.
- Carve out time daily to take care of you. There is a reason on airplanes that the flight attendants tell us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first before assisting others. We’re no good dead! We are so busy taking care of everyone else that we forget about self-care. Taking time out to do you, whether reading a book or taking an art class, helps fill your cup so that you have more energy to help others.
- Buy fresh flowers for your home. We think of flowers as something to buy for someone else, but buying them for yourself can improve your mood, decrease stress and increase your compassion for others. And for those cold days and winter months, a splash of color and the bouquet of scents in your home is a simple way to bring a smile to your face.
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 releases endorphins which helps reduce stress and anxiety and improves your mood and emotional well-being.
- Improves quality of sleep
- Improves focus and productivity by increasing blood flow to the brain. This sharpens your awareness and makes you feel more awake.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
Planks, walking and hip strengthening and mobility exercises — What’s important is to begin a routine, take it slow and be consistent!
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
“The Fifth Agreement”. While on my journey, I would often go to Borders Bookstore in town. I’d walk straight to the self-help section to see what was out there to learn. I purchased “The Fifth Agreement” and was blown away. It was the first time I learned about how our belief systems are shaped and that I had an actual say in what I believed. I remember not only reading it, but highlighting, writing my thoughts in the margins and putting post-it notes throughout. It was a huge turning point in how I showed up in my life and what I perceived to be true.
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. 🙂
The movement is called The Get Connected Movement or The Nourished Connection Movement. It is an international movement for women of all ages that brings nourishment and connection to mind, body and soul, within the self and within all relationships. It is empowering and includes events, education, coaching, and mentoring.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
― Anaïs Nin
When I was going through my divorce, I remember seeing this quote in a book. In life, we want so badly for things to stay the way they are and will go through so much pain to avoid change because we don’t know what the future holds. Yet at the end of the day, change is where the magic happens and if we have faith and allow ourselves to blossom, we’ll be amazed at what lies ahead.
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 🙂
I would love to have breakfast or lunch with Oprah. She has been through so much in her life and kept going. Oprah is such a beautiful example of how we all have it in ourselves to triumph through life’s hardships. She is caring, thoughtful and so inspiring. I would love to talk to her about how we can help young women find their voices, be authentic and be empowered to know they can make a difference in the world.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!