Stress reduction — which is easy to say but a challenge for all of us. Stress can have negative effects on us — physically, emotionally and mentally — and reducing it is a priority to our overall wellness. Some tips for daily stress reduction are: trying meditation, yoga or tai chi will help lower stress. Focusing on breathing deeply and relaxing the body’s muscles also helpful. Disconnect from technology for 30 minutes to an hour a day can also alleviate stress and limit the distractions. Making to do lists is another stress reducer because you an prioritize the lists and if you have to say “no” to some things, so be it! Start a gratitude journal listing three things you are grateful for, develop a relaxing bedtime routine with a cup of tea and read a book — you will notice a reduction in stress levels. One of my favorite ways of eliminating stress is to treat myself to a massage or a beach break.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Miriam Amselem. Miriam is the owner of Naturally Healthy by Miri. With a passion and focus on helping others live their best lives, she works with corporations and individuals to improve their lives through total wellness, which includes nutrition, mindfulness, meditation and yoga. She has been featured in many media outlets including Self Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Prevention, Apple News, Health Central, Yogapedia, Voyagemiami.com and The Miami Herald.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Miriam! What is your “backstory”?
Mybackstory started when I was in college in the 80’s. I worked at a Chiropractor’s office and the doctor introduced me to Holistic Health through nutrition that set me on the path for leading a Holistic Lifestyle. A few years later while working for a local television station, I walked into a yoga and meditation class to help me alleviate stress from my job and infertility treatments. That first class changed my life! I was newly married at the time and my husband and I were told that we could not have children due to infertility — meditation literally saved me from depression. On a lighter note, I like to say that in the late 80’s, I was considered a “freak” for being a vegan practicing yoga and meditation and now I’m “cool” since this has become mainstream. Living a holistic lifestyle led me to my career path. I got certified in yoga and meditation in the early 90’s and acquired a bachelor’s degree in Holistic Nutrition through a five-year program that included courses in Disease Prevention, Ayurvedic Medicine, Herbology, Hormone Balancing, Weight Loss and Homeopathy.
Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?
My top three lifestyle tweaks are listed in order of priority:
1. Stress reduction — which is easy to say but a challenge for all of us. Stress can have negative effects on us — physically, emotionally and mentally — and reducing it is a priority to our overall wellness. Some tips for daily stress reduction are: trying meditation, yoga or tai chi will help lower stress. Focusing on breathing deeply and relaxing the body’s muscles also helpful. Disconnect from technology for 30 minutes to an hour a day can also alleviate stress and limit the distractions. Making to do lists is another stress reducer because you an prioritize the lists and if you have to say “no” to some things, so be it! Start a gratitude journal listing three things you are grateful for, develop a relaxing bedtime routine with a cup of tea and read a book — you will notice a reduction in stress levels. One of my favorite ways of eliminating stress is to treat myself to a massage or a beach break.
2. Nutrition and healthy eating have a direct affect on our wellness. While it may be unrealistic to eat healthy meals every single day, do your best to eat well most of the time. I like to say that we have 365 days in the year so focus on healthy eating for 300 of those days. Avoid fad diets that don’t work and focus on proper portions of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, legumes and whole grains. Try to limit sugar intake which can cause mood spikes which affect emotional stress.
3. Exercise is extremely important for wellness. Our bodies thrive on movement and because most of us are overly sedentary, we must make exercise a priority. Start small and just as important, pick something you like to do — there are so many choice. Like dancing? Try a Zumba class. Do you enjoy being outdoors? Go for walks — alone or with someone else. The journey to wellness must include movement.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
There are so many interesting stories to share! But I’ll focus on one which happened about 15 years ago when I received a phone call from a local school. The principal called saying he heard about what I do and asked if I would volunteer to speak to the students — from Kindergarten through 8th grade. Even though I have clients of all ages and have had many speaking engagements, at that time I haven’t spoken to so many children at the same time. I had to choose a topic that would capture the interest of this audience. I chose to talk about sugar addiction and made it interactive by bringing in soft drinks and sugary foods and had the children measure out the amount of sugar in the items. It was eye opening for them and the presentation was quite successful. What’s fun is that sometimes I bump into these kids who are now adults and they still remember the presentation and say that it made a huge impact on their life.
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?
My biggest mistake when I was starting out was not “putting myself out there”. Yes, I went to networking events but I’m an introvert so it usually I just observed others. I also didn’t use social media to promote my business, thinking self promotion was linked to ego. I took two workshops and learned how to properly promote my wellness business on social media and how to connect with others. Now I can say that I’m a pro.
When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Making an impact is a priority for me. Besides continuing to volunteer to speak at schools throughout South Florida, I’m involved with charity organizations and other institutions where I offer my services for free. I’ve also expanded my services to include corporate wellness and I enjoy going to corporations to offer yoga, meditation, mindfulness and lunch and learn nutrition sessions. It allows me to share health and wellness information with a lot of people at the same time leaving a positive impact.
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?
The person that I’m most grateful to is my yoga teacher (master) who helped set me on my wellness path 30 years ago. He was a pioneer in yoga in the 80’s and it wasn’t just about getting into a yoga pose. During poses and meditations, he would speak about healthy habits and total wellness throughout the mind and body. My favorite story is how I, a type A+++ personality, was able to relax the body and mind. One day when I walked into the yoga room, well, I kind of ran into the room after a hectic day at work — I ran directly into him and almost knocked him down. The session already started so he just kind of caught me and had me sit down on his mat to relax. He was the one who taught me that to achieve wellness it isn’t ONE thing — its many things such as sleep, healthy eating, exercise, meditation, a growth mindset and self care.
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 love this question because I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years. And I’ve slowly started a wellness movement for women. In the past four years, I’ve created special events that are called one day wellness retreats and they are for women only. A typical wellness retreat day looks like this: delicious and nutritious food is served (prepared by me), a short meditation, yoga session sampler, some movement — usually dancing, life coaching and stress reduction coaching. I run about four to six of these a year and the transformation is remarkable.
Do you have a “girl-crush” in this industry? If you could take one person to brunch, who would it be? (Let another “woman in wellness” know that you respect her as a teacher and guide! )
My girl crush is Jennifer Pansa — a woman that I admire for being so young and so smart about wellness! I met Jenn at a bloggers and influencers networking workout event. Yes, we worked out together — she’s 32 and I’m 53 — and that was it! She’s a fitness model, essential oils expert and a fellow yoga instructor. We try to meet once a month and collaborate on events such as my monthly full moon beach yoga and create workshops together. I think she’s amazing!
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
While all those topics and causes are important, mental health is most important to me. I think our society’s breakdown has to do with mental health being ignored. It has been a taboo to discuss and meanwhile it has been slowly spreading and growing. I believe that if we take the time to discuss metal health and offer solutions, our society and world will be better off. I live in South Florida and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting was only 30 minutes from home and from my son’s school. The shooting at schools, churches and synagogues is horrific and innocent lives are being lost due to mental health issues. Its time to act!
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