Weekly Spotlight - Courageous Wellness

Each week we will be casting a spotlight on trailblazers for women's health, whether that be as influencers, professionals, companies or initiatives. If you would like to be featured then get in touch!

To kick off our spotlight series, we have Aly French & Erica Stein, the co-founders of the Courageous Wellness Collective and hosts of the Courageous Wellness Podcast. Here's the article they have written exclusively for Inner Woman Wellness with further info and some top tips for your wellness journey too! Enjoy!

Hello Inner Woman Wellness community! We are so happy to share our wellness journeys with you. To start, here is a little background on Courageous Wellness!

In the summer of 2018, we started a podcast to interview real people about their personal journeys in health and wellness. After experiencing a cancer diagnosis in her twenties (Aly) and a self-love journey that led to an unexpected and sustained 50lb weight loss (Erica), we wanted to create a platform to de-stigmatize conversations in the wellness space and hear real stories of courageous wellness.

From physical wellness, to emotional, spiritual, and even financial, we hear courageous stories and focus on why it is important to share them. Almost two years after our inception, we have released over 100 episodes and have listeners around the world. We also get to interview and learn from a diverse group of people including: doctors, medical experts, entrepreneurs, influencers, and even our own listeners!

Inspired by the podcast and our expanding passion, we both went back to school and became certified holistic Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches. Through our coaching practice, we aim to help individuals feel their best, advocate for their own health and wellness, and reach their unique personal goals.

A big part of our passion and mission, that is infused with everything we do as a brand, is our deep commitment to de-stigmatize difficult conversations in the wellness space and create awareness around the significant inequities in our food systems which lead to a lack of food affordability and accessibility.

Although we both have backgrounds in the entertainment industry, we took a big leap into the unknown by starting a podcast -- something we had no skills in! We learned an important lesson by doing this: sometimes starting something you feel passionate about BEFORE you feel ready is the only way it will actually happen! We have made many mistakes along the way, but are so grateful that we just kept going, because this empowered us to live our purpose, discover our true passion, and create a business we love!

We are excited to share some of our favourite (and accessible!) wellness tips with Inner Woman Wellness. Keep in mind, wellness is different for each individual and it is not one size fits all. Take what speaks to you, leave what doesn’t, and know that making small additions will make a big difference in your overall health. It is about the journey, not the destination, and our health is always evolving.

Our Top 10 Wellness Tips

1) Take deep, relaxing breaths! This is a simple way to activate the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system. Most of us live in our sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system response due to high amounts of stress. We really like the 4-7-8 breath from Dr. Andrew Weil (and you can find it for free on YouTube).

2) Drink 8oz of water first thing in the morning (yes, before your cup of coffee)! You are dehydrated when you wake up, so it is key to hydrate first thing. Try it for 30 days. Not only will this help with your overall health, it also creates the habit of keeping a daily commitment to yourself.

3) Move Your Body! There is a misconception that you have to do all or nothing when it comes to fitness. Moving your body, even a few minutes each day, is important for your health. We personally prefer workouts that are 30 minutes or less or taking long walks to get movement in. You can stream a free workout class online (we love Yoga by Adrienne) or check out online platforms like Melissa Wood Health and Fit For Me by Courtney, that are quick, effective, and lower impact.

4) Eat Real Food: Revolutionary, right? With all the processed food out there, real food can be a revolutionary concept. Whether you choose to be plant based or add some animal protein to your diet, the most important thing is eating food from the earth. Our food should BE the ingredients not HAVE ingredients. And a good rule of thumb: when it does have ingredients, make sure you can pronounce them!

5) Buy Frozen: Depending on your budget, buying frozen fruits and vegetables are a great option and just as nutritious. Frozen produce is picked at the height of nutrition and can be an affordable way to buy organic. They also last a lot longer and make smoothies extra cold without adding ice!

6) FIBER is your friend! Most of us don’t get enough fiber, which can really impact our physical health (and is a much longer conversation). Really load up on dark leafy greens, berries and chia seeds, which will benefit your digestive system. We often add a big tablespoon of Now Foods Acacia Fiber to our morning coffee or matcha, to start the day with 6g of soluble fiber.

7) GO TO SLEEP! Another revolutionary health tip, right?! But seriously, sleep is so crucial to our health, immune system, cognitive function, and so much more. 7-8 hours of quality sleep is ideal, but consistency is key. If you are having trouble staying asleep we always recommend a magnesium supplement, about an hour before bed. Magnesium also supports your digestion and mood -- but always consult with your physician before adding any supplements.

8) GO WITH YOU GUT: We are obsessed with gut health and hope you will be too. Our gut is home to our immune system, serotonin production, and trillions of microbes that work to keep us healthy and thriving! While gut health is a long conversation, an easy way to help your digestion is actually pretty simple: chew your food. Experts suggest chewing your food about 20 times (or until almost liquid) before swallowing, which starts the digestion process. However, that can be really hard to do! So we suggest, getting conscious about how much (or how little) you are already chewing -- and add a couple extra bites each time. After mastering “chewing”, try adding in some probiotic rich foods. We love fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha (just make sure there is no added vinegar, which can kill the good bacteria).

9) GET READING - Some books we recommend are: The Microbiome Diet by Raphael Kellman M.D. (to learn about gut health), Body Love by Kelly LeVeque (great for learning about blood sugar!), and Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth (a powerful read for anyone who struggles with emotional eating, regardless of gender identity or spirituality).

10) UNPLUG - Try putting away your phone at least an hour before bed and wait to look at it until an hour after you wake up. This helps limit blue light exposure and helps you ease into your day mindfully.

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