Healthy Options: Empowering radiant health
As a health coach and therapist, Alexandra Epple supports women entrepreneurs who are exhausted and burnt out.
Using a simple step-by-step process she helps them to ignite their energy, sleep deeper and feel better in their bodies so they can fulfill their vision. Alexandra didn’t start out that way though. In 1997, she graduated with a dual degree in business administration from England and Germany. Highly disenchanted with the idea of working for a random company just to make money, she went on a search for meaning.
While traveling in Central America to find her life’s purpose she met her future husband with whom she moved to Jackson Hole, Wyo., where she started taking yoga classes in 2000. She quickly obtained an advanced degree as a yoga teacher. The practice of yoga led Alexandra to Thailand to learn traditional Thai massage, a form that incorporates yoga moves and rhythmic pressure. When her yoga students and massage clients started asking questions about diet and lifestyle, Alexandra moved to Nevada County to attend the California College of Ayurveda to become a Certified Ayurvedic Specialist. Since completing her degree in 2010, she has been working as a health coach and is now, most definitely, on the right path.
Q: Alexandra, what exactly is a wellness coach?
A: The job of a Wellness Coach is to support you in adopting healthy diet and lifestyle habits. Whether you already have a disease or want to prevent one, diet and lifestyle are the foundation of getting well and uncovering the root cause of your disease or imbalance. Have you ever thought that it would be a good idea to exercise more, eat better or stop drinking so much coffee? You know you would feel more alive and vibrant if you did and maybe even reverse diabetes, high blood pressure or the creeping feeling of “something is just off”? But then you go off and you have no support in doing it, don’t exactly know what or how to do it and conveniently forget about it?
Well, a health coach supports, educates and guides you to understand the nutrition and lifestyle jungle and, maybe even more importantly, to overcome you inner gremlins so that you can adopt what works for you, stop procrastinating and finally live the way that makes you feel healthy, alive and enthusiastic about your life.
Q: It seems like people in our community are very health aware. Can’t they make the changes on their own?
A: You certainly could if you had the time to educate yourself and the willpower to pull the changes through. In my experience, however, there is much more to radiant health than just knowing the facts about diet and lifestyle. Being guided by someone who knows the way and understands your health challenges from a medical perspective will get you to your goal much quicker and with more success. As an example, I studied business yet I still work with a business coach to help me see more clearly, give advice and direction.
Q: What is involved in a typical session and how long does it take achieve results?
A: The best way I can answer your question is with an example. I met my client Betty (name changed) at a workshop I was teaching. Betty is an upbeat woman in her mid 40s and successful in her career as an engineer. But she just couldn’t get started in the morning. She was tired and exhausted which made getting to work on time hard. Being from Argentina she relied on Matte tea to keep her going. Betty also has an underactive thyroid and had been taking medication for many years. The first thing Betty and I did was to determine her Ayurvedic constitution and imbalance. We also took a “snapshot” at where she was at physically, emotionally and spiritually. We discussed her current food choices, eating patterns, exercise choices and the way she organized her day . Over a 90-day period I guided Betty through a simple step-by-step process that allowed her to make changes to her morning routine and food choices. I also designed a yoga routine to help her activate her thyroid. Within one month she very happily reported that by starting out her day according to Ayurvedic principles she had no need for Matte tea anymore, she was full of energy and much more enthusiastic about her day. After about six months of doing her Yoga routine she had dropped her thyroid medication to 50 percent of the normal dosage. A big win for her.
Q: What do you find are common obstacles for people trying to improve their health?
A: Many folks tell me, “Well, I know I need to eat better, exercise more or stop going to bed so late.” The question is, if they know it, why aren’t they doing it? There is a couple of reasons why people don’t do what they know they should do. First, you might know what to do, but don’t know how. You always have the best intentions and then things get in the way … you forget, it’s too difficult, no time to research new recipes, too busy, too in love with your habits … those are what I call inner gremlins that sabotage you from being healthy. As a health coach I help you overcome those gremlins and achieve the aliveness and joy you dream of. Second, you might have a general idea about a better diet and lifestyle but don’t know what exactly works for you.
You might be frustrated with the amount of information out there, the conflicting opinions and the multitude of suggestions your friends give you. It all just seems too much. As a health coach I help you figure our what exactly is right for you according to your constitution and imbalance.
Q: If I saw a wellness coach, would I have to give up the things I love like coffee and chocolate?
A: That’s a great question, many people have that fear. People are very much in love with their rituals and specific food choices they have made for years.
My intention as a coach is to empower you to know what effects your habits and food choices have on your health-based on your constitution. You don’t have to give up anything but you should know what effects it has and where your imbalances come from. This way you can adopt or drop what works and what doesn’t.
For example, I am a fan of black tea with milk in the morning. My day just hasn’t started without it. My body’s weak spot is my large intestine which stems from a two year anorexic period in my 20s. Ever since constipation is my go to imbalance. Black tea is astringent and therefore drying and dehydrating. It aggravates my imbalance, not exactly the best thing for me to drink to say the least. Knowing this I still haven’t given up my favorite drink but I have adjusted other things that were easier for me: I eat more moistening, warming foods, drink hot water for hydration in the morning and mix a moistening herb into my tea to counterbalance its drying quality. That keeps my imbalance in check and I still get to drink black tea. Knowing what gives you an imbalance also gives you the power to reverse it and getting clarity on that is part of health coaching.
Q: What three things could someone do at home to increase their energy levels?
A: There is a multitude of reasons why you might be suffering from fatigue, low energy or exhaustion. Among the most common are what you eat, how much you sleep and how much you exercise. Anemia, deficiency in key nutrients, thyroid problems, diabetes, depression, medications, stress and heart disease are other causes.
From an Ayurvedic perspective we always start by addressing the three pillars of health: Food, Sleep and Energy expenditure first. So three simple things could be done:
1. Strengthen your digestive fire so you digest the food you are eating properly. Otherwise you body has to work very hard to extract energy from your food. Symptoms of your digestive fire being weak are gas, bloating, acid reflux, heartburn, not being hungry or being tired after you eat. If you experience any of those you need to strengthen your digestive fire.
2. Go to bed at a reasonable time. 10 p.m. at the latest, earlier in the winter. The body gets the deepest rest between 10 a.m. and noon. I know this sounds too simple but going to bed at a reasonable time is key for feeling enthusiastic about your day.
3. Balance your energy scale of giving and receiving. Given the society we live in most people go, go, go all the time. We don’t even notice it anymore, everyone does it. It’s normal to always have your phone on, check your emails and be available. Schedule time for self care. Get a massage, take a bath, chill out. Fill your receiving bucket so that you can give from what is overflowing. As a general rule divide your day in eight hours of tamas (sleeping), 8 hours of rajas (work and activity) and 8 hours of sattva (chilling out, spiritual practice, hanging out with friends, reading etc)
Q: Who is your ideal client?
A: If you are a person who is happy to get a diagnosis from a doctor and just pop a pill, health coaching is not for you. A willingness to look at yourself and your choices are key to your success with a health coach. If you want to create that healthy spark, have abundant energy and sleep well night after night, you are my ideal client. Whether you already have an illness or afraid of getting one is of no matter. Health coaching works alongside your primary healthcare provider – in fact it is a good adjunct. In my practice I focus on women business owners because from my own experience I understand their struggles, how hard they work and what health issues they are dealing with as a result of it. So I am well prepared to support them to get from feeling exhausted to feeling ecstatic, grounded and alive in their bodies.
Q. What makes your coaching services/strategy unique?
A: That is a great question. What makes me unique is that my practice incorporates a wide variety of modalities that I have studied extensively over the years. I have a strong background in Ayurvedic medicine, Yoga therapy and Thai Bodywork and thus can support women from many angles. I am able to adjust how I work with clients very easily. For example I had a new client a few weeks ago.
Typically the first session is a 90-minute intake coaching session. Unfortunately, the client had a panic attack due to some events that had happened in her life recently. Because of my diverse background I quickly shifted into a yoga technique that calmed her nervous system and helped her ground. If I had only had my Ayurvedic knowledge I might not have had the tools to support her effectively.
Q. How can someone get started with a health coach?
The easiest way to get started is with a free consultation. In my practice, I offer a 30-minute free Ignite your Energy Coaching session. During that powerful session you wil get crystal clear about where you are and where you want to be. I will share some powerful secrets you can use right away that will support you to move towards your goals. We will then also talk about whether continuing to work together would be a good fit. This is a great way to get to know each other and see if a health coaching program will help you reach your goals. As part of the free consultation, I also gift you with a copy of my E-book “Ignite your Energy: 15 days towards abundant energy all day, every day”.
For more information, visit NirvanaWellness.org.
Jan Fishler is a local author and writing coach. For more about Fishler (and her upcoming screenwriting class that begins Jan. 20, 2015), go to http://www.janfishler.com.
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