Welcome to another edition of “People Pulse.” Always hoping to bring you interesting folks doing even more interesting things in the Orlando and Central Florida area, here is Christen. I met Christen at a dinner party a few months ago and in the brief time I got to hear her share a little about herself, I immediately thought she was uber-cool and knew I wanted her energy, her business, and her story shared with a larger audience. She’s pretty awesome but you can determine that for yourself now. (Spoiler alert: We totally love the detailed answers she gives for healthy eating options in Orlando!) So here we go….
Q. What brought you to Orlando, and how long have you lived here?
A. My parental units brought here from West Memphis, AR in 1981 at the age of 5 when my dad was offered a position in a CPA Firm Downtown. Outside of a few years in Tallahassee (FSU) and Jacksonville (UNF) I’ve lived in the greater Orlando area for about 37 years.
Q. What led you to a mission of “health” in your life. Tell us a little about your health journey.
A. Oh, man! Well I was an athlete growing up. I played a lot of sports. But I also grew up in the era of ‘after school specials’ and Baptist, where the rules were no smoking, no drinking, no finagling, no doing drugs, but a church potluck and third piece of pie were totally mandatory. I grew up abstaining from a lot of things that would’ve distracted me from being a ‘good girl.’ But I indulged in an area that the church doesn’t talk about. It’s an area that has its own uniques darkness. I developed a relationship with food that wasn’t healthy. Food became my toxic boyfriend, my cocaine, my nicotine, bud light. And just like other addictions it took a while for what was inside to start showing itself outside.
Over the course of a few years into college I gained 100 pounds. I had it on me for about 20 years and I was aware and ashamed of it every one of those days. And I woke up every morning with the intention to get it off. I was a professional hider. Everything from the color of my clothes to the angle of my pictures was intended to mask me.
What’s crazy is that I’ve always had this desire to help people. I’ve wanted to be of influence for the sake of good in people’s lives. The problem was I didn’t have a vehicle to help. I didn’t have a story where I had gone through hardship and gotten to the other side. I was always in the middle of it.
And so I was often caught in between the angst of knowing I’m supposed to say something and supposed to be helping people, and not knowing how to do that.
When my friend Joanna reached out to me to tell me about the program she was coaching, I was working out five days a week for an hour-and-a-half a day and I could like press 500 pounds but I sort of looked like a roly-poly. I was really tired. Emotionally and physically and at the end of my rope.
She offered me hope. Because I had known her 20 years before I had gained all the weight, I knew she knew the real me. I knew she knew what I was capable of. She told me this would be different. And I believed her. And it was. With educational tools, community, a health coach who cared, and a nutritional structure that made it super easy for my body to do what you need to do within the course of about six months, I lost most of my weight.
That was three years ago. About three months into my journey I decided I wanted to coach other people to experience what I experienced. And within the last three years I’ve had the privilege of coaching over 400 people.
Q. If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what would you be doing?
A. I’d likely still be at my learning and development role at Verizon, daily thinking of a way to start a business to help people 🙂 OR I’d be pursuing my Masters in Counseling somewhere that would have me. 😉
Q. Is “health” achievable to everyone?
A. For the majority, its an enthusiastic ‘heck yeah!’ I think there are those in our communities that are underserved and their options are far more limited than those of us in comfortable suburbia. And I’m excited to be working on a few projects with some great visionaries to change the way we think about, fund, and engage health in our local and corporate communities.
For those of us fortunate enough to have the economy to make quick changes: YES! It’s about becoming someone who decides to do things. It’s about finding a structure that works for you. It’s about seeking out and surrounding yourself with a community of people who are similar to who you want to become. People who can speak “YES YOU CAN” into you. A healthy, strong community that believes we are all powerful people who have the ability to make powerful decisions.
From there, it’s then just about picking The nutritional structure that best fits the life that you want to move toward. For instance if at some point you wanted to be vegan, the human diet which consumes mainly animal proteins likely wouldn’t be the place to start, but paleo or whole 30 might be.
But find a coach, choose a nutritional structure, find community, learn all you can. Because YOU CAN DO IT!
Q. “Change is possible.” Sort of the theme of your site…and your life! If someone is thinking about making a change—be it relating to food, their job, a relationship—what should they be aware of
A. This is such a great question! So, here’s what I’ll say: Change isn’t going to be automatic and It won’t likely happen overnight. That’s not because you aren’t amazing and don’t have the capability to make changes!
It’s because we often try and use our will power to make BIG changes when will power is depleting resource. Willpower is like a muscle, just like your actual muscles. Its great for getting movement started, but there’s a point where it has to give out. Think about hanging on monkey bars… Eventually you fall off. That’s because at some point your muscles are designed to give out. Willpower is the same. Its designed to ‘get you started’ and exactly what’s needed in order to ‘motivate’ you to make a change, but it’s not whats needed for a long-term fix. Instead, we need to leverage the willpower we have to make small micro-habit changes, that when done consistently will result in BIG TRANSFORMATION.
Micro habits are an action that requires minimal motivation or effort to complete. The idea is over time; a micro habit will slowly build on top of itself and result in something significant. So lets say, you want to ‘be a reader who reads for a ½ an hour a day. Awesome. Are you ready to go from zero to ½ an hour a day consistently? Asked another way, if you wanted to run a marathon today and you’ve not run at all in the past 5 years, could you do it? Likely the answer is no. And its not because you CANT do it, its because your body isnt yet trained to do it. The same is true for your habit of reading.
To become a reader, you simply need to ask yourself, what is the MINIMUM amount of reading I can commit to every day? If 1 minute, then set a timer and everyday without fail, even on your worst day read for 1 minute. As you start to read you may find you want to read more. That’s GREAT! Read as much as you want, but don’t carry that expectation into the next day. You are just commiting to 1 minute a day. Now that you’ve set aside time in your schedule and you are used to picking up a book, increasing that time from 1 to 2 minutes or 2-5 or 5-6 or 5-10 after a few weeks should be fairly easy. You just want to keep it at an amount that, on your worst day, you would still be able to do it.
Remember, 1% positive change in a month is still change. 1% change in direction of a plane flying from the LA to DC you’d end up 42.2 miles off on the other side of baltimore!
So the first step is to define what change(s) are you looking to have in your life. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you want to change in your life?
- Why do you want to change it?
- What do you need to do to change it?
- How can you track your progress?
- Who can help you change it?
- What are you willing to risk to change it?
- When can you start to change it?
- Why not now?
“Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness, or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permission, but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realize—they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense….Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped…Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.” – The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
Q. How do you determine if you and a potential client are a good fit for health coaching?
A. GREAT question! I typically spend about 20-30 minutes getting to know a potential client, asking about their lives, their goals, their dreams, I share a bit of my story, and then I walk through the components of the program I coach. Then I simply ask the question, ‘does this seem like the right fit for you?’ A lot of times it is, and sometimes, it isn’t. BOTH are okay! There are PLENTY of people who need help, and I want people to find freedom! Sometime, the best way for them to find it, is with one of the MANY other AMAZING resources here in Orlando! 🙂
Q. If you had one piece of advice to offer as it relates to health and well being, what would it be?
A. Instead of thinking about your well-being in terms of ‘destinations’ do your best to think of your health as a fun journey full of exploration, discovery and adventure. When we limit ourselves by thinking about an endpoint, we think that once we reach it we’ll be able to maintain whatever we achieved.
So, instead of trying to ‘get’ somewhere in our health, maybe we take the advice of our beloved Walt Disney, who said, ‘keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because….curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.’ Consider yourself the Huck Finn, Dora the Explorer, Captain Kirk, Lemuel Gulliver, Indiana Jones of your health….perpetually bright-eyed, brave, and curious to learn more.
That curiosity will keep our hearts and minds young in the pursuit of real-full-fun-life!
Q. What’s one thing you love most about living in Orlando/Central Florida?
A. Growing up here wasn’t easy for me. I often felt on the ‘outside’ of everything. I wanted to get away from this town. And I did….twice. But it kept calling me back. And I’m forever grateful for its wooing.
Orlando has become something so special to me over the past 10 years. I think Social Media has helped connect a geographically distant town, and created an almost ‘small town’ feeling.
It has become a source of extreme PRIDE to say I’m from this INCREDIBLE town that is full of creativity, diversity, faith, opportunity, industry, visionaries, compassionate and generous communities, and play! I LOVE that my friends are hard working craftsmen & woman, business owners, and philanthropists. I love my church who loves giving back, I love my TACOs (Hunger Street shoutout), I LOVE that my community consists of Gen Z’ers to baby boomers!
Q. What are some of your favorite places in Orlando for healthy eating options?
A. Favoriteeeee question:) Because healthy doesn’t have to look like a Salad Bar!
#1. Hunger Street Tacos – I get my tacos #shellno on a bed of cabbage, and order a couple sides of bone marrow to top them off! They are DELICIOUS and use almost no toxic oils and source their meats from pasture-raised animals when possible! They focus on traditional Mexican method of preparation, which helps ensure I’m not just consuming calories but good and deep nutrition. Additionally, they take the time to sprout their beans and use ingredients indigenous to Mexico.
#2. Pig Floyd’s. Most people might think of BBQ as a place of indulgence, not health. It can be, but it all depends on how you order. I am a sucker for meat and veggies. Thomas has created a menu that allows me to customize my order so I can have barbeque in a way that serves my body and my tastebuds. I get the Brisket or Chopped Chicken with chimichurri, and green beans with no dragon sauce (they are delicious by themselves!).
The meat is tender with a bit of wonderfully delicious and good-for-you-saturated fat (yep…i said that. Google it… it’s good for your brain, cardiovascular system, bones, immune system, insulation for your nervous system)
#3. Fresh Kitchen. A NEW favorite! According to their Sodo Manager (I called to confirm) they too cook mostly with non-toxic oils (pure olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, butter) and have a PLETHORA of well prepare and FLAVORFUL meats and veggies.
#4. Black Rooster. I like tacos. They make GREAT tacos (Chicken Tinga and Black Rooster Asada are my favorites), pozole, kale salad and guac. They, too, accommodate my #shellno requests and switch out the chips for veggies. They are my friends and my favorite #posthotyoga spot. They are friendly, and offer a variety of yummy options that won’t bloat.
#5. Santiago’s Bodega. If you are looking for a fun date night option, their tapas make it SUPER easy to enjoy a wonderfully filling meal of Protein, Fat, Fiber and Greens. And leave the indulgence to a great glass of antioxidant-immune boosting-Red Vino.
#6. Rusteak. They have an entree item called, Keto Keto Keto with grilled wild raised salmon, grilled asparagus and loaded cheddar cauliflower casserole. I’m not a KETO gal, but I eat well sourced proteins and non-toxic fats, low-glycemic, low sugar, lower-slower-releasing-high-fiber carbs. And Keto options often fit that bill. So when I see a restaurant offer even ONE menu item in that direction, it makes this girl happy!
#7. Grounding Roots. If it’s juice you crave, it’s on one of the BEST spots in Orlando to get it. Jedediah (Jed) is CRAZY obsessed with doing right by his wife (Amanda who contracted with Lyme disease her sophomore year of high school), his body, and his community. They are educators at heart and aren’t driven by the dollar but by the transformative health offered through the unique juice blends. If you are looking for alternative culinary health solutions, give them a shot.
Q. What is one thing you hope to achieve in the coming year of 2019?
A. Doing more with less. I’ve lived 42 years as a consumer of things. I’ve chased success, safety, comfort, satiation. I’ve tried filling my home with things, filling my brain with useless nonsense, filling my belly with food until it burst. And every time I’ve been left wanting, anxious, defeated and lonely.
2019 is about the exploration of less. How much can i downsize my home, my stuff, my food, to where i start to live outward and with others. To where I’m filled up with relationships and mission. To where i have space and financial breathing room to play, dream, connect, and create. To where food is again a communal expression of love and hospitality.
I’ll be asking myself, ‘What does THAT look like?’
To not be in a mindset of scarcity, but one who sees and pursues abundance of purpose and mission. I’ve got some ideas how it could look for me and others. I’ll be traveling to France to experience what it’s like for them, and hopefully bring the breath of my experience back here. (Housing and Food are some of the highest and most stressful costs we encounter. What would it look like to turn the last 100 years on its head and re-think our expectations of communal living and development (I’m not talking drum circles or kool-aid stuff…but communities who want To do more with less in a REALLY cool and insanely aesthetically beautiful way).
God has been bringing people/partners of like-mindedness in front of me. (Which blows my little mind btw). But in 2019 I’m going to be looking out for and pursuing for people who are riding the same wave and want to be a part of something new, something good, something transformative in this wonderful city we call home.