As a Medical Herbalist and Naturopath offering a variety of services from iridology to personalised nutritional programs, what does a typical work week look like for you?
Working for myself and in an appointment based business the key to success is flexibility. While I write this my 3 year old is on my lap trying to help and we are in my clinic having had 2 late cancellations and a meeting postponed for the day. It takes a couple of years but you get used to rolling with the changes and knowing that there is always other work to do or something to fill your day.
There is no typical week but my rough guide is working in the clinic on Tuesdays and Thursday seeing clients at the moment, mixing herbs for orders one day per week, swimming and mummy day on Wednesdays, admin scattered throughout the week and writing blogs and recipes for another company when they request them in between. It does not suit everyone, as we found out when my husband worked in the business for 12 months, we now know he prefers a 9-5 steady work day, but I love it.
You've written three cookbooks and have a clear passion for teaching people how to use food in a simple and balanced way. What are your three favourite dishes that you recommend including in our weekly meal planners?
My favourite dishes may not be everyone else's cup of tea! I have a section in the book about using offal to inject more nutrients into everyday cooking. For example, adding liver to spaghetti bolognese. My most popular recipes over the years have been butter chicken, cauliflower fried rice and salmon patties. They are easy, free from nasties and are made using everyday ingredients that we have at home, nothing expensive or hard to get. Generally the whole family loves these kinds of dishes and they can easily be added to the family favourites.
"My favourite dishes may not be everyone else's cup of tea!"
With baby #2 due this Christmas, a thriving business and multiple projects on the go like your re- released cookbook and various speaking events, how do you unwind your mind?
I have cut back significantly this year. Having lockdowns with the COVID-19 epidemic has been a stressful time for the world but an opportunity to look at what I need to do for the business and what I need to do for my family and myself. I have only taken on projects this year that really speak to me like a symposium in November with childcare workers to help them eat well and be well everyday in their own lives and how we can also spread this into the children's and their families lives at home that they care for. I am very excited for this.
Next year I have only stuck with one event being my Love Your Guts Retreat and I am actually taking time off for baby number 2, which is a big deal for a workaholic like me! As I work in the clinic and at home it is super important that I can switch off and generally once the laptop is closed that is it for the day. I do not have any notifications for socials or emails on my devices which I find helpful to allow me to unwind and I have a social media girl that assists with posts so I can increase my downtime. I love to cook, garden, swim and play outside with my daughter and our 6 chickens to relax.
We all know that moving is essential for overall health and wellbeing, not only physically but mentally as well. What are your top suggestions to help stay active?
My husband is an exercise physiologist and we met at the gym! Exercise has always been important to me especially when I am feeling anxious, depressed or overwhelmed. Before I had Callie I used to love weightlifting and cross-fit. I competed during the pregnancy but after I had her, I felt it took more away than it gave me. You only have so much energy and stamina with a newborn and I also felt pulled away from time at the gym into time with her and my family. The last 3 years have seen gym time fuse into gardening time and outdoor play. I love incidental exercise, anything I can do that fits with 'life'. Taking Callie to the beach, swimming, walking with her now on her bike or in her pram when she was little, yoga at home and going to the park. Anything that fits into your life and that you enjoy is going to be much more sustainable than dragging yourself somewhere you don't really want to be or that you feel is a hard task.
You live in the stunning seaside town of Newcastle in New South Wales. What are some ways you engage with your local community?
Before COVID-19 and for the last 5 years I have done a monthly free talk at my clinic which is also a local gym and yoga studio on various topics. This helps me stay in touch with the community and allows people to learn a little about what Naturopaths as it can be scary if you have never heard of one before. I love to get involved in my daughter's preschool and have written easy meal planners for a rural pre-school who do not have access to fresh food as well. Being in a shared clinic means that I get to see people and access the community in a way that is difficult as a one-on-one practitioner. I love going to the vibrant space that is Verve for my day's work. Connecting with like-minded people through events like the Aroma Festival and the Hunter Young Professional group is fun and engaging. So is forging bonds with other practitioners but also writers, foodies and chefs like Steph De Sousa who I am running the retreat with next year keeps me very busy.
"...we need to balance our need for medication with the best diets that we can..."
You once mentioned that the key to good health, happy minds and managing chronic conditions effectively is balancing food and medicine that we are surrounded by in our environment. Can you share a little more about this?
If we can fit better into what is around us and use it to our advantage it is a much easier transition than trying to change our entire worlds, plus it will make the shift last. For example, if we can make eating real food easy it saves us trying to restock the pantry and fridge with expensive foods we don't even know what to do with plus learn how to cook a range of new meals. If we can just learn to jazz up the Wednesday night taco dish, super charge it with extra nutrients, we can avoid strict fad diets that often do not last and still get results.
When it comes to medicine I believe an integrated approach is needed to move us into the future. We are over populated, we do eat processed food, we do get sick. Medicine is great at making us better and it is a modern miracle, but we need to balance our need for medication with the best diets that we can and buffer ourselves with preventative medicine to try to avoid sickness in the first place. Many of my clients are on both herbal and pharmaceutical medication and they can help each other. If we can be as healthy as we can everyday then when we need pharmaceuticals they will work better and will hopefully have less side effects.