Lisa is a Holistic Nutritionist + Skin Coach that specializes in Skin, Digestion, Mindset + Deep Healing. Her personal journey is a complex and layered one; she tells us about how she conquered Lyme Disease, learned how to tap into her own healing power, and finding the positive when moving through dark times.
Q: Have you always wanted to be in the wellness industry? Can you tell us a little bit about the work that you do and the story behind how you came to do it?
L: I have quite the journey as to how I came to be doing what I do today. I actually wrote a 140 page eBook on my as my health journey as it’s now spanned over a decade! So boil some tea, and dig in.
Super long story short- in 2006 I was living in South Africa when I started to fall ill. It started off mild and then progressed; the most bizarre and alarming symptoms would flare up, disappear and then reappear in a completely unpatterned way. There was no rhyme or reason to it, and quite honestly it left doctors perplexed. Some thought I had MS, and they said to just wait until lesions started showing in a few years and they would do another MRI at the time to see. I then got told it could possibly be a tumour on my spine as I was presenting very neurological, but all of my brain and spinal scans were clear. The only thing they could find in my blood was a slight B12 deficiency and Mono. The Mono took months to clear; but as the months went by, and months turned into years I still wasn’t getting any better. In fact, MORE symptoms started to present themselves. At one point I had over 100 symptoms ranging from vertigo, to body numbness to eye floaters (so bad it hurt to go outside), to excessive weight gain (30 pounds in two months- which is a lot for me, as I’m naturally slender and lean), cystic acne, hair loss, brain fog and fatigue to name a few.
Fast forward to New York, where I had moved to go to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology). This time of my life was supposed to be the best! I was living in one of the greatest cities in the world, but I found myself my sickest there. I was scared to tell people how sick I was because it all seemed so hard to believe, so a lot of my family and friends didn’t truly know how bad it had gotten. Also doctors were telling me I was healthy and OK- which I was anything but. I was very ill but no one could give me answers. I saw Doctors, Specialists, Naturopaths, Functional Practitioners- Most thought I was crazy and some even prescribed me Anti-Anxiety + Anti-Depressant meds, which I never ended up taking because I knew deep down I wasn't crazy and there was something wrong with me.
Rewind to South Africa: This is where my passion, devotion and complete love for nutrition started. Western medicine was failing me so at first it started as an informal way to provide me with some peace and answers. I’m extremely lucky that I connected the dots of, quite simply, we are what we eat. We are cellular beings- so therefore what we eat feeds our cells. I quickly decided to go vegan, and remained vegan for eight years (I’m not 100% anymore due to my intuitive connection to my body & mind). The vegan diet cuts out a lot of inflammatory foods so this helped initially, but there was still a lot of work for me to do. (But it was a start!) So I studied, read and researched for years, while trying to support and heal my body on my own.
In September 2012 I had a pure angelic moment and out of nowhere Lyme Disease popped into my head. Two weeks later I was in Calgary at a Lyme Literate ND’s office to investigate this thought further. She couldn’t confirm if I had it but gave me a test kit nonetheless, and the next day Fedexed my blood to a tick borne illness lab in California (unfortunately, Canada didn't, and still doesn't, have proper testing and treatment). Sure enough, two weeks later my test results came back: I had chronic late stage Lyme Disease that had ravaged my body for over six years.
I’m cutting a lot out, but from that point on I knew it was my mission to help others heal. I studied holistic nutrition formally and did my own intensive natural healing for a year (too much to go into detail, but I explain much more in my book). I also knew in order to fully heal I would have to move away from home (Edmonton, AB), which may sound crazy but I knew it was part of my journey. It was either Vancouver or Toronto- my heart told me Toronto and here I am.
I believe without discovering these things (which I help my clients find!), it’s near impossible to heal in a way that is sustainable long-term. People don’t always like to hear this because it takes patience, trial and error, unblocking old patterns, beliefs, habits and time (my healing journey took over a decade). This is why I do what I do every single day- because of my own health and healing journey, and the amount of time it took to figure things out. All the body wants to do is innately heal itself. It is not out to get you! Once we start to co-create with our bodies and the Universe healing starts to take place- and that is such a sweet place to be. You regain confidence, energy, vitality, zest, vigour, happiness, glow, and your trust is strengthened. When we turn into the miraculous nature of the body, and utilize it, so many doors start to open not just in health, but in life. This is what I help my clients find. It’s holistic - body, mind, and soul. The trifecta of healing.
Q: The Move to Heal Project is all about how moving the body can be a helpful aid when working through anything mental health related.
Do you believe the mind and body are connected?
L: I believe the mind and body connection are literally everything. So many people ask me how I was able to heal on such a deep level, and I always say it was placing a focus on Mind first, Body second. Our subconscious mind is 30,000 times more powerful than our conscious mind (which we think is in control!). We live with such rooted programming and beliefs as to how we’re supposed to be and I truly believe this has an affect on healing at a deeper level. Without a solid foundation of this relationship it doesn’t matter how healthy we eat or how much we move, the core essence of healing must come from the Mind.
Q: If someone is feeling a disassociation between their own mind and body, is there a simple exercise or mantra you have found to be effective?
L: I work on an individualized level so I think this would look different for everyone. However- I would say the first step is Self-Awareness. So many of us go through our days robotically and are extremely detached from what we do, say, eat and how we act. We do things mentally but don't connect the effect to our bodies. This is also bi-directional; we do things to our body, and don't think of the mental or emotional impact that follows. A wonderful first step is to keep a running journal. Start to take note as to when you’re acting out of fear, envy, jealousy, pain, old programming, etc. I believe the first step of any healing is becoming aware of things / thoughts / actions that aren’t serving you.
Q: So many of us have moved, or are moving through difficult and painful things. You mention on your Instagram that no healing is done in isolation. Can you elaborate on that?
L: Healing requires constant support, guidance, love, nurturing, and advisement. When going through painful or difficult periods we can’t see things as they are, or how we want them to be. Again- we can act out of old beliefs, pains, and fears when we’re in it. I consider my clients friends, and they have 24/7 access to me via email and text. It’s just not just about a client / practitioner relationship, but a deeper bond that exists by showing and telling them that they will get through these periods. It’s not IF; it’s WHEN. It can feel really isolating when you're moving through a difficult time- like no one gets it. That’s just not true. There really is so much help, guidance, and support around. However, the first (and maybe the hardest) step is to reach out. When you are trying to heal but remain isolated, you will continue to reinforce pain, symptoms, fears, and instability. Reaching out in healing creates a foundation. It creates clarity. When you reach out there will always be a hand to lift you back up.
Q: I created the Fuel to Heal portion on the site to prompt discussion about what we are eating and how it affects our body.
Do you think the foods we eat can affect our daily moods and energy?
L: Food is Everything
Food is information to our body. It’s deep cellular nourishment. Food is the information we give our body to tell it what to do. The body does not recognize foreign substances and toxins found in a lot of foods today. We live in a society that’s been disconnected from what we truly need to thrive. Our bodies are miracle machines and work so hard for us every minute (millions of cells are replicating every single second). Yet- people are often feeding it things that don’t fuel this process. We will put premium fuel in our cars- yet we want to feed our body sub-par food, and then expect it to run optimally. However, the beauty of all of this is that we can shift it on a moment to moment basis. Food can heal : “LET FOOD BE THY MEDICINE, AND MEDICINE BY THY FOOD”
Q: Do you have any go-to power foods? Something that gives a boost of energy or gets that long term feel good hormone going?
L: Greens - Endless amounts of leafy greens
-Heaps of pure / clean spring Water ( At least 2L a day)
-To Nourish the brain: Healthy fats- Avocados, seeds, nuts, lean proteins, olives, wild fish
-For Power/Energy: Protein- Sprouted legumes, wild + organic lean protein, bone broth (one of my favourites), nuts, seeds
-For Mood-boosting: Sweet potatoes
-For Blood flow: Beets
-Complex carbs: Brown rice, millet, quinoa, oats, parsnips, carrots
-Fruit - Deep-hued berries, green apples, lemons, grapefruits, pears, kiwis, watermelon
-Cruciferous Veg - Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels, asparagus, kale
-For Brain Health + Inflammation: Omega 3’s (critical), Flax, chia, wild fish
Q: It can be incredibly easy to get stuck in negative thought patterns. Do you have any suggestions as to how we can break these?
L: Time, patience, love, guidance, deep acceptance, and self-awareness. We often first have to find where are those negative thoughts coming from. Did we see our parents being negative (and therefore so are we)? Did we see people be negative and become successful? I believe we ALWAYS have control over our thoughts. It’s not just about “thinking positive”; it’s about doing the work to see how those patterns are showing up and when. For example: Do you find yourself negative around certain people? Then you must assess those relationships and see if they are healthy. Are you negative towards strangers ? Maybe this means flexing your compassion muscle. Are you mad or upset at yourself? Why? Are you not where you want to be. Etc. This process will look different for everyone. I always talk about doing the work; how healing is a journey.- because it's true! Society feeds us quick fixes and says that results are instantaneous. I think that deep patience, love and acceptance for where you are in your journey today can be some of the best tools. This moment is all we have and if we are fully living in this moment, it is the only place where anxiety + fear can’t live.
Q: There's a post on your instagram where you talk about loneliness. Depression, anxiety and trauma- they can all feel so lonely. For anyone out there that is reading this and feeling isolated or lonely- can you offer some words of guidance, support, or first steps?
L: I don’t believe anyone is meant to go through this journey we call life alone- especially a healing journey. First- we aren’t isolated humans. We were built for connections, community, and to apart of tribes. Second- know that there is zero shame for seeking guidance, support, love, and nourishment. I believe the body, mind, and soul to be one's best investment. If we aren’t healthy, nothing else truly matters. Even though I am a practitioner, I still have my healing team (naturopath, acupuncture, herbs I use, supplements, etc…) because I believe ones evolutions is never over. Anxiety lives in the future, and depression lives in the past, so I fully and constantly tell my clients that being in Now is one of the best gifts and tools you can use, and have.
When you operate from a moment to moment to basis it doesn't seem so overwhelming and isolating. In reality it’s what any human is trying to do. So I would say - I love you, I fully understand where you are, and You can heal. We can all heal. Our bodies are built to heal. It’s not about what happens to us, it’s what we choose to do with it that matters.
AND NO MATTER WHAT - Do one thing every day that brings you Joy + List one thing you are grateful for. There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for even in the darkest times. The Light is always there.
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