I’m SO excited for this #FanGirlFriday because you guys get to meet my dear friend and practitioner- Syanna Wand! Like many of my new friends lately, Syanna and I met over Instagram. I saw that she was studying to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner at the Nutritional Therapy Association and since I was studying there to become a Nutritional Therapy Consultant, I thought I’d introduce myself! Syanna was always so supportive in my journey- my professional and personal one- and I’m so glad I met her. She graduated the course a while back (I’m still in it until June) and is now thriving in her practice! This girl’s got brains, beauty, and bitchin’ hair (that she contributes to bone broth, duh). In fact, after my weekend away in Boston at a workshop for school, I figured it was time, for once and for all, to get to the bottom of my digestive issues. I knew I still had a lot more to learn myself and I wanted an outsider’s opinion, so I called Syanna and asked her to be my practitioner and fix me! From the start, she’s been amazing! I wanted someone to look at my conditions from a different angle and she did just that. She simplified everything for me and I contribute a TON of my spiritual health and mindset changes to her! Now, we chat several times a week and Skype once a week for consultations. Syanna has seriously been such a light in my life and I cannot wait to meet in person one day and drink loads of bone broth together!
Her story is also fascinating so I hope you all enjoy! I’ll link to all of her media at the bottom and make sure to click on the yummy food pics to get the recipes!
First off, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the health and wellness biz and what inspired you to start your business?
Well, it’s kind of a long story, but I think I can condense it! But first, thanks for much for having me! I’m such a fan of your #fangirlfriday posts and am so touched and honored to be a part of the series. But, ok back to your question. Since I was a child, I’ve always been interested in well-being, health and the human body. No joke, I used to carry around this book on health when I was a kid and went around diagnosing people and handing out “witch doctor” remedies! It listed almost every condition, symptom and illness under the sun and all the natural, dietary ways you could heal from them. I know, super nerdy. I imagine I might have been a little bit of a hypochondriac, but they say in order to heal others you must heal yourself, and that’s what I did. Over the years, I kind of strayed away from my hippie roots though and eventually became pretty ill with adrenal dysfunction and mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. It got so bad that some days I could barely get out of bed, and I spent a lot of time jumping around from doctor to doctor, trying this prescription or that to feel better but nothing worked. Then, one Christmas, after having my 5th panic attack or something crazy like that, I decided in a moment of clarity that enough was enough and if no one else was going to help me then I’d have to help myself. I’d been dabbling in the health and wellness industry for a few years, but mostly in exercise as a personal trainer and CrossFit coach. Yet, something still felt off. I couldn’t ever put my finger on it, but as much as I loved healthy living, I never felt at home with helping people tone up and lose weight, not to mention I still felt terrible myself. I longed for something more in my interactions and often felt frustrated by that lack of depth I felt I wasn’t able to provide for my clients. I wanted to give them lasting changes and never felt like I could do that with my personal training certifications. So, fast forward back to my own holiday “breakdown,” I ended up adopting a Paleo approach to eating and started researching all the ways I could possibly reduce the stress my body was under. I immediately began feeling better, and at that point I was hooked. This led me to learn about Adrenal Fatigue and the ball really started rolling when out of the blue I received a mailer advertising the Nutritinal Therapy Association’s practitioner program. It felt like destiny had knocked on my door and I just knew I had to sign up for classes. Which is exactly what I did and immediately it felt like coming home. I knew that there had to be other women out there like me struggling to find answers but unable to come up with reasons why they felt so awful, and that’s pretty much what inspired me to start my business. I hated the hopeless feelings I experienced during my darkest days and wanted to give others the lifeline I’d so desperately been seeking but couldn’t find through conventional medicine. So – like I said, long story, but that’s the gist of it! Overall, it was my own health struggles that led me to find a passion in healing work.
What are the main issues that you focus on when it comes to women? Do you have a wide range of clients?
So, over the years it’s kind of morphed into a specialty. Basically, I work with women who are experiencing digestive issues – so things like bloating, stomach pains, nausea after eating – and then stress related dysfunction, with an emphasis in anxiety and worry. Women come to me for various reasons, but usually, they are held together by a single thread – stress! It still amazes me as I continue to dive into the research, and work with clients, just how detrimental stress, both physical and emotional, is to our body. Almost any symptom you can imagine can be cleared up, or at least reduced, when a serious approach to stress reduction is adopted. Actually, as a side note, I sort of hate that term “stress reduction” but it’s what people understand! I prefer to look at it as a lifestyle change, working to find a new relationship to worry, anxiety and ruminating thoughts, and finding ways to be kind to your body. We live in a society of go-go-go, particularly as women. It’s amazing that we get to live in a time when so many choices and freedoms are available to women, but now we have to deal with a new demon of sorts that tells us not only CAN we do everything, but we SHOULD be doing everything. We get so caught up trying to do it all and to look perfect while we do it, that eventually we start to crumble in on ourselves. My mission and passion lies in shifting that paradigm. In teaching others that it’s ok to be kind, loving, and gentle to our bodies so that we can co-create WITH them and not fight against then. Our bodies are clever little things, but we usually choose to ignore them instead of listening to that inner wisdom we all carry inside.
Where should women start when they want to make a lifestyle change/put themselves first/ make their health a priority?
Great question. A lot of people think that starting is the hardest part, but I tend to disagree. Honestly, start anywhere. Just dive in, get your hands dirty, do a little bit of work and I fully believe you’ll be led to the next step in your path as you open your heart up to the idea of change. It’s the middle that tends to be trickier for people. The space where you’re over the excitement of starting, but not quite to the contentment of healing, and you’re stuck not knowing exactly how to be this new person. That’s the sticky part – the part that makes us want to give up or turn around back to the comfort of our old lifestyle. But, this is also the place where all the juicy growth and learning takes place, and if you can stick with it, the place that finally pushes you into the new version of yourself that your body is screaming to be. But I digress! To answer your question, I think the best way to start is small. That may not be the most romantic view of making a life change -we all like hearing about 12-week transformations and ah-ha moments – but the reality is that change is made when we work on the daily, consistent habits that make up who we are. Your new habits HAVE to be sustainable for you to do them long term. So perhaps that means you decided to eat veggies two times a day and you do that until it becomes second nature. Then slowly you add another new habit, then another and another until you’ve ever so carefully and subtly shifted your life into something new. If you jump into a freezing lake, your first thought is to jump out. The change in temperature shocks your body too hard. But, if you slowly wade in letting your skin and body temperature get used to it, eventually you’ll be fully submerged and quite comfortable. This is sort of how I see it working for most people. Lastly, I would recommend just starting to research and look for answers. Stop relying on your doctor, who got maybe two weeks of nutrition training in medical school, to understand and look for the root causes of your issues. If I cut my finger off, you bet your ass I’m going to the ER. However, if I’m suffering from thyroid issues, I’m going to take a look at my diet, my lifestyle, my stress levels, and talk to an NTP or other heath practitioner who won’t just cover up my illness with a band-aide from Big Pharma. Sorry, I get a little passionate about this stuff 🙂
What issues are most prevalent in your women clients—adrenals, hormones, blood sugar, etc?
Hmm…that’s an interesting question. I mean everyone I see is a little bit different – hello bio-individuality!- but there’s definitely a pattern that emerges in their workups. If I had to choose I’d say the common culprits are: Stress (adrenals), Blood Sugar Issues, Digestive problems and fatty acid deficiencies. 9 times out of 10 my clients are dealing with those sorts of symptoms and complaints. The funny part is, each of those systems relies on the others, so essentially if you’re digestion is suffering so will your adrenals and vice versa. If every single person in the world could do only two things for their heath I’d say work on your digestion and work on your stress. Get those two dialed in and you’re life will run pretty smoothly!
What do you do for fun? What do you do to de-stress?
What is the biggest trouble you’ve faced while changing your lifestyle/dietary habits?
For fun… hmmm work! Haha. Just kidding. Let’s see, I’ve recently picked up aerial yoga which I find so fun and freeing! It’s like being a little kid trying out new tricks the whole time and I just love it. Since we’re in winter, I also love skiing and snow shoeing, basically anything I can do outside since my job requires a lot of time at the computer. Which I find hilarious considering my job is about health and yet I’m sitting so much! I also love taking my dogs out on adventures, so in the winter that means hiking in the snow and then heading to the lake during warmer months. Give me a good book and some tea and I’m a happy, happy girl. I also really, really love traveling. I get sort of cranky and restless when I don’t travel, so taking off to new places really gets me feeling jazzed and creativitly stimulated. Oh my gosh! I forgot my most favorite hobby – eating good food! I’ve developed such a passion for truly good, fresh delicious food over the last few years. Which is probably why I love traveling so much and trying out fun farm-to-table and organic restuarants. I’m quite perfectly happy if my entire agenda during a trip includes great places to eat. There’s not much that good food and wine can’t cure in my book.
In terms of struggles with my own changes, I don’t have too much resistance these days. Knock on wood. Most likely because I’m thankfully in a space where I feel really healed and healthy, but in the past, I really struggled with giving up things like coffee, alcohol and sugar that I knew made me feel so terrible, but were so much a part of my life and everyone’s life around me. It was hard to go to social functions and not have a drink or two or to watch everyone enjoying cake at a birthday celebration and not partake. Giving up coffee was like pulling teeth! It really still amazes me how much of an influence food and drink play in our family and social relationships. Getting my loved ones to understand my new dietary and lifestyle changes was difficult at first. But gradually, as they began to see positive changes in me and I began to feel so much better, it became apparent to everyone that even if they didn’t agree with my new lifestyle, it was better for everyone involved that I stick with it! I think that was one of the hardest obstacles I came up against in my own healing. I hope that answers your question!
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
You know that’s such a serendipitous question because I’ve been doing this experiment in my life lately dealing with surrender. Typically, in my past, I’ve been very controlling and worried about the future. One of my favorite authors, Gabby Bernstein, calls it “future tripping,” and I think it’s such a great term! I future-trip to the max and get so worried about what my future will look like that I forget to live in the present moment, which essentially has stolen away a lot of great moments. So, for the last several months I’ve been working to relax into the unknowing and surrender to the flow of life. Trust me, it’s not as romantic or easy as it sounds. In fact, I’ve often felt like I’m in the middle of a street fight trying to survive, but hey, I’m just being honest! Funny enough though, if you’d asked me 6 months ago, I’d have given you a solid, tangible answer. Now, I have no idea. I have a deep sense that things will be going well, and I’d love to have written a book by then, but I’ve also been surprised by life enough to realize that my plans for the future may look totally different than the beautiful outline the universe has planned for me, so who knows!
Fave book and why?
Oh wow – easily the hardest question to answer yet! I’m such a book junkie. But, if I HAVE to choose, I’d say anything from Brene Brown. Probably her book Daring Greatly, not only for its eloquent and life-changing message, but also because I consider it the book that started me off on my own path of self-discovery and realization. Brene is a genius if you ask me and we could all use a little bit more understanding around the concepts of vulnerability, love and shame. Especially as women!
Favorite recipe you can share with us!
Favorite recipe. Gosh, you’re stumping me here! Maybe I just have too many favorite things – I tend to be pretty passionate about a lot of things! Let’s see…well, this one’s not necessarily my all-time favorite recipe, but I’ve really been digging this simple Goat Kefir Smoothie Recipe lately. It’s got like 4 ingredients, but really hits the spot when you’re craving something sweet but don’t want to open Pandora’s box with something like coconut ice cream. It’s just a handful of frozen mixed berries, a handful of frozen pineapple, ½ cup goat kefir and almond milk. Blend it up and voila! So tasty – yes, even in the winter!
What do you do for workouts?
So workout wise, my routines kind of change depending on how my body is feeling. There was a time when I was ridiculously militant about exercise, particularly because it didn’t seem to matter how much I worked out, I never could get rid of the extra layer of flab I carried around. I came to later find out that all the stress and inflammation in my body was the cause of this, but that’s a story for another time. So now, I like to mix it up between weight lifting, yoga, stretching, running and Olympic lifting. If I’m feeling full of energy, I’ll go for an intense weight lifting session, but if I’m under a lot of stress or feeling a little burnt out, I’ll stick with yoga or walks with my pups. My body feels and looks better than it ever has, so I stick with it!
What are your intentions for 2017? Any big plans personally or career wise?
My intentions for 2017 are to really focus on growing and expanding my business while really digging into the self-growth that will help me become a better practitioner. I feel really excited about this chapter of my life. I just turned 30 a few days ago, and I’ve never felt more creatively alive and inspired as I do now and I’m really looking into ways I can share my story with a bigger audience. I was once really ashamed of the anxious, scared and sickly person I was, but now I realize that I have a unique opportunity to reach out and help others through my experiences and that’s so beautiful to me. I’m just trying my best to live in a space of curiosity and wonder this year, and like I mentioned above, surrendering to the forces outside of myself.
Best piece of advice to give our readers?
Relax. You’re right where you’re supposed to be. I know all too well how much easier said than done that is, but if I could reach back in time to my scared, sick and nervous self, that’s what I would have said. I know it can seem like you’ll never get out from under the rock that’s keeping you down or that things will never change, but I look back now at those same thoughts I had and I laugh. Even if you’re in a great place now, relax. Try not to fear that it will go away or get caught up thinking about the “next” place you want your life to go. Fall in love with every wonderful, nasty, happy, uncomfortable, content and awful feeling your going through right now and recognize it for the beautiful period of growth that it is. I truly believe our souls call in every experience we go through to teach us about who we’re meant to be, and from that standpoint, it becomes much easier to sink into the moment we’re in right here right now. I know that’s a little hippie-dippie for some people, but I say it because it’s what I’ve found to be true in my life and the life of so many that I admire and look up to. The people I’ve seen who are happiest in life are the people who are open to whatever it is life has to give them and who see all experiences as opportunities for expansion and learning. So relax, stay open and never stop loving your life… even when it hurts really bad. This is how we find what we’re searching for. That’s my advice.
I hope you guys were inspired by this beauty! You can find her on: