Know your superfoods. I listened to a great podcast about how everyone has different superfoods. Start a food diary and document how you feel 30 minutes afterward. Those foods that give you energy and make you feel well are your superfoods. Avoid the ones that make you feel sluggish or unwell.
Today, more than ever, wellness is at the forefront of societal discussions. From mental health to physical well-being, women are making significant strides in bringing about change, introducing innovative solutions, and setting new standards. Despite facing unique challenges, they break barriers, inspire communities, and are reshaping the very definition of health and wellness. In this series called women in wellness we are talking to women doctors, nurses, nutritionists, therapists, fitness trainers, researchers, health experts, coaches, and other wellness professionals to share their stories and insights. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Katy Poole.
Katy Poole is an experienced family nurse practitioner who struggled with infertility and miscarriage. She used her doctoral program to research what can be done to improve the odds of conceiving naturally as well as with IVF. Two sons later, she now helps others optimize their fertility health and create the family they want.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Sure! I never knew how challenging it would be for my husband and I to conceive, I thought it would just happen. I was a pediatric nurse for five years and have been a family nurse practitioner for almost 7 years. I knew how this worked, right? So when a positive pregnancy test did not come quickly, I felt like something was wrong. Struggling with infertility started to consume me. I knew my health insurance did not cover IVF. This sparked me to begin research on what I could do to improve my odds of getting pregnant. Around this time, I was accepted to a Doctor of Nursing program. This program really helped me evaluate the literature and understand what research shows in regards to fertility. I started to change my diet, take supplements, and avoid toxins. Weeks before my appointment with the fertility clinic, we got a positive pregnancy test. I knew I was on to something. Around the time I was pregnant with my second son, I had close friends undergoing IVF & freezing their eggs. They called asking for help reconstituting medicine, doing injections, and I was like holy cow, this is A LOT, and I have been doing this for over 10 years. I realized that the research regarding fertility had a lot of crossover on how to improve egg health and get more high quality eggs. I started a program to help those freezing their eggs, undergoing IVF, or trying to conceive (TTC). We meet each client where they are at. I help evaluate clinics, look for underlying health issues contributing to infertility, restructure diet, recommend supplements, and offer support. I feel like I have perfectly morphed all of my experience and education to create a program that helps others like me.I LOVE it, I am so excited to be doing what I am doing now.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
I had a client undergoing IVF ask her provider about taking specific supplements that the literature shows improved outcomes related to her underlying health issues. I even provided her with a research study that shows these specific supplements help with improving implantation. The nurse she spoke with first said she didn’t need to take them. I had her go up the chain of command and ask the physician. His response was people usually do well with implantation, and he doesn’t like to bother his clients with supplements, but she could certainly take them if she wants.
IVF is expensive. I want my clients to do everything possible to get the babies they want. Additionally, I want them to get there sooner, not three rounds of IVF later. This moment reiterated exactly why I started doing this type of consulting. I don’t have a magic pill or diet, but I do have an education that helps me assess the data and make evidence based recommendations that can improve fertility health and lead to a healthy baby sooner.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I agree, mistakes and roadblocks are great teachers. I think one mistake I made in the beginning was that one plan will work for everyone. I worked so hard to streamline a specific program for all my clients. It does not work that way. I have clients in all parts of the country and in other countries. We have to troubleshoot all the time with clinics and timing. I have clients with different health histories, each of their bodies NEED different things. Different diets. Different supplements. You can’t treat everyone the same because everyone needs to be met wherever they are on on their journey.
Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
I have recently noticed how many nurse practitioners are stepping out of the traditional clinic roles in efforts to help certain demographics such as women who are struggling with menopausal symptoms, ADHD, chronic IBS, weight loss, etc. I am really excited to see fellow NP’s using our knowledge as well as personal and professional experience in a way that is not confined to 15-minute appointments & prescription medication. Expanding healthcare to a more tailored experience leads to better outcomes for our clients as well as a better work life balance for those of us who have been confined to the 8–5 or 12 hour shifts.
The road to being a mom was not an easy one for me. Now I get to help others who want to be moms, now or later, expedite their time to being a mom. Mother Teresa said, “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.” Being a mom has been the best thing to happen to me. It has made me a better citizen daughter, practitioner, and person. When you have people who want to be parents , who take care and love their kids, those children go on to be our community members. Our future. I want to be an advocate for those who need guidance during the process to create the families they want because I truly believe that if we care for our families, the world is a better place.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?
1 . Know your superfoods. I listened to a great podcast about how everyone has different superfoods. Start a food diary and document how you feel 30 minutes afterward. Those foods that give you energy and make you feel well are your superfoods. Avoid the ones that make you feel sluggish or unwell.
2 . Listen to your body! When I was in nursing school, I felt horrible. I was tired, had little energy, recurrent hives, bloated and developed IBS. I started listening to my body. I cut out dairy and gluten my second year and finally had energy. I felt better. After I cut those foods, I had energy to go back to spin, kickboxing and did a triathlon. Years later I slowly reintroduced those foods and now consume them in moderation. My body needed a break! It can take a while to realize just how much we put into our body affects performance. The things we need may change over time too, and that’s okay! I have had clients who were vegetarians. One day their body flipped and they wanted meat. That is okay. Your body needs different things based on what is going on at that time.
3 . The Mediterranean Diet is the 1st choice for a fertility diet. It is a balanced diet and has also been shown to help with longevity, memory and cardiovascular health. There are so many great Mediterranean recipes out there to accommodate any diet. It may take a little while to make those changes, but start with 1 Mediterranean recipe a week and go from there. I tend to prepare 1 large nontraditional salad to grab for lunch all week. I will cook a batch of quinoa, cut up some tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, olives and make my own dressing. I may top it with some chickpeas, hummus or chicken. Find a few that you like and rotate them.
4 . Fertility is a spectrum and it changes over time. There are things we can do to negatively and positively affect fertility including diet, supplements, toxins, and inflammation. While overall health is important for fertility as well as pregnancy, and labor, there may be additional factors to consider. Making changes to become fertility fit 3–4 months before trying to conceive can make a big impact and shorten the time it takes to get pregnant. It can really affect the health of the eggs and sperm which is critical to conceive a healthy baby. Make the changes that you can make to optimize your body.
5 . The best exercise is the one you will do. Don’t splurge on trending workouts if it’s not something you can stick with. Find what you can be consistent with. Walking is great, and it’s free. Make it a daily practice and include the family. A lot of high intensity workouts may be okay for weight loss but they are really not great for fertility.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Being that I work in the fertility realm & I have worked in healthcare for 12+ years, preventative medicine is what would bring the most wellness. Do not wait to take charge of your health until there is a problem. See a trusted practitioner routinely to catch the first signs of a problem. Spend money on your health so that you don’t have to spend money on your illness later on. As a healthcare provider, when we build a rapport with the patient often we can tell by looking at you or the first few words to come out of your mouth if something worrisome is going on. It is a lot easier to do with somebody that you have known for years and have built a relationship with. You can identify changes that may be indicative of something concerning.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Nothing happens overnight. Not in business. Not in health. Small habit changes over time make a big impact. Persistence & consistency will get you where you need to go.
- You don’t know what you don’t know. I didn’t know when TTC that there was so much I could do to improve my chances of getting pregnant naturally, and I am a healthcare provider. No one told me and I didn’t even know where to start. I hope to make a fast track fertility path for others in the same boat.
- You must advocate for yourself and your family. Speak up! Mistakes happen everywhere, even in healthcare. I advocate for my patients all the time, but sometimes I find it hard to speak up when it comes to my own health. Ask questions. Give pushback. Get a second opinion. Good providers are going to always be happy for you to get a second opinion.
- Know your worth. I did not gain all of my experience reading a few books or getting a certification. I have gained it in practice. I have multiple degrees, I have studied, I have invested time, money, and mental load to know what I am doing and to do it very well. But I have learned more from doing, from practicing, and from living what I teach.
- Put on your oxygen mask first. You cannot be everything to everyone. You must prioritize your health. I see moms give up their own health for that of their family all the time. But it does not end in long term health wealth. You must invest time in your own wellness so that you can be the best version of yourself to others. This is an excellent example for your children as well. If they see how you prioritize your health, they are more likely to do the same. Ultimately, that is what we want for our children, for them to be happy and healthy. If they do not see you prioritizing your health, your relationships, what you consume in your diet but also on the television and in your personal life, they will not know how to do the same. Try and let go of the ‘mom guilt’ and remember that you are also a person who needs taking care of.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Hands down, mental health. Mental health is how we will be sustainable and have the bandwidth to care for others within our world. It is how we will communicate to others and workout BIG issues. It is the core of our wellness. Unfortunately, it’s not as accessible as I would hope. When I suffered a miscarriage, I was desperate to find a counselor. Everyone had a 6 month waitlist and many did not take insurance. We must continue to move mental health to the bottom of the pyramid as it is critical for growth and development of all ages.
What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?
You can follow along on Instagram @katypoolewellness or check out how to work with me 1:1 at www.katypoole.com
Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.
About the interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at CrunchyMamaBox.com.