Women In Wellness: Karyn Smydra Of Sprout Health Coaching On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Women In Wellness: Karyn Smydra Of Sprout Health Coaching On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Find your Ikigai and do that. Ikigai is a Japanese concept that defines where you will find your deepest life satisfaction. Its where what you love to do, what you are good at, what the world needs and how you are paid meet. These concepts also play into health and longevity as people who feel they have purpose and meaning have more satisfaction and live longer.

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 Karyn Smydra.

Karyn is a nurse and Functional Health Coach. She spent the majority of her professional career as a Corporate Trainer educating patients, medical personnel and clients on complex disease states and treatment modalities. COVID allowed her to the opportunity to reevaluate her goals and priorities and she pursued a coaching certification with the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy. Currently, she empowers clients to become their healthiest self through lifestyle changes.

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?

Ispent the majority of my professional career in Corporate medical sales and training — including pharmaceuticals, device and infusion. I was successful because I used my nursing skills to really get to know my clients, understand their needs, and offer valuable solutions. I have a deep love of learning and empowering others with education so I became part of the Corporate Training Departments to educate medical staff, patients and clients. I have created training programs, educational materials and launched several products in all of those arenas. Personal experience and COVID made me reevaluate my contribution to society and I decided to follow my passion which is empowering people with the tools and information to become their best self.

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 don’t know if it’s the most interesting but it was certainly the most impactful in my career. After the birth of my son, I suffered from Post-Partum Depression characterized mostly by insomnia. I visited countless doctors over many years and all wanted to put me on antidepressants or anti-psychotics, which made no sense to me. I remember a frustrating conversation with a physician where I asked, “If we know this is because of my hormones, why are you treating my brain?” And the Dr. just shrugged and answered, “Because that is how we treat it.” It was the first time I questioned Western Medicine and our “health care” system.

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 don’t believe in mistakes — I only see learning opportunities. And I have learned a lot in sales that applies to general life as well! The most important lesson I am still learning as a frequent people pleaser is the importance of boundaries — both for my benefit and the benefit of others. In life and in sales, I have been willing to do “what it takes” to get the sale or “be a good friend”. I never evaluated the cost to me and my personal well-being. As I’ve gotten older and done some work to understand why I put my value in how others see me, I have learned to be honest about what I need in relationships and how to vocalize it. I’ve learned that sharing my true needs and wants is my job in a relationship and only being a “yes” person isn’t fair to the other parties.

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?

We have slowly become a society dependent on pharmaceuticals to function when 8 out of 10 diseases killing Americans can be eradicated by lifestyle changes including nutrition, movement, sleep, stress and support networks. I partner with clients to identify their health objectives and meet their personalized goals. We focus on true “health care”- not sick care.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

  1. Start where you are.

Most people fail at lifestyle changes because their goals aren’t realistic or attainable. Start where you currently are. Ask yourself, “Where do I want to be in 1 year? Is it realistic to think I can get there?” Think of the smallest, easiest step to get you started towards your goal. Start there. The first few steps of any change are purely to create new habits and brain pathways — to “get the ball rolling”. As you start to see positive impacts with your changed lifestyle habits, the changes will become easier to attain.

2. You have to become a priority-some of the time.

Women are nurturers by nature and we have created a culture where we put our needs behind our children, partner, jobs and many other things in our lives. Couple this with the idea that if we’re not busy, we’re lazy or selfish and it’s a recipe for unhealthy behaviors. For any positive change to happen, we need to recognize that we can’t help others if we don’t help ourselves. We can’t fill others glasses from an empty pitcher. Therefore, we must learn to prioritize our own self-care — whatever that looks like for you. Maybe it starts with just 10 minutes a day of sitting in a quiet room with no interruptions. Learning the act of putting yourself first is really more important than the actual task.

3. Get rid of highly processed food.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is a major contributor to the state of disease in this nation. Go back to eating like our grandparents did. Eat foods with no labels. If it has a label, can you pronounce all the ingredients? If not, don’t eat it. Implementing this change, even in small amounts, can have a really big impact.

4 . Make sleep a priority.

Lack of sleep affects all other systems in the body. Aim for at least 7–8 hours of sleep per night. Create a sleep routine that includes no device an hour before bed, no caffeine close to bedtime and some time reading or journaling.

5. Find friends who make you laugh.

Life can be difficult at times. Find friends with whom you can be yourself and make you laugh. Study after study show that individuals with strong support networks are happier, have less depression and live longer.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

My dream is to create and open a true wellness center that would include a gym, a kitchen for group cooking lessons, a mind/body room, meeting rooms for support groups and Functional Health practitioners. We have to get out of the mindset and habit of using Western Medicine as a first line in “health care”. Health care is what happens on a minute-to-minute basis in our daily life outside of doctors’ offices.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. The habits I created when I was young(er) are the ones that affect my health when I am older. I grew up in the 80s with little oversight and developed some really bad habits like smoking and taking birth control. As an uninformed teen, I didn’t realize how these would alter my physiology and ultimately, my health. The body displayed difficulty through different symptoms in breaking up with my bad habits.

Conversely, for some unbeknownst reason, I started going to the gym and lifting weights at the age of 16 and I haven’t stopped. Now I understand this is one of the most powerful ways to stay healthy.

2. Be as kind to yourself as you are to your friends. The inner voice can be our most powerful critic. Learning to reframe negative thoughts and perceptions from the inside can drastically change our actions and experiences on the outside. Talk to yourself as you would a best friend. Our thoughts become words and our words turn into actions. Make all of those thoughts and words positive so you have healthy actions in your everyday life!

3. Find your Ikigai and do that. Ikigai is a Japanese concept that defines where you will find your deepest life satisfaction. Its where what you love to do, what you are good at, what the world needs and how you are paid meet. These concepts also play into health and longevity as people who feel they have purpose and meaning have more satisfaction and live longer.

4. Where you put your energy is where you will grow. Choose wisely. It’s a concept most understand yet we still spend hours scrolling mindlessly or not investing in our personal relationships. Ask yourself. “what do I want my life to look like in 3–5 years?” What small steps could you be taking now to get you closer to that goal? Become aware of the tasks that cause you to be anxious, depressed or robbing your peace and learn to set boundaries.

5. You don’t have to be perfect. Social media floods our everyday lives with images of perfection that are totally unrealistic. The truth is that we all have flaws, challenges to overcome, and opportunities for growth. Don’t compare yourself to others — their goals might be dramatically different than yours. Treat your wellness journey like running a mile. It’s you against you. Some days, you run fast and some days, your time is slower. The important thing is to keep going, stay positive, and look for ways to incorporate decisions or actions into your life that make that make you your healthiest version of you.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Mental Health — it goes back to what I said before. We can’t take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves. So much of what we are seeing in the world today is due to outside influences. Take care of yourself first — eat well, exercise, get sleep, spend time with your friends, find a purpose. Stay away from tv and social media. Heal yourself first and then help heal others around you. The world would look a lot different if we approached it from a healed soul as opposed to a hurt one.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

I can be reached Sprouthealthcoaching .com or follow me on instagram @functionalhealthcoachkarynrn

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.

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