My Journey to Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle
How Making one small change at a time Improved My Overall health & Wellness
I believe myself to be a soldier in the battle for good nutrition. To my daughter’s chagrin, I found myself contemplating handing out fresh cut organic broccoli spears on Halloween last year. Why drug our children on sugar when we can sooth their moods and protect their brains with good old-fashioned real food? Ok, ok, maybe not on Halloween… I'm also a believer in moderation.
Why am I so interested in health? Because we are an overfed, undernourished, sick society. If we make some simple changes in lifestyle, we can get well and teach our children how to get well without unnecessary trips to the doctor. I am living proof. I grew up in a loving atmosphere with nurturing parents, family and friends. Yet, from an early age, I struggled with my weight and, as a result, my self-confidence. I battled clinical depression for my teen and early adult years. My doctors nor I ever considered that the food I was eating could be my poison (or my medicine). I learned good coping mechanisms to help maintain a functional life. I found success with acupuncture, a good psychologist and sometimes medication. Gratefully, I even made several good choices while battling depression — like maintaining strong family and friend bonds and meeting a great guy to live my life with! Yet, I secretly felt terrible about how I felt and looked and it affected me greatly in mood and energy.
After I had my first child, I made a new friend, (and now fellow IIN health coach Molly O'Neil of mPoweringhealth.com), who noticeably took good care of herself through nutrition and exercise. She never lectured me to do the same but was a role model and cheerleader, lifting me up when I tried a new class or laughing with me when I tried one of her "healthy" muffins and made a face. It was a slow start but I got hooked at a mommy boot camp once a week, which was not only great to get me moving but became a social outlet for me as well. The first few weeks I felt uncomfortable in my own skin and embarrassed that I couldn’t quite keep up. I stayed as far away from those floor to ceiling mirrors as possible. Yet, I kept going back and really got more engaged and felt a part of the group, and even discovered a sort of happiness high from it. With my second pregnancy, I continued to make an effort to stay active. I gained confidence and felt more alive. My husband, family and friends were extremely supportive. I definitely value supportive relationships and know it has pushed me to stay on track.
One day I had a thought — what if I ate better too? But, where do I start? And it was once again a process- a very long process, (to this day), to incorporate sustainable healthy eating habits. No quick fix. No gimmicks. Little by little, through trial and error, I made changes in my diet & lifestyle. These were not Earth shattering changes. Instead, they were manageable and attainable changes and I committed to them. It paid off. I not only lost the weight I wanted to, but more importantly gained the inner strength and confidence to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 9 Years later, I’ve transformed (with the help of many) myself into the woman, mom, wife I am proud of. I feed myself — and now my own family — with nourishing food and love for the body & soul. I’m passionate when it comes to educating others about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. I believe that we are what we eat — and we can always strive to be our best in health and happiness, one small change at a time. I’m nowhere near perfect at this. I make choices sometimes that are not the healthiest. I get stressed. I crave sugar. I love a glass of wine (or 2) after a long day. I am constantly trying to find balance in life. I’m only human — the difference is that instead of dwelling on my less healthy choices, I move on — look forward — and keep trying to do my best. Oh, and, I try to have fun doing it! It is a LIFELONG commitment, a time & attitude shift to get healthy and stay healthy. I strongly believe it’s the best choice we can ever make to enhance our lives and affect the lives around us, especially our kids! I’m committed to guiding others to find what works for them to get the most out of their life, and that truly starts with a goal-based health program with a health coach who never stops believing that we can get healthy if we really want to! If I can do this, you can do this!
Press & Testimonials
"Best Health Coach" — NS Magazine, Modern Luxury North Shore
Year in Review—Ten Most-Read Stories from 2017: "Wilmette Mom Uses Family Allergies to Start Chia Leah" — The Beacon, 22nd Century Media
"You delivered one of the best lifestyle talks I have heard. I attended one of the few medical schools that had a course on human nutrition in the 1980s. It is a topic that fascinates me. To integrate it with sleep and exercise is revelatory! Kudos to you for blazing this trail and sharing your knowledge with the community!" — Mike Tobin, MD, Wilmette
"Chia Leah's fall workshop was inspiring, fun and gave me tools I can use every day." — Heidi Harding, Wilmette
"I have more energy, I am happier on a regular basis, I have more respect for myself, and my life has never been more exciting. Not to mention, I have lost 12 pounds as of today." — Jack Mengel, Boston, MA
Chia Leah Office Location
1222 Washington Court, Suite 201B
Wilmette, IL, 60091
Certified Health Coach
I graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I learned innovative coaching methods, practical lifestyle management techniques, and over 100 dietary theories; everything from Ayurveda, gluten-free, and Paleo, to raw, vegan, and macrobiotics, and everything in between.
I studied with the world's top health and wellness experts Including:
Joshua Rosenthal, founder and director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition
Deepak Chopra, MD, leader in the field of mind-body medicine
Dr. David Katz, MD, MPH, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center
Dr. Walter Willett, MD, DrPH, chair of nutrition at Harvard University
Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine
Gabrielle Bernstein, bestselling author and life coach
Susan Blum, MD, MPH, assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Mark Hyman, MD, founder of The UltraWellness Center
Geneen Roth, bestselling author and expert on emotional eating
David Wolfe, raw food leader and nutrition expert
Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, professor at New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health
Mark Bittman, food writer for the New York Times and bestselling author
Joel Fuhrman, MD, family physician and leading expert on nutritional healing
and many other leading researchers and nutrition authorities
My education has equipped me with extensive, cutting-edge knowledge in holistic nutrition, health coaching, and prevention. Drawing on my expertise, I work with clients like you to help make lifestyle changes and choose health-promoting ways that produce real and lasting results. You will develop a deeper understanding of food and lifestyle choices that work best for you, improving your energy, balance, health, and happiness.
Each session will leave you feeling inspired and motivated. I will personally and carefully guide you to make simple, small changes that transform your life.
Institute for Integrative Nutrition
IIN Hormone Health
Mad Dogg Atheletics
TRX Suspension Training
Holistic Health & Wellness
I practice a holistic approach to health and wellness, which means that I look at how all areas of your life are connected. Does stress at your job or in your relationship cause you to overeat? Does lack of sleep or low energy prevent you from exercising? As we work together, we will look at how all parts of your life affect your health as a whole.
My approach is not to dwell on calories, carbs, fats, and proteins. It is not to create lists of restrictions or good and bad foods. Instead, I work with my clients to create a happy, healthy life in a way that is flexible, fun and rewarding.
Together we’ll work to reach your health goals in areas such as achieving optimal weight, reducing food cravings, increasing sleep, and maximizing energy. As we work together, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of the food and lifestyle choices that work best for you and implement lasting changes that will improve your energy, balance and health.
Integrative Nutrition® Plate
The Integrative Nutrition Plate emphasizes the importance of local and organic produce, whole grains, high-quality proteins, plant-based fats, and water. It shows you how a plate should appear at mealtime and emphasizes the importance of proportions and portion size. To complete the picture, the plate is surrounded with lifestyle factors that create optimal health: relationship, career, physical activity and spirituality. I’ll introduce you to some of the healthiest foods on the planet and teach you how to find what’s healthiest for your unique body!
It’s easy to overlook all of the things that contribute to our sense of nourishment and fulfillment. It’s not just the food we eat that affects our health, but all of the other factors present in our daily lives. Healthy relationships, a fulfilling career, regular physical activity, and a spiritual awareness are essential forms of nourishment. When these “primary foods” are balanced, what you eat becomes secondary. I will support you in achieving all of your goals, from eating the right foods for your body to living an inspired, fulfilling life.
The concept of bio-individuality is the idea that each of us has unique food and lifestyle needs. One person’s food is another person’s poison, and that’s why fad diets tend to fail in the long run. Working on the principle of bio-individuality, I’ll support you to make positive changes that are based on your unique needs, lifestyle, preferences, and ancestral background.
Many nutrition experts give their clients a list of foods to avoid and foods to eat, which explains why so many people are turned off by nutrition. My approach is different – by eating and drinking foods that are good for you, you will naturally have less room and desire for unhealthy foods. Simply put, you will “crowd out” the unhealthy food in your diet. This takes a little practice to make happen, but I will support you all the way.
Cravings play a critical role in understanding what your body needs and shouldn’t be ignored. When you learn how to deconstruct your cravings and understand what they’re really telling you, you will be able to reclaim a sense of balance and harmony.