Health Coach Spotlight
Featured Coach: Michal Ofer
An introduction to Michal in her own words: I am a wellness consultant and digestive health expert – but really, I am a woman on a mission to support, teach, mentor and ultimately empower other smart, soulful women to release the food fight and the body bashing.
In doing so, they have more energy for creating a life that they love, they learn how to listen to their bodies, feel amazing and make a difference in the process.
Hi, Michal! Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your journey to becoming a Wellness Consultant?
I am truly blessed and grateful to have this opportunity.
I feel free in my relationship with food. I eat intuitively and understand what will leave me feeling my best (or not so much). It comes down to a combination of fuel, flavour and fun. I love how food nourishes me, brings pleasure to my life, and allows me to connect with people.
I feel confident in my body. I appreciate how my unique body moves, digests, and keeps me alive. I love the look of my body, including all the scars, marks, dimples and imperfections. I move my body because it feels good, not because I ‘must,’ ‘should,’ or I did something wrong.
I love my life. I have the energy for the things that matter to me, like self-care, nurturing relationships, and sharing my gifts and passions with the world.
Sadly, this was not always the case…
For many years I had an unhealthy and unhappy relationship with food, my body, and my life (it was probably my best and longest hidden secret). I would read every diet or food book I could get my hands on and eat in a very rigid way. I treated my body poorly and abused it in pursuit of the ‘perfect’ body and strive to be the woman everyone (media and society included) felt I should be. I was a chronic overachiever, a people pleaser, a self-saboteur and the queen of everything-or-nothing. I never felt good enough and I was never, ever satisfied, exactly as I was.
This was exhausting and kept me tired, sick and feeling stuck.
A huge life event left me at the hands of the Western medical system whose only solution for me was a handful of pills and the idea that this was my lot in life, what I would have to live with forever. This was not good enough for me and I knew things had to change, right then, right away. I began researching and studying, learning about the science of food and nutrition, learning how to critically think about whether or not to believe bits of information presented in the media, on popular bookshelves, or in the research itself. Learning how food affected me on all levels, in all ways and always. I learned how to trust my body, trust myself and ultimately heal. Now I find myself in the fortunate position of helping others do the same.
I have supported countless individuals to transform their lives through finding freedom in their relationship with food and listening to and loving their bodies. I’ve spent hours upon hours studying nutrition, mindfulness, intuitive eating, behaviour change, positive psychology, business, communications, and leadership; and the best part is that the more I learn, the more I find to learn. When I am not studying, I am practicing my own learnings and teachings.
How would you describe your philosophy on health, nutrition, and lifestyle?
I believe it’s time to ditch the all-or-nothing approach. It’s time to understand that eating for fuel, flavor and fun is possible. It’s time to say goodbye to perfection and embrace pleasure. It’s time to throw out your rigid food rules, and acknowledging that you deserve to enjoy your food, and more importantly, your life!
I am talking about nourishment on all levels, physical, spiritual and emotional. True wellness is all being healthy and enjoying it! True wellness is understanding that you are worth it!
I am here to teach you, guide you and remind you that you deserve to feel free in your relationship with food, at home in your body, and in love with your life, right now, today!
What’s unique about your approach and how does it differ from other consultants?
I come across too many people feeling stuck, imprisoned, out of balance, and simply not good enough. Too many people waiting to drop the next 10 pounds, earn the next 10 dollars, or putting life off for the next 10 years before they will start eating and living well.
True nourishment and eating for your wellness doesn’t have to be overwhelming, complicated and confusing. It can be simple and do-able. Understanding that each person is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to feeling your best is key to achieving the levels of wellness we desire. I combine science, heart, and personalization to support people in doing just that. All my nutrition counseling services are designed to meet each person’s unique health challenges and diet and nutrition requirements.
I am part of a team of functional and integrative doctors and healthcare professionals providing care on all levels, if and when necessary.
To those who are looking to begin their health and nutrition journey, what advice would you offer?
Healthy does not have to be complicated or confusing. Keep it simple and start with one small step – whatever that may be for you – and build on that. Get help, support and accountability – from a friend, community or professional. This plays a huge part in not only achieving but maintaining your goals.
What advice would you offer to those who are struggling to motivate themselves to start or commit to a new diet?
The only time you have to eat and live well is now. Choose one thing, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem, and do that, today.
What’s your take on New Year’s Resolutions? Do you have any 2020 resolutions you’re working on?
The New Year is often that time when you see the opportunity for a fresh start. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of the typical broad goals people tend to make this time of year. This may be resolutions like losing weight, getting more organized, learning a language, reducing debt and expenditure, following a low carb diet or going to the gym three times a week.
I am not trying to say that these are not all good objectives; they are wonderful ways to improve and build on the lifestyle you want to achieve. I have, however, noticed (as I am sure you have too), that two weeks into the New Year most of you will go back to your old habits. That time spent contemplating a long list of resolutions was wasted and worse yet, when all the promises you make to yourself fall by the wayside, you are left with unnecessary guilt and shame.
Why put yourself through that? How about making a resolution not to make resolutions anymore? Or, if you feel the need to accomplish set some goals for this year, how about making goals that are worthwhile?
For me, I like to focus on lifestyle changes and things that not only improve my life and the quality of my relationships, but the lives of those around me – listening more, speaking less, acknowledging and expressing gratitude, learning something new (this year I plan to learn to ride a motorcycle) – those, to me, are the types of resolutions worth working on.
What are some key recommendations on diet and nutrition you typically give to your clients?
We always start with the premise that ingredients matter and real food is true nourishment and can help, support and heal in so many ways.
If you had one rule for people to stick by, what would it be?
Eat real food – if you can kill it, pick it or pluck it, chances are it’s going to be a good choice
Have you seen “The Game Changers”, and if so, what were your thoughts on it? If not, what are your thoughts on plant-based diets?
I have seen the film and am not a fan or proponent of plant-based diets for everyone, although some people do particularly well on them, many do not! I am a believer in following a nutrition plan that the human species evolved to eat – ancestral nutrition. This includes animal-sourced proteins, plants and naturally occurring fats – all of which require minimal processing. Many observational studies look at diets completely out of context—focusing solely on nutrients, isolated food components, or biomarkers, without considering the overall quality of the diet. One of the inevitable results of doing this is that many observational studies end up comparing two groups of people that are not at all similar, and this casts doubt on the findings. This is how we get misleading claims that vegetarians and vegans live longer than omnivores, or red meat causes serious health conditions like cancer or cardiovascular disease, or that eating meat disrupts your gut microbiome.
Bio Individuality plays a huge role in optimizing health too and what works well for one, maybe very detrimental to another.