It’s beginning to look a lot more hectic as we close out 2021. Another year of the new normal, where nothing is normal anymore. Another year where priorities have shifted and you had to make some hard decisions. Another year, where you looked at failure and success, and you wondered how are you going to balance it all? And hopefully, another year where you were able to make yourself a priority and offer up yourself some self-compassion.

If you struggle with how to do that, today’s guest can help. Laura Mack is here to help us understand what it means to put your own oxygen mask on first.

Audrea Fink:

Hey there, this is Audrea Fink here with Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris and Julie Holton. We are your Think Tank of Three. And our guest today is Laura Mack. And we are talking about holistic wellness and self-care. Now you guys know how much I love, hate the topic of self-care.

Julie Holton:

It might come once or twice.

Audrea Fink:

It’s why I’m so pumped to talk to Laura about health coaching and self care, and to really dig into taking care of yourself. Especially as we are nearing the end of this holiday season.

Julie Holton:

Yes, we talk about this privately all the time, about like the cost of self care and adding that extra, like now we have to go get mani pedis and have like breakfast with the girlfriends. And it has to be posted on Instagram or it didn’t happen. And it’s like, become this … Audrea, you say this all the time. It’s like one more thing that, as women, we have to do. When really-

Audrea Fink:

And do it right.

Julie Holton:

Right. And it’s not at all what it’s intended for. But before we dive in, let’s introduce you to our guest, Laura. She is a health and wellness coach and founder of her company, Leaf Wellness Coaching. She offers health coaching and mentoring based specifically on what you need. She works with her clients to assess their needs based on their individual lifestyle, stress level, sleep quality, their work environment, personal relationships. Laura, I love this, no fad diets here.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

Ah, this is going to be very, very good for me. Prior to her launching her own company, Laura worked in marketing for Pacific Northwest Law Firms and as a creative marketing consultant. She has a certificate from the Institute of Integrated Nutrition and a Bachelors from Rowan University. When Laura isn’t helping her clients take better care of themselves, she’s out living her best life with her husband catching all the hockey, hello, games that she in the PNW has to offer. Including the NHLs newest team, I love this team’s name, the Seattle Kraken. I absolutely love that name. Laura-

Laura Mack:

Go Kraken.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

Go Kraken. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us today as I come running in from my son’s hockey game. So it’s all good.

Laura Mack:

Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here.

Audrea Fink:

We’re stoked to have you. So Laura and I know each other from our time together in legal. And personally, I just think it’s been really cool to watch her shift from corporate in a legal industry, sort of the corporate marketing, corporate creative space. And then she bounces into wellness coaching. So not only is that like a massive shift, just going from being in the corporate environment to having your own business. But also you shifted from focusing on businesses, to a very personal, very intimate role in people’s lives. And while as a … what is it? Legal alum. I can guess why you made the shift to wellness. But can you tell us a little bit about that journey and what steps you took along the way? Because this wasn’t something where you just woke up one morning and switched.

Laura Mack:

That is very true. It is not something where I just woke up one morning and made the switch. Health and wellness has been a passionate of mine for quite a while. But what happened was when I moved into the legal space, I kind of fell into some bad habits. The legal industry is known for being one of the worst for alcohol and drug problems, mental health problems. And while I’m not a lawyer, a lot of those issues still transferred to staff. And thankfully I never ran into my own personal issues with alcoholism or drug addiction, but I did pick up some pretty unhealthy habits. Eventually I ended up becoming one of the most unhealthy people that I knew. I put on a lot of weight, working too many hours, not handling stress well, all of those things.

Laura Mack:

And then a few years ago I was at a party and I met a woman who introduced herself as a health coach. I was like, “Huh, that’s interesting.” And as I talked with her some more, I was like, “I really need to work with this woman.” And so I did, I worked with her for a little while and it was a life changing experience. I lost 20 pounds. Yay. And then I realized, this is what I want to do. Because I felt so amazing after going through this process, I kind of wanted to be an evangelist, if you would. I wanted everyone to feel this way, like being healthy became addictive and it was amazing. So that’s kind of how I started. Then I enrolled at IIN and got my certificate and here we are. And it’s been an amazing journey.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

I was listening to you talking about the journey and meeting someone at a party. When you first ran into this person, because you’ll hear sometimes, like we hear life coach, career coach, health coach. And these things are starting to take on, depending on where you’re at, it can start to take on a bit of a stigma. You didn’t seem to have any kind of … I mean, when you first heard, I’m a life coach. That was just like, “Oh.” Or was that like, “Hmm?”

Laura Mack:

That’s a great question. It was like … and I get it all the time now. So what does a health coach do? What is that? She basically explained that she works with people that are looking to make changes in their lives, health wise. That’s the biggest differentiator is I knew I wanted to lose weight. And honestly, while she’s sitting there talking to me about what a health coach does, I’m eating a cookie. Then I had a glass of wine.

Julie Holton:

You are my kind of gal.

Audrea Fink:

Yeah, right. That sounds like a Tuesday night for me.

Laura Mack:

Exactly. But it was just more as she explained the whole process, I was like that, I need that. I couldn’t even tell you how many diets I’ve tried in the past and diets don’t work for me. I’m not a diet person. The minute I can’t have something that’s restricted on the diet, forget it, I’m going to eat it. And I’m going to say, “Screw it.”

Audrea Fink:

Well, science also says the diets don’t work. Like the-

Laura Mack:

Exactly, that’s true.

Audrea Fink:

The science of it is, while you can short term potentially lose weight on a diet. You can’t keep it off if you’re on a diet. You really have to manage your life overall.

Laura Mack:

Exactly, exactly. And that was the whole life changing aspect for me because it wasn’t just, “I’m going to go on this diet and I’m going to lose this weight.” It was, I lost weight and I’ve kept that weight off and I’m healthier now than I have been in years.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

Okay. So in that vein with regards to life coach, wellness coach, therapist. What then is the difference between being a health wellness coach and a therapist and/or therapist?

Laura Mack:

The main difference between being a health coach and a therapist is a therapist is a licensed professional. Also, a lot of times what happens is people tend to refer to me as a life coach and I’m not a life coach, either. As a health coach or a health and wellness coach, I’m focused on a person’s wellbeing, namely their overall wellness. A life coach generally helps people with personal or professional goals. A lot of times those goals are pretty specific, such as career advancement.

Laura Mack:

And like I said, a therapist is a licensed professional and they’re trained to help people with emotional or mental health issues. In my role because I’m technically an integrative nutrition health coach. So I take a holistic approach and I’ll look at a person’s whole life. What they taught us at IIN is there’s primary food and there’s secondary food. Primary food is made up of your job, your relationships, your finances, kind of your whole life. And as we all know, a lot of times what’s going on in our lives impacts what we eat and drink. Again, my past life was a good example of that. Stress management for me was a glass of wine or piece of chocolate. Stress management for me now is very, very different. It’s going for a walk, doing some deep breathing, things like that.

Laura Mack:

So what that means is secondary food is actually the food that’s on our plate or what we drink. They call it primary food because what’s happening in our lives is so important. And I think a lot of times that’s why people get confused and think I’m a life coach. But I’m not, I’m here to help you find balance in your entire life. But I’m focused on your wellness. And then going back to a therapist, I’m not trained nor am I qualified to help someone with significant emotional, mental health issues. If I have a client who I recognize has these issues that I can’t help them with, I will refer them to a therapist.

Audrea Fink:

Laura, I want to dig into this topic of primary and secondary food. You talk about jobs, finances, relationships. In a health coach model, how do you help your clients with the primary food? How do you get into the details with them and what are some of the maybe warning signs or triggers or red flags that people should be looking for if their primary food is off?

Laura Mack:

Probably the biggest warning sign is … well, maybe there’s two. It’s how you feel. We are each our own experts with our own bodies in our own lives. And a lot of times we already know what’s wrong, or what’s causing the not being balanced or the off balance in our lives. What I do is I help people drill down and identify exactly what it is that is triggering the lack of balance in their lives.

Laura Mack:

Sometimes I’ll liken it to being like a personal trainer where you know that you need to exercise, you need to do whatever. But the personal trainer will help you with your form or help you identify the areas that you want to work on. And that’s what I do. My sessions are very client driven, client is in charge. And I provide the prompts to help him or her identify where the lack of balance is in their lives. And identify the steps that they want to take to change them.

Julie Holton:

Laura, what made you want to take this more holistic approach to nutrition? It seems like … and doesn’t even seem like, there is. There is a new fad diet everywhere you look. And sometimes, I mean, we all get caught up in them. But what did you see in your own life and clients that really made you think that you needed to, one, take this holistic approach? And two, really customize it for each individual?

Laura Mack:

The diet business is a $70 billion, that’s with a B, industry.

Audrea Fink:

Wow.

Laura Mack:

And many of the fad diets are designed to have people come back to them. We know this as yo-yo dieting. Often some will go on a diet and they may see success with losing weight. However, they don’t generally change their eating and lifestyle habits. So what happens is, they will lose the weight, go off the diet, go back to their old habits. And then they often end up gaining back not only the weight that they lost, but then some. And the yo-yo dieting, it’s not good for your body and quite frankly, it’s not good for your emotional well-being, either. And overall-

Audrea Fink:

It also can lead … oops, sorry, go ahead.

Laura Mack:

No, go ahead.

Audrea Fink:

It also can lead to eating disorders. So one of the things in my life-

Laura Mack:

Exactly, yes, yes.

Audrea Fink:

That I have done, is I have been in a pursuit of wellness, with quotation marks because that’s not what it was, it was a fad diet. I’ve gone on these diets-

Laura Mack:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Audrea Fink:

And I didn’t do the yo-yo because I was like, “Okay, I’m going to make this lifestyle choice.” So I took a diet, I stuck with it. It was super strict and it got to the point where everything I put into my mouth made me stressed. And I developed an eating disorder based on health and wellness. So you either yo-yo back and forth because it doesn’t work or it disrupts the way you eat entirely and you have to relearn how to eat.

Laura Mack:

Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And it’s not only not healthy, it’s just not sustainable. And I was one of those people, I would go on a diet and then I would get frustrated or bored. And as I mentioned earlier, then I get resentful because I couldn’t eat what I wanted to eat. And that just didn’t work for me.

Julie Holton:

Oh my gosh, the mental anguish.

Laura Mack:

Yeah. Exactly.

Julie Holton:

I mean, like seriously, like-

Audrea Fink:

The guilt.

Julie Holton:

That is a rollercoaster-

Audrea Fink:

The shame.

Julie Holton:

That, whoo.

Laura Mack:

Right. So what did work for me were the gradual changes in how I ate and how I approached food. And that’s what worked. And then again, as I got educated on just how all of this works in conjunction with one another, I realized that it’s so important to not just focus on eating this many calories per day. Or eating only these foods and cutting out these carbs. It’s a lifestyle change. So therefore that’s why I focus on a holistic approach. Another eye-

Audrea Fink:

I was just going to say, I love that. I especially love that because so frequently the things that are causing us to grab a glass of wine or that cookie outside of just pure enjoyment for them. But a lot of times it is the other factors, it’s stress at work, it’s family time that’s not going the way it is. Or you’re eating crap because you’re on the road because you’re running your kids, to and from hockey. And so it’s so many things that impact … it’s not just the food going in and out of your mouth. And I love that you’re approaching it this way because that holistic approach takes in the human experience instead of just the calories in, calories out.

Laura Mack:

Yeah, yeah, exactly. And a lot of also what happens is, we get into these habits as we all know. And basically it’s the standard American diet, which the acronym for that SAD, which is kind of interesting. We’ve got an epidemic of obesity in this country and a lot of it is simply because again, we do what’s easy, what’s fast. Any sports or any program that you watch are inundated with commercials for a fast food chain or whatever. And it’s really interesting, I’ll look at some of these now, I’m just like, “How can anyone eat that?” But I’ve witnessed it, I’ve seen people do it. And it’s just amazing to me.

Laura Mack:

What was really eye-opening was the level of chronic diseases that can be controlled or prevented simply through diet. For instance, 80% of diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity can all be controlled or impacted by what you eat.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

I 100% hear you on the whole, what you’re eating … look, I ran in here before this recording and I grabbed a handful of blue corn tortilla chips and said, that’s going to make the difference because they’re blue corn. But-

Audrea Fink:

It does make them delicious.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

It does make them delicious. And it’s not just what you eat, but it’s also, like you said, being in tune with what your triggers are and things of that nature. We, on this podcast have talked a great deal about self-care. You’re the expert and we want your further take on this. By the time we reach the time when this particular podcast is released, holiday season, New Year, all of that is happening, happened. What are the big self care things that we should be focusing up on as we wrap up this crazy pandemic holiday season, get going in the New Year, trying to find that new normal. What should we try to pin our focus in on?

Laura Mack:

My first recommendation is to go easy on yourself. As we know, the holidays are always insane and a lot of times we’ll just beat ourselves up for overindulging. And we’ve all been there. The holidays are crazy and they’re stressful and you need to worry about the holiday parties and the gifts and the kids and family and all of that. And it can be easy to overdo it and that’s okay. Instead, especially as we’re coming up on the New Year and a lot of people, New Year, New Year start, blah, blah, blah. Acknowledge that, okay, you’re ready to make a positive change for yourself and move on.

Laura Mack:

And you can simply do this by starting with one healthy habit that you can adopt right away. Whether it’s drinking more water, taking a walk three times a week. It doesn’t have to be something dramatic, it can be something simple that you know you can do for yourself without disrupting your entire life. And please stay away from the fad diets.

Audrea Fink:

Amen.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

Basically, she just said, KISS, you guys. And for those out there wondering-

Laura Mack:

Yes.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

What I mean by that? Keep it simple, stupid.

Audrea Fink:

Well, that’s going to be my new line. I love it. So have your thoughts on self care, what self care looks like, what’s important in self care. Have your thoughts on self care changed at all since you’ve shifted careers? Or for that matter, has the pandemic maybe made you look at self care in a new light?

Laura Mack:

Self care definitely became a priority as I was moving into the health coaching space. There are a lot of times when I was working in legal that I did not practice self-care and it only impacted my own health negatively. It didn’t impact anybody else, it only hurt myself. Of course, it did also impact my own life and my relationships because I wasn’t feeling good. So therefore I was not fun to be around.

Audrea Fink:

This feels like the mirror image of my life. It sounds like you are describing my life. And I know we’ve talked about this before, like leaving legal and the reasons why. It’s so hard to hear you talk about it and not feel like, “Oh, I’m back in that place.”

Laura Mack:

Yeah, yeah. Very much so. And it’s not necessarily legal because there are other industries where it’s high stress, high demand. And especially now because women are taking on so much of the burden of taking care of the kids and homeschooling the kids, all of those things. I have several friends, early in the pandemic and all the kids were home, they’re still working full time, they’re still taking care of the house. Plus they have to make sure the kids are doing what they need to do for school. And every single one of them, their own self care came last. We touched on this in the intro. I like to use the airplane analogy, when they’re doing the safety talk at the beginning of flight, they always tell you, put your oxygen mask on first and then help others. And that’s so, so important. You need to take care of yourself first and then you’ll be able to take care of everybody else.

Julie Holton:

A lot of people are taking care of the themselves right now with the so-called great resignation or really the great reshuffling. I think a lot of women listening are perhaps thinking about leaving their jobs or making some sort of change. Whether it’s a career change, a life change, something. I think the pandemic has really instilled that in all of us to really like take time to refocus, re-look at our lives. And it’s given us some perspective in one way or another.

Julie Holton:

So along the lines of making changes in career, what was your biggest fear when you made the shift? When you left legal, when you started your coaching practice. What was your biggest fear and how did you navigate that path to overcome it, to really launch into this whole new life you’ve created for yourself?

Laura Mack:

My biggest fear was giving up a steady paycheck.

Audrea Fink:

Amen.

Laura Mack:

That is scary when you get used to that money coming in every other week or a couple times a month. And you know the mortgage is going to be paid, food’s going to be on the table, all of those things. When that stops, it can be very scary.

Laura Mack:

Fortunately, I’ve got an incredibly supportive husband. And when I had made the decision or expressed the desire, I’ll put it that way, to make this change. We sat down together and we made the decision together. We mapped out how we could make the shift happen financially. And then once we pinned that down, then I was able to start making the planning to make the transition. I didn’t just jump into it, we did plan this out. So my number one piece of advice to anyone looking to make a shift like this is to make sure you have a financial game plan ready to go before you make that leap. I actually started my health coaching practice while I was still working. I didn’t make the shift until I knew that we would be able to manage it financially. It’s great, I encourage everyone to follow their passion because that’s how you find joy in your life. But it’s a lot easier to do when you know you can keep a roof over your head and food on the table.

Audrea Fink:

I just want to give a quick shout out to supportive husbands. Because I think that this podcast is for women and we’re trying to create a place where we can empower other women. But sometimes that empowerment comes from the support of men in our lives. So shout out to them.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

Support systems are a real thing.

Audrea Fink:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

And even when they get on our nerves, some of us, we’ve got some good ones.

Audrea Fink:

Absolutely, absolutely.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

Or whatever your support system looks like, if you’ve got a go-to person who can … and that’s not necessarily easy. A couple of us here, we’re in a good place and I’m happy that I’m in that place. But not everybody has that place. And so that’s also where this podcast comes into … try to help and be that place for others

Julie Holton:

And certainly the pandemic also shifted for a lot of people, that financial security that they thought they had with their job or that they thought they had with their spouses job or whatever that might look like. So, we’re so thankful for the support systems we have and also, it’s just a good reminder of how we have to create the lives we want. We have that opportunity to be able to step out with the support, especially, of this podcast and all the women that share their stories of how to do it.

Laura Mack:

Absolutely. And especially, again, as we’re talking about this to time of year where there’s additional stress. Having your support system is so incredibly important. Again, shout out, I agree, supportive husbands are the best. And just having a support group in any shape or form. I have a group of friends, we call ourselves, Our Tribe and-

Audrea Fink:

Yes.

Laura Mack:

Yeah. And we are there for each other no matter what. And a lot of people, as you mentioned, Julie, through the pandemic, they’ve been having a hard time. Mental wellness is front and center now, which is great, it’s getting the attention it deserves. But it’s really, really important to be able to lean on someone when you’re having a tough time.

Audrea Fink:

Absolutely. And for our listeners who maybe don’t know or haven’t signed up yet, we have a Think Tank of Three Facebook group, private group, women only. So you can go in there and you can help find your tribe there. We are in love with helping other women. So come be part of our tribe.

Audrea Fink:

This has been so insightful. Thank you so much for joining us today, Laura. Before we go, we love to collect advice from our successful women in our community and share it out with our forum. So with have three rapid fire questions for you. Number one, is there a lesson that you’ve recently learned that you wish you had learned earlier in your career?

Laura Mack:

Value yourself and set boundaries. I was not very good at doing that early in my career, even sometimes later in my career. And I think it added to a level of stress that I really didn’t need.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

From the lessons that you’ve learned, what advice would you offer to any career woman?

Laura Mack:

Aim beyond the glass ceiling. Find a mentor who can help you get there, identify where you want to go in your career and map out how you will achieve it. And let that mentor help guide you along the way.

Julie Holton:

As our own mentor today, what do you think is the most important skill for women?

Laura Mack:

Confidence. I’ve noticed throughout my career that men tend to be very good at showing confidence. Sometimes when they don’t even know what they’re doing. A lot of times we women don’t show confidence and my advice is to remember that you are really good at what you do and don’t let those self doubt demons tell you otherwise.

Audrea Fink:

I love that.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

How many times have we said that, heard that-

Audrea Fink:

Yep.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

We’ve got to ingest it and make it a part of ourselves, as women. Believe in yourself, feel confident in who you are and what you can and will accomplish.

Audrea Fink:

Absolutely.

Julie Holton:

Let’s just make a podcast where we replay that on loop.

Audrea Fink:

30 minutes.

Julie Holton:

That was beautiful. I just need a little Laura and Reischea in my life repeating those lines to me. I love it, ladies.

Laura Mack:

I’m happy to give you a shout out anytime.

Audrea Fink:

Laura, for our listeners who maybe want to connect with you, potentially work with you as a health coach. Can you tell us the best way for our audience to connect with you?

Laura Mack:

Shoot me an email info@leafwellnesscoaching.com. And I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, just look for Leaf Wellness Coaching. If you want to connect with me directly on LinkedIn, you can just look for me under Laura Johnston-Mack.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

Laura, thank you so much for joining us today. We appreciate all your wonderful insight and thought. And that will do it for this episode of Think Tank of Three.

Audrea Fink:

If you have topics you’d like us to cover or guests you’d like to hear from, send us a message at thinktankofthree@gmail.com. Subscribe to the Think Tank of Three wherever you listen to podcasts and connect with us online. We blog weekly at thinktankofthree.com.

Julie Holton:

Follow us on social media. You can find us individually on LinkedIn and as Think Tank of Three on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Women, click to join our private group on Facebook, where we can all share advice and articles.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris:

And if you liked what you heard in the podcast, share it. You can find Think Tank of Three on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, Amazon Music and SoundCloud.

 

 

 

 

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Photo of Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris

As with all things that are of true destiny, Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris believes, you don’t find your career, sometimes your career finds you.

Armed with the gift of gab and a natural feel for writing, broadcasting found it’s way into Reischea’s world after she…

As with all things that are of true destiny, Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris believes, you don’t find your career, sometimes your career finds you.

Armed with the gift of gab and a natural feel for writing, broadcasting found it’s way into Reischea’s world after she graduated from the University of Southern California.

Reischea’s television career began in her hometown of Fresno, California, at then KJEO, channel 47. Her experience at the CBS affiliate was
invaluable; as she worked her way up from a sports intern, to sports producer/reporter, to full-time weekend sports anchor/reporter. That
experience propelled her to San Diego as the weekend sports anchor/reporter for KSWB, where she got her first opportunity to cover
professional sports teams on a regular basis in the Chargers and Padres.

In 2002 she was hired as the weekend sports anchor/reporter for FOX 5 WNYW in New York. There, Reischea was nominated for a New York
Local Emmy for her three-part series on “Diminishing African American’s in Baseball” in 2007. She was also given the opportunity to work on the
station’s community affairs show, Good Day Street talk where topics ranged from post 9/11 stress disorders, healthcare, music and more.
In 2008 opportunity knocked again, this time taking her to Bristol, Connecticut to join ESPN. While with the network, Reischea was able to
interview and interact with some of the biggest athletes and stars on the planet, which made for a pretty awesome experience.

After the birth of her awesome son, Agisi, Reischea focused full-time on the hardest job she’s ever had, being a Mom. But the television love never
went away and so she was able to slide in news anchoring with News12 Connecticut for a short time.

Fast forward to the addition of an amazing daughter, Chrisonia, and that center stone in her life, family, proved to be of necessary focus. As a Mom
of 2 and a wife to a phenomenal husband, Alexandros, Reischea has learned the dynamics of life are ever-changing. Now, focusing on her own
self-empowerment, Reischea is taking her experience in broadcast and bridging it over to a new adventure in the podcast world as a co-host on
Think Tank of Three.