Lisa O’Connor is a Toronto-based Holistic Nutritionist, Healing Alchemist, and host of the Glow Deep Podcast. We interviewed Lisa about her daily routines and practices, approach to food, exercise, skincare, healing and much more.
— Is routine important to you or do you like things to be more open and free?
Both! I’m a naturally disciplined soul, so I have no problems at all committing to something. I thrive off of routine, but I’ve been learning to be way more in flow these past few years. Especially with creating my own schedule and building my business / practice, and now with the arrival of our puppy. My schedule got shifted around quite a bit, as he needs A LOT of attention and training at this moment!
I’m learning to find my own rhythm between routine, and free flow. Which I believe is always a dance for us as we transition through different seasons, and times of our lives.
— What do your mornings look like?
Now with a puppy things have shifted!
-We are morning people – getting up anywhere between 5-6am
-A liter of water first thing
-A walk in nature with the pup
-A little play time with him & then putting him in his crate for a nap, so I can have me time
-Reading – I commit to 30-45 min daily reading in the morning
-Smoothie or whatever else I’m feeling
— Do you have any bedtime rituals that help you sleep well?
To be honest, I don’t have a lot of bedtime rituals, as I don’t really have a problem with sleep. What’s important for me is turning my phone on airplane mode a good 45min- 1 hour before sleep, having a shower to shift my energy, magnesium cream, and reading a book in bed with my husband, or sometimes we watch a little something on Netflix to just switch completely off!
— Do you have any kind of mindfulness practice?
-Walking in nature and being present
-I’m not a massive journal writer, but when it calls I listen!
— Describe your typical or ideal meal for each of these:
Breakfast – Smoothie & homemade matcha latte (I have the matcha first, and probably wait an hour or so and then have the smoothie!)
Lunch – Honestly on client days I often keep it light and just snack – green juice here, smoothie there, some veggies, coconut water! And some days I just have liquids (juices, smoothies, water until dinner) on other days it could be a light salad, or a lunch out with a friend at a local healthy restaurant
Snack – I’m not too much of a snack person! But I would say nuts / seeds, green juice, maybe a piece of fruit in the summer
Dinner – Green salad, roasted veggies, curries, soups, brown rice
— Do you do caffeine and in what form? If not, what is your drink of choice in the morning?
I do :) I drink matcha during the week, and on the weekend when I can savour a beautiful organic Americano when I’m at a cafe with my husband, it’s just that much more special.
— What is your grocery shopping routine like? Are there things that always make it in your cart?
We do our big haul on Saturdays at a place here called Organic Garage. Everything is organic, and is so reasonable in price. In the summer I also add in local markets, and farmers markets. That being said, I feel like I’m always grocery shopping on the daily, as I’m always picking up fresh greens, or picking up supplemental things for dinner that we didn’t get during our big shop on Saturday morning.
Things that we always include:
-Variety of leafy greens
-Variety of proteins
-Pumpkin seed butter
-White & Sweet potatoes
-Variety nuts & seeds
+++ More but those are always staples!
— Do you have a sweet tooth?
I know people won’t like this answer, but I actually don’t! I can eat 95-100% chocolate, and feel super satisfied. If I’m sweetening anything I use dates, banana’s, and/or a touch of raw honey.
— Are there any particular foods that you find to be helpful with your energy levels and general wellness?
Greens!!! I am a greens monster, and feel so deeply connected to them. I love to consume their liquid sunshine properties.
Potatoes are also a huge staple for me, as they are easily digested, high in fiber, and the natural sugars are burned as energy for me.
Berries – I love wild blueberries and raspberries
Spices / herbs – Ginger, garlic, cayenne, nettle, turmeric
— Do you exercise and do you have a particular exercise routine that you repeat weekly?
I don’t have anything particular right now! My favourite form of exercise is walking! It’s highly underrated in my opinion. I live in a big city, without a car, so my mode of transport is Me. I find it meditative, calming, and great exercise.
I also practice Kundalini yoga, and will sometimes do some resistance work (P.Volve).
— Do you find exercise to be pleasurable, torturous or perhaps a little of both? How do you put yourself in the right mindset in order to keep up with it?
I find it to be an extension of me, and I don’t ever have to force it. I trust my body and flow with what it wants and feels in the season of life that I’m in. At the moment I’ve been the least “active” I’ve ever been, but it’s what feels best for me, and my body is welcoming it, and responding beautifully to it.
In other seasons of my life I’ve done intense and hard workouts at least 4 -5 x per week, and other times I’ve done daily exercise.
If there is anything I’ve learnt along the way, is that nothing good comes from force. When we practice, and learn to tune- in, we will always be guided to what our body needs.
In 2020 I want to get back into doing Ballet Beautiful though, as I did it for over two years and felt so graceful, feminine, yet toned.
— What is your idea of beauty, both internal and external?
My idea of beauty will always be that is stems from within. And not just the foods that we eat, or supplements we take, but the thoughts we think, our mood, mental state, stress levels, how kind we are…etc. I struggled with really bad acne for years, and addressing all of the above, with nutrition + curated herbs / supplements, actually brought my skin back better than before!
Beauty in my eyes is always a projection, and energetic force with regards to what’s going on inside. When things are aligned within, I feel beauty just radiates regardless of how we *think* we look. This beautiful energetic force truly knows no bounds. I do still enjoy to take care of my external skin, and body, but I would say it’s only about 10% of my regime. Everything else stems from internal work!
— What is your skincare approach – face and body?
MINIMAL. People are so surprised how little I do, as I really do practice what I preach. When we focus on the internal, the external will always reflect that.
I use all natural products – Face wash, rose spray, and oil (I rotate a few of my favourite brands – including Living Libations, F. Miller & Marie Veronique)
In the summer I mask more (May Lindstrom or just the Aztec Clay mask) I find them too harsh for the winter, so I love a good Manuka honey mask during the winter.
— Do you have any beauty tricks you’ve found to be especially useful throughout the years?
Less is more.
When I was healing my skin I tried EVERYTHING. I used too many products, stripped my skin, and it all just made it worse. I find my skin is the best the less that I do.
Sweating is key, so are hot / cold (contrast showers), kundalini (breathwork) and again coming back to nurturing and feeding (Physical & Mental) your Internal Self, which then shows up Externally.
The key is to get things moving & flowing. Digestion, lymph, liver, as this ultimately shows up on the skin. No flow, no glow.
— Do you practice any consistent routines for managing stress?
-Meditation (nothing fancy, or prescriptive, just sitting with myself)
-Dog walks in nature
-Seeing loved ones
-Spending time with my husband, and puppy
— What measures do you take when you sense a cold/general feeling of being under the weather coming on?
-REST / SLEEP – seriously the simplest thing one can do, I just believe we feel as a society that we can’t just Be, or can’t just take a break
-Hot / cold showers to stimulate lymph flow and detoxification
-Broths / soups
— Describe the actions you take or mindset you try to tap into in order to stay on track with your self-care practice and being nice to yourself?
I’m quite simple, easy-going, yet I’ve always been disciplined, and my husband might say stubborn (my Ukrainian genes :) ). I don’t find it that difficult to honour my body, mind, and soul. I’ve also been on a deep healing journey since 2006 (got diagnosed with Lyme Disease in 2012), so truly these aren’t even actions or steps I take, they are just Me. I don’t force anything, and allow for flow, ease, while still knowing, and honouring when I need to heal something deeper, take a new direction, and take care of my inner child.
— What do you consider to be the single most important change you’ve made to your routine or lifestyle in terms of wellness?
Hmmmm I don’t think there is just one thing, as I see things very holistically, and connected. I would say mind work. Focusing on mental strength, vitality, and honouring my subconscious mind, as this is where all of our habits, programs, and deep belief systems live.
Our mind is everything, as the body is the “unconscious mind”.
— How do you deal with periods characterized by a lack of inspiration or procrastination?
Take a break! It could be an afternoon, a day or even a few. I have a tendency to force things, and when I do nothing flows. I’ve learned this the hard way many times over, so I create space to go within. On the other hand, I can get inspired easily via images, nature, people, environments, so it’s always there for me. It’s cheesy, but inspiration can hit at any moment, so I stay open. But when I’m stuck, I take a step back or I schedule a brainstorming session with my husband. Just so I can talk things through, get a different perspective ( he’s very smart, yet practical). In my business it’s just me, myself, and I, so it can get pretty insular.
Although my goal for 2020 is to hire my first employee!
— A book/movie/class that influenced your view of self-nourishment or self-care.
To be honest, nothing outside of myself influenced this or my view.
It was losing my health, and healing on a deep level that has brought me to where I am with self-care. It’s never been anything to do, if anything it’s how I practice Being.
I’ve come to see, and know deeply that our relationship to Self – On a body, mind, and soul level is everything. If we don’t show up for ourselves, than we can’t for others.
But if I were to pick anything in terms of external energy, I would say the book Magdalen Manuscript, it’s a channeled script of Mary Magdalen. It speaks about Ka energy (life force), and the power of energy that courses through all of Us. The only way to channel this energy, is to nourish ourselves from the inside out.
— What was your path to becoming a holistic nutritionist?
When I started to become ill in 2006, it set me on my path. At first it started with my own experiments, lifestyle changes, and reading / self-knowledge for close to six years. Then from there, I took it further to get certified, and study formally. While I’m a HN, I’ve expanded my view of my work, as I go *much* deeper than just food.
My story is WILD, so I won’t go into all the details, but when you experience something so deep, intense, and beautiful on your own, you want to help others heal via your journey, knowledge, and gifts (which I believe we all have! It’s just up to us to cultivate them). I don’t believe I chose this profession, as I’ve never felt more called to something. Knowing how crazy, and wild it is to lose one’s health, it’s my mission to help others tap themselves into their own innate healer.
— What is your healing philosophy? How do you approach working with clients?
I’ve come to see healing as alchemy. As a society we’ve been taught that we should just focus on one body part, one thing, one pill, and we’ve become so singular in our view point and scope of healing / practice. I.E. if we are having back pain, focus on the back. Where as I see everything, and I mean everything holistically. I see the alchemy, and connection between it all – Body, Mind, and Spirit. While we might be having physical pain some place (i.e. back), yes we must look and take care of the cellular body (which I do), but we also have to look at our emotions, trauma, history, and deeper work into the soul, and subconscious. While this isn’t the easy work, to me it’s the only way I know!
So when taking on a client, this is where we go. I look at each soul as a unique and individual being. No one is alike, so there isn’t a pill or protocol that fits just because someone has been diagnosed with “X”, and so has their friend. Those two people are so different, have been raised uniquely, have most likely experienced trauma in their own way, and are navigating different life pathways, and stressors.
We navigate the deeper parts, so we can heal holistically, sustainably, and in connection with our whole Self. We aren’t just a body, we are so much more. When we focus on just the body, I don’t believe we do ourselves any favours. This is what’s often missing in chronic care of humans and why so many people are just “living and coping” with pain and dis-ease. We are seeking greater depth, purpose, and fulfilment, yet we’re left confused, hopeless, and overwhelmed. If I can just bring someone to see that they DO have the power to heal, than man oh man, it just means everything to me!
Fun and Inspiration
— What is something you are particularly excited about at the moment?
Our new puppy Rumi! He’s a Rhodesian Ridgeback, so he will grow to be a big boy, but we are soaking up all the puppy cuddles right now.
Also ending off a decade, ushering in a new one , and entering into the year 2020. There is a lot of potent energy coming forth, and I’m feeling really charged, clear, and ready for it all.
— What do you do to unwind or treat yourself?
Nothing really special, I love just the simple things in life. A hot shower, getting into my robe or a grey sweat suit, eating a nourishing dinner, and cuddling with my husband & puppy!
Sometimes I will treat myself to a facial, and when I can infrared sauna sessions.
— A book/song/movie/piece of art to feed the soul:
Book – Anatomy of the Spirit and Course in Miracles
Song/Album – Anything by Bon Iver or Ben Howard or White Sun
Movie – Dirty Dancing (forever & always my favourite)
Piece of Art – I adore a lot of art / creative work, but some of my favourites include: Renaissance art, Matisse, Unconditional Magazine, Picasso, Christiane Spangsberg.
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