Hey there glamniacs! Are you spending as much time taking care of your body and soul as you take care of your body and flesh? Jenny Martineau the author of the book The Feral Ache, and holder of a degree in Health Arts and Sciences does. In addition to being a personal trainer, Martineau is a Holistic Lifestyle Coach through the CHEK Institute and is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association. In her spare time, she enjoys healthy cooking.
How did you get interested in wellness?
It’s hard to remember a time when I wasn’t interested in wellness. I’ve been a massage therapist, yoga instructor, vegetarian, vegan,—-neither one of these eating choices is a great for sustainable health—supplement buyer, personal trainer, and loved to by very physically active forever! I long ago made the connection that being healthy and well is synonymous with freedom. I’ve always really valued my freedom. Being Haitian, freedom runs deep in our blood.
It’s taken me years, though, to own my wellness. It took me getting really sick from following conventional ideas about wellness before I started experimenting on my body. Learning to listen to my body and actually doing what it wants completely transformed my health and my understanding of wellness. The body is never wrong.
Is there a key to eating healthy?
Yes. There are a couple. First, accept that you are an animal. You are a member of the species Homo sapiens. You are biologically adapted to eat a certain way. My food choices are based in biology, anthropology, and the understanding of evolution.
Secondly, this is my healthy eating philosophy in three words: connection, pleasure and authenticity. It you are eating something that doesn’t nourish these three things, it’s not healthy for you.
When I work with my clients, I love to facilitate their own self-discovery. As they make friends with their bodies, with their own unique lives, and get those things to work together through acceptance, through feeding themselves in nourishing ways, magic happens!
As a health entrepreneur, what advice would you give to others who would like to start a similar business?
The first thing that any small business creator needs to know is that there is not a path that will get you face to face with your own self-limiting beliefs faster and with more intensity. A decision to start a business, to run it from day to day, is one that will push self-growth in ways that you can’t foresee from the outset.
Secondly, at the beginning you will have to do everything—everything—and hopefully you will be wise enough to very quickly focus on doing the things that you do best and hire others to do the rest. So, it is crucial to know your strengths while being brutally honest about your limitations. For example, I am a phenomenal coach and teacher. I am a horrible marketer. That has to be delegated to someone else.
Third, you are not your work. You are much bigger than that. Don’t forget to live your life. And of course, be authentic. It’s important to live out your message. Even if you do it imperfectly, which you will. We all do. Be real about that. I hope to see more transparency in health. It’s messy, fun, and difficult in this world that values appearance over substance.
From what you’ve observed, what is the biggest misconception about holistic health?
I think that there are two misconceptions about holistic health that are quite pervasive. The first is that holistic health is this “woo-woo”, fluffy stuff that isn’t very grounded. The second is that holistic health means being a vegetarian and doing yoga.
Holistic health, in my approach, is very practical. It is looking at all the parts of your life and understanding that everything matters. The sheets you use on your bed to the kind of shoes you wear to how much movement you get to how much sun you expose your skin to? It all matters. It’s all concrete. It’s all connected to everything else. The beauty of holistic health is that it almost doesn’t matter what you change first because every change affects everything in your life. Change how much water you drink and you change how good your skin feels which changes what products you use on it which changes how you spend your money. It’s impossible to overestimate the power of small, concrete changes. That is holistic health.
I am not a vegetarian and I rarely do yoga. I eat red meat and a lot of it. And I’d rather be doing dorky dance moves and running around climbing trees than stuck in a yoga studio. I used to teach yoga and it is valuable for a lot of people. It just doesn’t light my fire. This is also what holistic health is. Who you are as an individual matters. You don’t have to live a life that is cookie cutter and dictated to you. What you bring to the table is the starting point for crafting a healthy lifestyle. As a holistic health practitioner, the whole person, every little quirk, experience and desire, matters and is accepted to be important.
I think a lot of people probably do want to eat healthier and be healthier but the fact is that better food and better living choices are costly.
This can be true depending on how health is approached. If you buy into to the erroneous idea that you can only be healthy by joining the gym, buying the best supplements, eating packaged “super foods”, then, yes, you are going to go broke. However, being healthy can be possible just by having a good circle of friends, getting plenty of sleep, going outside a lot, moving your body often, eating foods that don’t come from a box, playing every day, and saying no to the things you don’t have to do that only cause you stress in life. All of these things are free. Eating well can be made more affordable by buying whole foods, knowing who grows your food and making a relationship with them, growing some of your own food, and knowing what grows around you for free. Also, learn to barter. If you make really great sauerkraut or know how to give an amazing foot rub, trade those skills for things you can’t do. Exchange a quart of sauerkraut for a dozen eggs that your neighbor’s chickens made. Give a great foot rub to someone that knows how to identify plants in your area. My first love was herbalism and there is an astounding amount of food that just grows as weeds all around you.
I personally am not a member of any gym. I take very few supplements, most of them I’ve made myself as herbal tinctures. I make teas from stuff that grows around me. And, I sleep…a lot. Once you approach health as a great game, it becomes so much fun to find ways to save money. You start to own your life by creating something unique and suited just to you. I take pride in finding a cheaper way to do something.
The other thing that is very important to understand is that any money you spend on your health is money you are not giving the medical industry. If you think that buying good quality meat and vegetables is expensive, compare that to the cost of medical care for a chronic condition. It’s not even close.
What are some ingredients we should look for when we’re buying products to enhance our appearance, whether it’s makeup, or jewelry and so on?
This is a tricky one for me. I’m a minimalist and don’t wear makeup and hardly any jewelry. This is what I can tell you. I don’t put anything on my skin that I couldn’t also eat. I stay away from plastic anything. I made that decision a while ago so that has naturally limited that products I allow in my house.
I make just about everything that goes on my skin. I’m sure this sounds tricky but I exfoliate my face every other day with baking soda, moisturize with olive oil that I infuse with plants, and whenever I’m cooking, I use whatever leftover raw oil or butter to condition my skin. I use baking soda and essential oils to wash my hair. I use vinegar and essential oils to condition it. If this is daunting to you, find someone in your circle or even on Etsy that makes non-toxic skin care products.
The jewelry that I do wear is all natural. It’s either real metals or leather or bone or glass beads. It’s all handmade. Most of the time, I’ve met the artist. This is really important to me. Holistic! I want to support the small business owner and artisan. My very favorite necklace is a polished cow horn on a leather strap given to me by a friend that she bought off the street in Port-au-Prince.
The two most important beauty products are eating lots of good quality fats like butter, coconut oil, tallow, lard and unheated olive oil and getting plenty of sleep.
Externally, I like to dry brush and take cold showers. Tingly and alive!
Do you think some states across the nation are more toxic than others?
I love this question and I will try to answer it without getting into too much trouble. Short answer: yes. Most definitely. I live in the wild green mountains of Vermont. It was both a conscious choice because the air itself is so clean, there is access to amazing local food, and there are no billboards in the State. Also, the place just grabbed me by the navel and hasn’t let go. For now, I live in the United States and as long as I do, I will live here. Haiti will always be home and someday soon, I want to split my time half and half. I adore the seasons. Yes, a snow-loving Haitian. We do exist. (Must be the influence of my American half.
First, let’s talk about what I mean by toxic. Toxins are everything from dirty air to racism to disrespect for the earth. There are states where the air quality is not very good, where the rivers are not clean, where people have greater respect and honor for money than they do the earth and other states where the racism or small minded thinking saturate the culture of that place. I value freedom a lot. Places that limit my freedom are toxic to me. Places that attack me with advertising to make me feel inadequate unless I buy what is being sold are toxic to me. Places that I can’t breathe clean air are toxic to me. Places that don’t have good food are toxic to me. Places that limit my access to the woods and rivers and dirt are toxic to me. Places that can’t see past the color of one’s skin are toxic to me.
I don’t want to name any names of States that are more toxic than others. They most definitely exist. I will leave it to the reader to do the research and come to their own conclusions.