Natalie Murray does it all
A banker by day and spinning instructor by night, certified health coach and mother of three, Natalie Murray, when asked how she does it all, said: "I sleep well, I eat well and I have a very good support system. I do it because I love it."
Bursting with an infectious energy and with a pleasant smile, Murray, who is the assistant vice-president for Citibank, said she has carried over her organisational skills as a banker to all aspects of her life as she prioritises her responsibilities, giving structure to her life. She credits her energy to fresh green juices and a diet focused on a 'clean lifestyle'.
Raised in Kingston by parents Carl and Maryanne Lazarus, who were very strict with her and her sister, Murray said her father introduced her to healthy eating. She explained that he was very health conscious and believed in eating 'green' and knew which foods contained which vitamins. "Every so often, he would make us eat straight vegetables for a week, with lime juice and olive oil, uncooked as a salad with a bit of chicken and Syrian bread." Years later, she would credit this early cleanse as her introduction to clean eating.
Unlike her father, Murray's mother was not so inclined to healthy eating, and had a very 'sugary' childhood. During her mother's second pregnancy, she developed gestational diabetes which never went away. In 2014, Murray lost her mother to a diabetes-related heart attack. "Watching my mother suffer years of living with diabetes gave me an appreciation for good health." This prompted her to study the links between proper nutrition and good health and how they all work together.
"Some people like beauty magazines, I like health magazines. So, friends and coworkers always turned to me for health tips. In searching for something which was more fulfilling, I sought out health coaching." she revealed.
Murray began her studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York, which covered dietary theory, human behaviour and coaching skills. She told Outlook that she started out exploring to deepen her knowledge - not with the intention of becoming a coach. "I learnt from doctors, Deepak Chopra, nutritionists, motivational speakers - a wide spectrum of motivational speakers," she said. Health coaching is defined as a process that facilitates healthy, sustainable behaviour change by
challenging a client to develop their inner wisdom, identify their values, and transform their goals into action.
Murray told Outlook that health coaching is not just about knowledge. "It's about comfort. People are comfortable talking to me because they see that I have a genuine concern for their lives. When you're coaching someone, it's not just about food. Yes, it has to do with the food which goes into your mouth but it's also about what's going on up here," she said, tapping her head. "There are many issues that you have to deal with - unworthiness, I hate my job, I hate my relationship, I hate my family situation, so I drown myself in chocolate. A lot of women have emotional issues around food, so when you're talking to them you think they are talking about one thing but they're really talking about many different things."
Murray said that one of the things they were taught in the programme was about the circle of life, which covers: spirituality, finances and home. "When you start talking to people about their story and their back story, you dig deeper into some major emotional links and you have to be prepared to talk about that and be prepared to listen to that. That's where the comfort level comes in when you as a coach have established some level of trust."
I can manage everything because I have a good system at home. First of all, my husband Ian is very supportive, because he believes in what I do and he fills a lot of gaps that my busy schedule causes. I also have Charmaine at home, affectionately called 'Nursey' and 'Nanna' by the children.
Though she is no longer actively studying, Murray makes it her job to constantly keep updated on health and wellness matters. Even though my health coaching programme is over, I'm constantly keeping the knowledge going.
Regularly asked to present at various health expos, Murray plans to go into schools this year to work alongside physical education and nutritional departments, and plans to assist parent-teacher associations. Corporate wellness is also really important to Murray because as she puts it, "A lot of companies do not realise that the health of their employees and employees' families affect their productivity."
Below Murray shares some tips on how you can make 2016 your best year yet.
I believe you can still be healthy and have fun and still have a glass of wine in moderation. That's why you'll see me at the soca parties. I love the music and the vibes - it makes me happy. For people who don't have self control, a coach can help to guide you to make the proper swap-outs, and to talk you down from a 'cliff'.
Eat real food
Just say no artificial sweeteners. I think if you're going to have a cup of coffee, for example, if you want it creamy, don't put non-dairy creamer in it. Put milk if you're OK with dairy. If you're not OK with dairy, put coconut milk. Don't put artificial sweeteners; if it needs to be sweet, make it sweet. Your taste buds are trainable. Don't just try something once which is good for you and then give up on it because it tastes bad.
Eat steamed callaloo and roast breadfruit, locally grown green products such as romaine lettuce and locally grown kale. Encourage people to buy from farmers who grow without pesticides and fertilisers. Make use of ground provisions such as breadfruit, yam, potatoes. Remember, 80 per cent of weight loss is about what you eat.
Create a salad bar in your refrigerator. Prep everything and keep them in individual containers - tomatoes sliced, carrots shredded, cucumbers sliced and when you're ready to make a salad everything is ready. Remove the skin from protein. Bake meats instead of frying or even stewing.
You cannot 'out workout' a bad diet. The reality is that you don't have to go to the gym you can run.
In order to have a balanced programme, you can run, swim, spin or dance. Just get the heart rate up and sustained. Strength training - lifting weights - is very important especially as women age. Do this two or three times per week. Stretching the muscles increases your flexibility. Consider Yoga or Pilates.
YouTube has a wealth of 10-20 minute workout videos. If you can't go to the gym, subscribe to workout videos on YouTube, develop your own routine and stick to it.
Clothing provided by:
Lower Manor Park Plaza
Chinese Garden at the Royal Hope Botanical Garden