Wellness Influencer Interview: Amelia Whelan, Renee Naturally
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Wellness Influencer Interview: Amelia Whelan

If anything was going to make you drop your lappy and latte to jump on a plane to island life in Hawai'i, Amelia Whelan's instagram feed may just be the thing. Once a New York girl, Amelia now embodies healthy living in Hawai'i.  So how does she get that enviable glow and most importantly, how does this holistic health coach make a succesful career in the wellness industry look so easy? Meet the radiant and oh-so-real, Amelia...

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Salt Sand and Smoothies is a brand I created for myself when I first moved from New York to Hawai’i a few years ago. I was new to the islands and became so passionate about thriving on plant based foods that are grown locally in the tropical environment which surrounded me. The gorgeous weather, copious amount of farmer’s markets and fresh fruit growing in my own backyard was something so foreign to me and I wanted to share my new life with others through social media. I felt as though a whole new way of living had been introduced to me on O’ahu and I was so excited about spreading news, information and inspiration with others. I am currently still living in Hawai’i and am 21 years old. I discontinued university here on O’ahu to pursue a career of holistic health coaching and yoga. I now incorporate all of my certifications into one brand where I work with clients one-on-one to create healthier, more enjoyable and long term dietary and lifestyle changes into their lives.

What does ‘living naturally’ mean to you?

For me, “Living naturally” correlates most to the root meaning of the word “natural,” which can commonly be defined as “existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind.” Everyday I intend to live my life as naturally as possible. Wether that pertains to the foods I eat, the clothing I wear, the ideas I promote or the environments from which I source my food. I believe that living naturally is living as was intended, and I make certain to do that each and every day.

What does a typical day in the wellness world look like for you?

My favorite part of my own “wellness world” is that it is constantly changing. Now that I have completed my holistic nutrition degree and yoga teacher certification in Indonesia I am settled back home in Hawai’i. I usually wake up early, make time for exercise in the morning (wether that be doing yoga, training for a race or heading to the gym,) spend my morning working on the computer uploading recipes to my site, skyping with clients internationally or teaching private yoga lessons. A lot of my time is spent with electronics - laptops, cameras, editing apps and my iPhone, so I always make sure to disconnect in the afternoon and spend a few hours outdoors enjoying fresh air and sunlight with friends. We love spending time at the ocean, hiking, diving, surfing, dancing, shopping at local markets and making it a priority to catch the sunset at the beach nearby as many nights a week as possible.

What are your top 3 tips for staying fit and healthy?

My three tips for staying health actually combine into one. Focus on yourself. Make time to do things you love and remove as much negativity and as many stressors from your life as possible. Being healthy goes so far above and beyond the foods you eat or the amount of exercise you do. Ideal health is achievable when your lifestyle, diet, spirituality, relationships (with yourself and others,) profession and mentality are all aligned and beneficial. I believe that every body is so unique when compared to another, so there is no “right” way for all of us to do something. What resonates with you may not for someone else. Concentrate on eating whole foods that make you feel your best, carrying out physical activity that you truly enjoy doing and creating relationships that are strong and meaningful. Thats a huge aspect of health that so many of us neglect. A fulfilling career or spiritual practice can be just as important as a healthy diet and normal sleep schedule.

In a nutshell, what’s your food philosophy?

My food philosophy is pretty simple. I eat plants and I eat a ton of them. My diet is rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, plant based starches, legumes, nuts, seeds and sprouts. I eat food that has been grown from the earth, preferably locally or organic. Thriving on this way of living has eliminated the desire to “watch what I eat” from my everyday life. Since becoming an entirely plant based vegan almost two years ago I haven't fallen ill, had cravings for other foods or struggled with my weight at all. With the guidance from my holistic health schooling and personal experimentation I have learned which foods make me feel, look and perform my absolute best. I have also gained so much appreciation and respect for my foods and where they were sourced. I believe that every morsel of food we put into our body has it’s own energy, and vegan food provides me with energy that is healing, natural and kind. I eat when I want where I want, and I always make sure that at-least 80% of my meal consists of fresh plant based foods.

We’re all about balance around here…What’s your biggest indulgence?

My biggest indulgence is vegan pizza. I was born and raised in New York, so I've had my fair share of pizza pies growing up. When I moved to O’ahu I lived near a “Whole Foods Market” for the first time in my life. I quickly discovered (but not soon enough) that they offered house made vegan pizzas smothered with soy-based cheese, vegetables and incredible sauces. They also offer gluten free options, so I don't ever feel guilty when I indulge in a pie with friends. We’re seriously obsessed (even my non-vegan friends!) We’ve tried to re-create our own numerous times, but they never come out tasting just the same, so we keep this indulgence as a once monthly treat and enjoy every last slice (which usually means me calling dibs on it before anyone else has a chance.)

What do you do to ‘reset’ the balance button when life gets a bit hectic?

Honestly, I make conscious efforts each and everyday to assure that my surroundings don't get too hectic quite often. I have learned that when I am under stress or feel overwhelmed by a situation, my work, attitude and mindset is negatively effected. I make sure that no matter how much I have going on that day, my mind is quite and calm as much as possible. When phone calls, e-mails, consults, work, life and everything else begins to feel like "too much" I drop everything and take 10... or 30 minutes to myself. I am really in love with listening to Audiobooks and Podcasts this year. One of my favorite Podcasts is a collaboration between NPR and TedX which I listen to each and every week. Yoga, swimming, meditating, journaling and talking to my friends or family on the phone are a few of my go-to de-stressors. I also love just grabbing a piece of scrap paper and quickly jotting down 10 things I am grateful for in that exact moment of time. Even if they be small things, like the weather, a song I heard on the radio that I love or a rad e-mail from one of my followers. Being reminded of how easy it is to appreciate your life (chaos and all) makes the whole "hectic" situation seem a lot smaller in the grand scheme of it all.

What healthy snacks might we find on your desk or in your handbag?

Whenever I go to the beach or set out for a hike with friends I pack some fuel to keep me going. Hawai’i is so gorgeous and it is easy to find yourself quickly losing track of time outdoors. Rather than be hungry or feel low on energy, I make sure that I’m stocked up on heaps of water and snacks. I love bringing dried fruit, fresh juice or veggie sticks and hummus with me. I use mason jars for just about everything, so I throw whatever I can into a sealed jar and chuck it in my bag for later. I am the queen of showing up to the beach with a three course meal in my beach tote. Not too sure if you could really consider that a “snack” … But I always have food to share.

Can you share with us your top two pieces of advice for people wanting to start a career in the wellness industry?

My two pieces of advice would be to work passionately and be open minded. I believe that you can only get out of a certain situation what you initially put into it, so tasks like marketing, working with clients or branding yourself all depend on your attitude and ability to really “show up.” Working in the wellness industry is such a unique experience for each and everyone of us. You can work part time, full time, or even just as a hobby, but whichever you do - try your best to do it well. Being open minded is crucial in this field because so much information about health and wellness is constantly being published and released. We have access to much more information than ever before. New studies are being shared each and everyday from all around the world. Learn as much as you can, but take everything you read with a grain of salt (high quality himalaya pink salt that is.) I often find that the best way to discover if something resonates with your beliefs or not is do more research. Hear people’s opinions, read articles you normally wouldn't and discuss topics with people who have undergone different experiences than you have. I believe that the more information you absorb, the more educated you are.

Do you have a favourite affirmation or quote you remind yourself of when life throws you a few challenges?

Yes! I have so many favorite quotes and affirmations that I keep on hand (in my journal, on scraps of paper or recorded in my cell phone.) One of my favorites is “I am grateful for all that in unfolding in my life, and all that is yet to come.” Like you said, life can very quickly throw some curveballs in our direction, so I focus my energy on acknowledging these changes and accepting them for the new experiences which they bring. This mantra reminds me to stay focused on the present moment and to honor the fact that somethings I just cannot change.

What are your goals and aspirations for the coming year?

That is a tricky one. I have so many. A few goals of mine would be to continue to travel, connect with more individuals through social media and to continue to spread the plant based message. I had a really unforgettable summer spent in Bali and am hoping to go back next summer to carry out more volunteer work. I am so passionate about the work I do and hope that this upcoming year will allow space for both personal and professional growth. Salt Sand and Smoothies has a few projects up her sleeve, so please stay posted and I’ll hopefully share them all with you soon.

Mahalo Renee for such a thoughtful interview. I really enjoyed answering each one of your questions.

Be well,

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