By Rachel Bosworth
Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise program is challenging, especially when it comes to choosing the best option for you with the number of programs, diet books, and workouts available. Each person’s needs and goals are unique, and finding the perfect balance is an important step towards a healthier lifestyle. Health coach Gwedolen Bokine works with clients from Montauk to Manhattan to teach and guide them to their own healthy lifestyle goals.
“People come to me and say, ‘I want to lose weight, my digestion isn’t right, I feel bloated every time I eat; I don’t have the energy like I used to; I don’t want to end up with high blood pressure or cholesterol. I’m pre-diabetic. I can’t sleep. I want to eat more plant-based, but what do you eat?’ And sometimes they say, ‘I want to look like you,’” Ms. Bokine says of her clients’ concerns.
What Ms. Bokine brings to her clients in return is her own experience. Throughout the past 10 years she made her own lifestyle changes, embracing healthy activities and the right diet. An avid swimmer and runner, and soon-to-be certified yogi, it took her years to get where she is now.
“Food is a big part of achieving a healthy lifestyle, but what differentiates me from a nutritionist and dietician is that my clients and I look not just at what they’re eating, but also at their stress, activity and any other influence on their meal and snacking choices,” she says. “For instance, it’s hard to keep conscious of healthy eating if you’re anxious or depressed.”
Ms. Bokine has her clients fill out a full health history as the first step in figuring out their goals, and what may be helping or prohibiting them from achieving them. Through consultations, private coaching, group sessions, events, and retreats, she provides constant support as participants discover their own needs and learn to make a change. “I offer, and have done, Montauk retreats with professional groups, where we focus on food, nature and activity,” Ms. Bokine says. “The group comes for the weekend, staying at the Montauk Yacht Club, and experiences whole food plant-based eating, meditation, activity, and conversation.”
A big part of this journey is food. “The biggest and most important nutrient missing from the western diet is fiber!” Ms. Bokine stresses. “Do you realize that all animal protein has zero fiber? I mention this because we view animal protein as not only necessary for good health, but we make it the main star of our plate, even though it’s all full of saturated fat, cholesterol, hormones, etc.”
The suggested daily fiber intake is 38 grams, and helps to keep digestion regular, flush out toxins and cholesterol, and provides good bacteria that is missing from many diets. Ms. Bokine says the gut is the second brain and the location of around 80 percent of the immune system that nourishes the rest of the body. She helps clients incorporate more whole food plant-based foods for increased health without telling them they cannot eat this or that.
“The objective is to incorporate more whole food plant-based foods, which ultimately leads to crowding out other unhealthy foods,” explains Ms. Bokine. “I don’t have to tell my clients what to do. They will feel it, and through the literature, pod casts, videos, etc. that I provide with follow up emails, they will be further motivated.”
Consciousness disciplines is what Ms. Bokine says is that main challenge people have when beginning a new health program. “First and foremost, we must think outside the box of what it means to eat healthy,” she says. “People are bombarded with different diet books, theories and ‘fake’ news. It takes time to clarify this, and I do that by providing clients with scientifically based, peer reviewed studies, many of which I received from Cornell’s plant-based certification program.”
Though as a society we know fruits and vegetables are healthy, there are questions as to how to incorporate those into a meal on the dinner table. Organizing time to fit in activity also presents its trials. When a client begins a new program, Ms. Bokine works with them through obstacles and even meets participants at the grocery store when needed. Her programs are a minimum of three months as the goal is a lifestyle change, not just a diet.
Ms. Bokine partners with restaurants on the East End and in Manhattan to offer a plant-based food and education pairing called “Beyond Twigs, Sticks, and Berries.” The meal begins with a ten-minute meditation, followed by dinner and conversation about the benefits of a plant-based diet. The next dinner with take place at Sen in Sag Harbor on Thursday, May 4. Tickets are available on her website at gwennieonthego.com.
If you’re thinking of changing your own lifestyle, consider the benefits of health coaching and the long term of effects. Ms. Bokine is confident in her approach, and looks forward to working with new people as she guides them through their personal journeys. “Once we raise consciousness, it makes it extremely difficult to fall back into old bad habits.”