28 Jan Interview with Christine Beal Dunst
Meet Christine Beal Dunst
Co-founder, EMBODY Wellness Company, a full service wellness and lifestyle concierge that partners with individual and corporate clients to create customized holistic wellness and nutrition programs. They are based in NYC, CT and the Hamptons and provide a holistic approach to increase energy, decrease stress and naturally reach and sustain your ideal weight. www.embodywellnesscompany.com, @EmbodyWellnessCompany
What was the event or realization that led you to your path in wellness?
In my early twenties, I had an unhealthy relationship with food and used it as a way to feel in control, instead of for nourishment and joy. I worked with a therapist and subsequently found yoga and meditation. These practices fundamentally shifted how I treated and viewed myself. It helped me repair my relationship with food and my relationship with myself.
Fast forward to my mid twenties and thirties, I was still living in NYC, working 70 hour work weeks and climbing the corporate ladder. I now had a healthy relationship with food, but didn’t understand which foods were healthy for my body. I lived on processed veggie burgers, diet coke, restaurant meals and take-out. The stress of work, lack of healthy meals and an active social life left me diagnosed with several stress-related illnesses like Bell’s Palsy and Adrenal Fatigue. My cortisol was also always high. I didn’t feel great, but kept on moving forward and trying things here and there that were “healthy.” When I hit 34, I tried to get pregnant and had two miscarriages that shook me to the core. I knew I needed to fundamentally change my lifestyle, manage my stress and diet, and look deep inside.
Also during the last 20 years I watched my sister go through a horrible battle with an eating disorder that she did not win. This also motivated me to love myself more, while helping her and others.
All of these moments and some soul-searching led me to heal my body and learn all I could to help others transform their lives. I enrolled in nutrition school after the birth of my daughter, Grace, and the rest is history.
I’m a consummate learner. I believe strongly in growth and learning. Life would be boring with out.
Siobhan: I agree. I am a true believer in leaving yourself open to learning continuously. I think that has come even clearer to me since I opened ORGANACHS and met so many inspirational people like you.
What is your most precious dream?
To help end diseases that can be prevented. In my immediate family, I’ve seen the devastation of eating disorders and cancer and I wish for no one else to go through it. It’s one reason why I made the dramatic career change from working at a large pharmaceutical company to helping others EMBODY Wellness. I’ve always wanted to be of service in a large-scale, transformative way.
Also, having my kids live their happiest life possible (whatever that means to THEM), is my ultimate dream. I want them to believe they can make their wildest dreams come true, and do it. I have a feeling it’ll happen.
I’ve also dreamed of a vacation home on the beach that my family and their families someday would vacation to for generations. Working on that!
How do you use food as medicine and a tool for beauty?
You are what you eat and it shows in your skin, but more importantly in the energy you give out. I cultivate and trust my intuition so my body tells me what I need to FEEL GOOD.
I eat real, whole food and I limit processed junk, sugar and gluten. I also believe in eating organic and local and limiting exposure to toxins. Trust me, I wasn’t always like this and I’m not perfect. It took time and sickness to help me wake up.
My happy place is the Westport Farmers Market! Greens and colorful veggies are my loves. I’ve been plant-based for 20+ years, but now eat wild caught fish. I eat an abundance of alkaline rich greens and veggies at every meal.
Vegetables are also liver cleansing foods. The health of your liver plays a huge role in the health of your skin. The more toxic your liver is (from pesticides, heavy metals, plastics, processed foods, etc.), the more likely you are to develop skin problems. Many people’s livers are burdened with toxins and cleaning out the toxins will help your skin glow (among many other life-saving benefits).
I never forget my gut! 80% of immunity resides in your gut, it truly is our second brain. I incorporate gut healing foods often like fermented vegetables, fiber, celery juice (yes!), bone broth, collagen, prebiotics like garlic and onions as well digestive enzymes and probiotic supplements.
I also load up on antioxidants, anti-inflammatory foods like ginger and turmeric and healthy fats.
I drink half my body weight in ounces of water and start my morning everyday with hot water and alkalizing lemon. Hydration in both liquid and food form (e.g., chia seeds, cucumbers, etc.) is critical for the skin and overall vitality.
I can’t forget adaptogens. They have been a life-saver for me. Adaptogens are a group of herbal ingredients that adapt their function to your body’s needs, helping regulate your adrenal system. They help combat stress, beat fatigue, increase energy and beyond. Stress wreaks havoc on the skin and adaptogens help keep me balanced. I add them to my matcha, tea, or smoothies daily. Moon Juice brand is my go-to.
“How You Eat Is How You Live”, from Geneen Roth, is a concept and way of being that deeply resonated with me throughout the years. It’s so important HOW you eat. I’ve been a yogi/meditator for 20 years and try to practice mindful eating daily. SLOWING down and actually chewing food. It matters! It improves digestion and helps you absorb your nutrients more effectively. I’m really trying to curb my eating while standing up habit! Never perfect, always growing.
Also, I’ve been intermittent fasting from after dinner till about 10 or 11 the next day and feel so much lighter and more conscious.
I do have “cheat” meals but don’t really call them that. I don’t believe in deprivation or perfection—that’s boring! If I want something I’ll have it. However, it’s remarkable how much my tastes and cravings have changed over the years. I’m always grateful for the journey.
Siobhan: I couldn’t agree more as I don’t believe in depriving oneself of a food if you find it delicious.
What is your favorite daily beauty food?
I can’t name just one, so these are my top favorites that I add each day.
Greens, I can’t talk enough about them and their powerful cleansing and alkalizing properties. I also love adding spirulina in my smoothies for extra detoxification benefits. Adaptogens (e.g., mushrooms like reishi and ashwagandha to help manage my cortisol and stress). Healthy fats like avocado, salmon, sprouted nuts, and seeds (love @GoRaw brand) and wild blueberries.
Do you have a daily beauty routine?
I made the switch to organic skincare years ago and haven’t looked back.
I keep it simple. Exfoliate with my daily cleanser, then serum, then eye cream, followed by a rolling session with my Jade roller (just a few minutes because mornings are busy!). My makeup is also all clean with brands like RMS and Kjær Weis.
At night I sometimes do a plant retinol (Intelligent Nutrients) or just serum, eye cream, followed by my rose quartz roller. I like the rose roller at night because if feels more nourishing to me. Vintner’s Daughter is my favorite anti-aging serum! I can’t live without it. I’m also a face-mask junkie and love doing masks weekly.
I put essential oils on in the morning instead of parfumes. I love doTerra. I also adore my Pratima body oil for my body post shower and I never forget my neck…I am over 40! Body brushing, epsom baths and the ayurvedic self-massage technique called Abhyanga is in my routine a few times a week.
I can’t talk beauty routine without focusing on drinking water throughout the day (love my hot water and lemon in the a.m.), plus clean food, solid sleep, and de-stressing daily in whatever way works for you. My daily non-negotiable for sanity is meditation or breathing, even just for a few minutes. All of these self-care practices matter just as much as the products you put on your skin.
What does organic beauty mean to you?
Organic Beauty means using cosmetic products with organic ingredients that are grown without the use of GMOs, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, fragrances and all that junk that can disrupt the endocrine system. I want to be able to pronounce the ingredients I put on my skin and know that I’m not loading myself with toxins. It’s better for me and the environment.
What does your community most struggle with? How do you solve that need?
Most of my clients want to lose weight and are moms. We also have several executive clients who are trying to balance conflicting demands, unhealthy lifestyles and high stress levels.
We start our first session with a detailed review of their health history, challenges and lifestyles. We jointly define clear goals and success metrics. We establish a protocol specific to clients goals, adding a few new ideas/actions items per week to master, including eating habits and even mantras for inspiration and focus. We believe in nourishment, not deprivation. So it’s about adding in foods too. Each week, we layer in more and correct what isn’t working or resonating. We are creating new, sustainable habits, not quick fixes that will soon be reverted. We typically meet weekly with our clients for at least a month, but usually longer. We provide constant accountability and support and follow each session with a detailed, written summary and plan.
Each session we start off with successes (AND CELEBRATE the wins!) and then problem-solve their hurdles. In addition to food/supplements, we focus on their root causes of emotional eating and patterns that may not serve, mind/body and stress management techniques, their movement plan, sleep strategies and beyond.
We have proven results over and over again (losses of 10+ lbs. in 1 month) with our detoxes and cleanses to lose weight because we focus on the bigger picture!
We have two new business lines we are launching in 2019 that we are so excited about—Corporate Offerings and Business Consulting for Wellness Companies.
Both Stephanie, my business partner, and I worked in large corporations for a combined 23+ years and get the struggles of trying to be healthy while working 60+ hours a week, juggling family and friends and self. We are starting to do more corporate work including speaking engagements, customized programs, kitchen and café makeovers and beyond. This truly combined our passion to help others EMBODY Wellness with our experience in business, finance and strategy.
Our Business Consulting arm started organically last year as we built our wellness network and experience. We were asked for business advice and consulting support from other wellness professionals and businesses including health coaches, nutritionists and healing providers as well as restaurants, juicing companies and cafes. So, we decided to make it a formal business line of EMBODY! I have my Masters in Healthcare/Business and was a Strategy Consultant at Accenture, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and also a marketing executive at various organizations within the corporate and nonprofit world in my past life, so it’s a natural fit! I love talking business, and helping other women grow their businesses.
Siobhan: I think we have that connection of loving to talk about businesses and how we can support each other. I think it’s very powerful when women empower each other in their endeavors. The energy between our friendship and business connection has helped me grow personally and professionally.
How do we “Embody Wellness”?
Embodying wellness goes beyond what you put in your body, it’s also what you put on your body and in your mind.
It’s a way of embodying a joyful and vibrant life that consists of clean foods, clean beauty, de-stressing, sleeping more, daily movement, trusting your intuition, saying NO, talking kindly to yourself and practicing self-care.
Oh, and having fun and being present along your journey! It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being consistent and owning your own worth. Embodying Wellness means so much more than food!
Siobhan: I love what Embody Wellness represents! Remembering to have fun on your journey is so important and necessary. It brings joy into your life.
Thank you, Christine, for being my first guest on Conversations and for your continual inspiration.
COMING TOGETHER THROUGH THE LOVE OF NATURAL BEAUTY, WELLNESS, FOOD, AND SUSTAINABILITY