“Going through chronic illness at such a young age, my inner dialogue wasn’t very kind to myself. I wasn’t my own best friend,” says Amy Kurtz, author of Kicking Sick. “When I started to understand that how I spoke to myself played a part in my well-being, I started speak to myself in a kinder way, believing I had the power to shift my beliefs over anything.” To wit, Kurtz took matters into her own hands to educate herself about her own disease and began to heal herself holistically. Her book acts as a manual for anyone suffering from chronic illness featuring tips from a plethora of wellness experts including Dr. Mark Hyman, Gabrielle Bernstein and Kris Carr. “Having a chronic health condition can be complex to diagnose because it sometimes lays outside of the typical medical landscape,” Kurtz continues. “Be an advocate for your cause. Ask a lot of questions so that you become the expert.” We caught up with Kurtz below who talks the importance of positive thinking, self-care and what natural products she can’t life without.
In your book, you coin the term Glow Warrior. What is your definition of a Glow Warrior?
It is a person who glows from the inside out. Someone who glows in the face of illness and adversity; someone who takes on a difficult challenge and makes it deeply transformative for them rather than deeply traumatic; and is someone who is dedicated to being a champion of the good life. What I love about the word “glow” is that it’s illuminating, soft, and peaceful. A warrior is someone who is a fighter. When you’re coming through something difficult the idea of a peaceful warrior or a glow warrior is the place from which you want to approach what you are facing.
In your opinion, how much do thoughts influence your well-being, whether it’s for the better or worse?
I totally believe that thoughts have the power to influence your well being for better and for worse. The term “I AM” puts you in an empowered position to change the way you think about yourself and your situation. The way that you shape your future and the strength of the subconscious mind is so much more powerful than we realize. In terms of health challenges, when we are we are diagnosed with something we mentally, physically, and emotionally hear that diagnosis as a limitation, something permanent that defines us, like a wound that will never heal. In terms of chronic health conditions, often times when given a diagnosis we hear a steadfast reality, for example, “your arthritis will just get worse and incapacitate you.” The contrary belief and thought to meditate on is, “I move my body with ease. I am free.” The goal is to start to treat or think of a better reality to wish for, hear it in our mind and then meditate into our bodies so that we feel it into our cells. Also, it is important to reflect on how you think about yourself and how you speak to yourself.
What are the most important things you need to know about self-healing, what are they?
- Healing is a process and not a destination. You need your time, love, and attention in order to get well. It’s not something that can be rushed.
- Be gentle with yourself. Body, mind and spirit. Pain is inevitable with chronic disease, but suffering is optional.
- You are your own best advocate. No one knows your body better than you do.
- In order to get well you have to completely restructure your life. This means removing what causes you stress. Personal self-care rituals are the bedrock for which you can truly begin to take care of yourself in a new and more supportive way. Your body needs these things so you can help it into a state of healing rather than a state of fight or flight.
You talk about self-care in your book. What are some things you do personally to maintain your own health and vibrancy?
My self-care routine comes first. When we give ourselves the time to show up for ourselves and spend time in our internal world, we can better show up for our external world and everyone and everything in that. My favorites are: meditation, acupuncture, a good sweat in a infrared sauna or steam room, chiropractor, dry brushing, moving my body whether that’s through restorative yoga or dance, good rest. I like to have book ends to my day….I begin my day with my meditation. Winding down the day is important for me: hot epsom salt bath with essential oils is my go to, or an at-home restorative yoga practice.
Now that you are gluten-free, take us through a day in the life of meals, drinks and snacks from morning to bedtime.
I grew up in the processed food generation: pizza bagels, fruit rollups, fat free, sugar free, you name it, I ate it. Now I focus on a clean and whole foods, have a plant-based and fresh diet. I truly believe that food is medicine. I nourish myself consciously and cleanly. I consider myself an intuitive eater and I listen to my body closely to figure out what it needs, so no two days are exactly the same. I eat a mostly plant-based diet and very much care about food combining. I eat “light to heavy” and food combining has been deeply transformative for my digestive system. Food combining is understanding that certain groups of foods are digested at different rates. Pairing certain foods together helps optimum digestion while others can make you bloated and cause weight gain, fatigue, etc. An example of this is that starch and protein digest at different rates, so if I want to eat a starch, I will eat it with vegetables. The same goes for if you want to eat protein, you would eat it with vegetables. For lunch it’s usually a big salad or a soup or both 🙂 Fresh veggies and avocado. Dinner again is lots of greens, I like to go out and try new places so I will do a big salad to start, clean sources of protein, a good side dish (or several), and I LOVE dark chocolate. Everything in moderation is important and don’t forget to give yourself some pleasure!
What is one thing you do to benefit your well-being every day?
I always start the day with hot water and lemon to jumpstart my system. I usually have a big green juice (or 2) somewhere in my day with dark leafy greens, ginger, lemon, and a small green apple. I typically begin my day with that or a green smoothie, which has the fiber in it that the green juice does, plus it’s more filling. These are both filled with a mega dose of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and are easy for your digestive system.
I like to snack on organic honey crisp apples, berries, sprouted nuts and seeds.
How would you describe your personal definition of well-being?
Well-being is your state of being comfortable, at ease, happy and healthy and having a really healthy internal life.
How would you describe your fitness regimen now?
I like to move daily if possible. My body is my house and the only place I have to live…so I try to pay special attention to what it needs. Some days that means simply a restorative yoga class, other days I love to dance (it makes me a happier person), and I love to box. I try to move 4-5 days a week and try new things. I like to get out of my head and into my body and have fun while I am doing it. I also love to rebound.
What is one thing you do every day to keep calm, centered and grounded?
I meditate every day and it’s been a complete game changer for me. It constantly brings me home to myself. I never had it before, and I will never lose it again.
What is your advice for someone who is battling a chronic disease right now?
You are not alone. 1 in 2 people in our country have at least one chronic health condition. You need your time, your love, and your attention in this moment to take care of yourself. Your diagnosis is only a part of who you are. It does not define you. It’s like your hand is only a part to your arm. Think of a mother-child relationship, a mother would not abandon a sick child. You need the rest of you: your soul, your mind,your spirit to really help what’s happening in the physical body. Healing is a journey, it’s not a destination. One step at a time. One day at a time. Fill your days with as much things that make you joyful and happy as you can. Remember this does not define who you are. You can really be a shiny sparkly glow warrior who makes it to the other side with a whole new perspective, a whole new outlook on life, and a strength that maybe you didn’t know you had before.
Name 3 must have all-natural products in your pantry/kitchen.
Name 3 must have all-natural beauty products you always rely on.
Top 3 health supplements that you take on the daily?
Vitamin D for SO many reasons.
A daily probiotic for a healthy gut.