Wellness with Danielle Levy
We're the first to admit that prioritizing your health isn't easy (staying up that extra hour watching Netflix is). But what we've found is that shifting your habits and priorities, however small, begins to make a huge difference in how able you are to live life to the fullest. How you feel on the inside projects itself onto the outside world. A successful, happy life truly can't exist without a healthy body and mind, which is why we love Holistic Nutrition Practitioner Danielle Levy's committment to taking the best care of herself possible each and every day. Not everyone has as much flexibility as Danielle, true, but take her advice and schedule your time to include taking good care of yourself rather than leaving it as an extraneous luxury. You'll find you have more time than you think and your body and mind will thank you!
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND AND WHEN DID YOUR INTEREST IN LIFE AND CAREER SHIFT TOWARD WELLNESS?
I was curious about food and its origins at a very early age, and read a lot about sustainable agriculture, animal welfare, nutrition, and health. It became clear that food was connected to so many environmental, social, political, and economic issues I cared about. By focusing my path on food, I hoped to have a positive impact on the world, however small.
After transitioning towards a whole food, plant-based diet at 15 years old, I noticed a huge difference in my health! While I stopped eating animal products for animal welfare and environmental reasons, I ended up experiencing less digestive pain—something I’d dealt with since childhood.
After a year studying Environmental Science at Concordia and not connecting with the program, I decided to follow my passion and pursue nutrition. In 2008, I completed the Nutrition Educator program at Bauman College, and then studied at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in 2009, where I became a Registered Holistic Nutrition Practitioner. I wasn’t ready to set up a practice right away however as I wanted to travel! I ended up living and working in Australia, Thailand, and Toronto. After gaining a lot of life experience, I was ready to move back to Montreal and start my business. It has been an incredible, challenging and inspiring four years since I’ve been practicing here, and I am more motivated than ever to continue helping people adopt a healthier diet and lifestyle!
YOUR OWN WELLNESS/FITNESS ROUTINE ARE A DEFINING PART OF YOUR LIFE. WERE YOU ALWAYS INTERESTED IN THESE AREAS?
I was raised in a pretty health conscious home, as both my parents were active, and my mother always cooked whole, fresh meals—so the seed was planted. I got into dance as a kid, which was my physical outlet, and then got into cycling as my preferred sport. Then running came into my life seven years ago and continues to be an important part of my routine. It gets me out into nature all year round!
WHAT IS YOUR BASIC DAILY ROUTINE?
I wake up around 5:30am and meditate for about 15-20 minutes on most mornings. Then I get to work between from 6 and 8am, my most focused time of the day. Between 8am and 10am I schedule a run or walk at the mountain (Mont Royal)! Best part of my routine. Then I hit the grocery store or Jean Talon market, as I enjoy buying fresh produce and preparing meals daily. I see clients in the afternoon and early evening, and make time to connect with friends in person, as much as possible.
HOW DO YOU ENSURE YOU ALWAYS HAVE TIME FOR HEALTH?
I MAKE time for health! If my basic needs are met—eating well, exercising, practicing stress management, and getting sufficient sleep—I am better at work and life. Consistently investing in my health has both short and long-term benefits, so I choose to make it a priority. I also teach my clients about living a balanced life, so I try to walk my talk!
HOW DO YOU ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO FIND TIME, PARTICULARLY MOTHERS? FINDING TIME ALWAYS SEEMS TO FEEL LIKE SUCH A CHALLENGE!
Yes it can be challenging, but I think it’s a question of choice. If you choose to prioritize yourself and your health, like anything else, you will make time for it. Absolutely, mothers often put others' needs way before their own. But when they are in good health—mind and body—they can be better parents, partners, etc., so I think it’s a win/win situation. Organization is key, so I encourage my clients to write down their weekly schedule in an agenda or calendar—designing their lives to include food shopping/cooking/exercise and not just work!
YOU ARE KNOWN FOR RUNNING OUTDOORS IN EVERY TYPE OF WEATHER, FROM HOT SUN TO HARSH CANADIAN BLIZZARDS. HOW DO YOU KEEP SHOWING UP FOR YOURSELF EVEN WHEN THE WEATHER IS INTENSE OR YOU WANT TO STAY IN?
I focus on how good it feels to be out there, and how energized and grounded I feel afterwards. Therefore I associate running with these positive thoughts and emotions, and this drives me all year!
HOW DOES YOUR FITNESS APPROACH/ROUTINE ADAPT ACCORDING TO THE SEASONS?
I stick to running in the fall and winter, and then enjoy cycling in the spring and hot summer. I’m not as hardcore as the Montreal’ers who cycle all winter, or run all summer!
HOW DO YOU SUPPORT YOUR BODY THROUGH YOUR TRAINING?
I consistently eat a whole food, plant-based diet, which is optimal for overall health and proper sports nutrition!
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR SOMEONE WITH NO EXISTING FITNESS REGIMEN? WHAT SHOULD THEY DO FIRST?
I think they must find an activity that they like as we are more inclined to do an activity if we enjoy the experience. Then I suggest scheduling this activity into your week, doing 30-60 minutes of exercise, 3-4 days a week as an optimal goal. If cardio is too difficult at the beginning, I encourage people to simply walk, an incredibly underrated form of movement in my view. I always recommend walking for 30 minutes minimum each day, for overall health, weight and stress management, and disease prevention!
LEARN MORE OR BOOK A CONSULT WITH DANIELLE: daniellelevynutrition.com
CONTRIBUTORS & CREDITS:
LAUREN KOLYN, Photography: Lauren is a lifestyle and editorial photographer based in Montréal and Toronto, Canada. With a documentary approach to her photography, Lauren is a visual storyteller with a unique ability to capture the essence of the moment. Drawing much of her artistic inspiration from the natural environment, Lauren's photographic work explores the modest yet powerful beauty of her surroundings. She is also currently part of the Pure Green editorial team. View her work, follow her on Instagram.