Q & A with Courtnie Hamel of Wellness with Courtnie

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I feel so lucky to have been following the wellness shining star that is Courtnie Hamel of @wellnesswithcourtnie since she started her Instagram almost one year ago. It has been so awesome and inspiring to watch her journey with food and overall wellness evolve and grow. Not only are her photos beautiful, but her captions are sweet and inspirational and thoughtful and offer so much wisdom into her world and the way she takes amazing care of herself mentally and physically through yoga, meditation, and food. Read on to learn more about Courtnie!

Q: Who is Courtnie? What are some things people might not know about you from your Instagram and blog?

A: Pretty much what you see is what you get as far as Courtnie! I’m pretty laid back. I’m a yoga teacher, but I also do valet parking, which a lot of people don’t know. They might just think I’m at my house making smoothies and doing yoga. I’ve been actually doing valet for 6 or 7 years. I do that at night a lot and I actually really like it. I get to be outside, I get to run around. It’s a pretty cool job. It’s not sustainable forever, but it’s something that I do.

 Q: What inspired you to start Wellness with Courtnie?

 A: I’ve been really into the healthy living thing for a LONG time. I started probably when I was a freshman in high school. I’m 29 now, so it was quite a long time ago. I was a competitive Cheerleader growing up. I don’t think a lot of people know, but it’s really physically intense and demanding! I got into eating healthy just to try to improve my performance. I also dealt with a lot of skin issues. I got this book called “Glow” and the general idea was that the way you eat affects the way you look. Back then, that was not a thing at all – nobody was putting that correlation together really and I thought that was really interesting. I thought, I want to eat healthy and I want to improve my skin. Ever since then, it’s been a journey to better health I guess. I’ve definitely learned a lot along the way. I started with tiny switches like hot pockets to lean pockets. Regular yogurt to low fat yogurt (which now we know isn’t really good for you, but it’s a journey!).

I did my yoga teacher training this time last year and I pretty much started my account so that I could share when I was teaching yoga. It didn’t really start as something to share food or recipes or anything like that but as it progressed, I started sharing more. I’ve always shared these things with friends and family, so it felt natural to start sharing these things on my yoga account. That was what people seemed to gravitate towards so I started sharing that.

Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned?

A: I think I’ve come to a turning point in my healthy living journey where for a lot of years I wanted to LOOK a certain way. I knew that eating healthy made me feel better and was good for me, which was a driving factor, but looking a certain way was big for me. I think a lot of people are in that position – they want to eat healthy because they want to look a certain way. I wouldn’t eat enough, then I would eat too much. Now I’m at a point where I just want to FEEL good and feel healthy and I know so much now about how what we eat really affects our longevity. The driving factor now is just to be healthy and have longevity. Once I shifted my mindset, everything became so much easier – it doesn’t feel like I’m punishing myself anymore.

 Q: How do you figure out what foods make you feel good?

A: So my dad has celiac, so he can’t eat gluten. I was tested for it but I tested negative, but it doesn’t always come up in a blood test. I just made the decision to stop eating it and I feel so much better. I also don’t eat dairy. After so many years of experimenting and not eating certain foods – I’ve tried everything from vegan to raw foods to gluten/dairy free – I’ve really learned to listen to my body and piece together the puzzle like “oh I ate that and now I felt this way.” It’s a lot – you have to really pay attention and it takes a lot of practice. There are things that I know just don’t make me feel good like bell peppers! I know they’re healthy for you, but they don’t work for me. I will always only share things that I will actually use and would recommend.

Q: Where should someone who wants to eat healthier start?

 A: I feel like you could go one of two ways. You could either start small by just incorporating more vegetables into every meal. At breakfast, I always have a bed of greens under whatever I’m eating. Just incorporate more vegetables. Then just go from there – maybe cut out soda or fast food. Just making small changes along the way. Or, you could do something like the Whole 30, which I think can be really powerful. I’m actually working on a blog post about it. Nate and I did the Whole 30 together last year and he was a really unhealthy eater before we did that and he just learned so much your taste buds really change when you cut out some of the processed food that you’re used to. That’s a quick way to get over the hump – it shows that you can eat healthy and it’s possible.

 Q: What tips do you have for people who are busy but want to eat healthy?

 A: I think it takes planning – you have to plan. I don’t really do meal prep, but I do plan. I look in my fridge to see what I have and what I need. I always have my staples – greens, organic eggs, and some vegetables. Just making sure you have options available in your fridge. This is a hard question for me because I get to come home a lot! I would just say to be prepared and make sure you have those good staples at home always so you can reach for that. Just be prepared and mindful – if you can make a quick sandwich, that’s better than not having anything at all.

 Q: What are your favorite on the go filling snacks?

 A: I really like to bring smoked salmon, baby carrots and hummus, crackers and hummus. I always bring my collagen with me because if I add some to what I’m drinking, it makes me feel more full. We just started eating these little beef jerky sticks that are grass fed and organic – those are a really good option.

Q: How do you prioritize self-care even while teaching yoga?

A: I’m not afraid to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that because I need my time.” You know? Because people always want something out of you – to do this, or go to this place, but I’m not afraid to say I can’t. I think just not being afraid to take that time for yourself and to say no to certain things or obligations. It only takes one day for me to just recharge and do what I want to do. Then I can get back to teaching. The days that I teach, I’m just constantly thinking about what I’ll say and what my sequence will be. There’s so much that goes into teaching a yoga class that I never really thought of so sometimes I just need to give my brain a break from thinking about it all.

When I take a yoga class, it’s very refreshing (versus teaching). I also learn a little bit through doing that. That’s a form of self-care that I really like. I also love to go to the sauna and just sweat. That’s something I do to take care of myself.