Dr. Melissa Piercell is one of Well Street’s top facilitators. She manages a full-time practice while taking care of her three young boys who are all under seven years old. Despite her busy life, Melissa always has bounds of energy and vitality. We spoke to her about her top wellness tips and her take on naturopathic approaches in the workplace. Here’s what she had to say…
Q: How did you get into your current career/what made you decide to pursue this career?
MP: As a competitive figure skater growing up, I had always believed in the importance of diet and exercise for best health and performance. My interests shifted from the body to the brain in high school and I decided to pursue a degree in neuroscience. It was during this time I realized that the body and mind are so interconnected, it is impossible to study one without the other. I felt that Naturopathic Medicine was the only discipline that gave me a truly holistic viewpoint into wellness. To be honest, I wanted to study this for my own health! Passing the information along to others was just a bonus!
Q:How does the Naturopathic approach to wellness help the workplace?
MP:Naturopathic medicine emphasizes a balanced lifestyle. For many people working in the city, this concept of balance is total unrealistic! A long day at the office can mean switching to survival mode, which may include way too much caffeine, sugary snacks to get through the day and very little movement. I really enjoy watching the big shifts that even little lifestyle tweaks can have on one’s health at the office. Individualized supplement protocols, nutrition plans that are easy to implement and lifestyle adjustments from a Naturopathic Doctor can make a huge difference in the way we feel.
Q: What key wellness/health recommendations would you make to maximize vitality and feel great?
One of the great things about Naturopathic Medicine is how individualized the treatment plans are. Everyone gets a protocol that best fits the lifestyle they are currently living, in order to make the transition to heath easier. That said, there are a few things that will safely benefit most people.
My top 3 easy wellness strategies are:
#1 Never press SNOOZE!
The 9 extra minutes that you think you get from each snooze cycle is completely wasted in your day. In an ideal morning, the alarm sets off a hormonal cascade to encourage adrenaline and an energy rush to get you on your feet. The snooze button is very confusing for your poor cortisol, and is guaranteed to keep you sleepy all day!
#2 Get ½ of your weight (in pounds) of water in each day.
If you weigh 150 lbs, aim for 75 oz (or 2.3 L/day). Water keeps blood moving, encourages better brain function and energy and keeps our weight in check!
#3 Find your Joy!
We seem to lose our joy as our list of responsibilities grow from childhood into adulthood. I encourage my patients to reclaim their joy daily. Adults typically indulge in alcohol, television, and comfort foods as a way to relieve stress, but these aren’t necessarily promoting happiness. Perhaps a few minutes of stand-up comedy each morning, a dance class weekly, painting lessons, vacation planning or signing up for a bike race would get the blood pumping a bit? As humans, we thrive on goal setting for happiness. There needs to be something outside of obligations that we can look forward to and promote joy.
Q: What is your #1 health tip?
This is an easy one! Get at least 4 big handfuls of vegetables in each day. Add them to every meal if possible! Veggies have fluid, tissue healing antioxidants and detoxifying fibre that our body craves, without the sugary cost of fruit.
Throw spinach into your morning smoothie, grab a couple of baby cucumbers on your way out of the house in the morning, have at least 1 salad each day and have soup, stew, chili, stir fry and roasts full of vegetables daily. Your body will thank you!
Q: What do you like to do for fun (any hobbies, activities etc.)? Why do you enjoy these things?
MP: As a full-time Naturopathic Doctor and Mother of 3 boys under 7, I have to build my hobbies into my day in creative ways. I read at least one fiction book each week on my long subway commute. That’s my time to escape!
I plan a few running races per year as well. As I stated above, sometimes I need to commit to goals to keep me on track. Planning for a race well in advance keeps me running regularly. As an added bonus, I drag my sister with me. We get a couple of hours to catch up without the kids each week while we run! It’s productivity at its best!
In my less busy days, I used to enjoy hours of painting. Today I sit my kids down most weekends and let them make a huge mess of paint while I practice a few minutes of this craft at the same time. The clean up is worth the creativity that rarely lets loose these days!
Q: What is your favourite thing about your practice?
I like to think of myself as a bit of an investigator. My job is to discover the cause of unbalanced health (which is different in each person) and restore order. Loads of questions need to be answered in order to get a good sense of the best plan of action. It is so much fun to watch the plan make real improvements in people’s lives. I feel so lucky to be able to help people discover a better life through wellness.
Q: What is the most common question you get asked at wellness talks at organizations?
Can’t I get everything I need through food?
MP: My answer is: It depends!
Everyone is different, and perhaps their dietary restrictions makes them at risk for certain deficiencies. Maybe their stress levels put them at risk for certain imbalances that can be best addressed with a supplement. Some people have beautiful diets, but need to get moving consistently to see better vitality… That’s the beauty of Naturopathic Medicine, the treatment is very specific to the individual!
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