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Balancing the Grind with Kelly de Martin, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach & Founder of Glow & Grow Wellness

Kelly de Martin is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Founder of health & wellness collective, Glow & Grow Wellness.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

Yes, of course, my career initially started off in education. I was a primary school teacher for seven years, and after ignoring the signs of burnout for quite a while, I finally took action.

I moved away from a role that I valued, but that was draining me more than it was serving me. I learned about the world’s largest health coaching school called the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) which was the next step in pivoting my career to one that focused on health, wellness and supporting others to thrive.

Since completing my health coaching certification, I started my own business, Glow & Grow Wellness, supporting individual wellness journeys and working within a corporate capacity, facilitating workplace wellbeing events and programs.

I now, coincidentally, also work as IIN’s ANZ Market Manager supporting the rapid growth of Health Coaching down under.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I’m usually awake as the sun comes up, which I never thought I’d say! I don’t need to set an alarm these days, but I do go to bed as soon as I feel slightly tired.

This balance in my circadian rhythm has made such a difference to my energy and productivity levels throughout the day. Intuitively tuning in to my body’s needs, which is a huge focus of IIN’s concept around bio-individuality, has allowed me to function at my best.

I enjoy one coffee a day and it’s as soon as I wake up. I spend time in stillness before making my bed (non-negotiable) and writing my list of to-dos for that day.

I’m a massive believer in starting with a win so whether that be making your bed, having a shower, or going for a walk or run, finding something that sets you up for success and starts you off on the right foot for the day ahead I believe is invaluable to feeling that sense of accomplishment. 

I also love to start my workday ‘eating the frog’ which is another great hack for productivity outlined in Brian Tracey’s book ‘Eat that Frog’.

This is where you start your day with the hardest or most unenjoyable task first. Once this has been completed it gives you that motivation to conquer so much more vs. spending your day procrastinating about that looming deadline. 

I also ensure that I’m prioritising time away from my desk to eat, ideally outside in the sunshine and that I’m not scrolling my phone while munching. This promotes mindful eating and helps to segment my day into chunks. 

I finish work with a walk around the block to signify ‘knock-off time’ and spend the afternoon away from a screen with family and my dog.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

As the founder of my own health coaching business, I’m fortunate that my role is quite flexible and is open to change from week to week.

This was one factor that drew me to this career initially, as a change in schedule and work location is something I value to keep me engaged and excited about the work I do.

The fact that I had autonomy over my hours including where and when I worked, was a driving factor in attending IIN and setting up Glow & Grow Wellness. 

For those that don’t have the option to start their own business or make drastic career changes in the current climate, I think (or at least hope) that we’ll start to see a shift post-COVID, with workplaces starting to acknowledge that providing autonomy in when and how work gets done, is a powerful investment in employee’s health.

In fact, employees in roles with a higher level of autonomy such as managerial, freelance or contract roles, were more likely to report they were consistently thriving within their personal well-being, which in turn, has shown to support peak performance (Australian HR Institute (2020). The state of wellbeing in Australian workplaces. The Wellbeing Lab 2020).

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I think we sometimes get so caught up in trying to achieve this nebulous goal of ‘balance’ that we forget it’s something we can harness right now in the present.

There are many small actions we can take immediately to create space for stillness and peace and a lot of them include setting up clear boundaries for ourselves.

I like to designate specific times for phone use throughout the day as well as allow myself a clock-off time which is something that I have had to develop in recent times as working for yourself often means always being ‘on’.

Because I love what I do, sometimes the lines between work and life are quite grey and blended, using a tool such as IIN’s Circle of Life tool (available here) as a check-in strategy is a great way to assess what areas of life are currently thriving and which may need a little more attention.

We know that the food on our plate has a huge impact on our health and wellbeing but we also know that nurturing our primary foods, i.e. the foods off our plate such as relationships, mental health, career etc., all contribute to that healthy sense of balance. 

I also find it super useful to time segment my day, I use Google Calendar and print out a page per day as a schedule guide. I’m very visual and tactile so having something I can scrawl on and hold helps me to get a clear idea of what’s up next and aids as a tool to separate work from home life. 

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Yes, one of the things I found incredibly beneficial throughout lockdown was introducing the habit of walking each morning and afternoon to signify the beginning and end of a workday.

Given I wasn’t commuting to Sydney for corporate wellbeing work, it meant I had so much more time to invest back into myself. I also started spending time in the garden, there’s something about connecting with the earth that is truly grounding.

Setting aside a day of rest and relaxation each week has also done wonders to my sense of wellbeing over the past year. This day is free of work, technology, errands and appointments. It’s simply a day of being present, connecting with family and spending time in nature where possible.

Another simple, yet effective, change for me, has been the swap out of dairy milk to a whole bean soy milk substitute in my morning coffee. Whilst I’m not completely vegan, I have noticed a massive difference in the amount of energy I have during the day compared to a coffee based on heavy cow’s milk.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I’m currently reading ‘How Not to Die’ by Michael Greger M.D. It gives an incredible insight into whole-food, plant-based nutrition and healthy habits. It’s a particularly great one to have in your bookshelf as a reference guide. 

I also love Marie Forleo’s podcast for a good ‘kick up the butt’ – she’s great at giving you that pep-talk you didn’t know you needed to take action in your life and business. In fact, I highly recommend her book ‘Everything is Figureoutable’ too for anyone wanting to make a change in their career and life.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

From a business perspective, XERO has been a game-changer for the freelance work I do. I can’t recommend having an online bookkeeping software that’s linked to your business account more. Absolutely worth every penny in my opinion, it’s a huge time saver!

Something super simple, yet an incredibly convenient tool is Universal Clipboard (copy + paste) across Apple devices, it honestly saves me so much time too!

Essential oils are a big part of my wellbeing toolkit and I use them continuously around our home as low-tox cleaning alternatives and throughout the work I do. I’m a big fan of a Lavender, Orange and Frankincense blend when seeking out some stillness.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?  

As someone who works in the health and wellness industry, is it too cliché to say Gwyneth Paltrow?

I think she is a powerhouse and despite the less positive press she often receives, there’s no doubt she is making waves in the health and wellness industry, promoting healthy living all the while juggling her family, multiple businesses and acting career.

I’ve mentioned Marie Forleo already. I’m always drawn to the stories of women in business. Us women are incredible at multi-tasking but having that powerful skill means that we all too often forget to practice mindfulness and schedule time for ourselves.

With guilt constantly overshadowing our experiences, reminding us that we should be using this time to simultaneously juggle this or that, being OK with doing just one thing well is something that needs to be deliberately practised.

Both Gwyneth and Marie are known for their many varying strengths. I once thought that I had to have a niche in business, I had to have just one thing that I was known for, however, I’ve come to learn that my multi-passionate self, is a value in itself.

If you’re still wondering ‘what you want to be when you grow up’, maybe the skills and passions you encompass across a variety of facets is exactly what you need to be?

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

In the work I do with my coaching clients, balance is a term that consistently comes up. And whilst many of us aren’t in a position to have a complete career change, there are steps one can take to find balance in the place that you currently find yourself in. 

Three things you can do today to find balance include:

  1. Taking stock on where you currently spend your time. Change nothing but keep a diary for a week to identify what you’re currently investing your time into.
  2. Using this stocktake to make any adjustments and identify activities that are time draining and replace them with activities to fill your tank. For example, book time in your calendar for a designated self-care hour every week, time for connection with others such as date night or a walking catch-up with friends. 
  3. Utilising your calendar for important personal time just as you would prioritise it with work commitments. This ensures that self-care, moments for connection, exercise and healthy eating habits all become part of your norm and aren’t lost amidst the array of work commitments that somehow always end up taking priority.

You can take the above steps, but remember, as a rapidly growing industry, there are many certified health and wellness coaches out there trained to support you to find that elusive ‘balance’ and stillness within your life.

I love to remind myself that whilst we can’t conquer the entire mountain in one hit, we can take small yet impactful actions to promote balance, creating a ripple effect to support our overall health and wellbeing long-term.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.