Editor's Note: The original version of this article used the name Michelle Hall for a source. That is incorrect and has since been corrected to Michelle Hale. The Daily Lobo apologizes for any confusion.
An opportunity to reconnect with your body and feel more energized is coming in the form of a five-week-long online class starting Wednesday, called “Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Hormones.”
Nicole White, a certified holistic health counselor and the instructor for the class, said the course is intended to help people feel better all around in their day-to-day lives.
“It helps people naturally balance their hormones, increase energy, stabilize their mood and improve their sleep,” White said. “We spend a good amount of time on releasing stress and anxiety. Too much stress and anxiety can actually bring a lot of these symptoms on.”
White’s journey in nutrition started when she was very young and had problems with her gut, she said. Her parents would take her to the doctor, but no one could figure out what was wrong.
“I always had stomach aches, or fatigue or I couldn’t stay awake during the day,” she said. “I couldn’t wake up in the morning, and I’d stay up all night...They started telling my parents that it was all in my head, either that I was making things up or different things like that. They thought I was on drugs. What I learned later on was that there are certain foods, like refined sugars, artificial sweeteners or too many processed foods, that when I eat them, they wreak havoc on my gut, they zap out all of my energy and make me tired when I should be awake.”
White began living with better nutrition and teaching about it in order to help other people with their bodily struggles, she said, adding there are a lot of facts about the body that people are shocked to find out about.
“Most people are actually kind of surprised and unaware that they really should have one to two solid bowel movements a day,” White said. “A lot of people I work with have chronic constipation. When we work to relieve all of that, your body starts working better, which leaves people (with) more energy, and when they have more energy, they think clearer, they feel better and everything starts to work better in the body.”
White said the program is not about weight loss, even though that does happen for some people in her program. Rather, it is about having a healthier lifestyle and getting rid of nasty symptoms, like mood swings, bloating, chronic fatigue and pain. White welcomes people with illnesses such as diabetes, hypoglycemia and fibromyalgia.
“It is important for participants who are already being treated for chronic health issues to speak with their doctors before incorporating any of these lifestyle changes,” said Michelle Hale, the communications specialist for the UNM Center for Life.
The UNM Center for Life is promoting White’s class through marketing, White said. This helps spread the word to UNM students, faculty and employees, she said.
“The class was a good fit for our patient demographic at the Center for Life,” Hale said. “The class is also open to anyone at UNM and the Albuquerque community. It addresses symptoms that can be managed with simple, healthy lifestyle changes.”
UNM employees can use their tuition remission to help pay for the course, Hale said.
White created the independent program — and since it is an independent course, participants cannot earn college credit, White said.
The whole course is personalized for each student, starting with a food mood journal in the beginning, White said. After a week of journaling, each student talks with White, and they plan out what works best for them. White also takes student preferences into consideration — this includes preferences like hating to cook, she said.
“I’m educating people based on their personal lifestyle rather than giving them a cookie-cutter diet that won’t work, or that maybe they stick with for a little while and then they fall off of,” White said.
White’s approach is a “win-win” situation, she said. White doesn’t want to tell people that they can’t eat something that they love.
“Because of my eating disorder background, I understand that if someone wants cookies and milk every night, and you tell them not to eat that, they’re going to want it even more,” White said. “With some of these eating disorders and losing weight, there’s usually some kind of rebellion and this desire to eat what we want to eat, because it makes us feel good in the moment.”
White said she will help students find more nutritious — and still tasty — cookie and milk options instead of telling them not to eat them. That way, they can have their cookies and stay nutritious too.
One of the features of White’s online class is a virtual grocery store tour, where she points out all kinds of options that people might not have known about before.
“It helps people realize that there is a lot more food that they can eat that’s delicious and nourishing than what they thought they were limited to,” White said. “This also keeps people from starting sometimes, because they think it’s going to be a diet, and the foods that they love are going to be taken away from them.”
White’s online platform for the course will include a variety of materials such as recorded videos, downloadable recipes and live calls, where people can talk to each other about their nutrition journey, she said.
“There’s just a variety of different 'a-has' when people hear what’s going on with other folks, and it’s helpful for people to feel like they’re not alone,” White said.
Of course, students do not have to talk about their experiences with other students if they prefer not to, she said.
“Some people want to stay very private, and I respect that, and other people want the community and they want other people to share information with,” White said.
“I like Nicole (White)’s approach to introducing healthy lifestyle changes to individuals experiencing negative symptoms from chronic health issues,” Hale said. “She teaches how to easily and slowly incorporate small healthy changes, so the participant is not overwhelmed by a whole lifestyle change.”
Those interested can contact Nicole White at 505-204-1437 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Ariel Lutnesky is a culture reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @ariellutnesky.