Gina Thorne: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Harmony Foundation Podcast Series, and I’m pleased today to be joined with Jolene Park, functional nutritionist with Healthy Discoveries. Welcome, Jolene.
Jolene Park: Thanks, Gina.
Gina Thorne: It’s really good to have you here.
Jolene Park: Yeah. Thank you. It’s great to be here.
Gina Thorne: We’re really interested in hearing about Healthy Discoveries, but before we do that, I’d love to talk with you a little bit more about what it means to be a functional nutritionist. You work as a functional nutritionist here in Denver, Colorado. The concept was new to me, and so I’m sure it might be new to other listeners. Could you describe for us a little bit about what’s the difference between a traditional nutritionist and a functional nutritionist?
Jolene Park: Yeah. Yeah. From the functional side, I really look at how we can use nutrients in a functional way. For example, “What’s depleted? What’s deficient?” And then, “What’s showing up because of that?” That can be around cravings. You know, “Is magnesium depleted? Is B6 depleted?” And looking at certain foods. It doesn’t have to be supplements, but certain foods that can help the body come back into homeostasis and take us out of cravings or different symptoms, like having trouble sleeping or anxiety. There’s lots of different ways to look at that from a real functional nutrient standpoint.
Gina Thorne: Really, taking advantage of the physiology of the body and looking at it from that perspective, which probably has a bigger difference or impact on the brain, and how you actually work on a day to day basis.
Jolene Park: Right, because the body always wants to be in homeostasis, and so when something gets depleted or in an excess level, we don’t feel good. That gives us a real message, and then it’s going back and looking at that, of, “What do we need to kind of boost things back up to come to balance, or bring things back more to the middle ground?” There’s lots of detective work in that. It’s a fun practice, but it doesn’t have to be complicated, either. Just going back to the basics of, “How hydrated are you?” And, “How often are you eating?” And, “What exactly are you eating?” Doesn’t have to be complicated, but those little tweaks can make a big difference on a functional level.
Gina Thorne: It’s interesting, because I mean, I feel like we could go on a completely different tangent talking about this idea of how we ignore those things that our body is telling us every single day, and if we were more mindful in thinking about what the body is telling us, we probably would be in homeostasis on a regular basis.
Jolene Park: Yeah.
Gina Thorne: That’s interesting. We want to learn a little bit more about Healthy Discoveries. It’s a holistic approach to wellness, and as a person who’s abstinent from alcohol, which is one of the reasons why we’re here today, I want to talk with you a little bit about you were able to marry the passion of your functional medicine work with this idea of abstinence from alcohol. What was that journey like?
Jolene Park: Well, the functional nutrition side of it was integral. That was the root of it, when I chose to stop drinking myself three years ago, going back to the physical level. For instance, with brain chemicals. Knowing that my GABA, which is kind of my internal anti-anxiety brain chemical, was depleted, and was using wine in that way. What, then, are some functional nutrients that I can use to boost my GABA up, and not feel as anxious without needing to use wine? But then just from the whole Healthy Discoveries standpoint, I work with a 10-point model. I call it my Wellness Wheel, because even though as a nutritionist, I think nutrition is fascinating and it can be a great foundation, but it’s not the only piece. Eating right and exercise are really good things to do, but then it’s also, “How are we nourishing ourselves with relationships, and relaxation practices, and our leisure, and financially, career-wise? Our purpose, our vision, our spiritual wellbeing?” There’s nourishment and nutrients in all of those areas, not just food.
For myself, I’m always looking at that, and that’s what I am training and coaching others on too, of that bigger picture of nourishment.
Gina Thorne: Do you see the work that you’re doing with individuals that you come across, are they eager to find that kind of transition as well? Was this a new thing for you when you made this decision to say, “You know, this alcohol thing really isn’t a good fit for me and where I want to be in my life, and I think other people might feel the same way”? I mean, was this a new concept for you?
Jolene Park: You know, it was a little, because my decision to stop drinking was a very personal decision. Even as I was working in wellness, and health, and nutrition, I functioned really well. My drinking didn’t look problematic on the outside, but internally I knew that it was problematic for me. It was a very personal decision, and then the more I started speaking professionally about my personal decision, the more people came and said, “I identify with that kind of drinking. It doesn’t look end stage, or problematic on the outside.” Then it became using the tools that I had been using, and teaching, and found really beneficial for myself have also really benefited others.
Gina Thorne: That’s wonderful, and part of that is, for someone who’s a wellness coach, you obviously draw on life experience in working with your clients, and you also have partnerships with, I’m sure, lots of people who help you be successful in working with your clients. You have a great podcast that you do with Aidan? Aidan Connelley?
Jolene Park: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Aidan-
Gina Thorne: Aidan Donnelley-
Jolene Park: Aidan Donnelley Rowley.
Gina Thorne: Rowley. Yup. Both of you have done a great job in really kind of putting together this idea of looking at editing our drinking in our lives, and how do you do that, and so you’ve got some great topics that you’ve covered. Do you count or not count your days of sobriety, I guess? Or when you’re dreaming of drinking, which I was actually talking to a friend of mine about that earlier today, and she said, “Oh, yeah. I remember when I had dreams about drinking.” Very interesting topics. The impact of parenthood on drinking, another really good one, because I think a lot of people don’t think about that.
When you think about what you’ve done in your professional career to create partnerships with people like Aidan, how does that marry up to the work that you’re doing personally with your abstinence, and the communities that you’ve created, to be successful?
Jolene Park: Well, yeah. There’s many people. Aidan and I met on Instagram, and there’s a huge kind of movement about the sober-curious, looking at the dry life, rethinking drinking, and just that community in and of itself, of partnering up and collaborating, has been great. But then from the professional collaboration as well, of I’m also a trauma informed yoga instructor, and so collaborating with that professional side of things on the stress management piece, on the nervous system regulation side, from the emotions, the fight, flight, freeze. But then also referring back to clinicians and practitioners for more in-depth kind of … If there needs to be inpatient work, looking at that comprehensive approach, those collaborations are always beneficial.
Gina Thorne: Yeah, they are, and it just helps heighten your expertise and helps you have the resources, because nothing is done in a vacuum, right? We all have to work collaboratively together.
As somebody who’s worked with clients for a long time, in particular around this idea of abstinence, what do you believe is a fundamental tool that’s necessary for someone to be successful in this abstinence movement?
Jolene Park: You know, I think nervous system regulation is a biggie, and that can be on the physical side of things, with the actual what we’re putting in our body, replenishing ourselves with things like B vitamins, and minerals like magnesium. That can really help regulate the nervous system. But then also real, practical training techniques of not staying stuck in a fight, a flee, or a freeze stress response, and there’s some great practical ways, whether it’s using our breath, using different movements, different ways to kind of let the body unwind out of that, and it’s practical, but it’s on the physical level of retraining the nervous system and rebuilding new neural plasticity in the nervous system.
Gina Thorne: That’s great, which I think is very foreign to some people. I don’t think people think about it from that perspective very often, so I think that would be a really nice piece to consider, and I know you’re doing a TED Talk soon. That’s on November 11?
Jolene Park: November 2-
Gina Thorne November 2. Okay.
Jolene Park: … will be the actual TED Talk, and then it’ll be out on video about a month later, December of 2017.
Gina Thorne Oh, good.
Jolene Park: My whole talk is The Gray Area of Drinking: Nourishing Our Nervous System in a New and Revolutionary Way.
Gina Thorne [crosstalk 00:08:33].
Jolene Park: So I’ll talk all about this.
Gina Thorne: Yeah. It’s definitely revolutionary to me. It’s very unique. If someone wanted to access your services at Healthy Discoveries, how could they get in touch with you?
Jolene Park: HealthyDiscoveries.com is my website with all of my information. I have a Craving Brain coaching program, where I work with individuals on a one on one basis, and that’s all on my website, and my contact info, you can email me anytime, is there.
Gina Thorne Okay. Wonderful. Thank you so much. It was really nice to have a chance to talk with you.
Jolene Park: Thank you for the opportunity.