Christina Kang, Health Coach at Parlsey Health

She's incredibly passionate about the healing powers of food, and has a super interesting philosophy on your holistic health.
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I have known Christina Kang for the last 7 years and every time we connect she teaches me something new about wellness, health and reminds me to SLOW DOWN! Christina has an infectious kind of energy, that when mixed with her extreme warmth--makes everyone around her feel safe. This ability extends to her magic skill of bringing people from various backgrounds together to connect in meaningful ways (Fun Fact: she’s also responsible for introducing me to my husband!).  Christina’s recommendations and knowledge about all things health & wellness blow me away. Her intensely passionate way of living combined with her curiosity (and amazingly great research skills) make her a friend I trust for all sorts of things.  In this year, when we’re all managing a variety of new stresses, it felt right to share Christina’s story and spotlight her recommendations around feeling like our best selves.

What inspired you to go from law school to following a different career path of nutrition and health?

I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease (autoimmune hyperthyroidism) which later converted to Hashimoto’s (autoimmune hypothyroidism), but have been in remission since changing my diet and implementing healthy lifestyle changes.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to discover what they are truly passionate about in life?

If you knew you only had 10 more years to live, what would you do? That passion should result in feeling a deep sense of purpose. If you don’t know what that feels like, watch someone who is passionate about what they do. These people exude an energy that is so powerful and almost magical. For example, I have no interest in golf, but watching Tiger in his finest moments is awe-inspiring. Now, take that magic and find something that makes you exude it, too. 

"If you don’t know [what your own passion is yet], watch someone who is passionate about what they do. These people exude an energy that is so powerful and almost magical. For example, I have no interest in golf, but watching Tiger in his finest moments is awe-inspiring. Now take that magic and find something that makes you exude it, too."

Tell us about being a health coach at Parsley Health and helping others feel their best selves.

I help our members on their journeys to achieving optimal health. We take a deep dive into personalized, diet and lifestyle modifications to promote salubrious changes--each member is asked their health goals and we work together to develop a plan to achieve those goals. We make recommendations based on the evidence and keep abreast of the latest research. However, we have to balance what the science shows with the feasibility of implementing such recommendations, based on the member’s personality, physical, mental, and emotional history, level of motivation, etc. The soundest advice becomes moot if it isn’t heeded. 

But what makes Parsley so special is that we dig until we get to the root cause of what is ailing someone. There isn’t any amount of meditation or supplements that will help someone with an unresolved trauma constantly shredding their emotional sense of being (and the person may not even know it). Or if there’s a gut infection or overgrowth like SIBO, it is nearly impossible to resolve without appropriate treatment. 

As a lifelong learner, where/how do you discover new things?

Mostly, by talking to friends or via Parsley members b/c they tend to be immersed in the latest and greatest (you name it) currently available. And then if I have interest, I just try it. I take courses, interview or chat with experts, engage with people with diverse backgrounds (demographically and professionally), read, read, read, listen to podcasts of select people I respect (mainly in the health industry), travel, leverage apps and devices. I am not an avid consumer of social media, although it can be an excellent source of information if you know how and when to use it. 

For those of us that are still quarantined or don’t have easy access to nature/open spaces, how can we stay physically active and healthy without going outside? What can we do to mentally take care of ourselves and destress?

Number one priority is getting quality sleep; it’s not just about quantity. Sleep is the foundation upon which the other pillars of health (diet, exercise, relaxation, etc) stand. The science behind sleep is extremely complex and still nebulous, but here’s a few very important recommendations (a more in-depth list of my recommendations here):

  1. Minimize blue-light exposure after the sun sets. I wear blue-light blocking glasses and you want to buy the ones that are for nighttime wear. There are glasses for eye strain, meant for daywear, but those only filter a fraction of the blue lights and you want as close to total blue light filtering as possible as night. This will help reset the circadian rhythm (google this) and allow your body to secrete melatonin, a very powerful antioxidant. 
  2. Get direct daylight exposure within 30 minutes of waking. Step outside for a few minutes at least or even better, go for a walk around the block. You’re sending a signal to your body that it is daytime so then the master clock in your brain will govern circadian rhythms associated with the day. 
  3. Be in bed prepared to sleep by the time your body tells you it’s drowsy each night. This is your chronotype and affects how much deep sleep and REM sleep you get each night. You want a consistent sleep routine (i.e., bedtime and wake time).
  4. Go to be 15-30 minutes before you normally sleep for a wind-down routine. Try meditating (I use Headspace and Ten Percent Happier), deep-breathing (reading a physical book with a dim light, cuddling with a loved one, or listening to music. 
  5. A fantastic book recommendation on sleep: Why We Sleep by Dr. Matthew Walker

I tell my members that the moment you go to bed is the start of your day. We all know that the quality of our sleep has a huge impact on how we live and interact the next day. 

Now that I’ve emphasized sleep, there's a plethora of online workouts that people should take advantage of and many are free. For yoga, I love doyogawithme.com. Fiji, instructor and founder, is incredible. For a variety of workouts, I follow FitnessBlender on YouTube. Popsugar is also a good one; their cardio kickboxing classes don’t bore me. If you want community, you can take online classes with others. And keep it entertaining so do some dance classes...check out Matt Steffanina on YouTube. He will blow your mind. Very complex moves, but let go of the ego and just move your body. You can also find all of these suggestions in my Compell’d lists.

"The number one priority is getting quality sleep... Sleep is the foundation upon which the other pillars of health (diet, exercise, relaxation, etc) stand."

What are some easy things that people can start doing everyday in order to lead a healthier and happier life?

See sleep tips above.

Don’t worry about any particular diet, unless you have a specific diagnosis. 

Eat whole foods, focusing on clean proteins (grass-fed, pasture-raised, organic), healthy fats (this includes saturated fat too), and complex carbs in the form of nuts, seeds, legumes, and vegetables (vs. simple carbs like white rice which can spike your blood sugar). Eat as little out of a package, bag, or box as you can, however, I understand the convenience factor. I generally recommend removing gluten and dairy for at least one month as these foods are inflammatory for the vast majority of people, to see if it makes a difference. Cut out of the refined sugars. 

Work on stress management...meditate, deep breath, enjoy the company (via Zoom for now) of people you love, laugh, find your purpose, move the body, connect with nature, and be open to therapy (what a luxury!).

If you’re feeling anything less than amazing (don’t blame aging), then seek the help of a functional medicine or integrative practice. You want someone who will ask the right questions and perform appropriate testing to find the root cause of why you’re not feeling optimal and then work with you on an individualized plan to get you there. If you don’t know where to go, check out Parsley Health (parsleyhealth.com). 

The denouement: don’t settle on your health. Our bodies are very resilient, but this also means that we can adapt to a new normal, one that is sub-optimal. Keep that bar high.

Thank you so much, Christina! Your sleep tips list is truly life-changing.


DISCOVER CHRISTINA'S LISTS IN COMPELL'D
September 16, 2020

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