Energetic, kind, and bubbly are a few words that we would use to describe the young lady behind the “Healing to Happy” movement. Laura Martin, the creator of this Holistic Health and Wellness practice, single-handedly developed this program in hopes of guiding others towards their happiest and healthiest self.
Today we are glad to interview her – we met at the lovely Theera Healthy Bake Room – and discover who is behind this bright and honest smile and the multitude of stories that come with it…
Being as spontaneous and positive as usual, she speaks very openly about her journey, her personal struggles from teenage years and into early adulthood, and the reasons that led her to become a Holistic Health and Wellness Coach.
Through Healing to Happy, she is putting her knowledge and personal experience into practice to help you achieve your goals of great health and living a happy and abundant life. Laura will teach you the ways you can explore foods that fuel your body and your soul.
“Heal yourself to happy with Laura Martin”
1- Eating disorders
EHIB – As we recently started a new year and came back from our Christmas and New Year celebration, let’s talk about how they used to make you feel. Did this time of the year trigger any anxiety? Was it very stressful for you?
Laura – It still is! Well, it is better now that I became aware that the holiday season is not only about the food, it’s about the bonding! It is a joyous time of the year. My family came to see me after two years, and that is the part that matters! It is not about what I was going to eat with them, but the time we we were going to spend together. There’s a huge difference in bonding with your grandma as you bake your favorite pie and mindlessly eating 10 slices of that pie! And even if you choose to do the latter, it’s about releasing the shame that follows. The holidays have been a good reminder to really see how far I’ve come with my relationship towards food and life as a whole. The difference for me now is that I’m more mindful in my lifestyle—this time a few years back I would spiral and get into the “holiday” mindset. Meaning I would binge on Thanksgiving and just basically give up my entire health and wellness routine until January, feeling completely guilty and low and losing my “Christmas spirit”.
“The holiday season is not only about the food, it’s about the bonding!”
When did things become easier for you?
It started to change when I became aware. I had to inhabit my body in order to begin my healing journey. Mindfulness is a huge thing I embody within Healing to Happy. Many of us are just consuming because… it is just the way it is, we haven’t learned any other way of living. So slowing down, writing things down and bringing awareness makes a big difference.
3 – Food journaling
In your practice, you help clients focus both on the emotional and physical aspect of food, can you tell us more about that?
A lot of us have emotional attachments towards food; we use it as a reward or comfort, outside of just fueling our daily lives. When working with clients that struggle with mindless snacking or emotional eating I’ll have them reflect on how they are feeling before and after their meals to help them better understand their cravings so that they can gage if it’s filling an emotional hunger or filling a physical hunger. This practice also helps break down if the person has food intolerances, ie. the physical. We can then assess and eliminate because they’ll notice if they are bloated, lethargic or energized, post meal.
“It is not a quick sprint or following some fad diet, it is a lifestyle change.”
4 – Laura’s personal experience
Would you be okay to share some of your personal struggles that have helped you become who you are and gave you the motivation to do what you do today?
Oh yes, I am an open book! When I was 16, my life kind of took a bit of tumble and I used food as a coping mechanism, it had always been a too much or too little kind of battle. I hit every aspect of disordered eating and obsession with health. Granted, I have always been into fitness and played a lot of sports growing up. I even ran before I could walk! But after my mom unexpectedly passed and life started to take even more of a turn, I was literally working out 3 times a day… so that I could eat more. I was punishing my body. I slowly began to realize that I could not be at war with my body and win, so I reached out and I also tuned in to heal myself.
Where were you at that time?
I was in Thailand, I came here as a volunteer for an orphanage and then I got into teaching English, and started my life here. I initially graduated with a Bachelor in Communications and Psychology, but I had no idea what I wanted to pursue with it. I was at a point where I felt I hit a wall but I wasn’t ready to go back to the States. I had been investing a lot of time in learning about nutrition as a way to heal my relationship with food, so some friends suggested to me that I go back to school and study nutrition. I ended up stumbling upon the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN), so I enrolled and started my journey.
5- Reaching out
You mentioned earlier that when you felt at a low point, you reached out. That was certainly a big decision that started your healing journey. Was it easy?
I was at a very lost place in my life when I decided to tell a friend. I have been struggling since I was 16. I had reached a point in my life where it just hit me that I couldn’t live like that anymore, which is why I started to study nutrition. But then I realized I couldn’t fight it alone. To be honest, I wished somebody came and said something. It is like I was screaming for help, I knew something was wrong but I couldn’t bring myself to speak up about it.
We are all different but for me, I wished someone had come and asked me: “ do you want to talk about it? because there is an issue”.
Thankfully, I did have a friend telling that to me down the line and it was such a loving gesture. She didn’t come in accusing me, she made it a conversation that was open, if I was willing. But that is me! At that point, I was ready to receive the help I needed; it has to be when someone is ready and is open to change.
In my career, people who come to me are the ones that are ready or trying to be ready, and my intention is to guide them towards healing their relationship with food, among other things.
6 – Primary and secondary food
How would you describe your work as a Health & Wellness coach?
I like to think of it as guiding people towards living a happier, healthier, and more abundant lifestyle. It can be scary and confusing starting the journey on your own. Because of the path I walked, I learned and continue to learn, I love that I get to share that with others looking to make lasting lifestyle changes as well.
The difference between what I do as a health coach and what a dietician does is that I break food into two categories: primary and secondary. Secondary food is everything that goes into your mouth- food, water, alcohol, etc. Primary food is focused on your career, your spirituality, your physical activity, and your relationships. I’m a firm believer that you can tell how someone feels based on how they’re fueling themselves and if you have an imbalance in one of these groups, you have an imbalance in the other. People will initially come to me about weight loss, sugar cravings or digestive issues and such, and when we look at their relationships or their work related stress, we then can see how closely those two actually tie together. So we work together to balance both categories to reach optimal health.
7 – Healing to happy program
What can someone expect when reaching out to you for a consultation? And is it actually one consultation or do you have a long-term approach?
They can definitely expect guidance and accountability! For the initial consultation, we would go through your health history: any health issues or concerns you have or that run in your family, how are you eating now, how is your energy level and things like that, and what your main concerns are. Is it weight loss, is it sleep? Because at the end of the day, I am here to help with what is challenging you. I meet you at whatever health and wellness level you are at and coach you from there.The first exchange is about getting to know each other, following that we’ll meet every two weeks for 6 months.
Why 6 months?
I work with a 6-month program, whereby we set goals and intentions together to help you reach your optimal health. With most clients we start with secondary food, I will teach you about healthy food options, like how to and where to shop and how to cook.
As we progress, we’ll get into the primary food and work on balancing those out! Basically just teaching you how to make more health conscious decisions. Although you will notice improvement after a month, a 6-month duration is to allow life to happen. Think about how much happens in 6 months! Usually, when life happens we fall off our health kick, right? Within our six months together you’ll travel, go through holidays, deal with stress at work and within your relationships, and we’ll work together to keep you on track and conquer all of that with ease. I want to teach you how to do this all on your own. It is a training wheel and we take it step by step. It is not a quick sprint or following some fad diet, it is a lifestyle change.
8 – Balance and the 80/20 ratio
How would you describe your own lifestyle? Are you very strict? And how do you combine being healthy and happy inside & out?
I live 80/20. Because I have had digestive issues for the longest time, I do have to be mindful. I went on an elimination diet and I can tell you, it wasn’t easy! I eliminated 13 different trigger foods to help me better understand what was inflaming my body and now I try to pay as close attention to that as possible.
But also for my own sanity and social life, I allow myself some playing room. I follow my healthy habits 80% of the time and then the other 20% I just live my life in whatever way my soul is craving. Balance!
“It is all about who and what you surround yourself with.”
9 – Living the healthy life in Bangkok
What tips could you give to someone that would like to get started living a healthier life in Bangkok? What do you personally enjoy doing?
Quoting a famous sports brand here but: Just Do It! It is a better life when you pick the healthy route. It is easier when you have a friend or a coach to guide you rather than doing it alone and when you succeed, it’s always more fun when you have someone to celebrate it with. I have learned that it is all about who and what you surround yourself with.
Bangkok is intoxicating and can become toxic. It was for me, at least… When I moved here I was so excited to do so many things, I was going out almost every night and I completely lost balance.
Then I took a step back, reflected on the blueprint I have for my life, and started to live in accordance to that. It is totally fine if you want a drink or two once in a while, but it doesn’t have to be every day! Like I said, 80/20!
Also, we live in Thailand… Massages are like 7 dollars! Most of the time we’re reaching for a drink or a sugary something when really we’re just craving human connection. Massages are a great way to fill that craving!
I personally enjoy spending my free time at the weekly farmers markets, baking/cooking/eating, wandering the multitude of parks, or checking out the different wellness events happening almost weekly, like this entire month, The Hive has events centered around health and wellness. You just have to be willing to try new things!
Also, whenever I can have a weekend off, I go away on an island, it is so cheap here in Thailand!
10 – More about being a health coach
We wrapped up this interview with some of the tips & tricks that Laura would share with you on how to cook, meal prep, and even how to shop.
Besides, as a health coach, she insists on the importance of sleep and resting and all the things you can do to prevent yourself from getting sick.
To conclude, I would like to say that if you feel the need to reach out, or need a little push to get you started on becoming a healthier version of yourself, don’t think too much and “just do it!” indeed.
We would like to make note that if you are struggling with an eating disorder, please contact your local doctor for treatment. Laura works to help heal relationships with food but she is not qualified to treat eating disorders.