In this world, where life is fast and furious and sometimes tough, there’s nothing more important than intimate and authentic connections with a loving community of sisters. This monthly Q&A series is all about sharing some of my favorite women in wellness and how they shape, shift and uplift others to live life more fully. This month, I’m welcoming Krissy Leonard to the blog. Krissy and I met at Spirit Weaver’s Gathering this year and shared our mutual love for Ayurveda and intuitive nutrition while licking sticky date and tahini covered fingers after prepping snacks my workshop. I love Krissy’s wellness story and her approach to helping women connect with their bodies in an empowered and supported way. Read more about her journey with healing PCOS, upleveling her diet and relationships, and expanding beyond the definitions of who we “should” be in this life…!
Every great journey has a story, tell us about you and your journey towards holistic living?
What led me to this work? A whole lot of pain. For most of my life I felt completely powerless over food and my body. I’m not your typical always-been-skinny just-eat-veggies-and-exercise type of health and weight loss expert. For me, being thin, healthy, or at home in my body, was never something that came naturally. Food was my escape from life, from pain, from boredom, from that mild tension that builds when you just don’t feel comfortable in your own skin. But the more I ate the more my pants felt tight and my confidence would plummet, so then I’d try constantly to fix myself with diets, cleanses, and lots of profanities whispered behind closed dressing room doors. It was a vicious cycle.
So eventually I decided skinny was superficial, that there were more important things in life, and so I just ate and did whatever I wanted. Finally in college, after years of disordered eating, binge drinking, and partying I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), I was obese and getting winded when hiking with friends, my skin was breaking out, and I was suffering from depression and anxiety. I really wanted to be able to “heal” myself without pills or prescriptions or going on another restrictive diet so I set out to find a new way.
I realized what I was doing to myself, how I was treating myself, what I was eating, wasn’t working and something needed to change. I knew so much about health and wellness but my body wasn’t a reflection of that at all. Eventually I found my way to yogic philosophy and ayurveda and things really shifted. I learned that food could be an instrument of love, and that I could get to the other side of this whole obsession with food and weight for good. Most importantly I learned that being thin isn’t the main goal. But having a healthy body is a side effect of living a healthy, whole, fulfilling, and spiritually aligned life. I think in a way I always knew that which was why being heavy hurt so much.
At what point in your journey did you decide you wanted to make a career out of your experience?
I was at a yoga teacher training with Seane Corn and she said “whatever breaks your heart in this world, that is where your service lies.”
That really struck a cord because I desperately wanted out of my soul-sucking marketing job AND I knew I wanted to help women break free of their obsession with food and weight so they could free up their energy to make a meaningful impact on the world.
The turning point came was when I committed from a place of certainty that my life is meant for something bigger than me, and whether I succeeded or failed financially was irrelevant, I needed to try. I needed to know that I was using my energy and intellect and heart to contribute something meaningful to the world so other women would not have to suffer and struggle as long or in as much silence as I did.
How would you describe your approach to wellness? What modalities do you work with?
I help women release excess weight and free up their energy so they can do something epic with their life. Whether it’s starting their own business, being a more present partner, a mother, an advocate, an artist, or a healer. I believe true health and vitality is a result of full expression. “Yes” to everything.
I believe in removing the obstacles that restrict your freedom, the flow of energy, creativity, grace, love. I do this through combining ancient and modern techniques for health and healing including holistic nutrition, ayurveda, yogic philosophy, meditation, Neuro-Linguistic Programing, and Internal Family Systems Therapy. But really what it looks like is a woman stepping into her power, fully and forever, so she can leave this life knowing who she was and what she stood for mattered. Weight loss, vibrant energy, joy, and that healthy “glow” are the inevitable result and much welcomed side effect of doing this work.
What does your personal practice look like? What ways do you nourish yourself daily?
Food is still so important to me, but now it is a way of connecting to love, to pleasure, and to the divine rather than a rebellion. I love eat beautiful food. I don’t eat refined sugar. That sh#% makes me feel crazy around food so staying away from it really helps me serve. I also wait for the water to get warm before I wash my face. I know this seems like a little thing but there was a time in my life where I wouldn’t even take the time to do that for myself. Now I do and it is a reminder of how far I’ve come. I use a beautiful washcloth, I make my own facial oil and I use that too. In those ways I feel nurtured and loved. Also as much yoga, nature, art, and music as possible.
How do you balance your work/personal life?
I go on a date every Wednesday night with my husband Ryan where we can just have fun and adventure together. We play mini golf, we drink margaritas, we play music together in the back yard. I also schedule lady time like it’s my job. I literally have a date on my calendar for a walk with a friend a month from now, and a camping trip with other friends a year from now. It seems silly but it works. I schedule what matters. Then I follow through. But really it always feels like I am just attending to the ball that is about to drop. It’s never perfect. It never feels totally “together” and that’s ok. I think embracing that reality has gotten me closer to peace and “balance” than anything else I’ve tried.
If you could name 3 women who shaped your life and work, who would they be?
Myra Lewin, Marianne Williamson, Sarah Jenks, Marie Forleo (I know that’s 4 but hey…)
How do you handle negativity or competition in your work/personal life? In what ways do you support women to rise above this pattern and uplift each other?
I feel blessed to not feel much negativity in my personal life or work life. But when I do I find that seeing beyond the person to the pain helps. When I was living in India I had a teacher who said: “if a person hits you with a stick, you wouldn’t get mad at the stick, would you? So when fear or hatred or shame compels a person to harm you, don’t get mad at the person, see the root cause.”
I’ve learned that it’s usually someone who is hurting that feels compelled to hurt others, otherwise it just wouldn’t even make sense. So if someone lashes out at me I try to see that person’s pain, I try to see that it is not about me. I try to love.
I also co-founded and lead the Burlington Women’s Circle in Burlington, Vermont. Whenever I meet a woman that inspires me I ask her to join us and share her gifts. A few years ago I decided to stop getting jealous or feeling insecure around incredible women. I realized it was really all about admiring how wonderful they were so instead of letting that get all muddied up in self doubt or comparison, I would just flat out tell them “I love your work, I love your style, or ‘Um, can we be friends?!’ etc” Now I find my friends are a collection of total bad-ass, spiritual, ambitious, and hilarious women. And we have a lot of fun together being wild and changing the world. It’s awesome.
Tell us about a dream project or collaboration you’re manifesting? What do you desire to (co-)create? What’s on the horizon for you!
My dream is for women everywhere to take all the energy they currently spend on counting calories, worrying about their muffin top, and freaking out about not being vegan yet, and channel that power into a force for good. I want to teach our young girls how to heal, nourish, and inspire the world through who they are, and not hold back until they are a size 4. F*#@ that. WE have work to do. My goal is to help you see that, define it, get after it, and make the world a better place because of it.
Your parting wisdom:
Know that who you are matters. Your gifts, your talents, your dreams. Those sacred callings of your heart are not to be taken lightly. I see so many women say “I’d love to be an artist but…” or “I’d love to travel more but…” or “I’d love to start my own business but…” These are not selfish desires. These are mile markers along the divine roadmap of your soul. They lead to your purpose on this earth. Listen. And if you want to find your unique purpose, unleash your passion, and get into the best shape of your life in the process, I’m your girl.