Most of us know that, in order for human beings to thrive, we need relationships. We are social creatures that crave community and benefit greatly when we can be together with other trusted people. Businesses are no different. Mente thrives, not just because of the work we do within our practice, but also because we cherish the opportunity to build partnerships with other practitioners in the community who can also help support wellness and health for the people that we serve. As professionals, we also become better and remain healthy when we can consult and learn from our partners.
In my mind, Cyndy is one of these people. As a wise and caring member of our community, Cyndy has become a part of our network and we admire the thoughtful way in which she supports people to move towards their wellness goals.
Cyndy is not just a Health Coach. She is the owner of CRS Coaching, a practice that empowers women to be mentally and physically healthy while aging gracefully. As a researcher and a coach, Cyndy has centered her professional work on health equity to improve outcomes primarily for women of color.
I am thrilled to share this conversation with you, and I am grateful to Cyndy for the opportunity to have her as a community partner. It has been a wonderful experience to get to know her better.
Martha: What inspired you to become a health coach?
Cyndy: My path to becoming a health coach was shaped by my personal and professional experiences as a woman of color working in health equity research. I am passionate about the role that health and fitness play in facilitating well-being and addressing health disparities for women of color.
As a research faculty member in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Washington, I led studies on health equity, workforce diversity, and patient experiences. My work in this area laid the foundation for me to pursue health coaching and personal training to apply the knowledge I gained as a researcher, help people prioritize and have more control over their health and well-being, and alleviate health disparities. I see physical activity as a means to help improve overall mental and physical well-being, positively cope with everyday stress and trauma, and prevent many chronic diseases.
On a personal level, navigating the world that often devalues women of color pushed me to find ways to cope with racism and sexism in a way that healthfully supported my mental and physical well-being. I began to realize how physical activity and prioritizing my well-being helped improve my self-esteem, body image, connection to others, and resilience. Supporting other women who are struggling with similar challenges is one of my efforts to contribute to alleviating mental and physical health disparities.
Thus, CRS Coaching grew out of a pressing need for health and wellness services for women of color, by women of color.
Martha: How does your previous research inform your practice?
Cyndy: Much of my research focuses on the impact of racism on one’s health and well-being. I have conducted research focused on racism in education and healthcare settings, racism related stress and coping, and diversity of the healthcare workforce. Given that racism has been shown to negatively impact many areas of health for women of color, I draw upon what is known about positively coping with racism-related stress to support women in finding health promoting activities to improve their health and alleviate stress. Physical activity and prioritizing self-care are a few means to positively cope with racialized stresses. I strive to keep aware of literature related to health and wellness for women of color and incorporate that knowledge into how I work with clients. I also continue to remain engaged in, and add to, health equity research to inform my practice based coaching work and vice versa.
Martha: People often become concerned about their health practices as the Western holiday season quicks off, and there are often more chances to overlook the things that make us feel better like exercise or nutritious foods. What do you share with your clients about how to approach these situations?
Cyndy: This is so important. There are many things people can do to help maintain their mental and physical health during hectic seasons and times. Some of my favorite go-tos are:
- Keep moving – find creative ways to incorporate movement into your routine.
- Meditate or find some quiet time, even just 5 minutes.
- Do at least one thing each day brings you joy and healthfulness- dance, draw, sing, cook good food.
- Remember your WHY – keep sight of your motivation for wanting to prioritize your health and well-being.
Holidays can be celebratory yet sometimes stressful or exhausting times. While there can be fun in doing things you don’t regularly do, keeping to some of your regular healthful routines during holiday season can help ground you. For example, if you normally walk every day, keep doing that! If having a healthy breakfast each morning is part of your routine, do that! If you pray or have a spiritual practice you do each day, keep doing that! You might need to adapt your process or approach a bit to fit varying schedules and locations but get creative and flexible. You might even learn a new strategy or activity you want take forward beyond holiday season!
Martha: How does your practice center anti-racism and social justice?
Cyndy: My research and practice focus on the lived experiences of people of color and acknowledges the role of racism and discrimination in people’s lives and how those experiences can impact both mental and physical health. Prioritizing our health and wellness enables us to show up and do the challenging work of dismantling racism and creating a more just world. My practice is influenced heavily by the timeless words of Audre Lorde: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
When you are rooted in your health and well-being, you have more to give. And when you have more to give, you can help others have more to give!
Martha: What would you say to someone who is just starting to center their health and wellness?
Cyndy: Start small. Pick one thing you can incorporate into your routine and focus in on it. The goal is to keep consistent and do what works for you. Carve out just 5-10 minutes a day to prioritize your health and well-being practice. For example, if you want to incorporate more physical activity into your day, start with just 5-10 minutes of movement every day. Some days you might be able to do more, but just showing up and moving is part of creating the habit. Prioritizing your health and well-being – whether that be through physical activity, eating well, meditation, etc. – becomes a habit that can carry you through the challenges of navigating a racialized world.
If you feel ready to take steps towards supporting your wellness, don’t wait. Reach out to Cyndy at https://www.crscoaching.com/ and to Mente for more information on how to begin moving towards your wellness.