We can’t wait to share a new series we will be running on the blog, and the first post is finally here! Our community is filled with incredible women leading the wellness industry and we want to share their stories, experiences and businesses with all of you! Each month, we will highlight a ModernWell member within the wellness industry to give you an inside look at the women that make up our community. Wellness is at the forefront of everything we do at ModernWell, but the term can mean something different for everyone. We want to give you a different way or perspective to think about and incorporate wellness into your daily life each month!
And with that, let’s meet our first feature member – Anna Klimmek, Founder and Chef of Happy Food MN!
First things first – tell us who you are, where you are from, and what it is that you do!
Hi! My name is Anna Klimmek, I am the Founder and Chef of Happy Food MN, a food and wellness education company that offers healthy cooking and lifestyle programs to companies. I grew up here in the Twin Cities and went to college at UofM – Duluth. Studied abroad one year in Birmingham, England – and travelled as much of Europe as I could while I was there. I also lived and cooked for 9 months in Cabo San Lucas, MX and still kind of consider it my second home as we visit my mom who snowbirds there every year. I spent my summers on the North Shore where my dad was a Summer Camp Director at Wolf Ridge ELC and for seven years growing up I basically spent my summer running around in the woods as a camp counsellor, camping, canoeing, learning about the environment and being a good steward of the earth, mentoring kids and breathing fresh air. I still spend as much time outdoors as I possibly can… and that upbringing plays a major role in my wellness!
Tell us more! How did you enter into the wellness space and was it an industry that you always knew you would work in?
Uhhh Nope. I did not plan on ever being in the wellness space. In fact I used to… well lets just say, “Live to the MAX”. I lived pretty much to the extreme of my system. Culinary is not necessarily the most “Well” minded career choice, lots of eating and drinking of all of the things. Long hours standing in one spot, a kitchen culture that can be pretty tough on people both mentally and physically. I was also just a person who was drawn to that and not necessarily because of my career. I loved food and wine, late nights and early mornings. I could power through anything…until I couldn’t anymore.
I had gone on an eating BONANZA to Copenhagen home to some of the best restaurants in the world with a plan to try it all. But, somewhere in there my body broke. I got really sick. On top of gaining a lot of weight, things just started to go haywire. I’ll spare you all of the details, but I got pretty scared and super down on myself. Suddenly it felt like I couldn’t handle anything and my body was telling me to STOP. I was afraid of what might be happening. Too scared to go to the DR., to tell me something bad because I KNEW this was lifestyle-related. I decided to seek the help of a Health Coach first, and if I couldn’t turn things around by making some major changes that I would then see a DR. So I went full in with a Health Coach and low inflammatory eating program that was focused on just eating whole foods – no-calorie restrictions! I have also suffered from disordered eating and I knew that restriction, calorie counting and keeping track was not good for my head, I’d swing to the other extreme! But, the idea of cooking whole foods and finding what worked with my body made a lot of sense to me. I realized I was sensitive to everything because my gut was in ill repair. My coach and I worked together to get me healthy. She was kind and met me where I was at. I remember telling her, “I’ll do this but, I’m still gonna party.” Her response, “Just think of this as a road trip, every time you make a pit stop (party) it takes longer to get to your destination.” That struck home for me and helped me to be honest about what I really wanted and that was to get healthy.
Though my physical progress was really slow, I had a full mental turn around. I suddenly wanted to learn everything that I could about being healthy and what it means to truly be well. So impressed with how my health coach had helped me, I decided I wanted to do the same for people and signed up to get my Healthy Coaching Certification through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Quickly, I learned that there is a place for me as a chef in this world of health and wellness and that I can help people connect the dots between what they eat and how they feel while teaching them tactical tricks for cooking simple healthy meals. So I rolled my personal chef business Healthy Food MN, into a health coaching business that now primarily offers workshops for companies that teach people how to cook, how to make small changes that will change your life, and that it doesn’t have to be hard to take control and get healthy, even if it is one teeny step at a time! I still work as a personal chef as well cooking for clients who are really sick and need to follow a specific diet but don’t have the ability to do it for themselves. I can take any dietary restriction you throw and me and create a meal plan that is so amazing you’ll never feel like you are missing out! Boom! I said it!
What are some of the biggest misconceptions in the wellness industry that you want to debunk?
I think people think that Wellness Practitioners are perfect and standing high on our wellness pedestal judging them. I get this A LOT, when I tell people what I do, it becomes true confessions of what they are not doing, partnered with guilt and why they aren’t doing more. I promise we are NOT judging you. It is actually a part of our training. We are taught that everyone will come to their wellness journey (sorry guys had to say it) in their own time and in their own way. It’s not my job to tell you how and when that will be. And when and if you are ever ready, we are here to help, most of us have been there before. And we are not perfect. I certainly am not, I practice what I preach, but I am still practicing. I struggle with maintaining the best body that works for me, and though I don’t like to talk about weight because we are so much more than that, I still can swing between a body I feel great in and a body that aches and clothes don’t fit, or moves as easily. Occasionally, I’ll dip into old habits and need to recenter, but I’ve learned what I need to do to find my center much more quickly, I’m trained to know how to tap in and see what I need. These are barometers for health that I am constantly working on. Wellness practitioners are not perfect we are usually just openly working on it and wanting to help you with what we’ve learned along the way…if that is what you want…otherwise, we are also happy to leave you alone, and just be your friend!
What does wellness mean to you?
When mind, body and spirit are in alignment. I often joke that I am a delicate flower built like a bull in a china shop. I do really need to take the time to care for myself. When any of these go uncared for too long I really swing out of balance and feel very unwell. I have a spiritual practice that is very personal but if left unattended can leave me feeling like I am spinning out and unwhole. My body and mind are so interconnected that if I neglect my movement and diet are not well maintained I can start to get depressed, anxious, cranky, self-doubting and negative. I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was a junior in high school. I have only recently learned how to focus and use my brain to its fullest capacity. I attain that to my new lifestyle. It has been an absolute miracle, and when I lose that ability and spin out it can feel devastating. But, like I said I have learned how to find my center more quickly and that really is all we can ask for. When I’m taking care of myself, it feels amazing; like I am capable of doing anything, my body moves easily, the joy comes quickly and overflows from within, I laugh easily and feel light. I think this is all-natural and a part of the human experience, but it’s nice now to know how to bounce back more quickly!
How does ModernWell help you in your wellness journey?
As Solo-entrepreneur things can get pretty lonely. I started looking at co-working spaces but didn’t really have the need to “work” in that space as I am often in a kitchen or on-site. I was looking for a connection, I also was looking for something that felt nurturing. A place where I could feel comfortable, meet new people and expand my world. Since I’ve done that my world has exploded! I love human connection and it is definitely an essential piece of keeping me healthy! I also love that wellness is a major part of the Moderwell experience. I like knowing that it is at the core of all of its offerings, whether it is business-based workshops, or workout classes or book readings, it’s all with the idea of life in balance and I love that. Especially when the entrepreneurial messaging can be so, “rise and grind’. I like Modernwell’s message of self-care and balance and that because you are a member of this community you are supported and you will naturally thrive by making new connections with like-minded people! I’m also a big fan of the workout classes in the middle of the day. I love knowing that I can take a break and get some movement into my day without having to leave!
What’s your guilty pleasure?!
I try not to put guilty and pleasure together and really try to just embrace my choices as they are. But, of course I do have one.The SUN! I love the sun! I want to roll around in it soak it up and be in it every moment that I can. I love to be tan, I love to be hot. I love lying for hours reading a magazine and baking in the sun. I like to play in the ocean and dry off with salt still in my hair. Sunup till sundown I want to be in it! Wrinkles be damned. I want to look like I’ve lived a full life outside playing and relaxing and enjoying it all, and if it means I get an extra spot or wrinkle I guess so be it. Will somebody please get me to MEXICO! Also does anybody know a good esthetician?
Want to learn more about Anna?
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