Dr. Carolyn Gonzales has been a Lifewatchers instructor for 5 years now. Why? Because she loves to see the healthy, positive results her students experience. Is Lifewatchers for you? Read on!
Q: How long have you been with Goodness Me!?
A: Even though I have been teaching Lifewatchers for 5 years now, my relationship with Goodness Me! started long before I even knew I wanted to be a naturopathic doctor. While I was in high school, my mom took me into the Upper Wentworth store for guidance on treating my eczema which had been a lifelong struggle for me. We weren't ready to make all the changes suggested at that time but we were curious and would occasionally buy supplements. Much later, after studying nutritional sciences in university, followed by a 4 year post graduate program in naturopathic medicine, I began to give talks at Goodness Me! on various health topics and was asked to teach Lifewatchers.
Q: What are some of your hobbies and pastimes outside of Goodness Me!?
A: I have discovered over the years that I not only love to teach, but I also love to learn! I’m particularly passionate about food and natural medicine with a particular focus on how foods can impact our hormone balance and moods. A deep passion is helping patients discover their body’s healing capacity through diet and lifestyle changes. In my spare time, I am frequently looking up new recipes and new ways to make healthy food in fast and easy ways while still keeping it nourishing. I love time spent in nature (Hamilton has amazing hiking trails!) and dancing is my favourite way to get exercise.
Q: How would you describe the food and exercise relationship to health?
A: This relationship is an interesting one. Undoubtedly, food and exercise are integral to balanced health. However, there is often some confusion relating to exercise being a method for ignoring healthy eating practices. Some argue that as long as they exercise a lot, they don't have to be concerned with what they eat. In my experience, too much exercise and not enough nutrition, often leads to poor results and unfortunately the potential for chronic illness increases. In my opinion, a healthy diet IS the foundation for a healthy exercise program. I often encourage patients and students to focus on healthy eating first before making drastic changes to their physical exercise regime. This often gives them the motivation to tackle a new exercise program or continue their regular exercise routine with better results. I also suggest that both food and exercise can be enjoyable—it shouldn’t feel like punishment! Instead, find the foods and exercises that make you feel good and reward yourself to good health!
Q: What transformations did you see during/after taking Lifewatchers?
A: The transformations I experienced were subtle but profound. As a Naturopathic Doctor running a busy practice, I had many hats to wear (and still do). I found I was eating healthy but not always as regularly as I needed to for blood sugar maintenance. Taking the course made me more conscious of WHEN I was eating not just WHAT I was eating. I was pleasantly surprised with improved energy, found it easier to juggle my professional duties and as a bonus, my stamina improved during exercise!
Q: What’s the most rewarding part of teaching Lifewatchers for you?
A: There are so many rewarding aspects to teaching life watchers, but perhaps the most rewarding is being able to witness the life changing transformations happening in the classroom. I get super excited once the students embrace the changes and start to notice improvements in how they feel and how they look. I also love the close-knit and supportive community that the classes provide. The classroom offers a supportive and inspiring atmosphere, and I see many new friendships develop over the 10 weeks.
Q: What transformations or benefits are most common among Lifewatchers students?
A: The most common ones that I hear about are improved energy, inches lost around the midsection, reduced blood pressure/cholesterol, better moods, improved sleep and fewer cravings. The best transformation is when students report having a greater awareness of what they are eating and feel empowered to make better choices for themselves and their families.
Q: What is your favourite dish or recipe in Lifewatchers?
A: They are all so delicious but my favourite is the quinoa salad. With simple ingredients, this recipe hits the spot with just the right amount of crunch and a perfect mix of flavours. I usually add extra parsley for additional flavour and a detox boost.
Q: How would you describe your relationship with food?
A: My relationship to food is one of deep respect. It is rooted in my knowledge and experience that food can be the most powerful medicine if the right ones are chosen. I have seen this with my own health and healing of chronic skin and digestive issues. I love food and over the years I have discovered that eating more of certain foods makes me feel better both physically and emotionally.
Q: Do you find it difficult or time consuming to live a healthy lifestyle?
A: As a busy person, finding the time to fit everything in can be a challenge at times. I have learned over the years that time spent preparing food is usually time well spent. And I am still astonished sometimes at how much time I can save during the week with a few focused hours of food prep on the weekends. I can’t live without my slow cooker, vitamix blender, grocery list and weekly menu plan.
Q: Who do you think can benefit most from Lifewatchers?
A: Honestly, anyone looking to improve their health through simple diet and lifestyle adjustments can benefit from taking the course. In particular, I recommend the class to those who are dealing with blood sugar imbalances, excessive inflammation, cravings, and people who are struggling with food preparation and planning. Many past students have remarked that after taking the course, they have a much better understanding of what eating healthy looks and tastes like!
Q: How would you summarize your journey through health?
A: It has been an interesting road for me so far. For most of my life growing up, unbeknownst to me or my parents, I ate foods that were causing a frequently upset stomach and painful eczema. This got worse in university when more processed foods made their way into my diet and stress became a bigger factor. Dairy was the biggest culprit. I loved cheese and yoghurt but they did not love me back! With the guidance of a naturopathic doctor in my early twenties, I came to discover the relationship between my food sensitivities and my physical symptoms. But I found it quite difficult to change my eating habits and it took many starts and restarts to slowly and gradually shift my diet towards foods that were nourishing and easier for my body to process. After many years off dairy and processed foods, I believe that this difficult time in my health journey has allowed me to relate to and understand students and patients more. I believe it has made me more understanding and compassionate but also more confident in the healing power of food. Every day, I am blessed to be able to discuss the medicinal properties of food with my patients and students. To me, the right food is nature’s solution to many of our health ailments.
Q: Any closing thoughts or comments?
A: Food is medicine! Food is powerful! I am super excited to teach Lifewatchers once again and can’t wait to meet new students. I look forward to assisting them on their journey towards better health. Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you and a big thank you to Janet and Goodness Me! for developing this program and making education a priority.