When I chose to let go of my nutritional coaching practice earlier this year, I was met with the same question over and over again: "Is there someone else you recommend I work with?" YES, there is. And it's Allison Walton. Today, I am so excited to share more about this lovely, talented, deeply knowledge lady with whom I'm lucky enough to be friends.
As a women's health specialist, health coach, yoga teacher, wellness writer, recipe developer, and workshop + retreat leader, Allison is a true wellness Renassaince woman (not unlike myself, I suppose ;).This woman is also wise behind her years (as evidenced below - each and every answer had me like YAS) and a total inspiration to me. She's a total trailblazer when it comes to how we think about, talk about, and navigate woman's health and hormonal issues, and I'm constantly gaining new insights from her. Allison unapologetically owns who she is, who she isn't, and in the process liberates others to embrace their true selves as well. She offers a refreshingly grounded, honest, and relatable perspective on topics that can otherwise feel overwhelming or nauseatingly fluff-filled (like entrepreneurship, traveling while on your period, and owning where we're at today). Read on for some beautiful insight on what it really means to be balanced & be well as a modern woman.
Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m Allison, a current Richmond, VA native teaching yoga + working with women as an integrative health specialist, primarily focusing on hormonal and reproductive health. I feel that in today’s highly endocrine-disruptive society, it’s so important for women to be properly educated on menstrual health and have access to individuals like myself that can help guide them compassionately in their journey towards optimal wellbeing.
On a local level, I also co-host NOURISH Women’s Workshops (with plans to expand nationally and internationally) and am one small part / creative brains behind Boketto Wellness, a brand new wellness boutique + modern apothecary here. Self-employment comes with getting your hands wholeheartedly involved in several things, not just one (and not just from 9-5).
What was your journey that led to the creation of & be well and your teaching/coaching practice?
My wellness platform, & be well, was the byproduct of yoga teacher training in Nosara, Costa Rica. I desired a creative outlet that allowed me to share all that I love about general wellness and mindful living in order to reach others willing to listen and absorb.
Teaching yoga and becoming a women’s health specialist both evolved from an innate desire to share wellness in intentional and tangible ways. The catalyst, however, was early-onset burnout in advertising. I struggled with bouts of depression and hormonal imbalances, which forced me to shift my lifestyle approach completely. In the process, I found that my work was meant to be more purposeful and self-fulfilling, rather than trying to climb my way up the corporate ladder. The practice of yoga helped me manage my depression and promote emotional wellbeing, while my struggle with endometriosis shaped the focus of my private consultation work as a women's health specialist.
What is the intention behind your work + creation?
The intention of & be well will always be to inspire a conscious approach towards living well. This work has taught me the importance of transparency, vulnerability and authenticity – which aren’t always easy! I strive as much as possible to be. I create, first and foremost, for the fulfillment of my self, but equally as important, to help women all over learn how to better take care of themselves.
Do you have any personal wellness rituals or daily ceremonies you swear by?
It’s both complicated and simple. I’ve seen answers to this type of question become pretty esoteric, and I have caught myself at times trying to do too many things at once for the sake of “keeping up” with the (wellness trends of the) times. It wasn’t until my coach, Jennifer Kass, instilled in me this understanding that the real healing happens from within, as much as I may want to latch on to external experiences and objects to do that healing for me. So, my wellness rituals change frequently, depending on what I feel I need or don’t need.
For internal support, adaptogens + acupuncture are my tried and true staples. Currently, meditation and simple breathing techniques suit me because I’m finding the combination to be very calming to my nervous system yet powerful during this transitional time in my life and career.
For external support, daily oil-based facial cleansing and a little bit of nature's Vitamin D have been transformative for healthy, glowing skin. Also, not washing my hair every single day. It makes life so much easier that way, really.
Are there any specific mindset practices that help you to feel more centered, aligned, and inspired?
Surrounding myself with equally inspiring and empowering women (and men!). There is absolutely nothing that shakes my soul and inspires me more than connecting with other individuals who are curious, conscious and motivated about creating positive experiences for the community at large. And then indulging in them together.
Also, making creative things with my own two hands, and from the heart. Workshops have been so wonderful for this. There is nothing greater than giving yourself space to freely play.
What is your personal approach to food (eating it, making it, sharing it, etc.)?
Eat what makes you feel good, in that moment. And by that, I don’t mean the junky, refined foods that are temporary fixes to cravings (been there, done that), but from-the-earth, real foods that are meant to help our bodies function optimally.
As many women have and still do, I’ve struggled with my relationship with food. It wasn’t until I started experiencing wacky hormones that I learned to take my body and the food that I put in it very seriously. It has allowed me to become much more in tune with my individual, unique needs and let go of a dietary label to define me.
I make my meals as often as I can, but rely on convenience at times, especially when traveling. I'm not really one to measure exact ingredients when cooking, I mostly just throw in however much I think is good enough and will deliver on taste and nutrition. (And also this is why I don’t bake).
Working as a healer of sorts, how do you maintain your internal equilibrium while at the same time holding space for others to release, heal, vent, etc?
Anyone in the business of teaching and healing will agree, this is very hard work. We give so much of our own energy while also taking on others’ energies, so finding that balance is absolutely key. I’m still figuring out how that looks and feels for me, but I will say that solitude and quiet space after moments or days of overstimulation is extremely necessary for me. My body tells me (usually pretty bluntly) when things are out of whack, and that’s when I know to dial it down and maybe even take a complete day of rest. Personal days are luxuries.
On the other end of that, there is something truly special about holding space for others. Anything purposeful and self-fulfilling will promote internal healing, but yes, we must give that energy back to ourselves somehow.
What role does movement play in your life + health?
Movement should definitely feel desired and not forced, and for me, I prefer for it to be both intuitive and creative. I grew up a dancer, but now my version of dancing takes place on my yoga mat - fluid movement that fills a void and makes me feel damn good. I enjoy the playful nature of any practice and like the unexpected, so I attempt to provide the same for my students. Sometimes, though...my form of movement is straight up horizontal rest.
What are five things you couldn’t (or at least, highly prefer not to) live without?
Love and partnership. The powerful bond between myself and the inspiring women in my life. Tangible, intentional experiences and opportunities to travel. The cacio e pepe from Plant Food + Wine. A good wide-leg romper. I wear them anywhere and everywhere (and they seem to get me through wedding season pretty well).
What is a standout piece of advice you received that helped shape who you are as a female entrepreneur?
Own your sensitivity - not as your weakness, but for it making you who you are.
I acquired so much guilt over the years for thinking my highly sensitive nature was my downfall, but rather than shaming myself for a trait that is a big part of me, I've learned to work with it and let it guide my work in how I teach, consult, love, live and be. (Thank you, Jennifer.)