Innovative, nourishing recipes coupled with beautiful food photography, and a strong passion for all things women's holistic wellness - this is the DNA of the online brand 22-year-old Hannah Schmitt has created with her passion project ‘Wholistically Hannah'.
An aspiring holistic nutritionist and blogger currently training at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, Hannah created her blog two years ago, as she delved headfirst into the world of natural living - the result of a Celiac’s disease diagnosis in her teens. Prior to her health-conscious lifestyle, she was living a relatively normal life, consuming foods found in the standard American diet and admittedly very disconnected from her body and the nutrition it needed.
"Once I got sick [with Celiac's] and had to deal with all of these gut issues, that's when I started learning about my health. I got into research and looking for more holistic and natural alternatives. I started living a healthy lifestyle and my health problems resolved for a couple of years. And then I got diagnosed with SIBO, which was a whole new thing. That's why I started my blog. It was just sort of an outlet to create all these recipes that I could consume while I was trying to heal my gut. And it kind of morphed into this whole thing that it is today and become about so much more than just food."
For Hannah, healthy living isn't about restricting your body's natural cravings or beating yourself up for indulging, she believes this does more harm than good. Falling into fad dieting in her teens, she tried several restrictive diets including caloric and protein, but the pressure of constantly having to eat only specific foods was a disempowering experience. Now, she focuses on making her body feel nourished and giving it all the nutrients it needs, as opposed to sticking to strict dietary guidelines.
"The idea of having to eat only a certain list of foods, it just really, really triggered me and caused so much stress. I found myself constantly worrying about 'What am I going to eat next?' 'What am I not able to eat?' And it just brought so much fear and stress around food. I learned now that it's so much better for my emotional health to not focus on the list of good or bad things. I'm all about not putting labels on your diet, and if food is making me feel more stressed out than nourished, it's better to just keep things less restrictive."
Cooking has become a therapeutic practice for Hannah, growing up with health-conscious parents who were always in the kitchen, she was intuitively drawn to learn how to create recipes for herself. For people with the goal of cooking more homemade, nourishing meals for themselves, Hannah's number one tip is to start slow. Rather than going into your pantry and throwing out the not so healthy items, a good first step is to swap them out for more wholesome, whole food alternatives - like less refined white sugar and more maple syrup or honey as natural sweeteners.
"Choose one area to improve at a time. If it's your diet that you want to make some tweaks to, then start with that. And if it's your exercise routine, then start with that. I wouldn't try to do everything at once. It's definitely got to be a slow process, that's what's going to make it more sustainable."
Intuitive living plays a large role in Hannah's life as well. She talks about the importance of incorporating intuition into all facets of what she does, from what she eats and how she cares for herself. Taking time for meditation, solitary walks in nature, and journaling, are all ways she finds her inner voice.
"I think learning to listen to my body means tuning out all of the outside distractions. It's really easy to go on Instagram or Google and start trying to search up the best thing. But sometimes when we shut off all these distractions and just sit with ourselves and allow that time, that's when our intuition can really kick in. When we're able to be with ourselves without any other outside distractions or noise, that's when that inside voice becomes strong."
Right now, Hannah is fascinated with the concept of cycle syncing. She explains how once you dive more into learning about your monthly feminine cycle and rhythm, opposed to a man's 24-hour rhythm, it opens up a whole new door to your health and discovering why you feel a certain way at a specific time of the month. In addition, cycle-tracking apps have provided her an array of helpful information she uses to optimize her productivity and day-to-day well-being.
"With exercise, I've always noticed fluctuations within my energy levels [throughout my cycle] and I would beat myself up quite a lot about it. Now that I'm more in tune with how my hormones work and understanding my different cycle phases - it gives me permission to take some time off from the gym when I need to and helps me navigate what type of exercise I should be doing. It's similar with my creativity for the blog and Instagram. I would be hard on myself for the days where I was having a hard time producing more content and not understanding why things weren't coming as easy. Now it's helpful for me to kind of plan out my month a little bit better, knowing my moods in certain cycle phases."
Adopting a holistic lifestyle has equipped Hannah with much more than physical benefits, but also mental and emotional. She went from being a 13-year-old who dreaded getting her period every month to a young woman who honors herself and her needs with an empowered mindset and appreciation for holistic living. Hannah not only works with her cycle but also views her monthly period as a beautiful gift and a vital sign of female health.
Now, that transformation is pretty 'whole-istic'.
From delicious, nutritious breakfast bowls for the AM to delicious treats and comforting drinks: be sure to check out Hannah's blog at www.wholisticallyhannah.com/ and stay up-to-date with her on Instagram @wholisticallyhannah