Graydon: Hey there! It’s Graydon here, doing another interview today for our People We Love Series, and Ashleigh Norris from The Soulful Sprout is no exception! Welcome Ashleigh, glad you could make it. Odin [my dog] looks so comfortable on you. It must be the Reiki energy you have, let’s talk about that.
Ashleigh: Actually Reiki for me is where it all started. About 5 years ago, I got into Reiki to heal myself, and since then I use it in my day practice for myself to send loving energy into my own body and to others as well. Now I have the opportunity to use it with clients, to infuse Reiki as part of our sessions when they are open to it and need it. It brought me down the path of nutrition, and so many more things in my life.
Graydon: What does Reiki look like?
Ashleigh: It’s a series of hand placements, where we travel from the top of your head t your mood chakra and your legs. You place your hands in various positions and offering white light and loving and healing energy into those parts of the body. It doesn’t have to involve touch, it has be hovering over the person. But it’s all about the transmission of love.
Graydon: As I understand it, you’ve had quite a journey yourself.
Ashleigh: I have, yeah. I’ll tell you a bit more about how I got myself here. I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 27, so I consider myself a young adult with cancer. That really shuffled up my entire life, but it definitely catapulted my curiosity into what health looks like, and how to attain it. Before my diagnosis, I didn’t really feel inclined to pay attention to nutrition or wellness, it wasn’t really on my radar. I was focused on being a 20-something - growing my social network, growing professionally, and enjoying my friends. But I didn’t realize that i was neglecting my body and the signs that something was really off. After I got well a year and a half after I got diagnosed, I start nutrition school. I went almost on a self-journey there to get to the bottom of what I was reading online, and when I was there I realized this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Graydon: What was the field you were in?
Ashleigh: I was actually working as a dental consultant, so I’d go with young dentists to grow and develop their business.
G: So you can do this with wellness businesses now?
A: I can! I can! I’ve used a lot of those skills I’ve learned over the years to really grow my business as well, and offer mentorship to the community as well. So I don’t feel I’ve lost those skills, but I feel a lot better being in line with being of service.
G: Yes, definitely. So it was thyroid cancer? And how is that related to Hashimoto’s?
A: Yes it was. So, they both happen inside the thyroid. It was just a synchronicity that both occurred in my thyroid. But I think that when you have an energy block in the body, that things get really out of whack; so whether there was a medical correlation or not, I definitely did feel there was. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease, and basically where there are anti-bodies that attack your thyroid. So your thyroid gets tired after it’s been attacked for a while, and that causes a whole slew of issues. Some see it as digestive issues early on, and brain fog and fatigue.
G: Can you talk little about what the thyroid does for the body? And how skin health is connected?
A: Absolutely, the thyroid contains the main glands that regulate the hormones in your body. So when it starts to go out of whack, we see the effects in pretty much every system in our body. The hormones regulate energy, which is why the fatigue aspect is one of the first we see. It’s responsible for metabolism, so often you see changes in weight, which doesn’t always mean weight gain. We definitely see changes in our hair, skin, and nails. Thin cracking nails, dry and dull skin, and hair loss.
G: And were those some of the symptoms you experienced?
A: Yeah, I actually noticed quite a bit of hair loss in my eyebrows, and hair thinning on my head. Also the dry, cracking nails were happening in my life. I thought, oh it must be winter or I need some extra moisturizer. But I didn’t really piece together why this was happening until I spoke with a practitioner. I got to learn a lot of lessons over the past few years, and really took the fast road onto what I wanted to do with my career and what I wanted to be. I feel really lucky to have learned them so quickly.
G: That’s really remarkable, since that must have been a really terrifying and devastating period of your life. It’s so wonderful when you can look at the challenging experience and be grateful for it, and look at it as a vehicle for change. Not everyone is able to do that.
A: It is really difficult. Depending on how much you’ve lost or how many setbacks you’ve faced, finding the positive is very difficult. But it’s also a gift, and connecting me to many people who are also in the struggle, and to use my gift to share and support people.
G: Wow! So you have a practice in the Vaughan/Newmarket area, and you’re branching down into Toronto. You offer nutritional counseling and energy work. What else do you do?
A: Well as a nutritionist, you really look at everything. When a client comes in I ask them things like how their marriage is going, how their sex life is, what they had for breakfast, what they put on their skin in the morning, to how much they’re sleeping. So many people are going through so many different challenges, so for me to get to the root cause of things, we do a bit of a deep dive for sure. From that we find the areas that people need the most support.
I find that a lot of disease starts with energy, so we can move energy through healing practices or even being active. So I act as a wellness coach or cheerleader for people. We’re not really given the foundation of how to live and nourish our body growing up, so it’s something a lot of people are now learning in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Usually I work with clients on a three month program, and we really focus on rebuilding things.
G: I’m curious, because I have a feeling we both share a love for superfoods. Can you share a couple of your favourite things with us?
A: My favourite superfoods... I’m pretty basic with it. I consider pumpkin a great superfood because it’s so rich in healthy fats and it’s ability to regulate hormones. I’ll recommend to women to do seed cycling.
G: I’ve heard about that! Can you explain what seed cycling is?
A: It’s one of those things where we use food as medicine. When we have an imbalance with our regular cycle, it’s a great way to get healthy fats back into our diets. And we do that by cycling seeds through the 28 days. The first 1-14 days we will cycle sunflower seeds, usually.
G: But why sunflower?
A: They’re rich in omega-3 and 6’s. A different combination of fatty acids is needed in our body at different types. So they help push you along through ovulation and the other phases. So we try to match the demand that our body needs based on the healthy fat it needs during that time. And it’s super simple, anyone can do this! Just a tablespoon everyday. It’s an easy, sustainable, affordable way for women to get their periods back!
G: It’s like healthy fat therapy. So what’s the subsequent 14 days?
A: Exactly! So sunflower is the first 14 days, and the next is flax and pumpkin seeds. So you can do a combination of those, or one or the other. They are really high in omega-6s.
G: Is there such thing of an overuse of omega-6s?
A: There is, but we do need to to support certain hormone production. When we have a diet high in refined foods which is high in omega-6s, the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s is unbalanced. Splitting your cycle even from 1 to 14 and 14 to 28 is a great way to connect our food to what is happening in our body and what’s happening on a hormonal level as well.
G: This is such a random question, but do you think going back to ancient times, women always knew what to do with their cycle?
A: I think women knew, and knew what to eat. There was always this awareness of a connection between our cycle and the moon. They were so in touch with the moon cycle and using it to plant seeds, and I think you can draw a correlation to how we would plant seeds in our own body. I think there’s something special in the connection we have as women, and I feel that knowing what foods to nourish our body and when was obvious at that time with what was available. And we stepped away form that with our overwhelming options available.
G: Well we are all about moons! As you may know, we do have a product named after the full moon! So you really integrate the moon into your practice?
A: Definitely, I love to talk about lunar cycles, and it’s a great way to introduce form ritual too. Even if it’s as simple as, if it’s a full moon, grabbing your Fullmoon Serum and doing a few minutes of self care. I think that there’s some magic when you start to celebrate moon rituals.
G: I interrupted you when you were talking about superfoods and seeds. Is it safe to assume that sunflower, flax, and pumpkin seeds are high up there?
A: Yeah! I also love goji berries, they are so high in vitamin C and so nice to throw in some water or smoothies. When I think of superfoods, I think of anything that is offering a super nutrient-dense option. It doesn’t need to be expensive, just something that gives back.
G: I think that’s a good way of looking at them, because some people are opposed to superfoods because they can be very expensive. They also seem exotic or intense. But just like our serum, you only need a couple of drops or a pinch to support your skin and wellness. It’s been such a pleasure to speak with you! Is there anything else you would like to share, or tips of wisdom?
A: I think that making superfoods more a priority in your life, whether in skincare or internally.
G: And where can we find you?
A: My website is thesoulfulsprout.com and I’m on instagram @thesoulfulsprout. Feel free to send me an email or DM!