Courtney Evans is a certified health and wellness coach and owner of Well Refined, a health coaching practice based in Connecticut.
We discussed everything from what inspires her as a coach, to how she’s adapted family holiday recipes to fit her lifestyle. Plus, she shares how to feel your best during the holidays, how to self advocate and create support systems, and the lessons she's learned from her own coach.
Watch the full video interview with Courtney below, and scroll down to read a condensed version of the transcript.
Courtney, welcome. We're so excited to talk with you.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself and your practice, Well Refined.
Through my one-on-one coaching programs, I guide women and men to find authentic, achievable, and sustainable wellness. I draw on the principles of food as medicine and positive psychology, and what we know about habit change and mindset shifts, all in a safe space of exploration.
But we also do the nitty-gritty, like what does a meal plan look like for you this week? And setting those actionable goals that support a broader wellness vision. So, one client is going to commit to seven hours of sleep at least four nights this week, and this is how he or she is going to get there with a nighttime ritual and shutting off screens.
So there is both really practical advice in my work with clients, as well as that more philosophical work that we do together.
Tell us a little bit about your programs?
I'm in partnership with an amazing woman named Dr. Katie Takayasu. She's an integrative doctor, health expert, and coach, and she developed a 10-day detox protocol, where I’m the exclusive health coach for that program.
During the height of the pandemic, we co-created a 5-day program. We really felt like people wanted to push the easy button and have an easier and more intense way to quickly reset. It’s more lock and load: you can start on any day and it's a meal plan that's put out for you to follow, along with doctor coaching, videos, and health coaching tips that I provide.
So those are two specific programs that may have be maybe of interest to Willow Women, and we would love to have anybody join us on those programs.
How do you use feminine wisdom to inform your practice?
We all have a really deep rooted intuition and many people have been disconnected from their inner voices from the earliest age.
For many people, this idea of food and nourishment has become an area of confusion and problem rather than an opportunity to listen to your internal voice. So for example, your bestie might love barre class, but actually a leisurely walk works better for you. Or your neighbor is grilling steaks every night but a plant-rich diet might be a better choice for you.
And instead of staying connected to that wisdom, we dissociate from it, or we disconnect from it. So when we listen to that, we get to a place where we can heal childhood wounds, we can heal wounds that we have connected to food and lifestyle, and we can really optimize our health.
And how do you go about connecting to that inner voice?
In my practice, I take clients through a series of transformative exercises.
So that might be starting with decoding your why of eating. So why is it that you're eating? Are you connected to your hunger cues? What does hunger feel like in your body? So it's all about that soft connect back to what is my body saying to me? And then also working through transformative exercises that allow for over time, the client to connect with more body trust.
Like, Hey, wow. If I listen to this voice, it's actually providing me with all the knowledge. I need to make healthy choices for myself.
What's been one of the most surprising things you've learned in helping women connect with these inner voices, or in coaching them through their nutrition and wellness journeys?
Yeah, 100% it's been about the limiting beliefs we have and that's been a result of the conflicting messages we've received from the earliest age. Many of us were taught to listen to those external cues, to be told, follow this diet or make these choices. When in fact, again, if we connect to our inner voice, we're coming at it from such a more authentic place.
And so, when we listened to those natural cues in the body, we're able to more optimally function. So those limiting beliefs are a very common theme that I see in all my conversations with any of my clients, but more pronounced, certainly with my female clients.
As we're heading into the holiday season, it can bring up lots of emotions and there's lots of foods to eat.
What's one of the ways we can find some balance and feel our best these next few months?
I know it is a tricky time, but it's meant to be a celebratory time.
So to take advantage of that time, obviously in unusual and disorienting ways this year with the pandemic, our holiday celebration will look different. But what I like to say is plan for your indulgences and root with your anchors. So basically have intention going into a particular situation where you may be faced with more indulgences.
Say, I'm going to have that Christmas cookie that I'm really excited about, or I'm going to have that extra cocktail because I really want to celebrate and then know that you're going to root in the other aspects of holistic health that will ground you.
So know that you're going to prioritize really restorative sleep, know that you're going to fortify your nutrition with really rich omega-3s, emphasizing that wild caught fish, so that your mood is balanced and your inflammation levels are balanced.
Little simple things like that. Take a fresh air walk, know that you're going to have joyful movement in your day to ground you, to be that anchor. But really, truly appreciate that this is a snapshot in time and you can do it in a healthy and supportive way for yourself.
How do you approach the holidays and are there any go-to dishes in your repertoire?
We all have incredible traditions associated with holidays and our family recipes passed down from generations. And what I think is so remarkable is that we can really take any of those recipes now and tweak them to accommodate the choices that we need in our lifestyle.
So for example, in my family, we have a history of making pumpkin bread and it was always served at the Thanksgiving table. My kids love it for breakfast, and now I make a gluten-free option for everyone to enjoy because that's what works for our family.
So it's recognizing, what's my intention around what I want this time to look like and how do I want to feel coming out of it? And what's going to keep me grounded and centered as I'm moving through it?
How do you advocate for yourself?
I think I self advocate by creating the support system around me, the people who really, really want to see me succeed.
So I have a husband, father to my children, who really is celebrating all of the incredible successes I'm having with my business. I have friends that I can call who pick up the slack. So I think it's about saying, this is what's really important to me and gathering that community of women and others around you, who can support your successes and what you want to accomplish.
I also believe deeply that we all have the need for an independent life as well as an interdependent life. So the independent life for women is what's really fueling your purpose and passion. The interdependent life is then the intersection with a partnership or your children or the community around you.
So really prioritizing that independent life and making sure I have the solo time that I need to stay fueled and uplifted is also another way in which I self-advocate.
Do you have a mentor, guide, or coach in your life? What's one of the most valuable things that you've learned from them?
Yeah, I have a tremendous coach in my life.
Her name is Leanne Raymond. She lives off the coast of Vancouver, Canada. I've never met her if you can believe it. And I've been working with her since 2012.
She embodies feminine wisdom and has really challenged me to soften. And as a woman who is well-educated, I have an MBA, and obviously I've gone in a different direction with my career now, but to really release myself from that desire to be hard and harsh and pushing it in every possible way and to just soften.
She is a big proponent of this idea of white canvas space, which I now really advocate for in women's lives. This idea that we just take time to be still. That's where the messaging for the creative process comes through. That's where we tap into that inner voice.
That's where we get those messages around body trust and what we really need. Like, what am I feeling today? What do I think I need? Do I want to go take a walk in the woods to feel nourished? Do I need to crawl back into bed and sleep? Do I need to really push through and nail that amazing conversation that I want to be really proud of in the end?
So it sounds like she has helped you find that inner voice that you also help coach women to find, and a softer version that feels more authentic to you.
That's right. In fact, our relationship started, I called her and I was like, I have this inner conflict.
I want to wear Wellies and I want to wear Louboutins. I grew up in Maine. I'm so proud of that, but I'm living in a really affluent community now and I'm torn. I don't know which way I want to go. And she was like, if you get to your authentic space, it may mean that you wear your Louboutins on one day and you wear your Wellies the next, and that's okay.
If you're embodying what truly feels right then there's space for all of that.
What does it mean to you to be a modern or empowered woman?
Another concept I use in my coaching with women is the idea that self-awareness leads to a desire to self nourish and ultimately that leads to self-empowerment.
So when I think about an empowered woman, I think about someone who is deeply self-aware and also deeply self nourished and someone who protects that nourishment, whether it be the food they eat, the lifestyle choices they make, the people they surround themselves with, ultimately that leads to self-empowerment.
And someone who's connected to their passion, to a meaningful purpose. Who has creativity and pursuit, and who has that connection to their inner voice of wisdom.
What is the best piece of personal finance advice you've ever received?
I'm not sure this is specifically finance advice. It's more of a perspective, but I've observed it certainly in how my father always approached vacations, for example: if you're going to go have a vacation, make it be the best vacation ever.
Having money in the bank in and of itself is never really going to make you feel that good in the long run. It's about using your money and resources to connect you to what you're passionate about and what's going to enrich your life.
How am I using my dollars in a way that connects me to something that is more meaningful?
Whether that be philanthropically, where do I want to put my dollars to causes I feel good about? Whether that be, am I buying one thing over another?
Am I supporting companies that have a sustainability mission, if that's important to me.
What might a wellness vision look like for someone? What does that end product look like?
The end product is that we actually craft a compelling written statement of what you want your health and wellbeing to look like and the behaviors that you are going to aspire to in order to support that vision. And the way we get there is really through a multi-step process of questions.
What do you feel really good about in your life right now from a wellness perspective? What are you really proud of? What do you think is a shortcoming? What do you think needs some more support and attention? What are the obstacles in the way for you accomplishing that right now?
And over the course of that conversation with many more questions in the mix as well, we eventually get to what the client values. And so this compelling statement of health and wellbeing is reflective of like the client's strengths, what they value and a real , connection to where there may be a limitation to them achieving this.
This probably applies to financial approaches as well, but what we know about habit change is that when it's in service to something bigger than one discreet goal, it sticks more.
For example, if a client comes to the beginning of our relationship and really wants to lose weight—and I'm a big believer in weight loss being a motivator—I also think that it's worth understanding the desire behind that weight loss and what may be contributing to the lack of that weight management.
So if we just focused on the number on a scale, when that client doesn't achieve that number on the scale it's failure. So all that effort and habit change that has delivered a lot of good to the client that hasn't resulted necessarily in the scale moving, is all for naught.
If that wellness vision is crafted and it's inclusive of balanced energy and a desire to bring more home cooking into the home environment and a desire to move more confidently in their body, having restorative sleep. If those things are included, there are more ways in which that client can look at their journey and say, 'I've been successful.' And that success is what keeps the client moving forward.
Courtney, thank you so much for joining us, so great to have you and talk with you and learn from you.
Thank you for having me.
I feel like our missions and our approaches are so aligned.
I love what you all are doing. it's really remarkable. And everybody that I tell about it is like, that's such a smart way to be thinking about this—connecting women to their power around financial planning and giving them the tools that they need to really understand how to go about that. Good stuff.