The secret to success? According to Jim Curtis, Chief Revenue Officer, Head of Brand and Head Coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), it starts with brushing your teeth with the opposite hand.
Today’s wellness industry is saturated with different products, promises and celebrity-endorsed fads, but Jim wants to set the record straight. Wellness should be a journey. There aren’t magic, instantaneous solutions, but rather daily opportunities to integrate your physical and mental health, and to treat yourself with grace when things are more challenging.
Jim knows exactly how challenging that journey can seem. He began his career on the American Stock Exchange when he was diagnosed with a chronic illness, and he devoted himself to discovering what could help him feel better. And the most powerful tool became his mindset. Optimizing your mindset allows you to optimize the other key facets of your health: fitness, nutrition, relationships, spirituality and your career.
Now, Jim shares his wisdom at the IIN, where he helps people nourish and heal themselves based on their specific lifestyles and goals. He’s a keynote speaker, author of The Stimulati Experience, and winner of PM360’s Elite Disruptor Award.
I had the privilege of speaking with Jim about integrative health, how leaders can integrate mindfulness and wellness practices into their offices, and how the right mindset can help us meet all of our health goals.
What sparked your interest in integrative health? How did your journey unfold?
Twenty-two years ago, I was a trader on the American Stock Exchange. At that time, I was working to treat what became a chronic illness. I really had to look at what I needed in a career both physically and mentally. I started to investigate wellness tools, many of them integrative and non-traditional, to help me feel better in any way that I could. I also began to explore working for some of the wellness companies that I was trading. Eventually, I went to help develop the company that we now know as WebMD! I’ve traveled all over the world being treated by different wellness practitioners to learn as much as I can to manage my illness while also living as vibrant and fulfilling a life as possible.
You’re a long-standing leader in health and wellness. What habits should more people begin, or continue to develop, to foster success in all areas of their life?
Practice mindfulness every day. The science behind mindfulness is abundant – it helps reduce the ‘fight or flight’ stress response that so many of us are used to in today’s modern workplace; it helps regulate heart rate for better heart health. It even helps us manage chronic pain. When you become more mindful, you not only better maintain your physical health, but your mental and emotional health as well, ultimately supporting success in all areas of your life.
Switch up your routines. When you change your routine, you grow new neural pathways in the brain, called neurogenesis. This can actually reprogram your brain! Switching up our routines may seem simple, but the underlying work happening in your brain is profound. The new neural pathways formed can actually help you boost your creativity and problem-solving skills and foster success! Also, it keeps life exciting when you try to brush your teeth with the opposite hand.
How can mindset optimize all other aspects of our health? What are some practices that people can incorporate into their daily lives to improve their mindset and wellbeing?
Mindset is everything – it’s your attitude and how you approach everything from your career to your relationships. It’s also how you speak to yourself. We all engage in ‘negative self-talk’ from time to time, and it really can impact how we show up in the world. When you catch yourself saying something negative to yourself — “You’re not good enough”; “You’re not smart enough” — argue back. Say, “You are enough”; “Today was tough but you’ve been through tough things before”; “There is always room to grow.” Even better, do it in front of the mirror. When you shift your internal narrative, it ripples out into your external life in such a positive way!
What is a common misconception people have about their health?
That they don’t have the power within themselves to heal. So many people rely on external resources – doctors, medication – to improve their health, and while doctors and medication are certainly necessary in some instances, we have so much potential within us to tap into to facilitate even greater healing.
How can an integrative approach to health help you heal and thrive?
An integrative approach means looking at the body as a whole – you can’t separate physical health from mental health, or vice versa. To fully heal and thrive, you must embrace all the factors that have the ability to nourish you. These factors are what we at IIN call primary foods, and it’s a game-changer when you start to incorporate things off your plate to create health.
You’ve overcome some significant obstacles, transforming them into a powerful story and purpose. How were you able to triumph over them?
Wellness is a journey, not a destination. I continue to triumph over obstacles every day, and learn from them every day. I’ve been able to harness my story to inspire others to live healthier lives.
What are some actionable ways other people can overcome challenges and begin a journey of self-discovery?
Try new things. You have to start somewhere! Overcoming challenges starts with small steps that, over time, become sustainable lifestyle changes. If you’re stuck in your ways or your routines, you’ll never overcome obstacles nor learn anything new about yourself. From a physical health standpoint, this can look like swapping your soda for a fruit-flavored seltzer. From a mental health standpoint, resolve to listen more instead of just waiting for the next opportunity to talk.
Find yourself a strong community. You can’t go it alone! The support and nurturing you get from people who have your best interests in mind and at heart is priceless. Plus, they often reflect back to you what you may need or want, which is a great way to get to know yourself. This can look like prioritizing the friendships and relationships in your life that make you feel like the best version of yourself, or taking the leap to join a meet-up of new yet like minded people.
Culture in the workplace is a major topic right now. How can business leaders integrate health and wellness into their companies and internal culture?
Infuse your workplace with wellness. Employers and employees alike are prioritizing well-being, from perks that employees actually want to taking care of mental wellness.
Optimize your workspaces for hybrid workers. Employers know they can keep their employees home without sacrificing productivity or culture, but they also know that they value real, in-person connections. Focus on creating spaces where people can meet (safely) but that don’t break the budget (aka, they don’t need to fit the entire staff at once!)
Shift the traditional 9-5. Given the flexibility of being able to work from home, many employees, especially those with families, might be looking for the ability to shift their hours to be better able to manage everything else that life throws their way, like having a chunk of time in the middle of the afternoon to pick up kids from school and prepare dinner, or working early in the morning/later in the evening when there are no interruptions.
What quote or mantra sticks inspires you the most?
“You are one decision away from a radically different life” – Mel Robbins
Photo Credit: Institute for Integrative Nutrition