Vail woman’s holistic health and wellness approach encourages women to connect with their bodies
Combine the 39,000 marked trails and 13,000 designated campsites in Colorado with the personality type in Eagle County that’s going to get after it, fitness and physical activity are high priorities to most that live and play here. But there’s a darker side to that lifestyle.
In an era of #fitspo Instagram workouts, photoshopped bodies and eat-this-not-that diet culture, there can be an immense amount of pressure to conform to a certain standard: to constantly be pushing yourself to the limit without saving time for rest.
That’s what Vail Valley local Nichole Wurth hopes to change through her business, Wildly Alive. Though Wildly Alive is an online health, wellness and fitness coaching program, Wurth has found inspiration for her business model from her life in the mountains. She hopes to expand the business here and help other women connect with their bodies in a way that’s respectful and empowering.
Wurth’s coaching model revolves around the fact that women’s bodies are different from men’s. Men run on a 24-hour hormonal cycle, which means their bodies can respond better to rigid, formula-based weight loss measures such as calorie counting. But since women run on a 28-day cycle, their needs change during the month, especially during menstruation – iron levels in the body decrease while bleeding, depleting energy and requiring more calories to make up for the loss.
And while we might, however inaccurately, associate a lot of the commonly-discussed issues in diet culture with women – such as unrealistic body expectations and following restrictive diets like juice cleanses, keto and Whole 30 – the energy of a one-size-fits-all, rigidly constructed workout and meal plan is very masculine.
“Diet culture tells you, ‘Here’s your workout for the month. Here’s what you need to eat every single day.’ And [women’s] bodies just don’t work like that,” she said.
Wurth associates each phase in a woman’s cycle to phases of the moon, plant growth cycles and the four seasons. Different exercises, foods and mindsets are associated with each. For example, winter and the new moon correspond to menstruation, and Wurth recommends taking time to reflect, practicing cooling exercises like yin yoga and eating things like soups and antioxidants to help rest and restore the body. By contrast, ovulation is associated with summer and the full moon. This phase is a good time to play, be social, eat raw veggies and power through high-intensity workouts. The spring phase is also a social time, and the fall phase is when it’s best to turn inwards for rest and relaxation.
Since the cycle is based on hormone release in women’s bodies, it applies most directly to non-pregnant, premenopausal women who are not on some form of hormonal birth control: the pill, the ring, the implant, the patch or the IUD. Wurth said women who are on birth control, are pregnant or are menopausal can follow the phases of the moon instead of the menstrual cycle. At the time of this publication, the moon is in the last quarter, meaning we’re in the fall phase currently.
“I think a lot of women will agree that there are times when they want to rest, they want to say no to the parties and things like that,” Wurth said. “But they do because that’s what they feel like they need to do. Our society has not given women – given anybody – permission to rest. I really try to teach women to tune into this cyclical living and syncing up with it because it can be so much easier than we think.”
That’s why it’s so important to follow the cycle. Reeling in the energy, reflecting and spending time with yourself is important to be able to express all those active, social and passionate desires that make the spring and summer phases so much fun. Resisting that need to relax can actually sour moods until your body crashes and forces itself into a resting state.
Wurth acknowledges that planning weight loss around the phases of the moon might sound a little hippy-dippy to some ears. But from her own experience, this holistic approach to weight loss is what finally helped her feel comfortable with her body after years of struggling with binge eating, dieting, excessive workouts and body image issues.
She first became interested in a holistic approach when she started learning about the moon. Then, she read Alisa Vitti’s book “WomanCode” about using food and nutrition to balance hormones. She pieced things together to form her approach.
“We need to stop looking outside of ourselves and start looking inside to this wisdom we already have,” she said.
Before she started her business, Wurth worked as a personal trainer. Eleven years into Wildly Alive, she’s more excited than ever to bring what she’s passionate about to other women.
Wildly Alive is hosting two local events: one is a Fertility Workshop for women trying to conceive on Sept. 26, and the other is a workshop for mothers on how to help their daughters cultivate a positive body image on Sept. 23. While these topics might be a little niche and inapplicable to some who might be interested in Wurth’s philosophy, she’s working to build a larger local presence.
“A lot of women are severely lonely in this valley. I really do believe that there’s so much masculine energy here. We are all walking around with walls and it’s not community-based,” she said. “I think if we’re all here to serve each other and help each other and view vulnerability as courageous and beautiful, it doesn’t have to be so hard.”
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