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July 27, 2021
Hello everyone! For July Smartbite Collective feature we have another inspiring woman to share with you all. Meet registered holistic nutrition counselor and crusader for wholesome living, Winnie Li. Winnie is our favourite go-to source for plant based nutrition. She was kind to share with the Smartbite community all about what she thinks of her career as a nutritionist, what inspires her and how she balances work and life.
My alarm is set for: 8AM
I cannot start my day without: A cup of coffee in the morning!
My fridge is always stocked with: Almond milk
The last book I read or podcast I listened to: Think Like a Monk – Jay Shetty
What’s your favorite word? Mudita, which means vicarious joy. We often think about being empathetic and share feelings with another person (sometimes sad). But there is actually a positive version of that! Mudita is a pure joy unaltered by self-interest and I love that there is a way to express celebrating with others in their success, accomplishments, and happy times.
To get my creative juices flowing I: Do something active like go for a run or do a quick HIIT workout (getting super sweaty and out of breath is required!). It helps me completely reset and clear my head so I can start with a fresh perspective.
My go to song is: This one changes over time, but my current hype up song is “Goddess by Krewella, NERVO, Raja Kumari”.
Hello Winnie. Thank you so much for chatting with us. To start things off, tell us a bit about yourself. 🙂
I’m a nutritionist based in Toronto, Canada. I help people eat better and build healthy habits to make them feel happier and more confident about their relationship with food. If I’m not coaching or creating content, you’ll find me in the kitchen cooking up a storm or experimenting with new, healthy recipes. I’m also a fitness fanatic and love activities like weight training, kickboxing, and yoga.
If you can, in two sentences how would you describe your philosophy about food and living well?
Living well, working out, and eating healthy is a celebration of your body! Not a punishment. We have the amazing opportunity to discover what we can do at our strongest and support that journey with delicious, healthy foods.
Tell us about your nutrition, health, and wellness journey. How did you get started creating your passion into a career?
I’ve always been super active and into sports. Think of a young Winnie not being able to sit still, like ever! I fell in love with the process of progress and growth through fitness, and nutrition was a natural step to take it to the next level.
I learned that food was the fuel my body needed to reach its top strength and speed, so I got really meticulous about what I put into my body for performance. Like full on nerded out with nutrition science and anatomy!
Next thing I knew, I became the go-to person amongst my family, friends, and peers for food, fitness, and health advice and found joy helping other people feel great about themselves too.
Fast forward to today and I’ve had the amazing opportunity to help new friends regain their confidence too and even make information like this more accessible to organizations across Canada when conducting corporate wellness workshops. I believe if we take care of ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, we’re that much more productive and happy with our relationships, at work, and showing up for life.
Who or what gives you the most inspiration?
Currently, I look up to business moguls like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. I love their hustle and drive to build empires. It’s really inspiring to see ordinary human beings step up to their call to greatness and do extraordinary things.
They’ve built businesses that help the sustainability of our planet, simplify people’s lives, and completely revolutionize industries on a global scale. It’s a reminder that no dream is too outrageous (one of Elon’s goals is to colonize humans on Mars).
There is so much information and resources out there to help us reach our goals, that it’s time to push aside any excuses so we can make the most of our time and more importantly, do what we love!
〰 Quiet morning with yoga and meditation.〰 Light breakfast with coffee and a book in hand.〰 Hours of doing something active and outdoors with my significant other, friends, and/or family. Like playing tennis, going for a nice hike, or rollerblading.〰 Cooking up a storm for dinner and dessert (healthy and colourful).〰 Finishing off with a good movie/book and off to bed.
Now, what’s your actual typical day look like?
I am very fortunate that my most perfect day outlined before is quite similar to my typical days! The only difference would be adding that I work for several hours during the day too.
It definitely gets hectic and there will be days where I have errands to run, but I’m thankful for time to build my empire, help others, and spend it with loved ones.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about nutritionists? That we eat healthy and boring all the time. I eat pizza, chips, popcorn, and sweets sometimes too! It’s all about finding a balance of health and treats so we can feel our best AND indulge! Food is meant to be enjoyed, it is a part of life, and it brings people together.
Eating well is not meant to be a punishment or torture! I feel so fortunate to be able to have access to nutritious foods and the journey is all about treating our body and ourselves right! I’ve also found so many healthy treat substitutes that I can eat guilt-free. We deserve nothing but the best!
How do you remain positive on a tough day?
When I feel discouraged, I focus on two things.
First, I focus on my “why”. I remind myself of the purpose of my journey and long term goals. In this instant gratification world, I sometimes lose sight of the work that has to be done because I get distracted to get to the end. The hustle, drive, mini-wins, and tears is what makes the end goal that much more valuable. I tell myself that I didn’t come this far to ONLY get this far and I just revel in the process. I have to accept all the highs and lows of the present journey!
For example, instead of focusing on the short term pain of being tired or dealing with mean people, I focus on my call to greatness and the goal of building my health empire so I can help others live a happier, fulfilling life.
Second, I remind myself of all the things that I am grateful for. In order to stay positive, it’s important to practice gratitude and focus on the positive things too!
How do you maintain balance in your life and manage stress?
For starters, I’m absolutely addicted to lists. Writing it down makes it seem less overwhelming and more attainable!
Sometimes I go overboard though! Not only do I have lists for groceries, I even write lists for errands for the day (laundry, mailing letters to friends), and minute things like “bake a cake” or “paint my nails”. This helps me stay organized and it brings clarity to all the steps to complete my tasks.
Also to manage stress, I focus on self care activities. Meditating, taking a hot shower, confiding in a friend, etc. It’s so important to make sure that you take care of yourself so you don’t get burnt out. You can’t take care of your work or other people when you’re not 100%.
After doing things that help me refocus and reset, I then come back to my tasks refreshed and ready to knock off things on my list!
Exercise routine you can’t live without: This would have previously been kickboxing or weight training 5 times a week, but with COVID-19 restrictions and gyms being closed, I’ve been getting into tennis! I’m still a beginner, but it was an absolute lockdown gamechanger.Way to decompress from a busy day: Take a relaxing, hot shower. This is the place where I feel like all my worries just wash away and where I can even have fun when the allqueenbee karaoke breaks out! Favorite bedtime ritual: Go on airplane mode and read a book. Sometimes I’ll even turn off the lights and listen to an audiobook. It’s like someone is reading me a bedtime story before I doze off!
What makes you laugh, smile, and be joyful?
So many things to put here that it’s hard to just say one! But I think the most important things to me in life are the people I love and experiences. So any time I get to spend with friends and family, or experience things like travelling make my heart feel full!
Last by not least, what Smartbite product is your favourite?
Quinoa or Buckwheat Crispbread are my favsss!
We hope you all enjoyed this interview with Winnie. Be sure to check out Winnie’s website and recipe e-book (we are obsessed with Black Bean Burger with a Mushroom Bun recipe)! Both are an amazing resource especially for those of you who want to start incorporating more plants into your diets. And for our IG friends out there, you can find Winnie @allqueenbee.
WHAT IS SMARTBITE COLLECTIVE? Smartbite Collective shines a spotlight on changemakers in our community that live according to Smartbite principles. We started Smartbite Snacks because we want to live our lives on our own terms while creating a positive change around us. We don't wait for things to happen, we get up and happen to things. Roadblocks don't discourage us, they fuel us. We believe that life is what you make it, how you impact it and also how you look at it – rice cakes are just rice but wine is just grapes. To us simplicity, boldness, kindness and giving a shit (yes, we said it) are everything and when we meet someone who embodies all of the above, you bet we'll ask tons of questions.
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Yoko's IG account, @yokos.kitchen an extension of her YouTube channel of the same name, has an immediately recognizable style. The pastel pink hues, fresh flowers, unique food creations and tunes that flit between mellow electronica to delightfully carefree pop tracks will instantly put you at easy.
We recently caught up with Yoko and chatted about everything from what she misses most about Japan to how the macrobiotics made her fall in love with a plant based food.