Creating a wellness community that is inclusive furthers IIN’s mission of transforming health and happiness around the globe. It starts by celebrating our diverse community members and amplifying their stories. In this blog series, you’ll hear from IIN graduates and employees about their health and wellness experiences and why we must focus on not just inclusion and diversity, but also equity, when addressing the well-being of Black people.
When Wendi realized she was born with her goddess powers already within, she changed her diet, mind-set, and career, and that's when the revolution began! A 2019 IIN grad, producer, and host of The Sanctuary Radio Show, Wendi has been featured worldwide both on the radio and in print. She is a contributing writer for the AARP Sisters Newsletter and Medium and the author of From Jersey to Me: The Awakening & Healing of a Goddess. This interactive memoir takes readers on Wendi's adventures after her false arrest as she travels around the world to awaken, heal, and live her most authentic and healthy life!
When she's not globe-trotting, hanging out with her teenage daughter, or bobbin' her head to golden age hip-hop, you can find this forever Jersey girl living her passion of educating, empowering, and inspiring Black women to unapologetically transform into their most authentic and healthy selves by tapping into their goddesses within. You can find her on Instagram @awakenandheal.
How did you find IIN? What about IIN inspired you?
“After years of work-related stress in the corporate world took a significant toll on my body, I left to explore a new path. During a group meditation celebrating the winter solstice on Facebook, the moderator asked us to share what we were grateful for. A woman posted she'd just become an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I'd never heard of such a career.
“Intrigued, I did a quick search, and it was like the world opened up! IIN's curriculum addressed all my interests regarding integrative wellness. By the next day, I was officially a student!
“From the very first class, I was exposed to a new approach to wellness. I learned about bio-individuality – the IIN concept that encourages us to embrace our unique qualities and find what health and lifestyle practices work for us (and only us) – and how our environment affects our health. I began to understand how to improve my health from an integrative mind, body, and spirit perspective.
“The ‘Integrative Nutrition Plate’ is my favorite tool to share with my clients because it allows them to become aware of themselves and their habits in a broader way. This is essentially a representation of how secondary food – the food on our plates – is intertwined with our primary food – all the areas of life that are off our plates but still nourish us and impact our well-being, like our relationships, careers, and spirituality.”
How are you incorporating what you've learned into your life and work?
“My IIN education allows me to see the world through an entirely different lens. I have more compassion and sympathy for people on their health journey and try to dispel the myth that simply eating salads and exercising is the only path to sustainable wellness. I share it with anyone who will listen!
“I have created better habits for myself, including connecting with nature, being aware of how my body feels at any given moment, drinking more water, getting enough sleep, and connecting with my loved ones. These small but impactful shifts work together to provide me with a better health outcome.”
How are you honoring/celebrating Black History Month? What does it mean to you?
“As an African American woman, I continually seek to educate myself about and celebrate Black people's contributions 365 days a year. My pride runs deep and reaches beyond February.
“The extensive and often suppressed contributions of Black people to this country, whether by those native to the land or from forced, free labor from Africa, is American history. Against all odds, the works of past and current brilliant inventors, doctors, scientists, educators, and human beings continue to benefit us all.
“It should be required that all Americans learn about the contributions of Black and Brown people to go beyond Black History Month and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
How do you feel the wellness world can work to amplify Black voices and contribute to their health and well-being?
“The wellness world has mainly been marketed to white women, which is wholly indicative of the systemic issue of racism, privilege, and the false notion of superiority. Many of the concepts (like yoga, herbal remedies, and spirituality) used in wellness have been stolen from ancient cultures, watered down, repackaged, and sold in the modern wellness movement.
“With Black people having the worst health outcomes on the planet, it is time we have a platform where we can share our experiences, find solutions, and make a sustainable impact. Those who consider themselves allies should not attempt to dominate the conversation but should share their resources (like money, time, influence, physical space, and media footprint) to elevate these issues and voices.
“As an IIN graduate, I feel compelled to be at the forefront of the conversations to create strategies that ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion across the wellness world.”
How can the IIN community work to make the wellness world more inclusive?
“By expanding recruiting and outreach to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), IIN can create a more diverse and inclusive group of Health Coaches that is more reflective of the real world. Diversifying the instructors, content, and curriculum from such a homogenous perspective will have a ripple effect on all people's positive health outcomes worldwide.
“It’s important to me to note, however, that many in these communities do not identify with the term BIPOC and find it offensive and/or akin to erasure. A simple alternative would be to use the term that specifically describes a person’s race, ethnicity, or origin whenever possible.”