Kayla Gorrell, a certified health coach, and a group fitness instructor is extremely passionate about the role whole foods and plant-based diet play in one’s overall well-being. Gorell is focused on empowering people to improve their health and happiness through optimal nutrition and helps her clients make and sustain long-term beneficial modifications to their eating habits and lifestyle. She also teaches spinning/indoor cycling is a yogi and a former distance runner.
We recently caught up with the expert to discuss the release of her first cookbook, “More Plants Please” and her wellness journey. This cookbook is Gorell’s collection of her favorite and easiest plant-based recipes. The recipes are simple and contain ingredients that are free of sugar, gluten, and oil. Gorell also talks about her inspiring journey and helps readers save their time and money to find a sustainable way to lead a healthy life. Excerpts from the interview:
How long have you followed whole food plant-based diet and how did you get started?
I began eliminating animal foods from my diet about 10 years ago in my mid-twenties. I was initially trying to avoid the antibiotics, hormones, and steroids that are fed to farmed animals. I also focused on eating unprocessed foods to ensure that I was actually eating a healthy diet. A vegan diet can be quite unbalanced if it’s not done right. As I did more research, it became clear that many western illnesses and diseases are caused by poor lifestyle choices, including an excess of refined sugar, processed and animal protein.
What changes have you realized in your health since becoming plant-based?
As someone who is not naturally thin, I finally lost weight in the right places and was able to sustain it. I have an amazing amount of energy and my skin and hair have also improved in their appearance. I am no longer bloated and I’m not hungry all the time. Even though this is my first pregnancy, it’s been very pleasant. I have been able to maintain a very active lifestyle and have felt really good up to this point. I am 7 1/2 months in.
What role does physical activity play in your wellness journey?
I am a very active person. I was a distance runner for years and I have been teaching indoor cycling since 2008. I have also been practicing hot yoga since 2012. I feel great when I exercise; something about working up a good sweat makes me feel like a new person. It’s also a very good stress reliever and another way to promote overall health and maintain a healthy weight.
How did you begin helping and inspiring others?
It’s interesting how observant people are. They noticed how I ate and would always ask questions or they would ask how I have so much energy and how I stay slim. I began sharing tips and recipes on social media to spread the word. Soon people were asking me for advice all the time. I decided to become a certified health coach and gain some formal education on plant-based eating. I became certified through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and also completed eCornell’s Plant-Based Nutrition certificate course. I do health coaching part time and have been able to work one on one with clients and host cooking classes and online cleanses.
What made you decide to write a book?
Some of the motivation was external as people began telling me I should do it. I considered it for a while then decided I should go for it for three reasons: First, I wanted to create a tangible product I could offer to people. Selling a service can be difficult. Secondly, I knew it would be a great way to help people at very low risk to them. They would not have to commit the time needed for coaching sessions, spend the money for the coach, and necessarily be ready to make that change. They could get some information at a low cost and educate themselves. Then, if they decided they needed more guidance and resources, they could expand from there. Thirdly, I was not completely satisfied with many of the recipe books I had purchased. The recipes were either too complicated, used too many processed vegan foods, oil, and sugar, and overall were not always conducive to weight loss. I often had to modify them. So, I thought why not create a book with simple, affordable, and healthy recipes that suited my ideals.
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Right now, I’m focused on promoting my book when and where I can. I’m expecting my first child at the end of April and I will be busy being a new mom to her. I do plan to write another book in the future that may discuss pregnancy and babies.
What are some obstacles or challenges you faced?
At first, the transition was a bit daunting, Figuring out what to cook and what to eat at restaurants was hard. Once I found some staples and learned by trial and error, it became much easier. People such as friends, family, and coworkers can also be very critical. They ask many questions that indicate they think the diet is very restrictive and lacking nutrients such as protein, iron, and calcium. It’s hard to hear the same questions and concerns over and over and to have to explain your lifestyle repeatedly. I’ve embraced it as an opportunity to educate those who will listen but often people get defensive and respond negatively. This is ironic since they were the ones who were curious, to begin with.
What advice do you have for someone just getting started?
1. It’s not about being perfect. Start somewhere and get back on track quickly if you make a mistake:
Try to have some support. It’s easier when you have someone doing it with you or at least someone who is supportive.
2. Educate yourself. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Watch the documentary, “Fork Over Knives” and read some books such as, The China Study, The Pleasure Trap, The Beauty Detox Solution, and of course my book: More Plants Please. You will be way more inspired when you come to your own conclusions.