Women In Wellness: Megan Joy Brynok on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Breathe! So many of us are shallow breathing as we go through our days busy, stressed or on the go-go-go. This will put your body right into fight or flight mode and compromise our digestion, detox pathways, hormones, immune system, mitochondrial function and our entire nervous system. So stop and take deep breaths as often as you can. Whenever you catch yourself frantically running from one thing to the next, stop and just take 3–5 deep breaths in through your nose and out through your nose. Feel the sensations in your body. This can instantly bring you into a calmer state of mind and more relaxed.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing a Functional Practitioner in women’s health and certified personal trainer, Megan Joy Brynok.
After a decade-long career in the Western Medicine Healthcare system as a Nursing Assistant, Ultrasound Tech and Lab Instructor, Megan decided to follow her heart and soul calling of becoming a Functional Practitioner in Women’s Health. She is also a sought after fitness expert and speaker in women’s health virtual summits, aspiring author, podcast host of “The Balanced Woman Podcast”, and creator of the comprehensive Self-Care system in her signature one-on-one program, SHE Code. With an extensive background in healthcare, three years as a fitness competitor and a long journey of her own health struggles, Megan is obsessed with helping women get to the root causes of their symptoms, eliminate stress and increase energy while building a balanced lifestyle they love.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
Of course! I was always active as a young girl growing up, actually very much a ‘tom boy’. When I was 17 I got my second job at the tanning salon and gym facility right down the road from my highschool. This gave me the opportunity to create relationships with trainers and athletic coaches, and really create a love for fitness and lifting weights.
I continued to dabble into fitness for years, but in 2018 my husband deployed to the Middle East for an entire year and I wanted to dedicate my time to something productive. That’s how I found NPC bikini competitions, won my first show and I was hooked for three years! I also became a Certified Personal Trainer during that journey in 2018 while still working Full-time in healthcare, and opened my online fitness coaching business shortly after.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Oh wow! There’s so many… I’d have to say making the decision to walk away from my successful career in healthcare. I had a ‘guaranteed income’ of nearly 6 figures so it provided some financial security, but it was sucking the life out of me. I had my health coaching practice on the side that was hardly producing any income at the time. We just bought our house, and one morning I got ready for work, packed my lunch, sat at my kitchen island and said to myself “I just can’t do this anymore”. So, I woke my husband up and told him I know I sound crazy but I just know it’s going to work out. Something inside of me told me i’d be taken care of and to put my faith over my fear. It was scary and a little stressful if I thought about it for too long. But here i am 7 months later, happily ‘retired’ from conventional healthcare and I couldn’t be happier. Oh and the financial success is definitely a perk as well.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
For sure! Well I was training a friend at the gym, and we had just stopped our treadmills for a warm up jog. I hopped off to grab the towels for us to clean them, and somehow I didn’t turn the treadmill belt off completely because it started back up again. I wasn’t paying attention and I stepped right onto the belt, face planted and flew backwards. I can laugh about it now because I didn’t get hurt and at the time my ‘gym crush’ was there and I felt mortified. From then on out I never stepped onto the belt of a treadmill, always the sides where there’s no chance of that ever happening again!
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I can sit here and tell you how much of a nerd I am about human health, biology, anatomy, physiology, fitness, nutrition and all of the things — or, that I love to learn and everytime I achieve one academic endeavor my husband and family will ask — what’s next? I can also sit here and talk about my degrees in science, all the letters after my name (CNA, CNS, CPT, RDMS, RVT, FDN-P), or the tons of crazy stories and situations I’ve been in throughout my career.
But in my opinion, being an authority comes from personal experience and true impact on others more than anything. Between caring for patients one-on-one in clinics and hospitals for years, competing in the NPC as a bikini competitor for three years, and experiencing struggles in my own health with total burnout, a miscarriage, Leaky gut, hormonal disruptions, autoimmunity and thyroid dysfunction — I know how much it means when someone listens, understands and is willing to help every step of the way.
My absolute favorite part of what I do is making people feel heard, understood and confident in our ability to work together to find the root causes of their symptoms and heal. So many of us feel frustrated, dismissed and discouraged in our ability to ever feel as energized, fulfilled and happy as we’re meant to.
I think that my unique contribution to the world of wellness is that as a Functional Practitioner I am not just running specialized tests and uncovering root causes of problems, but I am also empowering those who invest in themselves to completely transform their health inside and out. I love helping women with their mindset, time management, stress management and developing compassion and grace for themselves along the way. Building balance inside of the body and mind, as well as on the outside with their family, career, personal time and lifestyle is the most transformative.
I also believe that education is one of the biggest missing pieces for people to have confidence and conviction in their decisions. Part of my mission is to educate women to gain body literacy and understand how to work with their body, instead of against it which part of that is cycle syncing! It’s fun and incredibly empowering! It’s also important for people to have the knowledge of how to get well and live well forever, so that they can teach others to do the same.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
If I’m being honest, there are so many incredible mentors and people who I am grateful for that have helped me achieve success in my career. My personal success is attributed to so many vulnerable, inspirational, and impactful thought leaders, many of which don’t even know I exist. I am so grateful to have access to social media, podcasts and books to receive the knowledge, inspiration and motivation that reminds me how capable and worthy I am. There’s so many outstanding humans who are out there sharing their stories from rags to riches, or from their death bed to achieving optimal health, or anything in between. It shows us that we all face adversity, but despite that, anything is possible for any of us, when we believe in ourselves.
And like so many other people, I always struggled with never feeling enough. Whether that was smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough or just straight up GOOD enough. But we have the power to choose what we consume. And I’m a firm believer that you are the sum of the five people you surround yourself with. So, if that means letting go of unsupportive or toxic people in your life for an inspiring book, podcast or course from a thought leader — do it. Invest in yourself. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and we are all choosing to invest our time, energy and money into things everyday. For me, I choose to invest in what’s going to require me to get uncomfortable and grow physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially.
The first time I invested in myself was hiring a certified personal trainer (Val) who made me feel like she was just as invested in my success as I was. That was in 2018, and ever since then I’ve hired 2 fitness coaches and 4 business coaches because I know that every single time I exchange the financial investment, it requires me to show up and level up to the next best version of myself. To be healthier, wiser, stronger, richer, etc. I was on a path to self-destruction with people-pleasing, partying, alcohol and an abusive relationship. Now, years later, I believe in filling my cup up first and trying to get it overflowing, so that I can show up as the absolute best version of myself for my loved ones, clients and anyone I connect with. I’m just so grateful for some of my favorite amazing thought leaders (Amanda Bucci, Tony Robbins, Angie Lee, Dr. Bruce Litpon, Dr. Joe Dispenza, Dr. Axe, Lori Harder, Dr. Hyman, Rebecca Cafiero, Brook Castillo, and honestly SO many more).
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
Sure! So number one reason, and really the top reason that I’ve seen over the years is the all or nothing mentality. We make big promises to ourselves that we’re going to change, and that’s usually trying to change everything at once and go from 0–60 overnight. It’s important to understand that our brains don’t work like that. We have to set up micro goals that are aligned with the big goal and get the needle moving in the right direction. I call it habit stacking in my practice. Anytime you’re trying something new and your brain isn’t running off of its subconscious habits or routines, then it takes more mental bandwidth. Which is why after a few weeks, or a few days even, it often feels too hard and people resort back to old habits that may not be serving them.
I’d say the second reason that comes to mind is feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. Overwhelmed because there are so many resources out there that try to oversimplify yet overcomplicate health and wellness. Especially on social media. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had women and clients come to me and tell me they had no idea where to start because they don’t know what’s actually healthy for them or right for their body. And many times of us have been socially conditioned by society, Dr’s and social media that being healthy means being on diet or being restrictive for some reason…. Which leads me to my next block I always see…
Which is feeling as though we need to be restrictive or count calories. That’s a diet. And being healthy has nothing to do with a diet. It’s adopting the mentality of nourishing your body and focusing on the abundance of delicious whole foods that will promote optimal function and health… rather than focusing on what you ‘can’t’ have. I work with women every single day who have tried various approaches to diets that never last or felt too hard and they felt like a failure. But it’s not their fault. I think diet culture has a lot to do with our skewed perspective of what being healthy really is. You have to enjoy it and love it, which is exactly what I’m all about. But also having balance and knowing how to live your life guilt free as well.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
Absolutely, I love this question.
1. Breathe! So many of us are shallow breathing as we go through our days busy, stressed or on the go-go-go. This will put your body right into fight or flight mode and compromise our digestion, detox pathways, hormones, immune system, mitochondrial function and our entire nervous system. So stop and take deep breaths as often as you can. Whenever you catch yourself frantically running from one thing to the next, stop and just take 3–5 deep breaths in through your nose and out through your nose. Feel the sensations in your body. This can instantly bring you into a calmer state of mind and more relaxed.
2. Endocrine disruptors! Get rid of them! There’s thousands of them in our everyday products — including plastics, receipts, personal care products and more. You don’t have to bubble wrap yourself, but this is something you don’t want to disregard. Your endocrine system is basically your hormone system and you don’t want this system disrupted. These toxins are a huge stressor that will wreak havoc on your systems!
I teach my clients to swap out 1–2 things at a time. When you run out of “x” then just replace it with “y”. Bye-bye harmful product, hello safe product for you and your family.
3. Sleep! We all know sleep is important but most of us aren’t getting enough of it. So I’d say prioritize bedtime and be consistent with it while being intentional about 7–8 hours of sleep. It’s also important to understand that many of us also struggle with getting to bed because of blue light from our cell phones, tvs and devices. This confuses our body and makes it think it’s daylight. So dim your lights and grab blue blockers, and I always say get off all electronics at least 1 hour before bed to honor your circadian rhythm.
4. Workout first thing in the morning. This is when your cortisol is highest, you’re able to burn the most fat and your body has the most energy. Make sure you eat something before a workout though. Fasted workouts truly do more harm than good. Working out first thing will also prevent us from letting our excuses get in the way later on in the day. If you workout in the morning, even for a quick 20–30 minutes you’ll feel way more naturally energized and ready to conquer your day.
5. Daily reflection and celebrating even the smallest wins. Sometimes the seemingly large gap between where we are and where we want to be can perpetuate negative thoughts. Instead, be sure to reflect every single day on at least one thing you did to move the needle forward in the right direction. Focus on all the things you did right, instead of dwelling on anything you did wrong.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
- More natural energy! Exercise is proven to increase your energy levels, even for those who struggle with fatigue. Of course we want to honor our body and if we have significant fatigue focus on low intensity workouts that rejuvenate us. Exercise is a great natural energy booster!
- Better moods! Exercise can make you happier and give you that post-workout high, which is why I think it’s an easy addiction. We get those endorphins flowing and these feel good chemicals make us happier, less stressed and less anxiety, which I think we can all use.
- The power of goal setting! By committing to reaching an exercise goal and achieving it will help you build integrity with yourself. Doing what you say you’re going to do. This builds self-trust which is so important for innumerable reasons. You can enjoy the endless benefits of exercise plus the confidence that comes along with it. On the inside and the outside.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
- Planks. There are so many benefits to this exercise including a stronger core, better balance and better posture. It’s a true test of your strength.
- Push-ups. This is a great exercise that will also test your true strength abilities while also targeting your arms, back and core.
- Squats. Body weight, dumbbell or barbell. Squats are a core compound movement that gives you strength in your glutes, hamstrings and quads. This is important to maintain appropriate posture as well. And of course, it will define and shape your backside to look great on those jeans!
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
I definitely have a few, but the most impactful was “Biology of Belief” by Dr. Bruce H Lipton. I listened to this on audible first, and I couldn’t stop pausing it, taking notes and sharing excitement about this book. It’s so aligned with my beliefs about our health, biology and mindset. It personally empowered me to understand the importance of stress management and prioritizing my mental health, as stress and anxiety create the chronic stress response in our systems that changes our blood chemistry and creates disease.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I love this question, and thank you for positioning it in such a positive way. I have a deep desire to create a movement in our education systems for young women, specifically in high schools to understand their bodies and health. As women in the reproductive age group, we have a biological clock nobody else has — our infradian rhythm. It’s important to understand the natural ebs and flows of our hormones and the different cycle phases because our bodies need different things in the different phases. This is life changing information that gives women so much empowerment and grace with themselves when they understand what’s going on with their body.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears.” While this definitely reflects my life personally and professionally with clients, I think it applies to all areas of life. It speaks volumes of the power to trust yourself and don’t let those self limiting beliefs hold you back from what you really want to do in life. That you’re worthy and able.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I would absolutely love to have a private lunch or breakfast with Lori Harder. She’s been one of the biggest influences in my life through her podcast and social media. I love everything she stands for and her story of how she constantly overcame her trials and tribulations while finding success.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
I love hanging out on Instagram @meganjoy_wellness , my Facebook page is Megan Joy Brynok, and I have a private Facebook group called Nourished and Balanced that any women who are interested in optimizing their health, getting free workshops and trainings while learning about their body can join us! Also my podcast “The Balanced Woman” is where we dig into things as well.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
Women In Wellness: Megan Joy Brynok on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.