Women In Wellness: Shawna Robins of Kaia Health and Wellness On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Develop a spiritual practice — After doing an eight-week intensive coaching program with Marianne Williamson, I realized how deeply I was craving a spiritual practice. Now I start each day with ten minutes of guided meditation, prayer, and gratitude. I also do a meditation in the afternoon before I shift into mommy/family mode. It helps to calm me after working all day and allows me to reconnect with my inner, intuitive voice.
As a part of my series about women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shawna Robins.
Shawna Robins is a best-selling author, National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach and CEO of Kaia Health and Wellness. Her signature program, The Rest & Reset Academy, is an online wellness program for women who want to reset their sleep, create healthier habits, and change their lives. Shawna’s first best-selling book, Powerful Sleep — Rest Deeply, Repair Your Brain, Restore Your Life teaches women in midlife how to make powerful lifestyle changes so they can reclaim their sleep again.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Sleep had never been hard for me . . . until I turned forty-seven. Perimenopause hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew it was a struggle for many of my clients, friends, and family members. I would listen to and empathize with their complaints of sleepless nights, hair loss, weight gain, hot flashes, night sweats, and lack of libido. I would help them develop nutrition plans and exercise routines and point them to bioidentical hormones. But inside, I really, truly had no idea what all the fuss was about. Until I stopped sleeping too. It was maddening and took all my effort to find my way out of the dark hole of insomnia.
After a few months of trying everything in my arsenal to fix my sleep, I finally found a strategy that worked. This led to writing my first Amazon best-selling book, Powerful Sleep — Rest Deeply, Repair Your Brain, And Restore Your Life and creating my online program, The Rest & Reset Academy to help peri and postmenopausal women reclaim their sleep and take back their lives.
Menopause today is not the same as it was for our mothers and grandmothers. By learning the right tools to help the body recalibrate, women in midlife can feel more free, alive, and vibrant than they did in their 20’s and 30’s.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
When I first begin coaching with a new client who is struggling with menopause symptoms, I point out the gorgeous painting of the Santa Barbara harbor which hangs behind my desk in my office and tell the story of my mother’s menopause journey.
“When my mother turned 52, she was finally able to empty-nest after all three children had left home. A good friend asked her to try out a painting class and she agreed. After being a stay-at-home mother for two decades, she finally had the freedom and time to explore a creative outlet. So, she went to this painting class and started painting the most beautiful pieces of art that now sell in galleries and have received numerous awards. You never know what talent, skill or interest is inside of you, waiting all this time to finally blossom.”
Before menopause, a woman’s body is driven by a biological need to procreate, nurture and support other’s needs before her own. After menopause, this biological drive shuts off and the next stage begins. This is the gift of the second half of life. You finally have the time and freedom to reconnect with yourself again. The “self” you lost running after children, building a family, creating a career, and finding a partner. And when you finally have time for yourself, you might uncover an incredible talent just like my mother did.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The biggest mistake I made was being intractable with my publisher on the subject for my first book, Powerful Sleep. I wanted to write a book that would teach powerful women how to become even more powerful. I wanted to “influence the influencers.” So, I laid out a book pitch with all the steps needed for extremely Type A, busy, intense executive women to make small but powerful changes in their daily lives, thus resulting in lasting changes. It was a mixture of The Butterfly Effect meets the Superwoman Syndrome. But my brilliant publisher told me something very important: “Women need help sleeping and you can help them.”
I pouted and balked and argued my points for about a week, but in the end, she was right. Women do need help sleeping. And I can help them. So, my first book was born. Once I dove into the research, I could clearly see why sleep is the most powerful and underused tool for health and healing in a woman’s life.
Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Menopause has a stigma. Its brand is an old Crone — the visual image of a woman who has lost her youthful glow, energy, skin, hair, and vitality. Although virtually all women in the world experience menopause, it remains a taboo subject for many. In 2021, The State of Menopause study found that 20% of women in the U.S. ages 40–65 had menopause symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, weight gain, anxiety, depression) for a year or more before seeing a healthcare professional and 34% had never been formally diagnosed or received any kind of medical support.
With the number of menopausal women worldwide estimated to reach 1.1 billion by 2025, I believe it is time for a re-brand. My online wellness program, The Rest & Reset Academy teaches peri and postmenopausal women how to show up for themselves in a whole new way. Together we focus on improving sleep, resetting diet and nutrition, developing healthy stress management skills, creating community, and providing accountability. By teaching women how to make small but powerful lifestyle changes that are sustainable, my program helps to improve their overall quality of life.
I know firsthand that menopause doesn’t have to be debilitating or exhausting. The second half of a woman’s life is a time of new creative power, wisdom, and personal freedom. Both my books and my programs inspire women to step into it and live with joy and passion.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
Lifestyle “tweaks” are a great way to describe what needs to happen so that women can continue to sleep well and stay healthy as they age. No big, huge sweeping changes. Just a few small but powerful tweaks that will make a huge difference over time.
My first tweak is to commit to 30 min of daily exercise 5–6 times per week. I know this is hard with our fast-paced lifestyle, but exercise will lessen menopause symptoms, improve sleep, improve brain and heart health, lower stress levels and boost serotonin to help improve your mood. If you are peri or postmenopausal, then you need to fight to keep your muscles, so make sure to add in strength training and stretching 2–3 times per week to your routine.
My second tweak is the hard truth that your nightly glass (or 2 or 3) of alcohol is destroying your sleep, causing you to gain weight and aggravating your hot flashes. If you want to have a glass of wine (or other alcoholic beverage) before or during dinner, then fine. But no more than one or two times per week. Anything more than this amount will rob you of the restorative nighttime rest your body needs and make your menopause symptoms even worse.
The third tweak is to find an endocrinologist who specializes in menopause to help you find the right hormonal replacement therapy (HRT). Your primary care doctor and your OB/GYN do not have the intricate knowledge of your hormones in the same way that an endocrinologist does. There are some great bioidentical hormones that can be used along with diet, nutrition, and supplements to help balance out your hormones and restore your energy, libido, and nighttime rest.
My fourth tweak is to eat whole, real foods. This means eating fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables with plenty of high-quality protein. During menopause, a woman’s need for more protein increases, so make sure you have 20 grams of protein at every meal. Some good options are eggs, chicken, turkey, salmon, nuts, lentils, beans, tofu, quinoa, tempeh, hemp, and chia seeds. Beef and pork are fine in moderation. Aim to fill ½ of your plate with colorful (think rainbow colors) fruits and veggies at every meal along with a full serving of protein (it should fit into the palm of your hand).
My final tweak is to make sure you are protecting your adrenals. These important organs are located on top of each kidney and are responsible for managing your metabolism, making sex hormones and releasing cortisol (the fight or flight hormone) among many other things. As your ovaries begin to shut down in perimenopause, your adrenal glands take over the production of your sex hormones — estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. If your adrenals are already burned out from a lifestyle of chronic stress, along with too much coffee and sugar, then they are not able to function correctly. You will feel constantly exhausted, suffer from low sex drive, weight gain, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and brain fog. So protect your adrenals by cutting back or eliminating all caffeine (coffee, black tea, chocolate, soda), take a methylated B vitamin supplement and find healthy ways to de-stress like walking in nature, taking a warm bath, reading, gardening, meditation or Yin Yoga.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
It is my personal mission to help millions of women around the world reclaim their sleep. Without seven to nine hours of uninterrupted nighttime rest, women in midlife can develop chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and depression.
By teaching through different mediums — my books, my YouTube channel, and my online program, I hope to share my knowledge with women on how to prioritize and achieve nighttime restorative sleep so they can feel healthy, vibrant, and full of energy again.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Self-care is not selfish — The old cliché of putting on your own oxygen mask first before helping others is truly the best advice. Take care of yourself first.
- Delegate tasks to make more time for yourself — Delegating items off your daily list is a game changer. When you feel the need to control and monitor all aspects of your work, family, and personal life, you can easily get burned out, overwhelmed and exhausted. Sure, things might not get done exactly as you prefer, but they will get done. Let go of perfection and let others help you so you can have more time to do the things that you enjoy.
- Build your community — Loneliness is worse for your health than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Women are biologically wired to live in a connected community. Connecting often with your friends and loved ones is great for your health by naturally lowering your stress level.
- Make time to rest — Without proper rest, you cannot be the powerful person you have been put on this planet to be. I am a full-time working mom, so taking time to rest and recharge myself is an important part of practicing what I preach. When I am exhausted and stressed out, every aspect of my life, my family, my health, and my wellness suffer
- Develop a spiritual practice — After doing an eight-week intensive coaching program with Marianne Williamson, I realized how deeply I was craving a spiritual practice. Now I start each day with ten minutes of guided meditation, prayer, and gratitude. I also do a meditation in the afternoon before I shift into mommy/family mode. It helps to calm me after working all day and allows me to reconnect with my inner, intuitive voice.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Millions of women deal with mental health issues when they transition into menopause. Insomnia and hormone fluctuations can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, isolation, and worry. It is very important to me that women are seen and heard by their doctors and nurse practitioners when they are experiencing menopause symptoms. According to a 2020 Female Founders Fund survey, 32% of women said that they feel their doctor isn’t comfortable talking about menopause, causing them to look elsewhere for support and help. Women in midlife need to have a safe and knowledgeable resource for support.
It is my goal to create a safe place for women to openly discuss, learn, encourage, and support midlife changes in their physical bodies along with their mental and emotional health.
What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?
My website is: www.shawnarobins.com
LinkedIn: Shawna McKinley Robins
Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.
Women In Wellness: Shawna Robins of Kaia Health and Wellness On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.