Nutrition and wellness are very big terms. In theory, they sound great, but in practice… conquering those terms can be nerve wracking. We called in Kelly Leveque, a certified holistic celebrity nutrition and wellness expert, to sort the myth from the science while bonding over a little Avocado Hummus. We took a seat in her kitchen, a decidedly divine mecca of good eats and positive energy, in her Brentwood apartment to listen to her wax poetic about her successful holistic nutrition practice, how she made the leap from a career in medicine to freelancing full time, and her secret smoothie formula to get the healthy body of your dreams!
The Moment: This Avocado hummus is so delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe! Where did you come up with the name for Be Well By Kelly?
Leveque: When I got married, my last name changed and my formal name became Kelene Leveque. So many “Ls,” so many “Es”! Trying to give that email address over the phone is the worst! However, I really love when you have that flow of letters. I just started brainstorming and writing down a whole bunch of adjectives describing what I really wanted people to do. The name stuck and it was catchy.
The Moment: What kind of clients do you see?
Leveque: A lot of the time people come to me for weight loss or autoimmune disease. At the end of the day, I just want people to know how to take care of themselves and how they could be well. It wasn’t about what people couldn’t eat, or what they were cutting out. Its about, what should I have at every meal so my cells can regenerate and my muscle tone stays high and my skin is glowing and I’m getting those vital chemicals and minerals from my food so I can protect myself against disease and inflammation. It becomes a bigger movement.
The Creation of Be Well By Kelly
The Moment: When did you start the company?
Leveque: I started helping people in 2012 but I had a full time career in cancer at the time. I finally took my business full time in September of 2015. It hasn’t been very long.
The Moment: When did you realize you needed to make a change?
Leveque: It’s always scary to make that leap. I have a lot of people who do the opposite of what I did. They leave their career and jump full time into freelancing and having their own company. I didn’t have the savings or financial ability to do that at the time, and I was so used to having a great paying, big corporate career. It came with insurance and all the perks of working for someone else.
When I got started with my own practice, I would see clients on my lunch break. I would scrub in for surgeries for breast cancer, so I would be in the OR from 6AM to 11AM, then see a couple of doctors after their lunch break at 2 PM, so I would have this short break between 11 and 2 and see clients then or at night or on the weekends. It became something where, I was like, ‘If I actually just did this, I would have to have enough clients to support my rent and to figure out health insurance. I can make this a reality.’
I was 13 and my parents let me read about South Beach and Atkins and all of these crazy diet books growing up.
The Moment: Have you always been interested in nutrition and wellness?
Leveque: I’ve loved health and nutrition since health class in high school. I was 13 and my parents let me read about South Beach and Atkins and all of these crazy diet books growing up. Reading all of that, you think it would make me a little obsessed with food. But I could never stick to those diets for more than 48 hours, it was kind of a joke. So I was always looking for the gems of info in each of them. Maybe a little bit of science, or a tip or a tool on making it easier and eating a little cleaner. It might be, what snacks to bring to the airport if you’re traveling. I wanted to know biologically how we are loosing weight or ditching old information/research and eating more whole foods. It ended up being something where I would take all of these tools and build it in to my life and help my friends build it into their lives.
The Moment: What were those first leaps of Be Well By Kelly like?
Leveque: September 2015, it felt like I had enough momentum that I was no longer scared. So then I quit my job, and I was petrified. I’m now an hourly employee! If no one calls me, I won’t have a job. That’s so scary. I was talking to my friend Ann Sage of City Sage recently. We grabbed coffee and we talked about the process of starting your own thing and I had so much to say. I needed to write a book!
Most millionaires in LA who own a house have 5 streams of income, and they’re not hourly. So I had to figure out how to have multiple streams of income while being hourly. But I’m a consultant, people see me, I charge them for an hourly rate and we call it a day. I thought, I need a book, I need to do public speaking, I need a product, and I need to diversify so I don’t feel all this pressure to really bring people on board where you HAVE to sign up for 10 sessions with me. I don’t do that at all. I’m actually the antithesis of that because I’ve done that with other doctors. You’re so excited and you sign up for something and they give you a lot in the beginning but their worth feels like it’s waining towards the end. I like to earn my clients and bring them really good info and support them. I’d love to teach you to fish, not give you the fish. I like empowering people to do their own thing. I like to earn their business… So my book just launched and products are coming!
Bettering Your Body
The Moment: We are already holding a spot for your book on our shelf! Can you tell us more?
Leveque: I’m known for a smoothie formula. I was the first one to ring to bell on the smoothie bandwagon and all the acai bowls. You go to any of the places that have bottled smoothies… They’re full of fructose and full of sugar: 3 bananas, 2 dates, a full cup of pineapple is too much. Although those things are good and full of antioxidants, its coming with a massive blood sugar spike and a lot of fructose that needs to be 100% metabolized in your liver and gets stored as fat really quickly. To see some really cute blogger in a bikini surfing in Hawaii, posing with her beautiful acai bowl full of fruit… that might not be right for you if you’re in an office all day, getting one workout in every other day after work when you can fit it in. It’s not as healthy for you.
I created a smoothie formula that limits fruit to 1/4 a cup. I also have a number of recipes that are fruit-free. It’s about leaning on those Chinese herbs, adaptogens, and spices. People are all about turmeric but clove is higher on the ORAC scale but nobody talks about cloves. I have a smoothie formula with 20-35 recipes in my new book. The book lets people know they need protein, fat, and fiber, so they’re adding avocado or coconut butter or chia or flax along with a source of protein whether that’s whey or an organic pea protein.
I’m also creating a protein powder. A lot of these proteins on the market have 45 ingredients and what happens if you’re allergic to one of those ingredients? I like smoothies where you can add one ingredient at a time and it can be very pure. My protein powder will only have 3 ingredients: pea protein, organic vanilla bean or cacao, and monk fruit. I’m using monk fruit over stevia because some people don’t love stevia and it can be an allergen for people as well.
With that sugar comes a surge of insulin that shuts down fat burning for 6-8 hours because it’s a hormone that tells your body to store.
The Moment: How have the perception of these nutrients changed? As women, we were taught to steer clear of fats and proteins! It’s not like that anymore.
Leveque: As a woman, growing up, protein and muscle building and bulking up, same with adding fat… It’s scary!
Now, I’m about being satisfied. I’d rather have the new research. The old research tells us to eat at least 3 times a day, every 3-5 hours, to stroke your metabolism. No, not true. If you’re having a lot of carbohydrates, your blood sugar might come up and down every 3 hours but we need elongated blood sugar curves. We need you to be able to eat breakfast and go 4-5 hours without eating again. All of that eating and all of that snacking is aging. It’s asking you’re body and digestive system to turn back on again. You’re not using your own body’s resources for fuel. If you’re having carbs at all of those meals, you’re having that surge of glucose, that blood sugar, which is what carbohydrates breaks down to. With that comes a surge of insulin that shuts down fat burning for 6-8 hours because it’s a hormone that tells your body to store.
If you’re having 5-6 meals a day and that’s lasting all day long and your last meal is at 6 PM at night, that means we aren’t burning fat until 2 AM. If you get up at 6 AM and have a berry banana filled smoothie with no protein or fat, blood sugar rises and we shut down fat burning again. I use science to help people understand why they’re derailing. I’d rather have someone wake up in the morning and not have that surge of glucose or spike of insulin. I’d much rather have them burn all the way to lunch. Then all of a sudden, if you did have a flat bread dinner or quinoa bowl or warm carbohydrate, when your fat burning kicks in again around 2 in the morning, I get you burning all the way through lunch without totally changing your life.
We add fat and protein because fat and protein don’t cause a surge of insulin, that hormone that shuts down fat-burning. It allows your body to continue while fighting off hunger hormones. It’s about making that blood sugar curve elongate and flow low as opposed to spike up really high and crash really low. When you have a carbohydrate, it is quantity that matters because all of that is breaking down to sugar and that sugar is flooding your bloodstream. If you were to have protein or fat, it doesn’t flood your blood stream in the same way and it doesn’t cause that hormone flood that happens with carbs. If someone’s doing Whole 30 or Paleo and not loosing weight, a lot of the time it’s because their husband’s loosing weight because he loves the bacon and avocado and eggs but the wife grabbed the watermelon containers from Whole Foods for breakfast. Understanding the science is how I set my clients free. We don’t have to change your whole life; Fine, you love avocado toast for breakfast, lets have a bone broth soup with chicken and veggies for dinner and find that break at dinner time. You just need a break.
The Moment: Wow! I think you just changed a lot of people’s lives. Where can everyone get your book?
Leveque: My book is called Body Love. It’s on Amazon and Barns and Noble and Audible and iTunes. It’s audio and print. It’s so weird to read your book out loud!
The Moment: Favorite recipe?
I make a Coconut Cauliflower Rice Bowl. It’s creamy cauliflower rice- it makes it sticky like asian rice. Then shredded chicken with coconut amino and ghee sautéed broccoli. Throw it all in a bowl with some scallions.
The Moment: How do you stay balanced?
Leveque: I see my friends and I drink wine!
The Moment: You have so much going on right now, but what’s next?
Leveque: I think I’m going to start doing retreats. One to two a year. A very small curated group but different to what you’ve seen out there. I’d like to do something where I’m bringing all of my favorite people together. Palm Springs or Santa Barbra, something close to LA so I can bring out my favorite yoga instructors or Soul Cycle instructors. I want to bring out experts in their fields. I’d like to have the workouts that people are used to having and also have a hotel that would work with me in having smoothies available and have it be a choose your own adventure retreat.
The Moment: What’s your most cherished moment?
Leveque: My wedding day or the day I got engaged. My husband and I were backpacking in Thailand. The year before, it was New Years and he said, “I’m going to ask you to marry me this year babe.” So for that whole year, I thought, Im getting engaged! But then he waited until the 2nd of January, just over the year mark, so it would be a surprise. It was really special. We were on a deserted island basically and it was a perfect sunset.
The Moment: First thing you do in the morning?
Leveque: Probably talk to my husband.
The Moment: Last thing you do at night?
The Moment: Cute! Finally, how do you stay in the moment?
Leveque: I stay in the moment by being really curious about the people that I’m around.
Special thanks to Kelly Leveque!
Photo by Kristine Lo
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