Pursuing Wellness: a Conversation with Kelly Evans Bradley, MSPT, HHC - by Catherine Sheehy
Veggilicious: Kelly, you are a licensed physical therapist, a certified holistic health, nutrition, and wellness counselor, and a certified practitioner of gyrotonic, yoga, and pilates. How did you get involved in these lines of work?
Kelly: All my life, I have been into exercise and movement. Exercise just makes me feel good and I knew I wanted to share that endorphin feeling with others. So, I went to physical therapy school [at Arcadia University in Philadelphia ] to be qualified to actually treat people.
I also stopped eating red meat in the 6 th grade. My family went crazy, like, "Oh my god, she's gonna die without eating red meat!" But that forced me to experiment with food. I tried different kinds of eating - macrobiotics, chicken/turkey only [no other meat], vegetarian, etc. This led me to pursue my nutrition work. I also continue to test out different kinds of food to see what works for me, which is how I work with clients. Once I got my training in nutrition [at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York ], I integrated the two disciplines.
I work one-on-one with my physical therapy/movement clients. It is important to have my eyes on them 100% of the time to analyze what is going on with their bodies. I also work one-on-one and in small groups with my wellness and nutrition clients. Clients benefit from one-on-one due to the personalized attention. We can discuss their history with food and wellness and my clients know their information is safe with me. Knowing a client's whole history helps me develop a program that will work for his or her personal goals. My work with small groups is more general in format, which is useful in guiding attendees in developing a healthier lifestyle and future. I also conduct workshops with small and large groups about both movement/exercise and wellness/nutrition.
Clients present different issues. People respond to different therapies and different diets. Lifestyle change takes time, and the path is not the same for each person.
Veggilicious: How long does a person typically work with you?Kelly: I can see clients for one month or many months depending on the goals of that individual. It is important to me to provide each individual with a program that they can do not only in my studio but also on a daily basis outside the studio. After clients complete a program, they return every 4-6 weeks for an update in their program. This prevents them from plateauing. At this time we can also address any changes that may have occurred in their body and life.
Some clients have been working with me about three years. Some clients meet with me once a week, some just once a month. At different points in a person's life, he or she may face different stressors, which may also indicate different needs. In any case, I form very close relationships with clients and keep in contact with them. I don't do typical physical therapy. I teach people to be proactive about their health and give them the tools to create a healthier lifestyle. People learn to enjoy exercise and being healthy.
Veggilicious: The overall message I take from your experience and service offerings is that it is personalized. Do people usually come to you knowing what form of movement and exercise they want to or should take, or do you guide them?
Kelly: I definitely guide clients. Many clients come in saying, "I want to do pilates." And, I often suggest pilates first because that stabilizes the core, the spine. Once the core is stabilized, a person can move on to more advanced exercise. But I start with an initial evaluation that takes 1 - 1.5 hours and then will suggest other work.
When I do wellness counseling, I will sit down for the first session and talk with the client about past eating habits, lifestyle. I will then help guide them to change their entire lifestyle, for instance, going with them to Dupont Market and helping them shop, cooking with them. [Veggilicious note: The Dupont Farmers' Market takes place on Sundays, 9am to 1pm, in the PNC parking lot near Dupont Circle .] My goal is to get them more in touch with how to live a healthy lifestyle. Some people are scared to go into the health food store, especially with all these different "health" foods out there, so I help them get over that fear. The program lasts about 6 months, and we meet on average about once or twice a week.
Veggilicious: What is an example of some of the diet advice you offer?
Kelly: One of the most important things is to figure out what works for you. One exercise I do with clients is to have them eat a different thing for some meal every day. For instance, for breakfast, I might suggest that a person start the week with an egg with turkey, and the next day, have whole wheat pancakes with a banana. You have to experiment on yourself. South Beach doesn't work for everybody. Become mindful about yourself. Using a journal to write down what you eat and how you are feeling after you eat is so important to find out what works for you. Many people will go through their whole life eating the same thing, but if they experiment, they may find out that a different kind of food works better for them.
Veggilicious: As you know, Veggilicious is a site devoted to promoting healthy eating. While we are not a vegetarian site, we are focused on promoting vegetarian eating because, generally, people do not eat enough veggies or know enough about the benefits of eating lots of fruits and veggies. What advice do you have for Veggilicious readers about how to live a more Veggilicious lifestyle?
Kelly: Get into shakes and juicing. Two very important pieces of equipment [I would recommend that people invest in] are a juicer and blender. Shakes and juices are a great way to get many nutrients in without weighing you down. So, in the morning, make a shake with blueberries, gogi berries, beets, parsley, spinach, carrots, apple, rice milk or soy milk. Get creative, and mix in superfoods. Also, eat big salads, throwing all the veggies in. For people who don't do well with salads, I'd recommend they do some light sautéing. Overall, I'd recommend that you use variety in your cooking. Add sea vegetables in the mix - like nori, arame, kombu. People may be familiar with nori (it's a seaweed often used as sushi wraps), but they don't know how to use it on their own. Sea veggies are also available in shakers, making them good substitutes for salt.
Veggilicious: Do you have any favorite cuisines?
Kelly: Japanese. I love the clean recipes - very healthy - and miso soups. I also love the small portions.
Veggilicious: What is your favorite food?
Kelly: Sushi made with brown rice and quinoa [pronounced keenwa, it is one of the highest protein grains available]. I add lots of veggies and dip in a little miso or Bragg amino acids. I stay away from the refined grains, like white rice, unless I'm out at a restaurant and that's all they offer. But I don't know what my favorite food will be next week.
Interested in finding out more about what Kelly does? Call or email her and tell her that Veggilicious sent you.
Kelly Evans Bradley, MSPT, HHC
Licensed Physical Therapist
Certified Holistic Health, Nutrition & Wellness Counselor
Certified Gyrotonic, Pilates and Yoga Instructor
Speaker, Seminar Leader