Mission To Wellness: An Interview With Certified Holistic Health Coach Daryl Moss
Mission To Wellness: An Interview With Certified Holistic Health Coach Daryl Moss
March 31, 2021
Daryl Moss is the Founder of Mission To Wellness, a Nutritional, Health, and Wellness Coaching Service located in New York. Through individual one-on-one counseling as well as group sessions (all available virtually), she works with clients to provide concrete support and guidance as they journey toward better health and wellness. In the coming weeks, Daryl will become our newest agebuzz Guest Blogger, and we look forward to benefiting from her insights and wisdom! What follows is a recent conversation between agebuzz Founder Connie Zuckerman and Daryl, to explore Daryl’s approach to health and wellness as well as what clients can gain through her services at Mission to Wellness.
CZ: Daryl, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with agebuzz readers! First, please tell us about yourself: your background, how you came to develop Mission To Wellness, your professional training, and any personal experiences you think illuminate the importance of what you do.
DM: Hi Connie, I am thrilled to be connecting with the agebuzz community! Like so many of us, my life took an unexpected turn due to an illness and my road back to health. I started my career in the commercial real estate business and worked there for quite some time. Immediately after my twins were born, my third and fourth kids, I became very sick and was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis about a month later. To make a long story short, my “famous NYC doctor” put me on a series of consecutively stronger drugs to get the colitis under control. Nothing worked until he prescribed prednisone, the ultimate anti-inflammatory. I started feeling better very quickly, but this is not a drug meant to be taken long term. I was on an extremely high dose, and whenever the doctor weaned me down, my symptoms came roaring back. I realized that he was not trying to cure me, just manage my symptoms. I switched to another “top NYC doctor” who got me off the prednisone (the side effects of which I will deal with for the rest of my life), and onto something equally toxic, just different. That doctor gave me a straight downhill prognosis for the rest of my life. I had four kids under the age of six, and that was not the message I wanted to hear.
The good thing about this was that it spurred me to start doing my own research, take control of my life, and look into what, in those days, was called “alternative methods of healing.” With help, I totally changed my diet and lifestyle, and I slowly started to get better. I realized that I was not different from anyone else, in that if the food and lifestyle changes could help me, they could benefit other people as well. So I went back to school to study nutrition and health coaching so that I could help others live their healthiest and best lives. I am certified by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Teachers College at Columbia University, and am pursuing other certifications in functional medicine and nutrition. I think I will be a lifelong student, as the continuing research I encounter, as well as my own research, is absolutely fascinating!
I founded Mission to Wellness in 2007 and I have been symptom-free and off all medications for many years. I walk the talk. Now that I have turned 60 (and having that birthday during a pandemic certainly makes it less eventful), I am focused more than ever on healthy aging and incorporating that concept into my practice.
CZ: How would you define “wellness” for agebuzz readers? Is it something you can concretely measure or is it more a feeling and state of mind? How do you know whether you’re “well” and when you’ve achieved “wellness” or is it always an ongoing goal?
DM: What a great question! I do not think “wellness” is a static moment in time. We are all on our own wellness journeys through life. Situations change and we need to learn how to listen to our bodies and adjust when necessary. I do not separate the mind and the body, as they are connected. There are plenty of physical markers that can be tested, which is important, and equally important is our state of mind. Taking all of that into consideration, I define wellness as a state of balance between our minds, bodies, and spirit.
CZ: Let’s talk about diet: for so many of us, food is both an essential component of our lives yet also a source of distress or worry. How does someone determine what’s the best diet for feeling well, staying active and energetic, and aging in a healthy way?
DM: Hippocrates said that “food is thy medicine and medicine is thy food,” and I certainly believe that what we eat directly impacts our health. So many chronic diseases are primarily caused by our food and lifestyle choices, and many of these can be reversed by making different decisions.
I also think that the word “diet” is confusing. There are so many diets being touted in the news, and it is hard to know what to believe. The truth is that most of these ways of eating are great, but they are not all great for all of us. We each need to find what works for our own unique bodies. Whichever way of eating we want to follow, we still need to have the right critical nutrients: good quality protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates, in the proportions that work for us as individuals. Working with someone who understands these different dietary regimens is a lot easier than trying to figure it all out on your own.
CZ: One commonly used phrase these days is “gut microbiome”- can you talk about this and why it’s so important?
DM: Excellent follow-up question! The Harvard School of Public health defines the microbiome as the community of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and sometimes parasites that live within us and on us. Our skin has its own microbiome, too. Either way, this community needs to be in a state of balance. We have more genes in the microbiome than in the human genome, so a fair question could be are we more microbe or human!
The health of the gut microbiome is important because what happens in the digestive system affects our overall levels of wellness. The bacteria in our digestive tract help us to break down food and they make some vitamins, neurotransmitters, and other vital nutrients that impact our health. They also impact our immune system (most of which is housed in the gut), among other necessary functions. What we eat clearly has a huge role to play in keeping our microbiome in balance.
So many aspects of modern life can cause dysbiosis (an imbalance in the microbial community in the gut). Maybe we can discuss this in more detail in the future! It is a really interesting conversation, especially with all of the research happening right now.
CZ: What about weight? How much should we worry about our weight as we get older?
DM: Weight matters, no question about it. This has really been brought to the forefront with the Covid-19 pandemic, as being overweight was quickly shown to greatly increase the chances of a more severe response to the virus. Being overweight negatively impacts so many areas of our bodies, including hormone balance, metabolism, our digestive systems, and our organs. It can lead to a higher risk of diabetes and dementia, and raise our blood pressure, leading to other problems. Being overweight also puts excess stress on our joints, which is painful. Chronic pain is stressful, and chronic stress leads to more downstream medical issues.
On the other hand, being underweight can lead to an increased risk of fracture and lower immune function. We are looking for a healthy number.
CZ: How does exercise fit into wellness? Is it more important to exercise or to watch what you eat, or both?
DM: Movement is a critical element of overall wellness, mental and physical. The right kinds of exercise can also help with balance, another really important consideration as we age. But we do not have to be going to boot camp! For many people, taking a daily walk is fine. For those of us who can increase the intensity and variety of exercise, that is terrific. If you are new to exercise, it is always best to check with your health provider before beginning an exercise routine. The goal is to find something that you enjoy doing so that you will be more consistent.
We also need to be eating a healthy diet, as our bodies cannot function without the nutrition we get from our food. Plus, the right nutrition will help give us the energy to power through our exercise routines. It is not an either/or situation.
CZ: What’s most important for those of us getting on in years to understand about feeling well and staying healthy? Does the calculus change as you get older?
DM: The most important thing to understand is that just because we are growing older, it does not mean that we shouldn’t still feel vibrant. Eating well, staying hydrated, getting exercise, being mindful, and getting enough rest are all part of the equation. Our bodies do change with age and we may need to change the form of exercise or what we are eating, but that does not mean that we still shouldn’t be feeling well.
One thing I tell all my clients is that our bodies speak to us, but not through the spoken word. They talk to us through how we feel. For example, if you are getting bloated after meals, your body is trying to communicate that something needs to be addressed. Working with a coach will help you determine what that is.
CZ: Please tell us about your business: What services do you provide and how does it work? Is it by membership? Paying for individual coaching sessions? What does the “coaching” include?
DM: There are two main parts to my business: my one-on-one work and my group programs. The one-on-one side is completely customized to the client’s needs and wellness goals, and the group programs are more general, always centered around a theme. Both focus on the mind, body, and spirit, with a big emphasis on nutrition.
The one-on-one clients start with an initial consultation, which runs for about 90 minutes. Should the client and I mutually decide that we are a good fit, then the client registers for a package of six sessions, each about one hour in duration. We generally meet every other week for about three months. The time period certainly is flexible. The coaching includes the sessions followed by a full set of notes, links to pertinent articles and resources, recipes, and whatever else may have come up in our discussion. I am always available for questions and support in between sessions.
CZ: Where are you based? Do you typically work in person or is your work amenable to virtual coaching? After the pandemic recedes, will you still take on virtual clients?
DM: I am based in Westchester County, NY, but due to the magic of technology, I have personal clients and group program participants from a broad geographic region. When it is safe to meet in person, I plan on doing so when possible. The group programs have always been virtual.
CZ: Any final thoughts you want agebuzz readers to understand both about achieving wellness and working with a coach like you?
DM: I firmly believe that each of us both deserves and has the opportunity to live our healthiest and best lives, and my practice is built around that concept. We can and should feel energetic and strong as we age. It is never too late to start putting into action habits that can transform our wellness trajectories for the better.
By working with a coach like me, you will have someone who takes the time to really listen to you, understand and address your concerns. These sessions are not fifteen-minute appointments. A health coach will act as your cheerleader and someone to help hold you accountable while implementing change, step by step, to help you reach your goals.
I am living proof that nutrition and lifestyle adjustments can make huge improvements in our health. I have been through the process myself, so I understand what it takes.