Today, I’m excited to introduce you to team member Cindy Solkin. She’s a holistic nutritionist, Pilates instructor and personal life coach. She works with clients who have a variety of health issues, with special experience in inflammatory issues, auto-immune conditions, allergies, weight management, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, migraines and cancer. Cindy has also developed a program for emotional eating, called Freedom from the Fridge. Read on to learn more about Cindy!
Dr. Jeda Boughton (JB): How do you describe what you do for your clients when they come to you for help?
Cindy Solkin (CS): Usually I tell people that I can help them make order out of chaos with their lifestyle habits, depending on the problem. For example, I can help them find harmony with food, or balance with their body, or both.
JB: How did you get into nutrition; what got you interested? When did you first learn about Holistic Nutrition?
CS: Food has been a passion my entire life. I was a professional cook for fifteen years, working in restaurants and catering. I first became interested in healthy eating when my kids were small. I wanted to feed them well. So becoming a holistic nutritionist seemed an organic development of that.
JB: Wow, I didn’t know you were a professional cook! Having that knowledge and experience must be so valuable in your line of work now. How well-known was Holistic Nutrition when you got into it, and how does it differ from being a dietician?
CS: That’s a really good question! I think there’s a lot of confusion surrounding this.
I feel that Holistic Nutrition is not well-recognized in Canada, which is unfortunate because we can help so many people! Formally, the main difference is that holistic nutrition is a certification while dietetics is usually a degree program. Dieticians are taught the science of nutrition, whereas holistic nutritionists are trained to treat their clients using the science.
Also, dieticians are a regulated profession in Canada, whereas holistic nutrition is not. In my view that’s an advantage for holistic nutritionists, because it gives us the freedom to address the client’s whole life, not just what they eat.
So, if someone has migraines, for example, we would examine their diet, their exposure to stress, their exercise, work and family life, family history, hormonal balance, sleep, exposure to toxins, underlying conditions and so on. And we can help them reach harmony. We don’t just count calories or examine macro nutrients.
JB: That sounds like the whole package. What other types of studies and education have you completed?
CS: I have an Honours BA in both Philosophy and Religious Studies from McGill, and an MA in Comparative Religions from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. My holistic health studies began with a certification in Aromatherapy in 1993, followed by a three-year certification in Holistic Nutrition from The Reidman College for Complementary and Integrative Medicine in Tel Aviv. I also received certifications in Bach Remedies, Guided Imagery, and Holistic Coaching there. Additionally, I pursued private studies in emotional coaching and homotoxicology, which is the use of homeopathic remedies to eliminate toxins from your body. And then of course, I also became a Pilates instructor. It’s a long list.
JB: You have a lot of education! How long have you been a Pilates instructor?
CS: I became a certified instructor in mat, equipment and special populations (such as pregnancy, autoimmune diseases, and scoliosis) in 2015. But I had been a practicing devotee of Pilates for years before that.
Q: Which tools do you tend to use most in your practice?
CS: I have a tendency to bring all my knowledge and experience together whenever I’m teaching Pilates or seeing a nutrition client. In both, I rely on my personal experiences and my own journey to health to help keep me connected with what my client needs.
JB: What is your intake and treatment process when you are working with a client? Do you always start with an assessment or some other protocol or does it depend on what their issue is?
CS: All clients fill out a detailed questionnaire which we go over together. Any problems or pain are identified and discussed, as well as personal health goals. This is followed by a physical postural assessment, and then we get to work! All Pilates programs are personalized in accordance with the client’s needs.
JB: Are there any specific conditions, or imbalances that you tend to treat a lot with holistic nutrition, or that your style of treatment works really well for?
CS: Often the people who come to me don’t really know what’s wrong, so deciphering their needs and conditions becomes really important. I tend to work with people with complex histories, such as chronic h pylori or food sensitivities, hormonal imbalances or inflammation. These conditions tend to snowball and exacerbate over time if not properly addressed. I have also worked with cancer patients. But my true gift, if I may say so, is in addressing emotional eating. We all know what we need to do to eat well, but we don’t always have the proper tools. I help people bridge that gap.
JB: Can you speak a bit more about the reformer and how it can help people with their fitness and recovery goals? How is it different than mat and how does it benefit the session?
CS: The reformer allows people to move in ways that might not be possible on the mat.
When you’re on the floor, the basic tools you have are gravity and the weight of your own body. This can be very effective, but also challenging in some instances, such as for clients with chronic pain. The reformer provides support and allows the instructor to adapt all exercises to the client’s needs and health profile, so that they can move comfortably while improving muscle tone, strength and balance. It’s also a lot of fun!
JB: With Pilates, do you mainly work with clients who are recovering from injury or do you see clients that are simply staying healthy and active?
CS: I have worked a lot with pregnant and post-partum women, especially those with diastasis recti issues (you know who you are 😊). I tend to work well with people suffering from chronic pain or auto-immune issues such as MS, Parkinson’s, arthritis or fibromyalgia, and also people recovering from injury or illness. Recovery is sort of my specialty. While I love to teach healthy, active people and help them enjoy their movement and increase their health and wellness, people with illness and injury need special attention on their journey to recovery.
JB: I love that you work with pregnant and postpartum women! Is there special equipment that you use?
CS: I have worked a lot with pregnant and post-partum women. Did you know that pregnant women can do Pilates right through their third trimester? I have a special support cushion designed especially to help them do that! Practicing Pilates can help keep women keep fit throughout pregnancy without risk of injury, and it can also help them recover quickly after birth. In working with women post-partum we focus on rebalancing their body and muscles, especially the pelvic floor and abdominals, to recover tone and strength.
JB: What kinds of things do you do for yourself to stay fit and healthy?
CS: Let me first state that staying fit and healthy is a real challenge for me. I have struggled with overweight and with auto-immune issues and hormonal imbalance my whole life. I think that helps me identify better with my clients. But I can’t let that stop me because eating wisely and exercising keep me well, and I believe that fitness comes in all shapes and sizes. I have been a vegetarian for 45 years. I like to cook, I walk outside to enjoy the trees and fresh air, and I meditate daily. And of course, I do as much Pilates as I can!
JB: You already have several skill sets and roles, I’m just wondering what’s next for you professionally? Are you planning on doing additional studies or courses or do you want to evolve in a particular area with your practice? How do you see the next few years rolling out?
CS: Professionally I’d like to focus on encouraging awareness of and promoting my flagship program, Freedom from the Fridge. It combines nutritional and coaching tools to help people stop eating emotionally and help them re-establish harmony with food. So many people have issues with food and are frustrated with their efforts to overcome them. Freedom from the Fridge provides them with the tools they need to help resolve those issues. Also, while I was in private practice in Israel I worked for ten years on a magnificent diagnostic machine called the Biomeridian Vantage, which can evaluate organ and system imbalances and help pinpoint food sensitivities and intolerances. It works through transdermal conductivity and is completely painless and non-invasive. It’s very effective and I would love to integrate it into my nutrition practice at Bodahealth!
JB: That sounds exciting! I can’t wait to learn more about the Biomeridian machine. On a closing note, is there anything else you would like to tell people if they’re looking for help with nutrition, an injury, if they’re just curious about Pilates in general or anything else we talked about?
CS: Two things: Treat yourself to good professional help. Dr. Google is a poor nutritionist! Even if you think you know everything you need to know about food and nutrition, if you’re suffering from symptoms such as gas, bloating, headache, fatigue or have a diagnosed issue such as IBS or hypothyroid, you need a nutritionist! I’ve helped so many clients get relief from symptoms they’ve been suffering from for years. Don’t let that be you. Also, even if you’ve tried all other exercise modalities – HIIT, yoga, aerobics – or if you’ve never exercised before and think it isn’t for you, you really should try Pilates! Pilates really is for everybody – and every ‘body’ can benefit from it.
About Cindy Solkin:
After receiving her BA in religious studies and philosophy at McGill University and her MA in religion from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Cindy Solkin turned her attention to holistic health. She received her certification in Holistic Nutrition from the Reidman College for Complementary and Integrative Medicine in Tel Aviv, followed by certifications in Bach Remedies, Guided Imagery and Holistic Coaching. She is also a certified Pilates instructor in mat, equipment and working with special populations, such as pregnancy, autoimmune conditions and scoliosis.
To learn more about Cindy Solkin, visit her full bio here and stay tuned for more Practitioner Spotlight interviews from the BodaHealth team.