Isa-Welly Locoh-Donou is a Registered Nutritionist, Wellness Coach, and founder of www.isawelly.com, a platform for women to discover how to eliminate physical and mental fatigue and gain energy, clarity and confidence. Isa has created a holistic method which includes fitness, spirituality and nutrition and offers coaching through online Pilates classes and 1-on-1 wellness and dietary consultations. Her tailored approach focuses on which movements will benefit your body the most, as well as the best nutritional elements to bring your metabolism to peak performance and optimise energy. By combining these three elements and individualising your routine, balance can be achieved.
Read on for how Isa incorporates her philosophy and practise into her own day-to-day.
When do you usually wake up in the morning? Can you tell us a little about your routine?
I tend to wake up at 6 AM in summer and 6:30 AM - 7 AM during the colder months. I wouldn’t say that I am a morning person as such, but I love quiet mornings. As a Registered Nutritionist and Wellness Coach my work consists of helping tired and overwhelmed women eliminate fatigue and stress through better nutrition and wellbeing habits so they can thrive in life and at work. Mornings are the perfect time to refill my cup before giving support and motivation to my clients and allow me time to regroup, move and do whatever feels good for me. The first thing I do is scrape my tongue and do some oil pulling - both great for oral health. Our oral health has a direct impact on the rest of our health, so I try my best to stay on top of it. I then move my body for 30 minutes and meditate if I feel the need to ground myself a little.
Do you eat breakfast? If so, what is your go-to?
I absolutely do. I could not function without breakfast. It’s the meal that impacts your energy levels, food choices, and mood for the rest of the day. So, taking the time to make it tasty and healthy goes a long way. I don’t have a specific go-to as I tend to eat leftovers from dinner but my top four are, eggs - boiled or fried with vegetables and toast, sauteed lentils, carrots, zucchini and spinach in a wrap, sardines and chilli flakes on toast or quinoa and stewed apple porridge which I'm really into at the moment.
Do you take any supplements?
I do. I’ve been working on my gut health for a few years now and have successfully gone through different protocols to bring it to balance. After retiring as a professional dancer, my gut wasn't in the best state. I had bacteria overgrowth, and infections that were wreaking my overall health, especially my skin and mood. Gut health as we've been learning the past few years has a really big impact on the rest of our health, so it's important to nourish it and make sure it is functioning optimally. Vitamin D, Zinc, and Astragalus are my current daily supplements, plus, I also take some probiotics to keep supporting my gut and overall health. When it comes to probiotics, there are so many on the market, it is important to understand if you need it and what for. That will help you choose the right strain.
Are you a coffee or tea drinker?
I love coffee but it messes with my energy levels and sugar cravings. I tend to stick to green tea and herbal blends.
Do you snack in between breakfast and lunch? What are some of your favorite snacks?
Most of the time no, but when I’m menstruating and feel like swallowing the whole fridge I do. I love dark chocolate dipped in almond butter, apples, smoothies, and tortilla chips, though with the chips, I try my best to not buy them as I can not for the life of me just have a few. It’s the whole pack or nothing.
How much water will you drink in a day? Do you add anything to your water?
On average two to three litres of plain water.
What’s your go-to lunch?
A mixed bowl: roasted vegetables, quinoa, sardines or lentils, and a huge handful of spinach. I love those big bowls. They really feel nourishing and satisfying. And more importantly, are easy to digest. I'm all about meals that will sustain my productivity and energy levels.
If you go out for lunch or get takeout, what’s your favorite restaurant?
I love Rochelle Canteen in London. It has to be one of my favorite places for lunch.
Do you snack in the afternoon for a pick-me-up?
No, because my meals are often filling enough. I used to be a big snacker and small eater. But eventually, I realised that made my gut health worse, as my digestive system never got to rest. So, what I do now and teach my clients is to have big enough meals with enough healthy fats and complex carbs to help eliminate snacking habits.
What’s your ideal dinner? Are you a good cook? What recipe books do you always turn to?
I love grilled fish and yam. I think I’m an ok cook. I like to improvise when I'm in the kitchen, so I rarely use any cookbooks. I will usually pick one ingredient that I know I want to eat and then improvise around it. My favourite meals are often Togolese beans because I guess that's what I grew up eating, but they take so long to cook so I tend to save these for weekends.
What about dessert? Do you have a sweet tooth?
I used to have a sweet tooth but not so much anymore. I stopped eating processed sugar to reset my gut and since then, I’ve never really gone back to it. Fruits, dark chocolate, and nut butters are my go-to sweeteners.
Do you drink? If so, do you have a favorite cocktail?
I’m a red wine, heavy body kind of girl. But that's another thing that I've had to cut down dramatically to help heal my gut. And though I missed it at first, I do not regret it. It really, really helped the healing process to change my drinking habits from 2/3 times a week to perhaps once a month, sometimes even less. Alcohol can be a tricky one to balance. It's something most of us enjoy having in social gatherings so we attach that aspect of fun and joy to it. And that's exactly why it's so challenging to reduce it or cut it out completely; we feel punished if we have to do so and feel like we are disappointing our friends, we are boring and so on… But in reality, what we need is to reframe how we see alcohol and if we want or need to cut it down or stop it, why? I teach my clients about putting the big why first. If your health is at risk, I think it's much easier to reduce and stick to it. As a Nutritionist, I think it's all about balance and moderation.
How about before you go to bed? Do you have a favorite bedtime tea or a ritual that helps you sleep?
I love making my own bedtime blend of tea with passionflower, chamomile, and lemon balm. I buy the herbs separately and just mix them together. And I’ll have that while I spend a ridiculous amount of time in the bathroom cleansing and prepping my skin before bed.