Jan. 8. 2018
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped® and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

Say hello, to the first annual letter to you, the NS community!

It’s already the “New Year”, but I want to take this time and share my reflections this past year — it’s just as important if not more important than setting intentions and planning for the future. I’ve been deeply inspired to write a letter to you guys, unlike others I’ve ever shared, think of this as an in-depth recap of what happened in 2017.

I’m writing this for you as much as I’m writing (if not more) for myself and the team so we can remember to celebrate our highs and respect our resiliency from the lows. When we reflect, that’s where we get to the juicy stuff that keeps us growing and learning from our mistakes just as much as our wins. My goal and you heard it first, is to write one of these each year reflecting on what the previous year was, so here we go.

A New Website, New Year, Same Mission.

We may have gotten a big makeover, but why we’re here and why I get up each morning, is still the same. To help you feel your best — from my personal experiences, expertise as a dietitian, to making it simple to learn about nutrition and how your lifestyle impacts your health. Our mission has stayed the same since day one (January 22, 2013!) and going strong. If you want to dive a little deeper, here’s the About page.

Global Family

Our community is the best part of it all — the connections we’ve made through the comments section, emails, and social media are incredibly rewarding.

  1. Traffic: our main traffic source is organic from a google search — this is awesome! That means people are literally typing in “nutrition stripped” or some recipe, health topic, or nutrition article and we’re popping up in the top. Thank you for sharing the word about NS with your loved ones and your community, it’s because of you that we’re in…
  2. Readers in 186 countries (!)
  3. Most of our readers are located in the United States followed by the UK
  4. #nutritionstripped hashtags used increased 32.6% in 2017 from 2016

Content We Shared

From the inception of the blog, I set a goal that I would write every Tuesday and Friday for a total of 2 blog posts, in 2015 my goal was 3 blog posts a week, and fast forward last year our goal was slightly ambitious at 5 blog posts a week. Sometimes I got to it and most of the time I didn’t. I’m proud that we’ve always had at least 2 blog posts go up each week with new information, every Tuesday a recipe and every Friday educational or insightful post. Our goal this year is to continue focusing on quality over quantity — but with that said our editorial calendar is packed for the next several months, almost 5 days a week! I want to aim realistically at what we can manage, but 4 blog posts a week is our goal. If you have specific topics you want to see covered here, please comment below!

Favorite blog posts:

  1. Mint Feel Amazing Fudge
  2. Red Lentil Daal with Coconut and Squash
  3. Matcha Tea, Elevated
  4. Simple Lemon Berry Bars
  5. Fluffy Gluten-Free Blueberry Pancakes

Most popular blog posts:

  1. 10 Plant-Based Proteins You Should Be Eating
  2. Turmeric Milk
  3. Matcha Tea Latte

Most commented blog posts ever:

  1. Turmeric Milk 
  2. Simply Infused Water 
  3. Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Most liked Instagram image — left (click here):

Most commented Instagram image — The Great Cookie Debate right (click here):

Learning Lessons In Health

My biggest learning lesson from 2017 was about…my health. Despite my natural optimistic/realist attitude, I had quite the year from highs of feeling “amazing” and but mostly weeks-months not feeling good at all. Our bodies have a beautiful way, truly beautiful, of showing us or sending messages that something’s off. Whether you feel it, think it, or literally have signs and symptoms of something out of sync, your body will share that message with you — almost like “hello? hey, do you remember me?”

I found myself putting everything else first, before taking care of myself — and mostly work. I started to feel like I was feeding this machine that wasn’t feeding me back equally. I’ve shared my health story many times, but what happened this year was all of those things I dealt with before started to manifest again and in new ways. From experiencing migraines, gut issues, hormonal imbalances, some out of sync labs, and so on. I wasn’t frustrated nor surprised that these lifestyle-related health struggles crept back into my life since I kept pushing forward to keep up with the fast pace of last year, rather than taking care of myself first and foremost.

Out of our greatest challenges always come the “ah-ha” moment and that turning point and for me that was it. I took action and for the first time last year I took on fewer clients, took more time to rest, and said no to meetings more — it felt amazing and I knew it was the right thing to do. If I couldn’t show up for myself fully there was no way I could serve others to the high standard I have.

After taking some pockets of time off work during the year, I had the space I needed to take care of myself and started to feel like myself again (and really good!). It started with the little things, revisiting my Morning Routine, adding meditation more frequently (I’ve really been loving TM meditation), reading books at night, and most importantly when I leave the office I’m mentally “leaving” work as well with no carry over into my evening. There’s still more I’m currently practicing and will share that with you after I’ve guinea pigged it.

I share this with you because health professionals aren’t immune to health challenges. If anything, it’s been the most amazing thing to connect with my peers and colleagues who have also dealt with the similar issues. I felt supported, courageous in my vulnerability, and also motivated to be transparent with you guys about what you don’t see behind the scenes. It’s okay not to feel amazing or okay all the time — you’re human!

What I Learned Keeps Me Feeling My Best…

  • My morning routine truly keeps me grounded — I’m a person who thrives on routine and needs some structure to feel more proactive than reactive throughout the day
  • There’s nothing better than taking a walk to get energized
  • Setting boundaries with work are crucial! 2017 was full of more 12-14 hour workdays (6 days a week) than I could manage from a health standpoint. It’s natural for me to be incredibly hard working and I overdo it most days, setting a “normal” 8-hour workday is something I have to continuously practice
  • Connecting with friends and family on facetime keeps my head on straight and heart full
  • Spending time with my love fills me with joy and gratitude — and is also the best reminder that happiness and living a full life is the goal each day
  • Taking a break from social media isn’t only a nice reset button, but it’s necessary
  • I love writing, cooking, and getting creative — I’ve made some changes in my schedule this year to reflect more time for me to dive deep into these areas
  • I use the word “no” more often. I’m deeply grateful that I’m asked a lot of me each day, from meetings, coaching new clients, events, etc. and this year I exercised my “no” muscle more than ever and guess what? It felt great.
  • Drinking water and eating your greens = good
  • Girls night out or in, with champagne does my heart good #fun
  • Reading books on self-development, discovery, and professionally keep me feeling focused
  • I’m more productive with 1) a great nights sleep, 2) morning run, 3) meditation, 4) good food, and 5) journaling/planning my day
  • I can make an insanely good “end of the week” vegetable lentil daal using random ingredients — this dish saved me from skipping meals
  • Writing and connecting with you guys! Sometimes there are comments, other times they aren’t, but just know as I write these posts it’s a 2-way conversation (happening below) and I’d love to chat!

Reflection Questions To Ask Yourself

Here are some questions that guided my discovery of what was working and what wasn’t working. I hope this helps you in your exercise of reflection:

  • What are you most proud of?
  • When was a time you were resilient?
  • What was your biggest learning lessons from 2017?
  • Describe 2017 in one word
  • Did you step outside your comfort zone? How did it feel?
  • How did you show up for yourself? For others?
  • Were you fully present? If no, why not? Where could you have been more present?
  • Were you kind? Could you have been kinder?
  • How did you let go? i.e. let go of self-doubt, negative self-talk, a situation, relationships, etc.

So happy New Year NS fam, I can’t thank you enough for your support! You give me the strength to keep doing what I’m doing and I hope so much that I can keep making a positive contribution to your lives! I have really exciting things in the works right now and into 2018 — I can’t wait to share those moments with you as they come.

With love,

xx McKel