Jul. 28. 2016
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped® and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

I make a lot of mention on the blog about the Nutrition Stripped lifestyle in recipe and advice posts. But what does the Nutrition Stripped lifestyle truly mean? Today I’m starting a new series that will go into detail of each pillar of the NS lifestyle and what you can do beyond nutrition to find your balanced wellbeing. I hope that this series helps you simplify nutrition and wellness and is a tool for finding balance and health. Keep reading to learn about the first pillar of the NS lifestyle!

To start, the NS lifestyle is based on 10 areas of wellness that I think are vital to a balanced wellbeing:

♦ 01. SQUAD ♦ 02. STRESS ♦ 03. BODY ♦ 04. NOURISHMENT ♦ 05. LOVE ♦ 06. SLEEP ♦ 07. EXPLORE ♦ 08. CENTER ♦ 09. MANIFEST ♦ 10. NATURE

The first element of the NS lifestyle is your squad, and that’s not by coincidence! Who you surround yourself with is incredibly important to feeling balanced and living a healthy lifestyle. Working towards positive and encouraging relationships and spending time with your friends and family gives you the support you need to stay on track and feeling your best. I’ve shared my four tips for creating and keeping a solid squad to keep you on track towards health and wellbeing.


Positivity. Support yourself with positivity from the people you engage with, places you visit, work you do, and community you live in. Know you always have a community here at NS! Think about your relationships and follow ones that make you feel joy, happiness, inspiration, and love. Think about what things truly make your heart happy.


Lose the negative. Look for any ego-boosting or ego-triggering people or relationships in your life. Be intentional about who and what you let into your mind and subconscious. Consciously find the people that make you smile, laugh, feel happiness, feel light, and do more of those things! Be choosy and be respectful of your authenticity and your true self. Surround yourself with resources, people, and things that ignite inspiration in you, not from an ego-driven place but from love. For me, turning to family, friends, and branching out into the community (yes it can be vulnerable) helps me find my tribe. Added bonus, YOU’re my tribe!


Schedule time. Spend more time with loved ones and live it up! Even if it’s just meeting a good friend for coffee or tea to chat about life and what’s going on can be a huge boost. I recommend putting your phones away while doing so and not checking your phone while chatting or gossiping about what XYZ is doing, etc. Instead work to be truly engaged with your loved ones, making sure to check in and be present with them. Listen to every word they have to say with passion and just “being”– this is so crucial and something I’ve brought into my life that has had the biggest “ROI” (return on investment) ever. Make a date this week with a friend, your love, or family member and plan to sit and talk. Put away everything and give each other your full attention, bringing your heart to each word.


Set boundaries. Boundaries come in the form of so many things, so let’s dive into this one. They can be physical boundaries with certain people, places, or situations that leave you feeling uneasy. It can also be about setting boundaries from work and creating space for personal time. One thing my acupuncturist told me that I’ll never forget is to ask yourself, “How do you feel after you’re around this person– what is the aftertaste?”. I utilize this with every interaction I have and if that person or situation doesn’t sit well with me, chances are I don’t make an effort to engage in that relationship again. What are ways you can set boundaries with your energy and who you choose to be in your life?

Try it for yourself!

Spend some time in your morning routine to journal through your relationships. Who do you need to spend more time with? Who would you like to get to know better? Is there anyone who you need to set up boundaries with? I hope these tips for doing just that help you build a solid foundation for your squad so that your hard work towards finding a balanced wellbeing is supported and encouraged by those around you!

xx McKel