HEALTH and wellness coach Natalie Murray is a strong believer in the adage that nothing happens before its time.
“I also believe that everything happens exactly the way it is supposed to when you trust and believe,” she told JIS News.
The director of the recently opened Life Store Wellness Centre Boutique on Constant Spring Road in St Andrew said that “the third time was the charm” in getting the business off the ground in the midst of a pandemic with seemingly no end in sight.
“So here we go with our third attempt at a launch ceremony that has been COVID-delayed, but eventually took place in December 2020,” she said. A certified health coach and spinning instructor, Murray has been in the fitness industry for nine years, seven of which she has spent doing health coaching. She said that her path into health and wellness came after 18 years in the corporate world as a banker.
Armed with an economics degree and a Master of Business Administration degree in finance, she saw banking as a natural career path, but she felt unfulfilled.
“I was going to this beautiful job in this beautiful location, with these amazing people but I just wasn't happy. I was good at it, but it just wasn't the thing that made my soul sing,” Murray said.
She added that she has always been into health and wellness and her father had instilled in her, at a very young age, “the link between what you eat and how you feel and the importance of diet and lifestyle. So I was looking for the next step, because I knew there had to be a next step.”
Murray said she then set about putting things in motion in preparation for a career change. She completed a health and wellness programme and started coaching for about three years, while still doing banking.
“Then I thought, 'Natalie, you need to make a decision' because indecision, I think, is the worst form of self-abuse,” she stated. “I eventually took the leap and left the corporate world in 2016 and then opened this space in 2020, two weeks before COVID,” she said.
She said that, initially, the business was doing well “then it was like the bottom fell out and that was really scary”.
“I would go home at night wondering what is going to happen and then I had to remind myself to be relevant, provide information, be a sounding board, keep putting out, pretend that COVID isn't there and just do the fundamentals, and little by little, things started to come back and we're developing a nice little name for ourselves,” she noted.
Murray said that through her practice, she has found that there are too many people who do not take the time to take care of themselves.
“The majority of us fail to realise that every decision that we make takes us either closer to or further away from our optimal self,” she notes.
“Every decision about what to eat, drink, clean our house with and do with our spare time is vitally important, because what we are learning more and more through scientific studies is that whereas our genetics and our deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) gives us a blueprint, how we live our life is a more significant marker for the expression of disease,” she added
This is called epigenetics, which in simple terms is the study of how one's behaviour and environment can cause changes that affect the way their genes work. Epigenetics, Murray noted, is “very empowering” because it provides individuals with the opportunity to control their own health.
She pointed out that wellness is not defined as the absence of illness, but rather complete mind, body, soul alignment towards your optimal self.
The Life Store, she said, therefore, creates a space to encourage conversations in wellness, to teach people, share information and to demonstrate that living healthy can be easy, fun and vibrant.
A one-stop shop for holistic living, it provides a variety of organic products to promote healthy eating, skincare and lifestyle.
For Murray, it was just providing a place where people would feel welcome, not intimidated, and can access items that are tasty and good for the body at the same time.
She noted that the Life Store is a family business and is very supportive of Jamaican entrepreneurs, carrying different locally-made products.
The products are carefully curated to meet the needs of people with varying dietary requirements such as vegan, paleolithic (lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds) ketogenic (very low carb, high fat), gluten-free, soy-free or dairy-free.
Murray explained that there are also products for the home “because how you clean your home is super important cause you smell it and you walk on it and you put it on your skin. All of that goes into your body”.
Speaking at the store opening, state minister in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Juliet Cuthbert Flynn commended the operators of the Life Store for taking the bold step in opening a business that is focused on improving the health and well-being of citizens.
“The Ministry of Health and Wellness is pleased with your commitment to not just operating a viable business in this current climate but your commitment to wellness and genuine passion to educate Jamaicans on better wellness solutions,” Cuthbert Flynn said. The state minister said that the store is considered to be a partner with the ministry in achieving wellness for all Jamaicans. “The opening of The Life Store Wellness Boutique… will aid Jamaicans in adopting a new lifestyle, and we at the ministry are happy for that,” she added.