Interview

With McKEL HILL Nutrition Stripped

The Nutrition Stripped founder bares all for a raw and honest interview with BWB’s wellness contributor Rebecca Leffler.

As fad diets and fashionable superfoods trend across the globe, McKel Hill is keeping things simple in Nashville.
Even while swimming in a saturated sea of wellness “experts,” Hill has managed to make waves with her unique, au naturel approach to cooking, beauty and life .
Her website offers a heaping portion of plant-based recipes with a side of advice for staying healthy at home and on the go, all balanced with a generous sense of humor.
Her approach is all about getting back to basics and focusing on whole foods.
When she’s not busy coaching personal clients, writing her first book, interacting with her 165K fans on instagram, or launching a brand new plant-powered clothing line (think “matcha matcha matcha” and “kale made me do it”), she’s on a mission to get people eating their greens …and enjoying it.
The Nutrition Stripped founder bares all for a raw and honest interview with BWB’s wellness contributor Rebecca Leffler.

BWB: Where did your own wellness journey begin?

I’ve always loved food, helping my mom cook in the kitchen and learning the basics of whole food. To this day, the best brussel sprouts I’ve ever had were from my mothers’ garden in the backyard!
Fast forward a bit and it wasn’t until college that I knew teaching others to live optimally through nutrition and lifestyle was really my true “calling.”
I had a growing interest in sports nutrition and was fascinated by the basic fact that what we put into our body directly impacts our athletic performance. That’s where my love of nutrition and its impact on our health really started.

I take pride in my academic career and most often refer to my professional title as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist…with a side of wellness coaching!

BWB: Tell us a bit about your training as a dietician and health coach. What did that entail and how does that help you to stand out amongst the cruciferous-chomping crowd?

Truly, I don’t use the term “health coach” too often because everyone and anyone can call themselves that title and it looses meaning quite frankly. I take pride in my academic career and most often refer to my professional title as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist…with a side of wellness coaching!
Balancing my dietitian hat and my coaching hat are completely different things. Coaching takes a certain finesse – it’s an individual style that I’ve grown into, a practice where I have to be completely centered and utilize a lot of behavior change models coupled with my nutrition expertise, all wrapped into one moment! It’s a beautiful practice and it’s definitely evolved as I’ve evolved as a dietitian. I’ll forever be changing and learning: that’s the beauty of learning so much from my clients (even though they might not know it!).

BWB: Do you still have time for personalized nutrition counseling now that you’re a global superstar?

First off, you’re so kind with that label, and yes! Coaching feeds my soul as much as it helps my clients, there’s truly nothing that could stop me from making that a priority in my schedule.
Nowadays, I’m purposeful about how many clients I take on and when I coach; this helps me make sure I’m bringing 100% of me to the table and not just being “there”, but truly present!
The wellness world is all about labels lately – lots of vegan-paleo-gluten free-raw-mindful-fruitarian-kaleovores roaming the streets these days.

BWB: How would you describe your own eating style in a few words or sentences?

I eat whole, real food that tastes as delicious as it is nourishing to my cells. I’m not a fan of any nutrition or diet dogma, so I have a pretty strong stance on that- here.

Mckel Hill

BWB: Other than feeding your body with amazingly healthy and delicious foods, what do you do to nourish your body and your life?

Putting you first! This sounds selfish at a glance, but my mentality is, if you can’t take care of yourself and make sure you’re “whole”, you certainly can’t be whole and give your best for others, help others, nurture loving relationships, and be the best you can be in the greater scheme of things.
For me that means managing stress, laughing, feeling joy, letting go of egocentric thoughts, surrounding myself with people who are builders and not drainers (in an energy sense), dancing and listening to music.

BWB: What’s your favorite exercise?

I love HIIT training so Barry’s Boot camp is a new favorite of mine, love hiking/walking outside, swimming, Barre3, stretching, anything and everything that moves my body and makes me feel great.

BWB: What’s your favorite way to unwind after a tough day?

Talking a walk outside, breathing fresh air, putting my phone in a different room on silent, drinking tea, talking to friends and family, reading, and/or listening and dancing around to music!

BWB: You’re now an inspiration to … well pretty much anyone wanting to turn his/her passion into a career. Who inspires YOU?

I find inspiration in those who aren’t necessarily in my “field” but those are who living their truth, being authentic, and carrying out their passion and good work with integrity- that’s what inspires me most!
So to list my tops: my father who has taught me a lot about what it takes and means to be an entrepreneur, Sophie Amuruso, Emily Weiss, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Marie Forleo. These are all strong, confident, authentic women who worked incredibly hard from the ground up, to make their passions a dream career.

With my blog, I’m not just the writer but the entire process is on me- food styling, food photography, post editing, design, etc.; which I love, but on a larger scale doing hundreds of recipes it can be intense!

BWB: As a blogger, one might think it would be easier to write a book – you already have your brand, your style, your following… but is it even harder to write a book? What are the challenges involved?

With any major project like writing a book, it’ll have its ups and downs. I use writing my first book, (aka my graduate thesis) as a base for comparison, yet it’s far more challenging on an entirely different level.
Writing a cookbook puts my right brain in full throttle, which is amazing and fun but it’s also quick to burn out so I’ve learned that I had to break it up throughout the year in order to bring my best creative, innovative recipes, and ideas to the table that I’d be proud of in 50 years!
Also, with my blog, I’m not just the writer but the entire process is on me- food styling, food photography, post editing, design, etc.; which I love, but on a larger scale doing hundreds of recipes it can be intense!
For my second cookbook, I’d definitely plan things out differently and that’s totally okay- no one has it figured out!

BWB: What would your dream meal like? Who would you invite (dead or alive)?

Dinner with Jamie Oliver, Meryl Streep, Kristin Wig, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Thich Nhat Hanh. It’d be a good one!

BWB: Summer is winding down. What are your favorite seasonal foods/ meals?

Watermelon for sure! My body craves water rich fruits in the summer more than any other time during the year and I listen in and eat as much as I can fill up on! My Watermelon Gazpacho is a staple during the summer.

BWB: What would a perfect summer day look like for you?

Swimming in the sunshine with my friends, iced tea, homemade paletas, lots of laughter, and absolutely no agenda!

BWB: What are your secrets to finding a work-life balance?

Simply put: setting boundaries.

BWB: Are there any foods or ingredients that you’ve recently discovered that you’re now into?

Not necessarily a “new” ingredient, but one that’s new in my routine; medicinal mushrooms and tonics. They’ve played a big part in my chocolate smoothies as of late!

BWB: What are your favorite kitchen tools / appliances you couldn’t live without?

My vitamix!

BWB: You’re based in Nashville, a region not particularly well known for wellness. Tell us about the health scene there. How has it changed over the past few years? What are the biggest challenges of living there (as opposed to, say, Los Angeles or Bali ?)

I’ve only lived here for a little over 3 years and in that time I’ve seen the food scene in Nashville BOOM, but not necessarily in healthy eating or wellness. I think with Nashville’s amazing community, we have a lot of health found in chefs using local produce and cooking seasonally, but definitely not what many of us would associate with “healthy” or “health-conscious”.

BWB: If you were on a desert island and could only bring 3 foods, what would they be?

The analytic side of me wants to say that I’d forage bananas, coconuts, wild greens, fish and more, so I’ll keep it to almond butter, raspberries, and chocolate!

BWB: You’re glowing on the outside too– any secret natural beauty tips to share?

Eat skin food. Eat food that will nourish you and put in what daily living takes out- i.e. it’s not all about the food but managing stress and making sure hormones are balanced as well as sleeping!

I love dark chocolate and eat it daily!

BWB: What’s your favorite “guilty pleasure”?

Not guilty, totally embrace that I love dark chocolate and eat it daily!

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BWB: What are some of your favorite beauty products?

Tata Harper everything and RMS make up! I like keeping my make up very simple- not using more than 5 things, same with my face care!

mckl hill

BWB: What are your favorite places to visit?

Anywhere with sand, sun, tropical trees, birds, marine life, the ocean, and where it’s totally appropriate to be in a bikini barefoot.

BWB: What’s your favorite meal to serve to carnivores/ healthy food-haters/ family members who may not share your love for kale?

My Sweet Potato Pecan Tacos, Sticky Fig BBQ Tempeh, Popcorn, four ways; and Flourless Chocolate Blackberry Cake!
All recipes on my blog.

BWB: Any other projects in the works for you coming up you can tell us about?

I just launched my new shop that has Nutrition Stripped t-shirts that are selling like mad! It’s been amazing seeing and hearing how excited people are that they can tangibly wear health inspirations during their daily life!
It was also so much fun to design these to be versatile so you can wear them to the gym, out with the girls, under a leather bomber, etc.; they’re so cute.
Besides that, my first cookbook will be out early 2016!!

BWB: What are your long-term goals? I know we’re all about living in the moment, but thought I’d ask! Where do you see yourself…in one year? In 5 years? In 10? In 100? (hey, you eat a lot of kale, it’s definitely possible!)

Ha! It’s quite possible, huh? Who knows what the universe has in store for me, I’d love it to include a lot of passion, happiness, helping others, and growing Nutrition Stripped. Possibly more cookbooks, TV, other media, I truly take it day by day.

“goof vibes” shirt/photography copyright: Amber Ulmer

Rebecca Leffler

Rebecca Leffler is a writer, journalist and wellness consultant. She is the author of best-selling French book Green, Glam & Gourmande and follow-up title Green, Glam & Happy. Her book “Très green, très clean, très chic: Eat (and live!) the new French way with plant-based, gluten-free recipes for every season” was released in 2015. Follow Rebecca at Lafleurparisny.com.

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