Reducing Toxins with Amanda Koch of My Well Balanced Life: Podcast Episode #199
August 16, 2023

Reducing Toxins with Amanda Koch of My Well Balanced Life: Podcast Episode #199

Kristin Revere chats with Amanda Koch of My Well Balanced Life about how to reduce the toxins in your life!  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes, SoundCloud, or wherever you find your podcasts.

Welcome.  You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting.  Let’s chat!

Kristin:  Hello, this is Kristin Revere with Ask the Doulas, and I am excited to chat with Amanda Koch today.  Amanda is a wellness expert who’s been sharing her extensive knowledge of healthy living for 20 years as a Pilates master trainer and nutritional therapy practitioner.  Amanda has been taking inspiration from her own health struggles and transformed them into amazing opportunities to help thousands of people live healthier lives through the use of real food, healthy movement, and safer products.  After crawling through the trenches of infertility, multiple miscarriages, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, Amanda created My Well Balanced Life as a way to help women find their way back to optimal health and develop flourishing businesses of their own.  She works her magic by using honesty, vulnerability, and humor to show that while challenges are inevitable, we must take charge of our own health to ultimately rediscover joy.  She somehow makes you want to drink green smoothies, clean up your bathroom products, and exercise just for fun.  When Amanda’s not wearing the many hats of her wellness biz, you’ll find her loving her Texas roots, laughing hysterically with her retired fighter pilot husband, and watching all the sports with her two boys, and probably dancing in the kitchen.  Welcome, Amanda!

Amanda:  Thank you so much for having me today!

Kristin:  So happy to have you here!  And with your background, we could have so many different conversations for this podcast, but today, we are focused on reducing toxins for optimal health.  So let’s get into it, Amanda!

Amanda:  Let’s do it.

Kristin:  So what – you know, as many of our listeners are pregnant or newly postpartum, let’s dive into the importance of having safe cleaning products and even safe and healthy products to apply to their skin.

Amanda:  Yes, I think it’s one of those things that we know so many basics about wellness and health that we hear about a lot that are typically related to food and exercise and things like that, and I think that the whole idea of safer products or just paying attention to really the large amount of things that we expose ourselves to daily is not as front of mind, even though I think it’s getting a lot better, and whether you’re in the stage of trying to conceive or during pregnancy or you’ve just had babies and you’re in that phase of life, it really is such a significant thing to pay attention to, and to be honest, it’s one of the easier things to tackle once you make the decision to dive in.

Kristin:  So what are your tips for just going through cabinets and replacing items, whether it’s, again, anything from a moisturizer to makeup to cleaning products?  What can you keep, and what do you absolutely need to get rid of?

Amanda:  Well, you know, everybody kind of has their things, like I refuse to part with this one thing, and I usually tell people, okay, if you’re not willing to get rid of that, then we need to get rid of the other things, just to minimize toxin exposure, and that’s really what it comes down to.  You’re never going to be able to completely avoid all toxins, and that would just drive you crazy, and you’d run out of money.  But really the point is to reduce because when you reduce your exposure to all these things, your body is just freed up to function optimally the way it’s supposed to.  And so instead of throwing things in our path with all these toxins and just slowing it down and causing things to not work properly, this is a really good way to just minimize.  And so I usually tell people, everybody’s different, whether you’re working on it just for yourself or if you have a family.  There’s different ways to really recognize, whether you want to go room by room; that’s how some people like to tackle it.  I personally like to tackle it by determining which things are going to stay on my skin or I’m going to be exposed to the most, and as well as I have a family of four, so which things affect everybody.  So that’s kind of one of those ones where I think, okay, what are the things that affect everybody in our household, because if you change those first, it’s going to make the biggest impact.  So that’s going to be – maybe it’s your laundry products.  Maybe it’s deodorant.  Maybe it’s your cleaning products that you’re using in your house.  That’s a really good way to tackle it.

Kristin:  And pregnancy is a good time to do that because the sense of smell is so much more intense.  So you don’t want to have things that have a lot of perfume or extra fragrance, and so not only are you helping your own body and baby, but it’s also good for others in the family, as well.

Amanda:  Correct.  And gosh, there’s nothing like that intense – the intensity of your ability to smell when you’re pregnant, right?  It’s like, oh, my goodness, you didn’t realize – I remember I used to just walk into my pantry, and I don’t even know what I would smell, but it was enough to send me running out of there.  But yes, so everything from – whether it’s just sensitivity, just that the smells are really strong, and I know once you start to cut down on that, you really – like, if you walk into a place that has a really strong smell or fragrance or that kind of thing, it just seems so overwhelming once you’ve started to reduce it, or I know I can just pick out if somebody has – if my son leaves his hoodie at somebody’s house and they wash it in a traditional detergent and then it comes back, I’m like, oh, my goodness, it’s so strong.  So it’s really nice to kind of minimize in that way.  You start to realize how strong some of these chemicals are.  But from more of a serious standpoint as well, when babies are born, it’s been known that there’s over 200 chemicals in the umbilical cord that the mom has been exposed to and then the baby has been exposed to.  And I don’t say that to be scary or anything like that, just to realize that there is a significant impact.  You just want to set – obviously, yourself, but then your newborn up for success and not have them having to fight off some of these things.  Everything from – they can be linked to eczema, skin issues, anything like that.  And so being able to minimize that just makes you feel as if you are doing something very proactive in those days.

Kristin:  Exactly.  And I know we certainly talked to our birth and postpartum doula clients about products for their newborn and when they’re registering for baby showers, just hospitals tend to give those products like, say, Johnson & Johnson that have chemicals in them that you would often want to avoid.  So we talk to our clients about different options and bringing some of their own products or just wiping off their baby versus having a full bath at the hospital and so on.

Amanda:  Right, exactly.  And I think we’re fortunate.  We’re now getting into a day and age where it is becoming more common for people to pay attention to it, as well as companies stepping into that space and wanting to provide safer solutions and safer options.  It’s a lot easier to find it.  I know my kids are a little bit older.  I have an 18-year-old and a 10-year-old.  But really, when I was in the midst of this, when I was in between, when I was really struggling to have my second baby, and it wasn’t as common to be able to do that.  You really had to struggle to find it or even make your own.  And so it’s just nice that it’s becoming more popular.

Kristin:  Right, and even making your own baby food, like many of our clients do that.  I did it with my kids.  And there is such a focus – I know as a nutritionist and talking to your clients about their health and pregnancy and certainly in the postpartum phase, you having a clean diet and avoiding processed foods, avoiding fruits and vegetables with chemicals and buying organic if at all possible in the budget.  So let’s get into a bit about food and choices that can be made, even in that pre-conception stage.  I know you mentioned fertility earlier.

Amanda:  Right, yes.  And when I was struggling with my fertility, it was secondary infertility.  I did have my first child without any issues, and then kind of spiraled out of control.  And I think the beauty in it was that I knew my body was capable of having a healthy baby because it had done it, and so it really gave me that encouragement and motivation to figure out why my body was not doing what it was supposed to do.  And so again, like I was saying, this was over a decade ago, so a little bit of the information was harder to find.  You know, I really wasn’t given any real reason for why I kept having miscarriage after miscarriage.  The doctors just basically told me that I was too old.  My eggs were bad.  And at that point, I was, like, 32 when it started, and I was kind of like…

Kristin:  That’s young.

Amanda:  I know.  At least, I thought it was young.  I really think it was young now that I’m much older, when I look back on that.  But I just kind of remember thinking, like, that’s not a good enough answer, and I don’t feel as if you’re basing that on any real concrete reason.  You’re just kind of guessing.  And I had some lovely doctors back then, but I really felt as if they just didn’t know what to tell me.  And so that’s when I just kind of thought, you know what, I’m going to make some changes, and of course, back then, everybody thought I was a bit crazy, but you know, that’s okay.  I have embraced the crazy right now.  But I just really started to change my diet and change the products that we were using, and it wasn’t anything major, and I always like to really encourage people with that.  It’s not about perfection.  Your body doesn’t need a perfect state to function optimally.  But it does need a healthy state.  If it’s being inundated with a bad diet, lots of processed foods, toxic chemicals, it’s just going to struggle.  It’s just going to prioritize things that maybe you don’t want it to, or just to stay in a good enough state.  And so I really started to just focus on eating whole foods, on trying to eliminate any processed junk, anything that I didn’t need, and I stopped eating gluten at that time and just trying to see, will this make a difference.  And I eventually was able to have my second son with no medical intervention or no medical drugs to help that.  Just a few years of just being committed to restoring my body back to an optimal state of health to be able to carry another baby.

Kristin:  Yes, exactly.  And it’s so easy to make these changes, but it can be expensive.  I mean, even looking at maternity clothing and it’s a temporary time.  I know I was able to use some of my regular pre-pregnancy clothing during the earlier stages of pregnancy and got hand-me-downs, but that fast fashion and the chemicals in clothing and, again, focusing on our skin, it’s like how do you prioritize what should be organic and toxin-free?  There’s just so many things to factor in.

Amanda:  There are.  And that’s one of the things that I think can be really overwhelming and sometimes can be a deterrent, and people just decide not to do anything because it feels so overwhelming.  And I try to encourage people, like it really does make a difference.  There is a study that was done on some younger girls when they were eliminating some of these toxic chemicals from their personal care products, and I’m going to misquote it, but I want to say it was something that maybe they eliminating parabens and phthalates, and their levels of some of these toxic chemicals dropped over 60% in their body in just three days.  And it’s just a reminder that the little baby steps that you take actually do make a significant difference.  Your body just gets to almost take a deep breath and not have to keep functioning to push all those toxins out of your body.  And like I said before, you can’t do everything, and you can’t afford everything, and you can’t live a perfect lifestyle.  And I think that if you get caught up in trying to be at that level of perfection, it’s just an added stressor to your body that is unhealthy.  You can be just as unhealthy just because of the levels of stress that you have.  And so I always just try to encourage people, like, you know, pick your thing that you want to focus on, and try to make some steps with that, whether it’s just eating things that are – or choosing your shopping when you’re using the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen when it comes to produce.  Just try to eliminate some of those pesticides because you don’t have to buy everything organic.  Try to get those good meats that are grass fed and that kind of thing.  It’s really, really helpful.  Choosing a few products that are affecting your family the most, and minimizing it.  And we all know, especially even when it comes to the world of having babies and kids, like, everything is such a big marketing thing, right?  If you talk to those older moms, and then when you have your first baby, how much stuff do you buy?  How many things do you feel like you need?  And then, you know, by the time you have another one or your last child, you realize, oh, my gosh, I don’t need any of that stuff.  You just need some of these basics.

Kristin:  Yeah, many of the baby registry items could hold off a year on many of them until it’s crawling stage, and things sit around, and many of the items have issues with off gassing and there’s so many things I learned in my baby registry training about everything from a stroller and how to avoid toxins in your home when you’re setting up a nursery.  Yes.  There’s just an overwhelming amount of information out there.

Amanda:  And usually, the less you are using is the better for your body and the exposure and all those things.

Kristin:  Exactly.  So as far as your business, it sounds like again you were motivated by your own personal journey and wanting to help other women get back to optimal health and focus on fitness and nutrition and better care for their own families.  So how can our listeners connect with you and your business in the many facets of Well Balanced Life?

Amanda:  I spent the last 20 years as a military spouse.  My husband was active duty air force.  And so we moved around a lot.  I was on my own a lot.  And after I did have my second son, that was really what motivated me.  I kind of felt like a calling, that I really needed to speak up, once I had him and kind of told people, because I kept my infertility, for the most part, a secret, which I do not advice, but it was just – I don’t know.  I was just in self-preservation mode.  On his first birthday is when I really kind of spoke out and said, this is what we went through.  And after that is when – when you struggle with whatever and you come out on the other side of it seemingly successful, people want to know what you did, how you did it.  And I always felt like, you know, I’m not really sure what I did, and I don’t feel really confident to advise people, and that’s kind of when I really dove into my nutritional therapy certification and getting more educated about those things and started my online business because I wanted people to be able to understand that you could take control of your health and make such a positive difference and not only get healthier by taking these smaller steps, but also just really experience joy with it.  You know, I got to a place of having some pretty incredible happiness and joy before I had my second baby.  I was just really able to get to a spot by doing these things.  And so I started – my business is called My Well Balanced Life, and that is the website where you can find me, as well as – probably my Instagram is the most active, and my handle is @mywellbalancedlife.

Kristin:  I love it, and the fact that you’re able to work with clients anywhere in the world.  The many benefits to an online business.

Amanda:  So true.  I kind of went into it kicking and screaming.  I had always had physical locations.  I used to have Pilates studies.  So I really was not willing to do the online thing until I got moved to Alaska.  We were kind of in this place where all my opportunities were taken away from me in that physical space, and so I thought, okay.  I guess this is what I’m going to do now.

Kristin:  Makes perfect sense.

Amanda:  Yes.

Kristin:  And then the pandemic, of course, created a lot more of the online business opportunities, but certainly traveling as a military spouse would make it hard to have physical roots when you’re moving pretty frequently.

Amanda:  Yes, very much so.  I grew up kind of in the same spot until I went to college, and so that was a big change for me, but has definitely made me a better person, and as much of a struggle as 2020 was, I think some of the positives that came from it were these abilities for people to have these online opportunities and in that sense, it allowed for my business to grow even more, and I am grateful for that.

Kristin:  Yes, for sure.  So what are your top tips for our listeners who are looking to reduce toxins?

Amanda:  I would say – a little bit like I said before, of picking how you want to tackle it.  If you like the idea of going room to room because maybe that’s a little bit more of an organized fashion for you to do it, or to go around and look at the things that affect multiple members of your family or stay on your skin the longest.  So just for example, when I say that, like a deodorant.  You’re going to put deodorant on, and it’s going to stay on your body, as opposed to a facewash which is going to still get on your skin, but you’re going to wash some of it off.  So paying attention to those things and prioritizing some swaps like that.  When you run out of something, switch it to something new.  And there are various ways and various priorities for different people in terms of what they look for.  Some people are going to look for sustainability.  Some people are going to look for product ingredients.  Some people are going to pay very much attention to vegan or animal cruelty, that kind of thing.  But a very good resource to use, and it’s a good starting point.  It’s not perfect by any means, but nothing is.  It’s going to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database.  They have it – whether you use it on a computer or they have an app, as well, where you can scan things, that you can scan a product and see what its rating is.  You want as low of a rating as you can.  One is the best, and ten is the worst.  And it ranks it based on different ingredients and different reports that come in.  It doesn’t look at sourcing, so you’re not quite sure where the ingredients are coming from, but it’s such a great starting point.  Another way that you can use it, too, that’s really nice is you can go in and just look at a category, and it will give you recommendations of products to try, ones that get high ratings or are verified through their system.  It’s just a great way to get started.  And then if you want to dig even deeper, you can do deep dive research on your own.

Kristin:  That is an amazing resource.  And then as far as nutrition, do you have any favorite sites to look into some of the food products?

Amanda: Well, you can look at some of the food products through Environmental Working Group, as well, and it’s just very educational.  And when I really started using some of those, my boys were younger, and they could take my phone – say you’re in a Target or in a grocery store, and you can scan products and see what their ratings are, and I really like to involve them in it.  First of all, they just thought it was fun, but – and they would also look for products and food things that had the highest ratings, because they knew that was a big red flag.  But just to get them involved in it and get them to understand it more was such a fun way to kind of get them to see and for all of us to learn more about, you know, just minimal exposure to all this junk.

Kristin:  Exactly.  Well, thank you, Amanda.  I know you mentioned your social media links.  Instagram is @mywellbalancedlife, and then your website is  Our listeners can connect with you in those ways.  And are you currently accepting new clients, and how do our listeners and doula clients reach out to work with you individually?

Amanda:  Yes, I do, and I love working with clients one on one because I just feel like we can just really tailor a program to you, no matter kind of what phase you’re in.  I always feel like now that I am much older, I just feel like I now have the experience of dealing with hormones and health from a preconception to when you’re struggling with fertility and then postpartum and even once your kids get older and you’re starting to worry about your kids and how all that stuff affects them.  So if you go to my website, I do have a link there that says Work with Me where there are different options, and we just really get to know each other and deep dive on what’s the best plan of action to restore your body to optimal health and help make you feel happy and healthy.  And then I also have a Resources page where some of the stuff we talked about earlier with the safer products and things like that.  We’ve got some free downloads and things like that with ingredients to avoid and top priorities for swaps and things like that, as well as some simple recipes.  I do have some recipes on my website, even though I would not call myself a food blogger, but they are ones that just – I would not want to take on that identity.  I’m not nearly as talented to call myself that, but there are some very – I like simple recipes that you can make quickly that don’t make a total mess of the kitchen but are whole food recipes, so they’re there as well.

Kristin:  Love it.  Well, thank you so much Amanda, and we’ll have to have you back.

Amanda:  Thank you so much.  You guys have a great day.

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