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Exploring Life & Business with Jill Bucaro of Wellness Riot

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jill Bucaro.

Hi Jill, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
It’s been a lifetime of events that guided me to where I am today. As a kid, I was introduced to the idea of healthy food by my 70s granola mom. We had blackstrap molasses and wheat germ in everything, no fast food and very little soda. At school, nobody would trade lunches with me, so I had no choice but to eat what she packed!

As a teenager, I rebelled a bit (OK, maybe a lot) and ate all sorts of junk…and consequently felt like junk. It was during those years that I started to understand what you eat really affects how you feel. Did I necessarily make different decisions? No! Remember, I was a teenager.

Around that same time, my mom went through some health issues related to artificial sweeteners, which initiated my skepticism towards the health-related “magic bullets”.

When I became pregnant at age 35, I was automatically lumped into a high-risk category (even the word geriatric was used as a descriptor of me on a doctor’s invoice!). This confused me because I was waaaay healthier at 35 than I was at 25, so I started to question the markers and measures they used to determine health status. Why did the doctors only look at my age to determine risk of pregnancy? Why is 35 considered elderly? If we are supposed to feel worse as we age – because isn’t that what we’re told – why did I feel better at 35 than 25? Why didn’t all my friends and family feel better as they aged? Why did some people get diseases and others didn’t?

A few years later, I started to experience some digestive-related issues. I was eating pretty healthy at this point (I understand “eating pretty healthy” can mean like a thousand things), but I had an incredibly stressful job and a three years old, so I started to understand what an impact stress can have on physical health. On top of that, my doctor, a GI doctor, mind you, never asked me about what I ate, what I drank or any lifestyle questions at all. After an endoscopy showed I had erosions in my stomach, I was given two prescriptions to take indefinitely and a wave goodbye. I decided to do my homework and ended up resolving the issue myself by adding and subtracting foods and supplements and incorporating some serious stress management strategies. I felt like a superhero! And I thought about all the people I knew that could benefit from this kind of information, yet I was sure they didn’t know any of it. I returned to school so I could add some credentials to my passion and now I help empower people to improve their own health. Anyone can do this, anyone can feel better regardless of starting point.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
No, but that’s OK. In fact, the struggles have guided me to where I am today. Two of my favorite struggles are:

Returning to school while working full time and parenting a four years old. They say if you want something done, give it to a busy person. That is no joke! While there were definitely times when I wished I could just focus on studying, the fact was that I still needed a source of income and because my four years old wasn’t too interested in when my assignments were due, I learned to be quite efficient in my use of every minute of every day. In addition, the arrival of my son is what, in part, amplified my interest in natural health. I wanted the absolute best for him – healthy, organic, non-toxic, safe – all of it. It’s kind of funny how a lot of parents only start focusing on health when it comes to their kids. And sometimes, they focus only on their kids’ health and put their own aside. It’s true that you cannot pour from an empty cup, so I love supporting parents and kids in whole family health.

Most people think natural health is weird or they don’t know anything about it. This way of thinking, although growing, is still shared by a relatively small percentage of the population. Most of us grew up handing over our health issues to someone else. We get sick, we see a doctor, we take his or her recommendation, which usually involves some sort of medication or procedure, and hopes it works. I believe this model (inadvertently) teaches us to feel disempowered when it comes to our own health. We have so much control over how we feel and there is a lot we can do to impact it. And that’s actually great news! Now, the challenge is to get people to learn it, see it, experience it and believe it.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Wellness Riot is a wellness and lifestyle consulting business providing a simple and personal approach to optimal health. Basically, I help people get rid of the health issues that are bogging them down, so they can walk, run, dance, play, vacation, socialize, eat, rest and feel exactly the way they want to. I truly believe in identifying the root cause of a health issue, then taking small but sustainable steps towards a solution. I’ll nudge you outside of your comfort zone without adding stress or turning your world upside down. I love working with busy families because I have some tricks up my sleeve to incorporate kids into the healthy mix. I’ve seen firsthand how the rate of success increases when the whole family is on board. Whether it’s just you or your family, you will walk away feeling empowered and amazing!

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
I see a continuation of and ideally growth in collaboration between standard medicine and natural health. Both are valuable and both are necessary. A hundred years ago, when the primary health concerns were primarily infectious diseases, a pharmaceutical approach made sense, but now a majority of our illness is diet and lifestyle-related and that same approach is proving unsuccessful. Many doctors know the importance of a healthy diet, quality sleep, movement, detoxification and stress management, but our healthcare system and their schedules don’t allow them the time to focus on those areas. So, medical doctors teaming up with health coaches and integrative practitioners is key. Together, we can really take the time to determine which methods, therapies and processes are best for the individual. This collaboration will result in people receiving the best care, feeling like they are part of the process (which they most definitely are!) and truly living in optimal health.

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Image Credits:

Some photos taken by Holly Pendergast, the rest taken by me!

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