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CURATED BY

Isabelle Razis

3 JAN 2021

Greek-French health coach Isabelle Razis knows first-hand how it feels to juggle family, career and a busy social life. As an expat living in Russia with her husband and three children since the early 2000s, she has been living way outside her comfort zone for some time. A corporate lawyer by profession, Isabelle is no stranger to dealing with pressure, and yet, taking care of her family while founding and managing her own real estate consultancy in a foreign country took its toll, physically and psychologically, as she explained to Z+D in a recent chat.

For an optimistic and determined character like Isabelle, such a predicament became an opportunity rather than a hindrance, initiating a journey of self-discovery and personal development, which not only led her to regain energy and balance in her own life but also gave her a new purpose: helping others achieve a healthier and happier life. Following a life-changing education at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York, she now holistically supports people struggling personally and professionally, helping them find balance, connect with themselves and others, and actively pursue their goals, as well as age with dignity and grace. Read our conversation for a deeper understanding of Isabelle’s motivation, method and expertise.

Ancient olive trees of Puglia, Italy. Photo by Alejandro Chaskielberg.
Ancient olive trees of Puglia, Italy. Photo by Alejandro Chaskielberg.

What attracted you to life coaching?

In my 20s, probably to fill in certain gaps I felt as a kid, I felt I needed a strong education and a steady career, probably to fill in certain gaps I felt as a kid., so after receiving two law degrees in Paris, I worked for more than 10 years as a corporate lawyer in international organizations under challenging conditions. Later on, in my early 30s, I moved to Russia with my husband and lived the life of the ex-pat outside my comfort zone. This is when my entrepreneurial spirit struck and I successfully created my real estate consulting firm, developing a specific niche marketing opportunity to promote Greece as an investment destination.

My personal life was that of a working ex-pat's wife with 3 children. Everyday life was a constant struggle. I kept on juggling family, career and social life within a particularly harsh foreign environment. Intensive sport practice, personal development, healthy living conditions and thrilling travelling were my ways out, but it wasn't enough. I eventually lost track of who I was and what I was after. Although I thought I was healthy and had a “happy life”, there were days that I would feel drained, with zero energy, nervous and edgy - not knowing what for! I literally burned Isabelle out slowly and to the ground.

This is when I turned myself inward. I felt the genuine need to do something for myself and concentrate even more on my personal development and wellness. In the beginning, it was all about healing myself, feeling better and recovering energy. Then, after receiving specific education and training at the most renowned school of nutrition and health coach in the US, my knowledge in the field was enhanced and I found myself in the position of sharing what has now become a real passion, in good hope of touching upon other people’s lives and health.

Which three words best describe your approach to wellness?

Balance, Connection, Act.
Balance: Aiming for a balanced life by prioritizing the main areas of our lives and our interior strengths.
Connection: Getting connected with ourselves and others.
Act: Finding the shortest ways to achieve our goals.

Photo: Adam Pretty
Photo: Adam Pretty

What are some easy tips for staying energized?

To adopt a balanced diet and have all the daily intake of vitamins and nutrients we need according to our age and levels of activity. Taking into consideration bio-individuality, this should be one of our daily priorities. 

Water which sounds easy is of an essential importance. Water is a real booster, it not only protects our joints and tissues but it also helps to remove waste and toxins. It supports digestion, aids the brain to function optimally and helps us eat healthier.

Taking sugar completely out of our lives. I know that I don’t sound very pleasant but, the link between added sugar and higher inflammatory markers are confirmed. So there is no way we can keep it in our diet without increasing the risk of disease. In some cases, we should even avoid gluten. Many athletes, Novak Djokovic for instance, often mention how a diet with zero sugar and gluten has completely re-energized them.

Sleep of course! Waking up fully recharged makes a huge difference. The vast majority of us need 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep. We are so much more effective and productive when we take the time to recharge. Our brain clears all the toxins that have been accumulated during the day. And, if we don’t sleep enough, it has a huge impact on our cognitive performance and our overall health.

Movement is very crucial. By being physically active, we increase our energy levels both directly and indirectly. Directly thanks to the increase of endorphins, and indirectly, because feeling better in our body makes us feel better in our mind, and, thus, energized. There is no need to reach exhaustion levels every day at the gym if this is not your thing. It can be light exercise, like walking, swimming, biking or yoga. But it should be every day.

More generally, we should try to find a certain degree of balance. A balanced life will also encourage what is called synchronicity in our life. When our lives are aligned, we tend to be at the right place at the right moment. People that live their life with respect to the laws of nature tend to be more at the right place at the right time. And people that are more out of balance tend to be at the wrong place exactly at the wrong time. Just like the rest of the universe actually. Balance allows all elements in nature to harmoniously coexist and, in the same way, a balanced life readjusts all the forces in our body and soul allowing us to live happily. Think about that…

Photo: Efi Haliori
Photo: Efi Haliori

What is the secret to ageing well?

For the majority of people, ageing isn’t a trouble-free process. Small aches are starting, movement is more difficult, visits to specialists become regular, body and face are starting to change, skin is softening, retirement looming in the distance. All this have an impact on our attitude, behaviour and obviously our mood. Ageing can even be a stress generator and, in the worst-case scenario, it can lead to serious depression.

But this is not one way through. We can face the signs of ageing with acceptance, wisdom and knowledge, embracing the next chapter while minimizing panic. Furthermore, ageing can be seen as “a potential development force for enhancing wellbeing, meaning and longevity instead of fearing ageing as an implacable enemy” (“The End of the old age” Marc E. Agronin). As we mature, it is - more than ever - necessary to have the right mindset, to boost our confidence and find (new) sources of inspiration.

Ageing harmoniously is a challenge we should all take on while still being young. The art of ageing is a subject that should be taught to young people. What are the life transitions? What should one expect and accept? Is there an action plan to follow to create the most meaningful and joyful older age possible?

Feeling and naturally looking younger than our age after 40 is an option we should be pursuing through our beliefs, behaviours and expectations. Wisdom, creativity, sociability, productivity, readiness, adaptability, curiosity, and knowledge are some of the skills one needs to improve and grow older nicely. Finding the physical and mental balance thanks to tools and mechanisms should be an education we offer ourselves in order to embrace our golden years gracefully.

What are the most effective immune system boosters?

Apart from keeping a balanced diet, respecting resting times, scheduling our sleep, including regular movement, discovering inspiration in our lives and managing our stress, there is a big list of super foods that can help our immune system if we consume them regularly.

Personally, I try to include some of them in my daily diet no matter what. The ones I choose are easy to find like ginger: I use it in warm water and drink a big carafe of water with ginger, lemon and cinnamon everyday day. Turmeric is also a powerful immune booster. It contains curcumin which is a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It can be added in soups, rice, omelettes and even in smoothies.

Matcha tea! This is one of my latest natural boosters. I used to be a coffee addict and recently I switched to matcha which not only contains nutrients from the entire tea leaf resulting to a greater amount of antioxidants than green tea, but it also reduces cell damage and can help weight loss. What is even more impressive is that it has the same effect with coffee on attention and memory but, thanks to a component called L-theanine, it helps to avoid the crash in energy levels following caffeine consumption. Add a drop of almond milk to counter the bitter aftertaste.

Another super food I use is maca powder which comes from a Peruvian plant grown in the Andes. It has a bit of an earthy flavour and is a real booster of energy and libido!  My other everyday essentials are almonds, flax seeds and green vegetables. Kale, broccoli and spinach are kings. A big bowl of green vegetables a day is a must.

Photo: Efi Haliori
Photo: Efi Haliori

What food supplements you can’t go without?

Food supplements should be added with caution in our diet. Nutritional needs depend on our age, levels of activity, and gender. This is the reason why I always suggest to my clients to receive the advice from their doctor after taking medical tests. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every one of us is different, thus our approach to supplements and health should also be different.

For most healthy individuals, it’s possible to consume all the vitamins and minerals through diet alone. However, there are certain conditions and circumstances when supplements are needed to meet nutritional needs. You can’t generally go wrong if you add Omega 3, Vitamin C, Vitamin D (especially when living in a northern country where sun is scarce) and, for vegans, some of the Vitamins B.

Don’t forget that we must always look for supplements that have been certified by a third-party testing/official organization to ensure the safety and accuracy of the product used.

Which type of exercise do you enjoy the most?

I have always been engaged in all kind of sports since a very young age. No matter what, I was the first in the gang to discover new activities, and, often, not the less dangerous ones… Now that I’ve grown up, I stick to my old times classics: yoga, running, swimming and biking. Yoga grounds me in my body and my mind, whereas triathlon sports, i.e. running, swimming and biking, keep my levels of cardiovascular capacity very high. Also, thanks to some triathlon competition, I had the chance to solidify my self-confidence and give another meaning to my training. Being active makes me feel young, energetic and powerful, while including variety makes me feel focused and challenged.

What is your go-to routine to unwind after a demanding day?

I spend quality time with my family, light dinning and easy chatting. Then, I usually read a book or watch a movie. Before going to bed I always stick to my breathing and meditation session for 15 minutes. This is my sleep enhancer!

Where do you feel the most balanced?

First, my balance derives from staying truly connected to myself and others. This inspirational energy spreads to all sectors in my life. Then, my balance is derived from the proper handling of the 4 core pillars of my life: Self-care, Family, Friends, Career. In the right dose, order and priority. I try to keep it this way, allowing once in a while some imperfections to happen. Staying connected to sports, yoga, meditation, self-care and a healthy way of eating truly helps me find my balance. Not always in a perfect way since I don’t believe in perfection.

My way of achieving balance allows me to enjoy things in life. Vital things, truly happy moments, peace of mind, with creativity and imagination. Imagine a life without imagination... that would never work for me. We need magic in our lives, as much as we need food and water.

What are you most thankful of?

I am thankful for my and my family’s health. I am thankful for the good friends I have. I am thankful for all my travels. I am thankful to have a home and to choose the food I eat. I am thankful for feeling strong. I am thankful for what I am.

How would you define yourself in three words?

Optimist, determined, open minded.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Nature.

Which colours are you currently enamoured of?

Coral, sea green, sapphire blue.

The beauty product you can’t live without?

A home-made face serum with essential oils, jojoba oil, primrose oils and cucumber oil.

Three Instagram accounts you check daily?

Zeus+Dione, Goop, Dr. Mark Hyman.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Dark chocolate.

What is your most treasured possession?

A riviera pave diamond ring that I inherited from my grandmother.