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Meet Jenna Volpe of Whole-istic Living in Woburn

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenna Volpe.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My initial interest in the world of nutrition and health sparked I was sixteen. I was volunteering as a “candy striper” at Winchester Hospital after school, and one day a customer at the coffee shop ordered a cup of green tea. As I brought him his beverage, this man began telling me about the incredible health benefits green tea can offer for cancer prevention, anti-aging and more.

Having lost several family members to cancer, this struck a deep cord for me. “Why isn’t everyone drinking green tea?” I thought to myself. After that moment I tried my very first cup of green tea, went home and spent hours browsing the internet for as many articles as I could find to learn more about this mysterious “elixir”.

My mind was blown by the degree of impact one beverage could have on our health. What I realized not long after this was there are MANY ways to consume antioxidants and prevent/delay the onset of diseases through what we put in our body. How empowering! I started adding blueberries to my cereal in the morning. I tried seafood for the first time. I made the switch from milk chocolate to dark chocolate (and was pleasantly surprised). I started actually eating the green vegetables that my parents had been serving with dinner for all those years. I guess there was a method to their madness after all! The floodgates were opened and there was no turning back.

I wish I could tell the man from Winchester Hospital what kind of a role he has played in my career. He was my catalyst, and the inspiration I gained from learning about green tea and antioxidants was the gateway to getting my bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences at Boston University in 2010.

After graduating college, I went on to complete my dietetic internship at the University of New Hampshire and finally became a Registered Dietitian (RD) in 2011. I remember crying when got to the end of the exam and saw that I had passed – my life was complete!

I knew in my heart that someday I would be working for myself at a private practice, but in the mean time I still needed to get lots of clinical and counseling experience. Over the last ten years since starting school for nutrition I simultaneously completed five collective years of inpatient clinical work, followed by five years in the field of mental health and eating disorders.

The majority of my experiences as an entry-level nutrition professional revolved mainly around the food pyramid and allopathic medicine. What I found was that these approaches were effective in meeting basic clinical stability needs and reducing discomfort associated with illness, but that they failed to address the root underlying causes of what was really going on with people’s health.

I realized that although I was helping people, this work was just not fulfilling enough for me. I didn’t feel I was helping patients nearly as much as I could; I knew there was so much more to learn and offer.

I was always intrigued by the field of functional and holistic nutrition but didn’t fully understand it until my own health started going down-hill. I was not able to help myself using the tools and knowledge I had acquired in school and in my clinical experience (and neither were my doctors). The food pyramid had failed me, and my ego as a health practitioner crumbled at that time. I swallowed my pride and started working with a holistic nutritionist as her client for over a year.

I emptied my cup (pun intended) and learned more than I ever thought was possible in a field I once believed I was so well-versed in. Low and behold: as time passed, many digestive issues subsided, and so did my Prilosec. I stopped requiring bi-annual surgery on my esophagus, and twelve allergies actually disappeared according to my histamine-based skin tests. My world as I knew it was turned upside-down… or as my amazing nutritionist Gena Mavuli jokes, “right-side up”!

During the time I was not well, I began simultaneously exploring the world of natural healing through energy work. Why not? This universe is massive, and sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know. If something could make me feel better, even if I didn’t fully understand it, I would take it! As a result I discovered some very helpful tools, and also learned great deal about the impact of stress and its “fight or flight” response on the body. Stress it the root underlying cause for many chronic health conditions, and until we choose to dig deep and address our energetic/mental/emotional state of being, the physical issues will return. For this reason I have chosen to incorporate various forms of meditation and energy work into my practice that have personally benefited me.

I am now three years in since starting Whole-istic Living. Given the amount of learning and growing I still have left to do in this lifetime, I foresee that my practice will continue to evolve and change exponentially for the better. I’m not sure exactly what that will look like, but I can’t wait for what life brings next!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
For the most part, I would say it was a pretty smooth road getting my business off the ground. I moved home with my parents for about 6 months shortly after leaving my other part-time job, so that I could really go all in and make it happen. It was the best decision I could have made. Not to mention, my parents live only a 5-minute drive from my office!

My biggest challenge by far since starting out on my own has been the medical billing. To be completely honest, if I knew in the beginning what I was getting myself into, I may not have gone that route. Healthcare providers go into this field to help people, and I can’t say my first priority has ever been sending claims to health insurance companies (or spending hours on the phone each week verifying client benefits). The struggle is real. But looking back, there are so many amazing clients I may not have had the opportunity to work with if I did not accept their health insurance. So it all worked out!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Whole-istic Living story. Tell us more about the business.
Whole-istic Living is a private nutrition and healing practice which offers individualized nutritional counseling sessions, energy work, and guided group meditations. The philosophy is that health is more than the absence of disease, and everybody deserves the opportunity to experience health and vitality at the highest level if they so choose. I am the only health practitioner here at this point, but that may change!

My clinical nutrition specialties include weight management, diabetes, eating disorders, digestive health and autoimmunity. Nutritional sessions may include education, consulting, medical nutrition therapy, nutritional blood work analysis, supplementation guidelines, customized meal planning, recipe modification, grocery shopping, restaurant dining tips, and more. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, so each client gets their own individualized treatment plan and experience.

In the medical field, I have had some push-back over the years for my interest in energy work. Aside from Reiki, which has only become accepted by mainstream health practitioners very recently, there are few if any scientific studies to support the efficacy of other types of energy work at this point in time. However, being open-minded and understanding that most health studies are funded by the pharmaceutical industry, PubMed never stopped me from exploring energy work as a client while navigating through my own health challenges.

Through personal experience I found that certain types of energy work yielded surprisingly incredible (and very tangible) results for me, over and over again. The proof was in the pudding – “judge them by their fruits”. I finally reached a point where ethically speaking, I felt I would be doing a disservice to my clients if I did not share these healing tools with them!

Energy healing services I have chosen to offer at Whole-istic Living include Reiki therapy, aura clearing, Life Activation, abdominal healing, and crystal healing sessions. Each of these modalities works on the energy body in a different way. Everybody has their own experience, and it’s incredibly rewarding as the practitioner to witness these breakthroughs.

DISCLAIMER: Energy work sessions are not to be used in PLACE of advice received from doctors or other medical professionals. They are meant to serve as COMPLEMENTARY tools which have potential to positively enhance or facilitate clients’ health journeys. There are no guarantees that any services, even including nutritional counseling, are going to “cure” any physical, mental, emotional or spiritual health condition.  

I absolutely love the counseling aspect of my job! I strive to go above and beyond with each client by meeting them where they are at, educating and empowering them in whichever ways I feel could best help them. I often use motivational interviewing techniques to share with my clients the importance of “lifestyle fundamentals” such as balance, sustainability, mind-body connection, emotional awareness, self-care, and of course a healthy relationship with food. I also emphasize the importance of progress not perfection. We are only human and there is no such thing as perfect eating, or perfect anything for that matter!

I feel that my services at Whole-istic Living are unique in that I am able to bridge gaps between mainstream and alternative approaches to health and wellness. I identify with the “wounded healer” role because going through my own journey has given me a better perspective on what it really feels like to be a client. I take pride in my ability to listen, empathize, and determine not just WHAT information is best for my clients, but HOW to effectively communicate with and motivate my clients on a personal level. There is a saying: “Do what you love, and you won’t have to work a day in your life” – that rings true for me!

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I believe everything that has happened to me up until this point, good and bad, has served a purpose.

When you are following your heart and listening to your passion, life works out in such a way that you will be taken care of. If you focus on feeling motivated and positive, you will likely continue to bring more of that into your life. I have found that when I stay heart-centered, each step I take seems to work out in my favor, preparing me for what is up next and keeping me JUST outside the edge of my comfort zone at all times.

Of course there are challenges. That’s to be expected. They’re no picnic. However, I wouldn’t consider challenges to be “bad luck”; I like to think of them as “blessings in disguise” (most of the time). If we aren’t challenged and we don’t let ourselves be uncomfortable, we won’t grow. That’s what it comes down to. It’s not about luck unless you choose to respond to your challenges with a victim mentality.

Contact Info:

Close up of practitioner doing reiki with hands on young woman. Therapist doing healing treatment with hands next to head.

Crystals in shape of circle with clean quartz stone in middle, every with different energy for spiritual and body healing

Image Credit:
Bharat Parmar Photography – 617 Weddings
Big Stock Photo

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1 Comment

  1. Jenna Volpe

    July 6, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Disclaimer: Energy work sessions are not to be used in PLACE of advice received from doctors or other medical professionals. They are meant to serve as COMPLEMENTARY tools which have potential to positively enhance or facilitate clients’ health journeys. There are no guarantees that any services, even including nutritional counseling, are going to “cure” any physical, mental, emotional or spiritual health condition.

    Thanks! – Jenna Volpe

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