Colette Lettieri’s road to becoming a health coach to some of New York City’s leading professional women wasn’t a straight one. Any detours encountered have in turn, become building blocks in Colette’s successful career. Drawing from her background in education and social work, and experiences as a wife and mother, she formulates dynamic health and fitness programs that cater to the specific needs, goals, and lifestyle of each client.
Planning for a wedding is as stressful as it is exciting. From securing a venue and vendors to finding a dress to staying on budget, the to-do list can be overwhelming. Colette has helped many brides-to-be face the stress of wedding planning head on. And her approach isn’t just about helping a bride fit into her dress.
We had the pleasure to talk Colette and ask her questions about her philosophy to health and wellness, advice she gives brides to help them look and feel their best, and what’s the secret to getting that wedding day glow.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
Growing up, I was athletic and always on a sports team. I continued to be very interested in fitness and health in college and loved reading magazines and books, and researching the Internet for information on the topic. I went to Bank Street College of Education for graduate school to study special education. The campus is located near some of the best organic markets and yoga and Pilates studios. I got my fix by hitting up a class and grabbing post-workout smoothies. My studies led me to work in some very unique environments. I kept coming back to the question, “Why are these behaviors happening?” With some cases, there were much greater issues present. But I found that for many children, it had to do with their diet and lack of energy release. After a decade of teaching, I ended up on the west coast where I worked under one the best behaviorists. The experience inspired me to go back to school for social work at Stony Brook University. Put in a hospital setting with a lot of exposure to diet and nutrition, the subject was still very much on my mind. And after 5 years in private practice with a colleague, I had my first daughter and struggled with post-partum. Rather than blindly following traditional treatment, I took a more holistic approach. I had a good knowledge base, but knew that I needed to surround myself with real professionals and sought out an osteopath, acupuncturist, and nutritionist. The team approach really worked for me.
How did you arrive at being a health coach dedicated to helping women achieve their optimal well-being?
After the birth of our second daughter, I took an online program at IIN (Institute for Integrative Nutrition). Classes couldn’t be posted fast enough and I immediately knew that this was my true calling. My ultimate goal is to create a healthier lifestyle for the individual. I start by looking at the first plate and the second plate. For the first plate, we examine their relationships, exercise routine, career, and spirituality. The next question is “What is exactly going on to their second plate in terms of diet?” So I have been able utilize my background in teaching and social work to become a pretty dynamic health coach.
You really seem to understand that every woman is unique. Your work focuses on helping each client reach their individual goals. What advice would you give a bride who is just starting to think about health and beauty? How far in advance of her wedding should she start a regimen?
I would say that once the ring is placed on her finger, it’s go time. What I hate to see happen is that all of a sudden it’s the month before the wedding and the bride hasn’t reached her goal. Once you start assembling the wedding organization binder, make a section for ‘health coach’ or ‘healthier lifestyle.’ It immediately takes the pressure off. Because as soon as wedding stress strikes, it may affect your commitment to your fitness routines and diet. But I will be your cheerleader supporting you every step of the way.
Planning a wedding is exciting, but can also be overwhelming. Do you have any advice for sticking to a healthy eating and workout plan?
Having been there done that, I pull from my own experiences. While planning our wedding I was in graduate school, studying for my boards, and had just started a new business venture. So in an attempt to not implode, I created three binders – a study binder, a wedding binder, and a “me” binder. Looking back, I can see a health coach-in-training in the contents of that “me” binder. You have to plan for real life as well. Yes, this is supposed to be an amazing time, but life still goes on. However, my programs are set up in a way so that we connect on daily basis – you are going to hear from me 5 to 6 days a week via text, email, or phone. Once you fully committed to the program and start nurturing yourself, it’s amazing how relaxed you become. As you start to look and feel good, you become stronger and are able to deflect negativity. When faced with stressful situations, you have the energy to either just do it, or say “no, not now.”
We are constantly being bombarded with new diet and fitness trends. Are there any trends you see as beneficial? Which trends should be completely avoided?
I don’t shun any particular diet. Current diet trends that I am seeing are ketogenic, the Whole30, low sugar, and low to no carbs. I, however, firmly use the hashtag #betruetoyou. It’s important to understand that what works for one person may be another’s poison. I advocate whole, organic, farm-fresh foods. You have never heard someone say, “She died from too much kale.” No GMOs and nothing out of a can. Keep it simple and make your plate as colorful as possible. It may take a little more time and effort. My advice comes from personal experience. I’m not a cook by nature, but I had to feed my family. I learned how to make a menu using nutritious ingredients and stretched it out through the week. And ideally one night, we go out to a restaurant or order in. Life is to be enjoyed and once you learn how to work a menu, you can indulge and still maintain a healthy balance. And of course hydration is a major factor. People don’t realize how a simple glass of water can drastically influence our food choices and cravings.
Which foods will help a bride look and feel her best? Which foods should be avoided completely?
Dark greens are going to be your grand slam. They are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Fresh fruit such as berries and apples are full of vitamins. Lean meats and fish – salmon especially has many health benefits. Smoothies are a great way to get in a lot of nutrition. Many of my clients are professionals who are on the go. For a long time, they were afraid of smoothies because of the high calories and sugar. Now they are making smoothies at home or special ordering from a place that uses healthy, nutrient-dense recipes. Depending on dietary restrictions, almond milk or skim milk can be added to make the drink more satiating. Pull back on any added sugars completely the month of your wedding. They are just unnecessary and cause bloating, breakouts, inflammation, and mood swings.
What types of exercise do you recommend for the busy bride?
Exercise is also very individual and really depends on the bride, what her goals are, and what fits in with her schedule. I will set up routines for clients who only have 15 to 20 minutes a day to engage in workout routines. Whether it’s setting the alarm a little earlier or hitting the yoga mat instead of Netflix in the evening, we are going to get in some physical activity. In whatever time you have, you want to get your heart rate up. I also suggest checking out the great rowing and spin studios in the city. Both are very motivating and offer a full body workout in a condensed amount of time. SoulCycle offers classes almost every hour from morning to night. For my clients who have intense, high stress jobs and just want to zen out at the end of the day, I suggest yoga or a yoga-barre combo. There are amazing apps available that allow women to conveniently get a workout from their phone. For a woman who wants to run a half marathon after their wedding – their program is going to be much different.
Should a bride make any tweaks to diet and fitness the week before her wedding? How about on the big day?
The week of the wedding usually becomes the most stressful. Checks are due, guests are cancelling or asking if they can bring a date, and there’s the general anxiety about whether everything will go as planned. This is all going to be easier to handle if you have been following a fitness and healthy eating plan. I always recommend that brides get their fiancée and bridal party on board. You’ve been trading recipes and workout tips for months. So the week of the wedding, you already have a support system in play. Be sure to get enough sleep, relax, and treat yourself to a massage or an acupuncture session. Saline treatments are fantastic for natural detoxification. Sleep with a dehumidifier – stress can cause sinus issues and headaches. Water is always very important. Please continue to exercise and eat clean through that final week. Most importantly, don’t not eat.
Do you have any secret pro tips you’d like to share that will help our brides get that wedding day glow when they walk down the aisle?
I am not a skin professional, but I have worked with and been treated by some of the best. I can’t stress enough the importance of water. Sweating from exercise lets your body natural detox. The skin benefits that come with weekly sauna treatments are incredible. Oxygen facials and infrared light treatments are good for boosting collagen. My approach is really natural with a focus on internal to external. And let’s not forget about the magic of a great makeup artist! They are going to touch up not just your face, but your whole body as well. A friend of mine recently got married and for her wedding gift, I had a care package of nutritious food and water sent to her hotel room the morning of her wedding. She immediately called me laughing and said, “How did you know?” I ordered the package from ThriveMarket.com, one of my favorite online shopping sites. They offer a diverse selection of organic, paleo, gluten-free, and non-GMO foods. But I am strongly in favor of the bride enjoying a pre-ceremony mimosa.
To learn more about Colette’s health coaching services, visit her website ColetteLettieri.com
Colette was kind enough to share her favorite fitness and diet apps and cookbooks for our readers.
Exercise Apps Offering 5 to 90 minute Guided Workouts
SworkIt Lower Body