Denisa Ratulea is a Transylvanian-born, London-based Health Coach and Plant Based Chef. She is the founder of Second Nature and the author of “Cooking from your Heart”.
Second Nature’s mission is to educate on the subjects of wellness and healthy living, delivering talks, raw food and cooking classes and retreats. Denisa helps women heal their relationship with food, feel better and stronger and fall in love with themselves for who they really are.
What Inspired you to have a career in health and wellness and did you know it was always what you wanted to do?
There were many clues along the way that I’d do something creative and food related. I’ve always been a foodie and when I started to cook properly at home my love and my passion for food increased. That said my journey in to the health and wellness world wasn’t immediate and was born first out of necessity.
For the majority of my adult life I have had titanium implants in my spine in order to keep my back straight. I had the rods implanted because of a severe scoliosis that I developed as a teenager (An S shape curve in my spine) and it was making it difficult to breath and enjoy life. Unbeknown to me 1 of the rods broke around 5 years ago. I had been in pain for a while and had no idea why until I went for an X-ray. It was something that I knew I had to do something about sooner rather than later.
It took the tragic loss of my father and my uncle in just a short amount of time to get me to wake up and to realise that I must I look after myself and my health. And that no one else would be able to look after myself better than me. I discovered raw plant based food and saw that many people online had transformed their lives through the power of a raw food diet. I decided to embark on a big challenge, a 365-day health food challenge that would mean eating natural plant based foods for an entire year. I figured that if I could eat that way for a year then I might be in a position to remove the metal rods from my body. Little did I know back then that this way of life would become Second Nature. I fell in love with cooking, nutrition and the difference that diet made to my health and energy levels and I knew that I was now in a position to help others.
What changes have you seen since going plant based/vegan and how you think attitudes are changing to veganism?
I’ll start by saying that I’m not strictly vegan anymore when it comes to my food. I still eat that way 99% of the time, however my ongoing research into food, diet and the psychology around food has led me to a place where I prefer not to label myself based on what I eat and that in itself has been liberating 😉
That said a plant based lifestyle works well for me now and it’s been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Because of my spine condition, I was often in pain and often unable to exercise and the moment that I started eating this way my energy increased tenfold, I had so much energy that I didn’t know what to do with myself and that led to working out. I lost 30 pounds during my first summer on a plant-based diet combined with exercise and experienced a new way of being.
I also noticed that I became much more connected with nature and my intuition. I could feel and sense spirit energies around me and began to awaken further as a spiritual being. I see my spiritual awakening especially as a result of removing animal products, especially meat, and reducing the amount of fear and adrenaline that I was consuming from the animals that I ate.
What I love most is that this way of eating is now mainstream, especially in the UK,and that it has had a positive effect on raising our collective consciousness and awareness of not harming animals or polluting the environment.
I would also say to people reading this. Don’t be put off by names and labels. Do the best with what you have got. It’s better to be an occasional vegetarian than it is to do nothing at all and you will never know how it feels and if this way of life resonates with you and your body unless you give it a try.
What has been your proudest career moment so far?
The moment when I held a fully printed copy of my cookbook in my hands. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as giving birth to an idea and witnessing that idea add value and joy to the lives of others 😉
Why did you decide to run a retreat in Thailand?
We’ve done retreats in Transylvania before, where I am from. But there was something magical and unique about Thailand. From the moment that we set foot in the country, Ollie (my better half) and I fell in love with people and the country! There are so many different elements to love: The Thai food, passion, energy, beaches and the endless smiling locals. Thailand really is the land of smiles.
As a part of our retreat we are also going to do a 3 day juice fast, one of my favourite ways to help people reset and get back to healthy eating. And whilst I love juice fasts they tend to work best in tropical climates like Thailand vs the cold damp conditions in the UK.
Fitness holidays and retreats are becoming more and more popular, what makes your holidays unique?
Our retreats are unique because we create them with the participants in mind. They are a rare breed of spirituality, health, coaching and light exercise. Although relaxing by their very nature they are designed to take people on a deep transformational journey back to love and to the real version of themselves. We are especially focused on helping people to create long term sustainable health and spiritual habits that they can take back home and implement.
We combine my love and passion for food, nutrition and health coaching with Ollie’s ability as a coach, healer, and a psychic medium. The result is a heart-based retreat for the mind, body and spirit. With immersive hands on health & spiritual workshops such as our Juicing vs blending, Mindfulness, Energy Connection, Hands on healing & Fall in love with Raw Food workshops.
We bring in an experienced yoga teacher to help get each day off to a flying start and explore Qi Gong, Mudra’s, and the power of presence to help people to connect with a deeper part of themselves free from worry or stress, a space of peace, love and joy.
How do you balance all the aspects of running your own business?
I’m always grateful to practice what I preach when it comes to food, health & spirituality. My rituals and my health habits are the very things that help me to stay sane and balanced. Running a business is an incredible experience! I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it is a rollercoaster with many ups and downs where you can never be certain about what will happen next. It’s my love and my passion for healthy eating, my body and my needs, taking time off to see friends and signing up to challenges like our recent cycle from London to Paris by bike that keep me going.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Trust the journey. There is a lesson to learn in any given moment.
What’s the biggest lesson you have learnt in your entrepreneurial journey?
To trust my intuition when it comes to people. I have always had a strong gut feeling about people and whether or not they are the right connections for me at the time. There are many moments where it is better to say no or not now and to honour your truth than it is to get involved with the wrong people and the wrong projects.
What’s your morning routine and what do you have for breakfast?
My morning routine is always changing. But there are some things that I do often. I usually begin with a glass of warm lemon water or super green water. I often write down my dreams from the night before or I journal about the up and coming day and what will make it a successful one. I then do some form of exercise to wake my body up whether a walk, run, cycle or swim before making breakfast.
Breakfast is always different. I’m a fan of all things savoury, whereas Ollie prefers something sweet so we tend to alternate between sweet and savoury and often have porridge (with any base – oats, millet, quinoa, rice) or a big veggie scramble. And when it comes to summer in the UK, if we have one 😉 Then I see that as the perfect time for a fruit salad with every ingredient under the sun.
How do you stay motivated?
I set myself big goals and stretches that are “must achieve goals” and post about them publically on social media. Public accountability is by far the best way that I know to achieve something that I set out to do. I also listen to audio books and podcasts whenever I feel tempted to log on and check out what is happening on social media. And in particular educational and inspiring books and podcasts. I recently discovered an amazing podcast called “How I Built This” which is all about the journey that successful entrepreneurs take to build their businesses in to a success.
What three things/ products can’t you live without?
My blender. My phone. My sports bra
How do you like to spend your downtime?
Soaking in Epsom salt baths. Listening to jazz or classical music. Watching Shark Tank
Denisa’s Beautiful You Retreat takes place from the 2nd to the 9th of December 2017 in Ko Samui, Thailand. For more information go to WWW.SECOND-NATURE.CO/BEAUTIFULYOU
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