Meet Jamie Olen
Jamie Olen Kupka, MS, FNTP is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who helps empower perfectionists to find balance—plate, body, and mind. Through her business, Balance with Jamie, she works with clients remotely and locally in Greenwich, CT to find a balanced and sustainable approach to addressing health issues like low energy, gut problems, weight concerns, and hormonal imbalances. Learn more at balancewithjamie.com and on Instagram @balancewithjamie.
Please tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m originally from Metro Detroit, but moved out east for undergrad and have been around ever since. Having dealt with food sensitivities, gut issues, and an autoimmune disease diagnosis since I was a teenager, I’ve always been interested in health and how food affects how I feel. But my path to formally practicing nutrition wasn’t direct. I spent a few years working in the nonprofit world and got my master’s in public health policy before realizing I wanted to commit to nutrition full-time.
I got certified as a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner by the Nutritional Therapy Association and now work with clients through Balance with Jamie. Practicing functional nutrition, I use nutrient-dense foods and lifestyle changes to address things like low energy, gut issues, weight concerns, and hormonal imbalances. I also help clients work on their relationship to food, which for a lot of women (and men too) is a big source of stress in their life and is taking up more headspace than they’d like.
I live in Greenwich, CT with my husband and big fluffy Goldendoodle, Reggie.
I view you as a guru in your field, which means you've paved a way no one previously had, or you're paving a way much different than the rest. What is your path or your journey, and what does it represent?
I’m a Type A, trying-to-do-it-all kind of girl. And for most of my life, this approach got me exactly what I wanted. When it came to my health, however, my tendency to push hard to get results ended up backfiring.
In my teens and early 20s, I started struggling with a complex web of health issues. Whenever a new symptom cropped up or a new diet came on my radar, I’d jump in headfirst. I’d obsess over what I ate and how it’d affect my gut, worry if I was meditating “hard” enough, and lie awake at night thinking about how crucial it was to get good sleep. The whole “wellness” thing was controlling my life and honestly, I was feeling anything but good.
It wasn’t until I started to find balance in my approach to health that I was finally able to make real, lasting progress. Instead of trying to control my body, I learned to listen to it.
I see so many women—especially hardworking, perfectionistic ones—fall into a similar trap that I did when it comes to their health. They hold themselves to sky-high standards in every aspect of their life and put the same pressure on themselves when it comes to their health. Unfortunately, being “healthy” ends up being another major stressor in their already stressful lives, and they rarely end up seeing the progress they expect.
Leaning on my science-based functional nutrition training and 15+ years experience managing my own health issues, I love helping others find a more balanced, sustainable approach to wellness that makes them feel empowered, not stressed.
What does health & wellness mean to you?
Not to sound like a broken record, but to me, health and wellness mean balance.
For most of us, staying healthy has always been somewhat of a struggle—a push and pull between our “good” intentions and our “bad” habits. The thing is, this black-and-white outlook on health is usually stressful, unproductive, or unsustainable (and usually all of the above).
I’m all about helping people to find the fullest life possible when it comes to their health. I don’t believe in needless restriction or punishing routines in the name of wellness. Instead I work with people to find a balanced approach that not only helps them feel and look their best, but also gives them the freedom to enjoy life and all it has to offer. To me, that’s the health and happiness that we’re all after.
Everyone needs a little “me” time, how do you practice self care?
Whether it’s lifting heavy weights, taking a spin class, or walking around the neighborhood with my dog, I love moving my body. It helps me to clear my mind and be more present for everyone and everything else in my life.
What advice would you give your younger self?
“Chill.” I used to be really wound up about everything—whether it was my health issues, the way I looked, or my schoolwork. I’d hold myself to high standards and get really frustrated if I felt like I fell short. I’d encourage my younger self to relax more, enjoy life more, and commit more energy to being present in the moment instead of being caught up in my own head.
What is one beauty product you can’t live without?
I’ve been really loving Indie Lee’s Clearing Mask. It’s one beauty product that I always see a difference after using. When I rinse it off, my face is noticeably brighter. The next morning, I’m glowing.
Your favorite cocktail?
Anything with St. Germain. I guess I love the taste of elderflower?
One guilty pleasure?
Getting into bed early. Like realllly early. It feels so indulgent to lay down right after an early dinner and nibble on dark chocolate, watch tv, or read until I fall asleep.
Last book or series you enjoyed?
Staying in the nutrition lane with this one. “Food: What the Heck Should I Eat” by Dr. Mark Hyman. He puts the latest nutrition research into one digestible and approachable book. I like recommending it to people who are confused with what seems to be constantly conflicting advice about what to eat and what to avoid.
Saying or Mantra you live by?
It’s so easy to get caught up in whatever isn’t going our way and to let the anxiety about it take over. I’ve learned that allowing—or just sitting with it and not trying to instantly figure it out or judge it—is so valuable.
For instance, I used to get a lot of stomach pain (and still do from time to time). Whenever it would happen, I’d get really hung up on it, trying to parse through everything I’d eaten or done that could’ve possibly thrown off my tightly managed plan to control how I felt. The obsession over it would mess with my day and even influence how I went about my life in the days following.
Instead of fussing, I've learned to allow both the physical discomfort and the frustration over it having happened. In doing so, I’m now better able to observe the circular thinking that was keeping me stuck in old habits, come up with more productive solutions, and to stop creating so much extra stress for myself (after all, stress only exacerbates most health issues).
"Allowing" applies to so much in life, and I think it's an especially important lesson for people dealing with chronic health issues. It’s hard to recognize the patterns that aren’t serving us. But if you can catch yourself getting wound up about something, breathe, and allow it without instantly trying to change it, you’ll gain more effective tools for coping.