31: Health, Fitness & Family with Brooklyn Active Mama

“Sometimes you simply have to put yourself first”

     Nellie McKay     

Dr. Veronica Anderson, Host, Functional Medicine Specialist and Medical Intuitive interviews Nellie McKay about health, fitness & family.

Are you too busy to exercise? NYC parenting/fitness blogger, Zumba instructor, runner, and mama of two Nellie McKay shares her quest to regain her health and find her work life balance.

In this episode, Nellie talks about finding the time to exercise, her favorite reality tv show and how she finds fun in exercise. Listen to the end, to learn about how family genes affect your health.

Listen to episode 31 on iTunes here or subscribe on your favorite podcast app.


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31: Show Notes

Dr. Veronica Anderson’s Links:







Show Notes:

02:45 – Ayurvedic medicine

04:00 – Wellness in the African American community

08:20 – How Nellie got started

10:00 – Are you really busy?

12:00 – Favorite reality TV show

15:00 – Finding the fun in exercise

21:01 – Challenges in our community

22:45 – Diseases in the family

25:00 – Dr. Veronica’s knee injury


Full Transcript:

Female VO: Welcome to the Wellness Revolution Podcast, the radio show all about wellness in your mind, body, spirit, personal growth, sex, and relationships. Stay tuned for weekly interviews featuring guests that have achieved physical, mental, and spiritual health in their lives.

If you’d like to have access to our entire back catalog visit drveronica.com for instant access. Here’s your host, Dr. Veronica.

Dr. Veronica: Dr. Veronica, you can find me at drveronica.com. As you know I’m a medical doctor. I’m a medical intuitive, a homeopath. I work with people from a functional level and I want you to know everything you possibly can to be well. And especially be well the natural way, the way that the creator of all things meant it to be, which means without all the poisons that people put in their body in the name of trying to get well.

And I understand there are a lot of people who are on fire. And you feel that you have no other choice other than to take that Lipitor. But guess what, there are other choices that work better than Lipitor, and they happen to be natural. Some of them are food choices. Some of them have to do with moving your body. We’re going to talk more about moving your body today with our next guest.

But Russell, you’ve long been working with your health with some underlying issues going on. What strategy or key would you tell people to be able to stay well even in the face of something that’s a major illness?

Russell: Oh boy. I think overall it’s keeping your head on your shoulders and not freaking out. And that helps you do the things you need to do. Make sure you’re eating not just well but regularly. And you’re exercising. I find exercising crucial to me, to keep myself feeling like I’m functioning and like I’m worth walking the earth. I’m going to have to walk the earth and be proud of myself. What can I say, you get some setbacks sometimes, but you know what, they always end and you always come out on top.

Dr. Veronica: And this too shall pass.

Russell: Exactly.

Dr. Veronica: I’m one of those people… In Ayurvedic medicine, which Ayurveda is out of India. It’s medicine that’s associated with yoga. People know about yoga but they don’t know that it’s actually a piece of a whole medical system, and a country that has 1.3 billion people. And so they must know how to do something. And it’s been there thousands and thousands of years.

But I’m what’s called a pitta body type. It’s not just a body type, it’s also a psychology, an emotional, a physical way of being. And so I’m one of those people that I thrive on a lot of action. And that includes a lot of exercise.

If you want to switch over to another system there’s the blood type diet, if anybody’s heard of that. On the blood type diet I’m a type O. And again, somebody who’s a type O thrives on a lot of action, especially physical activity.

I’m telling you that because all truths will eventually come together. If you look at me or yourself from any different type of area other than Western medicine, because Western medicine doesn’t have it all together a lot of the times. You’re going to find out that you’re going to learn about yourself, and say, “Yeah, that’s really what I’m like and who I am.” I love to move.

Today we’re going to talk a little bit about moving. But I must make a confession here. If you haven’t looked at my website, drveronica.com, or figured it out from because you think I talk a particular way, I’m African American. I’m sure a lot of you have guessed that already.

One of the concerns I have about the African American community. And I know a lot of my audience is not African American. A lot of my audience happens to be other than African American, and I welcome all types of people, because on the inside we’re all pretty much the same, 99%. We just happened to be wrapped a particular way. I’m wrapped this way in this particular soul life.

But one thing that frustrates me in this particular life and the people that I’m a part of from how I’m wrapped is I don’t believe that there’s a cultural value placed on health and moving, and all that other type of stuff. I don’t know why there’s very few people I can have the conversation with. I go to wellness-type activities. And I realize that there’s a dearth of people that look like me.

I’ve run some events. Our next guest has just completed a marathon so kudos to her. I’ve done a few marathons, some half marathons, a 10-mile run. I’m training right now for the Philadelphia Broad Street Run. I love running in Philadelphia because I was born there. I just naturally, without even earphones, always hear that rocking music because I’m born in Philadelphia.

I want to know what’s going on also in the African American community. My next guest, you may want to talk about this. It’s not about being a size 00, it’s about being well. And we can’t blame people who are in the majority. Now we have Obama as our president who put the Affordable Care Act in so everybody gets health care. What is the excuse of different populations from continuing to stay unhealthy. What is going on?

I say that and I’m wagging my finger. But on the other side I help all kinds of people be well. And I want people who look like me to be well. It’s not about being a size 00. I’m not a size 00. People look at me and say, “You’re really fit.” But I’m not a size 00.

The next young lady, she has an active blog, Brooklyn Active Mama. Russell like this because of New York and I spend a part of my time in New York. Brooklynactivemama.com, you want to read that, because she talks about moving. And she’s a normal sized chick who ran a marathon. And so you don’t have to be Mary Keitany at 80 lbs. to be able to do 26.2 miles.

I know. I did it. I did it more than once. I like doing long distances. I love going and moving and spinning. It’s fun. The energy is fun. The people are fun. We feed off of each other. And when I see another sister doing this I feel like maybe finally we’re getting somewhere. After that introduction I hear her over there laughing. I want to welcome Nellie Acevedo. Nellie, welcome to Wellness for the Real World.

Nellie: Thank you so much. What an introduction. I’m so excited to be here.

Dr. Veronica: I really thank you for being on. As I’m cruising around the internet, I never know how I exactly come across or find people because it could be social media. It could I just clicked on something and ended up a blog. But I found you and I was just like, it’s really cool to see you out there running and doing a marathon, and blogging about fitness.

First I want to find out, for people out there who aren’t moving or hadn’t been moving. Most of us have started our journey somewhere where we were having some type of struggle and we figured that exercise help that struggle. And all of a sudden we’re the prophets of exercise and wellness. Where did you begin? How did you start doing this?

Nellie: I actually started in college. I was a normal college girl stressed out by college things, with papers, and taking on probably too much what I was taking on. But I also started just walking around the track. It was probably around lunch time, I take my lunch break and I started walking around the track. And I started going longer, and longer, and longer. And then after a while I started to jog a little bit.

But I realized that on the days I didn’t do it I was more stressed out on the days that I did. I started moving there. I joined a local gym for about $20 in Brooklyn. I started getting on the elliptical, so maybe 10 minutes at a time, and then 20 minutes at a time. A couple of years later I was introduced to weights, and that’s when the game changed because I started to lift weights and really started seeing super differences in my body.

But really, moving for me, and like you said before, I’m actually a blood type O as well. Being active is something that I love to do. I’m a certified Zumba instructor now. I run marathons. I’m going to run the New York City Marathon again this year. But moving for me is therapy. I feel so much better afterwards.

I work a nine to five right now, a full-time job, as well as my blog. But usually you can find me in the gym during my lunch break because it is such a great time to, half to myself, because I’m a mother as well. As well as go work out, move my body for 30 minutes, feel so much better, and come back with a renewed spirit.

Dr. Veronica: I’m going to point out some highlights of this story. Because people have a way of excusing themselves into why they can’t move. Nellie has a full-time job. She has two sons who are four and seven. She’s happily married. She also does Brooklyn Active Mama and blogs quite regularly. She does the Zumba too. She’s a Zumba instructor.

People say, “I’m too busy. I can’t figure out when to do it.” Nellie to me would just encapsulate what busy means. If it it’s a value to you, you figure out when to do it. You figure out, “Hey, instead of me eating crap I shouldn’t be eating over lunch, I’m going to go work out. Was there a time where you were duped into thinking that you couldn’t find the time at all? Did you even have a time in your life where it was like that?

Nellie: Yeah, actually. Right before I started working out and everything got a little crazy I actually felt like why even bother. I would see things on TV. I would see people on TV talking about exercise… But I’ve never seen anyone in my family do it so why should it be important to me?

And also when you have so much going on it’s so easy to lose track of time. It’s so easy to go forward with a different project or put something else first. Sometimes you simply have to put yourself first and say, “There’s 15 minutes. I’m not going to be on Facebook. I’m not going to binge watch my favorite television show. And I’m going to take this time for me.”

And guess what, I’m going to go outside. It’s a nice day. Right now it’s 50 degrees in New York City. It’s a really great time to just go and walk for 10-15 minutes, and just get your body moving for a little bit. It’s so easy to fall into a trap and think that you’re still busy. But it’s also really easy to find the time if you really try hard enough.

Dr. Veronica: Okay. I hear you have this real weakness for reality TV. And that’s one of those things where I look at people and I say, “Why are they wasting their time like that? I know so many people are watching. I go places and I’m subject to watching this mindless stuff and I feel like, “Oh my god, this is what’s the matter with America.” But tell us about what your favorite shows are.

Because I keep up with this stuff because I got to. Because when you talk to a lot of people you got to know what’s going on in the world. So what are your favorite shows?

Nellie: They’re the worst of the worst. My favorite show is probably the Real Housewives of Atlanta. There’s a new one, The Real Housewives of Potomac. And they’re really entertaining. But let me tell you a secret Dr. Veronica. By the time they come on obviously my kids are already in bed. It’s after 8pm. And what I do is I actually either grab my weights and I start working out during the show. And the time just goes by so quickly, because I’m watching the show and I’m realizing that I’m doing so much work. That’s really super big key to me working out at home.

Also, another show that I watch is Love and Hip-hop because as a millennial African American woman it’s really funny and hysterical. And after a long day of work it’s like my own little telenovela.

Dr. Veronica: For those of you who… I’ve seen Love and Hip-hop and I get so embarrassed. I got to just let you know it, just tell it for real. I’m just like, if anybody’s watching this other than black people I’m so embarrassed that they think this is how we are. This is not how we are.

But you know what’s keeping it alive? People like Nellie and people like me who peek in on this. Because we want to feel like, “We ain’t like these people. And so we’re going to live our lives so we ain’t like these people.” We’re the ones, we got our hands on our hips saying, “Oh my god. What’s the matter with these people?” We use it sort of as a measuring bar to make us feel good some days. Russell, jump in and talk to Nellie, brooklynactivemama.com, author.

Russell: Hello Brooklyn.

Nellie: Hello.

Russell: I’m a Manhattanite here, so hooray New York. I’m looking at your stuff here and you say one of the things that you think is important is finding the fun in exercise. And I’ll tell you, I’ve been working out all my adult life, which is a long time. Finding the fun I find is the problem sometimes. I do find the fun, but sometimes it gets elusive. Sometimes it gets difficult. It becomes a chore.

My challenge has always been, I combat that by changing my workout, or by changing gyms. I never stay in a gym more than a couple of years because it gets dull and I need to be fresh, including surroundings, people, and so on. What do you do? Do you also face that?

Nellie: I absolutely face that. What I do mainly because music is such a huge part of my working out, I create weekly playlist or I update my playlist. I usually try to find new music on Spotify, or YouTube, or things like that. And I create new workout playlists. It keeps the music fresh. And it gets me very excited to go and workout. Either I’ll keep new music or I’ll make maybe old school music from the 80’s or something like that. I’ll just keep it themed and fun.

Also when it comes to having fun during your workout I think it’s super important to take different classes. Because I honestly love spin. I love spinning so much. But I would not have taken spinning if I didn’t try it one day, because it looks super intimidating. And it looks like it would’ve been something that I would’ve hated. And I actually love it. So I think it’s super important to try different things like spin, bar, yoga. I actually don’t like regular yoga but I love hot yoga.

So there’s different things that you can try and see which one keeps you happy. If you love to dance Zumba is amazing, hip-hop dance, anything really that gets your body moving that you like to do is really key.

Dr. Veronica: And I think that’s super important that you realize anything that gets your body moving. So you have to extend it just even outside the gym. Think about things like line dancing or ballroom dancing, or things like that. I’ve done some of those. I don’t line dance. But my mother who’s 80 years old goes a couple of times a week line dancing. And also I used to do Argentine tango.

The fun thing about those is, first of all you know they’ve done studies to show that people who are doing things like ballroom dancing and tango and things like that have less depression than people who don’t. First of all it gets your mind thinking about other things. People stay depressed because they keep thinking about all their woes. It’s not just about I have a chemical imbalance, but that you’re thinking “I have a chemical imbalance” over and over again is one of the problems.

And so to get your mind off of your woes or whatever’s going on, to do something like a dance where you have to concentrate on what you’re doing such as line dancing or ballroom dancing, is of utmost importance. What’s also great about partner dancing is… I’m talking true type partner dancing like ballroom dancing, swing, Argentine tango, or something like that, is you touch somebody else.

We’re in this world is sexual harassment is like all we talk about and we don’t get to touch each other. But touching releases hormones that help you stay well. And so if you wonder why a husband dies and his wife dies soon after. Or his wife dies and her husband dies soon after. A lot of times it’s because their grief is not just something that they’re feeling emotionally, it’s something that is changing their hormones. And that lack of touch sometimes is very important.

Think about other activities that you can do that maybe don’t involve a gym, because you can’t stand the thought of a gym. But also when you’re watching that show that’s just your guilty pleasure, you can do some movement while you’re doing that. Because guess what, while you’re watching that show and you’re all into what’s happening the time ticks away really quickly.

I can tell you I go right now. I’m training to do this 10-mile run. And I’m not going outside right now. I’m not going outside until the middle of March, until it gets warmer. I’m on that treadmill, it’s boring on that treadmill. You get used to doing it when you run a lot.

Even when I go to spin class. Spin class is fun but it can get where, “Oh my god, how much more time?” Whereas when I did Argentine tango, when I did any type of partner dancing like salsa, I wasn’t thinking about how much time. And then I’d realize when I finished whatever was going on, the session…

There are places you can go that you don’t have to take a lesson whatever. You don’t have to go to Arthur Murray, or something like this. There are ad hoc places all over that have salsa dancing, ballroom dancing, or tango where you can just go and take a group lesson. You don’t have to have a partner. You can show up without it. It’s just people who like to dance.

And what’s great about this is it’s an activity where it’s fun. You’re meeting people. You’re touching people. And the activity does not surround food. A lot of times when we’re having fun it was like, “When we get together we’re going to go out and eat.” What if you go out and dance? What if you go line dancing even? Even if you’re not touching anybody there is the energy in the air that you’re able to use. Do something that you think is fun to be able to move.

Okay Nellie, I got to ask you the sister question. What do you think’s going on in our community with health and wellness? Why do you think it’s been such a challenge?

Nellie: I think it’s been such a challenge because no one’s talking about it. I think because we are accepting each other, which is great, because we’re all beautiful and we all have different body sizes and so forth. But I think no one’s really talking about what’s happening on the inside of our bodies, and what we’re doing to ourselves by not being aware of what we’re eating. I think that’s really the key.

Because I, as well as two of my friends, we plan a summit from the past two years. It was called the Healthy You Conference. It was basically where we had a full conference day. It was 10 to 3pm. And we had African women really come together and just talk about wellness.

And I think that is just so important that we speak about it. That we speak about how the food choices that we make are crucial to how we continue, how we survive, and how we beat the… If someone may have diabetes in their family. Someone may have high blood pressure in their family. These are things that are continually coming through every single generation.

And why is that? It’s because of the foods we eat. It’s because of the things we do. It’s because we’re not moving. And we kind of need to really talk about it or we can stop all of those trends in their tracks.

Dr. Veronica: This is not just a problem in the African-American community. I have friends and clients who are Italian-American and their diets tend to be very health harming in a lot of ways. So I know it’s not just something that exists in the African American community. But what I’ve seen, people say, “These diseases run in the family.” What really runs in the family…

Let me just explain this to you. There is a big field out there, well-known among medical professionals called epigenetics. And what does that mean? It means what’s passed down, only 15% of what happens to you is in the genes. Whether that gene or that DNA is turned on or not depends on your lifestyle choices. What people are really passing down is not the diabetes, not the sugar. They’re passing down cultural attitudes, eating styles, emotional styles.

Don’t get with people around the holiday. Everybody around the holiday gets so emotional. “What’s going to cooked for Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or New Year’s, or whatever holiday there is.” And you cannot tell people that they can’t have that on the holiday. Nobody wants to start their diet plan over the holiday because they may be deprived of the candy sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and that gravy that’s killing you with the gluten in it.

And so what we have to start doing is realizing that, yes, I have a father that’s a diabetic. And my mother’s mildly diabetic, it runs in the family. Let me just tell everybody, because of that I’ve always been determined that I’m going to be well. And since I’ve seen this I said, “I’m going to be well.

Notice, it also is in your language about what you’re going to be. The people that say, “Everybody in my family’s going to be fat. Or every in my family has it so therefore I’m going to have it. Well, guess what, you spoke it into being. Seriously, because you can turn on and off stuff. I know that, and medical science has shown that now.

I want to thank Nellie for being on the show. Go to brooklynactivemama.com. I hope Nellie, maybe one day we’ll see each other at one of the races. All you people out there who say… “I had a major knee injury three years ago. Seven hour surgery later, guess how I got it.

You’re going to say, “This shows that exercise is bad for your health.” I went out running one day. I was running down 5th avenue. I passed the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and then I tripped and fell. And I dislocated my knee. I tore all of the ligaments and detached the tendons.

I had a reconstruction of my knee, where everything was repaired except for one ligament that had started peeling. That’s three. The end of the tendon was attached. I have metal. I have graphs all in my left knee.

I’ll let you know that I’m back to running. I’m back to wearing my high heels, why? Because I was determined that I was going to do it. I now understand why people are in wheelchairs, walkers, and canes. But I also understand that the people who got out of it are the people that decided, “I’m going to get back where I want to be.” And they were determined in their minds.

So me being determined in my mind means that, “Okay, now I’m back up where I can run five miles. And by May 1st I won’t be doing the Broad Street Run, and doing that 10 miles. And come fall I’ll probably do a half marathon. I don’t know if I’ll do a full marathon again.

But I’m a type A personality so you know that I would probably be doing a full marathon again. Just because I want to prove to people who think that you cannot get back. And especially say, “I’m too old. Or I got hurt.” But you can do it.

Lots of physical therapy with out of pocket costs. I go to my trainer every week because I invest in my health. It has nothing to do with what my doctor… My doctor fixed me, but then I invested in a team of people. And then also a community of friends who were able to help support me back to my goal.

Nelly, keep blogging on brooklynactivemama.com. I hope that I run into you at a race somewhere, just thank you for doing what you’re doing, and being a role model. Look at Nellie, because looks like a regular girl when you just look at her. So I want you to see that she looks regular She’s fit. But she just looks like everybody else. And so there’s different body types.

This is Wellness for the Real World. I’m Dr. Veronica, medical doctor, medical intuitive. You can find me at drveronica.com. I love to hear from you.

Female VO: Thank you for listening to the Wellness Revolution Podcast. If you want to hear more on how to bring wellness into your life visit drveronica.com. See you all next week. Take care.



Dr. Veronica Anderson is an MD, Functional Medicine practitioner, Homeopath. and Medical Intuitive. As a national speaker and designer of the Functional Fix and Rejuvenation Journey programs, she helps people who feel like their doctors have failed them. She advocates science-based natural, holistic, and complementary treatments to address the root cause of disease. Dr. Veronica is a highly-sought guest on national television and syndicated radio and hosts her own radio show, Wellness for the REAL World, on FOX Sports 920 AM “the Jersey” on Mondays at 7:00 pm ET.

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