By Marc Ang
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 9/29/21 – What I like about Nora Tobin is she’s results-focused. In the health and wellness industry, many peddle expertise and some grandiose status but Nora is refreshingly down to earth, practical, and focused on real solutions and tangibles. For busy, working professionals, we need practical tips to manage the inevitable stress we experience day to day. My interview with Nora was one of the most refreshing and substantial, as we focused on positive feel-good solutions, not theoretical concepts or paralysis-by-analysis stuff.
I like Nora’s focus on the immune system, as I myself went from a sickly kid to a knock-on-wood, healthy adult with more energy than ever, after weening myself off the “pop a pill” mentality around age 10. Despite getting sick quite a bit in my teens and twenties, I built up my natural immunity. It was not a quick journey but the benefits are well worth it and many of Nora’s techniques ring true for me.
These small and incremental movements towards promoting everyday health are captured in Nora’s business model. She starts with the number one drink for the busy professional: coffee. Nora’s Naturals Organic Coffee sources high antioxidant single-origin coffee from Guatemalan and Nicaraguan farms. The coffee beans are grown in volcanic soil, which is rich in silica (essential for collagen production, which produces better skin, hair, and nails) and packed with antioxidants for brain health and physical health. She is about to work on a farm in Malawi with mostly female farmers. It is one decision we can make a day that will promote your health but also help promote an economic benefit to agricultural sectors in remote locations. And this high-quality coffee is free from toxins. “You shouldn’t be crashing after a coffee high”, Nora says. This high-grade coffee is available on her website as a subscription.
It will also be featured at the Emmy gifting suite, where Nora will have an elixir bar in the hospitality space. Elixirs basically are an upgrade of the coffee she sells, specialty made with different ingredients, served hot or cold. Elixir bars are set up at live events usually. Nora has 4 different elixirs with different health benefits. Fat burning, for example, has tea oil. Her goal is to get it to become a mainstream staple at busy film studios.
Her coffee line and the pandemic have also spawned “Coffee and Conversations”, where her coffee is shipped to different offices and those working remotely. It becomes a bonding opportunity as coworkers each brew their coffee in the privacy of their space and then resumes conversations over Zoom. Nora leads these by sharing her top strategies for performance. Everyone then breaks off into 1-on-1 networking. How fun.
Nora’s story begins in Lake Tahoe, where she grew up. Fitness was always fun for her as a child and her first attempt at a career was to be a professional beach volleyball player, but that ultimately wasn’t successful. However, through that and other failures, she was able to parlay this into the media as a spokesperson. After some smaller gigs with individual hotels as a health and wellness expert presenting in retreats and videos, her big break came when Marriott bought Starwood. She reached out to the executive team as it relates to hospitality and health and wellness. The W hotels, marketed to the younger generation, for example, had yoga theory when Nora started, but that was it. She was soon able to become their wellness partner and brought her wisdom and projects to an international level through global organizations. Years of individual hotels and years of pitches, and a lot of no’s before the key yes comes along. A lot of setbacks were the building blocks of her success. Now, wellness for business professionals is her niche.
Besides this, life wisdom, Nora had a lot of important bite-sized tidbits to share in our interview.
Diet: Nora’s focus is on awareness around Insulin. There are strategies to lower insulin. Any time we eat sugar or processed foods, with lots of simple sugars, or refined carbs like chips and crackers, it raises insulin, goes straight into our bloodstream, and affects our weight management, sleep, and immunity. Instead of reaching for a processed nutrition bar that’s packaged, Nora recommends we take food in its full form such as apples, nuts, etc. A bag of pretzels is only 90 calories in contrast to an avocado, which has higher calories and high fat, but we need that fat. The avocado is healthier than the bar. Eat quality whole foods, Nora says.
A second strategy is the 8-hour eating window, or intermittent fasting. In the 16 hours you don’t eat, your body is in cellular cleanup mode, regenerating health and energy more efficiently.
The third component of nutrition involves incorporating foods that will help lower inflammation such as berries, greens, chocolate, that are rich in antioxidants. Green tea, matcha, and black tea have great antioxidants and lower inflammation. Green teas also have the ability to increase immunity protection.
Supplements: Nora also takes magnesium supplements before she goes to bed. Magnesium, in general, has been depleted and we don’t get enough of it in our diet. She does this especially when she is traveling and has to deal with natural stress. Supplements are a crowded market. But there are supplements that are necessary as they are now rarer in the food we eat, such as magnesium which also helps with anxiety. Vitamin D3 is hard to get and is good for mood and immune system boost. Fish oil is good too but Nora would rather just eat fish instead of resorting to supplements. Nora also recommends to get high quality fish oil. You don’t want there to be a mix of unhealthy oils, which are found in cheaper fish oil supplements. Quality of the supplements is key.
3 Main Areas: Nora focuses on three main areas: Stress, sleep and immunity. Sleep is important to engage the cognitive cleaning process, muscle repair and hormonal balance. Immunity is something to strengthen in everyday life. And stress can be managed through energy and nutrition.
Nora understands the working person and her specific strategies are looking to maximize efficiency for the busy professional. She has created accessible tools that don’t sacrifice too much time or enjoyment, but focus more on overall impact. Her work is geared towards those in a high performance work week in a corporate setting, entrepreneurs or even Hollywood.
Sleep: Getting quality sleep and shutting brain down is key for Nora. She makes sure that her room is cold, and turns off notifications on her phone after 8 pm to ensure quality sleep. As a morning person, she loves to get out in the sunlight in the morning for at least 15 minutes without sunglasses or sunscreen, as it helps circadian rhythms. An added benefit to this is it releases natural melatonin in the evening and helps the rhythm flow like clockwork.
On average, when Nora’s in town, at home, 7 to 9 hours is what’s best. It comes down to quality. Studies show less than 7 and more than 9 is detrimental. You have to get to the sweet spot, where you improve your brain power and repair. During travel, she gets less but Nora incorporate things to help body repair if she has less time to catch the z’s. 15 minutes between meetings could be good for a nap but even if you have a hard time falling asleep, lying with your legs up on the wall, helps the body shift to the parasympathetic system and engages quick repair and quick energy. Naps can be good, but not always feasible.
Different stages of sleep are equally important and this includes REM and non-REM stages. Beta brain waves are what we work with, most times, which is high stress. Sleep gets us in a state of delta brain waves, where we can feel we have the best rest and are able to access what she calls, an alpha flow state. “The flow state is where our creativity happens”, Nora says.
While I’m a night person and she’s a morning person, Nora says there are different prototypes for different sleepers. As long as you’re getting quality sleep, or drop into sleep quickly, that’s not a problem to be a night person. Listening to your body is most important. Nora, being a morning person, plays to her strengths and in the afternoon, she does her emails when she’s less creative and reserves her creative work for the mornings.
Time component and stress. Meditation and yoga is not practical for many, Nora understands. We need strategies to “meet us in the moment”. Breathing exercises such as inhaling for a 3 second count and a long exhale for 5 seconds work great. The longer exhale puts the body in a calm state out of “fight and flight” mode. Even just for a minute allows us to feel the difference. Taking a breath out of your chest instead into the diaphragm and lower abdominal area makes a world of a difference.
Nora goes after the notifications again. She thinks the world is inundated with micro stressors and thinks the multitude of notifications on our phone that is coming up every single time, creates a stress response and cortisol. She counters this with implementing positive stress, such as deep breathing techniques and helping the body adapt. If you go to the freezer and get a full ice cube and put it on your face, this can create positive stress, with gut benefits, as an added bonus. It calms your stress response quickly in the moment. Otherwise, take a cold shower, or cold therapy, or a cryogenic chamber, which forces the body to adapt and raise your metabolic rate, subsequently turning on your immune defense.
COVID Adaptation: Nora experienced high stress when all her events were cancelled and was forced to recreate her business. This also happened while she was launching her coffee brand, which she had taken years to develop. Social interaction is very important and COVID stopped her in her tracks. COVID prevented normal and random interactions.
She also believed that computer screen lights mess up circadian rhythms, hindering our overall concentration and reduces focus, the way it hits the hypothalamus, and activates the amygdala, which is our fear response and increases this fear. Aside from the news and psychological stress of COVID, the light itself affects us. Her remedy and solution is sunlight in the morning, 3 minute movements, releasing energy that’s stagnant from body, connect with teams and other people in your life, which in turn, inspires new habits. Part of her corporate wellness training includes 5 things that can be done with other people and a challenge. One of them is competing with your coworkers on a challenge to drink 64 ounces of water a day.
Future Projects: Nora is looking forward to the world opening up and has wellness retreats on the Ritz Carlton yachts, and other in-person retreats for next summer. Nora will continue her daily practical content on instagram @noratobin. She can also be found at Norasnaturalscoffe.com and noratobin.com. Her goal is to keep growing her influence in the LA and Hollywood markets, working with teams to support production in entertainment. Nora’s Naturals Coffee and elixir bars would be great for those working around the clock. She would love to help manage teams with her stress lowering techniques and manage all the pressure to deliver on tight schedules.
I leave you with Nora’s Naturals top immune strengthening coffee recipe to help keep you feeling healthy and alert:
Immune Strengthening: Superfood Coffee
1 cup hot Nora’s Naturals coffee
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon raw maca powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract natural sweetener of choice (raw coconut sugar, stevia, pure maple syrup)
Splash of heavy cream or almond milk
Combine all ingredients in a blender or mix well in a coffee mug.
Brew, blend, and enjoy!