At first glance a human resources professional and someone who works with others to improve their health and wellness might not seem to have much in common.
But for Joanne Witmyer there’s a connection – to benefit people whether that be in the workplace or in their personal lives.
In February, Witmyer, who for years worked in human resources departments, launched Indigo Health & Wellness, where she holds cooking classes and wellness workshops as well as individual counseling sessions to help clients get the most out of life.
That may seem rather straightforward, but with so many people trying to maintain increasingly hectic schedules, eating nutritionally sound meals and having balance in their lives can be elusive.
“I find it helpful for myself and for other people to look at it not as a deprivation but to say, okay, what is one thing you can do today so you can start the momentum, and then there’s action behind it to add something that’s going to make you feel better, more balanced, give you more energy instead of saying what am I not going to have,” Witmyer said.
That often means advising people on how to cook and serve fresh meals that are relatively quick and easy to prepare.
During one workshop this spring at the North Castle Public Library in Armonk, Witmyer led a session on how to maintain a backyard garden growing seasonal vegetables to supplement one’s meals in a fun and simple way.
Other workshops have focused on organic gardening and companion planting, which is how to pair different types of plants that will maximize their growth. Witmyer has also organized team-building workshops through cooking classes at companies.
Witmyer instructs people on how they can attain their lifestyle goals by devising a unique program that will fit in with their schedules and tastes. But it’s not only about providing clients with nutrition-related information.
“Oftentimes they know what they should be doing but they really need support to figure out what’s driving their behavior to not do it,” said Witmyer, 46, who has lived in Briarcliff Manor the past two years after moving from Mount Kisco. “It’s really being supportive and really holding them accountable for what they want to achieve.”
Witmyer’s growing interest and awareness in achieving a healthier lifestyle developed over time. Someone who had long enjoyed to cook, during her human resources career she often noticed how various factors in employees’ lives would impact their health, happiness and performance. About seven years ago she began participating in yoga classes.
“I’m particularly interested in the kind of root of it, which is what people eat and how it drives their health and performance and really their well-being, their sense of balance,” said Witmyer, who grew up in Lancaster, Pa. “So I just kind of connected the two.”
Although Witmyer, who holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Penn State, had dreamed about owning her own business someday, her decision to enroll at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in Manhattan for its yearlong certification course was for her personal enhancement. Witmyer learned not only about food but different philosophies and how to tailor them to every individual’s needs.
By the time she completed the program, she concluded that she could fuse her interests in health and wellness, food and her business background.
“When I originally started the certificate program I wasn’t thinking about, oh, I definitely wanted to do that,” said Witmyer, who enjoys gardening and hiking in her free time. “But then I decided to. I like the creativity that’s involved in creating a business. I have an MBA so I feel like I’m putting that to good use, particularly with marketing, which is part of developing the relationships in a way that is genuine.”
In addition to holding workshops, Witmyer has given cooking demonstrations at the Ossining and Croton farmers markets. She hopes to continue to grow her business and reach many more people.
“It doesn’t have to be for health necessarily, but to give them the information that they need to make some positive changes,” Witmyer said.