If you follow Niki Connor on any of her social channels, then you know she’s one healthy, holistic babe. She’s completely dedicated to living her life as healthy as possible. And it’s pretty damn inspiring.
And after talking with her, I gotta say I was suppperrrr impressed. She really, really knows her stuff. Plus she’s a Holistic Health & Nutritional Counselor and Plant-Based Personal Chef, doesn’t drink alcohol, works out religiously, AND meditates!! I mean!!
You guys will love Niki & her inspiring health/fitness journey:
+ Oh hi! Introduce yourself & tell us what you’re about!
Niki Connor: My name is Niki Connor, I’m originally from San Diego and moved to New York from Los Angeles a few years ago to start my business and continue my education. I’m a Holistic Health & Nutritional Counselor and Plant-Based Personal Chef specializing in gluten-free vegan cuisine. I’ve been into health and fitness all my life and am a former professional athlete ( nationally competitive show jumping & American football ), so I absolutely love what I do, though there’s still much to learn!
I’m starting my studies in Ayurveda this fall and am saving for culinary school right now to become certified there as well. I’m a self-taught chef! It all started when some of my clients came to me complaining that the food options at their offices were terrible or they didn’t have time to prepare enough of their own meals.
Due to the fact that I’m a health and nutrition practitioner and my family and friends love my dishes, I decided to start preparing food for clients as well. I now make portion-controlled meals ranging from snacks and office lunches, home-cooked dinners for families and catering small events.
Though I only prepare gluten-free vegan meals, many of my clients are not vegan, so I let them do what they want with the dishes once I’m done with them, though most end up enjoying them as they are because they don’t taste healthy or vegan, including their kids! I’m currently working on creating a site to share some of my recipes, so stay tuned! The reason my company is called TheH3 ( Healthy * Happy * Hot ) is because my whole message for my work is becoming beautiful from the inside out physically, mentally, & emotionally.
Health and fitness is just as mental as it is physical, so I spend 6 months to a year with each client because its about making a permanent lifestyle change, not ‘get thin quick’ schemes. To get that glow you don’t just need to look good, you need to feel good too!
+ Ok so what’s the deal with the mushroom powder? I tried it & I’m obsessed ( << post to come! ):
NC: Aside from my own business, I also work for the company Matrix Healthwerks. We grow certified organic medicinal mushrooms in North County San Diego to create the products & they’re improved my health & overall well-being dramatically. We take different species and turn them into powder form so that we can package them on their own as well as blend different species together to provide a range of nutritional benefits.
The Lion’s Mane and Cordyceps helped me get off of medication completely, and with the Beauty Matrix blend, I have to cut my nails every week and my hair is growing like crazy! Since I started taking the Mushroom Matrix products, I’ve only been sick once in three years because mushrooms are a true superfood & boost your immune system like crazy. All of the products are certified organic, non-GMO, vegan, kosher, raw, & full of powerful antioxidants to help reduce free-radical damage. Taking a scoop of NRG Matrix or Fit Matrix in a bottle of water or juice prior to a workout is an absolute must, and I like to follow that with a post-workout smoothie containing Beauty Matrix.
+ Favorite ways to get healthy proteins?
NC: I don’t usually call myself a vegan because I can’t give up my precious leather pants, but I do eat vegan and though I haven’t been diagnosed as gluten-intolerant, I avoid it as often as possible because I feel much better without it and know that’s the healthier way to go for everyone. The first thing people ask me when they find out that I eat vegan is “how do you get your protein?!”
How do you think gorillas get their protein? Plants!
Wow, I just compared myself to a gorilla….great. Anyways, I’m obsessed with E3Live, a blue-green algae that is the most protein-rich nutrient on the planet. It contains 40% more protein than animal protein, over 65 vitamins and minerals, and nearly five times more chlorophyll than a shot of wheatgrass. It must be kept frozen, so I like to freeze mine in ice trays so that I can pop a cube into my daily juices and smoothies. I can assure you that it doesn’t taste bad and will make you feel full and energized every day.
I’m also a fan of protein-rich hemp, chia seeds, flaxseeds ( it’s better to get them ground so that your body doesn’t have to break them down ), veggies, nut butters, & legumes.
+ Gotta know: what’s your favorite healthy fats?
NC: Clients often ask me if they should go on a “low-fat diet.” Hell no!
That word “diet” alone makes me shudder. Just like there are good carbs and bad carbs, there are good fats & bad fats. I make my own nut butters ( almond, cashew, peanut ) & I love avocados and beans. Though I eat vegan, I avoid soy products aside from the occasional tofu or edamame, because too much soy can cause excess estrogen exposure & over 90% of the soy in the US is genetically modified ( AKA GMO’s ).
The reason I’m not a fully-raw vegan is because I’m not meant to be, with my heritage ( White Mutt ), my body goes out of whack if I only eat raw for over two weeks straight. Instead of doing juice cleanses, I’ll add raw dishes to stay energized, full, & active during the process.
I’m not one of those hardcore vegans, because it would break my grandmother’s heart if I refused to eat at least one of her cookies when I visit, and if I go to a birthday party & I’m offered cake, I’ll take a bite or two. If I only ate at vegan restaurants, I wouldn’t have much of a social life because most of my friends and family are carnivores. How I am in my everyday life alone is not always the same as how I am with family and friends, because there are times where I’ll be stuck dining at a steakhouse, so I learned how to “order smart”, a method I teach clients as well.
Why do we love restaurants? Well, for one, someone else is preparing the food for you, but its also usually better than the food that you make at home. The problem is how the food is prepared in restaurants, because that egg white omelette you’re eating tastes better than the one you make at home because it was cooked in nasty, fatty butter. Yuck!
I ask for all of my cooked dishes to be prepared in olive oil instead of butter and tell the waiter that there’s no need to bring bread to the table to tempt me. I also travel with my own snacks and eat at home before going out to eat, which helps a lot! I’ll make a filling salad or green juice so that I spend less and stay fuller longer when I’m out and about. When you live in an expensive city like New York, you’ve got to know how to spend smart!
| Thoughts on meditation? I know you’re big on it! |
NC: I’m obviously a busy bee living in the most stressful city in the country, but I maintain a healthy balance through meditation and maintaining a positive attitude. I used to think that it would be too difficult to meditate because I have ADHD, but its so simple! I meditate one to three times a day for at least ten to twenty minutes each time. The best times to meditate are sunrise, noon, and sunset. I don’t always get to do it at those times, but I try my best. Now that I meditate more often, I don’t need as much sleep anyway; I recently met with Tony Robbins’ healer in Hawaii, and he only sleeps three to four hours a night because he meditates so much – yikes!
I for one love sleep, but now that I’m sober and meditate more, I’ve become more of a morning person. Doing yoga is a great introduction to meditation, especially doing so afterwards. Sit on the ground with your back straight ( you don’t have to sit like Buddha ), and focus on your breathing. The way I start is by counting ten breaths in, & ten breaths out. It slows down your heart rate almost immediately and gives you this beautiful feeling of floating in your body. Once you’ve slowed down your breathing, you can focus on relaxing every part of your body from your toes to your eyes. By focusing on your breath, all other worries are eliminated from your mind, & you come out of it with a big smile on your face.
| Go-to green drink? |
NC: I’m going to share my favorite green juice and post-workout smoothie recipes, green juice is my favorite way to start the day after consuming a cup of hot water and fresh squeezed lemon on an empty stomach. This juice gets rid of bloating and keeps you full and energized for hours! Its important to consume a high-protein meal within thirty minutes of completing a workout to feed your muscles properly. It doesn’t mean you’ll bulk up, it will just help maintain a fit physique and keep you fuller longer. I name my juices and smoothies after my favorite albums and songs because I’m weird like that. All ingredients are certified organic, of course!
+ TheH3 “PEACE FROG” JUICE
- 1 handful of kale
- 1 handful of spinach
- 1 stalk of celery
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1 green apple ( I prefer to juice with green apples because they’re more bitter )
- If you can get your hands on dandelion, add that as well, its a great diuretic!
- 1 lemon squeezed
+ TheH3 POST-WORKOUT SMOOTHIE
- 1 handful of spinach
- 1 banana
- 1 scoop of Mushroom Matrix Beauty Matrix
- 1 scoop of raw vegan protein powder (Garden of Life or hemp protein)
- 1/2 water, 1/2 almond milk
- 1 handful of medjool dates
- 1 cube/tablespoon of E3Live
- 1 dash of cinnamon
- 1 scoop of raw cacao powder ( some hemp protein powders already have it )
- 1 teaspoon ground flaxseeds
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds
+ TheH3 RAW SLAW:
- 3 carrots
- 1 1/2 lbs. asparagus
- 1 green zucchini
- 1 yellow zucchini
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1/3 cup sliced red onion
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Directions: Use a vegetable spiral slicer to slice the carrots and zucchini into a bowl. Add asparagus ( sliced in half ). Add mint. Add sliced red onion. In a separate bowl, combine coconut oil, raw honey, and dijon mustard and stir well. Add dressing, salt and pepper to the veggies. Mix and enjoy!
| Weekly workout schedule? |
NC: As far as workouts go, I am an absolute beast in the gym. Not one of those bodybuilders who grunts and struts around barely clothed, but I take it very seriously. I have a trainer who I see once or twice a week, and other than that I do workouts on my own. Friends think its ridiculous that I have a trainer because I practically grew up in a gym, but for me it’s important to maintain proper form and avoid injury.
I did CrossFit back when I lived in LA, and it totally ruined my body. Luckily my trainer specializes in physical therapy as well, so he helped “fix me”. I’ve been working out with trainers since I was twelve years old and Dariusz Garko of GarkoFit- he’s the best! He taught Hugh Jackman how to use Kettle Bells and taught me how to get strong without getting buff by using my entire body in workouts & also writes me workout plans for me to use while traveling.
I’ve been doing yoga for about fourteen years, but I have no desire to do a headstand, I do it at my own pace and use it as my time to stretch and focus on my breathing. I do bikram yoga two to three times a week, weights three times a week, and cardio for thirty to forty five minutes four to five days a week. I always allow a few days of rest.
I absolutely love Pilates, but unfortunately its very expensive in New York, so I haven’t done much here. I’m planning on starting a weekly fitness boot camp for friends in the city using workouts that I learned from football that blast fat & get lean muscle faster. I don’t do them by myself because its a group effort, but it can be done on a beach or in a park anywhere.
| SPILL! Skincare/beauty tips? |
NC: When it comes to hair and skincare, I only use products that are at least 70% certified organic because our skin is our body’s largest organ and whatever we put on it will be absorbed. I love Aura Cacia oils, Eminence Organics, Desert Essence, Dr. Alkaitis, 100% Pure, Coola sunscreen, DeVita sunscreen, coconut oil ( everywhere ), castor oil ( helps your lashes and brows grow faster ), and I recently started using a bee pollen mask.
For makeup I love Josie Maran, Tarte’s Amazonian Clay collection, & RMS Beauty. I have very sensitive skin and suffered from cystic acne as a teenager, so these products work great for anyone! I have naturally wavy hair and am lazy with it, so I usually air-dry my hair, but sometimes its fun to blow-dry it straight or throw it up in a top knot.
My daily beauty routine is facial oil, eye cream, sunscreen, curled lashes, mascara, under-eye and spot concealer, tinted moisturizer, blush, and a loose setting powder that won’t dry out my skin. I learned recently that applying concealer before foundation or tinted moisturizer helps it last longer too! I have some of the worst eyebrows ever, though they look full in photos, most of that is from makeup! Ever since childhood, my eyebrows didn’t grow much past the midpoint and get blonde easily, so I use makeup and have them tinted. Applying castor oil with a Q-tip to them nightly and taking Beauty Matrix has helped them grow in more though, that’s for sure!
+ To follow Niki on Instagram, click here.