My personal journey has been defined by creativity, curiosity, taking chances and optimism. Despite plenty of disappointments and difficult times, I have always considered myself to be a person who is resilient and takes action.
When I was 9 years old, I knew I wanted to be a professional performer. By the time I was 10 I was fortunate enough to be a part of the cast of ANNIE on Broadway and continued on my path in show business well into my 30’s. I was lucky to have parents that were incredibly supportive and made it possible for me to have the opportunity to follow my dreams. They instilled an incredible sense of confidence in me, and taught me that my struggles were my greatest teachers and only made me stronger. Through the years I landed many wonderful roles, went to NYU Tisch School of the Arts and lived the life of an artist in NYC which also meant stretches of time with no acting work, living in sublets, waiting tables and temping.
I grew up in a family that loved food and cooking. In my early 20’s, while many of my friends were still ordering take-out and eating ramen, I was grocery shopping and making healthy and delicious meals. When word got out, friends started asking if they could pay me to get the ingredients and cook for them on Sunday nights. Gathering around wholesome meals prepared with love sparked something in me. I continued to cook, and in between acting I started working at a catering job where I became friends with the chef. Sometimes I got to work in the kitchen. I had dinner parties. People started thinking of me as a great cook and a person who knew about food.
When I was 29 and working at a theatre in San Diego I took my first yoga class at the local gym. I was hooked on everything—the movement, the philosophy, the spirituality. I continued to practice yoga when I returned to NYC and 4 years later I took my first Teacher Training. I was at a definitive crossroads. The ups and downs of show business were exhausting, a relationship was coming to an end, and in between acting gigs I was working as a waitress. I had already gone to an orientation for culinary school but couldn’t afford it. I started teaching yoga in 2001. I didn’t know where I wanted it to go, but knew it was a way to shift things in a new direction. Soon my schedule was full with classes and private yoga clients and I began noticing that everyone (including me) was stressed and not feeling their best. My students were coming to me and sharing their stories and asking for advice about everything from injuries and illnesses to relationships and family matters. I realized that so many people really wanted to have healthy bodies and minds.
I have never been someone who could just eat whatever I wanted and also maintain my weight. When I was younger, I danced and exercised so much that it usually balanced itself out. I didn’t develop an eating disorder, but as a performer I was ALWAYS thinking about my body and my appearance. My relationship with food, eating and diet has always been complicated and somewhat fraught because I love good food and I love cooking, yet I also want to be healthy and feel my best. Starting in my 30’s, even with a regular (or rigorous) exercise routine I noticed that maintaining my weight was more challenging. I also started getting some injuries—plantar fasciitis, a labral tear in my hip… years of dancing and then a lot of yoga without great alignment were starting to take a toll. Two defining things came of this: I learned about nutrition and I became a yoga alignment expert.
Over the years whenever I wanted to lose a few pounds I would use the Weight Watchers plan. I would lose weight but since I was on a diet as soon as I would go back to being “normal” I would gain weight again. I wondered if it was possible to just have a way of being “normal” while also having the body that I desired. Everywhere I turned there was a new diet to try: The South Beach Diet, Atkins, juice cleanses. Carbs were becoming an enemy to the people and being gluten free was in fashion. My gut was telling me that none of this was one size fits all. Many of these diets seemed like fads, sometimes unhealthy and often contradictory. It was confusing to say the least. I wanted to know WHAT I should be eating for my body and I also wanted to know WHY. I sought out an Ayurvedic doctor and DID find out what I should be eating for my dosha or “type,” as well as what lifestyle habits were most recommended for me. I tried to do everything he told me but it was pretty austere for a single woman living and dating in New York City. Then someone told me about a holistic nutritionist who did metabolic testing that could tell you everything about what was going on in your body. I didn’t have any major issues but I wanted this test! I got my results and in addition to finding out crazy things like that my body wasn’t processing any vitamin B (which is very important for metabolism), I also had completely burned out adrenal glands (apparently this is pretty standard). At this point everything started coming together. I knew what foods I needed to eat (or not eat) and WHY, but diet and nutrition were only part of the big holistic health plan—so was lifestyle, stress management and connecting to my intuition. As soon as I had a better understanding of my unique body, metabolism, what areas of my life needed attention and what creative energy was going unexpressed, making change was EASY.
In order to take this further, when I was 39 I started therapy. I was still single and even though I had been practicing yoga for a decade and teaching for 6 years, I felt that another layer of personal development could help me make sure I wasn’t blocking my chance for love. Once I began this next phase of self-study, I ended up hiring a musical director, created and performed a one-woman show, co-founded a Yoga Studio and met my husband. I wholeheartedly believe that we can create the life that we want to be living if we are willing to step back, let go, say yes to self and take action.
Christopher and I got married when I was 43 years old. We wanted to have a family and after trying on our own we ended up embarking on a 6 year journey of fertility treatments including IVF, donor eggs and donor embryos. It has been exhausting and heartbreaking since we did not end up with a successful outcome, but as with everything there has been darkness and light. I have learned so much about myself as well as the world of infertility. I gained (and lost) 25 lbs., injected myself with hormones, miscarried, asked a lot questions, figured things out, and taught myself how to move forward using everything that I had in my toolbox: my relationship, yoga, nutrition, acupuncture, friends and staying connected and fulfilled in the other areas of my life for balance, joy and inspiration.
The decision to become a holistic coach was organic. Stacey Brass-Russell Wellness is a culmination of sorts—a way of offering everything that I have to share with my clients and students. I believe in balance and variety. I practice yoga and take workout classes. I make smoothies and bake Bundt cakes. I am a healthy home cook and a lover of fine food and wine. I don’t live on a diet but I know when and how I need to shift the needle on the scale. Most importantly, I focus on inspired living, which I feel is essential to balance and wellbeing. I believe that humans are designed to lead with love, be brilliant, evolve and connect to the universe—and that is the vision that I bring to everything I do.
Because I want you to feel your best in every way possible I am offering you a FREE Discovery Session with me! This powerful 60 Minute Session is my gift to you, where we will discover what your vision is for your health and life and uncover what might be stopping you, slowing you down, or preventing you from having what you want, so you know what to do next to move forward. There is no obligation – only your curiosity and readiness for a guaranteed breakthrough.