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A Moment With Nina Curtis

Nina Curtis’ healing vibe is obvious from the moment you meet her, thanks in part to an impossibly bright smile.

Born into a family of energy workers and open minds, she has now spent 25 years teaching others—including many experts in the field— via seminars, lectures and workshops about principles of health, wellness and beauty.

The Nile Institute, her LA “Source Vitál” spa and haven, is housed in a sweet, peaceful cottage on a tree-lined street, though just steps from Hollywood’s hustle and bustle. There, she treats and coaches clients based on principles of holistic skincare and health, nourishing the mind, body and soul at once. 

To say that Curtis is well-trained is an understatement: she is a certified natural health professional, health and wellness coach, iridologist, Kemetic yoga instructor, Living Light Institute gourmet raw foods chef and raw food nutrition educator, as well as a certified expert in aromatherapy, reflexology, Manual Lymphatic Drainage, acupressure, energy modalities, Reiki and color light therapy. She received a MBA from Pepperdine University and is currently studying for her naturopathic medical degree. 

Here, she tells us about her journey from resistant kid to disciplined health and wellness coach and why, sometimes, we just have to let ourselves off the hook. 

Live The Process: Were there elements of your childhood that inspired an interest in healing, wellness and alternative thinking?

Nina Curtis: Yes, both my mother and my grandmother always seemed to have a natural fix for everything—”feed a cold, starve a fever” type remedies. When I wasn’t feeling well, my grandmother would put her hands on me in what we call “laying of the hands,” using energy to make me feel better. My great great grandmother was Lumbee Indian and was a spiritual minister. In the 1940s, she had a church off what is now the 110 freeway in Los Angeles, so healing hands, energy and natural remedies were and are the norm in my family. As a kid, I did not necessarily see this as cool, just what it was. My Aunt was into Eastern practices too. When I was six years old, she would take me with her to Santa Monica Beach early Saturday mornings and we would do Hatha Yoga. I did not understand what it was at that time and all I wanted to do was find another kid with whom to catch sand crabs! I vowed never to sit in Lotus pose when I grew up: Now I am a certified Kemetic yoga instructor. So much for never! It took me years of learning and experience to realize that the treasure has always been right within me, much like described in the “Alchemist.”

LTP: How did you find your wellness path as an adult?  Were you always inspired to live healthfully?

NC: When I began natural body building in my early twenties, I stopped eating beef. My body just no longer desired it. My diet while body building was so restrictive at times; I really wanted to understand how food and exercise were affecting it. I became certified as a fitness trainer just so I could understand my own body better. That’s when I really became interested in nutrition and health. I don’t think I was thinking in the term of wellness so much at the time. Since a young age, I always had a voracious appetite and a fast metabolism, so all through high school, college and beyond I never had to worry about weight. I do remember going on the Beverly Hills diet when I lived in Northern California, just because it was in fashion. After about a week, a friend asked me what I was trying to lose. We laughed and I stopped!

LTP: What is the greatest obstacle to your health and wellness and what tips would you offer to people who struggle with temptation?

NC: I am a very disciplined person from my body building days. When I’d be in training for a competition and I wanted to eat something that wasn’t on my diet, I would put it in the freezer. There was something about knowing that I could have it if I wanted, but my desire to achieve was much stronger than the food at that moment. When I’d go back to enjoy it after a competition, I often no longer wanted it. I know that there is a huge psychological leap when we want something that we’ve decided no longer serves us, is not good for us, body, mind or spirit. It takes self love and discipline to fight the temptation. The other thing that I will say is, if you do give into a temptation, enjoy it and move on. Don’t beat yourself up over it. That does much more harm.

LTP: What is your wellness regimen?

NC: I eat a high raw diet, meaning that I usually eat an 80+ percent raw, vegan diet. I am most interested in being a conscious eater, aware of the healing powers of food and the connection that we should have with our foods.

I am an avid practitioner of healing techniques for myself: I love to take aromatherapy baths and I use biodynamic and organic skincare products. I give myself a foot reflexology treatment most every night as it lets me unwind from my day. I do lymphatic dry brushing every morning and I practice energy work on myself. I love working with gemstones, crystals and flower essences. When you work with others as I do, you have to recalibrate your energy on a daily basis.

LTP: When did you found the Nile Institute and how has that evolved?

NC: I launched the Nile Institute twenty years ago. I offer holistic skincare treatments and products plus aromatherapy, reflexology, color light therapy, iridology and health and wellness coaching. I’ve expanded my offerings to include teaching the benefits of eating a raw food diet for the beauty of your skin and body and I teach raw food preparation classes along with coaching.

I am expanding with a concept called “Beauty & the Beet” right now, where I focus on bridging the gap between beauty and food. It includes lessons like Eat Right For Your Skin Type, JuicedBeauty From The Inside Out and Eat Your Skincare. I don’t think that people really understand the deep connection between food and beauty, even above products in a jar. 

LTP: What does happiness look like to you?

NC: Being completely comfortable in my own skin. Being open to the process of growth and change and to leaving the comfort of the cocoon behind and become a butterfly. I just try to enjoy the magic of each day, even with its ups and downs.

LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how do you do that every day?

NC: I acknowledge that I am a work in progress, so I step out with my construction hat on at all times. I have learned to be kinder to myself. I am more of a “detailista” versus a perfectionist and I remind myself that I am not in a hurry for anything. Believe me, this takes practice, but it is fun and I laugh with myself along the way.

photo credits: ruby james, alana paterson