Jill Daniels Myers has been reconciling numbers and balance sheets since she was a teen.
Even before her career as a public accountant, she was treasurer of her Kadima and USY chapters at the former Nevey Shalom in Bowie.
But something wasn’t adding up in her life. “I started having health issues and I very much prefer not to deal with chemical medications, if possible,” she said.
That began a journey to taking a holistic approach to diet, exercise, mindfulness and work-life balance, which allowed her to get a handle on digestive, stress and anxiety issues that were plaguing her, even when doctors and lab reports couldn’t come up with a definitive diagnosis.
“Through mindfulness mindset, diet changes and exercise, I was able to feel and move my body to a better state of health,” said Myers, 58. “Through that process, I became very interested in how all of those [concepts] were connected.”
In early 2020, right before the COVID-19 outbreak, Myers enrolled in a health training course through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. “I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with it, but I decided to invest in myself and expand my knowledge,” she said. Soon enough she realized that this was life-changing information she wanted to share.
Last fall, Myers founded Yodaya Wellness to help others move to a healthier lifestyle through holistic one-on-one coaching. As an integrative nutrition health coach, she works individually with clients on a whole body-mind approach.
Myers said, “I’m not prescribing. I’m not diagnosing. I’m not a nutritionist. But [a client] may know that they need more physical activity and need to eat more fiber-rich foods, for example.” She guides them to make that happen in a way that fits their lifestyle and needs, which could be weekly meetings and consultations or monthly check-ins.
Integrative nutritional health coaching is more than parsing numbers like blood pressure readings, cholesterol levels and weight, she said.
“The first step is a desire to be healthy, prioritize yourself, which we often don’t do because we’re so busy taking care of everyone else,” Myers explained. “I do much more than just look at the food on the plate and the exercise that we get. Other components I look at are how you spend your days; where you have joy in your life; what spiritual practice of whatever nature you have, even if it’s daily yoga; and how you define creativity in your life.
Are you happy in your career or volunteer work? How are your relationships? What about your social life? These are all components that lead to healthy living.”
Yodaya is Hebrew for “I know.” Myers chose the name as a nod to her Jewish background as well as her desire to impart the knowledge that she believes people need to live healthier more productive lives.
She views her work as an expression of her Jewish values. “If you look to the Torah, Genesis tells us, ‘God created man and woman in His own image.’ If you subscribe to the idea that we are made in God’s image, you would want to respect and revere God. That would mean taking care of your own body, your own needs.”
“The coaching that I do will fit somebody’s holistic existence as a person. So I look not just at food and physical activity, but at someone’s whole life, including their spirituality. If people have a spiritual practice — my clients will be Jewish and non-Jewish — I coach with what works for them.”
That means respecting cultural and religious backgrounds and traditions, what foods someone eats and, as Myers says, “how they walk through life.”
But she finds a deeper spiritual element by considering Judaism’s concept of a soul, or neshamah.
“I think about the idea of whether you have a neshamah or you are a neshamah. If you think we are spiritual beings living in a material, physical world, we often talk about a person who has a beautiful soul. I like to think, well, do we have a soul or are we that soul? Your body is where that soul lives. If you don’t take care of your physical body, your neshamah has nowhere to live.”