Inspiring Health Pros
Allyson Brennan – Pharmacist and Co-founder of Emogene & Grace
You all are in for a huge treat. This gorgeous lady is a rock star. She juggles a lot on her plate and does it with a smile on her face. She is so fun to be around and lights up a room when she walks in. She is smart, hardworking, and a force to be reckoned with. She is a go-getter and an inspiration to many. I am so grateful to call her a friend. She recently launched a natural skincare company with another friend, Rachel Hoffman, Emogene & Grace. It is a MUST try. I am currently loving the peppermint and coconut milk bar. It smells amazing and I love being able to use a product that I know is also good for me without any harsh chemicals or ingredients. So after reading this interview, go check out their instagram page @emogeneandgrace to try out one of their products!
What is your occupation?
I am the Pharmacy Clinical Manager at TriStar Summit Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. I am responsible for the clinical pharmacy model and program direction while also managing our pharmacist staff. Before moving into this position, I was the Neurology/Neurovascular Clinical Pharmacist at TriStar Centennial Medical Center for 9 years. Prior to that I was the Orthopedic/Neuroscience Clinical Pharmacist at Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, AL for 4 years before relocating to the Nashville area.
How did you choose this career?
Originally, I was focused on becoming a large animal veterinarian specializing in equine leg surgeries. However, after much deliberation for what I wanted out of life, I decided to get my Doctorate in Pharmacy after refocusing on a career that allowed me to focus on my passion for medicinal chemistry and the way molecules work in the human body as well as choosing a path that allowed me to balance a career, family life and my personal goals.
What do you love about what you do?
I love the accessibility a pharmacist offers to anyone and everyone with the plethora of knowledge that we gain in our careers, in regards, to safe and effective medication therapies. I also find so much value in building the relationships with my physicians, nurses and patients with recommendations we offer for safer medication dosing, preventing side effects and drug interactions while also focusing on more streamline therapy for patients.
When you first started living a healthy lifestyle, did you have a mentor or did you find more success doing it on your own?
I grew up on a very large farm in Mississippi so I have spent my entire life outdoors and I think that, in combination with my love for nature in general, created the basis for my active lifestyle. As a teenager, I was a competitive gymnast, ran cross country, and a member of a traveling soccer team and sustained a knee injury that forced me to reevaluate an active lifestyle where I could keep my body healthy and injury free. I then began competitive swimming for two city teams and started riding horses competitively. So I guess all of that is to say I was born very active and competitive!
What pushes you out of your comfort zone?
That’s easy: a new goal that raises the bar a little each time. I was always that person who almost gave my mother and father a heart attack by pushing the envelope in regards to experiencing new things. Usually by doing this, I find a new passion or it leads me to a new interest. For example, a few years ago, I set the goal to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. The training was brutal and the summit was no easy task, but that entire experience opened up a whole new love for high altitude climbing. I came home from that trip and 3 weeks later hiked Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon in 8 hours, and completed 2 half marathons shortly after that. Since then, I added 3 more mountains to my “goal list” to complete once I start training again! Traveling is a huge part of my life, and seeing everything I can in this world while I’m fortunate enough to be alive. I have always been a risk taker and those that know me best know its hard for me to ever sit still ☺, but it is what makes me tick. I guess I’m just wired that way.
What kind of workout do you do, how many days per week do you workout, and for how long?
This depends on if I am training for a mountain or not. If I am training, getting outside and doing weighted climbs is essential while also mixing in weight training. Due to previous knee injuries, I do not run anymore, but focus on endurance training in other ways: biking, swimming and weighted climbs. Workouts are different lengths of time depending on what I am focusing on and also I have a toddler, a full time career and a side business so I can’t go workout for 5 hours a day. I’d say training workouts would be closer to 1.5-2 hours. If I am not training, I focus on working out 5-6 days a week, all with cardio and then followed with body weight HIIT or weight lifting. Those workouts are usually very abbreviated, I’d say 45 minutes to an hour.
What does a typical day of eating look like for you?
Breakfast: I intermittent fast so I have my first meal of the day at noon. When I was not intermittent fasting, I focused on almond milk/chia seed pudding. I would make with fresh fruit as a breakfast and also have 1-2 hard boiled eggs.
Lunch: During days at the hospital, this could look like no lunch (not healthy, I know ☺), to a salad and a vegetable based soup. I try to always monitor my water intake to drink at least 2 liters of water a day. I focus the majority of my protein intake coming from fish, eggs, lentils, chickpeas, and almonds.
Dinner: whatever is left on my toddlers plate after she is finished! I am a HUGE advocate in supplements and vitamins for preventative care, so I make sure I don’t miss my taking those in the morning and evening. They include a focus on antioxidants, spirulina/chlorophyll for alkalizing my body, collagen for increasing collagen synthesis and that is all in addition to the recommended vitamins (calcium, fish oil, bioavailable multivitamins, etc).
Snacks: apple with peanut butter is a go to for me.
What inspires you to live a healthy and active life?
Being a pharmacist doesn’t necessarily mean I advocate medications for everyone. I see first-hand every day at my job how common heart disease, obesity, hypertension, etc. is in our society and how the easiest thing to cure that is prevention through diet and exercise. However, this is usually the hardest for people to commit to and accomplish. I want to take as good of care of my body so I can be as active and enjoy my days to the fullest. My daughter is a huge inspiration to me, to show her that always moving and being active can lead her to experience some amazing things in this world. Lastly, I guess I can say I was born pushing the envelope on physical goals so it’s just part of what inspires me to keep moving and reach the physical goals I have in mind.
How do you stay motivated on a daily basis?
Well, lately, I have a few things that keep me consistently motivated. I have a fast paced career then come home to a toddler that I love to spend time with. Over the past three years of her life, she has completely refocused my motivation for everything. For instance, recently, I founded an all-natural skin care company with my friend, Rachael Hoffman, called Emogene & Grace, which is named after our daughters. Emogene & Grace is founded on the principle to create skincare products that are effective and free of synthetics and chemicals, affordable, and safe enough to use on our daughters. I have been able to revisit my passion for chemistry to formulate products with Rachael that are extremely effective but come from the Earth. Our mission is to represent an approach to plant based skincare that empowers women to focus on improving the health of their skin while promoting overall wellness. I want my daughter to see this balance of a career, a business and a healthy lifestyle and recognize she can create her own opportunities based on what motivates her.
How do you handle unhealthy cravings?
Gracious, don’t ask me this! Haha! I have to say “balance” is a word that stays on the forefront of my mind. I do not deprive myself, but I make sure that I balance a craving with moving every single day. If I have a specific physical goal I’m working towards, for example, training for a mountain, I grab water or a La Croix (I’m a serious addict) instead of a piece of pie. Extra weight on my body means extra weight to climb up a mountain and that translates to more work for my knees. It isn’t worth it when I’m in the climb and suffering because I didn’t keep my eating habits in check. But if I am just maintaining a healthy weight and I have worked out solid and consistent all week, I do not guilt myself or deprive myself of dessert. Life is too short to consistently deprive ourselves. I LOVE food…and wine for that matter! It just depends what goal I am working towards.
What would you say is the key to balancing it all?
Organization, insight into what balance means for you, and therapy. Emotional and mental health is very important to me to maintain my balance. If I am not emotionally balanced, I will eventually work myself to death and unravel mentally. I have done a lot personal growth in the past couple of years and find inner work truly fascinating. Through that, I have found that therapy and mental check ins with myself help keep me more balanced.
What is your favorite workout apparel?
Athleta leggings and Gap full length leggings (who knew Gap made such fabulous leggings!) are some of my favorite pieces of apparel. As far as other apparel, its all about the shoe for me…Solomon’s are my go to for heavy duty mountain cross training, but Nike Air Zoom Pegasus are my favorites for HIIT and daily gym workouts.
If you could only pick one exercise or movement to do everyday that would be amazing for your body, what would it be?
Rotating staircase intervals. Works your booty and thighs like no other and it’s some of the best cardio you can find in a gym. Add in intervals (and a weighted backpack) and you’re in for a real sweaty treat ☺.
What advice would you give to people to be their healthiest and best self?
Start with baby steps towards a physical goal. It could be to move 3 days a week, run a 5K, or complete an Iron Man. It doesn’t matter. Just start small and start somewhere. Make time for yourself and your goal.
Please share your favorite healthy recipe.
Roasted Broccoli with Lemon and Parmesan
- 1 large head of broccoli (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1 1/2-inch florets, stems peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon minced shallot
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Step 1 : Preheat the oven to 400°. On a large baking sheet, toss the broccoli florets and stems with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the broccoli in the oven for about 30 minutes, tossing halfway through, until browned and tender.
Step 2 : In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the shallot and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil; season the dressing with salt and pepper. Scrape the broccoli into a bowl. Add the dressing and the grated cheese, toss well and serve