By Aida Toro
Jackie Mulligan is a functional nutritionist who takes wellness to a whole other level. Mulligan is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant who concentrates in utilizing food, faith, and functional wellness as medicine.
“My journey toward this profession has been a dynamic and expansive process,” said Mulligan.
Mulligan was raised in Long Island, New York, in a town with deep Irish and Italian roots. She is one of six siblings.
“I am surrounded by a large, living, supportive family,” she said.
Prior to being a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, she was a Spanish teacher and then worked for a Scandinavian wellness brand, Puori. She worked both endeavors for five years each, and although the two occupations were unrelated, it resulted in merging one with the other. This inspired Mulligan to doing what she does nowadays: teaching others how to achieve health and wellness.
She always had an interest in health and wellness. Her sister, Traci, is a Holistic Nutritionist, and led the way with nutrition, navigating Mulligan through many fad diets.
“When our mom was diagnosed with a gluten allergy, I quickly deviated from all gluten, knowing that celiac disease is commonly a genetic trend,” said Mulligan.
A few years later, her brother who was deployed in Iraq at the time, emailed Mulligan about trying out CrossFit. She was eager to try a new workout and to share that connection with him.
“I wasn’t expecting that community to bring such enriching experiences and newfound strengths to my life, but it did,” she said. “With a new respect for my well-being and a desire to pursue a career fully-focused on wellness, I moved to Solana Beach, California, in the spring of 2012.”
In Solana Beach, Mulligan began to design a much more balanced lifestyle that included deepening her connection to the natural world, transforming her relationship with food as medicine, and most importantly, reconnecting with her faith.
Mulligan’s brother introduced her to Puori and she later assisted the company at the CrossFit games, which then led to a job opportunity. “I was their first U.S. employee,” she said. “Throughout my career, I wore many hats, from sales to marketing, to event planning, to business development in true startup fashion.”
She enjoyed being in the field and interacting with clients such as CrossFit affiliates and health practitioners. “My time with Puori captivated my heart and drove my passion for health, living well and the Scandinavian culture even further. Puori brought me to many new places. I traveled throughout the U.S and Denmark, and it allowed me the opportunity to live in Marin County, California, one the most beautiful places in the world.”
After working with Puori for about five years and working her way up to National Sales Manager, Mulligan decided to pursue her dream of running her own wellness practice. “I started my practice full time over two years ago, and have since worked and presented to hundreds of people from around the globe,” she said. “My passion for people and wellness inspired me to embark on this path.”
All the information and tools Mulligan shares, grow from personal experience and professional knowledge. She has a Masters in Business Administration, Masters of Arts in Secondary Education, she is a Certified Nutritionist Consultant, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and wellness advocate. She mentioned that her most rewarding education arrived from her personal health journey and first-hand experience. This began with learning how to establish a healthy relationship with food and re-building a healthy gut.
“Our gut is our second brain and it’s essential for our wellbeing, especially for digestion, nutrient absorption and mood,” she said. “The journey still continues, but there is such freedom in understanding what my body needs and tapping into my ‘wellness toolkit’ to heal and thrive.”
Mulligan suffered from Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) dysfunction. This was derived from stress when she moved across the country to California and experienced the start-up life, followed by Lyme disease.
“I have to work hard to maintain a balanced lifestyle because I can easily fall into the ‘more is more’ trap and be run down by stress,” she stated. “Although those were some of my darkest, most challenging times, these hurdles gifted me with first-hand experience, higher knowledge, empathy, courage, and the ability to build a complete toolkit for healing my mind, body, and spirit.”
As Mulligan’s experience and personal faith grew, she knew deep down that her calling was to combine spirituality and health to teach others that true health is found in (w)holiness, or wellness at every level: physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Mulligan’s method to working with her clients consists of getting to the root of their symptoms. Rather than simply treating the symptom, such as indigestion or anger, she and her clients dig at the cause of the problem, such as gut health or fear. “I believe we were created to live healthy and vibrant lives,” she said. “Disease is literally what it looks like: dis-ease, or discomfort, in any facet of our lives, whether that be physically, emotionally or spiritually.”
Mulligan stated that she and her clients explore every area of their health - from nutrition and sleep to stress management and faith - and incorporate (w)holistic strategies that heal and restore.
“Nothing is beyond healing; I just help create an environment that promotes healing,” said Mulligan. “My approach isn’t about restriction such as focusing on ‘bad’ food and habits. Instead, we harness our energy, awareness and effort towards including more intentional health habits into our daily lives.”
The result is an educated and empowered client who has the toolkit they need to sustain their health.
Aside from dedicating her time to clients and her business, Mulligan finds a fulfillment in helping others. In the summer of 2018, she was fortunate to spend an extended amount of time in two of the most well-known pilgrimage sites in Europe: Lourdes in southwestern France, and, Medjugorje in Bosnia.
“Being able to serve others and receive love and peace in return was, to put it lightly, a life-changing experience,” she expressed. “Opening my heart to the opportunities and people God placed in my path this summer, allowed me to experience a peace and joy I didn’t know was possible.”
In Lourdes, Mulligan served alongside fellow pilgrims from all over the world. They aided others to get in and out of the healing baths, while they savored the deeply spiritual and peaceful experience of the healing waters.
“It was the most humbling experience of my life,” she said. “For my first shift, I was with mothers and babies from places I’ve never seen-- Africa, Japan, India, and more-- speaking languages I didn’t know.”
Mulligan mentioned the only thing she had in common with these mothers and infants was faith. She helped them enter the baths, hugged them, carried them physically and emotionally, as well as cried with them. “Seeing the outpouring of God’s mercy upon these souls, observing their deep faith and desire for healing, and being able to serve them, was a pure gift,” said Mulligan.
Since she is constantly helping others, many question Mulligan on how she takes care of her own health.
“It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle of running my own practice, that I have to truly prioritize self care,” she said.
Some essentials in Mulligan’s daily routine consist of stretching (romwod technique) upon waking or during a work break, dry brushing for detox after showering, hydrating often, and moving. She walks as often and as far as possible.
“I also pray each morning and evening for at least 30 minutes and sit down for my meals and eat whole foods,” she said. “I work in work blocks: 90 minutes of ‘all in’ work, 20 minute break repeat to stay focused and increase productivity and I try to unplug from technology by 10 pm.”
Mulligan has a unique gift; a bird’s eye perspective on her clients’ lives and challenges, if you will. She knows the key to changing their life and can pinpoint factors that influence or negatively affect their health; things they may not have even noticed otherwise. “I interact with people who are hungry for change,” she said. “It’s not just about losing weight; it’s about losing the baggage and negative beliefs that are weighing them down.”
Mulligan continued, “It’s about becoming healthy as a whole person. It’s extremely gratifying to empower someone and give them permission to believe in themselves and in God. Our bodies are a gift; it’s a joy to help others see and appreciate it as such.”
She looks forward to helping more people grow and realize their strength and beauty, inside and out.
“I look forward to guiding people to see their truth and to open their eyes and hearts to the gifts they’ve been given by God”, Mulligan said. “He knows the path. I just keep walking forward and staying aligned with Him.”