Luci Gabel is a professor at Georgetown University, keynote speaker, leadership coach, author, and podcast host. Her journey began with a dual passion for ballet and pre-med education, which uniquely positioned her to appreciate the body’s natural ability to thrive on proper care without excessive medical intervention.

In this episode, Luci sits down with Christina to discuss the profound connection between nutrition, exercise, and effective leadership. She shares insights from her book, Eat to Lead, which emphasizes the importance of a natural diet and adequate physical activity in fostering not only physical health but also mental acuity and leadership capabilities.

The Journey to Integrative Coaching

Luci’s journey into leadership and integrative coaching wasn’t exactly a straight line. She didn’t come from a family of leaders, and she didn’t start out aiming for it. In fact, she initially wanted to pursue ballet, while her dad nudged her towards medicine. So, she ended up straddling both worlds, studying pre-med while keeping her passion for the arts alive with a minor.

During college, she taught exercise classes to make ends meet, and it was there that she had an aha moment. She realized how much the body can thrive with simple, foundational care like staying hydrated, exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep, and having a social life. It was a lightbulb moment that eventually led her to where she is today, helping people optimize their health and performance through integrative coaching.

Foundational Health Best Practices

Diving into health basics, Luci emphasizes the holistic impact of food on our bodies, minds, and even leadership skills. After all, leadership isn’t just for CEOs; it’s about leading ourselves through life’s twists and turns.

So, what are these basics? Luci suggests staying hydrated, getting our weekly dose of exercise, and loading up on fruits and veggies for all those essential nutrients. As for sleep, adults should aim for a solid seven to eight hours. It sounds simple, but many of us aren’t hitting these marks.

Luci has seen firsthand how mastering these basics can transform lives—dialing back the clock on aging and even reducing the need for medications. Even though we’re all human and experience gaps in our routines, Luci reminds us that the key is recognizing those gaps, making small changes, and focusing on consistency in our wellness routine. 


The Link Between Physical Health and Leadership

Luci shares stories of clients who’ve defied age barriers—folks in their 70s, 80s, and even 90s have reversed the clock through simple lifestyle changes. 

But there’s more to it than just physical health. Luci highlights the importance of our mental and social well-being too. After all, our thoughts and relationships affect our overall health and leadership abilities. That’s why she’s passionate about coaching not just on health but also on leadership skills, teaching at George Washington University to cover all the intricate details.

And it’s not just about leading a company; it’s about leading in all aspects of life, whether it’s as a parent, a team coach, or a community organizer. Being healthy and mentally fit is crucial for making sound decisions and guiding those around us.

Eat to Lead

In her book, Eat to Lead, Luci takes a deep dive into how our diet impacts not just our bodies but also our leadership potential—a must-read for anyone looking to thrive in all areas of life.

There is an interactive aspect to her book that encourages readers to jot down their progress. Luci understands that life gets busy, so even focusing on one small change each week can make a big difference. Whether you’re a data lover or prefer a more casual approach, there’s something for everyone.

Luci’s expertise stems from years of study, including a four-year degree in nutrition and dietetics, and further specialization in exercise physiology with a focus on genetics and nutrition. This deep understanding informs her approach to food, highlighting the importance of natural, whole foods in our diet. Luci explains how every natural food serves a purpose, nourishing our bodies in ways that processed foods simply can’t.

While the wellness world is filled with quick-fix sound bites, Luci stresses the importance of a balanced, varied diet over restrictive measures. She advocates for incorporating a wide range of foods to support our gut health, which in turn impacts our mental well-being. It’s not about restriction; it’s about embracing a diverse array of nutrient-rich foods to keep our bodies and minds thriving.

A Balanced Perspective on Seasonality

When planning meals, many suggest selecting fruits and vegetables that are in season. Luci approaches seasonality with a balanced perspective, recognizing the benefits of modern advancements while staying mindful of the potential drawbacks. While it’s great to enjoy blueberries from Mexico in the winter, she acknowledges that picking fruits early and ripening them during transportation can sometimes compromise their nutrient content.

However, she emphasizes that taste can be a reliable indicator of a food’s nutrient density. Just like you can tell the difference between fresh cheese and something past its prime, your taste buds can clue you in on the quality of your food. Luci shares a recent experience with almonds from a convenience store, where despite lacking any obvious signs of spoilage, they just didn’t taste right—highlighting the importance of optimal ripeness for maximum nutritional benefit.

Ultimately, Luci suggests that while seasonality has its merits, it’s essential to trust your taste buds and opt for foods that offer peak freshness and nutrient content whenever possible.

The Power of Fruits + Veggies

Luci stresses the importance of loading up on fruits and veggies, even if you’re not a vegetarian. Despite her expertise, she admits it’s a constant effort to ensure she’s getting enough of these vital foods. It’s easy to get caught up in protein and processed carbs, but the real magic lies in the wide array of nutrients found in plant foods.

Each fruit and vegetable brings its own unique set of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals to the table, helping our bodies stay in top shape. That’s why variety is key—eating a diverse range ensures you’re getting a broad spectrum of benefits. Those superfood claims you see on social media? Turns out, all fruits and veggies have similar impressive nutrient profiles; they just specialize in different areas.

So, whether it’s cucumbers, kale, or kiwis, aim to incorporate as many different kinds of fruits and vegetables into your diet as possible to nourish your body and brain.

Navigating Protein and Dairy

Another important and complex dietary consideration is protein. Luci shares that times in our lives when we need more is as we age, when we exercise, or during diets. She emphasizes the importance of choosing high-quality sources, advocating for a diverse range of protein options rather than relying solely on red meat. Luci highlights the issues with processed red meat, which often comes with additives and is sourced from animals raised in less-than-ideal conditions.

Regarding dairy, Luci acknowledges its mixed reputation and suggests alternatives like goat’s milk or fermented dairy products for those who struggle to digest it. She stresses the importance of being an educated consumer, reading labels, and making informed choices about what goes into our bodies.

Navigating protein and dairy can feel daunting, but Luci’s advice centers on understanding nutrient profiles and making choices based on individual needs and preferences. Her book, Eat to Lead, serves as a foundational nutrition guide, empowering readers to experiment and find what works best for them.


Fueling for Success

Food isn’t just about diets or appearances—it’s about fueling your body for success in life. Each day presents a new opportunity to provide yourself with the right fuel to sustain your energy and mental clarity. Luci shares her own journey of neglecting proper nutrition in favor of productivity, leading to brain fog and fatigue.

It wasn’t until she made the bold decision to prioritize her health that she saw a significant shift in her performance and overall well-being. Despite initial hesitations, the payoff far exceeded her expectations. Luci encourages listeners to challenge the status quo and recognize the immense benefits that come from nourishing your body and mind properly.

Empowering People to Embrace Wellness

Luci reflects on her accomplishments since turning 50, highlighting the writing of her book as one of her greatest achievements. Despite the challenges, completing the book was a significant milestone for her. Looking ahead, Luci envisions herself leading numerous workshops on leadership and health, aiming to positively impact individuals and help them live happier, healthier lives.

For more information, visit Luci’s website,, and sign up for the email list to stay updated on upcoming workshops.

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