Health coach stresses benefits of plant-based lifestyle
After she moved back to Santa Barbara from New York City, Emma Malina, a self-described “city girl,” began a running regimen.
“I had never been a runner, but eventually, I was covering 30 to 40 miles a week,” the fifth-generation Santa Barbaran told the News-Press.
Even so, Ms. Malina said she didn’t consider herself a “real runner” until one day when she returned to her home on the Riviera.
“It was an amazing run, and I suddenly realized I was a RUNNER!”
Two hours later, to her horror, she was in excruciating pain, unable to walk or sit.
“That was the beginning of a two-year journey that included hip rehabilitation, extensive surgery, physical therapy and deep and dark depression. I began a lot of work on myself, asking what made me tick, what was my purpose,” said Ms. Malina, who was in her late 30s at the time. “I educated myself by reading books, enrolling in health certificate programs and taking courses. I started eating a plant-based diet, which completely changed my life.”
In 2015, she began writing a blog that grew into the business, Basking in Goodness, which offers one-on-one coaching, public workshops and workshops, online classes and Food for Life classes.
“The word ‘good’ is key in the name. It stands for ‘good enough.’ It’s not about being perfect or amazing. It’s about being good enough,” Ms. Malina said.
“As a certified integrative nutrition health coach, I help individuals and families adopt a more plant-based lifestyle. I support my clients in making small individualized changes, tweaks and adjustments by providing a safe and supportive space to get to the core of where they want to be.
“You can’t out exercise a bad diet, nor can you out-diet zero exercise. But there are so many other components, stories, elements and facets that go into making a person feel whole, in control and empowered to be their best self.
“Basking in Goodness is not a diet. It is not a race. It’s a recalibration of your life so that you can live out each day as you wish to live. It is a celebration of self-care, fostering connections and relationships, finding and nurturing our own body connection,” said Ms. Malina, whose great-great grandfather moved his family from Boston to Santa Barbara in 1900.
She moved to Boston at age 6 and to London in 1983, where she lived until the age of 20.
“I left the American School in London when I was in the 10th grade and worked in a Chinese medicinal herb shop while taking night classes,” she said.
It was the start of an eclectic series of jobs as a disc jockey traveling around Europe, a legal assistant for an attorney in Boston filming depositions about ownership of the Empire State Building, a music consultant for upscale restaurants and hotels, and a personal assistant for movie director Martin Scorcese and his wife Helen in New York City.
“I was with the Scorceses for five years. It was a very exciting time,” said Ms. Malina.
In 2005, she married Dave Malina, a consumer product designer, and began selling real estate in New York City. Their daughter Stella was born in 2010.
“My business was skyrocketing. We worked really hard, got caught up in taking everything to the next level, lost balance and lost self. Dave and I suddenly realized we were living in a city we loved but had no time to appreciate. We were paying someone to raise our daughter. We asked ourselves ‘What are we doing? What’s our goal here?’ ” said Ms. Malina.
The couple, who had been making annual visits to Santa Barbara, decided
“to walk away from extremely rewarding and lucrative careers” to move here permanently in 2014.
“I swore I would never move back. I’m a city girl. I agreed to rent for a year, but my husband fell in love with Santa Barbara, and so did I,” she said.
Along with her Basking in Goodness business, Ms. Malina also serves as vice chair of Rooted Santa Barbara, whose mission is “to empower every community member to take a leading role in their preventive health care through evidence-based, whole food plant-based nutrition education and support.”
Beth Skidmore is the chair, and their focus is on working with partners to fill the gap in nutrition education.
Ms. Malina, who has switched from running to biking, mostly indoors because of COVID-19, confessed that her guilty pleasure is Kettle Brand Potato Chips with Sea Salt and Vinegar.
“I’m a foodie through and through. I love a good meal. I’m not sitting around eating a bowl of steamed kale. The food has to taste good. Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring.”