The founder and CEO of Well Told Health, Monica Ruffo is a serial entrepreneur and an award-winning leader with a long-standing passion for health and wellness. A few years ago, her life took an unexpected turn when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Throughout her 18 months of cancer treatment, she put her passion for health and wellness to work on herself, researching every aspect of her lifestyle and treatment options and advocating strongly for both traditional and natural treatments. As a result, she fared extremely well both during and after cancer treatment, and uncovered what she felt was a huge gap in the market. The more digging she did, the more she realized that most “natural health” products are not natural at all; they are riddled with synthetics, fillers and isolates, and most consumers have no idea what they are putting into their bodies or even why. As she continued her quest to better understand natural health products, she completed a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University and decided to found Well Told Health.
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Your deep dive into health and wellness really began as a result of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Can you talk about some of the significant ways your lifestyle has changed since having that “aha” moment?
Before being diagnosed, I was already on a journey to a whole food plant-based diet, but that definitely accelerated it. From a lifestyle perspective, I’m a lot more conscious of my health in general. I’m not sure how I would have acted before, but during the pandemic I’ve been really prudent and generally more aware of my health as something that’s vulnerable and needs to be cared for. I can be intense passionate about what I do, and I think since the cancer scare I have more of an awareness that I have to be careful not to push my body too hard, especially when it comes to work. And while it’s still a journey, it’s certainly a lot more in the forefront of my life right now. Overall it’s been an awakening and given me a heightened awareness of how vulnerable our health can be.
As a longtime entrepreneur, is there any advice you can offer those looking to find more balance or ways to incorporate wellness into their routine?
Put it in your schedule. You have to make an appointment with yourself and stick to it. But you also have to remember that if you go a few days without the self-care you think you need, you can’t beat yourself up about it. It will always be a balancing act as an entrepreneur, and balance isn’t something you achieve, it’s something you have to try for every day.
As we’ve come to understand, self-care can mean so many different things, what does the concept mean to you personally?
Self-care doesn’t mean one thing for everyone, and often for each person it can mean something different every day. For me self-care really is about carving out time to focus on my physical and emotional wellbeing and nothing else. Whether that’s meditating, exercise, or a facial, it’s something that’s just for me. Sometimes all I need is a half hour meditation. I think the starting point is being in tune with what you need at any given time without outside interference.
What has been a wellness practice that’s has a significant impact on your overall health?
Meditation is without a shadow of a doubt the practice that has had the biggest impact on me. For the longest time I could not figure out how to meditate, and about three years ago I was so stressed I did a workshop through the Jon Kabat-Zinn program (his method is called MBSR) and it was a pivotal moment in my life. It helped me understand what it means to meditate and was so transformative.
What’s been keeping you well as we transition into fall?
In the fall one of my main transitional wellness practices is drinking more tea. It’s so good for you and full of antioxidants, which are especially important as the seasons change and our bodies become more vulnerable.