The podcast world is filled with people urging us to take big steps to change our lives.
Carolyn Cohen wants us to take smaller steps.
Figuratively. And literally.
The longtime Westporter’s 100th “Wellness While Walking” podcast was released this week. Although she has not gone crazy marketing it, it’s been downloaded in countries from A (Albania) to Z (Zimbabwe).
It’s also on Apple’s Top 30 “Fitness Podcasts” list. Despite having “walking” in the title, it’s not really a fitness podcast. But Cohen is delighted that people are listening. Ideally, they do it while walking.
After all, that’s how she discovered podcasting.
A Boston native who majored in psychology at Brown, then earned an MBA (and met her husband, a classmate) at Northwestern, they moved to Westport in 2007 when he got a job with Playtex at Nyala Farm.
Growing up, Cohen had rebelled a bit against her “health nut” mother. Diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, Cohen had “a rough relationship” with food.
She left her marketing job after her second child was born. Her children had food allergies and ear infections. As Cohen researched those maladies, she realized that diet plays an important role.
Surprising herself, she followed her mother’s path. Cohen became a certified health coach, and joined the Westport Public Schools’ Food Committee.
But, she discovered, telling people they should make big changes in their diets and lifestyles is hard. Most soon revert to their old habits — and feel even worse about themselves.
So Cohen advocates taking smaller steps. Little changes can yield big results, she says.
‘And rather than saying “don’t” — proscribing certain foods, for example — she tells listeners what they can add to their diets. Two servings of a fish like salmon, or even flax seeds, can make an enormous difference in health, she says.
Walking is important too. Cohen likes the metaphor of “taking steps” — literally, and figuratively — to change one’s life.
Like many Westport mothers, the health coach had spent plenty of time in her car, chauffeuring 4 children around to activities. She became an avid podcast listener — and realized how easily people could educate themselves, while doing something else like driving.
Her first podcast was January 1, 2020. It was recorded then (and still is) in her oldest daughter’s closet. Within a week, she had her first fan mail.
A few weeks later, the pandemic struck. One of the only safe activities was walking. Cohen noticed people in her Sturges Highway neighborhood she’d never seen before.
Nearly 2 years later, they’re still walking.
Around the world, people walk — and drive, cook, or whatever — while listening to “Wellness While Walking.” Listeners have sent photos of themselves walking in Indian and Australia.
Cohen’s definition of “wellness” is broad. She interviews authors of books she likes, and chefs she admires. Her guests are always positive and upbeat.
“I try to bring different ideas together in a creative way, and show how they’re related,” the podcaster says.
“Nutrition, movement, stress management, the importance of sleep, how our environment helps or hurts us — they’re all keys to health.”‘
Her podcast community is growing larger. But it’s also small. Listeners connect with each other, and share stories of their own life changes and successes.
One step at a time.