I am really excited today to share some insights from Debra K., who is preparing to debut the first episode of her show, "Journey Into Wellbeing" February 19th at 9pm EST on KET. She took her idea to reality and everyone in Kentucky is about to see it!
So who is Debra K? For 15 years, Debra K. kept companies she worked with healthy, using her expertise to create spectacular customer experiences. But the 60-hour weeks this former Fortune 250 executive invested in her career had an adverse effect on her own wellbeing: she became an overworked, pudgy insomniac on the brink of a health crisis.
After leaving the corporate world, she launched a successful wellness education company and began consulting in the spa industry. Now Debra’s tackling her personal health challenges head-on, with a multimedia adventure that takes her across the United States in search of health secrets that can turn her, an average girl next door, into something a touch more spectacular. As host of The Journey into Wellbeing, Debra will stretch, juice, and Zumba her way to better health - and inspire the rest of us to cultivate more vibrant, energetic lives along the way.
HK: What was the motivation for this show? Why take the leap?
DK: There were a couple inspirations that have driven me and my team to keep moving forward with this show:
The first seed was planted when I was a single mom, working long hours in a corporate job. I ended up pretty sick and went to the doctor’s office. Instead of addressing lifestyle changes which might have benefited me, he simply whipped out his prescription pad and wanted to give me all kinds of medications. Things like sleeping pills, antacids, cholesterol medication and anti-depressants. I was a little shocked and actually a little angry. I thought to myself… ’How many people are there in similar situations as me that are leaving the doctor’s office with an arsenal of medications to mask the symptoms of lifestyle imbalance, without exploring what else they might do to get healthier?’ I politely said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ and left without any of the prescriptions. What I did leave with, however, was a burning desire to educate myself and also to provide education to others so they can make more informed decisions about their wellbeing. It would be several years before I was actually able to start heading in the right direction.
Another inspiration for me has been Oprah Winfrey. When she announced she was leaving her show in late 2010, she put out a query for the next reality TV star to be on her new OWN network. Just for fun, I started dreaming about what type of show I would do if given the chance and, of course, I wanted to work with Oprah. I thought... ‘How cool would it be if I traveled around and visited fun and healthy places, interviewed experts and shared this information with the world?’ Once that seed was planted I really started to get excited about the idea. For me, it was about taking the next step and to just keep moving forward. After playing with the idea for a while, I started to ask others what they thought. I had been working closely with some Destination Spas and I ran the idea past their teams. They thought it was a great idea. I also met with friends, journalists and business peers. Not one single person tried to discourage me from following this idea.
Almost exactly 18 months after I started dreaming about this show, the OWN network invited me and Margaret to come to Los Angeles and pitch the idea to them. I spent 45 minutes with their programming director, and while I haven’t heard from them, it felt amazing just to be there sharing the idea with them.”
HK: Anytime we have Kentucky on TV, we always get excited. But to see a focus on health set in the Commonwealth is pretty uncommon, if not unheard of! Why start this journey here?
DK: As The Journey into Wellbeing’s Host and Executive Producer, I plan to travel to all 50 states, but felt I had to start in Kentucky. After spending 20 years in and raising both my children in Kentucky, I hold a special place in my heart for all things in the Bluegrass. As I’ve explored what the state has to offer over the past few months, I am so proud of all the creative, wellness initiatives across the Commonwealth. I believe every state has hidden gems of well-being and Kentucky felt like a great place to start.
Often when Kentucky is represented in the media, the focus is on things not so flattering, such as the article that ran a few years ago announcing Lexington as one of the most sedentary cities in the nation. I knew that there were hidden gems of wellness within the state that were worthy of national attention. In fact the title for this episode is The Bluegrass State is much more than horses, hillbilly hoedowns and hot browns… it’s HEALTHY!
HK: What can we look forward to on the first episode? Sights, scenes, people?
DK: Part of the premise of the show is for viewers to feel as if they can access healthy options in their own state. As I travel and uncover the hidden gems of health and wellness, I want it to feel very accessible for residents. There were so many health-focused initiatives in the state we couldn’t fit in everything we discovered. Some of the exciting places and people we explored:
- Bobby Benjamin, Executive Chef, La Coop Bistro, Louisville. Chef Benjamin will teach viewers how to redo traditional recipes in a healthier fashion. He tackled the Hot Brown, Corn Pudding and Blackberry Cobbler.
- Lena D. Edwards, MD, FAARM, Balance Health & Wellness Center, Lexington. Dr. Edwards will provide me with an initial health assessment and offer tips to viewers on beginning their own health journey. Turns out that I have six food allergies - definitely worth watching for my reaction.
- Frontier Nursing University in Hyden. We trekked off to Eastern Kentucky to explore the oldest and largest midwifery school in the nation. The students we met are so articulate about their love for midwifery.
- Molly Galbraith, Fitness Expert, J&M Strength & Conditioning, Lexington. Molly puts methrough her paces and assigns a fitness grade, while offering simple tips for beginning a fitness journey. Much of this footage was shot at the Holly Rood historic home in Winchester and at Natural Bridge State Park.
- Janey Newton, Founder, Foxhollow Farm, Crestwood. We spent a beautiful autumn day on the farm. Viewers will learn about bio-dynamic farming and the journey Foxhollow’s leaders have taken to create a completely self-sustaining, organic farm.”
HK: Is there anything in particular that you've learned so far on your journey that you found surprising or eye-opening?
DK: Probably the greatest discovery I made during this first episode is I experienced first-hand how passionate people are about what they are doing.
As I talked with people, their faces would light up because they held so much belief in what they were doing. I just love that! If I can somehow create a platform for others to be able to share their intentions and passions, then I will be an extremely happy person. The Journey into Wellbeing will not only help people get started on their own health journey, but will inspire people all over the world to follow their dreams and do what makes them happy.”
HK: Is there anything else you would like to add?
DK: I believe that when you are on the right path and doing what you are supposed to be doing, helping hands will appear. This has been the case with the Journey. Considering when I started, I had zero connections in the television world, it is almost a miracle that the show is getting ready to launch and be shown initially in seven states. At every turn: a connection, a voice of encouragement, a helping hand has been there to ensure I stay focused and moving forward. It has been these outside influences of support that have helped me to believe that I can make a difference, even when that internal voice of doubt crept in. We are setting our intention to reach all 50 states and would love to do so with PBS. The educational component of the Journey will be a great fit for their mission. I am looking for like-minded companies who might be interested in partnering with us to bring the Journey to a national level. With PBS, you have to receive underwriting to fund the costs. I am seeking this type partnership with companies who are as interested in making a difference as they are in making a profit. The PBS affiliate that will air the pilot is Kentucky Educational Television. KET reaches viewers throughout Kentucky and in parts of seven surrounding states. As many as 4-million people view KET programming. We are thrilled to work with this respected station.
HK: Thanks so much for your insight Debra!