As I’ve connected with a variety of wellness-focused individuals over the years, I’ve been so intrigued by the different ways in which people approach creating happiness and health in mind, body, and spirit. It seems clear to me that wellness is not just one way of living, but is instead a unique and highly personal experience that can be supported by a variety of lifestyles, practices, and tools. I created The Live Well Series to highlight voices within the wellness community and to share the many ways that they make an art out of living well. To kick things off, I’m sharing my thoughts on the subject, so read on to find out what wellness looks like to me and stay tuned for a fresh perspective on the topic every Wednesday morning!
I’m definitely a creature of habit and do best when I have a stable routine. While a lot of people can go on 7 or 8 hours of sleep, I find that I feel my best when I get a solid 9 hours. I try to be in bed by 11 pm and shoot to wake up by 8 am, but I’ll sleep later if I had a difficult time getting to or staying asleep. I like to meditate for about 10 minutes first thing in the morning to start my day from a centered place. I work best in spurts so, after mediation and breakfast, I’ll usually work for a few hours, break for lunch and a workout, work for a few more hours, have dinner, and then knock out the rest of whatever I need to get done for the day before winding down. I will usually dim all the lighting in my house about an hour or two before bed time and try to limit screen time. If I am going to be looking at a screen, I make sure to dim the backlighting to avoid over stimulating myself before bed. A hot shower and some aromatherapy in the evenings helps me get relaxed. My mind tends to race with ideas, plans, and to-do lists, so I like to meditate or do breathwork to settle my mind before going to sleep.
I don’t follow any specific diet, but instead try to stick to an 80% clean diet with an emphasis on whole foods. If I’ve over-indulged recently, I‘ll shoot for 90% clean until I feel like I’m back on track again. I listen to my body and if I have a craving, I trust that my body is letting me know that it needs something. I try to find the healthiest way to satisfy cravings, whether it’s for something sweet, salty, crisp, or creamy. I avoid processed foods and keep dairy, sugars, and starches to a minimum. I do eat small amounts of meat and fish regularly and try to make sure that I buy only organic, wild caught or pasture-raised, sustainably produced, and ideally local. Getting in something green with every meal is definitely a goal and I try to eat as many colorful fruits and veggies as possible. Breakfast: Breakfast is usually some combination of eggs, grains, and fresh fruit. I love to start my day with a whole grapefruit and sprouted grain toast topped with avocado, Majestic Garlic spread, microgreens and sometimes a crispy egg. Fresh berries and black beans with southwestern spices and avocado is another regular morning meal. During the winter I like baked or roasted fruit with granola and coconut cream. Lunch: When I get into the groove of work, I don’t like to break my focus so lunch is often a superfood-packed smoothie that I can sip on while I do other things. One of my favorite blends is fresh spinach with pineapple, mixed berries, spirulina, ginger root, turmeric root, maca, greek yogurt, and orange juice. If I’m craving something sweet I’ll make one with almond milk, banana, almond butter, cacao, maca, and cinnamon or mint. Since I work mostly from home, lunch and breakfast are pretty interchangeable for me, so sometimes I’ll have the smoothie for breakfast and then lunch will be eggs and toast. Snacks: I love salted roasted seaweed, greek yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts or seeds, or hummus with fresh carrots, cucumber, and celery for snacks. If I go too long between meals I start feeling pretty crabby and unfocused, so I tend to graze and eat frequent, small meals all day long. Dinner: If I’m eating at home, which I do most nights of the week, I like to keep it pretty clean and simple. I’ll either make a big salad packed with greens, veggies, healthy fats, and a little protein or I’ll bake or grill a little chicken or fish and steam, roast or sautee a pair of veggies. My favorites are zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, butternut squash, kale, and sweet potatoes. Drink: I try to stick to water. On cold days, I love warm water with freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice and tons of herbal teas. I almost never drink sodas but will occasionally have sparkling water with fresh juices in it. I don’t drink alcohol much any more, but if I do it will be a glass of brut champage, a pinot noir or pinot grigio, or a spicy margarita on the rocks. Splurge: I love Harmless Harvest coconut water and I am totally addicted to chocolate. I eat a little bit every day (sometimes first thing in the morning!) and almost always have a few bars of high quality dark chocolate in my refrigerator. I love Lake Champlain’s Organic Spicy Aztec Chocolate Bar, which is 57% cocoa and has cayenne, pumpkin seeds, and cinnamon. If I’m really going to indulge, it will probably be with some cheese—chevre, brie, or manchego. I’ll usually eat out once to twice a week, often for brunch or dinner, and I don’t limit myself. If the pasta with cream sauce plus dessert sounds good then I go for it and consider it a good balance to my generally clean diet. Supplements: I’m a little bit of a supplement junkie. I don’t take the same things every day, but I have a pretty large arsenal of vitamins, herbs, and tinctures that I pick and choose from daily depending on what’s going on with my body. I love Bio-K probiotics and take those periodically to maintain gut health. I also take garlic, reishi mushroom, and astragalus root capsules fairly regularly to boost my immune system.
I need a regular endorphin fix to stay emotionally balanced. I can take a few days off here and there, but if I go too long without a good sweat I start feeling pretty cranky and stressed. My go-to is a 30-60 minute run on an elliptical machine at the gym with some really good beats blasting in my ears and a solid stretch session afterwards. No matter how stressed, frustrated, or crappy I’m feeling, I always feel better after a good run and a deep stretch. Hiking is nirvana for me. The combo of movement, sunlight, nature, and space away from city noise is so uplifting, so I try to get in a good hike in the Santa Monica mountains at least once or twice a week. I also love to dance. Sometimes I’ll go out with friends, but I’ll often just put on some music at home and enjoy moving. I used to kickbox and do a lot of strength and resistance training but had to take an extended break due to an injury. I’m definitely feeling like it’s time to bring some gentle strength-building movement back into play.
For me, the most important thing in relationships is true intimacy. I’ve never really had friends that I just do activities with. I just don’t know how to keep things surface-y. If I don’t feel safe sharing my heart and soul with someone or they don’t seem to feel comfortable doing so with me, then I probably won’t invest much of my time or energy in a relationship with them. Laughter is also really important. I can definitely get stuck in my head and be way too serious sometimes, so having people in my life that help me get in touch with my inner child is such a blessing. I believe that we are so influenced by the people we spend the most time with, so I strive to surround myself with people who are positive and growth-oriented. People who dream big and aren’t afraid to throw themselves into their passions. People who have strong, grounding values and live consciously from a place of integrity. I find those qualities to be so inspiring!
Sanctuary. That is the first word that comes to mind when I think of home. I tend to take on stress very easily so my home has to be a relaxing, peaceful environment where I can recharge and nourish my soul. I have lots of candles and natural elements like crystals, stones, and wood. Particularly because I work from home, it’s super important for me to have a space that is bright, clean, and free of clutter. I’m definitely a minimalist and prefer lots of open space over lots of furniture and décor.
Stress-Release and Centering Tools
Meditation, breathwork, and journaling are some of my staple practices for centering and releasing stress. When I’m really in a funk, I like to grab my camera and just go for a walk. I’ll stroll around my neighborhood and look for something beautiful to photograph. I call it beauty hunting, and it’s one of the best ways for me to turn around a bad mood.
Nature, connection with others, and creating, whether that’s through writing, cooking, or visual art, are some of the things that really feed my soul. I’m definitely happiest when I’m outside, especially if I’m somewhere warm and beautiful, or when I’m surrounded by people with whom I have that undeniable soul-to-soul connection. Right now, my greatest sense of purpose comes from promoting a culture of wellness in our society, which is dominated by media and messages that are often at odds with self care. I try to encourage people to really listen to their bodies, minds, and spirits and to make choices that are truly nourishing. I’m really looking forward to launching my wellness coaching practice this spring and to working with clients, both individuals and groups, to explore ways to create their happiest, healthiest life possible.