I wanted to chat with you guys about yoga and how amazing it is for your mind and body in general, let alone while you’re pregnant. I started practicing yoga in high school and did it pretty consistently until college. During college I had convinced myself I was “too busy” and didn’t have time, when in reality I simply wasn’t making it a priority. I picked it back up again about four years ago when my sweet husband bought me a package at a local yoga studio. Since then, yoga has seriously kept me sane. It’s my “me time”, an hour where I focus on breathing, moving my body and relaxing my non-stop mind.
This fall, my sciatic nerve started acting up and was SUPER painful, so I stopped going to class like I normally do because I was afraid of injuring myself more. I thought taking a break from from working out and yoga would help it feel better, turns out it did the opposite - it made it worse. Sooo I started going back to yoga (and getting acupuncture done) and BOOM, it started getting better. I was bummed when I had to stop going to hot yoga classes due to this little babe growing inside of me. BUT I’ve learned that yoga is not just about sweating or getting a good workout. It’s about making time for myself and the journey of learning all about this changing body of mine. Let’s dive into why you should consider adding yoga to your routine!
helps de-stress the body and mind by allowing you to focus on your breathing (which is even more important during pregnancy because baby can feel everything the birthing person experiences)
focuses on strengthening the pelvic floor which is important before, during and after pregnancy (it can be weakened by pregnancy and childbirth)
the modified poses increase strength, flexibility, balance and endurance (which will help during pregnancy and labor!)
helps you become more in touch with your body (and baby!) by focusing on the breathing, thoughts, feelings, emotions and sensations that you may feel during your practice
prenatal yoga is specifically designed to help you work through the changes your body is experiencing during pregnancy
it is a great form of self-care, time just for you
decreases lower back pain and improves sleep
provides you with breathing techniques that can help you work through contractions or pushing during labor
is a safe and gentle exercise option during pregnancy
offers gentle stretching to multiple areas of your body
studies have found that expectant people who practiced yoga consistently during their pregnancy were more likely to have a healthy baby
provides you with a sense of community by allowing you to meet and connect with other people
Keep In Mind
always talk to your healthcare provider before attending prenatal yoga to ensure that it is safe for YOU to practice yoga while pregnant. Everyone’s bodies are different.
make sure your yoga teacher is certified in prenatal yoga
Hot yoga is not recommended during pregnancy, as you don’t want to raise your internal body temperature (it can negatively impact the baby)
prenatal yoga and restorative yoga are your best options during pregnancy
as always, make sure to LISTEN to your body and how it feels - don’t push yourself too hard. Simply do whatever feels best for you
any poses that require you to lie flat on your back or stomach or require a lot of stretching aren’t recommended during pregnancy (there are always modifications you can do instead!)
use blocks and props to assist with poses
So as you all may (or may not) know, I decided to go off of birth control a few months ago. Since then, my hormones have definitely been a bit all over the place. My skin has also been impacted. BUT I don’t mind because I just want my body to get back to it’s natural state. One other thing I have noticed since being off of birth control is how intense my cramps have been leading up to and during my period. HOLY mother, I forgot that it was part of the reason I decided to go on the pill in the first place.
I learned a long time ago that taking Advil or Exedrin to ease the pain of cramps just doesn’t work for me. So I started researching other natural remedies to help. I’ve been using essential oils for years now to help with any symptom that comes up. And guess what?! They actually work! Unfortunately, there aren’t TONS of cases, studies or research to showcase their effectiveness (not yet at least). This is largely due to big pharma only testing the effectiveness of the drugs on the market. But that’s a story for another time :) So, which essential oils can you use for cramps?
Let’s break it down for ya babes:
This oil is one of my personal favorites and has a variety of uses. Lavender can help improve blood flow within the body. Massaging this oil into your lower abdomen has been shown to greatly reduce the pain that comes along with menstrual cramps. Diffusing Lavender can also make you feel more relaxed by decreasing stress levels.
This oil is another great option if you don’t mind the strong scent that comes along with it. Massaging Cinnamon into your lower abdomen can help reduce inflammation within the body and therefore, aid in reducing the pain caused by cramps.
This is another oil that helps calm the body and relieve stress. However, it also offers anti-inflammatory properties that can help relax muscles within the body. Meaning, it will help decrease the pain that comes along before or during your cycle.
This oil smells AMAZING and always reminds me of the winter for some reason. Eucalyptus also offers anti-inflammatory properties, as well as being a strong decongestant. Therefore, it can reduce the pain of cramps during your cycle AND help calm any moodiness or irritability.
First and foremost, anything that smells like REAL roses wins me over in less than a second. I’m OBSESSED. Now let’s talk about what Rose essential oil has to offer. It can help balance hormone levels within the body and also regulate the pain caused by cramps during your menstrual cycle. It also has calming properties to aid with any PMS symptoms.
This essential oil is a powerhouse. Not only does it help calm mood swings, but it also helps slow your mind down and can even aid in the fight against anxiety. And of course, this bad boy can reduce cramps by helping the muscles within your body relax.
This is another one of my favorite essential oils. I would say that I actually use this one the most often. Why? It is a natural remedy for headaches and pain. I rub it on my temples any time I have a headache or feel one coming on. It also aids in decreasing pain caused by menstrual cramps.
These are the three main ways I use essential oils:
Aromatherapy - by diffusing the oils into the air around you.
Massage - massaging the oils directly into your skin (I always recommend using a carrier oil with the essential oil to check your skin’s sensitivity level).
In a bath - what’s better than a nice bath when your body is tired, sore or aching? A bath using some of the best smelling essential oils that also offer relaxing properties. Just add some drops of the essential oil of your choosing into the bath tub as it is filling up and soak for at least 20 minutes.
Of note: be mindful of the essential oils you choose to use on your skin, in your home, and in the bath. Everyone has different levels of sensitivity. Always test the oils with a carrier oil to see how your skin reacts.
Happy freakin' Friday babes! It's been AWHILE since I wrote a #FunctionalFoodFriday blog post. I've just been a little bit busy getting married and settling back into working and life ya know? BUT I'm back and am ready to drop some more knowledge on you guys about some of my favorite foods and why they're so damn good for you. This weeks' functional food is WATERMELON! Yes, what I consider to be one of the BEST parts of Summer - delicious, juicy, Watermelon. I decided to write about this particular fruit because all I've been craving is water and extra juicy fruit to keep me hydrated during these summer months here in the Boston area.
So, as we all already know, Watermelon is SUPER hydrating, which is what makes it the perfect summer treat on hot days. It also contains Lycopene, which is what gives fruits and vegetables their pink or red coloring. Studies on Lycopene have shown that it is an extremely powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants fight off free radicals that can damage the cells within the body. Why do we want to minimize free radicals in our bodies? Simply put, they can cause diseases and too many of them can take a toll on your body and overall health. Let's dive into some more of the health benefits that Watermelon has to offer:
1. Soothes Acid Reflux (Watermelons are considered an anti-inflammatory food. Melons can actually regulate pH levels within the body and aid in soothing the gastrointestinal tract. They can also decrease the production of acid within the stomach.)
2. Skin Protector (Like I mentioned above, Watermelon is an antioxidant powerhouse. It also contains high levels of Vitamin A and C, which are important components of healthy skin. It also contains Manganese, which produces collagen, is anti-inflammatory and helps reduce swelling and infection of the skin.)
3. Helps Relieve Aches + Pains (Watermelon contains an amino acid called l-citrulline which has been proven to reduce muscle soreness. Studies on Watermelon juice have shown that it is beneficial for muscle aches and recovery. Vitamin C also aids in healing wounds, tendons and ligaments.)
4. Immune System Booster (Since Watermelon contains such high levels of Vitamin C, it helps improve immune system function, has the ability to defend against disease and can shorten the amount of time you are sick for. Like mentioned above, it helps the gastrointestinal tract which is where the health of our immune system is based!)
5. Natural Detoxifier (We all know Watermelon is hydrating, hence it's name "water"-melon. Fun fact: it's actually 91% water! Drinking water and eating real food that contains water helps detox your body naturally. It can help alleviate bloating - which is super helpful during your menstrual cycle ladies! Watermelon also contains high levels of potassium, which acts as a natural electrolyte source within the body. Meaning, it is a healthier alternative to keep you hydrated compared to sugar-filled sports drinks!)
6. Fights off disease (Studies have shown that diseases have a harder time developing and thriving in an alkaline environment. Watermelon is considered an alkaline food, meaning it helps balance pH levels within the body. Consuming more alkaline foods decreases inflammation and in turn, helps in the fight against disease.)
7. Eye Health (Studies have shown that macular degeneration, changes in vision and even blindness can be caused by a severe vitamin A deficiency. Watermelons naturally contain vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which are all nutrients that play a crucial role in the overall health of your eyes.)
8. Aids in Weight Loss (Watermelon is a great food choice if you are looking to lose a couple pounds. It is a low-calorie, yet nutrient dense fruit that also hydrates you. I'd say that's a win-win! Studies on Watermelon have also shown to help with overall performance and recovery time. It helps increase blood flow, which allows the body to recover faster while building endurance.)
If you don't already love the taste of this sweet fruit, all of the reasons above should convince you to start eating some Watermelon. I don't know about you guys, but as soon as temperatures get above 70 degrees in the Spring, my taste buds literally start craving fruit. Right now I'm trying to get as much fresh fruit in my body as possible before the Fall and Winter months get here. As always, if you have any specific foods you'd like to learn more about, send me over a message!
I honestly don't even know where to begin, our wedding day was literally so perfect. I'm still over here crying while looking at photos and watching videos because they all make me SO freakin happy. I'm sure you've all heard SO many people tell you the same exact thing, but it's an absolute miracle when something you've been planning for and stressing about for a year and a half turns out so incredible. This day would not have been possible without our wonderful parents, bridal party, friends, family, and vendors. There are no words to fully express how thankful we are for each and every one of you and for everything you did to make our big day so special.
June 1, 2018
My best friend, Rima and my cousin, Catrina stayed at our house the night before to keep me company while Justin stayed at his parents house. We ended up going to bed WAY later than we intended the night before, so getting out of bed at 7 AM was a little rough. Looking back, I don't regret it for a second. That's part of what life is all about, the nights you stay up late laughing with your best friends. Anyway, we got up and got Bax and Rosie out before running to the grocery store to get food for while we were all getting ready. Then we drove over to Karen and Jim's house to meet the rest of the bridesmaids and get ready for the day. Karen and Jim are dear friends who live just a couple minutes away. They are two of the most kind, loving and thoughtful people we know. We couldn't believe that they opened up their home for all of us to get ready the day of our wedding. That meant 10 women, myself included, along with our amazing hair and make up artists from Boston Ever After, our photographer - Lauren Dobish and our videographers - Josh and Caleb fro StopGoLove.
All of my bridesmaids along with our lovely hair and make up artists arrived right at 9 AM to get things rolling. The morning was off to an awesome start and I was so excited. We all took turns putting together our breakfast which included bagels, cream cheese and fresh fruit. We also made sure to hydrate ourselves because we knew it would be a long day. Everyone in my bridal party kept asking me if I was nervous and to be honest, I wasn't. I was definitely antsy though. Anxious about everything going as planned and to see my soon-to-be husband! Colleen, Angelina and their team worked efficiently to make sure we stuck to the schedule for the day. They worked magic on all of us! I was impressed with how quickly they did each of my bridesmaid's hair and make up. I was also super thankful that they were able to cover up the monster zit on my chin.
While we were all taking turns getting our hair and make up done, our amazing florist, Julie, of Bittersweet Gardens, stopped by to drop off the bouquets. And OH MY GOD were they beautiful. Not only were the colors absolutely stunning, but the flowers smelled out of this world. I seriously could not get over them. Julie had created exactly what I envisioned for our big day and I was over the moon. We were half way through the morning and everything was still going well, I couldn't believe it. Shortly after our hair and make up was done, Lauren, our photographer arrived. I was so excited because I adore Lauren and her bubbly, sweet personality. I knew from the second we talked on the phone that we were going to be friends. I was anxious for all of my bridesmaids to meet her. Shortly after she arrived, we gathered in the living room so I could give my girls their gifts and cards and so we could take some group photos now that we were all ready.
I want to mention the gifts that each one of my bridesmaids received. One gift in particular that I think is extra special. Jim is a jack of all trades. He is a motivational speaker, author and also agreed to be the officiant for our wedding. He wrote a book called "My Father's Writings", which he gifted to my bridal party. I read his book earlier this year and couldn't put it down. It made my heart so happy that he wanted to share his words with my closest friends and family. The other part of their gift was from one of my favorite jewelry designers - Leila Jewelry. I purchased one of their monogrammed initial necklaces last year and literally wear it everyday. Almost all of my bridesmaids had commented on it at one point or another, so I figured it would be nice to give them one of their own!
By the time we finished taking photos, it was almost 1:30 and it was time to get into our dresses. All of my bridesmaids got dressed first and then it was my turn to put on my dress. Rima, who has been my friend since the first day of kindergarten helped successfully put it on without messing up my hair and make up. Now let me tell you guys, I am seriously OBSESSED with my wedding dress. When I began looking for wedding dresses, I fell in love with a couple Australian brands. The only issue was that I couldn't try a dress on before purchasing it. This made me way too nervous so I began looking for other options. One day while scrolling through Facebook, I stumbled upon an ad for Your Dream Bridal Boutique. I clicked on their page and guess what they had in store?! One of the Australian brands I had fallen in love with - Made with Love Bridal! Their dresses were only in the store for two weeks so I made an appointment immediately. I tried on seven dresses total and started crying as soon as I put this dress on. I worked with my seamstress to make a couple changes on my dress to make it my dream dress. I still can't get over how perfect it turned out, I seriously want to wear it every day.
After I was zipped up into my dress and had my Toms on, it was time to read my letter from Justin and open the gift he left for me. Initially, Justin and I had discussed reading our letters out loud but we both changed our minds in the moment. I knew I couldn't make it through his letter without crying, let alone attempting to read it out loud in front of people. It was the sweetest, heartfelt letter from my love and I will cherish it forever. He got me two gifts, a bar necklace with his very own handwriting on it. The phrase, "Forever Ever" is engraved on the inside of his wedding band. My band is too thin to engrave so he came up with this idea instead. He also got me a sterling silver band with our initials and the date of our wedding day stamped on it. Both of these pieces are handmade by another one of my favorites - GLDN (also known as Layered and Long). These two pieces are so perfect and special to me. I'm thankful that my husband-to-be remembered how much I love their jewelry!
My next task was walking down the stairs to see my bridal party without completely losing it. One of my favorite moments of the day was when Jim stopped by before I went downstairs and told me I looked beautiful. Karen was also right outside but told she didn't want to make me cry more by coming in to see me. I was crying before I even walked out of the room. We are so lucky to have them in our lives. All of my girls were waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs with their eyes closed. Luckily, I was able to make it down to them without ugly crying. Again, I just felt so lucky to have all of my closest friends and family there with me.
After the big dress reveal, we had to get moving. Justin and I decided to do our first look at a Francis William Bird Park in Walpole, which isn't too far from our venue. We had somehow managed to stick to the schedule and were all ready to go shortly after the limo arrived. While we were on our way to the park, it started to rain and we got stuck in traffic. I had been nervous about the weather since it had been raining on and off and muggy all morning. Our venue had even called me while we were getting ready to ask if I wanted to move the ceremony inside. I told them to hold off because it was only raining lightly. So I was worried we wouldn't be able to take our first look pictures or have our ceremony outside. BUT as soon as we pulled into the parking lot at Bird Park, the rain stopped. It was a miracle and I couldn't believe how lucky we got! The sun was even trying to come out a bit. It was hot, but I didn't care - as long as it wasn't down pouring on us!
Walking over to Justin was the first time that I felt butterflies all day. I was so excited and anxious to see him in his suit and kiss him. The guys had arrived about a half an hour before us so they decided to take groomsmen pictures. Once we got to the park, all of the groomsmen made sure Justin was where he was supposed to be and all of my bridesmaids made sure no one saw me as I walked over to him. Then I saw him; standing with his back to me. My heart started beating so fast as I walked up behind him. I was already trying not to cry and I hadn't even seen his face yet. I tapped him on his right shoulder and before I knew it he had his arms wrapped around me telling me how beautiful I looked. It's a crazy feeling and it's a moment I will remember forever. Seeing, holding and kissing my husband-to-be right before we walked down the aisle.
After smooching, crying happy tears, laughing and taking photos with my soon-to-be husband, it was time to take some pictures with our bridal party. Each one of these men and women have been there for Justin and I whenever we needed them over this past year (and in many years prior). They planned our bachelor and bachelorette parties, my bridal shower and were there to help de-stress us or make us laugh. They are the BEST people we know and we are beyond grateful for every single one of them. If writing about them doesn't give you enough of an idea, you can tell by the pictures how awesome they are and how much they make us laugh.
As you guys may (or may not) know, Justin and I have two rescue pups at home - Baxter and Rosie. They are a huge part of our lives and we HAD to have them be a part of our big day. We hired an extremely kind and caring woman to help us with the pups for the day. She brought them to Bird Park ahead of time and walked them a bit to get some of their energy out. She also helped get their attention so we could take some family photos with them! They were both super excited to see us and Baxie was being a bit of a nut case. It wasn't exactly easy to get them to sit still, but luckily we Lauren as our photographer who works with dogs and managed to get some adorable shots. I also love the not-so-perfect photos because they capture our little family perfectly.
After we finished taking photos with everyone, it was already 5:30 and time for us to head to the venue to say our vows in front of everyone we love and care about. I was shocked that we were able to stick with our schedule, literally amazed. We made it to the venue right around 6:00. Our ceremony started at 6:30 so we had some time to touch up our makeup and have a toast. There was one more thing I wanted to do before walking down the aisle - have a moment with my Dad. It makes me cry writing about it even now. I asked everyone to leave the bridal suite so my Dad could come in and see me in my dress. As soon as he walked in, I lost it. Just absolutely started to sob. My Dad may look like a serious guy on the outside, but he has a heart of gold and I love him for it. He hugged me right away, told me he couldn't believe his little girl was getting married and gave me his handkerchief. He's just the absolute best Dad in the world and I'm so damn lucky to be his daughter.
Before I knew it, it was time to walk down the aisle with my Dad; we had gotten ourselves together after losing it for a minute in the bridal suite. We then made our way outside where our family and bridal party were standing ahead of us. I remember my Dad saying, "We'll do this together Liv, just breathe. Don't cry, if you cry, I'll cry." See why I love him so much? Little did he know, the song I chose to walk down the aisle to was his wedding song - Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran. And no, I didn't do it to make him cry. I heard an instrumental version of it, fell in love with it and then played it for Justin, who also loved it. We made it to the end of the aisle and we were both already tearing up. We both took some deep breaths and started walking. I saw Justin in front of me with the biggest smile on his face. My sweet, handsome fiance waiting for me.
I somehow made it down the aisle without ugly crying the whole way. I think it was because I was so excited. I also knew I had to get through our vows without crying too much so people could understand me. We wrote our own so I knew it was going to be difficult. Justin went first and I of course cried. His words were so sweet and perfect and just made me love him even more. After his, I had to compose myself before reading mine. I tried to make mine a bit funny so I wouldn't cry too much. I had to stop and take a couple breaths, but I made it through them. After our vows, all I wanted to do was smooch Justin's face off. We still had to say our "I wills" before it was official. Yes, traditionally people say "I do", but Jim had written a beautiful piece for us and we absolutely love the idea of our ceremony being different. We both committed to forever (even though we had a long time ago) and we officially became husband and wife!
We did it! We were officially Mr. and Mrs. Justin Friel and we were both over the freakin moon about it. A year and a half of planning and stressing was so worth it for that feeling. We couldn't wait to eat, drink and celebrate with our friends and family.
After our ceremony, it was cocktail hour. We took family photos, some just us two and some of myself and my bridesmaids. Some photos that were very special to us are the ones we got to take with our grandmothers and the photos I got to take with my best friend, Rima. We are lucky enough to have four of them in our lives and they were all there on our wedding day. For those of you who don't know, Rima has Cystic Fibrosis and underwent a double lung transplant last May. The fact that she was able to be at our wedding was such a gift.
The rest of our night was spent eating, drinking, laughing and dancing with the people who mean most to us. We had our first dance as husband and wife and listened to three incredibly heart felt and hilarious speeches - from the best man, maid of honor and two of my best friends from college. They all had us laughing and crying at the same time. Rima even surprised me with a rap to a Nicki Minaj song, it was epic. We also had our dances with our parents, which again made me cry.
Our day wouldn't have been possible without our family, freakin amazing bridal party and friends, and of course, our vendors. You all worked so hard to make sure we were happy and that everything went the way it was supposed to. For that, we are eternally grateful. A very special thank you to our parents, Karen and Jim and each one of our vendors who went above and beyond for us.
Photographer - Lauren Dobish
Videographer - Stop Go Love
Hair and Make up - Boston Ever After
Florist - Julie Raymond
Venue - Lakeview Pavilion
Invitations - Rachael Mott
Vows Books - Warwick Sunday
Holy crap, I cannot believe we're already halfway through August. I had planned to write this blog post as soon as we got home, but I'm JUST sitting down to write it now. Life has been an absolute freakin' whirlwind post-wedding, we've been busy figuring out our careers and future plans. As well as hosting celebrations leading up to our friend's weddings! I put this blog post together to share some of the details of our honeymoon - specifically our favorite sites, restaurants and wineries that we visited. Justin and I flew out to San Francisco for the first couple days of our honeymoon and to be completely honest, we didn't really love it. It was busy and seemingly overcrowded. I also never want to hear people complain about Boston drivers after driving there! We did however stay in a cute little air BNB and near the city. There were definitely some cool things to see but we just preferred the weather and vibes up in the Napa + Sonoma.
One of my favorite places that we visited while in San Francisco was the Palace of Fine Arts. My Dad (who travels to California often for work) recommended that we check it out and I'm so glad we did, it is absolutely beautiful. The architecture will blow you away if you're into that sort of thing, everything is so detailed despite being so large. We didn't actually go into the Palace, we simply enjoyed the views from outside as we walked around. There is a theater inside that is used for performances, which you can also check out while you're there. We meant to go back to see it lit up at night, but completely forgot to. I would definitely recommend going back at night! Another fun thing to do if you're in San Fran is to go to a baseball at AT&T park. Justin is a huge baseball fan so of course we had to check out the stadium. It's completely different than Fenway, its actually located right by the water. Another thing I was impressed by was the food choices inside, they had organic options which I was shocked by and pumped about.
Next up is the Golden Gate Bridge, it's just something you have to see while you're visiting. It was beautiful, but it was also a bit foggy the days we were there. One tip I will give you guys if you're traveling here in the month of June is to bring warm clothes with you and wear layers! It was much colder than we expected and we definitely weren't prepared for the wind. I would've loved to just sit or even have a picnic on the beach more if it weren't so windy. Now we know for next time!
The next day we slept in and took our time getting out the door. The night before we googled the top sites to see and things to do in San Fran and stumbled upon the Doubtfire House, I don't know about you guys, but I absolutely love Robin Williams and the movie Mrs. Doubtfire. I don't even know how many times I watched it as a kid (and will still watch it any time I see it on TV even now). We stopped by the house and it looks just like it did in the movie, it's just painted a different color and there is a large tree growing out front. I did my best to get a good picture!
Another place I would definitely recommend if you LOVE plants or flowers is the Conservatory of Flowers. Justin doesn't love them as much as I do, but happy wife, happy life right? ;) He was such a trooper and explored with me for at least an hour. It's located in Golden Gate Park, along with an INCREDIBLE Rose garden nearby. The day we went, there wasn't an admission fee for some reason, but even if you go and you do have to pay, it's $10 or less! There were three different areas of the conservatory to explore, one of the rooms was warmer, one was cooler and the other area was the gift shop which featured a luscious, leafy green wall and stunning fountain.
After taking as many photos as possible of ALL of the plants within the conservatory, we headed over to the rose garden. If you don't already know this about me, Roses, are easily my favorite flower. Not sure if it's because "Rose" is my middle name or that my grandmother always taught me to stop and smell the roses, but I seriously can't get enough of them. All the different types, colors, scents, etc. I think they're beauty is breathtaking and yes, I will ALWAYS stop to smell them, even if I'm rushing. This garden was so impressive, they had a HUGE variety of colors and types. And OH MY GOD they smelled divine. I seriously had never smelt roses like that in my life. I wish it was possible to save the scent in a photo so you guys could smell them too.
Our last couple stops of the day included Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman's Wharf. These two places are right down the street from each other and are jam packed full of restaurants and shops. Ghirardelli Square obviously includes a store with all chocolate your heart desires. Unfortunately, I can't eat it because it contains soy, BUT if you can - go for it. There is also a brewery in the square, called San Francisco Brewing Co, that has an awesome outdoor seating set up. Along Fisherman's Wharf you can find TONS of souvenir shops and a food options. And if you walk all the way to the end, you can see the sea lions! They were hilarious to watch, with all of their goofy behaviors and sounds.
Just realized that I haven't mentioned our FAVORITE breakfast spot in San Francisco yet - The Plant Cafe Organic. My friend Aileen told us we HAD to go and man, am I glad we listened. Their food is not only freakin' delicious, but it is also organic and uses locally sourced produce. We literally went every morning during our stay in the city. My favorite thing was the breakfast burrito and their fresh pressed juices. Justin liked making his own little breakfast combo and the avocado toast. HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this spot, I would literally fly there just to eat breakfast.
On Wednesday, we began our journey up to Sonoma. In order to get there, we crossed the Golden Gate bridge and drove through a sweet little town called Sausalito (another spot my Dad told us to check out). It had a bunch of restaurants and shops right along the water. We walked around for a bit to explore. I got some INCREDIBLE chocolate from a local, organic chocolate shop. They had Taza chocolate and HU Kitchen as well, I was so excited to see local brands all the way out in California! I also found an adorable little boutique called 2Bella. They have multiple locations and a huge selection of women's clothes, I found the best linen pants and an awesome jumpsuit for our trip!
After that, we drove straight to our Air BNB and holy crap, I couldn't believe how freakin' cute it was. It was basically a Spanish villa in the middle of a neighborhood in Sonoma. You never would have known it was there! We were greeted by our hosts with a sign that said "Welcome Newlyweds", fresh flowers and a bottle of champagne. The grounds there are just stunning. They have their home, the Casita (which we stayed in), a studio, a pool, a barn and an awesome outdoor seating area, with a little fountain and fire pit! After we got settled, we got changed and ready for the afternoon.
I'm going to list the wineries that we visited while in Napa and Sonoma Valley below. Our honeymoon was 10 days long and I'm sure you're not looking for a play-by-play of each day. Over the next week, we visited a total of seven wineries and did tastings at each one. Check them out:
This was yet another spot HIGHLY recommended by my Dad and let me tell you guys, it did not disappoint. Their food is out of this world and the wine, also absolutely delicious. Another bonus, their food is local and organic as well. The ambiance here was just perfect. They also have a beautiful patio area and gift shop you can explore. We started off with Warm Burrata and also shared a cheese board. If you haven't experienced Burrata, please go here and try it. After devouring both of those, I got the Salad of Garden Greens and Justin got the grass-fed cheese burger. I seriously wish we could have eaten here every day, it was THAT good. Pictures below so you can drool.
2. V.Sattui Winery:
We stopped here right after we had stuffed our faces with food and wine at Farmstead so we didn't end up doing a tasting. They have a beautiful outdoor seating area with plenty of picnic tables. You can also taste wine and purchase food inside their gift shop. We ended up bringing home a bottle of their Pinot Noir to drink later that night.
This was another recommendation from my Dad (shocker, I know) but ever since I googled it before our honyemoon, I desperately wanted to go. When you click on the link above, you'll see why. This winery was absolutely AMAZING - the views, the history, the tour, the wine; I loved it all. It is a replica of a castle in Italy and actually used materials that were imported from Italy or made by local artisans in California. We got to try a special type of red wine that hadn't been released just yet as well as doing a tasting with some chocolate. And yes, we bought more wine to bring home - two bottles actually.
4. Jacuzzi Winery:
This winery was BY FAR our absolute favorite, we fell in love with the views, the ambiance and MY GOD, the wine. Their wine is out of this world, especially the Sagratino. Another thing we really loved about Jacuzzi was that you can bring your own food, buy a bottle of wine, sit outside and relax. After our first visit here, we came back three times afterwards. We also ordered 4 bottles of their wine as soon as we got home. It's THAT GOOD. This one wasn't recommended by anyone, we simply stumbled upon it and are so glad we did.
This was another winery we found on our own. I'm a fan of the more historic and beautiful wineries so as soon as I saw it online I wanted to go. It also wasn't too far from where we were staying. We did a tasting inside with some delicious cheese that I wish I remembered the name of. We ended up buying a bottle of their Pinot Noir to sip on while we sat outside and took in the views.
6. Ledson Winery:
Absolutely LOVED the scenery here. This winery originally was just a mansion for a man and his family. He and his wife ended up getting divorced and he realized he needed to do something with all the space he had. We did a tasting inside, got a cheese board and sat outside to enjoy the wine, cheese and views.
We discovered this winery simply because it was located right across the street from Jacuzzi. I also loved that they follow a sustainable farming practice. Cline reminded me of a family ranch. The wine tasting was held in a big old farm house that had a wrap around porch. We ended up buying a bottle of the Mourvedre and sat out on the porch to enjoy it together.
1. Red Grape:
Yet another restaurant in Sonoma that had an awesome outdoor seating area featuring a little fountain. They have indoor seating as well, but we chose to sit outside because it was so nice out that night. I had the summer corn ravioli, which was so good I had it twice during our stay. This is a casual restaurant, great for a night out where you don't have to dress up but still want to have good food.
2. Della Santina's :
The food here is classic Italian and is so freakin' good. While we were staying in Sonoma, we ordered in a couple nights because my allergies were acting up. So we got to experience both take out and the dining in from here and they didn't disappoint. Their tortellini soup is delicious and perfect for when you're feeling under the weather. When we actually went to the restaurant, we shared a Caprese salad, I had an incredible, homemade pesto pasta and Justin had a grilled chicken dish with veggies. Not only did I love the food here, but their outdoor dining set up is quiet and romantic. The employees also treated us to some wine and dessert since we were on our honeymoon. Definitely would go back here in a heartbeat.
They offer local and organic breakfast and lunch choices as well as wine, beer and cocktails. They also have a beautiful outdoor seating set up out back that features flowers, a pergola and a fountain in the middle, LOVED IT. I got the Avocado Goat cheese sandwich and Justin got the Chicken Salad. Definitely recommend stopping by if you're looking for healthy choices while in town.
4. Sol bar:
After we did the wine tasting at Castelo di Amorosa we were ready to eat. We did a quick google search for healthy restaurants nearby and this one popped up. This restaurant is located in a beautiful resort in Napa. Not only was the food incredible, but the outdoor seating area was also amazing. Definitely recommend stopping by if you're in the area!
We had such a lovely honeymoon, it was really hard to come back to reality. The only thing we really missed were our pups. We easily could have stayed out there for another week (or potentially moved there) if we had Baxter and Rosie with us! I hope you guys enjoyed reading this blog as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you're planning a trip to San Fran, Napa or Sonoma, you should definitely check out the places above!
So, as you guys all know, I normally write blog posts about nutrition and/or the health benefits that different foods have to offer. But today I decided to switch it up and write about the topic of dieting before our wedding (which is coming up June 1st!) Unfortunately, we live in a society where there SO much damn pressure to look absolutely freakin perfect on your wedding day. As if planning a wedding and preparing for the day itself isn't enough for you to worry about. Throw in the added stress of trying to lose weight or tone your arms so you look a certain way for ONE day and you'll be ready to lose your damn mind. Trust me, I've been there. I will say though, the thought of creating an intense workout routine to do just that DEFINITELY crossed my mind as soon as we set our wedding date.
As the months started flying by, I realized that I shouldn't be exhausting myself in order to try and look a certain way because society or other people expected me to. Another reason I decided not to put myself on a diet or set up a crazy workout routine to follow is because I wanted to make sure that I looked like myself when I walk down the aisle. I didn't want to look completely different on our wedding day, I wanted to look like me. Justin sees me everyday and he loves me just the way I am now. I eat healthy most of the time and I didn't want to start restricting myself from eating the foods I really love. During my college years, I learned that if I didn't allow myself to have the food(s) I was craving, I would end up eating WAY more of whatever it was to make up for all the times I didn't allow myself to eat it. Basically - diets just DON'T work. And there was also no way in hell I was giving up chocolate, cheese, or red wine for a year and a half. I'm not saying you should go eat a bar of chocolate, block of cheese and a bottle of wine to the face everyday. What I am saying is that there is NOTHING wrong with eating the foods that bring you joy. Food is meant to be enjoyed, you shouldn't feel guilty or beat yourself up after eating foods that make you happy.
I distinctly remember a comment that was made to me by a family member during the holidays last year. It was something along the lines of "don't become one of those skinny brides who doesn't eat anything". The funny thing was, it was said to me as I was shoving a DELICIOUS piece of homemade apple pie into my mouth. This piece of pie also had a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. It just goes to show you that you're going to hear opinions from most people that you encounter, whether you ask for them or not. You will hear them from family, friends, acquaintances and see them ALL over social media. What's important to remember is that EVERYONE has opinions, but that doesn't mean you have to listen to them. (You know the saying, "opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one". Just had to throw that in there because it's one of my favorites, haha)
Another thing I realized over the past year was that I really NEEDED to listen to my body. We had been super busy with work, family, friends, and events, non-stop, since last May. The priority for us was making sure we had time to spend with each other. It became very clear to me that trying to stick to a strict workout routine wasn't going to work for me. Some mornings I woke up exhausted and chose extra sleep rather than working out. I then found myself feeling guilty that I hadn't gotten up. What did that do? It only made me feel bad and in turn, quite negative overall. The thing was, the days that I chose to get some more sleep - I felt much better throughout the day. So why was I beating myself up about it? Simply because of the pressure that is constantly surrounding us.
So I made a deal with myself - to focus on listening to my body and working out whenever I wanted to. That meant paying attention to how it felt and what it was craving on a daily basis. And that's exactly what I've done for the past year. Being healthy is not about being on a diet 24/7, it's making realistic, sustainable choices that fit in with YOUR own individual lifestyle. Choices that make YOU feel good and make YOU happy. That is what matters.
Happy Friday babes! If you live in the Boston area, Spring has finally arrived and I couldn't be more excited. Warm weather, sunshine, and it's officially farmers market season, which means fresh fruit + veggies! The Functional Food of the week is the beautiful Bell Pepper. Just to give you a little background on them (in case you're a nutrition nerd like me), they are botanically considered a fruit, however, nutrition-wise, they are found to be a nightshade vegetable. Due to a recessive gene found within them, Bell Peppers are the only type of peppers that do not contain Capsaicin and therefore, are NOT spicy. They come in a variety of colors - Red, Yellow, Orange + Green being the most common. However, you may also find Brown, White + Purple Bell Peppers as well. There ARE nutritional differences between the colors of bell peppers, we'll chat more about that later.
Let's chat about the health benefits these babies have to offer:
1. Antioxidant Rich (They naturally contain extremely high levels of vitamins, minerals + antioxidants, most notably Vitamin A and C. When we eat fruits or vegetables that naturally contain vitamins our bodies don't have to work as hard to absorb and digest them.)
2. Brain Food (Another term I like to use is "good mood food", meaning, Bell Peppers help nourish our brains, keep our cognitive functions working properly and make us happy. This is thanks to Vitamin B6 found in peppers, which, when consumed, increases serotonin and norepinephrine levels within the brain. These hormones have been shown to improve mood, energy and concentration levels.)
3. Eye Health (Bell Peppers naturally contain high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are HUGE when it comes to maintaining healthy eyes. Lutein is already being used as a holistic treatment for macular degeneration. It helps protect the cells within the eye and can help improve vision as well.)
4. Immune System Booster (As I mentioned above, Bell Peppers contain high levels of Vitamin A and C. Meaning, they can help fight short term sicknesses such as the common cough or cold and even long term chronic illnesses or diseases. Studies on Vitamin A supplementation have shown vast improvements in the overall health of the people included in the study. Bell Peppers also help reduce inflammation within the body. Win-win!)
5. Healthy Skin (People sometimes forget that the foods you put INTO your body are just as important as the products you put ON it. Vitamin C is not only great for your immune system, but it works wonders on you skin as well. Bell Peppers contain high levels of Vitamin C and carotenoids - what gives fruits, veggies + plants their color. The combination of these two compounds supports collagen production and healthier skin overall.)
6. Disease Fighting Food (Like I mentioned above, Bell Peppers naturally contain carotenoids, which help reduce oxidative damage within the body. If you regularly eat foods that contain carotenoids, there will be less inflammation and free radical activity occurring in your body. In turn, this means less risk of developing chronic illness or disease.)
7. Weight Management (This pretty much goes without saying, but if you eat more REAL food - like fruits and vegetables, you WILL lose weight. Bell Peppers are low in calories, despite being super-nutrient dense. Meaning, they are good for you and will help keep you full for longer. Sliced peppers with hummus make a perfect snack!)
8. Healthy for Moms + growing babies (Any of the Mamas out there know the importance of Folate during pregnancy. It can help prevent birth defects and supports the development of a healthy neural tube. Bell Peppers naturally contain Folate, meaning they're not only healthy for Mamas, but they're super important for their growing babies.)
Not only are Bell Peppers freakin delicious, but, for all the reasons listed above, they will absolutely benefit your overall health. They can be used in a variety of ways - chop them up and toss them into stirfry or even an omelette. One thing that is important to consider is buying conventional vs. organic Bell Peppers. I check the EWG's Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list to help me decide. These lists will tell you which fruits + veggies have high or low levels of pesticides found on them. Either way, purchasing produce at your local farmers market is always a great option. That way, you'll know where it comes from and can even ask the farmers or employees about their farming process!
As always, if you babes have any fruits, vegetables or spices you want to learn more about - send me over a message!
I know, I know - the title of this blog post is corny, but I just couldn't help it (and it was the first thing that popped into my head). This weeks functional food is Beets! I feel like this vegetable gets a bad reputation because people say that they taste like dirt. Let's be honest - I definitely had that thought when I first tried them too. But now I freakin love beets - in stirfrys, salads and juice! Another thing I love about them is their bright red coloring. I'm always fascinated by naturally vibrant colors of certain fruits, vegetables and spices. Not only are beets beautiful and really good for you - but their juices have been used as a dye for thousands of years (just like turmeric). Sure, they can be a pain to chop because they'll stain your hands and cutting board. BUT the nutritional benefits they bring to the table completely make up for it!
Let's talk about what this beautiful vegetable has to offer:
1. Promotes weight loss (Beets are jam-packed full of fiber, which means they keep your body satisfied for longer. Bonus: they're also low calories. If you begin eating fiber-rich foods, you will lose weight.)
2. Brain Booster (Beets naturally contain nitrates, studies have shown that beet root powder can protect against cognitive decline as we age. One study even found that diets higher in nitrates helped increase blood flow in the brain!)
3. Antioxidant Rich (Like I've mentioned in previous blog posts, antioxidants help prevent free radicals and oxidative stress within the body. Beets naturally contain antioxidants and phytonutrients. One category of phytonutrients, called betalains, are both antioxidant rich and anti-inflammatory. They're also what provide beets with their color.)
4. Natural Detoxifier (Consuming beet juice positively impacts our live function by keeping it working properly. Studies have shown that it can increase levels of enzymes within the body that are specifically involved with detoxification.)
5. Digestive Aid (Like mentioned above, Beets are naturally rich in fiber - meaning these babies are going to help you become more "regular" if you know what I'm saying. Upping your fiber intake not only keeps you full, but keeps your bowel movements healthy.)
6. Natural Performance Booster (Beets, beet root powder and beet juice have been shown to positively impact the performance of athletes. Why? Thanks to their nitrate content, which have proved to boost energy levels within the body.)
7. Heart Healthy (So at this point we all know that Beets naturally contain nitrates. Studies on nitrates have shown that they improve blood flow within the body, and in turn, reduce blood pressure levels!)
8. Anti-inflammatory (Studies have shown that consuming beets and beetroot powder or juice decreased inflammatory markers in people with high blood pressure.)
Can you believe all the benefits beets bring to the table?! Learning about their nutritional benefits honestly just makes me want to eat them more. Not only can you eat beets, you can also eat the beet greens. The greens are very nutrient-dense, containing beta-carotene and lutein. Beets have also been used in for thousands of years in Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. They're believed to calm the mind, improve blood circulation and treat a variety of conditions. Beets are very versatile in the cooking world - they can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. You can find fresh beets at your local farmers market. I don't know about you babes, but I can't freakin wait for it to be farmers market season. Give me all the fresh fruits and veggies!
If you guys watched my insta-stories or saw my post this Saturday, you already know I spent the day at the Well Summit in Boston and it was absolutely amazing. It was a day full of in-person connection, support, inspiration and education. The energy throughout the day was freakin magical. Everyone was so happy and excited to be there. We had the opportunity to hear some seriously incredible women speak about a variety of topics. We also got to learn about and sample brands that use real and non-toxic ingredients. In case you didn't get to follow along on my stories, I'll give you a break down of the day as well as the names of all the speakers and brands that were a part of it all.
I normally would have joined in on yoga session at 8 AM (taught by the beautiful Sara Divello), but I had to make sure the pups had some extra time outside since my fiance was away on his bachelor weekend. I was bummed to miss it, but felt better knowing I'll be attending another yoga event lead by her this upcoming weekend! Here is the link in case you want to join us!: https://www.roomandboard.com/m/events/AprilYogaBoston
The day started off with an opening keynote by Sara Divello, followed by an extremely grounding sound meditation by Sara Auster. Sara is a sound therapist and meditation teacher. She lead us all through a series of deep breathing exercises and encouraged each of us to make our own sounds and a variety of sounds together as a group. It was really cool to see and hear everyone focusing on the doing the same thing. I don't know about you guys, but even 2 minutes of breathing and meditation can change my whole outlook, mood or mindset for the day. Go check her out to learn more about beginning your own practice.
The first panel of the day was titled "Everyday Products, Their Ingredients and Our Health". It was lead by Emily Kanter of Cambridge Naturals and included Tara Foley, Mia Davis - from Credo Beauty, Elizabeth Zulick - a scientist and researcher here in Boston, Marilee Nelson - co-founder of Branch Basics and Dr. Janis Covey - the founder of Kosmatology. This panel was truly eye opening, the cleaning products, make up products, hair products and skin care products we grew up around or even using ourselves can cause serious health issues internally and externally. The scary thing is, that for a very long time, these industries didn't have to release the ingredients in their products. Ingredients that haven't been tested in terms of being safe for humans or the environment and have been scientifically proven to cause chronic illnesses and even cancer. One thing that Liz mentioned that is important for these companies to consider is that everyone has a different chemical make up, therefore, the chemicals they put into their products impact each person differently. Unfortunately our world will never be chemical-free and we will always be exposed to some sort of chemicals or toxins, However, we CAN choose the products we use, bring into our household and put on our skin. We get to choose which companies we want to support - so do your research and read articles in order to find companies you trust. *A great resource that we have access to check ingredients is EWG - the Environmental Working Group. You can utilize their website to look into companies and the ingredients they use in their products. One of the biggest takeaways of the panel was to remember that your journey to wellness takes time. You won't figure out what works best for you overnight. Experiment with a couple products and see how your skin reacts to them.
After learning about some great eco-friendly brands and learning about which chemicals to stay away from, we had the chance to check out awesome brands that were set up at the Summit. All of the brands there had similar missions - to use REAL, non-toxic ingredients and in turn, positively impact our health and the environment we're exposed to. Healthy skin care companies included: Follain, Kosmatology, Piper Wai, Vapour Beauty, and True Moringa. Follain is located in Boston and has SO many clean beauty options in their store. I haven't had the chance to get in their myself but I can't wait to! Kostmatology also offers a variety of skin care options that are gentle on your skin. Vapour Beauty has TONS of clean beauty products, from foundation to mascara. True Morninga is working hard to create clean products all while supporting small farms. I loved their lavender oil! Piper Wai is a natural deodorant company that uses activated charcoal in their product. You may have also seen them on Shark Tank!
About 2 years ago, I began the transitioning our home to become more green and eco-friendly. Specifically focusing on the hair and skin care products and cleaning products we used. I threw away all of the toxic products we had in our home and began researching companies. A few months ago, I was on the Well Summit instagram account and stumbled upon Branch Basics. Their products are SUPER green and their mission is to help everyone have toxin-free homes. You should absolutely check them out if you're looking for some green cleaning products!
Food and drink companies included: Watermelon Road (who you may have seen on the Well Summit insta-stories last week), Bark Thins, Elemental Superfood, Jinjur, Health Warrior, and Hyvida. Watermelon Road makes fruit jerky with no added sugar - their pineapple mojito jerky was my favorite! Unfortunately, I couldn't sample a lot of the Bark Thins chocolate because it contains soy, but they have tons of flavors to choose from. Now let me tell you guys about Elemental Superfood. I was SUPER excited they were at the Summit because I have been DYING to try their product. Not only did I get to meet their founder, Nicole, but OMG babes, these bars did not disappoint - they were out of this world and the ingredients were on point. I hadn't been able to find them anywhere around me, but I did find out that the bars are sold at Pressed Juicery in Boston. You can also order them online which I'm absolutely going to be doing VERY soon - their Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter bar was absofriggenlutely delicious.
Another product I was so freakin PUMPED to try was Jinjur, which are liquid herbal extracts. This company is run by two awesome women who are Acupuncturists and Herbalists - Kate and Alexandra. They created these tinctures to help people reap the benefits of herbs without the crazy cost. They have four types of tinctures - Let it Glow (to promote healthy hair skin and nails), Wake Up (to boost energy levels), Chill Out (to decrease stress levels), and Sweet Dreams (to promote restful sleep). All you have to do is add a couple drops to your water, coffee, tea or even Kombucha!
Health Warrior is a company that I'm very familiar with - I discovered their chia bars in early 2015. Their bars are super nutrient-dense, as chia seeds are the main ingredient. Each bar packs a punch of Omega 3's, as well as plant-based protein and fiber. They're the perfect size to carry in your bag or travel with. They also make an awesome pre-workout or mid-afternoon snack! They recently launched their Pumpkin Seed bars which are also delicious and have super clean ingredients. I highly recommend you check them out!
Last, but certainly not least is Hyvida - a brand that I was not familiar with, really loved the product when I got the chance to try it. They make hydrogen infused sparkling water - similar to a seltzer water except it hydrates you! I got to chat with one of the founders who explained that it can help with headaches and migraines thanks to the hydrogen it provides. He also received feedback from customers who told him it is a great cure for hangovers! You can find them on their site and amazon as well.
Next up, were the breakout sessions, there were two to chose from - I attended "Turning It Off When You're Always On" which included two very inspiring women, Chelsea Williams and Chinae Alexander. Chelsea is a plant-based wellness blogger and founder of live sacred dc. Chinae is an a global Adidas ambassador and lifestyle blogger based in NYC. Together, we discussed building your brand on social media, how to deal with rude or negative people and how to detox from technology. Chinae explained that its important to build a thick skin and protect yourself emotionally. People tend to say things to you online that they would never say to you in person. She and Chelsea also discussed the importance of having support from the people closest to you - for the days that the comments do bother you, you need your community to be there to build you back up. One thing that Chelsea said that stuck with me is that its hard to turn your phone off when you're using it to build your business. Which is so true, yet she also talked about the importance of making time to be in the present moment, not mindlessly scrolling through social media apps. Their advice was to find what works best for you. Some people can spend days without their phone be totally fine. Others can only spend a few hours because the thought of messages and emails piling up gives them anxiety. We have to remember that we are all wired differently and what works for one person, won't necessarily work for the next. Lastly, they reminded us that we are lucky to have access to a working phone everyday. It should be looked at as a tool, not a necessity.
Our mid-day session, right before lunch was lead by the lively, Agapi Stassinopolous. Agapi is a motivational speaker and the author of Wake Up to the Joy of You. I had the opportunity to see her speak this past fall at the Well Summit in NYC and absolutely loved it. She tells her own personal story about facing rejection and how she moved past it to become successful. She realized that we live in a world where we constantly compare ourselves to others or what they've accomplished. We don't spend enough time paying attention to the opportunities we have in front of us. When we're worried about what other people are doing, it creates a block in our creativity and passion. One thing she said that rings true in our society is that we hold back because we want to be liked. But guess what? Not everyone has to like you and you don't need the approval of random people to go after your dreams. People may call you crazy or say you'll fail, but what they're really doing is projecting their own fears onto you. From there, we have two choices - 1. let their fears become our fears or 2. ignore them and go after what we're truly passionate about. Failure is an important pat of the journey, we learn from it. The last words she left us with were "trust that you have the ability to create the life you want". Sure, this may be easier said than done, BUT if you want to make something happen, you have to believe in yourself and keep pushing until you get there.
After Agapi's motivational words and dance party, it was time to break for lunch, which was provided by Sweet Green . We had a variety of delicious salads to choose from (as well as snacking on the food provided by the vendors mentioned above). After re-fueling with some delicious food, it was onto the next set of breakout sessions. I chose to listen to the "Creating Success on Your Terms" panel, which included the AMAZING Gianne Doherty herself - founder of the Well Summit and co-founder of Organic Bath Company, Jess Edelstein - co-founder of Piper Wai, Jessica Maniatis - founder of JSGD, and Kristina Tsipouras - the founder of Boston Business Women and Moroccan Magic. It was super interesting to hear each of these brilliant women talk about their own personal journey and what made them want to start their own businesses. For most, it started with being stuck in a job they weren't excited about and some were so stressed out from their jobs that they were physically ill. Which is unfortunately reality for a lot of people in this world. The biggest takeaways from this panel were the pieces of advice that these entrepreneurs had to offer. One of my favorite quotes was from Jessica M., "There is always fear in everything we do. You have to find trust in yourself. As long as you're following your path, you will be successful (even if it takes awhile)." These words were extremely encouraging for me, as someone who is working on building a business and a career I love.
Other pieces of advice I loved:
- Encourage others to start their own business and go after their passion.
- Don't wait for permission, give YOURSELF permission - you don't need anyone else's.
- You only get what you want in life by having the courage to ask for it.
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Learn to embrace it. This is where the true change begins to happen.
- If you don't put your talents out into the world, you are depriving others of what you have to offer.
After listening to that panel of inspirational, female entrepreneurs, we had two more breakout sessions to chose from. I chose to listen to the "Business of Wellness: Monetizing Social Media" panel, which included Holly Finigan, the founder of Nantucket BlACKbook, Chelsea Williams, Chinae Alexander and Ksenia Avdulova, the founder of Breakfast Criminals. I was very interested in this panel because I'm always curious how people use social media to create sources of income for themselves. It is also very motivational to hear how each person started their brand and built it to where it is now. One misconception all of these entrepreneurs face is people thinking that they live glamorous lives and what they do is easy. When in reality - its taken them a long time, multiple failures + accomplishments, combined with a lot of hard work to get to where they currently are now.
Some of my favorite takeaways from this panel:
- It takes time, effort and hustle to build your brand. There is no, one formula.
- Have multiple projects going on at all times
- Get clear on what your expertise is, create a list of everything you have to offer and the costs of your services.
- Find brands you like, believe in and who align with your vision for your band. Ask to work with them.
- Try to focus on working with brands and companies that align with what you're truly passionate about, don't do something just for money.
- Remember that your worth is not based on the amount of followers you have.
- You have to do a lot of outreach to get your name out there. Talk about people and brands like, tag them and show them some love.
- Whatever is important to you, put it out there and make it known. Have your own unique voice. Be authentic. ("Its way less exhausting to just be yourself", as Chinae Alexander says).
- Create your own hashtags and stick with them.
- Hire out for the things you're not good at. This gives you time to focus on your vision and gives other people the funds to fuel their dream.
At this point, we were more than half way through the day, but still had to awesome panels to choose from. The second to last panel I attended was entitled "Drop the Labels: healthy food for your mental health", and was lead by Heather Stevenson - the founder of Thirst Juice Company. This panel included Chelsea Williams, Jenny D. Brice - a Reiki Practitioner and Psychotherapist, and Rachele Pojednic - Professor of Nutrition, Scientist and founder of Strong Process. I was familiar with Rachele and Heather from hearing them both speak last year at the Well Summit, but hadn't heard Chelsea or Jenny discuss food and its role on our mental health. The first topic of discussion was dieting, fad diets and if they are sustainable. There is a difference between a diet and lifestyle. Dieting is short term, whereas a lifestyle is long term. Making small changes and beginning to incorporate them into your life is what a lifestyle consists of. Diets tend to be restrictive and in the long term, unrealistic to stick with. Their advice was to create your own "diet" based on what YOU like and what works for YOU.
Advice, Tips + Takeaways:
- ALWAYS do research, read labels and ingredients. Unfortunately a lot of brands use false marketing.
- Pay attention to what you're putting into your body. If you can't read the ingredients or don't know what they are, you probably don't want to eat it.
- Being healthy is based on eating REAL food and less processed food. Basically eat more food without labels, like fruits and vegetables!
- Experiment with different foods, figure out what makes you feel good or bad. Pay attention to how you feel when you eat certain foods. Remember that what works for ONE person, may not work for you.
- Work on building a healthy relationship with food. It's important that food is not viewed negatively.
- Be proud of yourself for where you are now. If you feel like you need to make some changes, do it.
- You NEED to fuel your body when you exert it, try to move away from restrictive eating and move towards intuitive eating.
The last panel of the day, lead by Siraad Dirshe, (beauty editor at Essence Magazine)was titled "Redefining Self-Care" and included Rebecca Casciano - clean beauty make up artist, Asha Ramakrishna - spiritual mentor and author (who I've always felt such a strong connection to since we first met last year), Gianne Doherty - you all better know who she is by now, Sara Divello - yogi, author and motivational speaker and Melissa C. Let me tell you babes, this panel really hit home for me. Mostly because over the past 6 months, I've really tried to focus on turning inward and doing what's best for me. We discussed self-care as a whole, eliminating toxic energy and negative people, doing more things that make YOU feel good, and the importance of setting boundaries. We, as women, tend to give and give and give, but forget to take care of ourselves. You need to give yourself time to rest so you don't get burnt out. The saying "you can't pour from an empty cup" applies perfectly in this situation. In order to show up and be there for others, you must do the same for yourself FIRST. We also tend to try and please everyone, which, let's be real - is NOT possible. One thing that Asha said that resonated with me is that we may make decisions that other people don't like and that IS OKAY. You have to do if it's what is truly best for you. Self-care is defined differently by everyone. It doesn't have to be expensive, it can be as simple as saying "No".
My Favorite Takeaways:
- Make a list of things that bring you joy. Do more of those things on a regular basis.
- Listen to your body. Pay attention to what its telling you.
- Tune into how you feel after interactions with people. If you feel good, keep them around. If not, stay away from them.
- Try not to feel bad for not following other people's expectations. This is YOUR life and you are in charge of making decisions that are right for YOU.
- Create some sort of routine that makes your days and weeks feel happier.
- Start practicing self-care, whether it be big or small. No one else is going to do it for you!
I had to leave early (to get home for the pups) so I didn't get to hear the closing keynote by the phenomenal Gianne Doherty herself. I was bummed to miss it, but was on such an absolute high from the day itself. It's not JUST a wellness conference - it gives you the chance to turn inward and work on yourself, learn about and discuss topics that really matter and connect with so many beautiful souls. I'm so thankful for the Well Summit and all of the people I've gotten the chance to meet the past 3 events I've been too. I know this was a lengthy blog post, but I felt like the topics discussed are SO important and that there were SO many beneficial takeaways that you all can begin applying to your own lives.
Happy Friday Babes! Back this week with one of my favorite functional foods EVER - Coconut Oil. I'm not sure if you guys have seen any of the memes about it, but there is one in particular that says, "Pours coconut oil over entire life" and this literally could not be more true for me. I use it for pretty much everything. Not only does coconut oil benefit your health if you include it in your diet, but there are SO MANY different ways you can use it. There have literally been thousands of studies done on this oil, all proving that it is HEALTHY and good for you! First I'm going to talk about the health benefits, then I'm going to jump into the variety of ways it can be used (and why it should be a staple in your household)!
Health Benefits of Coconut Oil:
1. Decreases Inflammation in the Body (Like I've mentioned in previous blog posts, inflammation within the body can cause numerous health issues - one in particular is Arthritis. And guess what?! Coconut oil can be used as a treatment for it! Studies have shown that it suppresses inflammatory cells in the body and actually treated Arthritis more effectively than medications thanks to the high levels of antioxidants found within it.)
2. Naturally Balances Hormone Levels (Coconuts and coconut oil contain saturated fat - AKA the good kind of fat. Consuming natural fats helps balance hormones within your body. Studies show that it positively impacts estrogen levels and can even help with menopause symptoms!)
3. Positively Impacts Cognitive Function (Studies have shown that the Medium chain fatty acids (MCFA's) found in coconut oil improved memory function in elderly people. MCFA's are easily absorbed by the body and fuel brain cells efficiently. Another thing of mention - coconut oil could be used as a holistic treatment for Alzheimer's, which would be HUGE! When the body digests the MCFA's, ketones are created by the liver. Ketones supply the brain with energy WITHOUT needing insulin to process the glucose into energy. People who suffer from Alzheimer's lose the ability to create insulin with the brain. Like mentioned above, the Ketones found in coconut oil can create energy for their brain!)
4. Treats Internal Infections (Studies show that coconut oil has successfully treated both urinary tract infections and kidney infections. The MCFA's disrupts bacteria from growing and actually kills it. It's basically a natural antibiotic.)
5. Boosts the Immune System (Coconut oil is is naturally anti-bacterial, anti-fungal AND anti-viral. Lauric Acid, a component of coconut oil, fights candida, bacteria and makes its difficult for viruses to develop within the body. If you're sick, you should absolutely consider including coconut oil in your daily routine!)
6. Natural Digestive Aid (Coconut oil aids in digestion by helping the body more easily absorb Magnesium, Calcium and Vitamins. It also aids in destroying bad bacteria and candida, which leads to a healthier gut. An overgrowth of Candida can cause indigestion and inflammation. Take some coconut oil and kiss those ailments goodbye!)
7. Holistic Treatment for Osteoporosis (Some of the causes behind Osteoporosis are free radicals and oxidative stress within the body. coconut oil contains very high levels of antioxidants, which help fight free radicals from occurring. Studies have also shown that coconut oil increases calcium absorption and bone volume, as well as decreasing bone loss.)
8. Natural Energy Source (Coconut oil naturally boosts metabolism levels when consumed. It is easily digested by the body and provides you with an energy boost. How does it do this? When you eat coconut oil, the MCFA's go straight to the liver where they are converted into Ketones - which is what gives you natural energy!)
9. Heart Healthy (Like I mentioned earlier, coconut oil contains saturated fats, the GOOD kind of fats. These fats boost healthy cholesterol levels by converting the bad cholesterol (LDL) into good cholesterol (HDL). Higher levels of HDL cholesterol lowers the risk of heart disease.)
10. Weight Loss (The naturally occurring fats in coconut oil - the MCFA's, help the body burn calories and fat. Sounds a bit contradictory right? Eat fat, to lose weight? It actually makes sense scientifically - when you consume healthy fats, your body is more satiated, which keeps you full for longer and helps curb cravings. Bonus: MCFA's also help you build muscle!)
My favorite ways to use Coconut Oil:
1. As a moisturizer (Coconut oil is SO nourishing for your skin, its best to put it on after you shower to really let it soak in.)
2. As makeup remover (Anytime I wear make up, I take it off using coconut oil before washing my face. Not only does it completely remove any and all make up, but it moisturizes your skin at the same time!)
3. As a natural teeth whitener (I'm sure some of you may have heard of oil pulling. If not, it is a technique that has been use for thousands of years. You take a spoonful of coconut oil and swish it around in your mouth for 2-5 minutes, some people even go up to 15-20. After that, all you do is spit it out and rinse your mouth out with water. They say it's best to do it first thing in the morning. Not only will it kill any bad bacteria in your mouth, but it will make your teeth super white!
*You can also use different oils if you don't like the taste of coconut.
4. As as natural hair care option (If you have a dry scalp or dandruff, coconut oil can help solve that problem - without any crazy added chemicals! You can do coconut oil hair masks or even make your own shampoo! Using coconut oil in your hair leaves it feeling soft and looking healthy!)
5. When Cooking (Obviously! I'm constantly using coconut oil when I cook, whether its to saute veggies or as an oil substitute when baking. Not only is it good for you but it tastes delicious as well!)
*Of Note: When buying coconut oil, make sure you purchase organic and virgin (or unrefined)! Refined coconut oil strips all the nutritional benefits from the oil.
I hope you guys enjoyed reading this blog post and are excited to try or continue using coconut oil! If you have any questions or suggestions for next weeks functional food Friday - send me over a message!
I'm sure you can guess by the title - this weeks' functional food is the Chia seed! I'm sure you've heard all about them by now, they're an extremely nutrient-dense superfood. Whats a "superfood" you ask? A superfood is defined as "a food that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person's health)". Chia seeds have so many nutritional benefits to offer your body and overall health, it's crazy.
I can't remember exactly when I first heard about Chia seeds, but I do know that I started eating them shortly after reading the book Born to Run, written by Christopher McDougall. In this book, Christopher talks about a small tribe of people called the Tarahumara. This tribe used Chia seeds as their fuel for hundred mile runs. I was absolutely fascinated when I learned this - how could little seeds possibly fuel their bodes for so long? That's when I became interested in the nutrition and health benefits they had to offer. Chia actually means "strength" in the Mayan language and the seeds are known as "runner's food". Now let's hop into the science behind this badass seed!
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds:
1. Plant-based Energy Source (Studies have shown that the performance of athletes is enhanced when they consume Chia seeds prior. This is thanks to the Zinc levels found in Chia, which help your body increase Leptin. Leptin regulates how your body uses it's energy and your overall energy levels. It also improves stamina and endurance!)
2. Weight Management (Chia seeds actually help boost your metabolism + specifically target belly fat tissues. Like I mentioned above, the Zinc found in Chia seeds turns into Leptin which helps the body regulate your appetite. Another fun fact - when you eat chia or put them into any sort of liquid, they take on water + form a gelatinous bubble around themselves. Which in turn, helps keep you full for longer and can curb cravings.)
3. Healthy Teeth (Chia seeds provide your body with vitamin A, zinc, calcium + phosphorus. Consuming food that contains calcium is crucial for the overall health of your teeth.)
4. Glowing Skin (The amount of antioxidants that Chia seeds contain is outrageous - meaning they can help stop free radicals from occurring within the body. In turn, this means they can repair damaged skin and keep your skin healthy.)
5. Heart Healthy (Thanks to their Omega 3 levels, these little seeds have the ability to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and regulate cholesterol levels. Studies have also shown that people who consume Chia seeds on a regular basis are far less likely to develop atherosclerosis.)
6. Digestive Aid (Chia seeds are jam-packed full of fiber, just ONE serving of them can provide your body with the daily recommended amount. Since they are high in fiber, they help the body have regular + healthy stools.)
7. Holistic Treatment for Diabetes (Due to their linolenic acid + fiber content, Chia seeds can help prevent the build up of excessive levels of fat within the blood and balance blood sugar levels. Studies show that regularly consuming Chia can help prevent the diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes and even help reverse it.)
8. Boosts Bone Strength (Like I mentioned earlier, Chia seeds are a great source of Calcium + Boron which are both important components for healthy bones.)
9. Plant-Based Protein Source (Chia seeds are a great source of plant-based protein, they are at the top of the list!)
10. Hydration Station (Earlier, I talked about the fact that Chia seeds take on water and expand - they can actually absorb up to 10 times their own weight in water. Meaning, they have the ability to keep you hydrated!)
I don't know about you guys, but I still can't get over ALL the benefits these tiny little seeds have to offer. Chia seeds can be used in a variety of ways - you can toss them on top of salad or yogurt, put them in smoothies, bake with them or even just toss some into water and drink them. Keep an eye out for a variety of recipes using chia seeds!
*One thing of mention - people who suffer from Diverticulitis should not consume Chia seeds (it's best to not consume seeds in general if you have this disease).
The Functional Food of the week is Avocado! I'm sure all of you have tried an Avocado, but if you haven't - I have no freakin' idea what you are waiting for! This fruit is considered one of the most nutrient-dense fruits in the world, it is a superfood in every sense of the word. Some people don't include them in their diet due to their fat content. Unfortunately we've been taught that fat is bad for you and you should stay away fro it or stick to low-fat diets. BUT Avocados contain healthy fats, which are GOOD FOR YOU. And guess what else?! Eating healthy fats actually helps you LOSE weight. Sounds contradictory right? I understand why people are thrown off by the whole eat fat - get thin concept. Let's check out the science behind it all by diving into the nutrition benefits Avocados have to offer:
1. High in GOOD fats (Avocados contain Monounsaturated Fatty Acids which are the HEALTHY fats. They keep you full for longer meaning you won't be tempted to snack on unhealthy alternatives. Which leads to...WEIGHT LOSS! Healthy Fats are your friend - EAT THEM!)
2. Balance Hormones Naturally (How? Studies on fatty acids have shown that they play a large role in regulating the functions of your central nervous system and your overall reproductive health. They have also shown that eating avocados can fight depression, while boosting your mood and even fertility levels!)
3. Heart Healthy (Again - thanks to their fatty acid content, Avocados balance blood lipids within the body. Diets that contain a decent amount of Monounsaturated Fatty Acids prevent Arteriosclerosis - the hardening of arteries.)
4. Regulates Glucose Levels (This benefit is important because it can protect your body from insulin resistance and Diabetes. Diets that contain plenty of of Monounsaturated Fatty Acids improve fasting insulin levels. Eating healthy fats can actually decrease insulin and glucose levels within the body for hours. This also prevents weight gain and obesity!)
5. Skin Health (Avocados aren't just good for your insides, you can use them on your skin too! They are an incredible natural moisturizer and can make your skin to glow when used as a part of your beauty routine. Why? Thanks to their antioxidant content - specifically lutein, which is a carotenoid. This antioxidant promotes healthy, glowing skin.)
6. Cancer Fighting Food (WOAH, what?! Why are studies claiming that Avocados can help in the fight against cancer? Thanks to the naturally occurring phytochemicals they contain! Research shows that the phytochemicals found in avocados help block the growth of tumors and decrease changes in chromosomes. Their Monounsaturated Fatty Acid content also helps lower inflammation within the body, which helps in the fight against chronic illnesses.)
7. Improved Digestion (Besides being full of antioxidants and healthy fats, Avocados are also jam-packed full of fiber. Just to put it into perspective for you, one whole Avocado can contain 11-17 grams of fiber - more than any other fruit! Fiber boosts healthy gut bacteria, makes it easier to go to the bathroom and helps the body get rid of toxins. A high-fiber diet is super important for anyone who suffers from digestive issues because they help the body better absorb nutrients by nourishing the gut lining.)
8. Decreased Risk of Metabolic Syndrome (Bottom line - eating Avocados helps regulate hormones within your body, which in turn can prevent chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. Studies show that people who regularly eat avocados have 50% LESS chance of developing metabolic syndrome and other diseases. You read that right - FIFTY PERCENT!)
Some of the other nutrients Avocados provide include:
- Folate (can prevent birth defects and potentially prevent strokes!)
- Vitamins A, E + K (necessary vitamins, work together to positively impact metabolic factors within the body)
- Vitamins B + C (these vitamins aren't naturally stored in your body so it's necessary to eat fruits or vegetables daily)
- Protein (some people think that fruit and vegetables don't contain enough protein - Avocados are very high in protein and low in sugar!)
- Minerals (Iron, Copper, Potassium and Magnesium - you know how people tell you to eat a Banana if you need Potassium? 1 Avocado has more Potassium than 2 Bananas!)
- Phytonutrients (which are anti-inflammatory compounds that decrease your chances of suffering from chronic illnesses caused by inflammation within the body)
- Carotenoids (lower inflammation, boost your immune system and promote healthy growth and development)
Soooo basically, if Avocados aren't already a part of your diet - you should consider giving them a try. They have SO much to offer to your overall health AND they are absolutely freakin' delicious. Avocados are so diverse, they can be used in SO many different ways, in both sweet and savory recipes. Whether you whip up some avocado toast, toss some into a smoothie, chop it up and put it on top of your salad, etc. Just try them and see how you feel!
Most people don't know this, BUT - raw, local honey is a natural remedy that can be MORE effective than most over-the-counter medicine or prescriptions you'll find at your pharmacy. It has been used as a form of medicine for thousands of years. It should absolutely be a part of your routine during the winter, particularly when you're fighting a cough or cold. Not only is honey a delicious natural sweetener but it also packs a punch when it comes to healing your body. Like I always say, FOOD IS MEDICINE.
What exactly is raw honey? It is honey in it's pure form. It's not heated, processed, or pasteurized, which ensures that all of the naturally occurring phytonutrients, vitamins and enzymes are still present. Unfortunately, most of the honey you'll find in grocery stores isn't raw and is also HIGHLY processed. If it's processed, you won't get all of the awesome health benefits that honey has to offer. So if you're looking to purchase it in store, check the label and look for the word "Raw". You will also be able to see the difference between the two, raw honey will have more of a creamy appearance, whereas processed honey will be more golden and syrup-like. Another great place to purchase honey is from a nearby farm, but again - be sure to ASK if it's raw or processed. (Some beekeepers heat up their honey).
Like I mentioned above, raw AND local honey will offer you the most health benefits. The honey being local to you plays an important role. You can purchase raw, local honey from another part of the US or another country, but it won't provide you with the same benefits as purchasing it from your own town (or surrounding towns). Why? Because the honey is coming from the environment you already live in. Your body has adjusted to your surroundings, meaning it can boost your immune system and overall health.
Let's dive into the health benefits that raw, local honey has to offer:
1) Natural Source of Energy - you can consume it pre or post workout, as it is a natural form of fuel. It's a pure source of honey, made up of water + sugar, as well as vitamins, minerals, protein and pollen. It's also easily absorbed by our bodies.
2) Helps Heal Wounds - studies have shown that bandages slathered in honey have been an effective wound treatment. Why? Because honey has natural anti-bacterial properties. Research has also shown that it effectively treats a variety of ulcers.
3) Cough Treatment - Honey has been shown to be just as effective as conventional cough syrup. Why? Honey has the ability manage your cough by reducing the secretion of mucus and in turn, decreases the amount of time you spend coughing.
4) Weight Management - studies have found a link between honey consumption and weight loss. Replacing white sugar with honey can have a positive impact on your health. Why? Because honey is more easily absorbed by your body + doesn't cause spikes in your blood sugar levels, therefore it can help you lose weight!
5) Natural Treatment for Diabetes - eating raw honey can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes AND even helps the medication that people with diabetes take work more efficiently. It increases insulin and decreases hyperglycemia, meaning it has a positive effect on your blood sugar levels.
6) Combats Pollen Allergies - this health benefit ties into the importance of the raw honey you consume being local to you. Honey naturally contains bee pollen which can provide seasonal allergy relief during the Spring, Summer and Fall months. Some people even say that consuming raw honey daily is as effective as an allergy shot!
*Of Note: conventional, pasteurized honey DOES NOT have bee pollen in it, in order to get the health benefits you need to consume raw (and local) honey.
7) Jam-packed full of Antioxidants - Raw honey naturally contains polyphenols, pinocembrin, chrysin and pinostrobin, which are all powerful antioxidants. Consuming it daily raises antioxidant levels within the body. What do antioxidants do? They block free radicals from occurring (free radicals can cause disease). Eating foods that increase the antioxidant levels within your body can prevent those diseases.
8) Promotes Restful Sleep - Eating raw honey before bed causes two things to occur within the body: 1. it restocks your liver's supply of glycogen and 2. helps release melatonin in your brain. Melatonin boosts your immune system and helps rebuild tissue while you sleep. (Studies have shown that poor sleep can lead to numerous health problems).
Can you believe all of the health benefits honey has to offer? It's crazy, but also awesome that it can natural heal our body in so many different ways. A couple things to mention while we're on the topic of honey:
- pay attention to WHERE your honey is sourced from (local is obviously best, but sometimes it can be sourced from areas where the bees are sprayed with pesticides or given antibiotics)
- purchase RAW (and local) honey if possible (conventional honey doesn't have much to offer except for the sugar found within it, it can also be full of fillers or other ingredients)
- high heat (anything above 95 degrees F) rids raw honey of it's health benefits (if you are going to cook, bake or add honey to your tea, make sure it is cooled down before you add it)
- raw honey should not be consumed by children under 1 or people who have received any sort of transplant (due to the risk of bacteria growth found within it)
I hope you guys learned something from this blog post! I'll be posting one of my favorite ways to use honey next Wednesday!
Ginger, honey + warm water is easily one of my favorite drinks to whip up first thing in the morning or even at night after dinner. (Besides bone broth, a turmeric latte or ACV, honey + water of course). I discovered Ginger a few years ago after doing research on natural remedies for sensitive stomachs. I didn't always suffer from indigestion growing up, I more so noticed it when I began eating healthier and paying attention to the food I was putting into my body. At this time, I also did some experimenting with food to figure out what my body was intolerant to and which foods caused my stomach to feel off. For me personally, it's kiwi, soy/soybeans, sesame seeds (anything with Tahini in it) and egg whites (although I can tolerate them if I don't eat them too often). However, I don't think it's JUST those four things. I think there are numerous things that negatively effect my stomach. For example, while eating out I have to be mindful of salad dressings and the different oils restaurants use while cooking their food (unfortunately, a lot of these oils can not only make you feel like crap, but they're not good for your body and overall health). That's another topic we can discuss later :)
So like I was saying, I began doing my research on holistic remedies for stomach aches because I was shifting away junk food and popping Tums like candy (I really did). I was a SUPER picky eater as a child and it still amazes me to this day that I actually began trying new + healthier foods (like vegetables)! Just to put it into perspective for you - I ate my first official salad my Freshmen year of COLLEGE. Since, I was very picky about food, when I initially tried Ginger, I wasn't a huge fan. It had a kick to it that I wasn't used to (obviously). BUT, once I read about all of the health benefits it has to offer, I kept trying it over and over again until guess what? I actually started to like it! That's normally how it goes, in order to actually like certain foods, you have to keep trying them!
Ginger is not simply a natural digestive aid, it has SO MUCH MORE to offer. It's been used all over the world as medicinal herb and as an ingredient in a variety of recipes. Here are some of the other health benefits Ginger has to offer:
1. Anti-inflammatory (like I mentioned in previous #functionalfoodfriday blog posts, inflammation is not only a driving factor behind numerous diseases, but is a HUGE problem in our society. Studies on Ginger have shown that it may inhibit markers of inflammation. This is thanks to the compounds found within it)
2. Eases Aches + Pains (this may seem obvious based on the first benefit listed above, but if you're body or anything in your body is inflamed - it can lead to pain. Therefore, if you start consuming Ginger which will have reduce the inflammation within your body - it can help ease joint + muscle pain AND any of the side effects that come along with your menstrual cycle ladies (cramps, headaches, etc.) It's actually been proven that Ginger is just as effective as taking aspirin or ibuprofen!)
3. Boosts Brain Function (How does Ginger help brain function? You guessed it - thanks to the antioxidant's + anti-inflammatory components it has to offer. Studies on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's have shown that some of the main causes are due to inflammation in the brain and oxidative stress.)
4. Relieves Nausea + Aids in Digestion (This particular health benefit applies to anyone who suffers from indigestion, has a sensitive stomach or even expectant moms who are suffering from morning sickness. Studies have shown that Ginger has been an effective treatment for nausea across the board. This is huge for pregnant women, as most conventional medicines for nausea can harm their growing baby. It's also been shown to have a positive effect on cancer patients suffering from nausea due to their chemotherapy treatment. In regards to digestion, ingesting studies on Ginger have shown that it speeds up the process of emptying the stomach.)
5. Fights Bacterial + Fungal Infections (Ginger naturally has anti-fungal properties that can help kill fungi within your body when consumed. Studies have shown that it actually has the ability to prevent certain strains of bacteria from growing. Another study that compared the anti-fungal effects of 29 plant species showed that Ginger was the most effective at killing fungus.)
6. Aids in Regulating Blood Sugar Levels (One study that focused on the effects of Ginger on fasting blood sugar levels showed that it effectively reduced it by 12%, as well as improving long term blood sugar control.)
7. Can Potentially Prevent the Growth of Cancerous Tumors (Ginger contains an anti-cancerous compound called 6-gingerol. Based on research, this compound may effectively block the growth of certain cancer cells, however more research needs to be done.)
8. Decreases LDL Cholesterol (Cholesterol is essential to our overall health. However, there are different two different types of it LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) and HDL (the "good" cholesterol). *LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein and HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. Having high levels of LDL is unhealthy because it can lead to clogged arteries, while having high levels of HDL protects your body and your overall heart health.)
9. Boosts your Immune System (Ginger is a natural diaphoretic, meaning it works to warm the body from within and actually promotes sweating. A nice cup of hot ginger tea during the cold winter months is the perfect way to keep yourself warm and keep colds away. You can purchase Ginger tea from your local grocery store or you can make it at home using chopped fresh ginger!)
10. Is a Nutrient dense herb (Fresh Ginger is jam-packed full of vitamins and minerals. It naturally provides your body with protein, potassium, fiber, iron, and Vitamin C, just to name a few!)
There are SO many ways you can begin incorporating Ginger into your diet. For example, in tea, while cooking, in smoothies and juices, etc. You can also purchase Ginger in different forms - fresh, ground, in capsule form or as an essential oil. Give it a try, see how you feel and let me know if you notice any differences in your health!
I don't know about you babes, but Cinnamon is one of my absolute FAVORITE spices to add to food. It's super versatile and can be used in so many different ways. Not only does it taste freakin delicious, but it is also an extremely powerful + potent spice that has been used around the world for thousands of years. So basically we're winning already - it's a spice that you'll enjoy eating and cooking with AND it's considered a medicinal herb thanks to it's numerous health benefits. Let's dive into some of the reasons why Cinnamon is an awesome functional food:
1. Decreases your risk of heart disease (It has a positive impact on high cholesterol, triglyceride levels + blood pressure. There is also research that shows Cinnamon actually increases blood circulation while also acting as a great blood coagulant - meaning it helps prevent bleeding by helping your body form blood clots.)
2. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels (This means it can help fight Diabetes by improving your body's sensitivity to insulin. How? Cinnamon actually blocks specific enzymes that allow sugar to be absorbed into the blood.)
3. Helps Fight Infections + Viruses (Cinnamon is anti-microbial, anti-biotic, anti-viral and anti-fungal, which means it can boost your immune system. One of the best ways to fight infections or viruses using Cinnamon is to utilize it in essential oil form.)
4. Jam-packed full of Antioxidants (The health benefits of Cinnamon come from the polyphenols + flavonoids found naturally within it. These antioxidants are protective, meaning they reduce the occurrence of damaging free-radicals and also slow the aging process.)
5. Packs an Anti-inflammatory punch (Our bodies NEED to consume anti-inflammatory foods and spices especially with all of the processed foods and sugars we're exposed to. Many of the chronic illnesses within our society can be prevented or reversed if people begin eating an anti-inflammatory diet. Studies have shown that Cinnamon can reduce swelling and may even help with pain management thanks to the to 7 different kinds of flavonoid compounds found within it.)
6. Prevents + potentially cures Candida (How? Cinnamon's anti-fungal components have shown to be effective in treating Candida overgrowth within the digestive tract.)
*What's Candida? It's essentially an overgrowth of yeast, or a fungal infection. Symptoms can present as a yeast infection, an infection of the skin and nails or oral thrush
7. May decrease your risk of Cancer (This may sound a little crazy to you, BUT like I always say - FOOD IS MEDICINE. Cinnamon can decrease your risk of cancer thanks to it's ability to protect your body from DNA damage, cell mutation and even tumor growth. It even has the potential to cause cancerous cells to self-destruct!)
8. Positively Impacts Dental Health (Studies have shown that Cinnamon can fight + kill the bad bacteria living in your mouth that cause cavities, infections, bad breath and tooth decay. Basically, it can be used as a natural mouth wash - without any added ingredients or chemicals!)
9. Boosts Skin Health (Again, thanks to it's anti-biotic and anti-microbial components, Cinnamon can help treat infections, any skin irritations, rashes, and even allergic reactions. One way I like to use Cinnamon is as a face mask - just mix a little honey in and you're good to go!)
10. Protects Brain Function (Like I mentioned earlier, Cinnamon helps protect against free radicals and DNA damage within the body. By doing this, it actually stops cells from morphing or self-destructing. Bottom line, Cinnamon has a positive impact on the cognitive functions of your brain.)
And one more thing babes - pay attention to the TYPE of Cinnamon you buy. There are two types of Cinnamon, Cassia and Ceylon. It is better to purchase and consume Ceylon over Cassia. Why? Cassia Cinnamon contains high levels of coumarin. Consuming coumarin in small doses is okay, however research has shown that consuming large amounts can cause negative side effects such as liver damage. Ceylon Cinnamon (usually labeled as "true" Cinnamon) contains MUCH lower levels of coumarin, therefore it is definitely the safer/healthier option. Unfortunately, a lot of the conventional brands of Cinnamon you'll find in grocery stores are most likely the Cassia Cinnamon - so take a look at the label or consider ordering it online!
Stay tuned for some of my favorite recipes including Cinnamon!
I'm sure you guys are all familiar with Chlorophyll after learning about it back in elementary school, right? If you can't remember, I'll give you a brief summary - Chlorophyll is what absorbs light and creates energy during a process called photosynthesis within a plant. Without it, plants wouldn't be able to survive. So not only does this incredible pigment give plants life, but it is also a superfood that can positively impact your health in a variety of ways.
I recently became interested in Chlorophyll after learning that it has been used as an effective natural remedy for headaches. You guys know I'm all about holistic remedies and using food as a form of medicine rather than ingesting prescriptions (unless absolutely necessary of course). How does Chlorophyll help ease the pain of headaches and/or migraines? By simply bringing MORE oxygen to the brain. You see, one of the main causes of headaches and migraines is due to a lack of oxygen flow to the brain (amongst numerous other causes). Therefore, if you start making Chlorophyll a part of your daily routine, it should actually help prevent them! Can I get a hell yeah?! Taking a plant-based supplement rather than an aspirin or ibuprofen daily will have absolutely have positive impact on your body and overall health. You can take a Chlorophyll supplement in one of two ways: 1) solid form or 2) liquid form. (P.S. - it is also found in any leafy greens and green veggies that you eat; ex: Spinach, green beans, etc.)
Now let's move on to how Chlorophyll can help your skin. Like I mentioned earlier, it is a superfood - meaning that it provides your body with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Just like Chlorophyll helps bring more oxygen into your brain, it also helps your skin breathe. In case you don't know, antioxidants can stop the production of free radicals by preventing the oxidation of other molecules AND it can help slow down cell damage. Chlorophyll also contains anti-viral components which helps our skin heal faster when applied topically. All of these factors combined contribute to creating healthier skin!
Other health benefits of Chlorophyll include:
1. Improved Digestion (reduces constipation by naturally speeding up the elimination of waste)
2. Weight loss (studies have shown that it boosts metabolism and helps you feel full for longer)
3. Liver Detoxification (naturally detoxes heavy metals and harmful toxins from our body *if you want to get into the science of it: by increasing phase II biotransformation enzymes)
4. Anti-Carcinogenic (studies have shown that Chlorophyll can actually bind itself to carcinogens within the body and block them from being absorbed by your body)
If you've been suffering from headaches, go pick up some Chlorophyll (whether in supplement, powder or liquid form) and give it a try. You can take it as a daily supplement or mix it in with water or even toss it in a smoothie! You can find plenty of options online and at your local vitamin store. If you've been dealing with breakouts, one of my favorite green skincare companies, Cocokind makes an incredible mask using Chlorophyll (all of their products use REAL ingredients) You can order it online or find it in your local Whole Foods.
I'm sure you babes have heard of Turmeric right? Golden Milk or a Turmeric Latte? This particular spice is being talked about and used in recipes EVERYWHERE, yet I'm not sure that everyone knows about ALL of the incredible health benefits Turmeric has to offer. Adding Turmeric to your diet isn't just another health or wellness "fad", it's something you should consider adding to your daily routine. Now let me break it down for you and tell you the MANY reasons why you should at least give it a try.
Turmeric originates in India and has been used for thousands of years as a spice (it's what gives Curry it's yellow color) and as a medicinal herb. It's not only one of the most studied medicinal herbs in the world, but it has also been scientifically proven to fight and potentially heal disease. Studies that compared conventional medicine to Turmeric, showed that the results EQUAL and in some cases, OUTWEIGH the results of pharmaceutical medications. Sounds crazy right, an herb fighting and healing chronic illness? Like I've said before - FOOD IS MEDICINE and we now have the research, studies, and results to prove it.
One of the main reasons why Turmeric is such a powerful herb is due to the Curcumin found within it. Curcumin is a strong antioxidant that also helps reduce inflammation within the body. Which in turn helps manage any aches, pains, or inflammation you may have (even the symptoms of arthritis)! Meaning you can swap out your aspirin for a Turmeric supplement instead. Studies on Curcumin have also shown that is has the potential to prevent specific types of tumors from growing. Which is a HUGE deal in terms of fighting cancer. Think about it - having the option to try a more holistic route and not have to deal with the negative side effects of chemotherapy. That would be life changing for SO many people. Why is fighting inflammation within your body so important? In our society, studies have shown that inflammation plays a major role in chronic disease. Another shocking fact - most chronic diseases can prevented and potentially reversed if you change your diet and lifestyle.
*Two things to mention about Turmeric/Curcumin: 1) it is poorly absorbed into our body and our bloodstream. Therefore, when consuming Turmeric, it's important to add some black pepper in with it to help your body better absorb it (if you're taking a supplement, check the bottle to see if black pepper is included) 2) it can interact with certain medications. If you want to begin adding it to your daily routine, make sure you consult with your doctor prior.
Turmeric is truly incredible, it offers a wide range of health benefits and can be used in SO many different ways. Some of the other ways it can be used:
1. As part of a skincare regimen (the anti-inflammatory properties have shown to have a positive impact on skin conditions) *Face Mask Recipe coming soon!
2. To help manage Diabetes (studies have shown that Curcumin helps reverse issues with insulin resistance and hyperglycemia)
3. As a treatment for digestive issues (such as IBD - inflammatory bowel disease. Studies showed that Curcumin was able to replace their corticosteroids and helped heal their gut.)
4. To help lower your risk of heart disease (Curcumin improves the lining of blood vessels called the "Endothelium".)
5. As a preventative for Alzheimer's disease (as we all know, there is no cure for Alzheimer's, however, studies show that Curcumin has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. More studies need to be done, but some have shown that Curcumin can help clear Amyloid plaques, which is one of the main causes of the disease itself.)
If you guys have any other herbs, spices or food that you'd like to learn more about please message me!
We’re currently in the middle of full blown cough, cold and flu season and it’s super important to keep your immune system in tip top shape. When I was in high school and college, I used to pump myself full of over the counter meds every time I was sick. The funny thing is, most people don’t realize that you can heal your body naturally. Yes, it does depend on the severity of the sickness, there are absolutely times where medicine is necessary and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if I can eat real food and take small steps every day to prevent myself from getting sick and avoid taking unnecessary medicine that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that’s go-go-go 24/7, working crazy hours and not taking time to rest. Lack of sleep is a HUGE issue that people fail to recognize and address. Not sleeping enough impacts SO many parts of your body, one specifically, is your immune system. It’s almost comical to say sleeping is a natural remedy to keep your body healthy but it’s 100000% true. So if you feel like you’re getting sick or you’re already sick – let yourself get some sleep. Trust me, your body will seriously thank you.
Below I’ve compiled a list of my favorite natural remedies you can use to keep your body healthy. Some of them may seem a little whacky to you, but I promise they work. Just give them a try and you will see!
1. Apple Cider Vinegar –
You guys know I can’t get enough of ACV, to learn more about the health benefits check out my previous blog post entitled "Apple Cidahh Vinegahhh". One of the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar is that it helps create an alkaline environment in your body which can kill bacteria and viruses. One of my favorite drinks to have first thing in the morning is warm water, a splash of ACV and some local honey mixed in. Click here to see the brand we use at home!
2. Bone Broth –
if you watch my Instagram stories (@healthbalancecenter) you’ll see just how often I drink bone broth. Sometimes it’s up to 3 times a day, I just love it. Why do I like it? It has numerous health benefits – it helps create a healthy gut, supports immune system function, and is a fantastic source of collagen as well (which helps protect your joints and positively impacts your skin).
The brand of bone broth I drink most often is Pacific Foods. I warm it up over the stove top and add Frontier Co-op turmeric, Himalayan pink salt, cilantro and Fourth and Heart ghee. If you’ve never tried it before – you absolutely should. It’s fun to play around with different spices and seasonings AND if you can find some locally it’s even better for you!
3. Echinacea –
for those of you who aren’t familiar with Echinacea, it is classified as an herb, although it is technically a flower. The flower itself, as well as its roots and leaves have been used as a plant-based/herbal remedy for hundreds of years. It is said that Echinacea decreases your chances of getting a cold by half, as well as reduces the duration of your cold. You can most likely find echinacea supplements and teas in your local grocery store. If not, you can always find them online.
4. Essential Oils –
As you all know, I’m an essential oil enthusiast for numerous reasons. There is literally an essential oil for every symptom or ailment you may have. Some of the best oils to help alleviate symptoms during cold and flu season are listed below:
Thieves (anti-bacterial, anti-infectious, anti-viral and antiseptic properties)
Peppermint (soothes headaches, chest congestion and can reduce fever)
Lemon (purifies the air in your home due to anti-viral properties, decrease congestion)
German Chamomile (soothes aching muscles or pains, also calms coughs & chest pain)
Oregano (this oil is extremely potent and is known to be as powerful as antibiotics; it has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic properties)
Lavender (helps ease aching muscles and headaches due to its anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties, also acts as a calming oil and can help you sleep more soundly)
Eucalyptus (promotes clear airways, eases congestion, and helps you breathe deeply; it can also be used as a rub for your chest and shoulders)
There are TONS of blends you can purchase or create your own blends at home using the essential oils you have on hand. My favorite DoTerra blends to use during the winter are OnGuard and Breathe. If you want to learn more about essential oils or are interested in purchasing them, send me an email! Also keep an eye out for future blog posts and potentially videos on essential oils!
5. Elderberry Syrup –
Elderberry is known as one of the best anti-viral herbs on the planet. Studies have shown that elderberry can reduce the chance of getting a cold or the flu and can shorten the amount of time you are sick for. It’s also proven to be a safe and effective treatment for the flu if taken within the first 48 hours.
6. Freshly chopped Garlic –
I know, you probably think I’m nuts for telling you to eat raw garlic, but it’s for a legitimate reason. When you chop up or chew on a clove of Garlic, it releases Allicin, which is a powerful anti-bacterial that can kick an oncoming cold goodbye. Allicin is only present right when you cut it or chew it, not when it’s cooked. Garlic is a natural antibiotic, it is also anti-microbial, anti-viral, and provides your body with antioxidants as well. Hesitant to try it? I know, I was too – but once I learned that it can help knock out flu symptoms, I immediately ate some.
7. Green Smoothies –
Looking for a way to get a ton of veggies in your body? Whip yourself up a green smoothie (or go support a local smoothie bar). There are TONS of smoothie recipes online that you can use to whip them up at home. Some of my favorite ingredients to use in green smoothies during cold and flu are: ginger, oranges, pineapple, kale or spinach.
8. Pineapple –
For some reason, I tend to crave pineapple during the winter months. I never understood why, but I’m pretty sure it’s part of the reason I’ve stayed healthy the past couple years. I did some research on the health benefits of it and found out that they contain Bromelain, which is an enzyme that fights infections and kills bacteria due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Eating pineapple and drinking pineapple juice can help soothe a sore throat, calm a cough and aid your body in getting rid of mucous.
9. Ginger –
Like I mentioned earlier, I like to include ginger in my green smoothies. Why? Studies have shown that fresh ginger fights respiratory viruses. You can include fresh ginger in your smoothies or you can also put it in boiling water and drink it as a tea. (P.S. it's also helps with nausea!)
10. Raw Honey –
I'm not sure about you guys, but I have always LOVED honey. I especially love putting it in my tea or adding it to a stir fry as a natural sweetener. Not only is honey sweet and delicious, but it provides you with a ton of nutritional benefits as well. Research has shown that honey is just as effective in treating coughs as over the counter cough syrup (cough, cough - food is medicine). Consuming raw honey also boosts your immune system thanks to the high amount of polyphenols found in it, which are super powerful antioxidants. Stop by any farms near you to pick up some local honey if possible!
And last, but surely not least - DRINK MORE WATER. Shocking, I know. I’m sure this is not a crazy revelation for any of you. BUT in general, I think everyone could hydrate themselves more throughout the day, especially when you are sick. Drink lots of fluids, all day, every day – even if you’re not sick. And if you’re looking to boost your electrolyte count, you can drink maple water, coconut water or use Nuun tablets.
I hope you all find these remedies helpful! Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns or if you use any of these remedies and have a success story to share!
First and foremost, I just have to say that the 2 days I spent in New York City last weekend at the Well Summit were genuinely life changing. That's not a phrase that I use lightly. The energy that was present on both Friday and Saturday was absolutely freakin' incredible. At the end of each day, I left with such a full heart, feeling empowered, loved and excited about the connections I made and for my future. Now, let's dive into a recap of Friday.
That morning, I arrived to Manhattan ready to step outside of my comfort zone and meet new people. Funny enough, that actually happened right away. There was a group of women standing outside (including myself) who got there early. We all started chatting about where we were from, who we were excited to see speak, etc. Four of us who were talking to each other all ended up being from Boston - such a small world. From there, I connected with Erika, who ended up becoming my W.E.L.L. Summit buddy for the weekend and now, my new friend.
Once we got inside, we received gift bags full of goodies from amazing companies and made our way upstairs to find our seats and sample food/products from vendors before we sat down to listen to the first speaker of the day, Latham Thomas (@glowmaven). Latham is a well known author as well as a wellness and lifestyle guru. She began our afternoon by guiding a grounding, heartfelt meditation that not only helped calm the mind, but also connected every attendee in the room on a much deeper level. Her meditation brought us together, encouraged everyone to be open and vulnerable - which then lead to a whole bunch of hugging, hello's, smiles and laughter.
Sara Divello was the opening keynote speaker. She is the author of "Where the Om Am I?", an informative and hilarious book (definitely a must read in my opinion) as well as a speaker and a yoga teacher. She is such a beautiful soul, both inside and out. I've had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with her multiple times prior to the Summit. Today she spent time talking about her personal journey and what ultimately lead her to leave her corporate job and go after a career she is truly passionate about. One question she asked us really stuck with me, "Is this the great work of my life?" If the answer to that question is "no", you should begin making some changes in your life - to figure out what makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning. She also discussed the importance of taking care of yourself - mind, body and spirit. She encouraged us all to find activities that nourish each aspect of our health. For example, therapy for your mind, yoga for your body and making time to do something that you love for your spirit.
5 Ways to Create and Embrace Your Best Life:
1) Acknowledge the fragility and preciousness of life
2) Make time to do what fills you up
3) Cultivate gratitude for what you DO have, rather than focusing on what you don't have
4) Take a mind, body, spirit approach to your health and wellness
5) Create a vision for your best life and hold it with you at all times
She reminded us that there are days that it won't always be easy and a lot of the time we may feel scared. Creating your best life is an internal process, not an external process, you will feel vulnerable and emotional at times and that is okay. Everyday won't be perfect but as long as you are sticking with what resonates with you, it will feel almost perfect.
The topic of The Relationship between Happiness and Success, a discussion lead by Kathryn Budig and Kate Fagan was the perfect segue after listening to Sara speak. Kathryn is an author and an internationally known yoga teacher. Kate is also an author and sports reporter/commentator for ESPN. Together, they have a podcast called "Free Cookies". They began their discussion with a quote from Aaron Rodgers (QB for the Green Bay Packers): "I've been to the bottom and I've been to the top. Happiness comes from somewhere else." They went on to explain that our society thinks that success equates to happiness and that this constant quest for success is making people sick. This is SO true. So many people think that once they achieve X, they will immediately be happy. Hence, why so many people are becoming sick. They work and work non-stop, until they're completely burnt out, all to try and achieve happiness. At the end of the day, things will never bring you happiness; it comes from within.
Finding Happiness Exercise:
1) Write down your top 4 core values
2) What do you want in life? What don't you want?
3) What's draining you?
4) What's fueling you?
In closing, they explained that you need to spend time figuring out what makes YOU happy. You can read all the self-help books you want, but no one will really have all the answer(s) for you. YOU have to make time to do some soul searching. Figure out what you are craving in life and go after it. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. But also remember that extremes aren't always the best way to go about it, you need to find balance in your life. It IS possible to start out small, rather than following the "go big or go home" attitude.
The next topic of discussion was Self-Care Starting with Ingredients. This panel was lead by Erica Corsano (lifestyle and travel journalist) and included a great group of people who are well known in the healthy food space; Zach Adelman (CEO of Navitas Naturals), Linda Barron (CEO of Steaz) and Cassandra Bodzak (author and holistic lifestyle expert). In regard to products that are currently on the market, Zach and Linda spent time explaining WHY we should check the ingredients and sugar content. They also reiterated the importance of eating REAL, whole, organic, sustainably sourced food. "Eat the Rainbow" as Zach put it, know WHERE your food comes from and WHAT is in the food you're putting into your body. They encouraged us to do our own research, find companies we can trust and support them by voting with our wallet.
Cassandra began a discussion on eating with intention. Just take a minute to think about this - when was the last time you focused on simply EATING a meal, without any distractions (TV, phone, etc.)? She explained the concept of food mood journaling, for 1-2 weeks, you commit to writing down what you eat and how you feel an hour later. Doing this gives the power back to YOU, it teaches you which food(s) your body responds positively or negatively to. It reminds you to LISTEN to your body and to make educated food choices that leave you feeling good. It's extremely important to honor the wisdom of your body. Our bodies are always telling us something, if you have a stomach ache or a headache, it is for a reason. Journaling about the foods we eat and how we feel afterwards teaches us what fuels our bodies best. In the words of Cassandra, "everyone has their own individualized food prescription that fluctuates". Listen to what your body tells you and eat food(s) that feel good for YOU.
We had a short break after this discussion where we had time to meet and connect with other attendees, try some local products and food and stretch our legs. After we had sampled our way around the room, we sat back down to listen to a wonderful panel of women talk about Beauty as Self-Care. The four women on the panel included Tara Foley (the founder of Follain), Sandra Lanshin Chiu (studio director of Treatment by Lanshin), Kristine Keheley (co-founder of Vapour Beauty) and Rebecca Casciano (Make up artist & Natural Beauty Expert). It was such an interesting topic and discussion to listen to. All four women hold different job titles, but they could all relate to each other because they all believe in clean beauty and self-care. They stressed the importance of making time to take care of yourself, especially as women.Women tend to take care of a lot of people and take on a lot of responsibilities. In turn, they may forget to take breaks to recharge themselves. Remember that you have needs too and you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. If you don't spend time taking care of yourself, you will end up burnt out. Create a routine for yourself - whether it be in the morning, afternoon, night or even on the weekend. Even if it's as simple as doing a face mask before bed, that is still considered self-care. Or maybe even treat yourself to a massage or a facial. Give it a try for a week and notice how you feel.
The second part of the discussion, clean beauty, was one that everyone was very passionate about. We live in a world where the make up industry has created products full of toxic chemicals, dyes and even animal products. Luckily, over the past couple years, there has been a huge demand for products that are cruelty free and made with real ingredients. This is not only exciting for the people in the clean beauty industry, but it's exciting for all of the consumers as well. It's beneficial to everyone. Clean beauty means you are taking care of yourself, your skin and the environment. Do some research on organic beauty or skincare lines, read their mission. Find one (or a couple) that you like, support them and share it with others.
After learning more about clean beauty and utilizing it while practicing self-care, we moved onto listening to the amazing speakers of the W.E.L.L. Panel. The panel was lead by Sara Divello and included Josh Rosebrook (founder of his own skin and hair care line), Koya Webb (holistic health coach and yoga instructor) and Latham Thomas (author, doula and founder of Mama Glow). It was so special to listen to everyone on the panel because they were so open, honest, and genuine. There were so many questions and topics included in this panel that it's hard to summarize it in a couple sentences. Each speaker spent time talking about their own journey, what lead them to living a more holistic life and how they built careers they love.
After learning more about clean beauty and utilizing it while practicing self-care, we moved onto listening to the amazing speakers of the W.E.L.L. Panel. The panel was lead by Sara Divello and included Josh Rosebrook (founder of a skin and hair care line), Koya Webb (holistic health coach and yoga instructor) and Latham Thomas (author, doula and founder of Mama Glow). It was so special to listen to everyone on the panel speak because they were so open, honest, and genuine. There were so many questions and topics included in this panel that it's hard to summarize it in a couple sentences. Each speaker spent time talking about their own journey, their lifestyle and food choices and what lead them to living a more holistic life and how they built careers they love.
Takeaways from the W.E.L.L. Panel:
1) Go within and figure out what YOUR soul needs.
2) You need to create rituals to honor yourself.
3) Figure out what works for you by experimenting with yourself mind, body and spirit.
4) Don't label yourself or put yourself into a specific box, we are constantly growing and changing.
5) Be gentle with yourself, we aren't perfect - we're human. Be aware of how you're talking to yourself.
6) It's not about perfection, it's about progress. We have to be more flexible in our thinking.
7) Educate yourself on the products and companies you support. There is a story behind everything we consume.
8) Wellness is a practice, balance and an art.
9) Try not to compare yourself to others on social media.
10) Be aware of what you're spending your energy on, don't waste your time doing things that don't serve you.
Bottom line, wellness is not just about what we eat or drink or how much we exercise, it's about what we think as well. Love yourself, love others, love the planet. Trust in the universe - ask it to bring like-minded people into your life and it will.
And last, but certainly not least, we had the pleasure of listening to the closing keynote speaker - Agapi Stassinopolous. She is the author of a best-selling book (Wake Up to the Joy of You) as well as a motivational speaker. Let me tell you guys, this woman took us on an emotional roller coaster - we we laughed, we cried and by the end we were dancing. She talked about her struggles to become an actress and how she was told she would never make it. She got sick of people telling her she couldn't so she decided to just do her own thing. And guess what? She DID it. She became successful all on her own because she believed in herself and what she had to offer to the world.
Wake up to your Joy Takeaways:
1) Fulfillment is what you should focus on, happiness is fleeting.
2) Be authentically you.
3) Don't wait for someone to give you permission to do something. Just go for it, without hesitation.
4) Love yourself despite your disappointments.
5) Don't compare yourself to others or their achievements.
6) Heal the parts of yourself that need healing and move on.
7) Make each day special, don't take tomorrow for granted.
8) Don't allow negative people into your space.
9) Meditate when you can.
10) Joy is a huge part of wellness. Find your joy and nurture it.
She reminded us that you don't know what you have inside of you until you open up and try. She asked us to begin writing down three things that we appreciate about ourselves each day. The one question that she asked that really stuck with me was, "What robs you of your joy?" Whatever that is, evict it. Find mechanisms that work for you. In closing, she told us that life should be a love affair and it starts with YOU.
I still can't believe how much I learned from attending the Well Summit. This blog post only covers Friday (don't worry there will be a part II covering Saturday's breakout sessions and activities). All in all, I have to say that Gianne Doherty (the FOUNDER of the Well Summit) and her team completely outdid themselves this year. Thank you for bringing together such a wonderful group of inspiring people to speak and for creating a warm and welcoming space. I can't wait to see what you do in the years to come!