To truly live in such a way that prevents and reverses chronic health issues (especially in today’s world) means doing a lot each day. Most people I know think that I do it all because I care about this cause that much. But the truth is, no human can do it all perfectly. We are continuously changing and entering new eras of our lives, and most importantly, we are always learning more.
At the close of 2017, I’m taking time to reflect on the changes I made that had the greatest impact on my physical and mental health. If you’re looking for a place to start making some changes in 2018, give these a look.
My to-do list for 2018 is just as long as this one; some I’ll achieve, some I won’t, but that’s OK.
It’s doing most of it, most of the time, and never giving up that really counts. xx Adrienne
1. Doing purposeful work
I started 2017 just 3+ months into marriage and it’s been a big year. I knew that the next big life goal to conquer was finally following a dream of mine— creating WellBe —and leaving a job that made me feel empty inside, even with great co-workers and working in healthcare technology. Getting onto my path of meaningful work— even if I still have no idea what twists and turns WellBe will take —has had a big impact on my life. Sure, I now have stress and anxiety from the scary world that is entrepreneurship, but knowing that I am finally being the change I want to see in the world (or at least helping to work on it!) has made me much happier and, in effect, healthier.
2. Taking the stairs
I did it occasionally before, but this year I read a lot more about the importance of exercise and natural movement as part of your everyday life from The Blue Zones book. In the past several months I have become much more dedicated. My apartment is six flights up, but I use the stairs almost every time (unless I have big boxes!) I enter or leave. This way, no matter how busy my day gets, or whether or not I can fit in time to get my target 10,000 steps, I’m getting in a little heart-pumping action. This is critical for both brain and heart health.
3. Eating moreturmeric (and more spices in general!)
I’d heard that turmeric was good for you, but I didn’t fully understand what a super spice it really was until this year. I also didn’t think it would taste good in my cereal (isn’t it mostly for Indian food?), but in the past few months I’ve started adding it and at least three other spices every single morning in my smoothie or my cereal bowl and it’s delicious. My second favorite is Ceylon cinnamon. These immunity boosters have helped me avoid getting even a little bit of a cold in the past 11 months. (OK, I had a sore throat in November, but managed to send it packing before it was a full-blown cold!)
4. Shopping at my farmers’ market
Before this year, my husband and I had gone to our little farmers’ market near our apartment on occasion (honestly to visit this amazing cheese stand from VT), but I didn’t think of it as my main source for produce each week. In 2017 I started putting my money where my mouth is and making my Saturday morning trip a can’t-miss when we’re in town. We only shop at the grocery store when we can’t find what we want at the farmers’ market. That time has turned into some of the happiest few hours of our week. Being around beautiful food in their natural form, being with our community (which in NYC is rare!), thinking about what we can cook with different foods, and being outside— I’m never going back.
5. Subscribing to Sun Basket meal delivery service
My husband and I cooked for ourselves before 2017, but we found ourselves making the same few flavorless meals last winter and got in a rut of not planning out everything we needed ahead of time. Sometimes we ended up just ordering takeout, which I knew was not good for our health or budget’s bottom line. I’d heard about some meal delivery services like Blue Apron and Plated, but buying organic and sustainably sourced foods is really important to me. Plus, meal delivery services are usually packed with a lot of wasteful materials, so finding something made with recycled and recyclable materials was also important.
I finally found a company that filled my needs, Sun Basket. All of their produce is non-GMO and sustainably grown. Currently over 75 percent of their produce is organic, and they’re working with their farm partners to be 100 percent organic by early 2018. All of their meat, dairy, eggs, and seafood options are sustainable, pasture-raised, and organic, though we have been ordering mostly vegetarian and vegan in an attempt to eat less meat and dairy in general. Though meal prep sometimes takes longer than we’d like, it has ensured we regularly cook nutrient-rich, clean food and has become my husband’s unintended evening meditation two nights a week— he’ll chop and stir away without looking at a device. He really enjoys the process! We contacted Sun Basket after writing this, since I was such a big fan already, and they’re now offering $35 off to our readers, so please use this link to sign up!
6. Taking probiotics + eating probiotic foods
I have been taking a probiotic from my naturopath for years, but it wasn’t until I started filming interviews for WellBe that I realized having a healthy gut was the most important thing I could do for my health. I had never included probiotic foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, or bone broth on my regular grocery list, and I had been inconsistent with taking my probiotic supplement. Now, I take it like clockwork every the morning before I eat anything, with my glass of room-temperature water with lemon juice. And I snack on kimchi while I’m cooking dinner. My gut is doing great!
7. Washing less
As a piggyback to taking and eating probiotics daily, learning about gut health has made me realize that the skin’s good and bad bacteria gets washed away with soap. I had already made sure that anything antibacterial in our house was kicked to the curb (we still use EO hand sanitizer if we need to when we’re out) but I hadn’t considered that my daily showers and hair washing were doing more harm than good. Blonde hair starts looking greasy so quickly!! What I didn’t understand was that my scalp was producing oils to compensate from drying it out with shampoo. But I learned I could train it to stop getting oily. Now I wash my hair three times a week, use a little dry shampoo in a pinch, and only wash body parts that really need to be washed. My hair is less dry and I know I’m protecting my largest biome, my skin!
8. Using a Vitamix and a juicer (I’m such an adult now)
I used to roll my eyes at people who made smoothies. I’m a yuppie in every aspect, but smoothies were just too yuppie for me. Then, my husband, of all people, convinced me last winter that we could make a lot of different, interesting breakfasts packed with nutrients if we got a smoothie maker. We were fortunate to have some wedding gift money, so we put it toward a Vitamix. If you’re going to go, go big, right?
Now I make a smoothie three times a week and don’t know what took me so long. But I drew a hard line at juicers, that was just too far. Last month, my husband convinced me we also needed one to make the homemade ginger shots I love and beg him to make. I am having way more ginger than I ever was before, thanks to our new juicer. Am I the ultimate yuppie now?
9. Starting an organic skincare routine
For years I was puritanical about my low-lift, no-frills skincare routine: Dr. Bronner’s castile soap bar over my whole body, followed by Origins’ A Perfect World moisturizer on my face. I thought facials, masks, serums (I still don’t know what those are), and toners was just the beauty industry making you think you need to buy more products. And I still think I’m not entirely wrong, but in the past few months I started getting facials at Savor Spa three times a year. I did extensive research on organic facial places in NYC, especially given what I know about how many chemicals most (even high-end spas) use. After just two facials, I was convinced to try some of their products. Both the facials and the products cost much more than I wanted to spend, but I did, begrudgingly, and now I see such a difference in my skin. Now I use Savor’s Pearl Cleansing Cream, Skin-Perfecting Toner, Raspberry Nourishing Serum, and Truffle Face Cream daily, and their Manuka Honey Mask once a week.
I used to think having one pimple at any given time was normal, or that my somewhat-dry skin was better than having oily skin. But now I lob serum AND face cream on every night and my skin is dewy. The best part is that I hardly ever get pimples anymore. And when I do get them, I use Manuka honey as a spot treatment (recommended by my dermatologist!) and it’s just miraculous how they disappear. The best part: I know everything I’m putting on my face is plant-based and chemical-free. It’s hard to admit when you’re kinda wrong, but I was kinda wrong.
10. Forgoing a bra when I’m home
You may have watched or seen something about our interview with certified clinical thermographer Tammy Kohlschmidt, who has become a bit of a breast health expert— most women come to her for a thermography exam of their breasts to spot early signs of breast cancer. After filming that interview in the spring, I realized that I wasn’t doing enough to get toxins and inflamed tissue out of my breast tissue. I swapped my normal underwire bra for these and probably only wear an underwire bra once a month now. I also routinely do the bounce, jiggle, shimmy, move she taught me to break up the toxins and inflamed tissue to prevent cancerous cells from forming. Most importantly, I throw my bra off when I walk in the door at night and if I work from home or am doing chores at home on the weekend, I leave it off. The main reason is for breast cancer prevention, but it also lets me breathe so much easier and deeper!