My Wellness Philosophy

Wellness Philosophy

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, but couldn’t figure out how to organize it. I finally sat down this weekend and thought about the different areas in my life and how I incorporate a wellness “philosophy” into each. Even if you don’t read the full post, what I want you to take away is that I, like most people, am not perfect and don’t even strive to be. Wellness to me means living my happiest, healthiest life and that doesn’t always mean eating organic food or exercising five times a week.

There’s something to be said for living “la dolca vita”: Prioritizing rest, having that glass of wine or cookie, getting a manicure without feeling guilty about the chemicals, and enjoying life to it’s fullest. As long as the wine and cookies are in moderation, of course!

Of course if we had millions of dollars, it would be easier to live a more Gwyneth-inspired, raw diet-eating, daily yoga-practicing type of life but without that kind of cash flow, it’s pretty impossible.

So I hope you enjoy my thoughts on how to live a healthy and happy life. It might not be the same as yours, and that’s ok! Everyone is different and wellness probably means something different to each and every one of you. I encourage you to focus on living your best life and not judging others for their decisions.

If home girl wants her Diet Coke, explain why aspartame is terrifying and then move on. Maybe she has one a month and it brings her more joy than your green juice!

Food

When Anel and I met, we had both recently graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and were working there. I was going through a health issue where my homeopathic doctor had recommended a super strict diet of no sugar, gluten, dairy, or alcohol. I somehow sustained that diet for six months, and while my issue cleared up for the most part, I was miserable. I started dating Anel, and he helped me realize that I could be healthy and fix my problem without being so regimented. When I finally gave in and brought back some of those foods in moderation, I felt happier and healthier.

The problems I had fixed stayed away, but I was living a more fulfilled life that included bagels… and a glass of wine now and then!

After years of playing around with how we eat, our current philosophy is to eat clean, whole, and organic food 80% of the time, and let it go the other 20%. If you try to be perfect all day every day, you can turn into a crazy (and very annoying) person, and that’s not who we wanted to be. When it’s hot out, we’ll go get ice cream, on summer weekends, we might eat a lobster roll on (gasp) white bread, and on road trips, there’s no shame in our gas station snack game.

Dairy: While I’ve been dairy-free for about 10 years now because of a whey allergy, Anel eats dairy when he wants to, but not too often. Since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve been able to eat dairy with no problems, but I’m assuming that my issues will come back postpartum so I’m not counting on keeping it in my diet for very long. When we do eat dairy, we try to keep it to sheep/goat milk because it’s easier to digest and better for the environment.

Gluten: When I was trying to get pregnant, I went 100% gluten free for a few months based on Aimee’s recommendation. I felt amazing and so energetic! Now, I eat gluten when I really crave it, but if there is a GF option, I’ll go that route. It’s not because I have an allergy or anything like that, I just seem to feel better when I steer clear. Anel is a little more strict, but allows himself gluten once or twice a week. We try to keep GF snacks and bread in the house so that we’re not as tempted on a day-to-day basis.

Sugar: I try to stay on top of our processed sugar intake because it makes us both feel lethargic in the long run. I manage this by making lots of fruit salads and having sweeter fruits on hand at all times to curb our cravings. I know that a lot of anti-sugar people say that eating a plum is the same as eating candy, but I can’t get behind that logic. A plum has a lot of other nutrients as well as fiber that helps you digest the sugar in a different way. Plus it’s natural, from the ground! So basically, fruit is a go in our house.

Alcohol: Obviously right now I can’t drink, but in general, we try to keep drinking to weekends only and then one night per week. When we do drink, it’s rarely more than one or two glasses of wine or cocktails. That being said, we both believe in a fun drunken night out once in a while because #yolo. Although as we get older, the hangovers are getting less and less worth it. When we do get over served, we chug coconut water before bed to help with the repercussions.

Processed Foods: We try to stay away from them when possible, but we live in America in 2017 so we’re realistic. The 80/20 rule applies here too.

Beauty

The reason I actually had the idea to write this post in the first place is because of your questions/comments on my beauty posts lately. A lot of you were confused as to why I was using a non-natural product, so hopefully this explains it more! For my full beauty routine, read this post. It’s a little old and I’ve added in some new products, but mostly it’s still spot on. I’ll get around to updating it eventually.

As with food, my strategy is to go for the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time I use natural and organic products, and 20% of the time, I use other products that help with skin or hair issues that I’m having or that make me feel good.

For example, I highlight my hair every four weeks and get a manicure weekly. Both of these things make me happy, and while I know they’re not great for me, they make me happy so I do it anyway! A good tip for manicures is to bring your own base and top coat so that you avoid “the big 3” in some way. I use Zoya’s Anchor Base Coat and Armor Top Coat which are Big-3-Free.

Another example is sunscreen. I’ve never found a natural one that works so I go for as clean as possible but not perfect. Getting burned isn’t worth it!

As with beauty, we live by the same rule when it comes to cleaning supplies. We keep the chemicals to a minimum as much as possible, but I find that the bathtub never really gets as clean without a little extra power. So every other week, we use a product with bleach. Maybe that makes me an awful human but I like a clean shower, what can I say!

Exercise

I have a weird relationship with exercise… It’s not something I love doing, but once I start, I always feel better. You can read about my normal workout routine here. While I try to stick to that or something like that, it doesn’t always happen. I’m never hard on myself about it, and I think that’s what makes my relationship to working out healthier. If I miss a workout, it’s not a big deal! If I miss a week or more, then I start to feel bad physically, so I’m motivated to get back on the wagon.

Physical Health

People often assume that I hate doctors and medicine, but that is far from the truth. My approach is usually to try and solve physical problems naturally first (unless it’s an emergency) and then take a more traditional approach.

For example, if I have a headache, I’ll scan my list of usual culprits first (Am I dehydrated? Tired? Hungry?) and try to fix the cause before popping an Advil to cure the symptoms. If I’ve done everything I can like drink water, take a 10 minute rest, apply peppermint oil, and nothing works? Then Advil it is!

It was the same way with our fertility journey. I wanted to do everything in my power to naturally get pregnant, and if that hadn’t worked, we were going to move onto the next step medically. It took a little extra patience, but I’m so glad I did things on my own terms.

Overall, I like the “treating the cause not the symptoms” approach which is why I get regular acupuncture. Chinese medicine is inline with that belief, and I believe it’s kept me healthier than ever over the last five years. If you haven’t tried it, I highly suggest giving it a shot. Plus it’s often covered by insurance!

FYI I have nothing against the medical community by any means, I prefer to do things this way because it works for me! Modern medicine is an incredible thing, and I always use it when I need it.

I’m curious, what is your wellness philosophy?

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  • Christina Keim

    Thank you for writing this piece. It is exactly what I needed. Wellness is a journey and we need to enjoy life along the way.

  • Bee

    Love this post, especially the last section. I focus a lot on nutrition and exercise, but am not great about trying to figure out why I have a headache before just taking an Ibuprofen. Next time, I’m going to try your approach!

    Briana | youngsophisticate.com

  • Taylor Cannon

    I love this post, thank you for sharing! I am hoping to change (improve) my overall wellness approach and I love hearing your philosophy! Definitely a few things I need to try especially in terms of food and exercise!

    Taylor | http://www.livingtaylored.com

  • Alyssa Thomas

    I really love this post. At one point I tried really hard to eat almost totally clean (maybe 90/10) and schedule my exercise, etc and I found myself getting really down and depressed. I’ve since found a balance that really works for me and I’ve learned that its so important. Balance is what I strive for and living within my means. I too wish I could do some things differently, but the money to support it has to be there!

    • Yes! If you try TOO hard, it makes you crazy I swear. I’ve been there too. And doing the best within our budgets is so important.

  • Katherine

    I just started meeting with a dietitian and really trying to cut down on processed foods. It’s crazy that once you eliminate those from your diet you don’t even crave them. Typically on Sunday’s I will allow some wiggle room for sanity sake. also, I have had issues with my bowls and we talked about the quality of food. While I can’t afford to be organic 100% of the time I try and buy the foods that considered the “dirtiest” organic. Next I would love to work on my beauty products but one change at a time!

    • That is a great approach, Katherine! Sounds like you’re making all positive steps in the right direction. And I agree with one change at a time. A big overhaul can be overwhelming 🙂

  • Most of my life my wellness philosophy has been to roll my eyes at wellness philosophies, minus trying to lose weight. But after having kids and being in my 30’s I’ve focused a little more and am trying to improve my routines. Definitely do not roll my eyes now- I got a bit smarter!

    I’m definitely all about balance- I’m doing Weight Watchers, which is great for me to manage/control my portions and pick healthier options. Exercise has been my biggest struggle as I HATE physical activity, for the most part. After having kid #1 I got into a yoga routine but with 2 kids it’s so much harder to leave the bedtime routine to one parent to go work out. By the time they’re all in bed I’m too tired to do a decent workout. I’ve been trying to wake up at 5 to get it in before work and that sometimes works- hoping to get into some sort of consistent routine! Any suggestions are welcome!

  • Brittany Olander

    I love reading posts like these! I’d say a lot of my wellness practices developed even more “intensely” after I had my daughter- I find that wanting to protect her from chemicals and stuff influences a lot more of my choices than I would have thought!

    xo, brittany
    favorite etsy baby finds on my blog today!
    http://www.notablob.com

  • Dana Mannarino

    I love how honest you are! I need to start incorporating more “wellness” into my every day lifestyle, especially while I’m still young!

    Pink Champagne Problems

    • Even if it’s just one more glass of water a day, you’re doing something great for your body! It doesn’t have to be a total overhaul 🙂

  • These are all great! I need to work on continuing to fit in exercise, but I need to be less hard on myself and going for a long reservoir walk with a friend is just as great as going to the gym!

    I don’t know if you’ve used this natural surface scrub, but I use it in my tub and holy crap – I’ve never had anything natural work this great!

    https://jet.com/product/detail/9bcbe4d5821f42d883ad0af0d8c2c686?jcmp=pla:ggl:JD_cons_Gen_Household_Supplies_a3:Household_Supplies_Cleaning_Products_AllPurpose_Cleaners_a3:na:PLA_784505453_41365562552_pla-305438854013:na:na:na:2&code=PLA15&pid=kenshoo_int&c=784505453&is_retargeting=true&clickid=0d7ad41c-db92-4946-b983-98d0bb9c20f6

    xo christa

    • I didn’t realize that Bon Ami was natural!!! Great product!

  • Gabrielle

    Thanks for this post!!! Super informative and I’ve been wondering about your philosophy on all of this. I’m considering a transition to vegetarianism mostly for environmental and health reasons, but I love your reminder that our own day-to-day happiness is also quite important! Balance is key, for sure.

  • shannon

    Great post! I love hearing others’ relationships with wellness because it is definitely a very personal thing. I am trying harder and harder to be more ~in tune~ with my body instead of having an unhealthy relationship with fitness and food that is so so prevalent for young women. For me, food guilt is such a huge problem and I loved hearing your philosophy about indulging every once in awhile instead of being so strict 100% of the time. I’m trying to embrace that as well!

    • Food guilt took over my life for so long that being free of it now feels even more amazing. I promise when you change your attitude towards that, everything will change!

  • Abby Walker

    Acupuncture is something I’ve been interested in trying for my migraines and neck pain, but I’m a little intimidated on how to get started…do you have any recommendations for how to find a reputable acupuncturist? I’m in Charleston, SC, so not local obvi, but I didn’t know if there was website for finding someone trustworthy and licensed. Any suggestions?

    • It’s so great for headaches and migraines, you will love it! I always ask around first to friends and family and then try sites like Yelp. I’d definitely call first and talk to the person to make sure you vibe with them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Good luck!

  • Kristin

    Hi Julia! For sunscreen, I recently tried and used Alba’s for sensitive skin which is also fragrance free and found it to work really well (I was in Hawaii so the sun was pretty strong). Plus, Alba’s suncreen is eco-friendly and reef safe.

    • Thanks for the rec! Will definitely try it out.

      • Ashley Burr

        I was also going to suggest Alba’s. It works SO well and it’s on the cleaner side of the sunscreen spectrum. I hardly ever burn on it as long as your reapply every couple of hours! Plus, it smells so good!

      • More sunscreen recs ahead! For face, I really like Coola’s (which I think you’ve used before!). It works well for me, but to be fair, I only wear it every once in a while when I’m going for a hike or something like that.

        For body, I like Juice Beauty’s sport sunscreen. I find it works really well and doesn’t feel too greasy! It’s great for a beach day.

  • What a great philosophy. I need to get better with drinking more water and better sleep patterns. All these tips are super helpful and thank you for your honesty!

    • Even if it’s just one more glass of water per day, you’re doing something good for yourself! Easy peasy, right?

  • Meghan Spears

    I haven’t been reading your blog long enough to know (if you shared), the medical journey that led you to go dairy free and GF, but I too altered my diet to address some medical issues that persisted for 10+ years. Due to some GI issues, my doctor told me to stay away from high fiber content foods and even naturally occurring sugar (most fruits). His rule of thumb which works well for me is to keep the glucose to fructose ratio in balanced (or glucose should exceed fructose intake). Your body is designed to digest glucose, but not fructose (naturally occurring in fruits or not). So, foods that are proportional are easier to digest and if you splurge on fructose then eat something else simultaneously to balance it out. Doesn’t seem like you have any issue with fruits, so lucky you. It’s just an interesting tip that I haven’t seen around much that I thought I’d share.