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!
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.
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!
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.
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?