For years, I saw wellness as yet another manifestation of bougie rich people f*ckery that was as superfluous as it was expensive.
“Wellness” -- the active pursuit of health and well-being through lifestyle choices -- can seem like an airy-fairy concept. Physical health is pretty straightforward: Eat carrots and don't smoke K2 in Port Authority. Got it. To maintain emotional well-being, get a therapist and maybe practice yoga on the weekends.
Whenever pressured to pander to what I perceived to be a satellite indulgence of an already overwhelming fitness culture, I would be like, "Dude. Come on. No."
I'm barely keeping my head above water with this whole working-out thing. I absolutely will not waste my paycheck and time on supplements, books, apps or whatever the hell is needed to fuel this industry. It's not going to work, and it sure as hell won't stick.
Well, it worked. And it stuck.
This is an annoying thing to admit, but implementing wellness into my life actually wasn't the arduous imposition I expected it to be. My skepticism was really just a thinly veiled resistance to changing my lifestyle and making better choices. Simply put – it was not a big deal.
Not only am I now addicted to working out (my training to become a certified Pilates instructor begins this fall), but my wellness-inspired rituals are as seamlessly integrated into my routine as going to school, eating and getting my eyebrows threaded.
I'm a creature of habit and relatively product loyal. Call it laziness if you want, but cohesion is comfortable and takes the work and intimidation out of trying new things – especially in the oversaturated wellness market, which can make newcomers feel all, “Derp derp what is vitamins?”
Hence my love for Naturopathica, a wellness spa and healing arts center in Chelsea. This spot is gorgeous, dude. A “Remedy Bar” houses an herbal dispensary (no, not those kind of herbs), teas, tinctures, and aromatherapy oils lines one wall.
A “Vitality Bar” with tasty juices welcomes you at the door, where you can pick a beverage to boost your energy, relieve stress or even make your skin glow.
Wheatgrass shots make me want to vomit – if I'm going to place my taste buds anywhere near a healthy drink, it has to taste good. These are banging, I promise – sweet without the typical bitter herb taste. Oh, and the matcha will send you to another planet. Anyway.
I visit Naturopathica for wellness and healing education, treatments and of course to shop for products to target inflammation and chill me out. My habits have changed for the better and I'm consequently more mindful of my physical and mental condition. Now, as a pretentious convert and self-proclaimed wellness expert, I'm going to bring you to the dark side.
The most important time for health is in between doctor's appointments to prevent ailments and maintain prime physical vitality – not to wait until you're falling apart to get a prescription. As someone who actively avoids prescription drugs, preventative therapies are more valuable to me than any reactionary methods.
Visiting a spa isn't required to integrate wellness into your daily routine. I'm going to share some of the easiest and least intimidating ways to dip your toes into the wellness pond, and how to personalize them for your budget and lifestyle. These tips are so easy you'll actually stick with them.
1. Start Your Day With An Energizing Drink
I read somewhere that Jessica Alba drinks hot water with lemon, so I started drinking hot water with lemon every morning. On an empty stomach, the sour drink helps boost the metabolism and aid digestion throughout the day. It also cleanses the liver and brightens skin.
I prefer lemon water to coffee for a boost of energy, and sometimes steep a little bit of Kumi BB Detox Tea for an extra kick. A bottle of an herbal tincture for skin sits next to my teapot so I remember to squeeze a few drops into the mix. This refreshing and cozy drink feels like wearing fuzzy socks on your belly.
When practiced regularly, meditation can naturally rewire your brain -- goodbye medication, hello brain plasticity! Mindfulness is my personal solution to keeping hereditary depression and anxiety at bay.
Thank God for apps so I can meditate any time -- like during my morning commute, or while I'm sitting on the toilet.
I'm obsessed with the Stop, Breathe & Think app for guided meditations to use any time of the day. Daily mood check-ins, reward stickers and monitored progress charts turn meditation into a game that I actually feel motivated to keep up with. “Gratitude,” “compassion” and “mindful walk” are my favorites.
3. Slather Yourself In Oil
Essential oils make great use of our olfactory system's connection to our brain and emotions. Massage an aromatherapy oil into your temples, shoulders, collarbone, and along the sides of your neck every night before bed.
Breathe deeply, and fall asleep peacefully while dreaming about lush meadows and fluffy sheep.
4. Get Regular Massages, Or Try Self-Massage
At my last visit to the spa, I received the Blue Eucalyptus Energizing Massage to rebalance my adrenal system, cure my Computer Zombie Syndrome, and basically turn me back into a functioning human.
Linton, my amazing masseur who studied Chinese style massage for healing and acupuncture, personalizes each massage by feeling how the muscles respond when working deep into the tissue. What I thought was chronic lower back pain was really a symptom of IT bands, hip and thigh muscles (most likely from daily exercise).
For athletes especially, it is imperative to roll out the connective tissue between your skin and muscles to prevent tearing, and to work out lactic acid build-up.
If monthly massages aren't feasible for you, no problem. You know the little yoga massage balls sold at Whole Foods and TJ Maxx? They are MIRACLE WORKERS. Massage balls in combination with foam rolling are just as beneficial as a spa treatment. Gaiam makes some of my favorite self-massage equipment
I cannot harp on the benefits of daily exercise enough. If Class Pass isn't your jam, practice 15 minutes of yoga every morning in your living room.
You have virtually no excuse for avoiding movement – blame the Internet. Lululemon regularly releases guided practices on their YouTube channel for free.
Reserving one hour per day to abandon my phone, stop thinking and reward my body is crucial to my mood and overall mental health.
6. Have Fun, and See Wellness As a Reward – Not Punishment
I don't always get it right, and you don't have to kill yourself obsessing over health, wellness or fitness. To be perfectly honest, I ate a pepperoni Hot Pocket before my yoga class yesterday. Today I made healthier choices, and consider those choices a reward instead of punishment.
Showing small acts of gratitude toward my body enriches my overall quality of life. I'm the happiest and healthiest that I've ever been, and owe it to shedding my judge-y attitude and trying something new.
At the end of the day, I'm just trying to open you up to seeing that wellness is not a scary status symbol or fad that you'll forget about in five months. I'm recommending this lifestyle to you because I authentically believe in it, and benefit from it.