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You know how adopting all the healthy habits that we’re told to adopt can be incredibly overwhelming, stressful, confusing & social-life destroying? Well, today’s guest totally knows that. Or knew that. Which is why she completely ignored her doctor when they diagnosed her with an autoimmune disease in her early twenties. Flash forward to not so long ago, and Phoebe Lapine’s body and skin weren’t going to let her ignore her diagnosis any longer. She needed to do healthy stuff, STAT. But instead of just up-hauling her entire life in one fell swoop, Phoebe, who was already a cookbook author, chef, culinary instructor, speaker, and blogger at FeedMePhoebe.com, decided to take a full year implementing one healthy habit at a time, so she could see which ones were really worth the hype…and the sacrifice. Thankfully, Phoebe didn’t keep her health experiment all to herself: she chronicled it in her new terrific book called The Wellness Project AND lucky for us, she deep dives into her wellness odyssey in this podcast episode!
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This episode’s [very-extensive] sparknotes:
Phoebe’s got diagnosed with Hashimoto’s – an autoimmune disease wherein one’s thyroid (female Adam’s apple area!) basically attacks itself. It really screws you, your energy and your metabolism up. Oh and in addition, your body somehow mistakes gluten for your thyroid hormones so if you have Hashimoto’s and you eat gluten, it triggers your thyroid to start attacking itself again. EEK!
Well, after ignoring her diagnosis for way too long (and thus feeling awful, losing too much weight and winding up in the fetal position out of pain every time she ate), Phoebe set out on a journey — a WELLNESS JOURNEY — to get her health under control.
(Oh and truthfully, it was vanity that gave Phoebe the final push…not even the post-meal fetal position sessions! She wanted to clear up her skin and stop struggling with it which was another major symptom of her autoimmune disease.)
Question: can EVERYONE benefit from doing a wellness project?
Phoebe’s answer: YES!
Just focus on 1 aspect of your health for 1 month, and choose 4 small baby steps to get you there. The timeline isn’t important though (it can be four weeks, four months or a year! Whatever!), what’s important is going ONE BABY STEP AT A TIME. Because how else are you gonna see what impact that healthy habit has on you?!
Phoebe’s a big big believer in “healthy hedonism.” In fact, that’s essentially what her whole book is about – how to be a healthy hedonist. When I asked her to define that she said:
“Healthy hedonism is the balance between the things that nourish your body and the things that feed your spirit.”
Phoebe really wanted to see how adding more healthy habits into her life would compromise other aspects of her like her happiness, bank account, time and pleasure from stuff like like wine and french fries! Because she said this, and it’s so true:
“When we add something – good or bad – there automatically means there’s going to be less room for something else – good or bad.”
And then she said my favorite party line:
“STRESS IS SO MUCH WORSE FOR YOU THAN ANY PESTICIDE.”
PREACH, PHOEBE, PREACH!
“Wellness can be overwhelming, it’s impossible to do everything, and I think when we strive for that sort of perfection – or we feel guilty and filled with “shoulds” about all these practices that we’re NOT adopting, yeah, it’s negates the pursuit of health.”
^I’m going to print that out and hang it on my wall.
Little known fact: Phoebe was going to do a month just on HAIR (haha that cracks me up!) but she cut that out just added that to the “green beauty” section.
Let’s journey through the 11 wellness habits Phoebe experimented with in her year-long wellness project:
#1 HABIT: Cutting out the 3 top vices (caffeine, alcohol, sugar) for 1 month.
HUH: Awesome to ditch the 3 vices together because they all fuel each other. Doing this is sooooo nice for our poor little livers!
HAPPIEST MOMENT: learning that it’s OK to be the “problem child” at the table…the high-maintenance one…the world doesn’t fall down when you set healthy boundaries. You don’t have to always be the “cool girl.” Also seeing the insane results that cutting out these vices had on her skin!!
HACK: Try cutting out alcohol for 1 month out of every year, 1 week out of every month and 1 day out of every week.
BONUS HACK: People giving you a hard time about not drinking? Tell ‘em you’re on antibiotics!!! 😛
#2 HABIT: Green Beauty – transitioning to more natural skin products.
HUH: A lot of these crappy personal care products we use (and are marketed) actually have a lot of endocrine disrupters in them which can screw up our hormones!
HACK: Try makeup free Mondays!
BONUS HACK: Crap-free make up is a little harder to come across than skin products, but natural skin products are already amazing and as you know from episode #32, SW Basics is the best best best! If you haven’t listened to my chat with the founder of the clean skin care like SW Basics, listen here (there’s also a 15% discount code with that episode woot woot!). Oh and the hack is to change up your cleanser and moisturizer IMMEDIATELY 🙂
#3 HABIT: Find your food rules! Try to lose the stress around food & eat anti-inflammatory-ly.
HUH: Phoebe just wanted to try to keep to an anti-inflammatory diet and discovered all these food stressors she had! So then she worked on identifying and alleviating them.
HACK: Try out an elimination diet to uncover what your trigger foods are.
** You gotta watch SEASON 9, EPISODE 7 of FRIENDS to see this Phoebe’s real life tabbouli story from her book played out practically with Phoebe Buffay in the show! Here’s a clip from that episode that’s SO FREAKING FUNNY!!!
#4 HABIT: Turning cooking (and prepping healthy food/batch cooking) into a real habit and a self-care practice.
HUH: The more prepared you are, the easier it is to eat healthfully. Obviously.
HAPPIEST MOMENT: Phoebe was reminded that the recipes that don’t necessarily get a lot of likes on Instagram are those homey recipes that are why she fell in love with healthy eating in the first place!
HACK: Just start prepping like 1-2 recipes. And start brown-bagging your lunch!!!
#5 HABIT: Hydration!
HUH: Gotta stay hydrated, yo.
HAPPIEST MOMENT: Seeing how easy it was to kill the “drink half your bodyweight in ounces” challenge.
HACK: Drink half your bodyweight in ounces! Setting yourself up at home with a great water filter can really help you reduce stress over the amount of chemicals in your life. But these one-time changes are where it’s at. Here’s the water filter Phoebe installed on her sink!
#6 HABIT: Healthy back habits.
HUH: Phoebe (and a lot of closeted people) have back problems!
HACK: Staying hydrated actually encourages you to stand up more to get up to pee (which is great for your back!).
#7 HABIT: Movement
HUH: She wanted to move at least 30 minutes a day and try out all these new workouts.
HAPPIEST MOMENT: Testing a ton of different workouts and really coming to the realization that pilates and yoga are her sweet spots.
HACK: Test out a bunch of different workouts to find your soulmate sweat sesh! And don’t fret that the most popular workouts have to be your workout. Here’s Phoebe’s blog post all about her experiment.
#8 HABIT: Sleeping better!
HUH: It’s one thing to say you’re going to sleep for 8 hours a night, it’s another thing to actually be ABLE to.
HACK: Try this → guide if you struggle from insomnia!
#9 HABIT: Healthier female hormone awareness
HUH: She started charting her menstrual cycle using the Fertility Awareness Method and then started using that as her contraceptive method. She then started cycle syncing which she learned from THIS book which I just bought myself 🙂
HACK: Check out this book!
#10 HABIT: Become BFF with your gut Become BFF with your gut!
HUH: Learning to “eat clean and live dirty” Learning to “eat clean and live dirty.” Ie. eat more fermented foods and use less hand sanitizer.
HACK: Try eating 1 fermented food a day (kombucha, sauerkraut*, kimchi, keifer) and cut back on all the hand sanitizers!Try to eat one fermented food a day = kombucha, sauerkraut*, kimchi, kefir…
*Phoebe basically puts kraut on EVERYTHING! Avocado toast, scrambled eggs and even pad thai delivery!
#11 HABIT: Stress management stuff!
HUH: It’s really the icing on this whole cake 🙂 She focused on her morning routine — journaling in the AM and 20 minutes of meditation.
HACK: Thinking about “what would my calm twin do?” and do that instead. And try to be more mindful in the morning
OTHER HACK: Baths! With salts, essential oils (which I chatted about in this episode and this episode), magnesium spray or epsom salts.
SPOILER → the wellness project worked! Phoebe found the sweet spot between healthy and happy!
Also spoiler: Phoebe’s #1 most important healthy habit is really the stress stuff.
Phoebe’s favorite plant to eat: right now, golden beets and leeks (which get roasted together in one of the recipes in her book!)
Phoebe’s most-used kitchen tool: her wooden spoon and cast-iron skillet
A book that’s really inspired her in some awesome way: Woman Code by Alisa Vitti
And GET HER BOOK! The Wellness Project! It’s truly a joy to read (I wasn’t just saying that in the episode). PERFECT FUN AND INSPIRING BEACH READ!