How to Keep your Body and Beauty in Balance when the Sun Doesn’t Shine

Fall is the season of letting go. And of all the things that we say goodbye to at this time of the year— alfresco dinners, beach days, an abundant garden, longer evenings— the sun is the thing I miss the most. I truly am a solar-powered creature. I feel deeply, deeply connected to the sun and to the earth, yet fall and winter gradually force me to retreat indoors, away from those life-giving aspects of nature.

Does this sound like you? What’s the best way to stay in balance in spite of reduced exposure to solar rays and lack of barefoot moments in the grass and sand? Here are a few of my top recommendations for fall and winter habits to keep your body and beauty in balance in the months ahead, if you live in a place that also lacks sunshine. I’ll be practicing these right along with you:

Prioritize morning light. Get 15 to 20 mins of light exposure every morning, outside if possible. It won’t always be sunny, but even a clouded sky in the morning is enough to balance your circadian rhythm and boost your mood. The light from a computer screen doesn't count! The more bright light exposure we have during the day, the more sleep-supporting melatonin is produced at night, studies have found. (Cool side note: melatonin may also impact gut health) Some people swear by a light box or sun lamp in the morning to mimic bright AM light, but I haven’t found this route easy to incorporate into my day. I’d rather aim for some time outdoors or near a window every morning.

Supplement vitamin D. I like a liquid D3, and I boost my dose significantly in the fall and winter to make up for lack of sun exposure. Talk to your doctor about your D level and the dose that will keep you feeling good, with strong immunity this season.

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Bring nature indoors. I like to incorporate elements of nature in my home all year, but in fall and winter it feels like a must because I don’t get outside into nature as often. Pinecones, pine boughs, pumpkins, fall leaves, and branches are natural elements that also work well inside at this time of year. I also love decorating with pretty stones, and any green plants that can’t survive outside that I want to preserve until next year (it makes my home and my south-facing windows feel a bit like a greenhouse!). See what other natural objects you can bring indoors during the fall and winter to boost your connection to the earth.

Know the dos and don’ts of lighting. Sadly, you cant simply turn on more lights around your house or your workplace and get the same physiological boost that you get from the sun. In fact, turning on lots of bright lights later in the evening can prevent your body from adequately preparing for sleep. Your pineal gland begins secreting melatonin, which helps you fall asleep easily, when the sun goes down in the evening, but LED lighting and devices that emit blue light (think TVs, smartphones, tablets) actually interfere with melatonin production, making it harder for you to get restorative beauty sleep.

Get infrared light. The infrared sauna, which uses infrared light to heat the body at lower temperatures than a traditional wood sauna, is rather new to me, but I plan to use it all winter long this year. Infrared saunas emit the same warming-from-within infrared rays given off by the sun, but without the ultraviolet light that we use sunscreen to block. A fire in a fireplace or firepit also emits infrared light that warms from within, so you could plan to get cozy around the fire more often this fall and winter too.  

Rely on other ways to support your immune system. Adaptogens like reishi, chaga, tulsi and astragalus, extra sleep, vitamin C, grounding root vegetables, extra zinc, turmeric, ginger and warm lemon water, manuka honey— there are so many amazing immune-boosters to incorporate at this time of the year to make up for the sun’s immune-boosting effects.

Embrace, rather than resist. Digging your heels in and resisting makes this natural transition even harder for your body (take it from me). This, too, shall pass and spring will of course arrive again. And the sun-filled yang months of spring and summer wouldn't be as balancing without the dark, damp, cool yin months that lie ahead. So I’ll be focusing on the autumn and winter things I enjoy, and staying warm as best as while I let nature take its course in the cycle of the seasons. And I will be following every sliver of sunshine that enters my windows, drinking hot teas, eating warm soups and stews, taking steamy baths, eating grounding foods and spicing them to create inner warmth. How about you?

For more inspiration that will help you stay in balance in autumn and winter, check out the Eat Pretty book series— each of which incorporates the shift of the seasons as it relates to beauty and health. Writing about the wisdom of the seasons and living my own advice has helped me embrace all 4 seasons for their own inherent beauty!

Do you live in a place where the sun shines less in fall and winter? How do you make up for the lack of sun exposure?

Opening Up About Chronic Illness: My Late Stage Lyme Journey

The subject of chronic illness is a major departure from the content that I’ve shared on this site for the last 9 years. But as I’ve grown more deeply connected to my readers and forged meaningful relationships with others in the beauty and wellness world, my work has become more personal, and less private.

 What invisible illness looks like.

What invisible illness looks like.

Still, I’ve waited nearly three years to share what my daily life really looks like— partly because I’m at heart still a super private person and partly because I spent more than 2 of the last 3 years seriously ill and utterly dysfunctional, without a diagnosis to explain my symptoms, and unable to find a path to healing. I share this story with you today, hoping that it will help someone else to get well or to keep pushing through a dark time, and also with the hope that it will allow me to be more open about my journey as I continue to heal.

I know now that I’ve likely had Lyme disease present in my body for years, but it became active essentially overnight in 2015, following a stressful period. At the time I had a 1 year-old child, had just finished writing my second book in one year (Eat Pretty Every Day, a book that’s very dear to me!), had just stopped breastfeeding (this is important because big hormonal shifts can open up the door for infectious diseases like Lyme to take hold), my son was experiencing a stressful, unexplained health issue, and I was emotionally and physically exhausted from it all. I went on a work trip across the country and woke up feeling 100% like I would die, alone, in my AirBNB. I remember looking down at my abdomen and watching it pulsate, along with my heart that was rapidly pounding out of my chest, while dealing with terrifying physical weakness, inability to breathe, and gut-wrenching nausea. I steeled all of my physical and emotional strength to make it through that awful day and get myself on a plane home, to rest and get well. Yet for more than 2 years after that nightmarish morning, I continued to wake up the same way every single day— abdomen throbbing, heart racing, unable to take a full breath, painfully nauseous, weak, and in the throes of a panic attack— just from the act of waking up. It felt like something out of a movie, so I called it the Groundhog Day from hell.

Months and months and then several years passed while I pursued treatment and answers, holding out hope that someday I’d recognize my body again. I kept looking back, retracing my steps, and asking, where did my healthy body go? What went wrong? At first, it was my nature to keep up a positive mindset. I’d figure it out and be better soon. Just had to be patient. Life moved on, but my nightmare persisted. Optimism started to feel like a desperate tug-of-war match in my mind, instead of the default setting it had been before. Then, after 2+ years of related diagnoses that didn’t quite hit the mark— including mold toxicity, heavy metal toxicity, prediabetes, adrenal fatigue, candida, parasites, dysautonomia, gut dysbiosis, MTHFR, and Epstein Barr, plus pursuing endless treatments for those issues that made little to no improvement on my symptoms—I received a THE diagnosis, the one that explained it all: late stage neurological Lyme disease and coinfections.

What Lyme Looks Like

I thought I was familiar with the symptoms of Lyme disease, but still marvel at how much I didn’t know. Fatigue and joint pain, classic hallmarks of Lyme, weren’t my biggest struggles. In my body, Lyme manifested in serious cardiac and central nervous system dysfunction that for much of the last 3 years has left me essentially homebound. At various periods of time, walking one block down the street, going to the post office to mail a package, or picking up a few groceries have not been possible for me. Let alone the responsibilities that come with career, motherhood, and life at large. I’d work up the strength to go to Target or the grocery store as my single daily goal, and once inside I’d find myself completely disoriented and my nervous system reeling — the overhead lights feeling so bright I’d have to squint, sounds too loud, pulse racing, struggling to take a full breath, too weak to push a cart or bend over to pick up items on lower shelves. Even writing about that feeling makes my eyes fill with tears, because I have endured dozens and dozens and dozens of such moments, even in my own home, lying in my own bed, in all the spaces I used to feel safest. I’ve been woken in the middle of the night by panic attacks and sudden bouts of tachycardia that made me question whether I’d survive to see another morning. I’ve watched my body go from healthy and strong to weaker than I could ever imagine. That is my Lyme.

For the last three years I have tried my best to get comfortable with the fear and isolation that comes with unexplained chronic illness and inhabiting a body I didn't recognize. One of the most helpful things I’ve heard during my chronic illness journey was that ‘getting comfortable with the uncomfortable’ was one secret to thriving. I made that my goal. However, as much as I’ve tried, getting comfortable with cardiac and nervous system issues is something I still struggle with daily. The stress of being seriously ill for years without an explanation is also something that I can’t put into words. If you’ve been there, you know. Certainly it tested my marriage, my relationships, and my mental health. It reduced my work output to baseline survival mode, and led me to decline incredible career opportunities and bow out of professional roles that I loved. Always, I’ve believed I’d find a way out, and trusted implicitly that my body wants to thrive and heal. But this has been the fight of my life.

Because Lyme is an invisible disease, there are few people in my life who are aware of my experience, and an even smaller number of those who have even a partial understanding of how sick I’ve been. My husband is the one person who has been the closest to this experience, and he’s had the difficult job of being present through the hardest days, yet feeling powerless to help. I’ve said before that if some kind of late stage Lyme simulator were invented, and my friends and family could experience it for even 2 or 3 minutes, they’d be completely horrified at what it feels like to live in this body 24/7. Yet it’s completely unseen. And Lyme is by no means the only invisible illness out there. This experience has at many points felt like the plot of a horror film— you wake up inhabiting a body that is so dysfunctional that you don’t know if it will possibly survive the day, yet you look perfectly normal to everyone around you.

1,000 Days

Not too long ago, I realized that the end of August marked 1,000 days that I’ve fought through active Lyme disease. Every single day I count as a massive victory. So very many mornings I opened my eyes and felt crushed by the weight of the hours I knew I would have ahead of me, just getting through normal tasks. So I’d get up, take things minute by minute, and play the role of the person I used to be, as best as I could. I’ve kept social media far from my chronic illness experience, because, well, these years have been unimaginably hard. In my work I’ve always sought to inspire the best in others, and sharing the most brutally difficult days of my life felt wrong – and too raw. Looking back these years have still had wonderful moments. The bright spots have come from my son, who was only 22 months when Lyme took over my body. Although caring for a small child while having a chronic illness was incredibly tough, on so many days he forced me to keep fighting. In those early months, getting out of bed and taking care of him and myself during the workday while my husband was away was my single goal. Sometimes even that was impossible and for a time we lived with my in-laws so I could be around other functional adults. No work got done— only if I pushed myself, often lying on my stomach on the floor while answering emails or taking calls to lessen constant nausea. If I had 20 minutes of down time, I’d need to spend it resting my body, or I’d use it to research my symptoms with the hope of figuring out what was happening to me. Other bright spots have been truly slowing down for the first time in years, and my reconnection to spirituality, something that didn’t get much attention when I was well and busy being a mom and health coach and author. Faith that this dark experience will clear the way for something even more beautiful in my life has given me the strength to get through daily moments of trauma. Prayer has helped me feel seen and heard in a way that invisible illness does not allow. Publishing Eat Pretty, Live Well and Eat Pretty Every Day while I have been sick has been a challenge— and has kept me from traveling, speaking, and connecting as I would have liked to— but getting daily messages from you all about how much the books were inspiring you and bringing beauty and health into your lives brought me joy during unspeakably hard moments. Those messages, photos, and stories kept me creating and doing as much as I have. You will never know how grateful I have been for your messages on days when I felt like I had lost myself completely.

Finally receiving a Lyme diagnosis was validating, but not a relief, as treatment for late stage Lyme is a giant grey area. Everyone has a different opinion on how to approach treatment, and no one seems to have proven answers. I feel as if I’ve explored every angle of Lyme treatment, tried countless alternative therapies, but in the end my cardiac symptoms were serious enough that long term antibiotics were the path I felt compelled to take. Riding to meet my new Lyme doctor this past February, my body was so weak and dysfunctional that I felt like I was taking a last-ditch effort to survive. I was fighting to stay alive for so many reasons, most of all my 4 year-old son who needs a mama and would hurt the most if I weren’t around. It was the rock bottom of all the rock bottoms I’ve had over the last 3 years. And now, 6 months into antibiotic treatment, I am slowly beginning to feel my body return. Each month we increase the antibiotic dose, producing a Herxheimer reaction that makes me sick for 2 ½ -3 weeks, then on week 4 I begin to feel good and then we start the cycle again. On one hand, it pains me to be destroying the microbiome that I know is so integral to health and (ironically) immune function. But in this situation, it was a choice I felt forced to make, and I feel lucky to have had it. Every day I fortify my body with high-dose probiotics and fermented foods in addition to colorful, fresh, whole foods with a constant emphasis on detox and thus have tolerated this strong course of treatment relatively well most of the time. When my Lyme is in remission, I know I’ll be able to use all that I know about rebuilding the microbiome to nourish my body back to strength, step by step.

I’ve learned that when it comes to Lyme disease my experience is not uncommon. One big irony is that because I took such good care of my health, I remained functional with this disease for many years before it became truly disabling. (I can trace my first Lyme symptoms back to 2009, when I developed an ‘idiopathic’ (unexplained) cardiac arrhythmia seemingly overnight). And if I hadn’t had such a clean diet from day one of my active illness, I honestly don’t know if I’d be here today. Nourishing my body well has helped me survive, physically and emotionally when there was little else I could find to help myself. But in my experience nutrition alone doesn't cure late stage Lyme. Neither do positive thoughts or truckloads of expensive supplements. For the first year of my active Lyme experience, I was on a grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free diet. I ate clean protein and vegetables ONLY. Yet none of my symptoms improved. Honestly I would’ve eaten ANYTHING and followed any diet to feel even slightly better, but even that strictly clean diet along with nearly two years of functional medicine treatment was not enough to kickstart healing from a disease that had taken up residence in my body for almost a decade.

The Future

But things are finally changing. In just the past few weeks I’ve been able to take walks around my neighborhood and in nature with my family. I’ve been able to take my son to the park and feel well. I helped do some long-overdue pruning work around our yard. I’ve spent the day with friends and talked openly about where I am in the healing process. And I wanted to share openly here too. I had to wait until it was the right time for me. But I am ready to begin to release this experience so I can move on and support my emotional body even as my physical body recovers. Experiencing my body coming back to life is enough to reduce me to tears every time I stop to process it.

There are so many aspects of this journey that I could write more deeply about. This post just scratches the surface. I never know whether to share what’s so personal. But, in keeping with my goal to inspire you and help you feel your best, going forward I’ll be sharing just a little bit of what I do day to day to continue to heal and thrive. That will keep things authentic for me, so I don't feel like I’m hiding a giant monster in a closet from all of you. And in my heart I know that sharing openly will be healing for me too. So many of you have asked me when I’ll have another book to announce. And after several almost-books, I sadly still don't have one officially on the way. But I believe that the book I’ve been trying to share with the world— inspired by the intersection of beauty and healing— is going to be a big part of my healing journey. I’ve found that the questions around how to optimize healing look a lot like how to optimize beauty. And happiness. And to me it’s profound. I already have chapters written and can’t wait for the opportunity to bring it into the world, because this experience has given me so much new perspective.

I am certain that many of you reading this post will be going through dark days of your own. I’ve learned is that you never know what someone else is going through behind closed doors. Whether or not you choose to share, today or in the future, I send you my love, strength, and most sincere hope for healing, in whatever form you may need. Be kind to yourself, and try to look for the light coming through. So often we feel the need to reflexively say ‘fine’ when someone asks how we are. But expressing what you're really feeling to those you trust can be a powerful part of the healing process. I understood this even before chronic illness, but I feel it even more now: this is life, it’s full of unimaginable beauty and unimaginable pain, and every day that you have is a gift.

Be well.

In beauty and health, Jolene

 

Things to know about Lyme:

Every experience is different, and you might find one person who is completely symptom-free after a short round of antibiotics, and someone else who’s been fighting the disease for decades and is still seriously unwell. It’s just not possible to compare any two Lyme experiences.

Along with Lyme disease (borrelia burgdorferi) comes a spectrum of other infections (called coinfections) that take up residence in the body. I’ve been told that I have babesia, ehrlichia, and rickettsia coinfections in addition to Lyme, but my current practitioner feels that it’s the coinfection bartonella that has taken the biggest toll on my body and my central nervous system. My current antibiotic regimen is tailored toward the bartonella coinfection.

Testing is notoriously unreliable, so Lyme is truly a clinical diagnosis (based on symptoms). My Lyme blood tests are still negative (Elisa) or CDC-negative (Western blot). My Igenix Lyme test is only a weak positive. During my sickest days, my cardiologist and general practitioner gave me a clean bill of health— what?! Yet I have textbook symptoms that can be clearly recognized by a doctor who specializes in Lyme.

If there’s mystery illness present, explore Lyme just to rule it out. Lyme manifests differently in everyone, based on the individual body and the coinfections involved. I never saw a tick bite or a bullseye rash (most don’t). But in many ways, I am a classic Lyme and bartonella case. The cardiac and neurological symptoms I experience (panic attacks, heart rhythm issues, air hunger, nervous system disturbances, memory and cognition issues, etc.) are exactly what Lyme looks like in many bodies. Yet in the 9 years since I was diagnosed with a cardiac arrhythmia out of the blue, Lyme did not enter the conversation— not even when I became chronically ill. I live on the East Coast of the US, where Lyme is prevalent, but you don’t need to live here or have spent time here to become infected.

If you know someone with chronic Lyme disease (or chronic illness in general), rather than asking them how they are feeling— ask them how they feel today. Right now. Is it a good day, or a bad day? I’ve learned that with chronic illness you take life one day at a time.

Basics that have helped me through chronic illness:

·      Naps. At least one 15-min nap a day if I can manage it, to get through the day.

·      Being kind to myself. Promising myself over and over that I’d crawl out of the abyss of this experience one step at a time, one day at a time.

·      Visualizing healing. Actually picturing it and feeling it in my body. I truly believe that your thoughts become your reality, so thinking positively has been key.

·      Great nutrition. Fresh, colorful, whole food is the foundation of health and I was never willing to give up food that made me feel good, even when it was so difficult to sum up the energy to cook.

·      Acupuncture. I found that regular treatments helped reduce shortness of breath that I’d been struggling with daily for years.

·      My home and its green space. We moved from the city to the suburbs during my first year of active Lyme, and my home, garden, green grass and closeness to nature have brought me so much healing energy.

·      Basic comforts. A cozy robe, a homecooked meal, snuggling with my son or laughing with my husband.

·      Pur gum in Spearmint. Chewing this aspartame-free gum has helped my nausea and the mint enables me to breathe better when my shortness of breath is the worst. I’ve had it on autoship from Amazon for the past several years.

·      Natural Calm Magnesium Plus Calcium powder. Supplementing magnesium allowed me to breathe easier and helped to calm my body to some degree.

·      Faith. And reconnecting to a higher power and purpose for my life.

·      Good days. They‘re the promise of what could be, and a link back to the life you remember.

·      Hot Epsom salt baths. This is my place to relax my nervous system, forget worries at the end of the day, and prepare for sleep, which can be really hard with Lyme.

·      Sleep. The escape from reality that also helps me strengthen my body.

·      Green smoothies. I make these daily and load them up with medicinal foods— big handfuls of detoxifying cilantro and parsley, organic barley grass, adaptogens (see below), marine collagen, plant protein, avocado, loads of greens, wild blueberries are staples.

·      Adaptogens. Especially chaga mushroom for my immune system, Lion’s Mane mushroom for brain health, ashwaganda, schisandra, fresh turmeric.

·      Simplifying everything, from dinner to dressing, without shame.

·      Liposomal vitamin C. This has been wonderful for my immune system, especially during winters, but I take it year-round.

·      Liposomal glutathione. Incredibly helpful for detox and Herxheimer reactions.

·      Mega-doses of probiotics. In addition to homemade fermented foods like sauerkraut and probiotic chia pudding, I have relied on probiotics by Prescript Assist, Hyperbiotics, Biohm, Jarrow, and Inner ECO.

·      Little pleasures. Like caring for my skin with a beautiful natural cleanser, mist and serum at night after a long day. It’s always amazing to me that beauty products have the ability to make you feel like a queen for a moment, even if things may be falling apart around you. And there are so many wonderful people creating beautiful, healthy, healing products today.

·      Sharing stories. Connecting with a few women I know who have Lyme has been one of the most cathartic things I could imagine. And at the same time, talking about my experience with a few wonderful people who know me well. I’m so grateful to them for listening.

·      Crying as hard as I can when needed. At times crying has been such a massive emotional release for me when, not being able to be physically active, I had few other ways to release stress. I highly recommend it; you’ll feel like a new person afterward.

·      Love. Isn’t that what gets us through all of our struggles? Remembering that nothing else matters, that everything else can crumble, but love will keep you going somehow.


Have you experienced illness that's chronic, or unseen? I'd love to hear your own story, here or via email at jolene@beautyiswellness.com.

How to Sprout Mung Beans

Sprouted food, including fresh sprouts, is so often viewed as a hippie-crunchy food trend. I think that sprouts really couldn't be more relevant right now, when so many of use are in need of easily digestible foods, and plant-based protein is more popular than ever. If you're wondering what protein has to do with sprouts, marvel at this: one cup of mung bean sprouts has 14g of plant protein! Why mung beans? These are a great starter sprout for novices, or those who want easy, high-nutrient, foolproof sprouts fresh from their own kitchen.

Some other amazing nutrition facts about mung bean sprouts:

  • Mung bean sprouts are highly alkaline foods that support healthy pH balance and skin glow.
  • They're easy to digest, and offer ample enzymes for your body.
  • Mung beans are an amazing source of folate, with 100% of your daily recommended dose in just 1 cup.
  • They're packed with high levels of key beauty minerals like skin-clearing zinc and calming magnesium.

Ready to sprout your own? Get familiar with these simple steps and you could have fresh sprouts in your kitchen this spring, and year-round:

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Step 1: Assemble your Equipment

Here's all you really need for sprouting mung beans:

  • dried mung beans (Bob's Red Mill offers them bagged, and you can also find them in bulk bins— bagged, from a high quality source can be better for avoiding contamination.)
  • sprouting bag (you can also use a jar or bowl, but I highly recommend investing in a hemp sprouting bag for ease of use and proper air flow that ensures your sprouts don't spoil or grow unwanted bacteria. You can reuse it again and again, and it's so simple that you will thank me!)
  • Water and a bowl

Start by measuring out about 1/3 cup or less of dry mung beans (I prefer to sprout just a little at a time because sprouts only last a few days and this prevents waste).

Step 2: Rinse & Drain

Pick out any bad beans and rinse the leftovers in a bowl, draining afterward.

Step 3: Soak

Cover beans in water a let sit 8 hours or overnight. The beans will swell slightly.

Step 4: Transfer to Your Sprouting Bag

Drain soaked beans, transfer to your sprouting bag, and cinch the top of the bag. Immerse the bag in water for a few seconds, until it is soaked through. Hang the bag to drip dry on a cabinet handle or hook.

Step 5: Rinse Sprouts Twice Daily

In the AM and PM, immerse your sprouting bag in a bowl of fresh, cool water. Swish it around to rinse the sprouts inside, and hang to drip dry once more. In 2-4 days, you'll have fresh sprouts! You can sprout them shorter or longer time frames, depending on what you prefer.

Step 6: Keep Sprouts Fresh

Store your well-drained sprouts in the fridge. They'll last just a few days, so enjoy them quickly, It helps to store them with a paper towel that can absorb excess moisture that will cause them to spoil more rapidly. These sprouts are amazing in salads and smoothies, and as a crunchy topping to stir frys and other, unexpected dishes (nachos!).

The Meaning of Mala Beads

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Get inspired to wear your intentions this season.

In my own life, clothes have always been so much more than functional— or even fashionable. A new item of clothing (I’m talking tops, dresses, and underthings more so than gym socks, obviously) represents the person I am and want to be at the moment I wear it. This is the connection that first drew me to a career in fashion— even before my days as a beauty editor! Looking back through my closet, I connect with the person I was when I chose certain pieces; I remember where I wore them, and how I felt. But what about jewelry?

If your clothing is an outward expression of self and intention, your jewelry is even more so.

A metal ring, glass beads, pearl earrings— these natural materials can hold so much significance, and can last for years, to be passed on when you’re long gone as a reminder of you.

At times in my life, I’ve been seriously attached to jewelry items (whether or not they have any monetary value!). In my teens, I used to wear a tiny guardian angel pin every time I flew on an airplane. Going through a stressful time, I put on the same pair of earrings from my husband every day for months as a reminder of strength. After my son was born, I received a simple hammered metal pendant with his initials that I treasure. A plastic art deco pendant that I found in my grandmother’s jewelry box after she passed brings me close to her every time I wear it.

This spring, I added another meaningful piece to my jewelry with a beautiful set of mala beads. When I say beautiful, I mean that I honestly lost my breath when I pulled this strand of beads from its package!

I’ve been meditating on and off for years, but I’m still a novice when it comes to meditation culture and history. I learned from Mala Collective, the maker of this gorgeous necklace, that mala beads are traditionally worn as a meditation tool, to help you count mantras as you meditate. Their 108 beads are open to interpretation, but they may represent chakras, mantras, or Sanskrit letters. You get to decide what they mean to you.

To me, this set of beads is a reminder of my goal to meditate daily, as well as a wearable symbol of my commitment to live life as my best self, through any circumstance. I feel inspired when I wear it. I feel energy. I feel grounded in my intention to live my life accepting and expressing joy. That’s all I could ask for in an item that I can wear and keep with me daily!

These particular multicolored peach, mint green, rose, and blue beads are breathtaking— they’re mixed Amazonite, a stone meant to connect you to inner power and inspire you to take charge in your life. You can find malas made from an incredible variety of gemstone beads (Mala Collective has SO many exquisite ones), meant to inspire all kinds of feelings and actions in your life. You can choose the one you’re most drawn to, or one that supports your current goals. The brown beads are rudraksha seeds that are believed to provide inner calm, peace and freedom from negative thought. I like that they’ll darken as I touch them over time. This set of beads is hand-knotted, and I love imagining the care that went into its creation, just like love I put into a homemade meal.

Knowing the meaning of malas, and how personalized they can be, I now plan to give them as gifts to loved ones, with the hope that they’ll wear them and stay connected to their own intentions. They may be fashionable, and lovely, but fundamentally they’re a way to wear your desire to live your most beautiful life— a message for you to carry with you each day.

What jewelry or clothing items are most meaningful to you— and how do they connect you to your personal health goals and intentions?

2018 Beauty, In One Word

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At the end of each year, I choose a single word that sums up how I want to feel in the year ahead, or how I want the new year's events to feel to me. Almost like a year-long affirmation, in place of traditional resolutions. In the past, I’ve chosen words like VITAL, MAGICAL, and even RELAXED.

My word for 2018 is…flow.

As in, ‘in the flow,’ ‘go with the flow,’ ‘ebb and flow.’ Just flow.

This year, I plan to do more of the things that get my body into a state of effortless flow, whether that means writing what I love, cooking more of the meals that inspire and challenge me, finding opportunities to relax without interruption, or spending time with the people who bring joy and ease into my life.

Kind of like yin and yang, I see ‘ebb and flow’ as uniting to create balance. 2016 and 2017 put me into a place of paring down, re-prioritizing, and introspection—an ebb that in a way feels like it has prepared me to flow easily once again. I love that the idea of flow also presumes the loss of self-consciousness, of comparison, even of time. It’s a freedom to be as you are and truly be in the moment.

Here’s a definition of ‘flow state,’ from wikipedia:

“In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity."

Beyond a flow state, I also want good things to flow from me to others in 2018. I want it to be a year to continue to build positive energy in myself and share that energy with the world.

What word is inspiring you as we begin 2018? Can you choose a word of the year and post it somewhere where you’ll see it throughout the 12 months ahead? It may just keep you on track and inspire you far better than a January resolution.

If you are looking for support to reach your 2018 health and beauty goals, consider joining my Eat Pretty Together global coaching group, a virtual community of women that meet twice each month for an hour of learning, conversation and inspiration. For more info, check out my Eat Pretty Together program page.

Top 5 Ways to Beautify Your Thanksgiving Meal

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1. Add cranberries—but not the ones you think. Yes, you probably already plan to serve cranberry sauce at your Thanksgiving table. And you should, as cranberries are antioxidant-packed berry with phytochemicals that preserve your skin elasticity. But the standard cranberry sauces (both store-bought and traditional recipes) contain about 88 grams of refined sugar (think of that as almost a full half cup of sugar) in just one cup—enough to spark inflammation, speed up signs of aging, and promote unwanted weight gain.

This year, make the Antioxidant Cranberry-Apple Sauce featured in Eat Pretty Every Day, or try your own recipe with less sugar. Your skin won’t miss it!

2. If you eat meat, upgrade to a high quality source, like organic free range turkey. If it's a part of your diet, Thanksgiving turkey can be a source of valuable building blocks for your beauty—but it's extremely important to choose well. Factory farmed meats are commonly fed poor-quality feed and given antibiotics to prevent disease, both of which have a negative impact on your overall beauty and wellness when you consume them. This year, make organic a priority at your table (wherever you can, but especially for animal products and Dirty Dozen produce!). Organic meat has significantly higher levels of beautifying omega-3 fatty acids and fewer harmful fats.

3. Put greens on your table. Traditionally, (not so beauty-friendly) green bean casserole is the rare glimpse of green we get on Thanksgiving Day. This year, make room for leafy greens among the regular dishes you serve, as they're a daily essential for radiant skin. Greens are powerhouse sources of skin-clearing vitamin A and collagen-building vitamin C, and they work hard to feed the healthy, probiotic bacteria in your digestive system. For Thanksgiving, look beyond a green salad to a sauté of greens and garlic, or a seasonal dish like the Warm Fall Salad featured in Eat Pretty (a favorite in my family!)

4. Make time for gratitude and mindfulness at mealtime. Ensure that your body is able to break down and assimilate all of the wonderful beauty nutrients in your Thanksgiving meal by creating a mindful space in which to eat. Appropriately, Thanksgiving centers around gratitude, which has been shown to increase our happiness, improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and have beauty benefits long-term. This Thanksgiving, take time to think or speak about what you’re grateful for; consider finding a mantra to recite or share before your meal; and breathe and relax while eating. You’ll change the way your body digests and uses your meal—as well as how you feel afterward. 

5. Spice up dessert. You’re probably already having pie, and cookies, and cake, right? To make them more beauty-friendly, add spices to all of your holiday desserts. Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg are just a few of the antioxidant-packed spices that offer phytochemical benefits like a reduced blood sugar spike from sugar, digestive support, and an immune boost. And I challenge anyone not to love baked apple slices, which are free of added sugar and taste like the inside of an apple pie. To make them:

Simple Baked Apples: Core and slice fresh organic apples and layer them in a heat-proof dish. In a bowl, melt a few tablespoons of organic, grassfed butter, and stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice, plus a little unsweetened apple sauce. Brush this mixture over your apple slices and bake at 350F for about 30 minutes. Serve warm.

  • As a bonus, I also love to serve something bitter— like this Bitter Is Beautiful Salad or a cocktail made with digestive bitters— to support healthy digestion of this filling meal!

What are your favorite ways to beautify your own Thanksgiving table?

Eat Pretty in College

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You know your college years require hard work and diligence to achieve the grades, and goals, that you want. But what about your college skin goals? Sometimes eating pretty from your dorm room seems to require as much effort as your studies!

Each fall, I get a new crop of clients who want to build a beauty routine that supports radiant skin from within— but they’re feeling seriously challenged by the college status quo. Cafeteria food, parties & late nights, lack of kitchen access and fresh food on hand when they want it, and stress in general present major challenges that are sometimes unique— or at least heightened— in this phase of your life.

If you’re in college, grad school, or heading there soon, I’ve assembled some of the most important items and tips that you need to boost the beauty nutrition in your life. Whether you want to clear your skin, amp up your glow, balance your hormones, or just improve your energy, mood, and overall well-being, this guide will help you focus your efforts. Wishing you a beautiful college experience!

x Jolene

Stock these basics in your dorm room:

No refrigeration needed:

  • Plant-based protein powder (great go-to when you need to make a quick smoothie)
  • Spices (cinnamon, turmeric, ginger)
  • Teas (a selection for wake up and wind down)
  • Greens powder (when you can’t get fresh greens)

Refrigerate if possible (though these can also be stored at room temperature):

  • Lemons (for AM lemon water)
  • Avocados (have 1/2 as a filling snack; add to salads, grain bowls and smoothies)
  • Shelled hemp seeds (excellent source of protein and healthy fats)
  • Raw nuts and seeds (pair with fruit for snacks)
  • Probiotics

Helpful Gadgets and Appliances:

  • Bullet blender like the Nutribullet
  • Electric kettle (to make a cup of tea, a bowl of oatmeal, warm lemon water, etc.)
  • Microfridge (it’s a college staple, great for storing fresh food)
  • Small knife and cutting board (something easy to clean and store)

— I also recommend taking your Eat Pretty, Live Well journal with you to school— journal a few days of food every now and then to keep yourself on target, and use the trackers and lists inside to set and reach your healthy skin goals. It really keeps you mindful!

Jolene's nutrition tips for gorgeous skin at school:

Don’t skip breakfast! Make a simple smoothie that includes protein, healthy fat and as much fresh food (veggies and/or a small amount of fruit). A basic example is unsweetened coconut milk with plant-based protein powder, greens powder, and organic berries.

Keep healthy snacks on hand. These are essential when you’re up studying late at night, if you missed a meal, or even to satisfy hunger in a healthy way before a party. Try to include protein and healthy fat in your snacks as much as you can— think an apple + almond butter, a wedge of avocado sprinkled with hemp seeds and spices, or chia pudding.

Make mealtime relaxed and fun. Try not to eat while you’re stressed or studying. Eat with a group of friends who make you feel relaxed, or find a quiet spot where you can enjoy your food and engage your senses so you digest well and feel yourself become full.

Don’t stress too much about Beauty Betrayers. In general, if you keep your beauty nutrition on track, you won’t be greatly affected by splurges that are a normal part of college life. But if you’re partying all the time and ignoring your body’s needs for fresh, colorful, whole foods, you’ll see the difference in the mirror. This is a great time to learn how to get yourself and your skin back in balance with nutrition and self-care if you indulge too much.

Have a cafeteria plan. I believe that there’s at least some good in every school cafeteria— you just have to find it, or ask for it. Maybe there’s a great salad bar, a smoothie station that lets you customize your blend, or an epic selection of fresh fruit. If it’s not obvious, go out of your way and ask, politely, if your cafeteria can provide some staples like a varied selection of grains (quinoa, millet, buckwheat) instead of just white rice; or ask if the taco bar can be stocked with collard greens and lettuce leaves in addition to processed flour tortillas. There are always healthy upgrades to be made, most of them are simple, and there are probably lots of other students who will benefit from them too!

Don't depend too much on caffeine. Try and energize your body in other ways— with a good night's sleep, meals that burn slowly and keep your blood sugar stable, and adaptogens that improve your stress response and boost your energy naturally (like maca, ashwaganda and tulsi). Caffeine takes a toll on your skin and robs your body of essential nutrients, so try to make it a tool you use strategically, rather than an everyday essential.

Drink smart. The truth is that alcohol affects your skin— and not in a good way. If you’re going to drink and you want to prevent skin issues, moderation is the key, the same way you would moderate sugar. Here’s how to support healthy skin when you’re drinking—

  1. Before drinking, have a balanced meal with protein, healthy fats, and veggies. This will lessen the glycemic response of the sugar in your body.
  2. While you’re drinking, drink plenty of water and eat something if you can (again, lowering that glycemic response).
  3. After drinking (later that day or the next morning), take a multivitamin, drink coconut water or electrolyte water to replenish fluids and nutrients lost, and have another balanced, antioxidant-rich meal. A green smoothie is a great way to replenish lost nutrients!

Establish a self-care routine now. College is super fun, but at times, it’s also super stressful. This is a great time in your life to practice managing stress in a healthy way. Make a list of beautifying practices that help you relax— think meditation, your favorite workout, a long walk, dancing to music you love, an evening of movies and facials with your roommates; whatever chills you out in a healthy way— and put them on repeat.

What strategies have kept your skin glowing at college? I'd love to hear what's working best for you and how you've adapted your beauty nutrition essentials to fit your dorm room!

Comment or email me at jolene@beautyiswellness.com.

Books background image by Abhi Sharma. Used with Creative Commons permission.

The Best Essential Oils for Your Bath

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Whenever I have one of those days where stress, work, and motherhood (or all of the above) wear me out yet leave me wired, a bath is how I wipe the slate clean and prepare for restful sleep. You might call it a bathing meditation, because it has similar effects for my mind and body.

Many of my clients who have had difficulty sleeping or managing stress have found a bath to be an ideal evening self-care practice. If nighttime is the time when cravings hit, or when you find yourself staying up too late binging on TV, or even when you tend to feel restless and unable to settle into sleep, I challenge you to break that routine with a bath. A warm bath (I like mine HOT, even though I know it's dehydrating to my skin...!) detoxifies, relaxes muscles, increases circulation, restores the mind & body, and pampers you. It's an ideal time to grab a magazine, listen to a podcast, slather on a face mask— or just stare at the ceiling and breathe. And then there's the water. You can find any number of amazing bath products (see a few faves at the end of this post) to boost the benefits of your bath, but just a few drops of the right essential oil make an otherwise average soak into a tailored spa treatment. I like to change it up but always come back to some combination of lavender + jasmine + sandalwood. 

To find out which essential oils are best for the bath, I previously interviewed essential oil expert Robin Block of Wyndmere Naturals for her picks. I also added some of my own favorites to this list! Pick the ones that speak to you and follow the key instructions afterward for a rewarding beauty ritual you'll revisit time and again:

Best Essential Oils for the Bath

  • Rose: “If I had to pick only one oil, I’d probably choose rose oil,” says Block. “It’s calming but gently uplifting and it helps with anxiety or nervous tension.” Rose oil supports all skin types, so even those with dry, sensitive skin will benefit from its restorative effects.
  • Cedarwood, Sandalwood or Rosewood: Block says that any oils that come from tree bark are incredibly soothing and grounding—and I totally agree. Sandalwood in particular is prized for its fragrance, as well as its calming properties, making it a personal fave.
  • Neroli: This lovely oil, which is extracted from orange blossom flowers, calms the mind and uplifts the spirit. It makes a great addition to a wintertime bath, since, “We’re often starved for uplifting scents in the winter,” Block says. Neroli is a gentle sedative that encourages sleep and reduces anxiety. Think of this oil as the antidote to a stressful day.
  • Vetiver: Vetiver, distilled from the roots of the vetiver plant, is a humectant oil that brings moisture to dry skin and peace to your mind. “In India, vetiver is called the oil of tranquility,” says Block.
  • Lavender: Known as the quintessential oil for calm, lavender is a favorite for nighttime baths and the treatment of insomnia. Lavender also supports damaged, stressed or irritated skin, making it a wonderful choice for many of those with skin issues.
  • Roman or German Chamomile: Chamomile is known for its gentle, calming properties, making it an excellent essential oil to add to a tension-reducing bath before bed.  Add a few drops of chamomile essential oil to a chamomile tea bag and let it soak in your bath for extra benefits, Block suggests.
  • Ylang Ylang or Jasmine:  Ylang ylang and jasmine essential oils maybe stimulants that uplift your mood, but I also find them to be soothing to your body. A bath scented with these exotic oils, which are aphrodisiacs and blend especially well together, also benefits dry skin.

After filling your bath, Block recommends that you wait a few minutes for the water to reach a warm temperature, and never get into a bath that’s steaming or scalding, since it does strip natural oils from the skin. (I'm trying to do this more!). Then sprinkle a few drops of your chosen essential oil (or essential oil blend, since most oils mix well with others) into a cup of whole milk or a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add this diluted mixture to your bath water and stir to blend. Add essential oils directly to hot water and they will evaporate quickly, along with their therapeutic benefits. Or, as an antidote to sore muscles, mix a few drops of essential oils into two cups of Epsom salts and dissolve into your bath.

When choosing essential oils for your bath, look for an indication that the oils are 100% pure and therapeutic grade. Brands like Wyndmere Naturals, Young Living, doTERRA and Aura Cacia are known for the purity of their oils.

Want to add instant therapeutic benefits to bath, with a product that's ready to use? These are some of my personal favorite natural and organic bath products:

EO Botanical Bath Salt Soaks. With a range of natural scents and a choice of different types of salts (from Himalayan pink to sea salt and Epsom salt), these are a great budget-friendly bath soak option. 

Pursoma Bath Soaks. The Pursoma Hot Tub Bath (a splurge at $36) in particular helped me stop a cold in its tracks. The best part of these detoxifying bath blends is the incredibly high-quality ingredients, including wild harvested seaweeds, organic ginger powder, and pure French clay.

Dr. Hauschka Aromatherapy Bath Kit. A collection of trial sizes of Dr. Hauschka’s rosemary, spruce, sage, lemon and lavender bath oils that make your bath smell amazing and leave your skin so moisturized and happy.

What's your current favorite natural or organic bath product?

Note: This post was originally published 8/26/11 and was most recently updated June 2017.

Summer-Ready, from the Inside Out

Got summer on your mind? I certainly did when I shared some of my favorite beauty nutrition-focused summer beauty prep tips with Anthropologie. Check out my summer-ready tips for inspiration, and don't miss the accompanying lineup of beautifying recipes (including a peek at a favorite recipe from Eat Pretty Every Day) to get your beautiful self ready for the season ahead. 

Here's what you'll find:

Eat Pretty: A Summer Detox Guide

Spring Detox Recipes

Many thanks to the incomparable Anthropologie for sharing my pre-summer inspiration, and letting me play dress up at their offices! Here's an outtake from our shoot:

PS THIS is the lovely jumpsuit I got to wear from the Anthro collection.

Images courtesy Anthropologie.

Eat Pretty Spring Detox with Free People

If you're looking for a bit more energy, glow, and lightness this spring, follow along with the 4-week spring detox series I've created for Free People, over on their Bldg 25 blog (a great site for fashion, beauty and wellness inspiration, btw!).

This series is all about detoxing gently, with nutrition and simple shifts in your routine (no juice cleanses or fasting necessary) to support your body's own natural detoxification channels, which are turned on and turned up during the spring season. You'll learn how to add more detox-supportive nutrients into your diet, flush out waste, and prevent some of the biggest sources of toxins from re-entering your body The goal, as always, is to get you looking and feeling your best from the inside out. I hope you enjoy it!

Here are links to the series posts:

Week 1: Go Green

Week 2: Hot Water Hydration

Week 3: Paring Down

Week 4: Detox Your Environment

Happy spring!