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Part 2 My Health Story: High-Fat, High Protein, “Carbophobia”

Eventually social pressure and convenience got the better of me, and in my early twenties, I moved from a vegetarian to a pescatarian diet. There were little vegetarian options through my overseas travels, and I didn’t want to be a difficult travel companion. This was also motivated by the high-protein, low-carb “Atkins” approach that was popular then. Soon, I was dabbling with chicken, hearing that eating animal protein was the best, most effective way to eat and stay lean.

When I went off the OCP I lost my period. My doctor put me on a Ketogenics diet, to help me get a natural cycle. I was eating very high-fat and high-protein. I still didn’t naturally gravitate toward eating a lot of protein, but I tried my best, and I was told to strictly avoid all but one carbohydrate a day. One carbohydrate a day! If I wanted a carrot, that was to be considered my carb. Can you imagine? It made me extremely “carbophobic”, and if you ask me, was just as, if not more, restrictive as some of my disordered eating of the past.

This way of eating also made me demonize fruit in such a way that I easily went months without eating a single piece! But as is the problem with restrictive eating and fearing a whole food group, I replaced fruit and other carbohydrates with something else, fat. Whilst I do believe that good fats are extremely beneficial, I was eating it in high quantities, and it wasn’t doing me any favours. I felt sluggish, my skin seemed dull, my hair and nails brittle and I felt there was always something wrong that I just couldn’t put my finger on. I was extremely stressed from having to work out precisely when I would have my one carb for the day and social scenarios became a source of anxiety for me. This way of eating was not only limiting and extremely inconvenient, it actually didn’t help me in any way.

After 6 months of this diet, I had had enough. I was going overseas where there would be lots of tropical fruit, and I decided to just eat intuitively for the first time in a very long while. I travelled, relaxed around food, reintroduced more carbohydrates such as delicious fruit, went back to eating only a little fish (pescatarian) and was able to reduce my stress – being away has that advantage! Within 5 weeks of this, I got my period for the first time in just over 1 year. It would be unfair for me to attribute this 100% to my “letting go”, however, it wouldn’t be entirely wrong to draw some correlation between the two. I definitely felt better – during that entire trip I could feel my body healing. It was a powerful indicator that I needed to listen to my body and reassess my food choices.

The next 6 months became a gradual progression toward going 100% plant-based. I totally eliminated dairy, as I came to understand that it isn’t necessary or healthful, particularly with hormonal imbalances. At this point, eggs and the occasional piece of fish were the last parts of my carnivourous diet that I had to relinquish.

Birthday Linner! Light & fresh @earthtotablebondi ... Because I'll definitely be having a birthday dinner My favourite: the rainbow seaweed slaw (kelp noodles, seaweed, beetroot, cabbage, carrot, broccoli ginger soy dressing) with added avocado And an icey matcha latte almond milk frappe Happy to be spending the arvo with my mumma

Inspired by: Stef Jung, WholesomeStef

Continuing on with our Inspired By series, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the lovely, well-travelled, fitness enthusiast and health coach, Stef. Stef has recently moved from Switzerland to Sydney and has a story very similar to so many women of all ages. She is on a mission to lift others out of the darkness and destruction that comes with disordered eating and an unhealthy relationship with food and body image. Keep reading to find out more about Stef’s past, how she cares for herself today, her health philosophy and much, much more!

Tell us a little about yourself and how you became involved in the health industry?

I haven’t always been this healthy. In fact, I used to be a fad dieting, self-destructive treadmill junkie that obsessively counted calories and stepped on the scale up to five times a day. I had that “inner mean girl” syndrome, meaning that I was constantly telling myself I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, skinny enough, and the list goes on. After years and years of self loathing, I decided one day that enough was enough and that it was time to start taking care of myself. It’s been a long and hard journey, but five years later I have overcome my eating disorder and have created a healthy, fulfilled life for myself that I am absolutely in love with.

As I became more intrigued by the power of nutrition, mind – body connection and a holistic lifestyle in general, I realized that I wanted to help others with their own struggles. I am now a certified health coach and it is my goal to inspire other young girls and women to live their life to the fullest by becoming the healthiest and happiest version of them self, minus the deprivation, restriction and obsession around food and exercise.

What is your personal health philosophy? 

For me, being truly healthy isn’t just about what you eat and how much you train. It’s about so much more than that. You can eat all the kale in the world and live from juice cleanse to juice cleanse, but if you are not nourishing your soul on a deeper level, your body and mind don’t thrive. I think that being truly healthy means nourishing your body with whole foods, exercising because you love your body (not because you hate it!) and living a life that fulfills you and makes you happy. It’s something that I had to learn the hard way, but now I truly understand the importance of having the right mindset. Photo-21-06-2016-1-46-01-PM-e1466481045257

How do you begin your morning?

I love starting my morning by thinking about three things that I am grateful for. If my partner and I wake up at the same time, we ask each other what those three things are and then get up together. Next up is either a mini yoga flow (5 minutes), a journaling sesh or I go straight to preparing breakfast, depending on the schedule for that day. Oh, and I like to oil pull or drink my lemon water with ginger, cayenne pepper and apple cider vinegar while getting breakfast ready. Depending on my schedule, I might even get my workout in in the morning, so on those days I’m off to a class straight away and will have my nourishing morning routine post-workout.

What does a typical day look like on your plate?

I don’t believe in dietary labels and love mixing things up and trying new things. That means that no day ever looks the same! I tried going fully vegan once, but realized that, because of my restrictive past, it was triggering at times. These days I eat a very balanced, mainly plant-based diet with lots of fresh unprocessed foods. If I do eat animal products, I make sure I buy organic produce of the highest quality. I listen to my body and nurture it with whatever it asks for; that may be a vegan salad with quinoa, spinach and sweet potato or a bar of (dark and organic) chocolate. Some staple meals of mine are: tofu stir fry with buckwheat noodles and leafy greens, a green smoothie with vegan protein powder, hummus with veggie sticks as a snack and a warming oatmeal for brekky. 

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Right now I’m actually on Sarah Wilson’s 8-week I Quit Sugar program, and like I said, I love experimenting with new foods and seeing how my body and mind react. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so it’s been more of mental challenge than anything.

Fitness is a huge part of your life. What is your workout routine and do you have any tips you can offer on how to commit to an exercise regimen? 

Since moving to Sydney, I haven’t had a real workout routine per se. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t worked out everyday! I’m actually using Classpass at the moment and I really enjoy trying out new studios and types of workouts throughout the city. I’ve alIMG_9090finaleso been very active in nature and have been going on regular runs and even took up surfing. I find it really important to mix things up and love to push myself out of my comfort zone every day, otherwise I get bored easily! These days I’ve been doing one crossfit/functional training/ weight lifting type of workout per day + one more relaxing stretching session like yoga or pilates.

If you struggle sticking to your workout routine, I recommend finding a workout buddy that holds you accountable and also to schedule your workouts into your calendar. It’s all too easy to forget or neglect the commitment to yourself, but if it’s scheduled in, it makes it just that bit harder to ignore.

What are the three foods you have to have on your desert island? 

I go through phases with food, but I could never live without

  • Hummus

  • Coconut yoghurt

  • Spinach

What is the greatest health advice you have ever been given? 

That health is a journey, not a goal. It took me many years of dissatisfaction and body dysmorphia to realize this, but now I understand the importance of “enjoying the ride”. If you are always working towards that one far distant goal, then you will never be happy with yourself in the moment. 

It seems you have travelled/lived all around the globe! Where did you find was the easiest city to embrace a healthy lifestyle? Do you have a favourite fitness studio or cafe in that city? 

Sydney by far! There is such a huge health scene here with many amazing studios, healthy cafés, sporty events and a bunch of beautifully inspiring like-minded people that help you stay motivated and on track. In fact, that’s pretty much the reason why I moved here…Europe, and especially Switzerland (where I moved from) is so far behind on the trend, so it’s been a refreshing scenery change for me. Plus, the warm weather and beautiful nature just makes you want to be active outdoors all day long. One of my favorite cafés is Sadhana Kitchen in Bondi (if you’re skeptical about raw vegan cuisine, this place will change your mind!) and I love Urban Yoga and Humming Puppy for a good yoga session.

Like so many of us, you have overcome a difficult relationship with food, body image and self love. Do you ever still struggle with this? And if so, what do you do to pull yourself out of it? 

Yes, definitely! I still struggle from time to time, just like everyone else. But over the years I’ve assembled a whole list of tricks that help me deal with a bad day. From taking a walk by myself to dry body scrubbing, writing in my gratitude book or talking it out with my bestie or partner before the feeling manifests itself, it’s all about self love and acceptance on those days. It’s when everIMG_9323ything seems to go wrong that kindness is more important than ever. No matter how busy I am I will try to find some “me time”, as my health and happiness will always be number one priority.

I also like to remind myself of this quote (one of my faves!):

You are under no obligation to be the same person you were 5 minutes ago.”

 The quote is a reminder that even if you had a crappy start to the day, it doesn’t have to ruin the rest of their day. Become aware of your feelings, work through them and pick yourself back up.

One more thing that I want to add: It’s always been my goal to be as authentic and raw as possible with my audience. I allow myself to be vulnerable and try to always share when I feel down, frustrated, annoyed, insecure etc. There are way too many accounts out there that showcase this picture-perfect world, and it can be very triggering for girls who compare their own life to the highly edited life of social influencers. What’s important to realize is that we all struggle from time to time, and it’s my goal to show both the ups and the downs.

Please share with us one of your favourite clean recipes! 

Stef’s Vegan Banana Blueberry Pancakes

Serves: 2

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Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp ground flax seeds

  • ½ cup of water

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 2 very ripe bananas

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (we used almond)

  • 1 cup of blueberries

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

  • ½ tbsp nutmeg

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 cup of ground buckwheat (buckwheat flour)

  • Coconut oil for cooking

Instructions

  1. Start by making your flax eggs: mix the ground flax seeds and water in a small bowl, mix with a fork and leave in the fridge for 15 minutes.

  2. Mix all your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, spices).

  3. Mash your bananas and add to the dry mix along with the mix, vanilla and flax eggs.

  4. Once all well mixed, add the blueberries and mix gently.

  5. Heat up a pan with a small tsp of coconut oil.

  6. Add 2 big tbsp of the mixture at a time and cook.

  7. Add homemade vegan chocolate sauce.

  8. Sprinkle with fresh blueberries and coconut flakes before serving.

Connect with Stef:

Instagram: @wholesomestef

Facebook: www.facebook.com/wholesomestef

Website: www.wholesomestef.com

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Healthy Hot Spots: Melbourne

My boyfriend, Mike, and I escaped for the weekend to Foodie-heaven i.e. Melbourne. It hadn’t been long since I was walking Melbourne’s beautiful streets, as I visited my brother who was living there last year, however since making the transition to 100% plant-based, I was desperate to go back, show Mike around and try out all the incredibly healthy, vegan creations! (Read: Will travel for food!!)

Not only is Melbourne a mecca for clean-eating, however there are also so many great yoga studios to explore as well. Whilst we live in Sydney, by the beach, with access to so much good food and yoga, it is definitely nice to change up the pace and be tourists for a weekend. It gave us the time we needed to slow down and enjoy the simple things – walking through different neighbourhoods (when do you do this in your hometown?!), try exciting menus and different yoga/exercise studios, sit in a park, travel far for a vegan croissant (!!!), indulge, read, take a bath, go to bed early, and of course, each other.

So, I thought I would share with you some of the little gems we found so that you can curate your own Melbourne getaway whenever you get the chance…

Transformers: My favourite dinner spot – the tofu buns and kelp noodles are our favourite! I love how you can do wellness shots before dinner too ;)

Smith & Daughters: Vegan Nachos, need I say more? Save this one for dinner, it’s really vibey and full of Mexican deliciousness.

Serotonin Eatery: Probably my favourite daytime cafe, the Vietnamese Rice Paper Roll Bowl (pictured) was bursting with vibrance and flavour, my ginger and lemon tea was perfection (they have a tea sommelier :O), and the choc mint mini magnum on the way out was heaven! A must.

Monk Bodhi Dharma: This place is so effortlessly cool. It’s different to all the usual “clean” cafe’s that are all shiny and brand new, and is much more New York City – less hype, a little grungey, very creative, extremely creative and delicious. The vegan pancakes are insane, and I was dying to try the mushrooms on toast (but didn’t get a chance, so you should! Tell me how it is…), so I will definitely be back. They also have a few baked goodies I had my eye on!

Tall Timber: Spectacular food for all taste buds + great coffee

Top Paddock: Gorgeous, cosy interior, delicious coffee, delicious green juice (didn’t get a chance to eat here, but I am told it doesn’t disappoint!)

Matcha Mylk Bar: The infamous fake egg- actually the reason I went to Melbourne! I had to try it! Turns out, it is made from coconut and sweet potato puree. It’s not bad, but don’t expect it to taste like egg! What really blew my mind were the eggplant meat balls. Definitely go here and order anything, soo many stand-outs!

Drugstore Espresso: This is where you come for good coffee, juice and Acai. Perfect when you need a shopping break from Chapel St.

Barry: Try the crunchy peanut butter, heirloom tomatoes and peanuts on toast! Don’t judge, just try…

Two Birds One Stone: My brother is a coffee connoisseur and when we told him where we were located, this was his pick. We both loved the coffee, and I also picked up a green juice which was yummy.

Mr Nice Guy Bake Shop: A whole bakery dedicated to veganism? Yes please! Croissants, brioche doughnuts, cinnamon buns?? You get it… 😉

Didn’t quite get to these places, but will definitely be back for them…

  • Shokuiku

  • We are Combi

  • Sister of Soul

  • Smith & Deli

How to cater a clean camping trip

Need a break? Fresh air? Moments of solitude and stillness? You truly don’t need to go miles away to feel very far away from “it all”. Over the weekend, my lovely friend Sam (yes, we are both Sam’s!) and I packed up our things, loaded her car and headed just 1.5 hours away to Cattai National Park. It was spectacular! As soon as you enter, your phone reception dwindles, you hear the sounds of lyrebirds and rustling trees, you breathe in the fresh air and take in the gorgeous views of the Hawkesbury. Not to mention coming face to face with Kangaroo’s! There is something about being surrounded by tree’s and the autumn leaves without a building in sight, you just feel calmer.

To compliment a relaxing weekend away resting mind and body, it only seems fit that you would support your detox with delicious, healthy food. Without a fridge and all the utensils, it can seem a little daunting. Must we resort to drive through food on the way? Sausages on the BBQ? Soggy sandwiches? No, no, NO! That would never do for two nutritionists in the making! We hustled the night before and came up with a beautiful menu that served us very well for the weekend. We ate like queens!

So to take the pressure off you, and to encourage you to plan a camping getaway yourselves, I thought I would share some good ideas to take with you on a trip. These can be applied to any getaway you have in mind, really. Overall, it is important to take into consideration how long your stay is to work out how much you need to bring, and structure when you are going to eat what by working out what keeps the best. For a 1-3 night stay, these options will all work perfectly!

Helpful supplies:

  • A gas stove with a large pot (helpful for heating up food, teas etc)
  • Esky/cooler with ice packs (Definitely need)
  • A chopping board
  • Bread Knife
  • Paper/plastic bowls, plates, cutlery (or some from home, if you only need a few)
  • lemon squeezer/juicer
  • Glass Tupperware, for storage of the below meals, and/or double as serving bowls
  • Napkins
  • Tea towels
  • Sponge
  • Detergent
  • Hand sanitizer

Menu ideas:

BREAKFAST

  • Green smoothie – e.g. 1 cup water, ½ lemon juice, 3 cups leafy greens of choice, 1 large stalk celery, ½ cup frozen mango, ½ banana, 5 drops vanilla stevia
  • Bircher muesli, soak the oats in coconut water
  • Chia pudding
  • Pre-made muffins
  • Sliced bread with smashed avocado, lemon juice, salt and pepper
  • Warm breakfast? Bring oats or quinoa, banana, stevia and cinnamon and make a porridge with water on your stove top

LUNCH/DINNER

  • Kale and brussels sprout salad with cherry tomatoes, avocado, herbs, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast (this will last well for 2 days as the dressing breaks down the tough raw kale/brussels) with roast sweet potato
  • A whole raw sweet potato, to roast on the fire’s embers, in tin foil (if permitted)
  • Pre-made veggies burgers/patties with salad or roast veggies
  • Bruschetta – bring a loaf of quality bread, avocado, chopped tomatoes, basil, pomegranate, hummus, pesto, antipasto veg etc.
  • Zucchini Lasagne
  • Cooked quinoa with stir-fried veggies, heated up on the stove or eaten cold
  • Vegetable stock soup with lentils, chopped kale and wild rice or millet, heated on the stove
  • Pumpkin soup, heated on stove
  • Tempeh stir-fry, heated on stove

SNACKS

  • Carrots, celery, capsicum, other veggies of choice
  • Hummus, pesto, or dairy-free dip of choice
  • Corn chips/Crackers
  • Seaweed (nori) sheets
  • Olives
  • Fresh fruit that doesn’t require chopping e.g. berries, grapes, apples etc.
  • Bliss balls
  • Vegan chocolate
  • Homemade muffins
  • Raw nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • OR make a platter with all these things for a lunch-time picnic,  like us…

 

BEVERAGES

(This is where the stove is handy!)…

  • Filtered water
  • Lemon, for your morning warm lemon water
  • Green smoothie
  • Kombucha
  • Herbal tea
  • Chai tea with almond milk

Make healthy choices prior to your trip so you have plenty of options whilst you are there. This really is an example of food prep setting you up right. Indulge a little! Chances are, you are going to want something sweet around the fire 🙂 so have your dairy-free, refined-sugar-free chocolate, bliss balls or chai tea handy, and enjoy them. Most importantly, embrace your time away and don’t stress about the finer details.

 

My Bali Travels: Eat, Stay, Yoga

Bali is a dream come true for a health-foodie yogi and surfer couple like us! It is a warm, tropical paradise that offers incredible healthy food, a variety of exciting activities, culture, kind people, yoga (everywhere), and of course, many luxurious and affordable hotels and villas. We have been a few times but I must say that this time was most definitely our favourite. Having learned a thing or two from our past travels, I think we nailed it! There are so many different places to go and stay and eat in beautiful Bali, and there truly is something for everyone. I like to think we found some real gems on our recent stay! If you are reading this blog post and follow me on social media, you likely have an interest in health. Read my post here for why I think it isn’t necessary to spend ridiculous amounts on a health retreat if you are after a healthy getaway. Wherever you choose to stay, whether it is one of the below places or not, be sure that it has air-conditioning (no matter what season) and some kind of mosquito protection (either a mosquito net, enclosed four-poster bed, or an in-house zapper!).

Uluwatu / Bingin

Stay

We stayed at Sal Secret Spot (a boutique eco-hotel), Mu Bungalows, and The Temple Lodge. Sal was under renovations in the main area which was a shame. Where we stayed was a little further away down a windy cliff path which I wouldn’t recommend, although this was where the view of the ocean was. The other area has a pool and seems to offer a little more privacy between rooms. I would look into those rooms if going back.

After Sal we went to Mu Bungalows which was stunning. It was a very Balinese experience with dim-lit bungalows and huge outdoor bathrooms. Even more spectacular than the individual bungalows are the grounds. This is what makes Mu! Daybeds and cute sitting areas adorn the garden, a beautiful infinity pool overlooking a panoramic view of the ocean, the best coconuts of my trip (and I had one a day!), yummy fruity breakfast, and in-house yoga.

The Temple Lodge – we didn’t stay here but I went here a few times and looked into rooms. I will be trying it on my next trip!

Yoga

We went to The Temple Lodge, Uluwatu Surf Villa’s and Mu for classes, and my favourite was Naomi at Uluwatu Surf Villas. Her class was wonderful, they offer a cold young coconut after and you really can’t go passed that Shala and the view!

Eat

Cashew Tree

– Soul Bowl, falafel wrap (no tzaki or cheese and add avo if dairy-free), gado gado rolls, pitaya bowl

Nalu Bowls

– Uluwatu bowl or the Pipeline! Sub granola for raw nuts and always, always add dragon fruit and mango 🙂

Nusa Lembongan

Stay

Tigerlillys

Prepare to be in boutique bali heaven! We ended up getting the Suite and it was a two-story bungalow with a large outdoor bathroom. Despite being outdoors it is so clean! Tigerlillys has a cute little pool and also has a delicious cafe on property with some really healthy options – smoothies, smoothie bowls, vegan salads, tempeh, san choy bow etc. Great location and fantastic service.

Yoga

– Yoga Shak

– Serenity Yoga (newer than ^ and probably my preferred choice. It offers “fly-high” yoga too!)

Eat

– Pisang Pisang (in Rama Gardens) – everything is good! Tofu peanut butter shake, pineapple garlic juice (all their juices are unusual and amazing), Japanese hand rolls, tropical rice paper rolls, potato curry, papaya salad… everything we tried we loved! The staff are so sweet and accommodating too.

– Tigerlillys – mushroom tempeh san choy bow, the lychee mint smoothie with coconut milk, super smoothie bowl, the asian salad.

– Blue Corner Dive – this place has a really cool social vibe with beanbags on the beach. Portions are a little small so don’t be afraid to over order. Both vegan salads are delicious, the mini gluten-free tacos and an unusual green juice made with prickly pear!

– Eco Deli – look, it’s not my favourite place but it does offer some healthy food on an island where this is quite limited. I do recommend the above places first but do try it for a smoothie or a juice – The Date Shake is pretty good!

Keramas

Stay, Yoga, Eat

Komune – an all-in-one health resort that has amazing facilities in front of a popular surf break. It has a great spa, two pools (one is a lap pool), a 24-hour gym and yoga on-site. There is a healthy menu at one of the restaurants which was pretty good, however their “health key” is often off and there is no vegan key, just vegetarian (despite some of the items being vegan, but this can get confusing). I would probably only recommend this spot if you surf or your partner does, as there are other health resorts around Bali in a better location and with better food! It is very well priced though, and the spa was divine.

Ubud

Stay

The Stonehouse Villas

Just incredible! There are no words. This is a small facility with 3 rooms/houses and each is uniquely decorated to the nines. We stayed in the longhouse which is a boho balinese paradise! Think four poster bed, draping curtains, an antique bathtub, a swinging lounge, two balconies, and the most gorgeous furniture and decorative pieces in Bali. The staff are lovely, the area is pristine, the décor is one-of-a-kind and the location is central enough yet you feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the main streets.

Yoga

Yoga Barn – you can’t go past the classes here! I highly recommend Les and Denise.

Eat

Seeds of Life – all raw and vegan. Get the mexican lasagne, live pizza, breakfast burrito, granola with almond milk and choc sauce, banoffie pie, creamer tonics, the Inca Gold smoothie, Green Juice with lavender and aloe.

Sage – Must go here! All vegan. Jackfruit tacos, cauliflower frittas, tempeh buffalo wings, vegan gluten-free pancakes, breakfast burrito.

Alchemy – make your own salad and definitely get their sweet and spicy cashews and rawmasen, cauliflower rice sushi, Raspberry Lips smoothie, bounty bliss ball and the “French Kiss” nice cream.

Down to Earth – start your day with the detox special (ACV, cayenne pepper, psyllium husk, maple syrup and betonite clay)! They have a giant menu. We had lunch and recommend the basil tofu rice paper rolls, the vegan burrito and the dragon bowl.

Kafe @ Yoga Barn – pop in here for a quick shake or juice post-yoga but I recommend food elsewhere.

Five Elements – fine dining, a delicious vegan dinner experience at a world-class health retreat. Definitely get the vegan mushroom burger – it tastes like a healthy cheese burger!!!!

La Pacha Mama – Vegetarian Mexican. We went here when it had just opened. Our smoothies were phenomenal, the space is beautiful and the staff lovely. I really enjoyed my vegan mushroom tacos, but my boyfriend who is a burrito connoisseur was a little disappointed with his burrito!

Places we didn’t get to but wish we had:

Bambu Indah (another great place to stay, I hear) and they have an organic cafe

Green School and their cafes (closed during our stay due to school break)

Clear Cafe

The Elephant Cafe

My Own Bali Self-Retreat

I don’t believe you have to go to an expensive health retreat to have a healthy experience in Bali. I believe that wherever we go – Bali, Bowral or Bermuda – we can curate our own health holiday.

While I was booking my trip I toyed with the idea of booking a fancy retreat for at least some of the trip. My partner and I do this trade off where he get’s to do what he wants for half the trip (it’s a no brainer – chase waves and surf all day) and I get to own the other half (duh, yoga). So I knew that I had a get-out-of-jail-free card to pick a hotel of my choosing. But the truth is, I ended up finding so many gorgeous boutique hotels that either offered daily yoga themselves or were close enough to a studio that did. What’s more, they were much more affordable, just as luxurious and most even had a couple of healthy items on the menu. But I knew from my previous time in Bali that there is absolutely no need to worry about where will I find gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan, healthy food, because Bali, especially where we were going, fully caters to this crowd.

So I booked into the places that appealed to me, knowing full well that I could create my own cleanse/detox/retreat with all the healthy food and yoga Bali has to offer and a few of my own guidelines to follow. I’m not going to pretend that the below “rules” were all planned out from the beginning – as a health coach and nutritionist-in-training, I guess these sort of came naturally to me as I went. By day 4, as I was sipping my daily coconut poolside, I had an idea that I was indeed creating my own wellness escape and that perhaps some of you who have lusted over a luxurious health retreat might benefit from me sharing my experience with you. So that is all this is – me guiding you on your own no-guilt getaway. All you need to do is pick a destination, do a bit of research on cafes and yoga spots (or gyms, pilates, whatever you are into), and commit to a clean holiday experience. It might seem a bit crazy, planning a trip without planning to drink, party and over-indulge on ice cream, but to be honest it really is what a vacation should be about – relaxing and recharging.

I’d prefer to come home from a holiday with a clear mind, fresh body and rejuvenated spirit so I can settle right back into the swing of things.

The below tips are specific to Bali but there is no reason they can’t be tweaked to a destination of your choice. So without further ado, here is my own Bali self-retreat that I hope can help you on your next trip to paradise!

Daily yoga most hotels offer morning yoga for around $10 but if not, a hotel or studio nearby will.

Incidental cardio walking around sight seeing, beach walks, not having a car, snorkeling, swimming etc. will all have you leading a much more active lifestyle then you probably do at home. I was making a conscious effort, where there was a long pool to swim 20-40 laps every other day – a luxury I don’t often get at home.

Ocean swims most days – if you can squeeze it into the schedule, jump into the ocean or pool. There is something so cleansing about this. It is especially nice after your morning yoga.

Vitamin D – 15 minutes of sun exposure each side (laying down) before creaming up with sunscreen and/or sitting under an umbrella. This might sound controversial considering “slip, slop, slap” has been ingrained in us here in Australia, but the research supports this. Sunscreen nullifies your bodies ability to receive adequate amounts of Vit D. Watch this video here for more if you are interested/concerned.

A coconut a day – sometimes 2! You obviously don’t have to if coconut is not your jam but other then the well-renown health benefits (hydrating, alkalizing, rich in potassium, magnesium, antioxidants, cytokinins → anti-aging, anti-cancer effects) It helps you feel like you are on vacay (in case you forgot), replaces the need for a pool-time cocktail and makes a delicious mid-morning healthy snack. Enjoy the young coconut flesh too!

Vegan diet – I always subscribe to a vegan diet when I travel through Asia, and I can honestly say I have never been sick to date. No Bali belly… ever (I’ve been 5 times). This might scare some of you or sound drastic but I truly believe a break from heavier foods such as meat can do your digestion wonders. There is a reason that most health retreats cater this way. It gives your digestion a well-deserved break, alkalises the body, cuts out a lot of processed sh*t and encourages you to eat more plants/raw food. Obviously don’t binge on hot chips and soy milkshakes, but open your mind up to the endless possibilities of plant-based cuisine, try those quirky cafes and most importantly embrace wholefoods.

Find your nearest health cafes – Bali is full of them! My 3 x a day looked something like… B: smoothie bowl or fruit salad with nuts and granola, L: quinoa or red rice salad with hummus, avocado & seeds or jackfruit tacos (!!!), D: Coconut curry with tempeh and extra veggies with a green/fruity juice. Snacks = coconut + flesh and maybe some local fresh fruit. Salaks are a favourite! Oh, and we would often make room for a raw, refined-sugar-free dessert. This is the kind of holiday indulgence I am all about!

10 glasses+ of FILTERED water – again, no Bali belly here please! Stick to filtered water. Obviously so important to stay hydrated in hot climates.

No alcohol – fruit juice, smoothies and coconuts for me!

8-10 hours sleep each night – I slept like a baby whilst I was away. It wasn’t that we were wasting our days sleeping in, but rather, getting to sleep earlier, especially without TV or computers keeping us up and messing with our sleep cycle. 9pm bedtime 6-7am rise!

Reading, writing, minimal social media use each day – do the things that better you not that waste time, make you feel insecure and distract you from the good all around you.

Massages and body scrubs – take relaxation to the next level and treat yourself to one, two, or twelve massages and other beauty treatments to really zen out and indulge your body (it’s not always about our tastebuds). They can be as little as $20 for one hour in Bali, so enjoy it whilst you can!

Meditate – this is one of those things we “just don’t have time for” in our everyday lives, so why not make the commitment to making the time for it now that you are on vacation. If you are new to it, download an app (I like insight timer – they have short and longer guided ones too), commit to 5-15 minutes and do it whenever you can. Feel the benefits and see if it’s something you want to bring in to your life back home.

And don’t forget to bring some of these essentials…

  • Dry Brush
  • Hair serum – anti-frizz, hydrating
  • Face mask – I like this cacao banana one.
  • Hydrating face mist – to freshen up mid-day. I’ve been using this one.
  • Books – lots! Some I brought with me were Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic”, Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and Gabrielle Bernstein’s “Spirit Junkie”.
  • Diary / Scrap book
  • Earphones – for those long beach walks
  • Goggles – in case you want to do laps
  • Lavender oil – to induce calm/sleep
  • Water bottle – refill and carry with you

Tips to have you feeling better Post Travel

There’s a lot of information out there nowadays on how to prepare for healthy travel, snacks to pack for the plane, what to do and what to do on board to avoid jet lag etc. but there seems to be very little on how to settle back into the swing of things post travel. After a flight we are dehydrated, our appetite is haywire, our body confused, our circadian rhythm is off, our bowel movements may be on hold, and yet we have to be up and at em to tack a to-do list as long as our arm! So, how are we supposed to do it all when all we want to do is lay down? Here’s what I find helpful to get me feeling better in no time.

Water – 3L! The first thing I did when I got home was guzzle 500ml of water when I walked in the front door. I continued to drink water, infusions and herbal tea all day (ginger and peppermint tea are great for digestion).

Lemon water – if you get back first thing, a good idea is to get back into the routine of starting the day with warm lemon water. Add a pinch of ground cayenne or turmeric or some fresh grated ginger to pep things up. I’ve also decided to switch things up with grapefruit from time to time which has a similar effect.

Chlorophyll – I also like to add 15ml of chlorophyll to a few glasses of water throughout the day. Chlorophyll promotes cleansing, alkalises the body, energises us and fights free radicals (antioxidant properties).

Dry brush – I’ll admit, the first thing I do is take a shower. I am in no mood to dry brush that musty feeling of airplane all over my skin! However after my first quick shower, I then apply oil to my hair (see below) and unpack/organise for 1-2 hours. THEN I dry brush before showering again to deal with that oil….

Coconut oil for hair – Planes not only dehydrate your body and skin, but they also leave your hair dry and brittle. Apply coconut oil to your hair, starting from the scalp and combing with your fingers toward the ends. Don’t forget to massage the roots to promote healthy hair growth. After 1-2 hours (or as long as you like), wash it out, making sure to double shampoo and then condition. Afterward, if you have one, use a split end/dry hair serum whilst hair is still damp.

Unpack – As tempting as it is, don’t leave this for the next day when you likely have to go back to work! It’s just another thing on your to-do list and will only clutter your space and make you feel messy. Get it done early, while you are oiling your hair, and get organised!

Walk – even if just for 30 minutes. Get outside, breathe the fresh air in. Natural light will help optimise melatonin production, managing your circadian rhythm to regulate sleep patterns.

Raw fruit & veg – hydration, hydration! This cuts out the processed foods which can clog up your system and has you gorging on delicious wholefoods which are nutrient dense, alkalising and extremely hydrating. I snacked on fresh berries for a hydrating antioxidant hit, and had lots of raw salad and a smoothie throughout the day.

Supplement regimen – I’m generally a little slack with this while I am away so if you take supplements, now is the time to get back into the habit of having them at the right times during the day.

Moisturise – After your shower, or if you are like me, when you get into bed that night. Our skin is very dehydrated remember from air travel and airports, so lather it on!

Yoga – If you have time, take a class otherwise simply stretch it out on the floor. Downward dog, Reverse Warrior, Triangle, Butterfly, Pigeon, Bridge, and a Supine twist are all great poses. These will stretch out stiff muscles and bring you a sense of calm.

Bedtime – not too early, try to get used to your home timezone, however you want at least a full 8 hours before you have to wake up the next day. I was sleeping like a baby on vacation (sometimes 10 hours!) so this is something I want to prioritise. More sleep! We all need it. See my jet lag tips here.

A Healthy Guide To London

Just before I started my blog, I travelled to London and explored the best and most nutritious cafe’s and stores! I have so many goodies, past and planned, for this travel section, and I don’t want to skip sharing any of them with you. So here is a throwback to my time there 🙂 I went to London for a family wedding a few months ago, and while I had been before, I certainly hadn’t done London like this! I think in my short stay I got to see and try most health food stores and cafes, so here is my itinerary for you health foodies out there to follow. To make it easier I have * the places that are a strong must!

YOGA

While I travel, I like to go to as many studios as I can fit in. However, as this was a family trip for a special occasion, I had lots of family commitments and was only away a short amount of time. So I only got to one place, but I did go a few times and absolutely loved every class! Highly recommend this awesome studio with fantastic teachers.
Tri Yoga* – there are a few locations. I went to the one in Camden which had a cute café. I got a yummy warming chai and bliss ball here after classes!

 

FOOD

I’ve tried to group these delicious spots according to their location. I wish I could have sampled breakfast, lunch and dinner at each!

Good Life Eatery* – South Kensington – mind-blowing menu at this cafe… I got the goodness bowl. Wow. Just look at the photo below… they aren’t messing around! Delicious!

Tanya’s* – Chelsea – plant-based raw café – amazing almond butter chai!

Juice Baby – Kings Road – juice bar and snacks
Roots and Bulbs – Marleybone + other locations. Juices, smoothies, snacks etc. a great takeaway spot.

The Natural Kitchen – Marleybone – cafe, grocer, takeaway, great snacks!

Grain Store – Kings Cross – great café with healthy options

Daylesford Farm – Notting Hill – I chose three fresh salads, and spent some time looking through the grocery store attached. I bought some delish coconut kefir!

Nama* – Notting Hill – incredible sundried tomato savoury crepe, raw pancakes and smoothies. Get the turmeric latte! They also have some great take away snacks like the cacao mint spirulina bliss balls and raw crackers.

Ottolenghi** – Notting Hill – Can. Do. No. Wrong. Best idea I had was popping in here before my flight back home and taking grilled salmon and roast vegetables with me so I didn’t have to eat plane food!

Bills – Notting Hill – just like home!

Sunday* – Barnsubry – cute small café with healthy options. Great for brunch!

Wildfood Café* – Covent Gardens – raw vegan café – amazing cakes and fudges, I had a delicious raw coconut savoury wrap with falafel

Lab Organic – Covent Garden – yummy juice bar and snacks, I loved their green lemonade! I think it’s great they do fruit-free juices, sweetened instead with stevia

Raw Press – Dover St – another great juice bar

Yoobi* – Soho – amazing rice-less sushi!!

The Detox Kitchen – Soho

The Juice Well – Soho – juices and snacks

Leon – Soho + at the airport! Healthy fast food! I ate here at the airport before my flight and grabbed a quick green juice to-go + some veg with hummus. Amazing to have these options!

 

HEALTH STORES

House of MistryHampstead – where I did a health food stock up to show my aunty how to cook yummy and clean

Plant Organic – several locations – where I found some of the snacks I took with me on the plane.

 

 

 

A Healthy Guide to the Garden Island…K A U A I

I must say, Kauai truly is a special place. From the moment we hopped off the plane we knew it. The warm sunshine, fresh air, friendly smiles and natural beauty all around us (even on the side of the highway!) were all so welcoming and postcard perfect. We went around the corner straight from the airport and found a cute little farmers markets at Vidinha Stadium where we stocked up on fruit and veg for the drive to the North side of the Island. The highlight was a big bag of small but juicy lychees with the tiniest pips!

We stayed on the North, in Hanalei. In my opinion, it is the most aesthetically beautiful area of the island, very lush and green. I’d recommend staying here or closer East (where the majority of cafes are located). In our condo we had a kitchen so we cooked a few healthy dinners with the amazing local organic produce from the markets as well as the delicious products from the health food stores. Exploring health markets is one of my favourite things to do on holiday so it was nice to be able to buy and cook with local produce, plus it felt like we were local! Speaking of locals, there are beautiful chickens roaming freely around the island, unexpected in this lush oasis but endearing all the same! Much nicer than seeing them caged like you come across in other beautiful holiday destinations 🙁 They are pretty much part of the furniture, and are not shy!

Below I have listed the incredible farmers markets, cafes, juice bars, fruit stands, activities, yoga studios and health shops we visited during our stay. I only recommend what I thoroughly enjoyed. It is definitely an active escape, but please, you can make it as energetic or relaxing as you choose. I think Kauai is the perfect place for adventure as well as for pure restoration. Nature’s beauty surrounds you and the tropical, easy-going vibe is contagious!

Travel tip: hire a car. Kauai is a large island with each area offering a lot so make sure you can access it all!

It's my favourite place on earth!!! Beach walks at dusk along Hanalei Bay ✨❤️ #weddingdestination #bestholidayever

Farmers Markets

Vidinha Stadium – 3pm Fridays (East)Farmers markets just around the corner from yoga Hanalei... What a view to drink in post practice! Everywhere we look is postcard picture worthy. And these local #markets were #beautiful! Fresh fruit & veg, soaps, jewellery etc & lots of drinking coconuts which you could take back to get chopped & have the meat scooped! My kinda coconut situation #healthytravel

Hanalei Markets – 9:30am – 12pm Saturdays (North)

Waipa Ahupuaa Field – 2pm Tuesdays (North)

Another day in #paradise, another farmers market, another coconut From tree to me! #local #fresh One of the best ways to replenish the body of water & electrolytes lost on a hot summers day is hydrating with coconut water ☀️ It's no wonder coconuts are prevalent in so many hot climates... Nature has our back! #hydrate #refreshing #summer

 

Fruit Stands

Aloha Juice Bar – Hanalei (North) – for the very best acai! We went here every morning. My toppings were to add blueberries, macadamia nuts and bee pollen 🙂

The last Acai bowl of the trip Best #acai in Hanalei! Delicious crunchy granola, crushed macadamias, bee pollen, sliced banana & blueberries to top What a way to start every day here!!! Mahalo @alohajuicebar

 

Moloaa Sunrise Fruit Stand – (North-east) Gotta get the “date with fate” smoothie!!

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Kalalea Juice Hale – (North-east) … King Kong acai bowl is a must! Chocolate Peanut Butter lovers dream!

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Akamai Juice Company (North) – I adored! Found on the last day and wish I found it sooner. The Magic Dragon juice is a must. Try a hot shot if you are feeling a bit sniffly.

Banana Joes (North) – small juice bar, lots of yummy, organic produce and snacks. They stock some Rainbow Foods dishes!

Kombucha

Potions Kombucha Bar (East) – a must for kombucha lovers! The friendly owner, Gadhai, is a monk with extensive knowledge on kombucha and herbs and has created some carefully and cleverly constructed masterpieces to create tasty brews that deliver all the goodness of kombucha plus more to your bodies.

Kauai Juice Co (North-East & East locations) – juices, health shots, kombucha, kim chi plus more! You can find their kombucha at most supermarkets on the island, some delicious flavour combos!

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Cafes & Restaurants

Rainbow Living Foods (East) – Raw Vegan… a must! Smoothies, wraps, pizza, burgers, tacos, sushi, salads, chia caviar, falafels and desserts…. A health foodie lovers dream!

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Postcards (North) – best dinner spot in the North that offers vegan/vegetarian/healthy options. Mostly we cooked but if we went out for dinner North, it was here.IMG_7732

JO2 Natural Cuisine (East) – A great dining experience with friends. There are a lot of vegan options on the menu – I recommend the papaya tacos, cauliflower bisque and mushroom risotto 🙂

Café Coco – A Jamaican vibe with gorgeous, fresh, colourful creations!

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Sushi Girl – perfect little stop over when coming back from Key beach or the Hanakapi’ai hike. A sushi burrito is a must! We got ours “just veggies”, and it was delicious.

A SUSHI BURRITO??!! 2017 already shaping up We got the "just veggies" version- do add seaweed salad, ponzu & chilli sauce, don't wait to too long to eat it @sushigirlkauai

Health Food Stores/Supermarkets

Papayas Natural Food Market (East) – THE BEST! It has all your needs, beautiful fresh produce, endless aisles of packaged goods, health food products, extensive range of teas, pick-n-mix nuts, seeds, grains, pastas, legumes… It also stocks some of Rainbow Living Foods dishes in the fridge! Plus beautiful oils, soaps and toiletries…. Could spend hours in here.

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Hanalei Organic Market (North) – a pretty good range of products, supplements and snacks. Didn’t have the best Acai bowl here (go across the rd to Aloha instead) but definitely a great stock up spot for the area

Banana Joes (North) – a cross between a juice stand and a small grocery store, it stocks some items from Rainbow Living Foods, fresh produce, dips, kombucha, soaps etc. and has a small smoothie selection.

The Healthy Hut Market & Cafe – a great selection of health food products and fresh produce! Try the spirulina popcorn!

 

Yoga

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Yoga Hanalei (North)

Metamorphose Yoga (North) – we had the best class with Tulasi!

 

Activities

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Na Pali Coast hikes:

  • Hanakapi’ai Trail (North-west) to a beautiful, breathtaking 300ft waterfall… Just gorgeous!
    • You can also do the Kalalau Trail which is 35km so an overnighter, but you can camp! We didn’t do this but I am sure it is definitely worth it… it is rated top 10 adventure hikes in the USA.

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Kayak to “Secret Waterfalls” (East) – a 2 mile kayak to a spot where you can leave your kayak, jump out and hike 1 mile to the falls. 6 miles round trip! A nice activity to incorporate into your stay, not many places I have come across where you can leave your kayak on the side of a river without worrying it will get taken away. However, when we were there the waterfall was a little sad! Not much water flowing, not in comparison to the Hanakapi’ai Fall we saw the day before. I still recommend it for the exercise and experience.

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Paddle Board around Hanalei Bay (North) – you can paddle into town down or up Hanalei river which feeds out into the ocean. Some of the best scenery around. The silence is so calming and the greenery is unparalleled. We saw a big turtle here! I recommend Kayak Hanalei.

Queens bath – a couple of watering holes that are beautiful to swim in, in summer. In winter they can get very rough, wavy and dangerous, however you might find yourself there on a calm day during low swell.

Bathing like royalty in Queens Bath The Bondi Icebergs of Kauai

Helicopter ride around Kauai (East) – we went with a company called Island Tours, which I would recommend. There are plenty of options though, even open door helicopters. They take you to the Jurassic park waterfall, over the canyon and around the coast. Choose the one that suits your budget and definitely prioritise it in your trip. The best way to see the island!

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Snorkel – unfortunately, on our first trip, our snorkel tour was cancelled due to the wind. We hired snorkels for $5 and took them to different beaches around the island. Do the same! Or buy your own from the ABC stores. On the second trip we went on a small boat to view the Napali coast by boat and it was absolutely stunning! You get to see parts of the island inaccessable by land, dozens of waterfalls, secluded beaches, sea caves, and even dolphins and whales!! Afterward we jumped off the boat for a bit of a snorkel. Such a beautiful part of the world.

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Wailua falls – stunning lookout to the falls

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Anini Beach – the most beautiful beach!

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Jet lag, Sleep & Weight loss

Having just come back from a month overseas in various time zones, I am reminded of the much-dreaded symptoms of jet lag. You likely know the irritated, anxious and exhaustive effects of a lack of sleep! Concentration wavers, energy levels plummet, appetite is haywire, digestion is compromised and your mood is less than pleasant. So, why does this happen?

The body’s sleep cycle plays a crucial role in many important bodily processes including hormonal regulation, brain function and mood, temperature, energy levels, heart rate, appetite, digestion and detoxification. These functions are specifically timed on our body’s 24-hour internal clock; they kick in or switch off according to night and day. Abrupt changes in time zones due to travel can upset our natural circadian rhythm, therefore disrupting this carefully timed schedule. Welcome jet lag!

The importance of sleep cannot be underestimated. When considering weight loss or maintenance, people tend to focus on good quality food and regular exercise. Sleep is often overlooked. However, a look at the above listed bodily processes it regulates shows just how important sleep is to our health and the factors that influence our weight. In fact, a lack of sleep actually leads to heightened appetite and less feelings of satisfaction after a meal due to its relationship with the hormones Ghrelin and Leptin.

Ghrelin and Leptin both act on the brain to regulate appetite and produce either feelings of hunger or satiety. Leptin is made by the fat cells and is also produced when we consume fat such as avocadoes, healthy oils and nuts. It switches off appetite, creating feelings of satisfaction (this is why consumption of healthy fats are known to suppress appetite). Ghrelin on the other hand, is a gut hormone made in the stomach, which enhances hunger by turning on appetite when the stomach is empty. A lack of sleep confuses this process and actually decreases levels of Leptin while increasing the “hunger hormone” Ghrelin. This is one of the main reasons why sleep is so important for weight loss/maintenance.

Ghrelin stimulates appetite, causing you to feel hungry even when you don’t necessarily need food! I felt this whilst I was overseas adjusting from one time zone to the next… in the middle of the night I woke up to abrupt hunger pangs for no particular reason – I had had a good dinner, it was dark and quiet, it was not time for breakfast – I simply was having a restless sleep and my rhythm was out of whack!

A holiday should be about rest and recuperation from daily life at home. This however is not always the case! Vacations often involve late nights, exhausting days, increased alcohol consumption and indulgence aplenty! This is also part of life and the travel experience. However, where possible, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to try your best to maintain a healthy sleep regiment before, during and after travel…

Tips to minimise the effects of jet lag

It is what you do prior to and on the flight that can be the most effective to ensuring it isn’t your worst sleepless nightmare! To minimise the negative effects of travel…

  • Ensure adequate sleep in the lead-up to travel, an existing sleep deficit will only worsen the situation
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol just before and during the flight
  • Keep well hydrated on board with water. Bring your own empty stainless steel water bottle and fill it up once past security from a water fountain to consume on flight when the cabin crew aren’t around
  • During flight eat and sleep according to your destinations time zones – setting your watch once you board the plane is a great way to sync up
  • Prepare your own healthy meals/snacks to avoid processed, sugar-laden, excessively salty airline food, which can interfere with sleep, digestion and mood. Take healthy fats like raw unsalted nuts to increase Leptin production
  • Eyeshades and earplugs (or relaxing music) may help you sleep during the flight
  • When you arrive get fresh air and sunshine as soon as you land to optimise melatonin production. This is also a great way to wake up in general – 15 minutes of morning sunlight will send a strong message to your internal clock that it is daytime!

Tips for restful sleep

Regular sleep patterns have such a powerful effect on appetite control and weight. To ensure a good night sleep during and post travel try these tips…

  • Do not use computers or phones 1 hour prior to sleep
  • Avoid liquids 1-2 hours before bed. Sip chamomile tea 2 hours prior to induce calm
  • Take a hot bath/shower 1-2 hours before bed – the temperature drop signals to your body its time for sleep
  • Sniff lavender in bed to bring on sleepiness
  • Take large diaphragmatic breaths to unwind, either in bed or just prior
  • Keep the alarm clock out of sight so you aren’t constantly checking it
  • Keep a pen and paper next to your bed in case you remember something you MUST jot down. This saves you getting up or using your brightly lit phone! And saves you the worry of remembering whatever it is in your sleepy state
  • Stick to a consistent bed time and waking up schedule to form solid sleep patterns
  • Sleep in total darkness
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