The Healthy Maven is about eating real and unprocessed food, getting creative in the kitchen and leading an active and balanced lifestyle. Many of the recipes you find on here gluten-free and dairy-free with some vegetarian, vegan and paleo recipes in there too.
C and I are often asked why we moved to San Francisco. Besides C’s extended family living out here, it was the lifestyle that spoke to us. We both deeply value being outdoors and living in a place that offered this year round was a true luxury for us. While it did mean walking away from a really great life in Toronto (in addition to our family and friends!), we knew we had to live by our values and take the leap. Though the transition was hard (you can read more about it here), moving to San Francisco is easily one of the best decisions we have ever made.
Besides being outside 365 days a year, I love that this city offers so many different experiences. All in one day, you can brunch at the best restaurants, put your toes in the sand and go for a strenuous hike. Better yet, you can access each one within the 7 x 7 mile radius that makes up the city of San Francisco. And we haven’t even left city limits! The greater Bay Area offers pretty much every activity under the sun, but for today’s post I wanted to focus on the best hiking trails IN San Francisco. And not so secretly, I’m also writing this post because our wedding is coming up and I want our guests to have the inside scoop on where to hike as well
Of course, you can’t go hiking without the appropriate provisions. I never skimp on quality or flavor in my snacks even when I’m on the trail. By now I doubt any of you are surprised by the fact that I always have a bag (or 3) of Lorissa’s Kitchen protein snacks with me at all times. I also love their 100% grass fed beef sticks for hiking days because they’re super portable. They are made with responsibly sourced meat that is free of artificial preservatives, added growth hormones, MSG, added nitrites and gluten. Also they taste AMAZING. My recommendations will forever be the Korean Barbeque Steak Strips and the Original Beef Sticks. You definitely won’t find me hiking without them. P.S. You can order them on Amazon!
Okay so let’s jump into the best hiking trails in San Francisco…
THE BEST HIKING TRAILS IN SAN FRANCISCO
1. Land’s End – You cannot visit San Francisco without a trip to Land’s End. I truly believe this is the most beautiful hike in the city. It’s about 3-4 miles long and features some steep inclines (with the stairs from hell) but it’s soooo worth it. The view of the Golden Gate Bridge is unparalleled.
2. Bernal Heights – My absolute favorite view of the city and Bay Area. On a clear day you can basically get a 360 degree view of the city. Plus it’s atop one of my favorite neighbors in San Francisco.
3. The Presidio – You could easily spend the day getting lost in the trails of this former army barracks park. Make sure you stop by Lover’s Lane for some beautiful pictures with the eucalyptus trees.
4. Corona Heights – This is a steep but relatively quick urban hike. It’s a nice activity to do if you only have an hour or so. Of course, you could always drive to the top but I think the hike is worth the reward.
5. Stern Grove – We love this park on the southwest side of the city. It’s like descending into a fairy forest of redwoods and eucalyptus trees. A nice, less trafficked park with LOTS OF DOGS (this always a plus in my book!).
6. Glen Canyon – Did you know there’s a massive canyon in the middle of San Francisco? Yeah…neither did I! Glen Canyon is precisely this. The path is steep but well-maintained.
7. Sutro Forest – Like Stern Grove, Sutro Forest is less trafficked than some of the more popular spots like Land’s End and Golden Gate Park but it feels like a true escape from city life.
8. Mount Davidson – The highest peak in the city so prepare for a climb, but some epic views of San Francisco.
9. Twin Peaks – Similar to Corona Heights, Twin Peaks is an urban hike that you can access by car but if you want to earn the views, put on those runners and climb away! Truthfully, I’m a little salty because we had our car broken into at Twin Peaks but all the more reason to walk rather than drive.
10. Golden Gate Park – Saved the best for last! I love getting lost in Golden Gate Park, which is actually 20% bigger than Central Park (and designed by the same guy!) so there’s plenty to explore. If you’re up for it, start at the museums and meander your way all the way to Ocean Beach.
A BIG note – these are not all the trails WITHIN the city of San Francisco and certainly not in the Bay Area in general. There are legitimately thousands of trails around the Bay Area (one of the many reasons I love living here!) and I chose to specifically focus on the ones within city limits that you can get to without having to rent a car. I also only included the ones I’ve either done or think are worth doing.
For anyone visiting San Francisco without access to a car or with limited time, this list is for you. There’s so much to explore within these 10 hikes but as always, I’m here to answer any questions if you have them.
I think there will be no surprises here that we have a second episode dedicated to my absolute favorite company, Saje Wellness! Last year, we featured the co-founder of Saje, John-Pierre LeBlanc (episode #29) and on today’s episode we have his daughter, Kiara LeBlanc. Kiara is the Creative Director of Saje Wellness and the mastermind behind their gorgeous branding. If you’ve ever been into a Saje store you know what I’m talking about…
On today’s episode I wanted to get deep with Kiara about what it was like to grow up within Saje Wellness (she was 2 when they started the company) and how essential oils have impacted her life. I also wanted to learn more about the vision behind Saje Wellness and why they chose to take such a unique approach toward essential oil sales.
Here are a few other things we covered in today’s episode:
Kiara’s journey and how she ended up working as creative director of Saje Wellness
What it was like growing up with Saje and how she felt different from other kids
Her career transition and moving from her acting career to working for Saje
Their vision behind Saje and how they took Saje more mainstream
What it’s like working with her parents and how her role has evolved
What makes Saje different from other essential oil companies out there
What makes an essential oil “quality”
Why essential oils are so individualized and how to maximize their adaptogenic properties
I’ll be honest, I’ve been putting this post off for months now. I think because it forces me to dig down deep and release all the feels. Something that we all know we need to do, but don’t necessarily make the time for.
In yoga teacher training we’ve been chatting in length about the Yamas and Niyamas, the ethical code or principles to follow as part of the yogic lifestyle. One of the Yamas is “Aparigraha” or non-coveting. I interpret it as not grasping or holding onto things that do not serve you. In a literal sense, it means cleaning out your closet or home frequently to get rid of possessions that are cluttering your life. But from an emotional perspective, it means letting go of ideas or stories you tell yourself that don’t have a basis in truth or don’t serve your greater purpose.
This yama really resonated with me because for the last several months I’ve had to let go of a story I’ve been telling myself for years: that I’m “more beautiful” with straight hair.
Up until a few months ago I would have thought you were crazy if you told me I’d be caught dead sharing those words on the internet. I’ve obviously dealt with my fair share of insecurities (many of which have been documented here) but I really didn’t think my curly hair was one of them. In hindsight, my behavior indicated quite the opposite but I truly believe this insecurity was so deeply ingrained in me that I stopped noticing it. I just embedded this idea in my brain that beautiful = straight hair and ugly/lazy = curly hair.
It actually makes me cringe when I say this out loud because this statement could not be less true, I just simply was so unaware of this toxic thought pattern that I just kept on believing it.
That is until a few months ago when I was doing a self-love exercise that asked me to journal on the question “what do you hate about yourself?”. I know…deep. I really didn’t think much would come up for this one other than some obsessive thinking habits I have and how quickly I snap when I’m hangry. It’s not that I don’t have flaws, I’ve just learned to embrace them as being part of a larger fabric of who I am. But as I put pen to paper, the words, and subsequently the tears started pouring out.
For context, I has just gotten out of the shower and was waiting for my hair to airdry slightly before doing my weekly hair straighten. This was a habit I had gotten into: Once a week I would wash and straighten my hair with a blowdryer and straightening iron. Judge as you will but over the course of 3 years I was able to train my hair to last a week before it got greasy enough that it needed to be washed. And despite the fact that I absolutely dreaded the process, I consistently have been doing it for 10 years.
Every time I’d go to the hairdressers they would comment on how dead the ends of my hair felt. I was perplexed because in my mind I was *only* using hot tools once a week, but in reality I’ve been forcing my hair into a shape it shouldn’t be in for years. Truthfully, I think my hair was just so over it and no amount of trims or hair masks was going to change that. The change needed to come from much deeper within.
The curly hair storm had been brewing for a few months leading up to that journaling breakthrough. I had reached out to curly haired girls I knew whose straightened hair looked silky and healthy and asked them for advice. Almost every single one literally shouted at me to get a Keratin treatment. This was not a new idea to me and truthfully, I’d gone back and forth on getting it done for years but something kept stopping me. Mainly the idea that it would no longer give me the option to wear my hair curly if I wanted to (which was rare) but also the fact that I was soaking my head in chemicals to achieve my silky straight locks. My issue is not with Keratin itself, since it’s naturally produced by our bodies but from the formaldehyde that is often mixed with or methylene glycol in the formaldehyde-free versions…not to mention the other mix-ins.
The idea that I’d have to keep this up every couple of months and not know any of the long-term effects of these treatments totally freaked me out. But all my friends urged me to try it so I booked myself an appointment at what seemed like a legit and relatively safe hair studio. I booked off the 3 hours required for the appointment and sat down in the chair with a book and magazines in tow. I was ready. Within a few minutes my plans changed. The very sweet and kind hair stylist informed me that the ends of my hair were so dead from the hot tools that the treatment would kill it even more and likely mean me cutting off a lot of hair. Naturally, this idea didn’t thrill me. She sent me home with a hair mask recommendation and told me to try to lay off the hot tools for the next couple of months.
I’ll be honest, I left the studio feeling pretty let down. I had mentally prepared myself for this change and was so at my wits end with straightening my hair that I would have done ANYTHING to get rid of this weekly activity. But like I said, it did start a storm within that ended up being one of the most enlightening and thought-provoking experiences of late.
Fast forward a few months and I’m sitting there crying over my journal as my wet hair drips onto my robe. I finally finally came to terms with the fact that I was harboring negative thoughts about my own curly hair and that it called for a drastic change.
I walked out of our bedroom and announced to C that I was done straightening my hair and was taking a break from my hot tools for a little while. That was 6 months ago.
The last 6 months have been a journey of self-love and compassion. I’ve had to rewrite my own story of what makes me beautiful and dig deep to figure out where things got off track.
Truth-be-told I’m not sure when I learned to hate my curls. I remember twirling them when I was really young and loving how fun they were to play with. In elementary school I would ask my Mom to blow dry it but it wasn’t everyday and by high school I was straightening my hair for any dance or special occasion. I simply didn’t have the time to do it everyday so my curly hair was reserved for when I had to “impress”. By college it was an almost everyday occasion and when I met C in my early 20s he didn’t even know I had curly hair cause it was always straight!
Even now people are surprised to learn I have curly hair because I so consistently straightened it that they’d never seen my ringlets. It was like walking around with this deep secret that I didn’t want anyone to figure out.
What I realize now is that in many ways I let the media influence my views on my hair. It’s similar to how I fell into the trap of disordered eating. I believed that if I was skinny I would be more loved, or more accurately, once I was skinny I could finally love myself. Eventually I learned that loving myself has nothing to do with the weight on the scale or the size of my jeans but the same couldn’t be said for my hair.
What I lacked in my life was hair diversity, and I promise if you look around at the people you follow on social media or the shows you watch on TV you won’t see much hair diversity either. Women are expected to have sleek, shiny hair without a single strand out of place. Frizz is unacceptable and embracing your natural texture is lazy. Having straight hair is like being born into thin-privilege. You’re accepted by society without even trying. And anything outside that norm is not acceptable.
I realized that I unknowingly was being influenced by the problem and simultaneously contributing to the problem by forcing my hair into that same narrow box. Though I certainly know I’m not alone in perpetuating this issue, I never want my actions to influence another generation of girls to feel anything less than whole-heartedly beautiful.
My curly hair has taught me that self-love encompasses so many aspects of our being. Our bodies, our values, or religious beliefs, or sexuality and yes, even our hair. Sometimes we’ve spent so long telling ourselves the same story that we don’t even realize we’re actually reinforcing self-hatred. It’s made me think a lot about Aparigraha and how I’ve spent most of my life coveting and idealizing a certain hair type while rejecting my own.
What’s funny is that as soon as I decided to embrace my curls, my own fears (not being beautiful, not being loveable, not being respected) pretty much vanished. At first I had to fake it. On an everyday basis I felt fine about my curls, but it took a lot more courage for those “big events”. And I’m not gonna lie, I deeply internalized the compliments I was getting, because I wasn’t yet in a place to accept my own. Slowly but surely I have built up confidence.
I haven’t touched a hot tool in 6 months and I really do feel beautiful wearing them loud and proud. I also have been embraced by a curly girl community I never knew existed. The number of women who have reached out to say thank you for not conforming to societal pressure or the deeply personal messages I received when I told you I was writing this post have made this journey infinitely worth it.
I’ve also learned HOW to style my curly hair, which truthfully isn’t always the easiest but I feel so much less resistance to it than I did with straightening it. Playing around with new products and techniques has actually been kind of fun! Does this mean I’ll never straighten it again? My answer: never say never. I probably will because variety is also fun but what I’ve learned is that I’m no less beautiful if my hair is curly than when it is straight.
Self-acceptance had to come before self-love could ever exist.
We all have those demons hidden in our emotional junk drawer. I get that having curly hair certainly isn’t the worst of them, but it’s important to know we all have them. Likewise, we have the capacity to work through these insecurities and in many ways discover that it’s the exact things that make us question our self-worth that make us beautifully unique.
It’s funny how quickly my curly hair has become a part of my personal tapestry. Having it makes me different and also imparts on me the ability to use my voice to praise that which is different…something I would have rolled my eyes at a year ago.
My request from you is to dig through your own emotional junk drawer and bring those same stories you’ve been unconsciously telling yourself to the surface. Maybe you hate your ears, or your voice or your belief that dogs are infinitely wiser than humans (if so…talk to me! I’m with you). Whatever it is, know that just because it’s different doesn’t make it bad, or ugly, or stupid. It makes you, YOU.
In the great words of Oscar Wilde “Be Yourself. Everyone else is already taken”.
Tell me one of your insecurities…sometimes the first step is just admitting it. Curly girls, where you at?!
Swap out the flour in these ultimate grain-free brownies! Made with almond flour and ghee, these paleo brownies are a delicious dessert that are both nutritious and good for your soul!
I’m a firm believer in the nourishing power of foods: both for your gut and for your soul. After the last few weeks recovering from shingles I know this statement to be true. The real challenge is knowing which situation calls for what.
After I got diagnosed, I made it my mission to really tune into my body and give it exactly what it was craving. Funny enough, it was craving a ton of bok choy. No but actually, I had insane cravings for bok choy and lots of broth. I was basically guzzling Kettle & Fire Bone Broth and sauteeing multiple heads of bok choy. It didn’t occur to me to reach for a cookie or a brownie or really anything sweet at all. This is strange coming from someone who preaches dessert every.single.day.
But I listened and 3 weeks out I’m feeling much much better. And then suddenly, as I began feeling better I felt myself craving some good soul food. I was desperately craving some sourdough from The Mill, which my bestie graciously hand-delivered to my house (!!!) and had an intense desire to bake brownies.
My body was like, “homegirl, get yourself a brownie ASAP!” Cool, let’s do this.
The main difference between current Davida and Davida 5 years ago is that this brownie or that bread or whatever it may be does not come with a side order of guilt. I don’t “deserve” a brownie, nor do I require punishment for eating it. I’m not a better human because I ate bok choy and bone broth when I was sick and then got bumped down a few notches because I ate a brownie when I was feeling better. What makes me a better human now vs. 5 years ago is that I actually know how to listen to my body.
When I wasn’t feeling well my body was telling me what it wanted to feel better and once I started to feel better it let me know how I could expand that list. Same goes for exercise. When I wasn’t feeling well I did not have the energy or the strength to workout or even move but as soon as I started recovering I felt a deep craving to hit the yoga mat or go on a walk.
…our bodies. They’re way smarter than we give them credit for!
That being said, when my body was like “homegirl, get yourself a brownie ASAP!” I wasn’t exactly prepared for a brownie baking escapade. I simply had to work with what I had, which apparently was a TON of almond flour. I was also out of butter so I used ghee (which was awesome) and while I normally reach for some rich dark chocolate for my brownies, Trader Joe’s chocolate chunks would have to do.
It rarely happens with baking but round one was perfection. C even told me they were his favorite brownies I’ve ever made! So I tested and wham bam here they are on the blog. These grain-free brownies are not only the ultimate, but also a celebration of being in a place where I truly know how to listen to my body, and that my friends is worth celebrating!
In case you haven’t heard, I had shingles. Yeah, super fun. Shingles is brought on by stress, a topic which I am deeply passionate about. Yes, even the girl who wrote a whole ebook about stress still struggles with keeping her stress levels down. None of us are perfect!
Getting shingles was actually a really enlightening time and felt good to truly rest. I was approximately day 2 into shingleland when Tanya, my amazing operations manager reminded me that I should maybe take my own advice when it came to shingles recovery. Boy was she right. I knew I needed to spend the next couple of weeks recovering but that it was time to really take my stress reduction seriously and instill new habits so it never gets this bad again. That’s when Tanya and I had the idea of running a stress relief challenge with you, the THM tribe. Which I’m not so secretly also taking as an opportunity to reset old habits and create new ones.
I’m challenging each of YOU to take 10 days to develop some stress relief rituals in your life. Stress is unfortunately a part of everyday life. You can probably name three stressors that are prevalent in your life right now. I wish I could gift you all 90 minute massages but for now, I’ve got a 10 day, stress bustin’ challenge!
So what’s the deal?
You’ll get daily emails from me to inspire you and keep you on track, as well as a workbook with journaling and reflecting exercises for the duration of the challenge. The best news? It’s 100% free! Zero dollars. The challenge kicks off this coming Monday, March 12! Each daily challenge requires 5-10 minutes of your time and while I’d love for you to participate each day, I’m cool with you treating this as a “choose your own adventure” experience. If something does work for you, skip it. Just try to go into it with an open mind.
If you’re joining in on the challenge, don’t forget to use the hashtag #THMStressRelief so I can follow along and support you. Feel free to join the THM Tribe as I’ll be over there providing support and encouragement as well. Can’t wait to kick things off on Monday!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had an infatuation with the moon. When full moons appear in the sky I have a deep pull to gaze at them and have always had so many questions about how the moon cycle impacts our human experience. Cue to discovering Ezzie Spencer and her incredible work with Lunar Abundance. It was like finding the holy grail of all things moon knowledge. Suddenly I could have all my questions answered!
What I’ve also discovered is that I’m not alone in this curiosity around the moon. So many of you have reached out that you feel intense sensations around different times of the moon cycle. And I’m not just talking lady cycles – Did you know there are more visits to the ER during full moons than any other time of the month?! That is precisely why I wanted to bring Ezzie onto the show to share some of her lunar knowledge with all of you and hopefully answer some of your burning questions.
Here are a few other things we covered in today’s episode:
Ezzie’s journey and how she discovered moon cycles and launched Lunar Abundance
The moon in history and how its been used in different ways
The difference between the yin and the yang phases of the moon
Each of the 8 phases of the moon and how to use them to manifest different intentions
What is an intention setting practice and how to sync it to the moon
Why Ezzie recommends setting only one intention per moon cycle
Using the moon as a guide for your menstrual cycle
Planning a new moon or full moon ceremony
Using the elements like water and fire during your ceremonies
Remember that time I got the shingles? I know I won’t be forgetting that experience anytime soon…For anyone who has had or currently has shingles, you know this is a pain you won’t soon forget. They call it adult chicken pox, but I can assure you it’s far worse than chicken pox ever was. That or my memory is playing tricks on me!
But it’s not all bad around here. My Dad always jokes that whenever shit hits the fan around here, it makes for a great blog post and well, he’s definitely right about that. THM is my personal version of making lemonade! Or in this case, make shingles recovery out of shingles!
I’m going to skip over the whole medical diagnosis part since your doctor should probably be the one doing that but instead describe my personal experience with the shingles and what I did to nip it in the bud. The first thing I did when I got diagnosed, was immediately take to the internet to see if anyone had helpful tips for healing shingles. I read a lot of horror stories, some not-so-horror stories but also some really productive tips. I’m hoping this post can be that for some of you. Or if you have a friend or family member suffering, feel free to pass onto them. We got this!
So, first things first…
I actually told the full story in this Instagram post so I won’t go into too much detail. Basically, a couple days before the infamous shingles rash appeared, my lymph nodes on the left side of my neck and ear blew up. I then developed a lot of pain in my ear the next day so I went to the doctor to see if I had an ear infection. That morning I noticed two huge zits on my forehead which I thought was strange (because I never breakout on my forehead) but they didn’t occur to me as anything but zits. You know those huge underground zits you get? They looked and felt like those.
My doctor looked in my ear, felt my lymph nodes and informed me I did not have an ear infection but likely some kind of virus that my body was trying to fight. Neither of us thought anything of the zits and I went home feeling pretty crappy but relieved it wasn’t an ear infection.
Over the next few hours is when the rash really started to develop. A few more bumps on my forehead, one on my eyebrow and those big “zits” started to become really painful. The pain I felt in my ear started moving into my head and my swollen lymph nodes made it difficult to turn my neck. I later found out that the pain in my ear was likely caused by the fact that my shingles developed in my trigeminal nerve which is right next to your middle ear.
I knew pretty much as soon as the pain migrated to my forehead that I had the shingles. People have been shocked to discover that you can a) get shingles under the age of 60 and b) get shingles on your face. I knew both were possible because my Mom had them on her face when I was really young. Thankfully that situation clued me into what was happening with my own body but for any of you out there who don’t know this, you can get shingles at any age and they can happen at any nerve root in your body, including your face!
Because I pretty quickly tuned into what was happening, I was able to get started with my shingles recovery fairly quickly. If you manage to catch it within 72 hours of the rash appearing, the antivirals are most effective. I’m lucky I caught it within that window and am certain the quick duration of my symptoms was because of this. Of course, not everyone will know right away, but if you have a gut feeling or any of the symptoms I described above, go to your doctor!
Besides my antiviral 3x a day I was also prescribed pain meds, which I honestly didn’t end up taking. Heavy pain meds make me feel sick and groggy so except for the first two days when the pain was pretty excruciating, I used advil and tylenol to help manage the pain. For as hippie dippie as I may be, when stuff like this happens I think the path of least resistance is often the best. I wasn’t doing myself any favors by trying to overcomplicate.
Of course, I also turned to diet and lifestyle choices to also help manage the symptoms. I’m fairly confident that in addition to the antivirals, these choices helped to decrease the span of my shingles experience. So let’s get into that…
HOW TO SURVIVE SHINGLES (and not go totally crazy!)
I think the most important piece of this post is this section. Of course, catching it early and taking the antivirals help a ton but shingles is so much more than just popping some pills and hoping for the best. I’m not here to throw conventional medicine under the rug. I don’t think I’d have had such a quick turnaround if it hadn’t been for the full course of antivirals I took, but there are a lot of natural treatments you can incorporate to also help speed up the process and the pain and itchiness that typically ensues.
In addition to OTC pain meds, I used CBD and THC to help manage the pain. I’ve been playing around with different types of CBD and found the Calm pen from Dosist to be most effective. For THC I used topical salve on the rash itself and it was literally a godsend to help manage the pain.
There’s a reason your body craves broth when you’re sick. Bone broth is super anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting. It contains vitamins and minerals that help support gut health and reduce pain and inflammation.
When they say “it all starts in your gut”, they’re not kidding! After my bout with SIBO I had to eliminate and then slowly add in fermented foods and probiotics. I can’t even tell you how much I missed kombucha…It’s been almost 6 months since then and I am now happily back to taking my daily probiotic and guzzling my Healthade kombucha. 5:00 PM because my “kombucha happy hour” and I think that’s going to stick around for a while!
Pretty much everyone under the sun will recommend a different supplement to you when they hear you have shingles. Truthfully, there are many MANY out there that could benefit you, shingles or not. I decided to stick with what I had from my Care/of packs and add in one that was consensus amongst everyone, L-Lysine.
Zinc – supports immune function and has an antiviral effect
L-lysine – an amino acid that helps reduce the spread of the shingles virus
Rhodiola – an adaptogenic herb that’s shown stress relieving properties
Astragalus – another herb that helps support immune function and has an antiviral effect
I wasn’t sure which category to put this under, so instead it gets a category of it’s own. Lemon Balm is an herb that is known to help reduce pain from shingles, both internally and topically. I pretty much got all my hydration from drinking 6-8 cups of Lemon Balm Tea a day and once the initial couple of days of pain went down, I used a topical lemon balm to help reduce inflammation, reduce pain and help promote healing. Someone on Instagram told me to order this Lemon Balm Salve from Amazon and it was literally the best advice I got from everyone.
I am a true believer in the healing power of food. Now I don’t think eating perfectly “clean” replaces other lifestyle habits or conventional medicine, but it is a great tertiary care to support your body. And truthfully, when you’re sick (at least when I’m sick), I’m not craving the same foods I normally do. I think when you really tap in and listen you’ll realize that the foods you crave like bone broth and vegetables are actually your body’s way of supporting you.
In my case I literally wanted all the warm, green veggies in broth. Particularly kale and bok choy. Interestingly my acupuncturist told me that bok choy is a common healing and cooling food in Traditional Chinese Medicine and that because shingles is excessive heat in your body, bok choy was a great cooling choice. Our bodies are crazy!
In addition to plenty of veggies, I also found myself gravitating towards antioxidant fruits like berries and lots of bananas. I didn’t intionally do it, but pretty much ate zero refined sugar for a week. As I started to feel better I was like “give me the brownies!!!” but while I was still heavy in the pain-zone I didn’t want any of it.
I also consumed more turmeric that I ever thought I could and especially loved it in my morning Matcha and Turmeric Latte. My body was NOT craving coffee so my morning matcha really did the trick.
I’ll be honest, when I’m sick I often turn to essential oils for primary support, but for shingles they definitely played second fiddle. I rubbed fortify on my chest and neck lymph nodes to support my immune system and diffused grounding and soothing blends like unwind, spa spirit and tranquility to help stay calm and promote self-care.
THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP FOR SHINGLES
I know that this is a lot of information so give yourself time to take it all in. Perhaps, more importantly take this one piece of advice: RELAX. Shingles is usually brought on by stress in your life. While I didn’t think I had a lot of stress (I’ve become a lot better at managing it!), when I listed everything on my plate it’s easy to see how my body was overburdened.
The biggest lesson learned through this process is how important it is to really, truly support your body. People often mentioned how lucky I was to be able to have a job that works from home, but when you’re sick it’s easy to just reach for your phone in bed or work on a project while recovering on the couch. The boundaries are less clear. Though I did the bare minimum I needed to do, I mostly took a lot of time to rest, nap, journal, watch TV and essentially do nothing.
I would have loved to have gone on walks or been outside but the pain of the wind on my face made it impossible. I was upset over this but C reminded me that compassion is a big part of the recovery process. So even though I felt stir crazy, I also knew that going outside actually created more stress in my life. Acknowledging those stressors and putting in plans of action to eliminate or diffuse them is the key to getting over shingles.
* * * * *
I’m still not 100% pain-free but that’s to be expected after 2.5 weeks out. I’m continuing most of what I listed above and easing myself back into work. I’m also doing acupuncture to help manage the pain and have also found it super helpful in reducing my stress levels.
Overall I can tell I’m drastically improved from where I was and also have learned one of life’s most important lessons: STRESS IS REAL and it can manifest physically, so don’t ignore it!
Have you ever had or currently have shingles? Any tips to add? Drop them below!
Looking for a healthy hot chocolate recipe? Look no further than these 5 healthy versions including banana hot chocolate, peppermint hot chocolate, chai hot chocolate and more! All made with healthy, nutritious ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry!
Do you think about living like a child? That’s a weird way of phrasing it but do you think about seeing life through the eyes of a child or think about how amazing life would be if we lived like we did when we were kids? Carefree, adventurous, brave, independent, wild, goofy, secure in our selves?
Making these healthy hot chocolate recipes got me thinking about my childhood. Life goes by so fast so I’m making it a goal to embrace that child in me. No I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do that but I have a little list of ways I want to try…
Continue to explore with C! Yes, we’re real people and it’s easy to hibernate at home, curl-up and binge some Netflix. There is nothing wrong with that but I want to remember that child in me that loved (and still loves!) to get outside and explore.
Play with Bodhi! It’s easy for me to be working with one hand and throwing a toy to Bodhi with the other. I want to be more intentional with my time with him where my focus is completely on him! It’s 100% more fun for him and honestly therapy for me. Playtime is the best time.
I don’t know about you but I didn’t have a cell phone until I was in middle school and it was solely used to call Mama Maven at that point… So to bring back that piece of childhood I’m going to try to disconnect more! This is going to involve sticking to my boundaries around work time and social media time. So hard but I’m trying! P.S. Who kind of wishes that still had their RAZR flip phone?
Eating (and drinking) what I want! I had two friends text me separately in the past week telling me they ate PB&J for dinner. Does it get more childlike than that?! Over my adult years, I created so many rules around food and I want to continue breaking those down and if that means sitting down and eating a PB&J or a bowl of mac n’ cheese then I’m so in.
That brings me to these healthy hot chocolate recipes. I vividly remember coming in from playing outside in the snow to begging for a mug of hot chocolate. Those packets of powdered who-knows-what + extra marshmallows anyone?! That was living! I thought it would be a fun little tribute to my childhood to create five versions of healthy hot chocolate (I won’t be buying packets of swiss miss anytime soon!) to share with you. Have no fear, these will not skimp on flavor or sweetness and take you back to those rosy cheek, runny nose days of your childhood!
It’s always fun to welcome friends to the show! This week that friend is Marc Champagne, the co-found of Kyo, an online journaling and daily gratitude app. I’ve discovered Kyo (and Marc!) through a friend of a friend and immediately upon meeting – digitally first and then in person – I knew he would be a source of inspiration for me now and into the future.
Besides the hard work and commitment he’s put into getting Kyo off the ground, he’s an advocate for journaling and the short and long-term benefits it has on your health. He’s hoping to make journaling mainstream and not the daunting task we make it out to be. This isn’t your average “Dear Diary” situation…
I am obviously a huge fan of journaling, both on paper and digitally. In many ways I consider THM to be a journal. Of course it’s a journal that’s read by hundreds of thousands of you, but I do put my thoughts to keyboard and oftentimes feel the same sense of catharsis that I do when I’m writing privately.
But sometimes I don’t want to or it doesn’t feel appropriate to pull out my journal. Though I do travel with it to most places, I love that Kyo allows me to write down thoughts or do more targeted daily affirmations and intentions when I’m on the run. On the bus, in an uber, on a plane. Places where many of us find ourselves. He’s making journaling accessible and that’s one of the many reasons I’m excited to welcome him to the show.
Here are a few other things we covered in today’s episode:
Marc’s journey and how he found the courage to quit his corporate job and take on Kyo full-time
When is it the right time to quit your job?
Marc’s morning routine and how he’s found it beneficial
The different types of journaling and how to find one that sticks
The benefits of gratitude journaling
Why an app and what was their vision with it?
How they chose the design of Kyo and why they went “design-forward”
Why they chose to release design packs for mental fitness
How’s that for a dramatic title? Enough years in the blogging space and you’ll learn the very definition of “click-bait” but truthfully, I do want to answer the question “Is Blogging Dead?” since I’ve been hearing it so often lately.
5 years ago today (well actually 2 days ago but I don’t post on Saturdays, so close enough!) I started a little blog called The Healthy Maven. I sat down at the desk in my bedroom in my parents basement and after months of trying to get the perfect name, perfect theme, perfect logo I hit “publish” on my first post. From there I’d begin a love affair with this space that would grow from a deep passion project to my career.
So when I get asked the question “is blogging dead?”, you better bet I’m giving it a lot of thought! To be fair, this is usually coming from my non-blogger friends though I have heard it happen in blogger groups too. There are certainly a lot of takes on the argument, but today I’ll be giving you mine.
IS BLOGGING DEAD?
Yes and no. Blogging what it was 5 years ago is dead. It’s no longer about just posting your weekend recap and daily escapades. Those things are fun and still valuable but it’s increasingly hard to sustain your passion AND business with this model. Not because people aren’t interested (trust me- our creepy need to stalk other people’s lives isn’t going anywhere!) but because there are other platforms to do that. If you still love doing that, do it – but it will be challenging if you decide to turn this passion into a business. But from a personal standpoint, if you just want to share your creative passion with the world, please please do it!
Now let’s discuss it from a business perspective. If you want to turn your passion into a career, it can’t just be about what makes you happy (though that matters a fair deal!), it also matters what makes other people happy and brings value to their lives. When it comes to creating valuable long-form content: things like recipes, nutrition information, DIYs, self-care tips and well beyond the scope of the wellness space, this stuff is becoming increasingly important. The barrier to entry these days is that there’s a baseline level of quality that needs to be met before you can gain any kind of community. This is a good thing. This weeds out people who are simply producing content for views but don’t do their research or have poorly tested recipes. Bad blogging is dead…hopefully!
From my personal perspective, I haven’t seen huge number drops or anything like that. I’ve seen my audience diversify in how they take in their media. Some prefer video, others prefer podcasts and some people, like you, read the blog. Does this mean blogging is dead? Definitely not. It just means you need to be aware that people use different platforms to take in their information…because there are so many different platforms out there! Blogging isn’t going anywhere – people are just picking and choosing their preferred mediums to take in media and I think this is a good thing!
SHOULD I STILL START A BLOG?
Oh my god yes. YES YES YES. I can’t even tell you how many people have asked me if it’s still worth starting a blog. When I started THM I didn’t in a million years think it would ever make money, let alone become my career. In many ways I think that’s why it was successful. I had zero expectations of it having any success. I truly believe that because I wasn’t grasping for something and instead found joy in each moment of the process it manifested into a career. This is what is so hard for new bloggers now – there’s just so much comparison of where you are to where you want to be. Blogging has taught me so many life skills, professional skills and become my creative outlet. It’s also connected me to the most incredible people around the world. If your sole goal is to make money or gain ‘followers’, I’m sure you could do it, but truthfully you need a level of passion and commitment to blogging even when you feel like no one is reading and you definitely aren’t making any money…because you won’t….for a long time.
So should you still start a blog? Yes! But do it for you. Allow yourself to explore and learn the ropes. Don’t expect you can do everything off the bat or that you need a perfectly designed website before you can share. It took me 4 years to get the web design of my dreams! Be patient, work hard and love what you do.
CAN’T I JUST USE SOCIAL MEDIA?
Sure, why not! I’m not here to tell you what you can and cannot do. But if I had to be honest with you, I would say that social media should be second in command to your blog. One of the benefits of being a blogger before social media got as big as it is (Instagram especially) is that I learned how to build long-form content that is valuable to my readers (all of you). I learned not only how to use this place as my own personal form of therapy, but also how to provide useful tips, tricks, recipes and DIYs that could help you guys lead a healthier lifestyle. Social media was simply a marketing tool to get the word out.
As more and more people start Instagram accounts, I sadly watch as they complain about the algorithm and beg people to turn on notifications. Sure, I’d love for the stupid algorithms to be gone, but my business and my passion doesn’t live in those places. I need marketing to promote my content, but I’ve spent years building up valuable posts that can be found without social media at all. SEO, email lists, those things are SO important and have a shelf-life that lasts longer than a single Instagram image. Any blogger will say the same. So does that mean you should ignore social media? No way. But really figure out what your priorities are. Do you want to share random snippets of your life to inspire people? Instagram might be your jam. Do you want to give long-form nutrition tips or recipes? Blog your heart out. Different goals require different means. Figure out what yours are and then determine how you should be spending your time.
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED:
I asked you guys on Instagram (a great use of social media!) to share some questions you have about blogging. I thought I’d tackle them here today.
How do you set yourself apart in an increasingly saturated market?
BE YOURSELF. I know it’s so cliche, but trust me you will attract the tribe you’re meant to attract if you present yourself exactly as you are. Don’t second guess everything or constantly be trying to emulate someone else. Don’t compare. The world is big enough for all of its abundance and that includes your blog and the blogger behind it. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that people just want to connect with people. So be that person to someone. And eventually that someone will be a lot of people.
Do you need a niche?
Yes and no. For your first year of blogging, I’d be open to exploring a lot of different topics. You don’t want to corner yourself into an idea where 6 months later you hate it and give up blogging entirely. Sometimes it’s the topic that’s challenging and not blogging itself. Give yourself permission to explore and find what you’re passionate about. That being said, from a business perspective it’s helpful to be known for something. I became known as a food blogger, which helped get my business off the ground but didn’t necessarily attract the audience I really wanted – i.e. the people who care about healthy food and all other aspects of health as well! What I didn’t realize was that health and wellness is a niche in and of itself. Don’t feel like your niche has to be super narrow. I just wouldn’t necessarily start a blog that is about cat bonnet knitting and dehydrated foods. It’s a little too all over the place!
Where do you find new inspiration?
GO OUT AND LIVE! I always tell people “I blog about my life but I don’t live for the blog”. THM is a big piece of my life, but it isn’t everything. It took me a while to get there but I now see so much value in not working. It gives me space to breathe, allows for fresh ideas to flow and brings inspiration to my blog simply from living in the world around me. Also, go with the flow. If you’re working on something that isn’t inspiring you, switch to something else. I used to do a ton of seasonal/holiday recipes but I realized that what inspires me most is the everyday, easy-to-make recipes that don’t require strange ingredients. It’s fun to get creative but sometimes simple is best.
How do I transition from a hobby to a business?
This is a loaded question but my first piece of advice is that “no one will tell you that you’ve officially become a business”. If you want to run a business, run a business. It’s as simple as flipping that switch in your mind. You’re as legitimate as you believe you are so don’t seek others permission for your success. Beyond this, make sure you understand your value. Even if you don’t have huge numbers, perhaps your strong suit is photography or you’re an expert in a certain area and you consult. Think outside the box when it comes to your business.
How do you gain readership, followers and viewers?
If I had a dollar for every skype chat/consulting sessions/DM I received about this topic I would be rich. Truthfully, I don’t think there’s a secret sauce. The blogging industry and everything that goes with it is changing constantly and with that you need to have a deep understanding of the needs of your audience, no matter what size it is. My main message to you is to focus less on how many but who they are. How can you best serve them? What kind of community are you building? More numbers doesn’t mean more business. Most of my brand work comes in before they’ve even seen my numbers. What is visible to them is how much I care about my audience and ensuring they receive valuable and helpful information. Focus less on the pretty picture and more on what your message is. Be honest with that message and let people connect with you.
Do I need to do video? What about podcasting?
I think this is up to you! When I first started out you were a blogger or a youtuber or maybe a podcaster. You weren’t all three! These days, the game is different and there’s obvious advantages to tapping into each. That being said, what resonates most with you? If you’re not comfortable in front of the camera, try “tasty-style” videos. If you don’t have the time to produce video, focus on blogging. If photography is not your thing, try podcasting! I don’t think you need to do everything and especially if it means sacrificing quality. Focus on what you love and what you WANT to learn more about. Not what you feel you HAVE to learn more about.
Lastly, thank you to EVERY.SINGLE.ONE.OF.YOU who has come along for this journey this past 5 years. I’m eternally grateful for your support and I hope I’ve done you proud in the privilege you’ve given me to have this platform. Whether my business disappeared tomorrow, I know I’d still keep doing it because I absolutely love it. The past 5 years have blown by because of this passion and my only wish is that all of you have found or will find something that you care this much about. So much love to you all!
Did I miss any of your questions? Do you think blogging is dead?