In Defense of Wellness: An "Old Millennial's" Self Care Manifesto

It's been a rough week for wellness enthusiasts.

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow's $250 million lifestyle-and-wellness business, Goop, has agreed to pay $145,000 in civil penalties for promoting false and unscientific claims regarding— wait for it— jade vagina eggs and depression-curing "flower essence" sprays.

But who's surprised? Wellness scandals feel as ubiquitous as oat milk lattes these days.

Whether it's Activia Yogurt's scientifically unfounded "clinically proven probiotic bacteria", the hasty deletion of Kim Kardashian's weight-loss-lollipop post, or the stepping down of Lululemon's CEO for certain #MeToo shortcomings, the self-care movement is feeling more and more on the verge of collapse, like a house of Intuitive Healing Tarot Cards.

When I tell people I'm a Wellness Coach, I can sometimes sense I'm being perceived as just another entitled millennial snowflake, parading a passion for afternoon naps and aromatherapy salt scrubs as a job worthy of income and respect.

First off, I'd like to shake the hand of anyone that assumes I'm a millennial. (I'm 30. But yoga keeps me young!)

Second of all, before anyone goes throwing avocado toast in my face, I'd like to respectfully state my case in defense of wellness. 

So pour yourself a tall glass of matcha and saddle up my friend, cause I'm about to blow up everything you thought you knew about wellness junkies. (Before I start though, I'd like to invite you to soften your belly and take three deep inhales and three deep exhales. Mmm. You feel better now, right?)

Here goes.

Let me ask you something: what do you want most in life?

Love? Success? Power? Happiness? 

These aren’t destinations, they’re states of being— fleeting ones, no less. And no job title, income bracket, or loved one can give it to you unless you’re willing to give it to yourself. If you've ever had the experience of succeeding at something big but still feeling exactly the same afterwards, you'll know exactly what I mean.

You already have within you everything you want and need, hiding between the hastily pinging synapsis inside your own skull, it’s just a matter of recognizing and feeling it. 

You’re already “whole,” as they say in the wellness community.

“Oh, ok, cool, I guess I’m ‘whole’ then; problem solved, I’ll see you later!”

…Said no one ever.

Listen, deep down we all know this concept of internal plentitude to be one of the Big Capitol T “Truth”s (and money can’t buy you happiness, power won’t give you purpose, yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it), but knowing it and feeling it are two deeply separate things. So the question then becomes: how do we feel happiness, love, success, and all the other things we hustle so hard for in life?

I'd argue that it’s a practice, which, like any other practice, takes time, repetition, and an annoying amount of unwavering persistence. You can't just decide you're "whole," you have to practice feeling it.

So: what if, throughout the course of each day, you embedded within your life little rituals and habits that gently reminded you that everything you want and need can be found within? That you have the extraordinary capacity to gift yourself respect, love, happiness, and success on a daily basis, like a delightful little door prize awarded simply for surviving the day. That you can stop worrying about pleasing and pretending and instead sit back and enjoy this fleeting roller coaster life. To me, that’s what wellness is. It’s not a kale smoothie or an $80 bottle of cucumber lotion or even the Kardashian-status beach body you know deep down is a genetic impossibility for you. It's the daily practice of wholeness and self respect.

With every stair climbed and vegetable chopped you’re sending a signal to your brain— whether conscious or not— that you’re worth the things you do for yourself. Taking care of yourself physically means taking care of yourself physiologically. But it’s tangible, it's achievable, and, in my opinion, it's the world's best catalyst towards self-actualization and self love.

And, with that, I rest my case.

But not before I shamelessly promote an event, because, while I may not be a millennial proper, I still know the power of social influence in getting discounts for my "tribe" (and conveniently, free tickets for myself). So who wants $75 off tickets to the WELL Summit 2018 y'all?! Just apply code "WSCASEY." It's gonna be LIT AF! (Did I use that phrase right?)

Anyway, I'll see you there, my fellow Wellness Defenders.

Namaste.

Burn More Calories in Less Time With This Simple Life Hack

If you know me you'll know I'm not a fan of fitness “shortcuts" (not to be mistaken with "efficiency" of course). These supposed "shortcuts" can often be better translated as "Steaming Piles of B.S. Hidden Behind Genetically Blessed Hot People Who Think Being Hot is Easy."

Ugh. 🙄

🤦‍♀️ Hot people...

However there is one little caveat to the “burn more calories in less time” notion, and that's--

...drumroll...

Fasted Training!

(Which is not as scary as it sounds, I promise).

Every day your body alternates between “fasted” and “fed” states.

Every time you eat a meal, your body enters a “fed” state that lasts about 3-6+ hours as it processes and absorbs the nutrients from the food you just ate, spiking your insulin levels. Once all the nutrients are delivered, insulin levels drop and bring your body into your “fasted” state, which lasts until your next meal.

When you work out after a meal, there’s a surplus of burnable energy from the food you just ate, however, when you work out fasted, it goes straight for the fat cells for it’s fuel (this goes for both dietary fat and bodily fat).

Thus, if you use your fasted downtime effectively by exercising while your stomach is empty, you burn more fat more rapidly, since your body is now able to target its stored fat for fuel (i.e. the stuff clinging to your love handles for dear life), since it's not burning energy from a meal you just ate.

This works for both cardio and strength training. What's more, it even targets your most stubborn, hard-to-get-rid-of fat due to these little chemicals called catecholamines. Yay catecholamines!

And here's the kicker: you can still have your morning cup of coffee or tea before the workout, since anything under 50 calories won't effect your fasted state.

(As a side note, I’m actually a big advocate of moderate caffeine consumption. I’ve done much research on the topic, and I believe the benefits far outweigh any negative effects when consumed in moderation.)

Fasted training obviously works best in the morning (and with "intermittent fasting"), since your stomach's reliably empty, so, whenever possible, I'd suggest this morning routine:

  • Wake up

  • Have your coffee/tea

  • Do your workout

  • Stretch

  • Have a protein shake or protein-rich breakfast (to enhance "protein synthesis")

Perform this routine 2-5 times/week and you're lookin' at the closest thing to any "fitness shortcut" out there. 

Are You Getting Your Protein The Right Way? Complete vs. Incomplete Proteins

Think of protein as an alcoholic beverage. 

You’re standing at a bar, and you’ve got a bottle of gin, some Campari, and and a bottle of vermouth. You can only have one drink, and you’re trying to feel a nice buzz. 

There're a few ways to achieve this. 

One option is to pour out some straight gin and go for it.

Another option is to grab all three bottles and throw them together to make....

A Negroni! 

Either way you’ll get buzzed, it’s just a matter of personal preference.

Got it?

Ok, so think of all these bottles as proteins. This gin is a complete protein. The others are incomplete proteins. 

Now in this scenario we can equate "trying to get a nice buzz on" with "trying to build muscle." In order to build muscle and feel satiated and get our ideal bodies, we gotta consume protein.

But not all proteins are created equal. 

Proteins are basically just chains of amino acids.

There are two types of amino acids:

  • essential

  • nonessential

Nonessential amino acids are created by the body (so you don't have to worry about those), but essential amino acids are not and must be obtained from food.

And in order to really build muscle, we wanna get all of 'em.

So, back to the bottles.

The gin is high proof and will get you drunk quick— this is the "complete protein." 

The others are lower alcohol and could be consumed alone, but they serve their purpose much better when consumed together in a mixed drink. These are the "incomplete proteins."

Complete proteins contain all the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities, while incomplete proteins need to be combined together to create a complete protein. 

Complete proteins are typically animal-based (meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, etc.), however there're a couple other plant-based complete proteins as well, such as quinoa, buckwheat, hemp, and chia. 

Incomplete proteins (the ones that should to be combined) account for pretty much every other protein in the world-- grains, legumes, nuts, vegetables, etc. 

In other words, the less animal-based proteins you consume, the more diverse you want your plant-based diet to be, to make sure you’re getting all your aminos. 

This is particularly important if you’re a vegetarian or vegan.

To take it even one step further, you want to aim to combine what are known as “complementary proteins” to create a complete amino acid profile. 

Good examples of this are:

  • brown rice and beans

  • yogurt and nuts

  • hummus and whole grain pita

  • tofu and tahini

  • peanut butter and whole wheat bread

So when it comes to protein, do as they say and "consume responsibly."

Cheers!

What to Eat Before and After a Workout

Working out without considering your nutrition is sort of like going to a mixology bar and ordering a vodka cranberry. 

Like...why are even you here? 

Just stay home, you just don’t get it... 🤦‍♀️

Today, I’m gonna tell you exactly what and when to eat before and after a workout.

First thing to get out of the way here:

I am one of the few people in the industry who is NOT a fan of supplements. Probably cause I don’t sell any.

(And you should be suspicious of the advice given from anyone who does). 

Unless you have a naturally-occurring or diet-dependent vitamin deficiency, or your prepping for a bodybuilding competition, 90% of the crap out there is must marketing in a tub, so, please, save your money, and get what you need from eating real food.

So let’s start with what to eat BEFORE a workout.

As you may recall, I’m a personal advocate of morning workouts paired with fasted training and intermittent fasting, meaning I’d always prefer you, if possible, to workout in the morning (since willpower fades over the course of the day, and you’re more likely to get it done), and to do so in a fasted state (on an empty stomach). 

This is what I practice personally, as well as a good portion of my coaching clients, and I’ve seen this path to reveal the best results the quickest. 

So if you can do it, all I want you to consume before a workout is: 

  • A lot of water

  • Coffee, tea, or any other morning beverage less than 50 calories (which won’t break your fasted state)

That said, not everyone can handle that routine, either because of their schedule, or maybe they just don’t like it or can’t lift as heavy, and that’s 100% fine.

So what would you eat in that case and when?

In order to max fat loss and prep your muscles for maximum protein synthesis (which we care about cause that’s how we build muscle), you’re gonna want to eat a small meal of protein and carbs about a half hour before your workout.

This could look like:

  • eggs on whole wheat toast

  • some cottage cheese and fruit

  • oatmeal

  • some lightly sweetened granola and yogurt

  • hummus and veggie sticks

  • a sandwich with a protein and mustard (or other non-fatty spread) 

  • protein pancakes

  • smoothies

Now let's talk about what you eat AFTER a workout.

Post-workout nutrition is super important! 

Make sure to consume a meal that includes a decent amount of protein, to maximize protein synthesis rates, as well as some carbs, to raise insulin levels and keep them elevated, further facilitating that muscle growth. 

And you’re gonna want to consume that within a 1-2 hour window after you workout.

So this could be:

  • a sandwich

  • a salad with grains and some protein on top

  • tuna on crackers

  • a turkey/chicken/veggie burger

  • quinoa bowl

  • a protein packed fruit smoothie

  • chicken and brown rice

  • basically anything else with a balanced amount of protein and carbs

Also, for a super easy on-the-go solution, just pack yourself a powdered protein shake in a shaker and simply add water when you’re ready to consume it.

Now I wanna know:

What’re YOUR favorite pre and post workout foods? Comment below!