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The Latest by Chinae Alexander - Wellness Issue 08

I used to think being “well” meant being thin.

I used to think being “well” meant a life chained to all things green.

I used to think being “well” meant some combination of screaming from my third eye and breathing through my pelvic floor in a class of white women.

I was scared of wellness because I feared I would never fit in. I’m not sure if I can even point to my pelvic floor on a diagram TBH. When I began, I was fat, out of shape, a lover of all brown/tan colored foods, and only half white. I thought I was totally fucked. 

Wellness for me was two journeys: first came finding a new definition for myself, and second was finding out how the hell to do it realistically. For me, wellness isn’t about the content of what you eat, or the movements that you do; it’s not the ingredients on the label of the mask that I slather onto my tired face after a long day. Wellness for me, became just taking care. Taking care of my body in a way that felt authentic to me. Taking charge of my nutrition in a way that didn’t make me want to cry into a grain bowl. Taking ownership of my mental health without shame, and learning empathy for my own mind. And most of all, taking time for myself to figure out what the hell I actually needed to get well.

To be honest, I still feel like a little bit of an outlier in the wellness world. I make green juice and postmates McDonalds to my house in the same week. I often arrive to SoulCycle a little hungover on a Saturday morning. I still like non-non-toxic beauty products if they make me glow like J.Lo. But by changing my own definition of wellness, I made it work for me. I hope this issue inspires you to find whatever you need to feel like the best version of yourself, and if that’s different than what it looks like for everyone else, know that you have a friend on the sidelines cheering you on with a cheeseburger and a matcha in hand.

XO CHINAE
Must Haves
Kiehl’s Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Mask
Esarora Ice Roller
Mowellens CBD Inner Peace
Dirty Lemon +charcoal
Ritual Vitamins
Hyperice Hypervolt
Culture - Wellness's Diversity and Accessibility Problem is Finally Being Upended - Fashionista

It’s clear to all of us that the wellness world isn’t perfect. It can be exclusionary to anyone who isn’t white, thin, wealthy, able-bodied, cisgender and straight. But change is coming, thanks to groundbreaking folks who are actively working to welcome all people into wellness. Check out this hope-inspiring Fashionista piece on some of the industry’s disruptors who are changing the game.

Read More
Hot List
Recipe resource - Minimalist Baker
Workout from Anywhere - Yoga with Adriene
Instagram must-follow- @mynameisjessamyn
NYC Relaxation - Great Jones Spa
Q&A - Chinae Alexander with Sophia Roe
@sophia_roe
www.iamsophiaroe.com

Sophia can surely be described as a veritable ball of energy, a characteristic further emphasized by her buoyant cloud of inky curls; the more excited she becomes about a topic, the more they bounce! She calls everyone “angel”, and will leave anybody who crosses her path feeling like a million bucks.  

She is a sparkling, wildly talented yet relatable chef, wellness expert, empowerment architect, and beauty bandit whose candid videos and posts on health and mindfulness light up social media. She has a uniquely tolerant and holistic approach to the journey to wellness. Her methods incorporate healthy lump sums of great nutrition and culinary information, beauty tips, and words of personal growth; but also more comprehensive than that, she’s constantly encouraging her audience to be aware of and kind to themselves, and the world around them.

You can see her work featured in Vogue, Elle Magazine, MyDomaine, Milk Makeup, Nike, Well + Good, DKNY, etc.

IF YOU COULD SNAP YOUR FINGERS AND CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT THE WELLNESS WORLD, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE AND WHY?

WAY MORE REPRESENTATION, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSIVITY! On each and every front! Way more black, brown, and yellow beauties! Way more gay, lesbian, and trans angels. Loads more age diversity, PLUS-SIZE, and SPECIAL NEEDS angels need to be seen in the wellness space. This shift is happening, but at a glacial pace. 99% of my mission is to make the idea, and concept of wellness accessible to humans in general.

99% of my mission is to make the idea, and concept of wellness accessible to humans in general.

YOU'VE BEEN IN THE FOOD/WELLNESS INDUSTRY FOR OVER 10 YEARS. WHAT'S YOUR MAIN TAKEAWAY FROM YOUR DECADE OF EXPERIENCE?

People/consumers care about food more than ever, and in every single capacity. People don’t want to just have a yummy meal anymore. They want a story, an experience and not just in flavor profiles or combinations. Consumers love feeling connected to where their food comes from, who is making their food, where those people are from, how restaurants treat their staff (with the rising of #metoo this has been an especially poignant revelation), and how restaurants are changing their model to support more sustainable business practices.

YOU'RE INCREDIBLY OPEN ABOUT THE DIFFICULT PARTS OF YOUR PAST. DOES WELLNESS (IN WHATEVER FORMS THAT TAKES FOR YOU) HELP YOU HEAL FROM PAST TRAUMA? IF SO, HOW?

ABSOLUTELY! What has helped me most is simply talking about my traumas. I think the act of breathing through moments where perhaps you’ve been triggered, or moments where a negative or painful moment bares its head is 1000% healing. I spent so long with such shallow breath. I had no idea that I basically walked around every day completely balled up inside. It also became so much easier to accept once I realized that I wasn’t the only person dealing with my traumas either. That’s what’s so great about speaking openly about my life. It’s such a beautiful way for me, and so many others to not feel alone in our pain. I think once you really make the decision to love yourself the way that you are, accepting the “real you” is actually pretty easy.

WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL YOUR BEST - PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY, MENTALLY?

Any and all music, smiling faces, discovering a new restaurant gem, giving to those in need, learning new things, a good sweat session, and traveling solo.

WHAT CAN PEOPLE DO TO PRIORITIZE WELLNESS AS A NECESSITY, RATHER THAN A LUXURY?

I think the whole idea of wellness needs to be simplified. Wellness has become increasingly luxury, and unnecessarily complicated. Being conscious about your breathe, and drinking more water is an excellent place to start, and stay when it comes to wellness. We all need water to live, and breathing is an everyday and NOSTOP part of our day. So being more thoughtful about those things can immediately turn wellness into a necessity based ritual, instead of luxury.

WELLNESS OFTEN LOOKS FRUSTRATINGLY HOMOGENOUS - USUALLY WHITE, WEALTHY, THIN. HOW CAN WE DIVERSIFY THE WELLNESS WORLD AND MAKE IT MORE ACCESSIBLE AND WELCOMING TO ALL PEOPLE?

I think so much of this issue it simply marketing! Brands NEED to be showcasing people of all shapes, sizes, and colors in the wellness arena. I have spoken to so many beautiful plus-size/black or brown/trans or gay etc people who just simply don’t feel welcome in the wellness space. I mean even I feel imposter syndrome at 80% of the panel events I participate in, as so often I am one of the very few women of color in the room. I would love to see more events, panels, and workshops happening in lower income areas or areas where access to education in wellness is low. I also think we need to start talking about wellness in much simpler language. I AM SICK AND TIRED of wellness being this thing that means you need to purchase expensive ass supplements, get infrared sauna appts twice a week, and only drink green juice during the day. That’s all fine, and well…but simply starting with eating more vegetables every week, and upping your water intake is WELLNESS! Hell, taking deeper breaths and taking the stairs instead of the elevator is wellness! I think the elite language, privileged marketing, and confusion between what is self-optimization and self-care desperately needs to be corrected to make wellness feel more accessible and diverse.

RAPID FIRE ROUND...

#1 wellness tip: Skip doing your skincare routine in front of the mirror. I love turning my evening, and morning skincare routine into a full blown 5-10 minute facial massage. Sometimes we get so wrapped up into staring at our imperfections in the mirror, and slapping on more and more products to “fix” those imperfections. I find that doing my normal routine SANS mirror, makes it more about how my skincare routine “feels”, and less about “omg look at this pimple” or “omg I look so tired, I need MORE eye cream, etc.”


Go-to recipe: The best “Taste good on any salad green, grain, or vegetable vinaigrette!” You can store this in a glass mason jar, pretty glass container, or any of the vegenaise, almond butter, or kombucha bottles you’re holding on to

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup high quality olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot

Process
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, pepper and shallots until the vinaigrette is emulsified.
 

Instagram must-follow:  It is so hard to come up with just one!!! @matthewmillerskin@alex_elle@elainewelteroth


Guilty pleasure or weird obsession: Vintage jumpsuits, clip on earrings, and popcorn (seriously I am obsessed with the stuff. I have it every day!).


Best advice you ever got: Find ways to work smarter, not harder! It’s very important to not confuse work with productivity. Finding ways to ensure your routine and work ensure actionable results is key! Whether it’s finding a routine, ritual, or personalized organizational techniques, it’s super important to define what being productive is for yourself. Learning these things for myself helped me work through so much insecurity, imposter syndrome, and writer’s block when it comes to working for yourself, or turning your creative idea into a brand or business.


Project or product you want to plug: I am writing a book! It’s been an incredibly healing, and sometimes pretty intense journey, and I am only half way done! My past has been a hard one, and it’s been pretty intense having to unpack and dust off some memories that for a long time I spent so long trying to hide from, or forget all together. Writing this book has been as much therapy to me, as I hope it can be for anyone who chooses to take their time to read it. It will be out next year, so just shoot some love my way as I continue steadfastly down this book writing road.

CHINAE ALEXANDER
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Editorial Director: Liz Deadrick
Copyright © 2019 Chinae Alexander, All rights reserved.

27 W 24th St #10B, New York, NY 10010

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