Here we are in the final week of January’s 31 Days of Wellness! Our monthlong journey through the wellness landscape continues with more of the most buzzed about trends, classes, and nutrition. As you can see from above I’ve been busy with cryotherapy, hip hop yoga, thermal baths, Bulletproof coffee, infrared saunas, Spiderbands, mediation, and lots more! We kick it off this week with…
January 22: INVERSION THERAPY. Gravity boots, inversion tables and chairs… the practice and benefits of hanging upside down has been around for decades. I stumbled upon it today at a friends house who has a wall yoga set up I couldn’t resist giving a try.
For spinal decompression and traction, inversion therapy is often used to treat lower back pain. Overall, the benefits of relieving gravitational pressure on the spine and stretching the surrounding musculature are increased flexibility, better circulation, and improved posture. When standing upright, gravity pulls everything in our body downwards, most notably is blood. When you are inverted you reverse that blood flow in your body which turns on the lymphatic system to flush out toxins and boost the immune system.
Probably one of the nicest effects of inversion therapy is it changes your perspective. Things look different when you’re upside down. It’s fun and just makes you feel good!
January 23: HEALTHY RESTAURANT CHAINS. Beyond the salad bar chains like Just Salad and Chop’t, super-healthy restaurant chains like Protein Bar, Sweetgreen, Dig Inn, Lyfe Kitchen, and Le Pain Quotidean now populate the casual eat-in/take-out landscape with locations in major cities across the country. Offering and highlighting in-season vegetables, from local farms when possible; organic, non-gmo, and gluten-free ingredients; grass-fed beef, sustainable seafood, or antibiotic-free chicken, it’s gotten really easy to eat well deliciously, and super popular too. Walk into any of these restaurants at lunchtime and you’ll see.
I had lunch at Hu Kitchen today. With multiple locations in the city, Hu features a juice and smoothie bar, oatmeal and parfait station, and a full selection of all natural, hearty and wholesome entrees and sides with no added anything. They’ve even got chocolate too! Check out this Eat This Not That list of the 35 best healthy restaurant chains.
January 24: THERAGUN. You know how much I love this thing, because we keep featuring it on STYLE of SPORT! From professional athletes to celebrities to everyday fitness enthusiasts like you and I, the secret weapon in everyone’s training arsenal these days is the TheraGun. Utilizing high frequency percussive massage, the TheraGun is a handheld, battery operated, professional grade, vibration therapy tool designed to reduce muscle and joint pain, improve mobility, and enhance performance.
Vibration therapy is one of the most natural therapeutic techniques. In fact, like so many of the wellness practices we’ve featured, it dates back to the ancient Greeks. Practitioners created vibration by placing a long piece of wood over the affected area. Using the patients body as a stabilizer, they would saw the extended portion of wood and the vibration of this motion would be transferred to the affected area. Vibration therapy works on the nervous system as well by resetting the body’s response to pain and immobility from overuse or an injury. It literally shakes it all back into place.
LOOK… IT’S JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE!
For us at SOS, so much of wellness is related to sports performance and recovery. My Theragun has become my go-to tool for all my muscle aches and pains. Though it might seem pricey at $599, I feel like it has saved me much more than that in acupuncture, PT, and chiropractor bills since I got mine last fall. Even Justin Timberlake agrees… he’s on tour with his Theragun! Click to Shop Theragun.
January 25: TAI CHI. Tai chi is a form of martial arts which has existed has a wellness practice for centuries. Defined by a series of slow flowing poses, it evolved from a method of self-defense into a graceful form of exercise. Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi is used for stress reduction, designed to enhance relaxation, inner calm and peace. Because it is low impact, tai chi puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it generally safe for all ages and fitness levels.
One often sees those practicing Tai Chi peacefully flowing through the poses outdoors in some bucolic setting. That’s what I was expecting to do today, granted indoors, but flowing wasn’t quite the experience I had. Class began with belly button massage, self-administered with a tool designed specifically for this (Belly Button Healing Kit). This could have been a featured day of wellness in itself. As the remains of our umbilical cords, it turns out our belly buttons are portals to our insides, possessing nerve endings related to our vital organs. Belly button massage acts as a mood lifter stimulating serotonin and dopamine release. If you’re not used to repeatedly jabbing a plastic stick into your belly button for 10 minutes (or so it seemed), accompanied by a continuous loop of canned Chinese music, despite the benefits, it didn’t feel that great and had the opposite effect on my mood.
What followed next was running in place to stimulate our feet – seemingly for another 10 minutes, same soundtrack – and then a series of long stretches. Finally there was about a half hour of the tai chi poses and flow I had been looking forward to trying. Perhaps it was the setting, a third floor walk up in Koreatown, but I couldn’t get into it. Had it been a beautiful bluff overlooking the sea, I might have had the transcendent experience I expected… or the boutique fitness approach in decor that so many of these ancient wellness practices are adopting!
January 26: DAILY HARVEST. I have been getting these sponsored posts from Daily Harvest in my Instagram feed — tantalizing before and after images of a layered cup overflowing with fruits and vegetables, whipped into a delicious smoothie. Though curious and tempted, I make my own protein shakes every morning. Home delivered smoothies are not a necessity for me, but I thought why not check it out for the 31 Days of Wellness!
Daily Harvest is a home delivery smoothie subscription service, that also offers soups, breakfast bowls, and sundaes (!) all made only with organic, nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Cacao + Avocado, Blueberry + Hemp, Cold Brew + Almond… make your selection and your ready-to-blend assortment of individual frozen cups arrives packed in dry ice. Simply fill those cups with the liquid base of your choice, pour it all in the blender, and you’ve got a frosty smoothie ready to drink. I just whipped up my Acai + Cherry Beautifier Smoothie!
Workout Recovery, Immunity Boosting, Digestive Support and more, each blend is designed support a different wellness goal. All fruits and vegetables in the Daily Harvest offerings are sourced from carefully chosen farms, and frozen on site to ensure optimum freshness and maximum nutrient retention.
I remember when Blueprint Cleanse started and launched the whole boutique 6 juice cleanse, home delivery concept. The customer experience — from the website design, to the product descriptions, to the packaging — was so inviting and enjoyable it made fasting fun. The Daily Harvest takes that same approach with a much wider selection of delicious offerings, and you don’t have to starve either! My only criticism is the nutritional information which lists a serving as half the cup. C’mon… who’s having half a smoothie? Though most were in the 100 calorie range, it freaked me out when the first one I checked was 300 calories per serving! I don’t care how healthy it is, that totaled 600 calories… way more than I want to drop on a smoothie.
BEACHBODY ON DEMAND
January 27: AT HOME WORKOUTS. I’m traveling this weekend for work, attending the newly combined Outdoor Retailer and SIA trade show. Though I dutifully logged in 30 minutes on the elliptical this morning at the hotel fitness center, working out can be a challenge when on the road. Luckily one of the biggest wellness/fitness trends is the boom in the at-home fitness category. With streaming classes you can do anyplace and anytime, your travel workout options are now as vast and varied.
We reported last year on Beachbody On Demand, the company behind such wildly popular workouts as Insanity and P90X. The entire massive Beachbody library of workouts is now available online for a monthly subscription fee. Classpass, the service that lets you choose and book many the most popular boutique fitness classes with one membership, will soon be introducing ClassPass Live, with at home streaming of many of those same workouts. Popular gyms and fitness studios like Crunch, Pure Barre, and Aaptiv, just to name a few, already offer streaming services and apps that feature trainer guided workouts.
Feeling super tight after a day spent walking the trade show floor I found a 10 minute yoga stretch this evening online at Gaia.com. I would probably never dedicate 10 minutes to stretch on my own on a hotel room floor, but with the guided instruction that’s exactly what I did.
LORD JONES PURE CBD PAIN & WELLNESS FORMULA
January 28: CANNABIS LOTION. No I don’t smoke, but yes I’ll slather it on in the name of “wellness”. With the legalization of marijuana, not just for medicinal but recreational use in multiple states across the country, cannabis can now be consumed in other ways besides smoking a joint, and for other purposes than getting high. It has, in fact, entered the wellness category.
Well known as a pain relief remedy, marijuana infused lotions and topicals can be used for sore muscles, inflammation and joint pain — and no, you won’t get high. Our skin doesn’t have the receptor for THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient. In fact, the lotion I happened to order doesn’t even contain THC, but CBD, which is entirely non-psychoactive. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.
So after a long flight home and a weekend spent walking a trade show floor, what should be waiting for me but the Lord Jones Pure CBD Pain & Wellness Formula Body Lotion I ordered before I left. Lord Jones manufactures and distributes both edible and topical products made with pure California-grown cannabis extract. They offer a range of lotions that contain different ratios of CBD and THC. Formulated with Frescolat, a natural agent that creates a cooling sensation upon contact, the lotions are designed to be penetrating and quickly absorbed.
After rubbing the prescribed dosage of two pumps into my post-flight aching back and glutes — each pump dispenses 1ml of lotion containing 2mg of CBD — I did feel pretty good. My muscles felt… relaxed. Though there is no pot smell, I noticed a slight hemp aroma, quite pleasant actually mixed in with the Lord Jones signature sage, mint, and green citrus scent. Hard to judge its full effectiveness after just one usage, but definitely worth further investigation. To be continued after my morning run…
MATCHA LATTE AT CHALAIT
January 29: MATCHA. Matcha smoothies, matcha brownies, matcha popsicles… matcha, matcha, matcha! This nutritional powerhouse has become the new favorite mix-in, adding loads of health benefits and a vibrant green color to recipes everywhere.
Matcha literally means powdered tea. It’s made from ground green tea leaves and has the nutritional equivalent of 10 cups of regularly brewed green tea. Though rich in antioxidants, when you brew a cup of green tea, water only extracts a fraction of the nutrients. When you drink a cup of matcha you ingest the entire leaf and receive 100% of the nutrients – more than 137 times the antioxidants! You also get three times as much caffeine as in a cup of steeped tea — the equivalent to a cup of coffee — although aficionados say that compared to that caffeine buzz, matcha creates an alert calm. It contains l-theanine, which induces relaxation without drowsiness, so no jitters.
Greener than green, matcha is rich in chlorophyll, fiber, vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc, and magnesium. It lowers cholesterol and blood sugar, boosts metabolism and burns calories, detoxifies and rejuvenates naturally. Having my first cup ever for this feature – a matcha latte – I think I’m hooked! How convenient that the office cafe downstairs, Chalait, specializes in matcha brews!
Check out a few of these recipes, like Matchamisu!
January 30: IV THERAPY. If you’re a fan of the Showtime series Billions, you may remember last season’s story line of Wags using IV Therapy as hangover antidote so he could party all night and still crush the competition the following day. IV Therapy is a wellness practice I’ve been aware of for quite some time now as a patient of Dr. Richard Firshein, director and founder of The Firshein Center for Integrative Medicine in New York City. Dr. Firshein is a world-renowned pioneer and leading expert in the fields of Integrative and Preventative Medicine, combining both alternative and traditional medical treatments in his practice. He’s the doctor you go to when no one else can figure out why you feel like crap, and has always been a go-to resource for me.
Dr. Firshein has been using vitamin infusions for over 25 years, long before it was the commonplace therapy it is today. He has found them extremely effective in treating a range of conditions from extreme immune deficiencies to improving overall health. Though feeling pretty good, I went to see him for a vitamin drip today for Day 30 of the 31 Days of Wellness. With one of the worst flu seasons upon us and the overall stress we overachievers face in our daily lives, he hooked me up to an IV bag filled with megadoses of Vitamin C, B-12 and Glutathione – a powerful immune boosting, liver detoxifying, antioxidant blend. He would never, on the other hand, as a medical doctor, use IV Therapy as a hangover treatment. In fact, he takes issue with it being coopted that way. Says Dr. Firshein, “Using Vitamin C for a hangover is like banging your head against the wall so you can use an ice pack. It takes away from the idea there is valuable treatment here.”
IV Therapy has become a popular wellness trend, booming with companies like NutriDrip, which manufactures a designer selection of 14 different IV cocktails that are administered at their boutique Drip Lounges: from NutriCleanse for Detox & Replenishment; to NutriFit for Athletic Performance & Recovery; to NutriYouth for Anti-Aging; to NutriSkinny for weight loss. They have a IV cocktail for everything and will even come to you offering an at home concierge service that includes… Super Recovery for a super hangover!
January 31: CUPPING THERAPY. That’s gonna leave a mark! Not sure why I left cupping to the last day of the 31 Days of Wellness. Maybe it’s the rings I’m going to have all over my back to celebrate of the start of the Winter Olympics next week! We all remember the cupping circles dotting Michael Phelps’ shoulders during the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Surprisingly in all my years of alternative treatments cupping is one I never tried. According to my acupuncturist, who I enlisted to demo the treatment on me this evening, it’s because my problems go much deeper where only his 3″ needles can reach. Cupping is another one of those healing practices that dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures. The therapy works by creating suction on various trigger points, meridians, and sore spots to increase blood flow to affected areas. With the vacuum created by the glass cups, either by heat or a more modern pump, the skin and underlying tissue is dramatically pulled, and the myofascia stretched into the cup (1-2’’ deep I discovered!) providing the benefits of a deep tissue massage. This includes pain and inflammation relief, improved circulation, relaxation and well-being. Another healing aspect of cupping therapy is the release of toxins from the suction which penetrates deep into your muscle tissue and triggers the lymphatic system.
S0 as I leave you on Day 31, I will have lingering memories of my month of wellness. These circles all over my back will be here for about a week I’m told! As for the bigger take away from my 31 Day crash course in wellness, here are a few thoughts….
Most of the treatments and practices I tried this month have been around for a long time, many of them for centuries! Other than Cryotherapy, none of them are new. What’s changed is the facilities in which you find them, often sleek and modern, which enhances the experience in itself. People always ask me after my 31 Day features what I liked best, to which I always say it’s not really about what I liked as that is just a matter of personal preference. All the wellness trends I featured are already very popular, so clearly a lot of people are enjoying the benefits of these experiences, getting healthy, and feeling good. That is what’s most important. As with fitness, there is something for everybody.
STAY TUNED FOR OUR 31 DAYS OF WELLNESS GIVEAWAY…
Breathe Salt Rooms, Laird Superfood Creamers, Higher Dose, Mndfl, Blueprint Organics and more! Details to come!