Share a Feast

PHOTO: Pravassa©

PHOTO: Pravassa©

Healthy habits are easier to uphold at home verses in a restaurant. Why? We control the portions, the ingredients and the formula from start to finish. But beyond calorie counts, studies have linked sharing meals at home to happier moods and strengthened bonds. Dr. Brené Brown agrees. She specializes in social connections and stresses that they are a fundamental human need, which leads to longer lifespans – both for us and for the environment. 

While Thanksgiving is a prime time to have a group meal together, considering adding in a dinner party tradition throughout the year. If the thought of cooking for numbers has you running for cover, there’s nothing more low maintenance than a potluck and a group willing to help you do the dishes. No reservations required.- Lindsey Jarrett

{Well on the Road} Kristin Dahl



Holistic Nutritionist, Chef & Author

Most recently in: Kauai and New York

The one snack you can always find in my carry-on is: Raw, organic almonds + an apple & dark chocolate. If it’s a really long flight, (over 5 hours) I pack a balanced salad with some type of complete protein + nuts & seeds and a homemade granola bar. If I’m not hungry, I’ll fast & drink tons of water and herbal tea. I ALWAYS avoid plane food. 

Tell us your in-flight rituals: The first 20 minutes of the flight is generally spent meditating & doing breath work. I use Tata Harper’s irritability treatment to ground me throughout the flight & to help with motion sickness. The rest of the time is spent reading, catching up on a little work, or resting. I also get up a few times during the flight to stretch. This is especially important during long flights to keep my body open. 

How do you conquer jet lag once you've arrived? Taking a B vitamin complex before flying balances the effects of travel stress and I make sure to double hydrate the whole flight (flying is incredibly dehydrating). I continue to drink extra water the first few days of the trip. Hydration & exercise are definitely the keys to feeling great when I travel. I also pack some type of electrolyte replenisher to add to my water as well, especially for long trips. This helps with jet lag, supports digestion and rehydrates my body after flying. Once I arrive, I like to go for a brisk walk to get my blood flowing and do some stretching and restorative yoga poses that night to rebalance.   

Describe your workout on the road style: I love to hike and explore my surroundings. If I’m with my man, this often means a full day hiking adventure with maps to lead the way and a dip in the ocean or local swimming spot. I also prefer walking and biking vs. constantly taking cars. Researching yoga studios ahead of time is helpful as well.    

How do you keep sickness at bay? I always bring a few lypo-spheric vitamin c packs to take in flight & the first few days of travel for an immune boost. Blue green algae or chlorella are always great to have on hand for cleansing and extra energy. I also pack enzymadica’s digest gold: digestive enzymes to help break down strange foods and heavy meals. For gas and bloating, I drink peppermint tea. A healthy gut is the key to keeping my immune system strong. 

What's your 'go-to' restaurant item? Salad and whatever vegetables/dishes are local, seasonal and fresh. Farm-to-table is always the best bet. If it’s breakfast, I’ll have a smoothie or a bowl of fresh fruit. 

What do you do to stay grounded? Yoga. If I can’t get to a class I run through a few sequences on my own. I make sure to have plenty of downtime to read/relax and take baths with lavender essential oil. Meditation and breath work are easiest for me to stick to when I’m traveling. Finding a local café and relaxing with a warm cup of tea is one of the easiest ways to connect to my surroundings. 

What is your preferred method of staying connected with loved ones? Instagram is so much fun for sharing travel pics and I love WhatsApp for texting while abroad. I’m also old school and always pick up a few post cards to send to my best friends. 

About Kristin: Kristin Dahl is an LA based nutritionist, Chef and Author who offers a fresh take on holistic living in a modern world. Kristin specializes in consulting, plant-based cooking and holistic wellness programs, including her newly released book, The Art of Wellness. She empowers, educates, and motivates individuals to make the transformation to total and complete health. Her commitment to help others manifest change was inspired by her own personal transformation. Stay connected and get nutrition advice via her website, blog and Instagram pages. 

Keep Well During Hectic Holiday Travel



It’s only the second week of November and you may have already noticed the holiday decorations popping up at your nearest department store. I saw a couple carrying a Christmas down the street recently and did a double take – after all it was only October. The holidays seem to arrive earlier and earlier every year, which means we need to find ways to take care of our bodies and minds staying well no matter where and with whom we plan to spend the upcoming holiday season.

Having lived in a different city than my family since college, I always find myself on the road whether by plane, train, or car at one time or another during the holidays. Aside of making sure my daily wellness routine of healthy eating and exercise doesn’t lapse, I’ve found some additional ways to keep my sanity and make the season more enjoyable. Implement these ideas into your holiday planning and feel better about the season this year.

Up and At ‘Em

Let’s face it, there is nothing you can do when Mother Nature rears her ugly side during the hectic holiday season resulting in flight delays, missed connections or road closures. While you cannot prevent or even properly predict the weather patterns, it is best to try and outsmart your chances of never leaving the ground by scheduling direct flights to your destination first thing in the morning. If the morning flights are delayed or canceled, then the afternoon and evening flights suffer the domino effect. Even if it means waking up at an ungodly hour, spending time with your loved ones is beats waiting at the gate any day. Don’t forget to give yourself a buffer and show up to the airport early as security lines stretch the length of the terminal this time of year.

Spread Cheer

You already know that laughter is contagious, but so is contempt. Holiday travel time seems to bring out anxiety and egos, often at the same time. Take a moment to consider that travel agents, flight attendants, toll booth workers, and train conductors who have family too and are serving you instead of spending time with them. Author Roger Dooley says, “Pasting a smile on your face even if you’re faking it, can improve your mood and reduce stress.” If you find holiday travel is getting to you, turn that frown upside down and help affect someone else’s mood by letting them see you smile.

Pack Snacks

For the past year I’ve stopped eating airplane food even on long-haul 16+ hour flights. Cabin dehydration affects your sense of smell and at 35,000 feet your taste buds go numb. To counteract the bland taste of food in the air, catering companies have chosen to add more salt, more sugar, and more MSG to make the food more appealing. Since I care about the food I put in my body on the ground, it makes even more sense for me to control what I eat when I travel. Packing an apple, a whole-wheat almond butter sandwich, or even an avocado has come in handy during delays or when I feel my blood sugar dropping.

Wipe It Down

Ebola has made people think twice about spending hours cramped in an airplane cabin or train car with sick passengers. This concern is not unfounded as when it comes to the cleanliness of our transportation, there are no regulatory standards for cleaning on airlines or trains. When you think of the quick turn around many airlines make, it is no wonder people easily contract colds, flus, and battle germs while traveling. Increase your chances of staying healthy this holiday season and pack some disinfectant wipes. Cleaning your arm rests, tray tables, and window seat side of the plane or train as well as forgoing the free pillows and blankets will help keep the spread of germs to a minimum.

Get Active Rest

Between wrapping up work commitments to feeling anxious about traveling, your brain is working overtime and your body is feeling the stress. If getting to a good night’s sleep isn’t happening during holiday time, then turning to active rest may be a way to restore your body and mind. Sleep specialist Dr. Matthew Edlund has written a book documenting how controlling the process of restoring your physical and mental bodies – active rest – keeps your blood pressure, muscular tension, and nervous system in check. Similar to meditation, active rest allows you to turn off your brain and your body and just be. Instead of lying awake at the end of a long day wishing for sleep to come, pop in you headphones and listen to a soothing voice guide you into an active rest. You maybe be surprised to find this is more restorative then a few hours of shut eye. - Linden Schaffer

This article was written for and originally published on wellness website SpaFinder.

Wellness Travel Awards 2015



Our friends at Spafinder Wellness 365 announced this year's Wellness Travel Award Winners in London at the World Travel Market. The judges choose the winners from 504 hotel and resort nominees located across 53 countries. Congratulations to all the winners and thank you for establishing wonderful places around the world to get well.

See a full list of winners here:

{WE'RE OBSESSED} Activated Charcoal



Where you find this wellness ritual: Argentina, Europe & The United States 
Prescribed for: Diarrhea, food poisoning, gas, indigestion

Activated charcoal is included in WHO's list of essential medicines; a list of medicines for basic health care. This power has been used as an antidote to poising for centuries. If you've ever been rushed to the emergency room after consuming a poisonous liquid, you may have been given an activated charcoal drink instead of having your stomach pumped.

We were first introduced to this home remedy in a chewable tablet form in Argentina after contracting food poising. It worked so well that it is now a staple in our suitcase and medicine cabinet. If we ever feel an upset stomach or indigestion come on due to something we've consumed, take a few charcoal tablets to ward off any further sickness. Charcoal is now showing up in liquid form from almost any company that makes fresh pressed juices. Read Into the Gloss' review of some of the available options before you make your selection.

5 Ways to Wellness: Hong Kong

Despite popular belief, you can relax and rejuvenate in fast-paced Hong Kong. Between the high rises, dense population and often frenetic energy, Hong Kong offers moments of peace and we've found our favorites. 

Photo: Cool SASS

Photo: Cool SASS

Stress Reduction

Tai Chi in Hong Kong Park. Embodying the duality of modern city life and the richness of an ancient society, Tai Chi is very popular in Hong Kong among young and old alike. Developed centuries ago, the gracefully choreographed movements of Tai Chi help balance the body’s internal yin and yang, doing as much for the mind and soul as for the body. In the early morning hours head to Hong Kong Park, Victoria Park or the Botanical Gardens participate in the timeless movement of this martial art and enjoy the benefits of stress relief like a local.

Physical Activity

Hiking Dragon’s Back Ridge. With so much beautiful open space and scenic trails, Hong Kong is a wonderful place to hike. For us, Dragon’s Back Ridge in Shek O Country Park tops the list as it is easily accessible from Central and offers stellar views. Clocking in at 8.5km, this is a beginner’s trail that offers stairs through the cemetery for the first leg, but rewards you with woodland, lush greenery, exotic plant life and a killer view as the payoff. This 2.5-3 hour is a workout, so be sure to bring plenty of water. You’ll be happy to have escaped the urban jungle for views of the offshore island and breathtaking skyline.

Photo: Sarah G. Morrow

Photo: Sarah G. Morrow

Food Education

Home's Cooking School. Many neighborhoods have outdoor wet markets, where locals shop daily to pick up fresh produce, meat and seafood. For this market-to-table experience, Home’s Cooking offers 10 different sessions that start with a visit to the Kam Wa Street wet market to engaging with the sellers as you purchase your ingredients for the 3-course meal. Back at Joyce’s (the chef) home, she’ll help you to prepare and cook a delicious meal. A fun and interactive way to learn about local food and culture for sure, but when you bite into your homemade soup dumpling, you will have a hard earned and tasty appreciation for Cantonese cuisine.


Man Mo Temple. Hidden among the skyscrapers and malls, there are over 600 temples in Hong Kong where faithful devotees of Buddhist, Taoist and local deities perform ancient rituals amid aromatic wafts of incense. Man Mo Temple, built in 1847, is the oldest temple in the region and while it’s not gilded or grand, it is well worth a visit. Upon entering you are immediately enveloped by the smoke from the dozens of giant incense coils suspended from the ceiling - considered food for the spirits and to purify the surrounding. Close your eyes amidst the aroma and be in the moment. This is truly unique and peaceful experience for the senses, which emanates an otherworldly charm that should be added to your must-do list.

Cultural Involvement

Po Lin Monastery. Escape to one of the outlying islands to get a feel for Buddhist traditions and culture amidst spectacular scenery. Lantau Island houses the Po Lin Monastery, where the famous "Big Buddha” resides, and it should be your first stop. Sitting at an impressive 112 feet high, Buddha faces north looking over the Chinese people and delivering blessings to all with the raised right hand. As you climb it is clear why this Buddha’s unique and humbling dignity draws pilgrims from all over the world. To better understand its cultural significance visit the Po Lin Monastery just opposite of the statue. Known as ‘the Buddhist World in the South’, Po Lin is a tranquil place of worship for devout monks and truly embodies Buddhist culture, architecture, landscape and sculptural arts. - Sarah Morrow

{Well on the Road} Liah Alonso



Singer-songwriter & musical anthropologist

Most recently in: Mexico & Cuba

The one snack you can always find in my carry-on is: I carry these tasty little squares called "chunks of energy" - carob spirulina flavor. They are essential for for any trip or just to have something snack on.

Tell us your in-flight rituals: I use flights as a time to reflect and communicate, either with myself or people I haven't written to in a while. I love to write long emails to friends or I make up songs. I'm also a fan of greeting whomever is sitting next to me - not because I feel like having a long conversation, but just because we are sharing this sacred space in the sky for a little while.

How do you conquer jet lag once you've arrived?  I take "jet ease" for long flights, it's a homeopathic remedy you chew every hour on the flight and after I arrive. I drink a lot of water when I'm on the ground and immediately start living on the new time schedule. I find I adapt in a day or so this way. 

Describe your workout on the road style: My workout style is a balance between Richard Simmons and yoga icon Sri Dharma Mittra. I try to have fun, dance, and move everyday; sometimes this means taking a run or walk in a new town or doing my own workout and yoga routine in my hotel room. At night I often play music or dance.

How do you keep sickness at bay? To stay healthy on the road, I drink lots of water and vitamin c packs, plus get good amounts of rest. Maintaining the same healthy routines wherever I go helps keep my body balanced. I also tend to avoid raw vegetables as much as possible in some countries where contaminated water may be an issue. I find this is an easy way to avoid stomach issues.

What's your 'go-to' restaurant item? Steamed veggies and rice and beans - not that exciting but they are usually pretty easy to find no matter where I've been in the world.

What do you do to stay grounded? Practicing Yoga and meditation really help keep me grounded and happy while traveling. Through yoga and mindfulness I'm able to release expectations and practice gratitude despite the occasional discomfort of the unfamiliar or unexpected. I feel connected to everything and everyone. I think this feeling of connection was born in me. I've been traveling my entire life, I'm a Mexi-JewAmerican gypsy cowgirl with family in 7 countries around the world! I wrote about it in my most recent song, GYPSY COWGIRL "My feet are always moving, and where they stop I call my home. I love big and I love strong and I'm not afraid to be alone".

What is your preferred method of staying connected with loved ones? I'm so grateful for video chats with Skype and FaceTime, the feeling of personal connection is way better than text or chatting on the phone.

About Liah: Liah Alonso is a multi-cultural indie-pop songwriter/guitarist with an adventurous spirit, a knack for languages and a passion for bringing people together through music. Liah attended NYU on a scholarship in Media Ecology while working as an interpreter in New York prisons and half-way houses. After graduating, she chose to fully devote herself to music and went on to form independent touring act and label, LEFT ON RED, with whom she recorded several albums and collaborated with Grammy award winning producers and artists. Liah has worked with many amazing artists from around the world in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Polish, Hindi and Pigeon and has the ability to find great music and put together bands wherever she goes. Stay connected with her adventures or download her latest album via her websiteFacebook or Instagram pages. 

How to Lose Your Identity (in a good way)



Yes, you read that right. Type this into Google and most searches will yield results on how to avoid losing your identity—whether it is credit card fraud or maintaining autonomy in relationships. The identity I am referring to is the accumulation of qualities that we think define us. What happens when we willingly lose this identity, rather than trying to protect it? We find our true selves, not the external factors that we carefully pack into a tight little box with a bow and present to the world.

I’ve spent my entire life trying to define myself. You probably have too. I am Josalin—the college student, the teacher, the freelance writer. “I am the successful doctor, musician, lawyer, mother, yogi, CEO. I like this type of music and these kinds of clothes and these are the places I go.” Caught up in a search to define ourselves, we sometimes forget who we are at our core and become dependent on external representations to determine our self-worth. We become consumed in our roles, our jobs, and the physical objects we own. While all of these things can be rewarding and play a large part in our lives, they ultimately do not define us. By detaching from the need to create and keep an identity, we can truly find ourselves.

Here are 3 easy ways to shed your identity without losing yourself:

Travel. Switching up the scenery does a world of good for our well-being. It also gives us the opportunity to remove ourselves from the places, the pace of life, and the people that are familiar to us. In a new setting, we have no labels or preconceived notions to attach to our surroundings. We have nothing to rely on but our own judgments and experiences.

Limit your dependence on social circles. While maintaining a healthy social life is an important aspect of being human, balancing the values of the groups you associate with and your own can sometimes be a challenge. To be sure that your choices are in line with your own beliefs, branch out, form different networks and make new friends. If you don’t normally go to this side of town or to that bar or to that gym, go! Go, feel vulnerable, and don’t fit in.

Set some alone time. Being alone is a beautiful thing, especially when you have the time and the insight to enjoy it. By having time to ourselves to reflect on our goals and values, we can understand ourselves more fully than when we are caught up in the rat race or the fast-paced demands of society.

Not knowing who you are is a scary thought, but it is actually a blessing in disguise. It means you and your potential are limitless. You can be free to be yourself, without being bound to definitions or expectations. Your identity resides within you, regardless of who you appear to be to the world, and you are the only one who truly knows who this person is. Take the time to nurture the relationship you have with yourself, and watch the windows of clarity fly wide open.

- Written for Pravassa by Josalin Saffer

{We're Obsessed} Bug Off Bug Spray



Finally an herbal insect repellent that actually works! We've tried so many varieties over the years, apparently mosquitoes love us because we're so sweet, and were ecstatic to come across this certified organic option. Created from apple cider vinegar, purified water and essential oils of citronella, eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass and more, we had to stop ourselves from spraying it on even when we didn't need it. We still have some left in the 2 oz glass spray bottle even after a month of wellness travel. Get yours now:

Wellness Travel For any budget



Whether you decide to plan a getaway near or far, small changes to your travel routine can make all the difference when it comes to wellness. Learning to be present in your surroundings doesn’t have to cost anything; it simply means putting away your smartphone. Wellness resonates in a different way with every traveler and the aspects that nourish you can and will change throughout the stages in your life. Everyone can add a little more wellness to his or her travel no matter your budget. Start with any of these tips and build up to create a routine that maximizes your favorite wellness rituals.

Pre Travel Tips:

Prepare your body for travel 24-hours before you leave home by eating as clean as possible: no alcohol, no caffeine, and limit your carbohydrates. Instead fuel with lean protein and fresh vegetables. This will give your system less to breakdown and keep your blood sugar in check.

Get in a workout – any favorite physical activity. Travel by plane, train, or car involves sitting for a long period of time. Prepare your muscles by giving them some stimulation and stamping out the muscular stress and tension your body builds up by being sedentary.

On the Road Tips:

Make your calories count by eating nutritious food. More and more airports are renovating their restaurants to offer healthier choices, but if you are planning a road trip it’s not always possible. Either way, pack snacks so you can eat what and when you want. Insider Tip: Did you know that flight attendants pack coolers instead of eating airplane food? That should tell you something.

Take time to stretch out. Walk up and down the aisle of a plane, make a pit stop to do a little exploring on a road trip, or strike a yoga pose in the terminal. This is the best way to keep your blood flowing and re-center your breath. Sometimes a small physical movement can make the difference between a smile and a frown during stressful times of travel.

Hotel Tips:

Book a hotel with a steam room or sauna. This is my #1 go-to wellness travel staple – especially when traveling for work. Being on an airplane dries you out and leaves you trapped with foreign germs for hours at a time. Heading directly to the spa upon arrival detoxes your system and lets you sweat out all the baggage of travel – literally.

Pack a pair of sneakers or walking shoes and set out to explore. Concierge desks often have running maps or hiking trail guides available. If you are in a major city there are always great neighborhoods to explore. Even if this means waking up an hour earlier, you will feel grounded and more alive when you can connect and enjoy the environment around you.

Wellness Indulgences:

Eat local food. Travel opens the world to us and food is the quickest way to grasp the history and a unique understanding of a new culture. Fruits, vegetables, spices, even entire meals may be made up of ingredients that are new to you. Depending on your budget you could arrange a cooking class, a food tour, or just stroll the markets and point to what you want to try.

Research the local culture and participate. From line dancing in Texas to a pilgrimage in India, any place you travel will have something unique to that town, city, or country. As a traveler who is open to stepping out of your comfort zone, the locals will embrace you and aim to make your experience special. 

Want to splurge? Join one of our curated wellness vacations, which focuses on a local festival – we'll give you access to private ceremonies and events that are not open to regular travelers, but that welcomes wellness travelers. -

This article was written for and originally published on wellness website SpaFinder.