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The January Wellness Survey with Kelly LeVeque

We’re continuing our January Wellness Initiative with Kelly LeVeque, the blogger behind Be Well by Kelly and one of our most trusted experts on all things wellness. She’s no ordinary celebrity chef—her holistic approach to food and cooking is rooted in one of our favorite principles: the elegance of simplicity. Her book Body Love is the ultimate compendium of nourishing recipes, tips and advice on finding balance and wellness. Kelly is adamant that clean living doesn’t have to come with struggle or deprivation, and instead embraces a philosophy that feeds both the body and mind. We love starting our days with a Fab Four Smoothie, Kelly’s signature concoction, and we just had to visit the place where it all started—her kitchen. The smoothie is a blood sugar-balancing meal replacement shake that can be recreated in any flavor, and has enough protein, fat, and fiber to keep you full—without the added sugar. The best part? The smoothie can be created in any flavor you want, with dozens of options for each of the “fab four” ingredients. You can find a list of suggested options on Kelly’s site. Kelly was kind enough to give us an inside look into her process, and shared some tips on how to get the most out of your food to start feeling your very best. Check out her Q&A below for tips on kick starting your wellness mission. XXJKE

Rip & Tan: Describe your morning routine.

Kelly LeVeque: I love the quiet of early mornings; waking up around 6:30 am allows me to be proactive about my day instead of reacting to incoming communication. First, I always drink a large glass of water while my coffee or tea brews to rehydrate. I grab my notepad and write out my to-do list, prioritize my day and set an intention. From there, I double-check that nothing is urgent and I am off to workout (on an empty stomach because a fasted workout results in a surge of anti-aging human growth hormone!)  Once I am back at home, I blend up one of my blood sugar balancing fruit free smoothies, shower up and I am out the door to clients.

Rip & Tan: What are your go-to remedies to remain focused and energized throughout the day?

KL: Learn to elongate your blood sugar curve and eat fewer more sustainable meals!

The latest endocrine science tells us that eating (5-6 small meals) every three or four hours actually sets us up for not only exhaustion and premature aging, but also less fat burning. It makes sense, you’re constantly hungry, eating and digesting food. Instead, learning to eat a combination of food that turns off hunger hormones and is sustainable in the body is how I coach my clients to eat for energy. The specific combination of the Fab Four (protein, fat, fiber and greens) is designed to make you feel full and satisfied from the macronutrients your body wants and needs, and in a way that elongates your blood sugar curve.

Simply look at your plate and ask yourself do I have all four components? Protein ups collagen, muscle tone, and metabolism; fat benefits hormones, skin, and cellular health, fiber promotes gut microbiome proliferation and detoxification; and greens (or veggies deep in color) provide cancer and inflammation fighting phytonutrients. This combination is a fail safe for my clients to stop fighting not to eat and instead mix their nutrients and easily go 4-6 hours without thinking of food or needing to snack. By supporting the body’s natural homeostatic mechanisms you relieve the body of unnecessary stressors and allow for natural graceful aging instead.

Limit caffeine! When stress, nerves and adrenaline are high one comforting cup of coffee or tea is enough and too much can cause more harm than good. Instead, I focus on hydrating with water throughout the day and if the afternoon slump hits I will sip on an oxylent multivitamin drink which is rich in B vitamins, antioxidants and minerals.

Rip & Tan: How do you wind down in the evening? Describe your bedtime routine.

KL: I am all about slowing down, dimming the lights and calming my mind. To set the mood, I illuminate my Himalayan Crystal Rock Salt Lamp, turn on my diffuser and slip into cozies. When my stress levels are high I lean on adaptogenic herbs like tulsi, rhodiola or ashwaganda and whip up a warm caffeine-free tea latte. Occasionally, I need to relax in a Magnesium or CBD bath to really relax, I might read a book or even just cuddle up with my hubby and binge on Netflix. I just try my best to listen to what my body needs and if all else fails, I call Ashley Neese.

Rip & Tan: How do you introduce health and wellness in an approachable, attainable way to those who might be intimidated or overwhelmed? 

KL: Just commit to starting your day with Fab Four Smoothie! I created the Fab Four Smoothie formula to help my clients learn how to build a low sugar meal replacement smoothie. This is very different from the many juice shops, grocery smoothie bars and smoothie recipes online, which can be, loaded with sugar, specifically fructose sugar from excess fruit, agave, dates and juice. When it comes to weight loss and energy, the #fab4smoothie is the key! For some new clients, I spare them the science and simply ask them to start everyday with a Fab Four Smoothie and within the first week I am getting exciting texts about how their skin is glowing, energy is high and the scale is down. The Fab Four smoothie limits fruit and instead helps you fill up on protein, fat and fiber that naturally helps to elongate and balance your blood sugar curve. This combination keeps you from crashing before lunch and sabotaging your healthy eating efforts.

Rip & Tan : Do you foresee any breakthroughs or wellness trends that may emerge in the year ahead?

KL: A few of my favorite wellness trends that are picking up speed include the ketogenic diet and the use of CBD to treat inflammation and pain. Both of these trends are supported by scientific literature so I am happy to see them picking up steam. If you haven’t tried a CBD bath ball I highly recommend it.

What’s coming next… Breathwork is the new meditation. It’s being studied at Stanford University and is proving to calm the parasympathetic nervous system and help veterans with PTSD.  I personally can’t wait for my friend Brian MacKenzie’s app to be available on my iPhone: until then, I will continue to practice with coach and friend Ashley Neese.

My wish…I would love to hear that everyone is using a glucometer! Many of my clients learn to test their blood sugar with a glucometer, which allows them to determine how they respond to specific foods and modify to support homeostasis. Unfortunately, I realize not everyone likes to be pricked so I am keeping my fingers crossed for the advancement of personal diagnostics!

Rip & Tan: How can you tell whether a wellness craze is a fleeting fad or something to integrate into your daily routine?

KL: I dive into Google Scholar or PubMed to read the studies supporting the claim. If it is a new food based trend I think about how it is metabolized in my body, what are the risks and will this have an affect on my hormones, microbiome or mood? This allows me to weigh the pros and cons and decide if I might imbibe. Most often, I ask myself “what would grandma do?” and I stick to traditional, whole foods my grandma would eat as long as they aren’t full of sugar.

Rip & Tan: What is your favorite way to treat yourself?

KL: I am all about the experience; I love a spa day or vacation somewhere new.

Rip & Tan: How do you manage to quiet the din of over-stimulation? Do you have any tips on managing stress?

KL: I personally manage my stress by practicing yoga, gratitude and breath work. I find even as I write this article after a full day of clients ( at very late hour) that I am still just overwhelming thankful to get to do what I do, have a body that can practice yoga and breathe.

Rip & Tan: Describe the place (mental or physical) where you can find peace away from the outside world.

KL: I feel really blessed to have grown up in Southern California; the beach, desert and mountains were all accessible to me at a young age. Being an adrenaline junkie who grew up playing board sports, I specifically find my peace flowing with nature in the surf of SoCal or the snow of Mammoth Mountain.

Rip & Tan: What is the most common wellness misconception you’ve come across in your career? 

KL: Sugar isn’t healthy… yet so many times I read articles stating that specific types of sugar are healthy because they are “naturally sourced” or  “contain minerals like magnesium” but the reality is all sugars are going to break down into one of two substances, fructose and/or glucose. These two substances when managed and metabolized cause side effects that include insulin resistance, inflammation, free radical formation and fatty liver disease all of which causes long-term brain and body breakdown. For that reason, I will never believe that the fat, probiotic or antioxidant benefits of a kombucha, acai bowl or flavored coconut yogurt outweigh the negative effects of the consumption and metabolism of sugar.

Rip & Tan: Do you have any daily mantras or words of wisdom you live by?

KL: These are my two favorite quotes!

On meaning:

“Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your own affections and loyalties, out of experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning to you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.” – John Gardner

On attitude:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company.. a church ..a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes! “- Charles Swindoll

Photos: Melissa Gidney