Health & Wellness

Gurney’s Montauk Retreat with Fern Olivia: A Recap

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If you follow me on Instagram, you have likely seen lots of photos popping up from my time at Gurney’s Resort & Spa last weekend for Fern Olivia’s wellness retreat. While the projected forecast left a lot to be desired, it turned out to be a nice weekend after all—with only intermittent showers and overcast skies.

My day began with a just under two hour drive out to Montauk, which may not sound ideal, but once you make it out to the Hamptons the serene surroundings make driving a pleasure. Each time I head out East I always relish the slower pace of life that you begin to encounter. The East End of Long Island has a noticeably different feel from the rest of the Island—and is a completely different animal when compared to New York City. Regardless, I embrace the leisurely drivers, the windmills that I pass along the way, and the sense of excitement that overcomes me when I begin to see water on the horizon.

Hampton Coffee Company

Mornings out East for me always begin with a stop at the Hampton Coffee Company in Southampton, irrespective of my final destination. There, I ordered an iced coffee and chocolate croissant for the road before continuing on for the remaining 45 minute drive out to Montauk.

The last time I was at Gurney’s was for a friend’s Sweet Sixteen party, so you could say it has been a while. I had heard that the resort had undergone some recent renovations, so I was excited to see what the establishment looked like today. As I drove down the hilly Old Montauk Highway after breaking away from the long, straight stretch of Sunrise Highway, I instantly felt like I had departed from mainland Long Island. The rolling landscape gave way to spectactular views—which are absent on my daily commute.

When I arrived at Gurney’s, I was greeted by a valet who parked my car…and waited patiently as I tried to stuff fifty outfit changes and four pairs of shoes (none of which I wore) into a single weekender bag. Once in the lobby at Gurney’s I stood for a moment, silently taking in the breathtaking panoramic views.

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Erica, who works with Fern, came to take me to the morning’s first activity—yoga in a studio overlooking the ocean. There, I met the other participants who would be joining us for the day. As I took a seat on my mat I felt an immense sense of gratitude. I was grateful that Fern had included me in this retreat; for the beautiful space that I would be practing in that morning; and to be surrounded by a room full of wellness warriors.

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The yoga class was restorative in every way, and before I knew it, the hour and a half class was over. Next it was time for brunch. Despite having had a bite to eat on my way there in the morning, I had worked up an appetite after yoga. Gurney’s put out quite a buffet spread—eggs, bacon, pastries—you name it, they had. And if they didn’t, you could order it.

After our delicious brunch and getting acquainted with everyone, I knew that the beach was going to be my next stop. I had been eyeing the soft sand since I arrived and was just waiting for the weather to improve before venturing out.

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Beach, Montauk, NY

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The moody skies briefly gave way to some sun. I wasn’t sure which direction to head first and felt as though I could just walk along the shore for miles. Concerned that I would miss out on the next activity—spa time—I stayed fairly close to the resort. In between taking copious amounts of beach photos, dipping my toes into the somewhat frigid water, and finding some driftwood to sit on and take a rest, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I would have rather been that day.

Fern and I made plans to hit the sauna at 1 pm. I hurried back to the room and changed before walking over to the spa area for a sweat session. Gurney’s spa was a happening place that day, with women waiting for their treatments, but it didn’t feel crowded. The atmosphere was relaxing and inviting—the perfect setting for pampering.

The dry heat of the sauna felt good after being out on the windy beach. After the sauna, we spent 20 minutes in the steam room, before freshening up and heading to our next event of the day.

Despite bringing enough outfits to live in Montauk through the summer, I forgot to pack my makeup bag so I could touch up as needed throughout the day. I was fully expecting my new Armani Silk Foundation to be running down my face after the sauna and steam room, but to my surprise it actually held up well.

Our last official item on the day’s itinerary was a natural beauty workshop. We sat out near the beach club on a deck overlooking the water. Fern started off the discussion by asking what beauty meant to each of us. While I can’t remember my answer verbatim, the definition of beauty has changed for me. As a 30-year-old cancer survivor, beauty to me is no longer about wearing a ton of makeup—something I had embraced throughout most of my twenties. Today, I am proud to show the imperfections in my skin, skip makeup entirely when running errands, and wear lighter foundations with fewer ingredients. Beauty to me is being happy with the person I see in the mirror because I know that true beauty is within and radiates out. I am happy and healthy, and that makes me feel beautiful every day.

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Fern then discussed her line of essential oils, which I have incorporated into my own beauty routine since first meeting her last year. Her Ajai Alchemy line is made with therapeutic grade ingredients and each blend is blessed with the Ajai Alai sound current. I have been using Grace Alchemy, an essential oil with Egyptian rose geranium, patchouli, and Australian sandalwood for a year now, and I feel like it is my signature scent. In January, during another of Fern’s events, I purchased a bottle of her Solar Sun Protect. During the cooler months, I wear it on my cheeks over my highlighter for that dewy glow. But during the summer, I plan on applying it under my makeup to give my skin a little extra protection from the sun.

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As the evening began to wind down, the weather turned cool and rainy. But the night couldn’t end without celebrating our beautiful Fern’s birthday. In honor of her special day, I brought her some of my favorite fudge from Chocology (thanks, Chocology!). They make their fudge with Belgium chocolate and goat’s milk, so I knew Fern would enjoy the sweet treat. We returned to the room for celebratory drinks and reminisced about how we all felt like we were back in college hanging out in each other’s dorm rooms.

When the weekend concluded, I felt like a kid leaving summer camp. Monday’s post about community over competition was inspired by the women I met and the friends I made at the retreat. Their positive energy and ambition surely rubbed off on me, and after doing yoga with Fern, I left with a renewed outlook on my health, this space on the internet, and on my future as a creative entrepreneur. I left the retreat knowing that I was moving ahead in the right direction, feeling inspired to continue with my yoga practice, and loving the life I was building.

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If you are looking for a resort out East, I highly recommend a stay at Gurney’s. The resort is like a peaceful oasis, and you can’t beat the balcony views and direct access to the beach. Gurney’s has every amenity you could ever wish for—a spa, an indoor and outdoor pool, and delicious meals—all with great views of the ocean. Leaving was no easy feat. I wish I could have stayed out there forever!

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A special thank you to Fern Olivia for having me out at the retreat and for sharing her birthday with us. And lots of love to Erica, Megan, Sari, and Suzie for making this incredible day even more special!

Give Your Heart to Women’s Health

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Part of being a thyroid cancer survivor is using my voice to help others. I enjoy working with cancer survivors to lend an ear, offer hope, or just help them share their survival story. I also try to promote cancer-related causes. So, when a friend who works for the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program asked for assistance in getting the word out on a campaign they are running from May 8th – June 16th, I knew this site was the right forum.

The Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program provides valuable services to all of New York State. From educating women on health or health care matters to helping them secure services for cancer screenings, they work hard to support women’s health. But they can’t do it alone. Like many non-profit organizations, the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program is grant-funded. So you can imagine the hardship they faced when they learned that one of their grants had been reduced.

I have battled cancer myself, and my 89-year-old grandmother has fought breast cancer twice. I know how imperative early detection can be. That’s why funding organizations that provide these vital services to women are so important to me.

It would mean so much if you could spread the word or give in any way that you can. Even the smallest amount can help the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program!

*Image courtesy of the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program

Gurney’s Montauk Retreat with Fern Olivia

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If there is one thing I love about spring, it is that the weather is nice enough to take a day trip out to Eastern Long Island—before the official start of tourist season begins. I usually reserve such excursions for the warmer weather (read: beach season), but when my beloved thyroid guru, Fern Olivia, told me she was going to be in town and was having a weekend retreat at Gurney’s Resort & Spa in Montauk from May 5th – 7th, I knew I needed to keep that weekend open.

Last August, I attended my first of Fern’s Thyroid Yoga Retreats (which was held at a private home in Montauk). It was one of my fondest memories from the summer of 2016. I met so many inspiring women, whom I still keep in touch with and who have become friends. Since then, Fern and her teachings have had a lasting influence on me, and she is someone whom I both admire and respect for the important work she is doing to raise awareness and help those of us suffering with a thyroid condition. Her essential oils and morning thyroid yoga sequence have become daily rituals in my life. Through her event at The Ash Center with Dr. Gabrielle Lyon this past January, she taught me the importance of self-love and has guided me when it comes to nutrition.

Needless to say, I am beyond excited to attend her upcoming event in a couple of weeks, and I am looking forward to walking away with even more knowledge about my body and overall health (and making some new friends in the process!).

So, if you find that your schedule allows for a trip out to the beautiful Gurney’s Resort & Spa, or you just need to take some time for yourself and want to be surrounded by incredible women, then join us! The retreat promises to be both restorative and informative with meditation, yoga, and of course, spa time.

You can peruse the schedule of events and register, here. Hope to see you there!

My Favorite Yoga Poses

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My back has been bothering me for a couple of weeks now, which has meant no kickboxing for me. I never like missing my Saturday morning cardio workout because when I do finally return (four weeks later), I feel out of shape.

Determined to keep up some kind of exercise routine while not further aggravating my back, I turned to yoga. I have been going to yoga fairly regularly as of late, and with my back injury I have noticed an improvement in pain and mobility as a result of the stretching.

Here are the poses that have helped to ease my sore back:

1. Cat and Cow: This simple routine of rounding and arching your back while you are on all four’s is so easy to do. I instantly feel my lower back relaxing and a lot of tension leaving my shoulder and neck. To get the full benefit, remember to round your back on the inhale and arch your back on the exhale.

2. Child’s Pose: This is one of my favorite yoga poses, and I have found it to be a good stretch first thing in the morning or before bed. When the yoga class gets a bit too intense for me, this is the pose I retreat to—and my back thanks me for it!

3. Corpse: As the name implies, there isn’t much to this one. Just lie on your back with your palms facing the sky and let your body relax. You can also bring your knees to your chest and slowly rock from side-to-side for a gentle back massage. I like doing this one to conclude a yoga class.

4. Standing Half Forward Bend: Can’t quite get your hands on the floor? Don’t worry. This pose can be modified so you bring your hands to the front of your shins while stretching your torso. It is a great spine and lower back stretch.

5. Cobra Pose: The cobra pose is a gentle lower back stretch. Lying face down, use your arms to gently lift your upper body off the yoga mat. With your hips on the mat, come up only as far as you can without pain. I did this pose a couple of times in a sequence the other night and felt my shoulders, neck, and back loosen up.

As with any exercise routine, you should consult a physician before beginning. But if your doc gives you the green light, these are some easy poses to get you started and loosened up.

Low-Iodine Living

Low-Iodine Living

I will never complain about having to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner again!

That is what I’ve learned from being on the super restrictive low-iodine diet for the last five days. Oh, I’ve also learned that iodine is present in just about everything. Cereal? Yup! Dairy? You bet. All of the things that I would normally consume in the span of a day contain some degree of salt, and therefore iodine (you can read more about the low-iodine diet, here).

When the doctor’s office told me I would be going for an I-131 whole body scan, they only mentioned avoiding shellfish. Easy enough, or so I thought. Upon further investigation of the low-iodine diet, I found that there are a number of no-no’s aside from shellfish.

If you are reading this post and wondering what the heck all of this means, let me explain. Back in November, my antithyroglobulin numbers began to rise. My surgeon suggested that we wait until February and retest. So we did another round of blood work and another neck ultrasound. My antithyroglobulin went from 233 in November to 302 in February (it had been at 40 in early 2016). After a panel of physicians met and discussed my case and treatment options, they decided that I should have a radioactive scan of my whole body done to see if there is remaining thyroid tissue that is causing the numbers to increase…or something more serious.

Which brings me to the low-iodine diet. To get a proper reading from this scan, the body needs to be deprived (or starved) of iodine, so that when the radioactive iodine pills are administered, the thyroid cells will absorb the iodine (because they are starving), and glow on the scan.

Fortunately for me, I can continue taking my daily thyroid hormone replacement (Synthroid), thanks to the invention of Thyrogen, a synthetic drug that gets injected two days in a row prior to the scan.

Unfortunately for me, my surgeon is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Each day next week I must go into the City (a four-hour round-trip commute) to have blood drawn and the Thyrogen and radioactive iodine pills administered prior to the scan. Then I must undergo the scan itself.

Let’s hope that this anticipated Nor’Easter (predicted on the East Coast for next Tuesday and Wednesday) decides to go elsewhere, that I can last another week on this dreadful low-iodine diet, and that Friday, March 17th comes quickly.

Thyroid Yoga Functional Nutrition Intensive: A Recap

The Ash Center View

This is turning into quite the Wellness Week here on Living in Steil, with the introduction of the Thyroid Yoga Functional Nutrition Intensive earlier and then Heather’s incredible story of surviving mesothelioma. I am excited to give you all a recap of the amazing seminar with Fern Olivia and Dr. Gabrielle Lyon that I went to last Saturday at The Ash Center.

The Ash Center is a tranquil space with breathtaking views, in Midtown Manhattan; although located in a bustling metropolis, it has an oasis-like atmosphere that is conducive to healing. When I first walked through the door I immediately began to feel my energy shift. The stress from the nearly two-hour commute from Long Island dissipated as I made my way to a cozy recliner by the window and began filling out a health questionnaire.

Upon arriving and seeing Fern’s warm smile and meeting Dr. Lyon and the other women who were about to embark on this wellness journey, I knew it was exactly where I should be—where I needed to be.

When I think back to this seminar, words like much-needed, life-changing and game-changer come to mind. I was excited to meet Dr. Lyon and I realized how much I needed to hear her words once I was there. One of the first things that Dr. Lyon said to our group of “wellness warriors” was that secrets keep you sick.

Want to know my secret? I am terrible when it comes to taking care of myself. Eating and proper nutrition have always been a struggle for me, and one which I preferred to avoid for longer than I should have. There, I said it.

Despite knowing better and being a cancer survivor, I buried my head in the sand when it came to food. Why? Because it seemed easier to just laugh it off and continue on my Starbucks diet; I didn’t want to be bothered learning how to eat right; picking up whatever was around on my way home from work was easier; and cooking seemed like a huge chore. Those were all of the lies I told myself to justify my actions. But who was I spiting? No one but myself, as I suffered and my body failed.

But I could no longer ignore how I was feeling—tired, sluggish, irritable—all the time. Of course, I immediately blamed my Synthroid and lack of a thyroid for these symptoms. However, the truth was that it was time to face the music that I was so desperate to tune out. My body was screaming—yelling at the top of its lungs—trying to tell me that despite its best efforts, it could no longer function on the lack of sleep and infrequent eating schedule that I had imposed on it.

When I went to The Ash Center last weekend, I walked in knowing that I had to change my ways—before it was too late. I was aware that I needed to be open, honest, and willing to accept that I would have to learn about nutrition and implement new eating habits.

Fern Olivia and Dr. Gabrielle Lyon

{Fern & Dr. Gabrielle Lyon}

Together, Fern and Dr. Lyon created an inviting atmosphere for each of us to tell our individual stories. I was struck by how in the span of minutes strangers could become survival sisters, as one person’s story was followed by another. At times, I felt my emotions getting the best of me, especially when it seemed like another woman had walked a mile in my shoes.

Ajai by Fern Olivia

{Fern’s incredible Ajai Alchemy line}

Once we shared our stories, Fern guided us on a Thyroid Yoga meditation aimed at recharging our endocrine system. We did breath-work and together chanted “Wahe Guru” before finishing our session. It was the perfect restorative practice to conclude the morning’s activities.

After a brief break for lunch, in which I found my way to BRGR and then a Juice Press (because the healthy smoothie compensates for having a burger for lunch, right?), Dr. Lyon began the next session where she discussed macronutrient recommendations for thyroid and hormonal health.

Dr. Lyon gave an overview of nutrition along with helpful handouts about the Elimination Diet and a food plan. Since my knowledge on nutrition is limited, I took copious notes—and have a lot of reading to do! One of her recommendations was that we eat 30 grams of protein at each meal—or 90 grams a day. My first reaction was, “How on earth am I going to eat 30 grams of protein at each meal?” That seemed like a lot for a girl who typically has coffee and a muffin on the run each morning. And having lunch and dinner in the same day? I tend to eat a late lunch and skip dinner, or skip lunch and have a big dinner—neither of which are healthy ways to eat.

Overall, I was impressed by Dr. Lyon’s entire approach to health and medicine. Over the last few years, I have spent considerable time seeing doctors in the medical community. And while I have found some are worth their weight in gold (like the one who found my thyroid nodule), most times I have walked away from my appointment with more questions than answers. The idea of curing the underlying ailment instead of merely treating the symptoms is a premise I whole heartedly support.

The Ash Center

I certainly found my tribe at The Ash Center and look forward to seeing Dr. Lyon after all of my thyroid testing is complete. I left that day ready to tackle the hard work that was in front of me, but motivated knowing that I had the power to change how I am feeling. With the tools that Fern and Dr. Lyon shared with me, I have already effected some changes. For starters, I make sure to eat three meals a day and I have incorporated both fruits and vegetable into my daily routine. Although I haven’t made it to the magical 30 grams of protein at any meal yet, I have curbed my sweet tooth and cut back on carbohydrates. In addition, I started practicing yoga again and made daily meditation a ritual before bed.

While I may not be able to reverse the damage already done to my body, I can pave the way to a healthier future one meal at a time—and offer myself some self-love by repeating this affirmation: I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.

Fern Olivia at The Ash Center

A big thank you to Fern Olivia and Dr. Gabrielle Lyon for this transformative day!

Interested in working with Fern? She will be hosting a Pure Yoga – Thyroid Yoga™ Training Immersion on Friday, April 28th, Saturday, April 29th, and Sunday, April 30th.

Here’s some information about the training immersion:

Thyroid Yoga™ artfully infuses wisdom from western and eastern medical perspectives to create a total healing approach, founded by thyroid expert and master teacher, Fern Olivia Langham.

Trained in Biomedical Engineering, now a renowned teacher and speaker on the power of integrative medicine and intuitive self-healing, Fern Olivia has guided retreats, experiences and classes worldwide.

Thyroid Yoga™ has been endorsed by leading medical doctors as a proven way to help restore and realign the energetic and biochemical mechanisms that influence thyroid functioning.

Become a Thyroid Yoga™ certified practitioner today to deepen your own knowledge and gain the confidence to create your own ripple effect of health and healing in our global community.
The benefits of this unique immersion go far beyond “another certification.”

After completion of this training, participants come away equipped with the tools and resources to confidently provide value-added offerings and resources for their clients and students, and have a deep and broad understanding of how the thyroid is supporting using integrative and holistic therapies.

If you want to expand your work in the world and learn from renowned healers at a one-of-a-kind teacher training with a world-class yoga institution, sign up for the Thyroid Yoga™ Training Immersion and Workshop today!

Please contact Fern Olivia at love@thyroid.yoga if you have any questions.

Connected by Cancer: Heather’s Story

The one thing I did not anticipate when I started my blog almost three years ago this month was the amazing community that I was about to join. While I enjoy creating content, connecting with other like-minded women—many who have inspired me with the multiple hats they wear—has probably been the most rewarding part of the whole experience for me as a blogger.

When I began my blog in February of 2014, I was a 26 year-old thyroid cancer survivor who was looking for a creative outlet. I wanted to share my experience with others and to educate young women on the importance of taking care of themselves and seeing their doctor for a yearly physical. It was during a routine exam that my thyroid nodule was discovered. Needless to say, I am grateful for early detection and the thoroughness of my doctor who did a neck check as part of his rundown.

In those early days as a survivor, I felt like I was stranded on an island. Friends my age were at various stages of their lives—whether it was climbing the corporate ladder, getting married, or starting a family. By contrast, I was fending for myself and figuring out what my next steps would be after surgery as a young cancer survivor.

Fortunately, those next steps led me to blogging. They also allowed me to cross paths with the exact group of people that I was seeking—a group that spoke the language I had spent the last six months learning. The survivor group is one that no one would pledge to join, but offers a lifetime membership.

As a member in the “cancer survivor group,” I do my best to promote awareness, not just of thyroid cancer, but other cancers, too (my grandmother is a 2x breast cancer survivor, and had her second mastectomy at the age of 86—talk about #bosslady!). So, of course, when a fellow cancer survivor reaches out to me, I am always touched and more than willing to help.

Here’s Heather’s story:

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When I got Heather’s email a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk at work. It didn’t take me long before I closed the email and went to her website to read her story. After a few emails back-and-forth, I knew I wanted to share Heather’s story and be a part of her Lung Leavin’ Day celebration. I was moved by her grace, strength, and optimism throughout her journey.

Heather was 36 years-old when she discovered she had malignant pleural mesothelioma, a diagnosis that came just three months after giving birth to her daughter. Although she had been feeling off during her pregnancy, Heather and her husband Cameron thought it was something minor that could be easily treated. They never imagined that the diagnosis would be one in which the prognosis could be a mere 15 months to live.

Heather and her husband hurried to find a specialist who would offer Heather the best chance of survival. Their search led them to a renowned surgeon based in Boston who removed Heather’s left lung.

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Now, eleven years later, Heather is a wife, mother, mesothelioma survivor, cancer research advocate, and a blogger for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. She shares her story to promote awareness, offer other survivors hope, and serve as a resource for newly diagnosed mesothelioma patients.

I wanted to share Heather’s story today to help raise awareness; it also offered me hope in my own journey. In November, my antithyroglobulin levels (which can be an indicator of a possible thyroid cancer recurrence) started rising. They were significantly elevated when I was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer, but they began dropping as soon as my thyroid was removed. During my thyroidectomy, my surgeon removed six lymph nodes from my neck—all tested negative for cancer—except one. I took the “watch and wait” option and did not have radioactive iodine after my surgery. For the last three years, the antithyroglobulin numbers had been steadily declining—so much so that I rarely thought of them when I would get my routine blood work back. But that day in November, I opened my results and was shocked to see the number well outside of the normal range. I called my surgeon the next day and arranged for follow-up testing. I had a neck ultrasound done in November, which came back clean, and my surgeon recommended that we wait three months and retest.

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Well—here we are—three months later. As I read Heather’s story, I was reminded of my own battle. I remembered all of the fears that came along with my diagnosis and the new ones that flooded my mind about a recurrence. Seeing those numbers spike was like ripping a bandage off a wound that lacked time to heal.

So as I await my fate in the next coming days and hopefully get some answers, Heather is celebrating what she has dubbed Lung Leavin’ Day on February 4th (her 11th cancerversary is February 2nd, so please keep her in your prayers). To help Heather celebrate, click here to write your biggest fear on a plate and see it smash (virtually) right before your eyes. I can’t think of a better way to offer hope then that. I wrote my fear on a plate the other night—that I will never be healthy—and felt this cathartic rush come over me when I saw the plate break into pieces. It was probably the first time that I verbalized my big fear in life. Seeing those pieces break reminded me that I needed to shatter my mindset and remember to be positive and optimistic. I hope you will join us in this celebration!

Connect with Heather on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter!

Thyroid Yoga Functional Nutrition Intensive in NYC

Fern Olivia

Happy Friday! Apologies for not sticking to my usual posting schedule this week and last. I promise, moving forward I will be back on my game.

As I mentioned in recent posts, looming thyroid tests have me feeling more like Nervous Nessie than Valiant Vanessa. But I am hoping that an event happening in New York City this weekend with the lovely thyroid guru, Fern Olivia and Dr. Gabrielle Lyon at The Ash Center, will have me feeling better than ever. So, if you are in the New York City area on Saturday, January 28th….and are free from 10:30 am – 4:30 pm…and want to learn more about thyroid health, then register for this event!

When Fern first mentioned this event to me, I knew it would be an amazing opportunity. For starters, I have wanted to meet Dr. Lyon and see The Ash Center for a while. And since I have been feeling all kinds of stress, anxiety, and exhaustion, the timing could not have been better.

The Ash Center focuses on a comprehensive approach to healing and well-being, offering patients treatments tailored to fit their specific health concerns. As someone who is struggling with low energy, rising antithyroglobulin levels, and the possibility of a thyroid cancer recurrence, I am excited to learn from both Fern and Dr. Lyon how to better manage my overall health and find ways to help my body in the absence of a functioning thyroid. I have had little success in working with endocrinologists to help me gain my stamina after my thyroidectomy, so I am hopeful that this half-day intensive workshop will provide me with answers and lead me down a new path.

The day will begin with learning about the thyroid and its function, followed by a meditation led by Fern to boost the endocrine system, and lots of time for Q&A and opportunities to get to know other participants in attendance.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Snapchat (@livinginsteil), where I will share the activities as the day unfolds. I will be doing a follow-up post next week with all that I learned from Fern and Dr. Lyon…so stay tuned!

*Image courtesy of Fern Olivia

Thyroid Thursday: Awareness Efforts

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It’s the end of September…and you know what that means. Today is the final installment of Thyroid Thursday. I hope that you have enjoyed learning from Fern Olivia as much as I have and that together we have been able to answer any thyroid questions you may have had.

As part of the awareness efforts happening this month, Eisai, Inc. will donate $1 to the Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association and Light of Light Foundation (up to $20K) for every butterfly-hug photo shared on social media. You can still partake, and it’s an easy way to get involved and help this worthy cause. Don’t forget to get your photos up before the end of the month and tag your photo #TruthAboutTC on Instagram.

If you are looking for more information about thyroid cancer, the Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association is hosting their annual conference in Los Angeles from Oct 21 – 23, 2016. There you will hear from doctors about new treatments and meet with other survivors.

And remember, Fern Olivia will be hosting her Thyroid Yoga Teacher Training in Los Angeles from November 3 – 6, 2016. Click here for more information and to sign up. Receive a $100 scholarship when you apply and mention the code: LIVINGINSTEIL.

As for me, I will have a follow-up with my endocrinologist in November, when I go for routine blood work and a neck ultrasound. Here’s hoping that all of my thyroid levels are where they should be.

Thank you for your support and remember to check your neck!

Thyroid Thursday: Fern Olivia’s Daily Rituals To Improve Thyroid Health

I’m always looking for ways to carve out a little “me” time in my busy schedule. When I came across a post that Fern Olivia wrote about her daily rituals, I knew it was something that I needed to read, and also wanted to share with the readers of this blog. I love how Fern makes taking care of her mind and body a priority, and I hope you find her routine and the products she uses as insightful as I did.

And remember, there is only one more installment of Thyroid Thursday after this week (how is it already the end of September?). Leave those questions in the comments section, and I will devote next week’s final Thyroid Thursday to answering them!

Now, here’s Fern!

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{Photo Credit: Fern Olivia}

Beauty is the healing food I nourish myself with, the sensual alchemy that kisses my skin, the gorgeous friends I choose to enjoy time with, the sacred home I have created, and the healing experiences I treat myself lavishly with every day. Beauty is taking care of myself in the most loving and kindhearted way. I have a big purpose on this planet, and I need to feel my best to give my best — I know that I have to keep up!

Here’s how I do it:

A.M. Ritual

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{Nicole Granato/Moon Deck}

My beauty ritual begins the moment I open my eyes and mentally say a prayer of gratitude. Then, I prepare herbal loose leaf from my friend Nicole Granato — she has an organic hibiscus rose petal tea that is just so beautiful. During my recent visit to Aja Malibu Latigo Canyon, I had the gift of receiving an intimate tour of the property’s biodynamic vegetable and medicinal herb gardens with the beautiful founder, Iannya Magick. As I picked and tasted whole herbs fresh from the earth, I felt reconnected to the beauty of life. Returning home, I have made infusing my tea and lemon water with fresh herbs a daily beauty ritual.

Each morning, I also pick a card from my Moon Deck, a beautiful intuitive oracle set created by my friends Aarona Ganesan and Andrea Keh. It is such a lovely way to connect to intuition through the path of self-love and ritual.

Then it’s a run out my front door, through the sand, into the cool Pacific Ocean. Splashing in the waves invigorates me and stimulates my lymphatic system — and as a bonus, cold water plunges are incredible for immune health. I’ve noticed that I feel significantly more energized when I have my ocean plunge first thing in the morning.

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{Photo Credit: Alicia Panetta}

I cleanse my face and body with manuka honey, coconut sugar, and coconut oil. I apply a healing mask depending on what I feel I need, and massage my face with facial crystals from Benshen. Then, I moisturize with Solar Sun Protect, a skin protectant from my own organic beauty apothecary, Ajai Alchemy, made from all organic essential oils in a base of carrot oil and coconut oil to protect my skin. Living in Los Angeles and traveling frequently to sunny destinations such as Sedona, Hawaii, and the Cayman Islands, I made this to give my skin some extra love as I spend my days practicing and teaching yoga on the beach. I apply Radiance Hair Serum to my hair, which keeps my beach curls wild and sexy without the frizz.

Thyroid Yoga

Sadhana, or daily practice, is a must for me, and it’s a pillar that I talk about in my Thyroid Yoga course. It’s a nonnegotiable holy practice that reminds me that I am worthy before I go out into the world — and yes, that means before I turn on my phone and check email or my Instagram feed.

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{Photo Credit: Alexa Gray Photography}

I start every practice by applying Grace Alchemy, another one of my own creations, to my thyroid gland, tracing the infinity sign horizontally and massaging my lymph nodes — it serves as a luxurious reminder that I am a radiant, beautiful woman and that treating myself with love is very important. Once I have applied my alchemy to my neck, I begin my daily sequence, which I go over in the videos during my course. My practice includes chanting, yoga asana, breathwork, and meditation. Depending on what my day looks like, it could range anywhere from 20 minutes to over two hours!

Often I will kick my practice up a notch and join my teachers Guru Jagat and Harmanjot Kaur at Ra Ma Institute in Venice, and when I’m too lazy to leave my Zen den (because yes, sometimes I’ve stayed out too late), then I can catch the classes streaming on Ra Ma TV.

Superfood Smoothie

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{Moon Juice}

I follow a 12-hour intermittent fast from the time of my last meal the night before until the next day after my sadhana, and I like to keep things light in the morning. I’ve found that works best for my body type and energy levels. To make sure I’m getting enough protein, I add Dana James’ Beauti-Fuel into my morning green smoothie. My go-to is matcha, hemp seeds, a few very generous dashes of cinnamon, a tablespoon of coconut butter, half a frozen banana, and schisandra berry and pearl from Moon Juice. Since my friend Amanda Chantal Bacon mentioned these were her beauty secret weapons, I’ve been hooked ever since.

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{Body + Eden}

I also blend in organic raw probiotic from microbiome expert Body + Eden. This is the ultimate beauty food! Why? Beauty begins in the gut — when we’re not digesting our food properly, we feel puffy, bloated, foggy, our skin breaks out, and we get sick. More potent than a capsule, naturally fermented herbs and superfoods allow for easy assimilation and better absorption of minerals and nutrients while helping your body replenish its beneficial gut bacteria.

If I feel like I need a bit more energy for the day ahead, I top my smoothie with a sprinkle of bee pollen, one of my favorite beauty superfoods.

Midday: Meetings & Turmeric Lattes

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{Fern Olivia, Thyroid Yoga Recipe Book: You Nourish You}

Typically I head out in the late morning or early afternoon to work out of a coffee shop or cafe in Venice — you can find me setting up shop at Butcher’s Daughter or Plant Food and Wine on Abbot Kinney, sipping on green juice and turmeric lattes.

Before I go out, I like to apply makeup that gives me a dewy, natural glow. I use only organic products on my face and body. If I wouldn’t consume it, it’s not going on my sacred skin! My favorite beauty products are W3ll People, Vapor, and Kjaer Weiss. I’m obsessed with CAP Beauty, Net-a-Porter, the apothecary at ABC Carpet & Home, The Detox Market, and Goop, too, as sites to buy from.

Afternoon: Goddess Time

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{Alyson Charles Rockstar Shaman}

One of the pillars of my healing regime is to luxuriously treat myself with loving care. This means getting a massage weekly, acupuncture, facials, and a spa mani and pedi. If I’m feeling extra artistic, I’ll paint my own nails with The Blessed Power Set, a gorgeous five-free set of nail lacquers blessed by Alyson Charles Rockstar Shaman. Or you’ll find me taking a midday pamper session at Olive + June, a beautiful nail spa in Los Angeles.

P.M. Ritual

I feel extremely lucky to be a five-minute bike ride from Erehwon, a chic grocery market stocked with beautiful aisles of only the cleanest and purest sustainable foods. I recently became a member and I’m obsessed — I’m in there every day picking up superfoods and fresh produce. It’s here where I get my daily fix of Elissa’s Thyroid Juice, a beautiful elixir made with dandelion greens, parsley, ginger, and other potent healing ingredients.

I love cooking and preparing my own foods, so much so that I recently became inspired to write a recipe book after serving up foods as chef on one of my recent retreats. I’ve birthed the Thyroid Yoga Recipe Book: You Nourish You, with gorgeous photography and additional recipes featured by Parsley Health founder Dr. Robin Berzin; expert Ayurvedic practitioner Tina Paymaster; plant-based chef and healer Cassandra Bozdak; and I’m very excited to share it with you. It’s all about intuitive eating and intuitive cooking, topics I am so passionate about teaching.

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{Photo Credit: Eve Bregman Photography}

Living on the beach in Venice, I feel called to catch magic hour with a sunset stroll. An evening meditation is a gift I give myself and a much-needed break from my work. I take my massive rose quartz from Sedona with me to the ocean and charge it up in mamma blue. Bubble baths with organic bath salts set me up for a restful beauty sleep. In my bath, you’ll find Pursoma Après Savasana Soak, plus some rose petals from a bouquet I bought myself just because. I light candles, burn sage and incense, and listen to the special bath playlist I created with soothing beats, earth sounds, and sacred sound currents by the talented Aya and Tyler, White Sun, DTO Music, Aykanna, and Mirabai Ceiba.

After a soothing bath, I massage virgin coconut oil all over my body with a few drops of my Grace serum — I love smelling like love when I go to bed! The scent is an aphrodisiac, sexy and so beautiful. It is such a simple pleasure, and I sleep like a baby. Oh, and I have to sleep naked. It feels incredibly liberating and is one of my body-love beauty rituals. Try it; you’ll never want to wear anything to bed again!

As I sleep, I have a mantra playing softly in the background. I play Antarjamee by Ajeet Kaur on repeat — her voice is angelic! I also love the new White Sun II album — it’s next level healing!

*This post was written by Fern Olivia and originally published on mindbodygreen.