It’s mid-summer here in Connecticut, and the dance between soaking up the sun and avoiding it is in full swing. The sun is literally the center of our universe, it is responsible for life on this planet, but we have come to view it as dangerous and something to be avoided. Skin cancer, especially melanoma is on the rise despite the increase in sunscreen use – the two are both rising at over 30% in the last decade. On top of that, the majority of people are suffering from extreme vitamin D deficiencies, which has been directly linked to the rise in sunscreen use and an increase in chronic illnesses. A few weeks ago, I listened to a podcast and began to explore this topic.Read More
Our bodies are designed to move daily. Exercise is a non-negotiable part of well-being, on a short list of must-do’s for optimal health that includes drinking lots of water, getting enough sleep and eating plentiful fruits and vegetables. The benefits are endless - exercise makes us happier, it keeps our weight in check, which is necessary for the health of our hearts, muscles, and bones. It increases our energy levels, it decreases our chance of chronic illness, it improves our brain health and memories, it helps us relax and sleep better, and it’s even good for our sex lives.Read More
Here's our round-up of everything our team at Inner Light is loving this past month! This is what we're doing, reading, eating, using, watching... whatever is inspiring us and fueling us at this moment. I am sure you all know Haley, our amazing manager. I can't believe it's been almost a year that we we've been working together at IL! I think I need the adaptogen potion from her list... and Jesse, our weekend babe, is inspiring me with her eco-friendly moves. I am definitely going to get the reusable shopping bags she's converted to!
Roberta Roller Rabbit Tunic: I am headed off to the Bahamas with my parents, husband and twin boys - wish me luck - and finding bathing suits and beach wear has been really hard. I am still breastfeeding and don't fit into any swimsuits I own, so I am scrambling to find a couple, and relying on tunics. I love the print on these Roberta Roller Rabbit tunic even better in person, it's so breezy and Bohemian. Shop here.
The Post-Natal Depletion Cure: I do this thing where every time I hear of a book I want to read, I order it on Amazon. These are literally piling up on my nightstand. But one I have actually gotten to and am devouring when I can is The Post Natal Depletion Cure by Dr. Oscar Serrallach. There is so little emphasis put on healing the body post-partum in the Western world, whereas the Eastern world and indigenous cultures have elaborate healing regimes and support given to new mothers. Dr. Serrallach discusses why pregnancy, childbirth and post-partum is so taxing on our bodies and how to replenish these stores to optimal health. A must-read for any new mom - I don't rate on his scale as "depleted" but I sure feel depleted! And I'm putting many of his tips into practice. Shop here.
Moon Juice Adaptogen Protein Powder: Speaking being depleted, my naturopath recommended that I drink two protein smoothies a day while I am breastfeeding. After falling off the wagon, I am back on this plan and using the Moon Juice Adaptogen Protein Powder. With a base of ketogenic, biofermented brown rice protein and chia seed powder, it packs a punch with blue spirulina, ashwagandha and amla. Spirulina is a microalgae made of 70% protein and it contains calcium, niacin, potassium, magnesium, B vitamins and iron. Amla, also known as Indian Gooseberry, is an adaptogen that supports the liver, reduces cholesterol, controls blood sugar, has anti-cancer properties - and the list goes on! Ashwagandha is one of my favorite adaptogens and is known for combating stress, supporting thyroid and adrenal function, and balancing hormones. Shop at Inner Light!
Verte Essentials - CBD Skincare: Usually when we get a new line or product, I play with the testers but I don't take home any stock because we buy shallow numbers of items and I don't want to take away something that a customer might love! But after playing with the testers from Verte, I had to take home their Micellar Cleaning Pads, Rose de Soie Moisturizer, and Elevate oil. These gorgeous products use premium grade hemp extract organically grown in the EU in their products, also known as CBD, which plays a regulatory role on pain, inflammation, memory, emotion, sleep and metabolic function. I can literally feel my body relax when I use these, especially after a hot shower or infrared sauna session, and I am loving them before bed. Shop ext time you're at Inner Light.
Lululemon Reversible Mat: I recently started practicing yoga consistently again. My body and mind missed it more than I ever could have imagined. This Lululemon Yoga Mat gets me thru the sweatiest of classes and brings me a sense of joy every time I roll it out. Shop here.
Joan Gray Oil: When it comes to skincare, my motto is to keep it simple and clean. This Joan Gray Oil has become a staple in my skin/ body care routine. It has a blend of aromatic oils which nourishes the skin head to toe. Pro tip: apply before your foundation/ tinted moisturizer for a natural glow that is sure to make head turns. Shop here.
Sun Potion Anandamide: Aka "Bliss Alchemy". If you know me, you know that I like anything and everything with the word "Bliss" in it. I bought this magical adaptogen blend for the name and ingredients, but ultimately fell in love with the way it made me feel. It is the perfect way to wean off that afternoon coffee & leaves your mind and body calm, yet energized. Shop here.
Monstera Plants: Can you ever have enough plant babies? For me, the answer is always "NO". I have fallen in love with the way that indoor plants make my space look and feel. This little guy is called a Monstera/ Swiss Cheese Plant. My favorite one "died" over the winter in my move, but with some tender love and care, I was able to bring him back to life. There is nothing like watching something flourish and grow. You can find these at most local garden shops.
Golden Flourish "Serene" Herbal Tea: This herbal tea from Golden Flourish is very aptly named Serene. The blend was created to bring tranquility, relaxation, and balance to your day. It has some of my all time favorite herbs in it: basil leaf, lemon balm, peppermint, and chamomile flower. The packaging caught my eye on the shelf in At Land http://at.land/ in Dobbs Ferry, New York and I had to bring it home to try! The smell and taste is absolutely divine, and until this heat wave passes I'll be enjoying it iced!
EcoBags Reusable Produce Bags: I've been looking for ways to decrease my usage of single-use plastics such as: straws, to-go containers, plastic utensils, shopping bags, etc. One wonderful source of information has been Lauren Singer's blog Trash is For Tossers which highlights many of the reasons she created her store in Brooklyn Package Free Shop which sells sustainable, green, eco friendly, plastic free products to help you live a zero waste, minimalist, and low impact lifestyle. My first purchase from the e-shop were these handy reusable cotton produce bags made by EcoBags. Now when I go to the supermarket or local farmers market I won't be needlessly using any plastic bags to transport my fruits and veggies home with me!
Drunken Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel: The company Drunken Elephant has been on my radar for a few years with their ethos and commitment to using only clean ingredients. I'd yet to test any of their products out until this past month when I happened on their cutely packaged series "The Littles" at Sephora which is a travel size selection of their skincare line. I absolutely love the B-Hydra Hydration Gel, I apply in the morning after cleansing and it has given my skin an extra boost and glow this summer!
Kite Hill "Key Lime" Almond Milk Yogurt: My mom is famous in our family for her key lime pies. Transitioning this past month to a vegan diet meant passing up a slice at summer events, at least until she makes a vegan-friendly recipe! Until then I've found a great alternative in Kite Hill's key lime flavored almond milk yogurt. A lot of times with dairy substitutes the texture can be a bit grainy or off in some manner, but not with this! It is super creamy and has the perfect sweet to tart ratio you want from a key lime pie. Add a few coconut shavings, or crumble some granola on top and you're in for a perfect summer treat that is healthy to boot!
When I first met Sarah Swanberg (M.S. L.Ac. Dipl.O.M.) of Indigo Acupuncture I was struck by her combination of kindness and intelligence. We immediately connected over our passion for all things wellness and she has been an amazing supporter of Inner Light. She is a wellness guru in the local community, and has referred many wonderful clients to us, co-hosted events with us, and we recently started carrying her adaptogen line with Maikana Foods!Read More
Before I was pregnant, I played with using herbs and adaptogens - I put ashwagandha in my smoothies, drank herbal teas - but I did not realize the power of these plants. In Western society we generally treat plant medicine as secondary and lack an appreciation for the ancient wisdom of botanicals. Yet, herbs are the original medicine, and have been used since antiquity, and likely even before that – chimpanzees have been documented to self-medicate with plants.
As soon as you become pregnant, you are bombarded by a list of things to avoid. At the top of that list are almost all herbs and upon realizing this, I immediately recognized that these plants were very powerful. What I had previously treated as additive, I began to see as real medicine. When I started to do my research, I found that there was a complete lack of information and science around what herbs are safe and which were not for pregnancy. With all alternative medicine, infrared saunas included, there is a lack of rigorous scientific studies proving herbs efficacy and safety. The reason for this is that there is no one interested in paying for very expensive clinical randomized trials on something like nettles, and there is also the moral issue of testing anything on pregnant women, which is extremely valid. However, we can look to thousands of years of historical, empirical, and observational evidence, and some pharmacologic and animal studies, to educate ourselves about herbs and plants.
During pregnancy I was overly careful about the herbs and adaptogens I consumed. There were a small handful I utilized well in pregnancy, and many were eliminated from my diet. In the post-partum period, I have been able to harness the medicine of plants on a deeper level. Especially in my breastfeeding journey, I have watched herbs have a profound effect on my milk supply, changing my body literally within days. As I begin to experiment with herbalism, I am excited to learn more, and today to share what I have learned so far. Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor or herbalist, and every mama should made decisions based on her own research and instinct.
HERBS I USED DURING PREGNANCY:
- Red Raspberry Leaf: Rich in B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium and fragarine, it is believed to help strengthen and tone the uterine muscles and pelvic floor. It is also supports the immune system and boosts circulation. It has been used by indigenous Australians for thousands of years, and is commonly found in pregnancy teas.
- Chamomile: Used for thousands of years dating back to Ancient Egypt, chamomile has a calming effect, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. So few sleep remedies are available to pregnant women, and sleep is so difficult especially in the third trimester. Chamomile tea was one of my favorites and I would only take one cup a day.
- Lavender: Another great aid for sleep and relaxation is lavender oil. It should be avoided in the first trimester as it is classified as an emmenagogue, meaning it could encourage menstrual flow, which theoretically could slightly increase the risk of miscarriage. Later in pregnancy, I took it on my pulse points and my pillow before bed.
HERBS & ADAPTOGENS I ELIMINATED DURING PREGNANCY:
- Rosemary: A stimulating herb, I often used rosemary essential oils for my hair or baths, but I avoided it during pregnancy. Rosemary is an emmenagoge as well, and may also deplete fluid in the fetal sac. Rosemary in cooking is fine, but essential oils are highly concentrated and could be unsafe.
- Ashwagandha: This adaptogen is amazing for pre- and post-pregnancy – it regulates hormones, can rejuvenate the reproductive organs, and treats stress and anxiety. However, it contains nicotine which is a uterine stimulant and in large doses could cause a miscarriage. In India, many pregnant women continue to take ashwagandha for its stress and pain relieving properties. So each mama should make her own decision, but I removed it from my smoothies while I was pregnant.
HERBS & ADAPTOGENS I USE FOR POST-PARTUM SUPPORT:
- Mother’s Milk: This tea, from my favorite brand Traditional Medicinals, contains fenugreek, Fennel, anise, coriander and blessed thistle—herbs that have traditionally been used as galactagogues (aka milk-making aids). I took it to help bring my milk in during the first few weeks - I had pre-eclampsia and a c-section so it took almost a week for my milk to come in. I believe pumping 8-10x a day was why I was able to establish a great supply, but the Mother's Milk definitely aided me. Now that my babies are almost six months and their needs are increasing, I have been taking it again. I take two cups a day and usually see my supply boost a couple days later.
- Sage & Mint: About four weeks in, my babies both became very colicky, and one of the issues was breast milk over supply. At the recommendation of my fantastic lactation consultant, Annie Brown, I began taking sage and mint tea. At first I tried the mint, mostly because it tasted good and was readily available at Whole Foods. Once I added in the sage, I saw a massive difference in my supply and the boy’s demeanor (as well as their gas and poops if you’d really like to know!) It was extremely effective for me and if I missed a day I would see my supply bump up within a day. Around three and a half months I weaned off this tea and my supply evened out.
- Nettles: Post-partum hair loss was one of those things I just hoped I would somehow get out of, but my hair began to fall out around four and a half months. I began taking nettle infusions – a stronger version of tea where you pour hot water over the herbs, then let it steep for hours before drinking. When I took the nettle infusions I noticed my hair fall out less. It also is packed with B vitamins and minerals, as well as iron, all things that you need post-partum. I have struggled to keep up with it, just because I struggle to find time for basic things like work, and showering, but I hope to get back on it to help my hair regrow.
- Adaptogens – All of them: I began adding adaptogens back to my smoothies a couple months post-partum. I have played around with them, making sure that they don’t affect my milk supply, and they haven’t. I am pretty cautious about ingesting anything, just in case it affects my milk supply or Sawyer’s eczema. But I am confident that I have only seen benefits from adaptogens. I love the new line from Maikana Foods & Indigo Acupuncture that we just started carrying in our Shop. They offer two blends, Energize or Relax, and I love that they have handcrafted these to be a combination of all the best adaptogens. I have been putting Energize (ashwagandha, reishi, astralagus, eleuthro, rhodiola) in my oatmeal in the morning and I definitely feel a difference in my focus and stamina throughout the morning.
An intention is an energetic signal that you want to bring some thing into your life. It is a signal that works inward – to your Self – and outward – to others, the universe, God. Learning about quantum physics and the science of intentions changed my life, quite frankly. Once I knew that I was energy, and I was constantly creating my own reality with the thoughts and emotions I broadcast into the quantum field, I began to take them more seriously and act with more intentionality.Read More
Meditation is a medicine that I am always seeking more of in my life. As soon as I let go of needing my meditation practice to be what I viewed as correct or right – a quiet space, no noise, at least twenty minutes – I started meditating more. I have found that whenever I choose to make space for meditation, there is a substantial difference in my mood and wellbeing.Read More
Launching the blog this month has been exciting, albeit frightening at times. I never thought I'd start a blog, but this space is a natural extension of Inner Light's mission and an easy way to share more of my personal wellness journey. I hope that you've enjoyed reading along, I can't wait to see where this goes!
As the last post of each month, our Inner Light team will be sharing our monthly round-ups. What we're doing, reading, eating, using, watching... whatever is inspiring us and fueling us at this moment! You all know Haley, our amazing manager who has been working to build this business with me since we opened in July, and Jesse, who started with us in September and is here every weekend. Both these women are a daily inspiration to me and I love what they shared for their monthly finds.
Madewell High Rise Slim Boy Jean: Post-baby pro-tip - buy yourself a pair of jeans you love in a size up. I am not worried about "losing the baby weight" - I actually am opposed to that whole concept - my body is different and I love it more than ever! But it's still not fun to try on jeans that are way too tight. So I invested in a pair of jeans that fit my body now, so I don't have to worry about not having anything to wear. I've been pairing them just with a white tee - nothing feels chicer to me than blue jeans and a white tee! Link here
Suntegrity SPF 30 Tinted Moisturizer: I recently learned that sunscreen is one of the biggest and worst polluters of our oceans. Up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen enter the world’s reefs annually, and the main ingredient in most - oxybenzone - rapidly bleaches coral and slows new growth. A single drop in 4.3 million gallons of water — about six and a half Olympic-size swimming pools — is enough to be deadly. So I've been trying to clean up my sunscreen game and I'm obsessed with the feel and look of this reef-safe daily moisturizer. Link here
Nettle Leaf Tea Infusions: My hair started to fall out about a month ago from post-partum hormone changes - people should warn you that your beautiful pregnancy hair is only a momentary thing! Nettle leaf is rich in B vitamins that boost hair health, and I swear it's been helping. I drink it as an infusion - you steep in boiling water in a tightly closed jar for at least 4 hours and then drink at room temp or over ice. Tastes like sea water, in a good way! Nettles are also great for allergies, inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and much more!
Intuitive Being by Jill Willard: I had read some of Jill's interviews on Goop over the years, and recently listened to her podcast with Elevate the Globe. I am loving her book about connecting to your intuition - which we all have. She is a gifted medium and intuitive, mama, and her writing makes a concept that can feel very "woo-woo" easy to understand and access. Buy here.
Alexis Smart Flower Remedies, Ganesh: This is probably my favorite thing I'm using right now. I swear that it is working! Alexis' was trained for a decade by mentors in the Dr. Bach's flower remedy lineage and is also a homeopath. This tincture in particular is for confidence, and I swear it's helped me be bold enough to launch this blog, among many other things! Take 4 drops 4x a day for results. Find in our shop.
Lacy Phillip's Interview on Manifestation on Goop: I have been a client of Lacy's for over two years now, and before that I was following her method on her blog Free & Native. She is an expert in manifestation, and her method works with reprogramming the subconscious to heal limiting beliefs in order to create the life you dream of. Since working with her I've launched two businesses (I was doing interior design before opening my dream business) and had my twin babies. If that's not proof of how well her method works, I'm not sure what is! Read more here.
Outdoor Voices 7/8 Leggings: These are the absolute perfect legging to take you from yoga to spin or even to work (if you're as lucky as me). Shop here.
Alexis Smart Whole Hearted Flower Remedy: This has helped my heart heal and feel more at peace. Healing is a constant practice, but I have felt a definite change in my heart since taking this magical remedy. Take 4 drops, 4 times a day under the tongue.*May be taken more frequently as needed. Shop in store.
Amethyst: I have been working on my mind body connection lately and have kept this stone close to me at all times. Amethyst is the mother of balance, calm, and peace (it also helps eliminate impatience). Shop in store.
WYLD Skincare's Konjac Sponge: I have become completely obsessed with Wyld Skincare's Konjac Sponge. It has completely changed the composition of my skin and leaves it with a smooth, dewy look. My skin prefers the Bamboo Charcoal, but this beauty also comes in French Pink Clay. Shop in store.
Nature Journaling: I've set as a daily habit to put aside time to observe my environment and journal what I see. It can be for any length of time, only a moment or as long as the scene enraptures you. I found myself watching the politics of grackels for over half an hour the other day. I think a lot of us have an idea of "nature" as something we witness elsewhere, outside of where we live. On a trip to the tropics, on the west coast but it's surrounding us all the time. New England is an absolutely gorgeous place and I look forward to recording the creatures that live here!
Hope: What you Eat Matters: I discovered this film on one of my favorite YouTube channels & blogs: Plant Based News. They describe it as a documentary uncovering and revealing the effects of our typical Western diet on our health, the environment, and animals. It is an absolute must watch for anyone interested in learning more about plant-based and vegan diets as well as those looking to renew their belief in the lifestyle. Plus Paul McCartney's a fan. Saying, "This important film highlights the choices we must make to help protect this planet and all its inhabitants." Watch more here.
High Vibrational Beauty: Recipes & Rituals for Radical Self Care: I couldn't resist purchasing this book from Inner Light! It is a true beauty for so many reasons. The cover's a perfect peachy pink and is a great addition to any coffee table collection or bookcase. Throughout its 250+ pages are gorgeous photos of wellness rituals, plants, crystals, and recipes. A ton of recipes. It is gracefully divided by the seasons and I can't wait to delve into all the wisdom for summer habits and creations. Shop in store.
Dragon Fruit: I can't rave about dragonfruit enough, they have become a staple on my grocery store runs. The CAP Beauty book has a quote from their friend a nutritionist Dana James, "Eat only beautiful foods." Dragonfruit fit into that. I've tried them with white and yellow flesh, I prefer the yellow, I've yet to find the gorgeous pink variety. I dream about it. So far my favorite way to eat them is sliced up small with agave drizzled over. It's a perfect afternoon sweet treat.
Ines Longevial: A lucky Instagram find: Simple black and white sketches, particularly of the human figure are a true love of mine and Ines Longevial's art fulfills this and more. She describes her work as concentrating on two principal themes: femininity and nature. See more here.
During my pregnancy I practiced intuitive eating – listening to my body’s wisdom and eating what I craved and made me feel good. Sounds simple, but it can be difficult to listen to our own bodies in this climate of fad diets and conflicting information. There is so much unnecessary pressure on pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to eat the “right” things. This pressure, while well intentioned, can distract us from connecting to our bodies and inner wisdom, while also just plain stressing us out.Read More
When I decided to start a blog for Inner Light, I knew that I wanted to feature interviews with women that inspire me. I reached out to Cortney Herrera, founder of Wildcare, a holistic skincare line we have the honor of carrying in our Shop. What I didn't realize is the depth of Cortney's wisdom.Read More