Juicing has been all the rage these days, and for good reason: the back-to-basics approach to consuming fruits, veggies and fresh ingredients is a smart alternative to combat the winter doldrums that tend to creep up this time of year. Luckily, we've taken the guesswork out of juicing by chatting with acupuncturist, herbalist and certified Chinese nutritionist Neka Pasquale, CEO and founder of Urban Remedy (our favorite organic juice program to date!) Read on to hear Neka's advice on how we can better take care of the bodies we've been given (hint: sleep is key!):
You're certified in Traditional Chinese Nutrition and an acupuncturist - how has this career shaped your everyday life?
I have my Masters in Traditional Chinese medicine, going through this program I had to deeply change the way I view the body. Growing up in the US we look at everything through "Western eyes," focusing on the parts and functions of the body. In TCM the body is looked at in a truly holistic perspective: every organ in relation to the whole, emotion and it's connection to the physical body, meridians and how energy flows through the body. To practice this medicine you have to live it and embody it or you cannot be an effective practitioner. After finishing my program over 13 years ago I can say it's permeated the way I look at life. If someone tells me they have been irritable and frustrated I immediately think liver congestion. I am aware of the taste and temperature of foods and how they effect my body. When my son is sick I can make him medicinal soups that not only taste good but help him get well faster. This medicine is a lifestyle and balance is the goal. A balance of body, mind, and spirit...always striving.
Why do you think women should approach their wellness holistically, and what are some ways they can infuse this advice into their daily lives?
I think if you approach life from a holistic perspective you will end up a more balanced and healthy person. Listening to your body and it's cues is one of the most important things you can do.
What are some simple ways we can better care for our bodies?
1. Make sure you get a good night's sleep. Sleep is important to keep our adrenals balanced, brain functioning properly and rejuvenating the body.
2. Take your fatty acids. Flax oil and chia seeds for Omega 3's, this helps prevent inflammation and support brain function.
3. Eat your greens.
4. Express your emotions. Repressed emotions get stored in the body and show up as a pain in the neck, migraine headaches, anxiety, fatigue, irritability and more.
As a single, working mother, how have you prioritized your family and business?
Being a single mom and CEO of a growing business is not easy. My son always comes first; he's still young and needs his mom. I bring him with me on business trips and so far everything has worked out great. But I have zero time to myself and am constantly trying to find balance. I am lucky because my work is my second love and being able to do what you love and are passionate about is everything. I want my son to see me doing what I love and I hope he will be inspired to do the same.
What priorities have you had to shift along the way, and what expectations have you had to let go of completely?
I used to be a very social person. Dinner parties, going out, catching up with friends are all pretty much a part of my past. My life revolves around work and my son, that's all I have time for these days.
I have learned a few hard lessons along the way. I used to trust everyone that worked for me to a fault. After dealing with the normal things employers go through when you have more than 20 employees, I have learned to not be so trusting of others and first let people prove themselves. Employees want structure and thrive in a structured environment.
What are a few everyday products you wouldn't want to live without?
Honestly I am so lucky that I get to eat and drink Urban Remedy products every day. I always have a Time Machine (acai lemonade), green juice and a fresh salad or other healthy option. My other favs are coconut oil, turmeric, kale chips. I'm really into Lyla's chocolate sweetened with stevia only 1 gram of sugar in a whole bar. I also try and drink a lot of water infused with ocean minerals for ultimate hydration.
What are some great resources for a beginner's guide to holistic living?
I like to keep it simple for beginners: eat fruits or veggies at every meal. Try and eat foods in their natural state with as many hues as possible reds (raspberries, tomatoes), greens (kale, broccoli), yellow (peppers, lemons), oranges (butternut squash, yams), blues (blueberries, blackberries). All these foods are delicious and filled with phyonutrients. Even if you are in a rush grab a handful of raw almonds and an apple instead of a donut and keep your blood sugar balanced. Avoid all overly processed foods like cookies/bagels/crackers/pizza/baked goods/sugary foods and feel your energy increase.
There are so many health books out there I say read all you can, take what speaks to you and makes you feel vibrant. We all have different constitutions and not one thing works for every body. Find what works for you and go with it.
p.s. Looking for ways to integrate new healthy habits into your routine? Check out Lisa Hirsch's interview for additional inspiration!