Meet Chelsey Wilkens, Personal Trainer & Holistic Nutritionist
Chelsey Wilkens is all about embracing an Ayurvedic lifestyle. A personal trainer at SoHo Strength Lab and a Holistic Nutritionist, she shares with us how to recenter our bodies through diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits.
What are your favorite workouts for morning and night?
As a personal trainer, I tend to work first thing in the morning before most of my clients go into work, or later in the evening when they are finished with work. First thing in the morning my partner and I take my dog for a walk through the neighborhood and get a coffee.
On the days that my morning starts slightly later I love to begin my morning on my yoga mat. I am also someone who loves an evening workout! It helps me detach from a day of work and reconnect with my body. I love going to Chelsea Piers and having a sunset swim!
We know that being active is a key ingredient to good health, but sometimes we can’t quite find the motivation to go to the gym. Do you have any at home workouts or activities that we can incorporate into our daily lives for those days?
Over the past year I discovered the Becoming Balance yoga app and it has been an absolute game changer! I teach yoga, but it’s so nice sometimes to be guided and not have to anticipate your next move!
I think the most important thing is that you get moving! It’s great for your digestion and blood sugar to go for a walk after a meal. Your non-exercise related activity (NEAT) has a greater affect on your metabolism than your hour (or less) of working out; this can be the errands that you run or finishing up chores around your house- every bit of activity you get in is beneficial to your health and progress!
In addition to being a personal trainer, you are a holistic nutritionist. Can you explain the concept of holistic nutrition for those who may not know?
Along with studying nutrition and organic biochemistry, I approach the work I do with clients with an Ayurvedic perspective. It’s important to observe the ways in which we go out of balance and adjust nutrition, exercise and other lifestyle habits to help bring our body back to its center.
As a New Yorker, you see people killing themselves at work, then killing themselves at the gym, followed by an all nighter at the bar. A holistic approach will try to balance this excessive behavior and encourage the person to adapt some grounding practices like yoga to calm the “fire” behavior. Likewise, if someone is feeling lethargic and unmotivated, encouraging a practice that is invigorating and food that is lighter or spicier can help elevate their experience.
What role does diet play in your sleep? Are there certain foods that promote rest and relaxation? What should we stay away from before bed?
I think the most important consideration when it comes to what you consume before bed is in the how. How you pair food/drink changes how your body reacts to the substance. Having a sweet cocktail on an empty stomach will quickly spike your blood sugar, making your blood glucose stability throughout your meal more sensitive. A simple spoonful of olive oil or apple cider vinegar before your drink will help stabilize your blood sugar, resulting in less disruption of sleep and less cravings overall.
I personally have quite the sweet tooth and a love of ice cream! Knowing that I don’t want to disrupt my sleep, or diminish my efforts of eating healthy and exercising, I don’t eat sweets on an empty stomach. Making sure that for dinner I start my meal with either fiber, protein or fat before moving on to my carbs (and possibly finishing with dessert) helps keep my blood sugar stable and sleep undisrupted.
The health & wellness industry has been growing rapidly. What industry trends do you feel are beneficial? What trends do you reject?
There is so much new information about nutrition it’s really exciting and frequently changing. The education out there encouraging people to learn where their food comes from and the process it goes through to get to them is really beneficial. I think we need to keep in mind however, that documentaries are often created to be persuasive, so don’t base all of your new found facts from a single movie!
Whichever diet preference you choose, focus on getting enough nutrients and enough protein (yes folks, you need protein to detox!). Trends that encourages restricting food likely don’t have your best interest in mind and are probably trying to sell you something!
RAPID FIRE ROUND:
Do you have a bedtime ritual?
Your body detoxifies best while you are sleeping, so I love to dry brush in the evening before I shower. I also almost always drink either a hibiscus or peppermint-licorice tea before bed and read a passage or two from A Course in Miracles or whatever I am reading at the time.
What do you wear to bed?
Usually head to bed in my boyfriend’s T, but I love a matching tank and short combo for around the house!
What is on your bedside table?
A large mason jar of water.
Do you have any recurring dreams?
I dream of the ocean constantly.
Are you reading or watching anything good at the moment?
I don’t own a tv, so I try to keep what I watch to a minimum. I love reading about history, especially Jewish heritage, but I like to alternate between self help and fiction and am constantly deep into researching new cookbooks. I recently finished 12 Rules for Life, The Things We Cannot Say, The Searcher, and my favorite book to re-read, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Which scent makes you think of bedtime?
I use the eucalyptus body wash by Nécessaire as well as a shower bomb that is eucalyptus which clears my head after a long day, but my home has an earthier sandalwood and vetiver smell to it- so I’d say a bit of both. Currently burning the Loewe candle in Oregano.
What are some nighttime items you cannot live without?
Dry brush, face roller, One Love Organics Enzyme Oil to remove makeup and Pratima Healing Neem Oil.
What is your guilty pleasure?!
Ice cream! Oh, and the perfect dirty vodka martini
How do you engage in self-care?
Self-care is an act of listening to what your body needs. Too often we get into a regimen that we think we “have to stick to” and that’s a really masculine side of how we treat ourselves. I think it’s important to embrace a feminine side of self care, bringing ourselves into balance and being mindful of what we need and how these things shift depending on our day and external influences.
What do you consider the single most important thing for a good night’s sleep?
My instinct is to say hydration, but I know on the rare occasion I don’t sleep well its because my head is not right. Whether through meditation, reading or whatever your routine of winding down is, I think intentionally taking the time to release and let go of the business in your head will help ensure a more restful sleep.
Did you have a bedtime routine growing up?
I was a gymnast as a kid, so I absolutely thrived on a strict routine! Having tools that help you check in is so important in finding consistency in your life! You can’t be married to the perfect routine, but knowing what works for you is important in creating a better internal balance.
What was your favourite childhood bedtime story?
Blue Moose by Daniel Pinkwater; my sister and I would listen to it on cassette.
What is your skincare and beauty routine like? Do you have any holy grail products?
I am obsessed with finding the perfect clean toothpaste. I’m using Weleda salt toothpaste at the moment which I love. I have also recently grown to love Drunk Elephant’s products. My sensitive skin reacts well to them and I love all the nutrient serums they have to pair with your night cream!
How would you choose to spend one hour of free time?
I think I would always choose exercise! Moving my body helps me connect my physical self with my mental and emotional body– I need that! Depending on the day and energy level it could be heavier weightlifting, a run, swim, or some gentle yoga.
If you could choose a song to wake up to every morning, what would it be?
Pavane pour une infante défunte, by Maurice Ravel– I could absolutely listen to it every single day, forever!