Well well well! I am dying to tell you guys about this year’s W.E.L.L. Summit and some of the highlights of my experience. But first let me tell you a little bit about W.E.L.L.
W.E.L.L Summit launched its inaugural event last fall in Boston – a two day conference on all things self-improvement. Bringing industry experts in from an array of disciplines including clean eating, fitness trends, green beauty and more this event embodies wellness in mind, body and spirit. 2015 totally rocked my world and I was counting down the days until this years event and it finally arrived! I also roped my sister into joining me from Florida because 1. Sisters and 2. I didn’t want her to miss this life changing event.
Gianne Doherty is the founder and woman behind W.E.L.L. Summit along with an amazing team including her bae Jay. She is also the co-founder of Organic Bath Co. and was just voted The Improper Bostonian’s 2016 Wellness Guru. She is a total change maker and I love her all-in attitude.
This year the summit gathered in NYC at the New York Marriott East Side on Lexington and 49th. I purchased a V.I.P ticket which gave me first dibs on breakout sessions and it also granted me an enhanced schedule.
So Friday V.I.P. guests launched the summit with a lunch and a manis by tenoverten – a less toxic nail salon in NYC. I’m sure it was fantastic but I couldn’t tell from the Verizon Wireless counter on 5th Ave. Of course as I was gearing up to attend the event of my year, my phone died. Naturally.
Next, all attendees were invited to kick off the summit with the following talks:
- Feed Your Mind: The New Science of Eating for Brain Health with Dr. Drew Ramsey
- Fair Trade/ Conscious Consumer Panel with Meika Hollender of Sustain nontoxic condoms and Margot Lyons from Coyuchi’s natural home goods.
- Clean Beauty Panel with Brandie Gilliam of Thoughtfully Magazine, Tara Foley of Follain, Alba Ramos from SunKissAlba and Siobhan O’Connor co-author of No More Dirty Looks.
- Keynote by Heather Thomson from The Real Housewives of NYC speaking about living with No Barriers.
Feed Your Mind: The New Science of Eating for Brain Health with Dr. Drew Ramsey
I absolutely LOVED listening to Dr. Ramsey. He is a psychiatrist, author and farmer and he spoke about how we can eat to balance mood, sharpen brain function and improve mental health. He was funny, engaging, witty and really connected with the audience. His specialty is treating patients with anxiety and depression and he does – with food.
He says brain cells will influence thousands of other cells and encourages patients to eat foods that will increase the growth of our brains because YES we can grow our brains. When we eat to feed our brains they go from being small, filled with anxiety/depression to being quite large, full of love and connection.
He says eating food that is both low in calories and nutrient dense is the key to success. For example, mussels he argues, are the cheapest, freshest, most sustainable seafood on the planet and most importantly they contain B12 and DHA – two nutrients that are most closely linked to how fast your brain grows or shrinks as you age.
Plus he says if you don’t have enough B12 you will get depressed. We can find B12 in seafood, grassfed beef, yogurt, cheese and eggs. Another essential is Zinc which induces what is called BDNF expression. BDNF has a big sciencey explanation but essentially is related to increasing neuron development and brain function and is often replicated through the prescription of antidepressants. But if we are eating the right foods, foods rich in zinc for example we can do what these prescription drugs are doing and put our brain in “grow mode” using nutrition. (Mind blown).
Oh and he is also the co-founder of National Kale Day 501c3 – and in the words of Dr. Ramsey himself, “Can I get a kale-yeah?!” Yes, doc, yes you can.
Live W.E.L.L. Party
Following this was the Live W.E.L.L Party where attendees got a chance to meet with brand founders, shop their goods, get tenoverten manis and mingle. Some of these brands were: Follain, Thorn and Bloom, True Moringa, The Optimist Co., Simply Chickie, Satya Jewelry, Shift Eco, Florapothecarie, and Violets Are Blue. Light refreshments were provided.
Me and Aims hung out for a bit – I didn’t buy anything but we hit the photo-booth, chatted up some brands, said hi to some friends then we peaced out to grab some supper.
Attendees were invited back to the hospitality suite in the evening for a Tea Time Chat sesh AKA organic tea, Josh Rosebook masking, superfood snacks and wine. But we missed this too because we were too busy noshing at Quartino – Bottega Organica’s restaurant which was AMAZING!!! A total must try if you are in NYC – more to come when I can get another post up about my NYC food and to-dos.
Saturday was the main event. A day of back to back breakout sessions with some leaders in the wellness industry – some real movers and shakers. I wish I had the space to talk about all the talks I attended but since 250 pages does not make an appealing post; I will tell you about a couple sessions and speakers who really resonated with me.
How to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body with Amie Valpone
First up, if you are feeling any kind of frustration about getting access to the kind of healthcare you are looking for (conventional or holistic) – maybe you feel stuck or docs have hit dead ends, test results are not indicating direction, supplements are not working and you feel like you have tried everything under the sun – listen up. Aime Valpone’s got your back. She has been through it all including a visit to death’s doorstep with a serious case of c-diff and was given 24 hours to live plus she just got continually punched in the face with her own health conditions including 10 years of chronic illness like Lyme, PCOS and Hypothyroidism. She was fed up with docs not having answers and took control. Having seen over 500 doctors she made some of these key players work together to guide her towards health and she was here to empower us to do the same.
You need a team of people. I’ve seen over 500 doctors and the only way to get better is to make them work together. No ONE healed me but a team of docs HELPED me.
The first functional medicine practitioner I went to who found my heavy metals screwed up my gut, then the next doc I went to fixed my thyroid and my gut and screwed up something else. But it’s not their fault, they each have specialties.
So GET YOUR BIG GIRL PANTS ON and get them to work with each other and figure it out because they WILL do it with your direction. Take charge of your health!
How can you not love this girl!? Trust your intuition she continues. Be honest with yourself. Prioritize your health. Don’t take no for an answer. She has the scoop on tests you can take to check pretty much everything and she has even vetted which labs to use plus a ton of critical info in her book from recipes to how to avoid toxins to self care to detox to how to eat to support your body.
Start to take control of your life and challenge your doctors – your whole life will shift. Bring a list of questions and when they start to stumble and bumble for an answer – boom, YOU’RE FIRED! Give a doctor 3 months and if you are not better go to someone else!
She spoke to my core and to my experience so intensely I was in tears when I left her session. I wish I could take her to all my medical appointments. Needless to say her book? Ordered it. Eating Clean: The 21-Day plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation and Reset Your Body – I can not wait to dive in. She didn’t bring any copies with her or else I would have bought it on the spot.
Amie Valpone is the founder of The Healthy Apple.
The Discipline of Joy – How to Be “Better Than Fine” Through Hard Times
Okay I also LOVED listening to Siobhan O’Connor talk about The Discipline of Joy. Sobain is the co-author of No More Dirty Looks – a book I keep in my night stand – and now is the Editorial Director for Health at TIME. She spoke from the heart and opened up to us right away. Her brother battled cancer for 11 years and passed when she was 34 which had a huge impact on her emotional state and also drove her to take control of her happiness.
She explains how the fight or flight response in the human body continually pumps cortisol into our system. We are hit up with this reptilian response about 30 times a day which triggers a cascade of hormones resulting in inflammation which is pretty much the root cause of so many diseases like anxiety, depression, insomnia and more.
This response is our defense mechanism and set in place to save ourselves from that hungry lion who could jump out at us anytime. But guess what, we don’t have lions anymore, we have bosses, and ex-boyfriends and “assholes” on the trains. These threats are not physically real and we don’t live in physical danger it’s important to get a handle on our responses.
So how do we counteract this? We give ourselves a baseline. We prime our bodies through acts of self care that will bring us back to baseline faster turning off the flow of cortisol.
“I still struggle, I’m human. But I have a greater capacity for joy and a space for joy and it’s the discipline of incorperating these things into my life that has gotten me there.”
- Turn on the parasympathetic nervous system through meditation, reiki, hypnosis or acupuncture.
- Have a mantra/safe word. Something you can say to cut off spiraling thoughts and bring you back to baseline.
- Be thoughtful about daily transitions. Give your brain time to process thoughts. Instead of reaching for your phone and instantly comparing yourself to others upon waking – do some stretching or mediation. Instead of reaching for a glass of wine at the end of the day, treat yourself to some aromatherapy.
I also left this session in a full out ugly cry. I struggle with balancing my passions and Siobhan’s words really struck a chord and spoke to my soul. First up is investing in an essential oils diffuser to bring a calm to my evenings and set me up for a good nights sleep.
Cracking The Code: Use Social Media To Create Influence, Build Community & Grow Your Business with Ksenia Avdulova
Okay I also LOVED listening to Ksenia Avdulova talk about her experience and finding success on social media. She is the face behind Breakfast Criminals and she works with brands like Lululemon and more. She actually just returned from a sponsored trip to the Amazon (not Amazon the company that’s THE Amazon – like the jungle – ??!!) with an Acai company who brought her there to see how Acai is grown and harvested – like pretty much her dream trip.
All of this from her engagement with her Instagram community and followers that continues to grow. Ksenia gave us a bunch of great nuggets, here are a few.
She says everyone has what a particular aboriginal group calls “good medicine” – meaning a uniqueness you bring to the world. Use that. Be you. Bring value to your reader. Engage. Be consistent. And work with intention. It does not matter if you are “there yet” – work as if you ARE that beauty blogger, or fashion model or travel reviewer – put out what you want to get back and it will come.
That’s A Wrap
V.I.P’s had an option to start their day with a small group mentor session at 7:30am but general audience breakouts started at 8:45am and the last session ran until 7:00pm. It was an intense day.
We don’t often take time for ourselves. Like when is the last time you sat down with someone and truly evaluated your career path, set goals for the future, mapped out strategies for self care or reevaluated your life goals. When are you pushed by a professional to be a better person, live a more fulfilled life or to take better care of yourself? And when does that complete stranger not only 100% give themselves to you, an audience of 30 women, but then then follows it up with a hug – like a real, genuine, hug and an invitation to meet up for coffee back in Boston. Or another with a promise to connect and check-in. That sort of pause to take a deeper look at who we are as people, to listen to our soul, to make sure our behavior is lining up with our goals does not happen everyday. And it doesn’t happen unless you seek it out.
I am not the same woman I was before last weekend. And this is the same feeling I had last year in Boston too. You go to a conference like this and you see 7, 8, 10 speakers and guess what, not every single one is going it hit it out of the park for you but you know what, sometimes you only need one home run to get a grand slam.
Totally recommend this conference to anyone whether you think you need it or not.
Tickets are now on sale for 2017! You can buy yours at the W.E.L.L. Summit’s official website.