W magazine: From Waif to Woman

W magazine: From Waif to Woman

My new piece for W magazine has been a long time in the making. It’s a personal essay about getting bigger, stronger, and finally learning to like the body I live in. I started writing it three years ago, at the peak of my Functional Fitness-following, deadlift-hefting days. But then I got busy, and then I got pregnant. The strong body I’d built proved itself winningly, carrying me and my child comfortably through forty-two weeks of in utero life. But the article, like many other things, got sidelined.

W magazine asked me to revisit it recently for their “Strong Woman” March 2017 issue. Internally I laughed, because three years after bearing my baby, my fitness is a long way from where it was. Yet I also cheered. It was perfect timing: I was eager — desperate? — to rediscover that ease of inhabiting my vehicle, and the fire that had ignited my private sense of pride.

I can’t pretend the fire is roaring, yet. Having a pre-schooler plus work and marriage demands mean I have to take my triumphant return to physical domination at extreme baby steps. But to quote my trainer, “Slow your roll, sister.” When it comes to waking up a de-conditioned body, baby steps actually might be the wise way to go.

Here’s the piece.

New Project: Primal Fat Burner

New Project: Primal Fat Burner

I got a ketogenic education when I helped ancestral nutrition expert, Nora Gedgaudas, edit and refine her new book Primal Fat Burner (Atria Books). Nora is one of the preeminent voices in the field of Paleo health, highly acclaimed for her first book Primal Body, Primal Mind, which laid out a comprehensive look at the ways modern life has distorted our original genetic blueprint. In Primal Fat Burner, she zeroes in on a super-sharp focal point: restoring our original fat-burning metabolism, which 3 million years of human evolution designed us to use (but several hundred years of carb-centric eating destroyed, to our detriment). Working with Nora is like getting a graduate degree in nutrition—and an initiation into her passionate crusade for taking back our health and ending unnecessary suffering. Having worked with her, eaten with her, and gotten a peek into her kitchen and home, I can say that this woman walks her talk (and makes a mean slow-cooked, pastured pork to boot). I haven’t lowered my own carb intake enough to switch on my fat-burning metabolism—yes, it’s an actual physiological switch you trigger through your diet—but I am indeed keto-curious. And I was as inspired by Nora’s cuisine as I was by her call to collectively move towards truly sustainable and regenerative livestock management, as practiced by her friend and mentor, Allan Savory. As soon as my three-year old has stopped having porridge for breakfast, making carb-grazing far too much of my morning routine, I’ll become Nora’s next convert.

From my archives: Wyoming Memoir for W magazine

From my archives: Wyoming Memoir for W magazine

I live in a little red cabin, far from sight, on a creek near a wall of mountains, in the top-left corner of Wyoming, down the road from Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. In summer, lightning walks across the peaks that loom over my rented property. On winter nights, if the plowman hasn’t come, I walk the quarter-mile driveway to my house with a military-grade flashlight, scanning ahead for massive bull moose.

The cabin has a creepy room filled with vintage ice picks and axes; its bare pine walls look like those of a sauna. Inside, I wear thick-soled work boots over my pj’s while I craft product copy for companies like Tom Ford Beauty and monitor the Amazon rankings of my book collaborations, such as the detox guide Clean. Though I’ve always resided mainly in cities, I have half stepped around frontier living for years. I’ve set up temporary camps in Montana (a ranch job), Arizona (meditation training), and New Mexico (a writing retreat). But inevitably I return to the sensible centers of New York or Los Angeles. I’ve always been too timid to really live at the edges.

Now, at 37, I’ve finally cut the cord. My home is Jackson Hole, a long, oval valley, prized for its remoteness. To read my memoir piece for W magazine, visit here

Greeven & Belger: My Writing Partnership

Greeven & Belger: My Writing Partnership

Some projects work better when you tackle them as a team. As half of the writing duo Greeven & Belger, I have experienced how powerful two can be when it comes to accomplishing books from scratch and creating complete website copy. Berkeley-based writer Marisa Belger and bring two sets of knowledge and experience to every project as well as two problem-solving minds, and we can often deliver material in significantly less time than a single writer. Especially drawn to writing about women and wellness, we paired up to co-write The First Forty Days with author Heng Ou. We have also revamped websites for major organizations and created content for leading wellness brands. We maintain separate projects and clients, but when the right project calls us, we leap on board with capes flying in the wind, tackling it as a twosome.

What spurred two wordsmiths to step out of their solitary writers’ caves, leave their egos behind, and split prestigious projects in half? Our kids. Though Marisa and I had long danced around the idea of collaborating, trying it on for size on small brainstorming and editing sessions over the years as self-employed writers, having children made pairing up a necessity. The stress of writing-to-deadline when small, teary beings needed us more; the fatigue that comes with parenting, and the unpredictability of day-to-day life meant we needed something that writers almost inevitably, and painfully, lack—support.

So far, we’ve worked together in various capacities on three books, including a new release for Rodale in collaboration with a leading voice in the wellness field. With my deep expertise in nutrition, wellness, and years of writing “the voices” of celebrities and thought-leaders, and Marisa’s unerring editorial ear for real readers’ needs and experiences, not to mention a studied connection to yoga, spiritual practice, and mothering of her own, when we put on our G&B hats, we find that idea-generating moves faster, editing sails along quicker, challenging days juggling family and work feel a little softer, and the entire process of creating a book or copy project is about 100% more fun than if we were going at it alone. And for writers, “fun” is something that too often barely gets a look in.

Good things happen when moms circle up.

Photo: Jenny Nelson // wyldephotography.org

 

From my Archives: Chemical-free Beauty for W magazine

From my Archives: Chemical-free Beauty for W magazine

It’s not hard to have a false sense of security when it comes to the purity of your beauty products. You buy a botanical skin serum, book an aromatherapy facial, and imagine yourself a green, clean goddess. But meanwhile, you’ve got a vise grip on your high-gloss nail lacquer, you cherish your long-wearing eye shadow, and the thought of renouncing your colorist gives you the chills.

This head-in-the-sand state is understandable: Start reading about the dangers of formaldehyde in Brazilian blowouts or the lead levels in red lipstick and denial quickly sets in. Still, it’s time to acknowledge that we live in a complex terrain of chemical toxins. So why knowingly slather more of them onto your body? To read more of my piece about green beauty, visit here.

From my archives: Sacred Sites and Earth Mysteries

From my archives: Sacred Sites and Earth Mysteries

The pungent manure smell wafting through my mother’s Wiltshire cottage this morning is one clue that an extraordinary phenomenon is coming to an end. The steady drone of combine harvesters all night every night for a week is another. As the giant machines shave down the quivering golden wheat fields that surround the house into neat, cadet-like crew cuts, and then plough the soil full of cow poop to ready them for next season, the raw canvas for nature’s astounding display of crop circles is getting diminished by the day…. To read more about my close encounters with crop circles, visit Reality Sandwich here.