My Q&A with Author Phoebe Lapine
It’s not too hard to fall in love with all things wellness when you’re reading books like Phoebe Lapine’s The Wellness Project for inspiration and direction. In a conversation this past summer, my friend and I excitedly exchanged titles of wellness books that we thought one another should read. The Wellness Project was first on her list for me, and I purchased it on Amazon that evening.
The author, Phoebe, was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis at age 22, which is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the thyroid. Saying “no thank you” to synthetic hormones and opting for a holistic healing route instead, Phoebe started trekking along a wellness path that would quickly shape into The Wellness Project – 12 months full of different wellness experiments – tackling hydration, alcohol, skincare, hormonal health and more.
I loved The Wellness Project so much that I was determined to talk with Phoebe Lapine myself. I wanted to know more about the books that she loves, cookbooks she cooking out of, what her morning routine looks like, and her experience coming off of hormonal birth control. After emailing back and forth a few times, Phoebe and I scheduled a time to chat, and – needless to say – I kind of felt like an 8-year-old looking forward to meeting her cool new 17-year-old babysitter: excited yet slightly nervous and hoping to seem cool enough to be seen as an equal.
Living in Manhattan, New York, for her full-time gig, Phoebe writes, recipe develops and teaches cooking classes – while also traveling and speaking around the country.
“I haven’t had a day job for 8 years – which is crazy,” she said.
I told her that I envied this, and she laughed a little and reminded me that the grass always seems greener on the other side. “Sometimes, when your creative passion becomes your job, it might not always be your passion anymore. No matter what – there are stresses, and it’s not all pleasure work!” But, she said that she wouldn’t have it any other way, and she considers herself a “food woman of many trades.”
“What does your morning routine look like?” I asked Phoebe.
She admitted that during TWP, for one month her morning routine was quite long – including movement, breakfast, journaling and meditation. Today, she prioritizes 20 minutes of self-timed meditation.
“During the week, when I’m home and not traveling, I’m pretty good about keeping up with this,” she said. “It’s really powerful for me. It forces me to not look at my phone for a set amount of time – to not turn it back on until I’ve made my tea and have sat down at my computer.”
I asked Phoebe if she uses an application like Headspace or Calm, but she shared that she actually prefers to meditate with a “self-timer” – using her body’s internal clock to recognize when it’s been around 20 minutes.
Although it’s not mandatory to self-time if you want to experience the benefits of meditation, I found it unique that Phoebe does so, and I was curious about how else she chooses to listen to her body and create a life of wellness – especially while living with Hashimoto’s.
“I believe the most profound change that anyone with Hashimoto’s can make is taking gluten out of your diet,” Phoebe said. Through blood testing and the elimination diet, it was clear that Phoebe needed to eliminate gluten from her diet, but as she experienced the benefits of doing so, she realized how important it was to nix gluten if you suffer from an autoimmune disease.
Phoebe has made some other dietary and lifestyle changes that have helped her in her Hashimoto’s diagnosis, but she knows that being human means there will always be some imperfection, and it’s important to not beat yourself up over eating something you usually don’t, or missing a few days of exercise.
“One of my Hashimoto’s mentors, Heidi Lovie, told me to not be too maniacal about anything in my diet. To give yourself time to rest and restore because stress is the most corrosive thing for anyone, especially people with autoimmune diseases.”
“What happens if you do have a rough day health-wise and don’t make the best choices regarding diet and lifestyle?” I asked. “What is your go-to self-care practice?”
“I’m doing a lot of tubbing recently,” Phoebe said. “Even just sneaking in 20 minutes before bed sets the stage for such a better night of sleep. It feels luxurious and indulgent in a good way – a time to unwind.”
Phoebe admitted that taking a bath isn’t always a meditative time, but on the weekends she really tries to make it a ritual by using a homemade face mask or incorporating her own bath salts and elixirs. “If there have been some bad choices throughout the day or she’s feeling run down, she knows that taking a bath and getting a good night of sleep can turn things around.
I’m glad Phoebe mentioned face masks and homemade bath salts because I was dying to know more about her skincare routine, and this was a perfect gateway. Phoebe suffered from perioral dermatitis for a while and has very sensitive skin, so the products that she uses are both nourishing and healing. She shares some of her favorite green skincare products and favorite organic makeup brands on her blog, and her friend’s all-natural skincare line, LINNÉ, makes products in small batches with organic, plant-based ingredients. BOOM.
I opened up to Phoebe about how hard it has been to come off of hormonal birth control and deal with acne again – you know, my hormones being all “WTF IS HAPPENING” and whatnot. Having read her chapter in TWP about her decision to come off of the pill and start the natural family planning method, I asked her if she had a rough time after stopping birth control. Did it take her body a while (like it is mine) to re-regulate?
“It was horrifying (coming off of the pill), and it was so intense that it was one of the reasons why I’ll never go back on it. It was proof to me of what a powerful cocktail I was taking every single day,” Phoebe said.
She admitted that her skin went off the rails, her body changed, and she experienced crazy hot flashes, digestive issues and mood swings. Phoebe helped me recognize that I wasn’t alone and that coming off of hormonal birth control is a hard but wonderful decision.
“It took a bit of time – about six months for my body to get back on track. I started feeling better around the 3-month mark, but the first month or two were touch-and-go,” she shared.
Although Phoebe had a hard time coming off of birth control and made the decision to go the natural route, she doesn’t shame the pill for others. She talked about how medication exists for a reason, whether that’s antidepressants or birth control, and there are women out there who feel empowered while taking the pill, and she has no judgement towards them.
“Some people might not be capable of going the natural route. It’s the overprescribing of drugs to accommodate other abnormalities that cause people to ‘pay for it’ down the line with other hormonal issues.”
Phoebe told me about a woman in the wellness space who is a positive advocate for real life issues – like depression and anxiety. Her name is Laura Miller, the author behind Raw Vegan. Not Gross., and you’ll know why Phoebe is a fan of her after visiting her website. #FROOBS
“Are there other people or authors that inspire you in your wellness journey?” I asked.
Phoebe rattled off recipe developers, authors and experts that she loves, and I’ve provided a few of them in the list below. HELLO to some new #bookclub reads!
Alisa Vitti – WomanCode
Robynne Chutkan – The Microbiome Solution
Holly Grigg-Spall – Sweetening the Pill: Or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control
The Call Your Girlfriend Podcast
Adina Grigore – Skin Cleanse
Naturally, I had to ask what cookbooks she’s loving at the moment too…
Phoebe was so easy to talk with, and her answers were so genuine. I knew that talking with her would be a great experience, but I didn’t know beforehand how authentic and comfortable our conversation would be. I truly feel lucky that Phoebe took the time out of her morning to chat with me about real things and real struggles. It’s conversations like these – with people that inspire you and that you look up to – that can change your life in small (or big) ways and can introduce you to new ways of life and opportunities.
As a parting thought – I asked Phoebe what she would say to a young health and wellness entrepreneur like myself. What would she tell them in regards to chasing their dreams?
“Be willing to take on a lot of different small, maybe ‘odd’ jobs. It’s okay for things to be patched together. You have a lot more to write and talk about when you have a lot of different experiences.”
So, if that means we can explore, discover, stumble, attempt and learn while chasing our dreams at the same time, then count me in.
If you haven’t read The Wellness Project, then I truly believe that you’re missing out on something special! You can purchase it on Amazon here, and you can catch Phoebe’s 2-year update post project on her website. You’ll love it; and if you don’t? Then read it again ;)
Have you read a book recently that's changed your life in a way? Please share!