My Wellness Articles
As a writer and editor for 15 years I've covered food and wellness in Shanghai and around the world. I have written for Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, The New York Times T Magazine and many more. See my food & travel articles here.
My monthly wellness column Health Matters is published in City Weekend, Shanghai's largest circulation English language magazine. Check out my latest articles below. Is there a topic you'd love for me to cover? I'd love to hear from you.
No one ever said being in a committed relationship was easy. That's doubly true in this city.
It's the typical Shanghai love story. But not one you often read about. “We came over together for my husband's position,” one expat woman says. We'll call her Ann. “We were both enjoying all the things Shanghai has to offer. Then my husband started to hang out with a group of guys who seemed to have a proclivity for extramarital activities,” she goes on, “and my husband started to fool around.” They eventually divorced.
Earning inner peace with the act of forgiving
We’re constantly inundated with the buzzwords of happiness—gratitude, compassion, mindfulness—yet inner peace can still seem so elusive. There is one practice, though, that can truly lift the burdens off our hearts: forgiveness. It’s indisputable in raising our happiness level. The only problem is forgiveness is really challenging. Harder than hitting the gym three times a week, harder than avoiding delicious processed carbs.
Reconsidering our drinking habits
There are so many opportunities for a drink in Shanghai. We have some of the world's best cocktail bars, craft beers seem to flow like the Huangpu and the city's social life orbits around eating and drinking out. In my alternate career as a food writer, I've enjoyed more than my share of wine dinners and cocktail tastings. But recently I took an alcohol sabbatical. For five months I didn't drink, and it made me reflect on why I do in the first place.
How you start your day will make your day
Is this your morning routine? The alarm goes off and you reach for your phone, on autopilot. You have 60 minutes to get out of the house. Your day's demands race through your head as you multitask email, coffee, shower, WeChat, maybe your kid's breakfast and everyone's bags. You blast out the door thinking about your first meeting, an unsent email or a deadline nipping at your heels.
Now let's think about starting your day differently. As a coach, I guide clients in developing purposeful practices. Instead of waking up to everyone else's demands and chaotic morning rushing, we get centered and positively energized for the day. I talked to four wellness leaders to learn their personal routines for some inspiration.
When it comes to wellness one size does NOT fit all
Wake early, sleep early. Eat a big breakfast. Never skip meals. Brush your teeth twice a day. These are oft-repeated commandments. But what if they're not only unnecessary but working against your best health interests? I grew up sleeping late, waking late, listening to an internal clock. I skip breakfast and lunch if I don't feel hungry. And my parents were anti-mainstream hippies who rarely pushed me to brush my teeth. The result: a healthy metabolism and zero cavities. This happened to work for me, but another person may have had a totally different reaction (and a huge dental bill).
As a coach, many people ask me why a certain diet, exercise or sleep regimen doesn't “work” for them even though they see others succeeding with it. That's why we must understand our own bioindividuality: our personal stress levels, food sensitivities, microbiome (the millions of bacteria that line your gut), circadian rhythms, environmental pollutants, etc). All these factors play a role in figuring out our unique wellness approach.
Healthy Shanghai hacks from the man behind the Bulletproof movement
Dave Asprey, perhaps best renowned for adding butter to coffee and calling it a health tonic, has become one of the most influential personalities in biohacking, a movement which applies systems thinking and self-experimentation to upgrade your health, happiness, and even sex life. Asprey’s podcast and bestselling book The Bulletproof Diet question conventional medicine and industrial practices while interviewing experts on push-the-envelope topics like "hacking" the brain and stem cell injections (both of which he does himself).
Now Asprey has his sights set on Asia. Last year he launched the Bulletproof book and products in Japan, and he plans to come to China in 2017. We got an exclusive interview with Dave Asprey to learn more about high-performance life hacks for China.
It's more than a coffee trend, it's a way of life
A few years ago, entrepreneur and biohacker Dave Asprey added butter to coffee, wrote The Bulletproof Diet and created a buttery, biohacking craze that swept the US. Now Dave Asprey has his sights on Asia. He launched his book and products in Japan last month and he tells CW he is interested in bringing Bulletproof to China in the next year.
What does it mean to be Bulletproof? Asprey's approach to optimizing health and happiness is through biohacking which he defines as “using science, biology and self-experimentation to take control of and upgrade your body, your mind and your life”. The Bulletproof lifestyle means eating foods that make you strong, exercising with the least effort for the greatest reward, mindfulness practices, unleashing your creative spirit and focusing on excellent sleep hygiene and minimizing the toxicity of your environment. Much of this can be a challenge in Shanghai, but it's still doable. Here are some pointers.