This past week I had a day well spent exploring the Westside of LA. I crafted this day with the intention of wanting to gift my main squeeze, Ciav, a day of peace. Ciav is a computer programmer with such high energy he could power a small village. Although I am always amazed by his ability to keep his mind dialed in & body in motion, it is a well known fact that no one can operate at such intensity all the time. Hence, I arranged for his holiday present to be a day of being mellow & completely unplugged from technology. Sit tight as I re-cap the agenda of one of the healthiest, awesomest, most organic, most relaxing Mondays I’ve had this year! In the words of Raw Chef Ani Phyo “I love living in LA. Blessed to have access to the best organic produce, nature, fashion, restaurants & food, green businesses, & great people.” Perhaps I’ll inspire YOU to explore all that LA has to offer.
8 am: Pick Up
Ciav arrives at my place & all he knows is that there is a day planned full of surprises. He received some clues the night before in instructions that stated: “Pick me up promptly at 8am & wear workout clothes. Bring yoga mat, towel, water, a casual outfit, & something to read for about an hour-technology is NOT allowed :)”
8:15 am: On our Way
It’s official ladies & gentlemen, Ciav’s out of the “bubble” aka his comfort zone. We are exiting Manhattan Beach & traveling north on the 405. The anticipation is killing him- Where are we going? What are we doing? What’s the surprise? Where’s the surprise? Can I know? Can you tell me? Now, I know Ciav doesn’t do well with surprises, but OoOooO-Weee, he has taken it to a whole new level this time. Of course the torture ensues, & I tell him to keep on driving. After heading north bound on the 405 for about 30 minutes we pull off at the Wilshire West Exit. I teach at the Corepower Yoga Wilshire location, so Ciav is convinced we are headed to the studio. C’mon now, would I be that obvious? No way. MmmHmm, that’s right mister, keep on driving, in fact turn Right at the street BEFORE you pass the studio ;)
9:15 am: Pressed Juicery @ 13050 San Vicente Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90049
We arrive at PRESSED JUICERY! FREE street parking, heck yeah! It’s a bit tricky to find because it’s not located on the storefront, it’s actually tucked away in the courtyard of the complex. Good energy in the courtyard- tables, plants, fountains, & outdoor space heaters! If you see a Starbucks you’re in the right building. Don’t be tempted to make a “quick” stop in Starbucks! Think outside the confines of your coffee cup & keep walking! Fresh Pressed Juice awaits you a few steps beyond the iconic coffee shop.
So what’s this place all about? Juicing? The concept of juicing at PRESSED lies in the mentality that “our bodies require vital nutrients to function at their optimal levels, and the quickest and most natural way to get them is through fresh juice.” They also have a unique method in which they extract their juices- the employee at the storefront informs us that the whole process takes about 7 hours. Read on….
“Our juices are produced on a hydraulic press which extracts the finest produce straight from the pulp, minimizing oxidation and releasing vitamins, minerals, and enzymes into each juice that are impossible to yield from a normal juicer. Our juice is 100% raw and unpasteurized, giving it a three-day shelf life. Your mind and your body will thank you for delivering pure, living nutrients straight to your bloodstream, energizing and alkalizing your system back into a balanced state.”
They have quite the selection of about 28 PRESSED juices, waters, & signature drinks to choose from- everything from greens to roots to detoxes to “milks.” I choose “Greens 3″ a delicious concoction of kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, cucumber, celery, apple, lemon, & ginger! Ciav picks “Detox 2″ a simple blend of pineapple, green apple, & mint. We also get almond milk consisting of almonds, dates, vanilla bean, filtered water, & sea salt. Juices come in 16 oz bottles & are $6.50, 16 oz Signature drinks run for $8.
We notice that they have supplements too. We read, “Our natural boosts contain blends of Chinese, Aryuvedic, & other medicinal herbs & extracts designed to be take alone or added to any of our juices for additional health benefits.” OoO! Our interest is piqued! All weekend, leading up to this extravagant Monday, Ciav was plagued by the sniffles, so we think it’s appropriate to check out the “Cold & Flu Buster” which claims to be a maximum strength immunity boost, composed of elderberry, goldenseal, astragalus, & echinacea, among others. It is designed to ease symptoms of the common cold & influenza once they’ve started. For a little pick me up to begin our day we also get “Energy,” a blend of ginseng, gotu kola, rhodiola, riboflavin 5-phosphate & other nutrients to help your body adapt to stress, recover fatigue & rebuild stamina. Since I know the overall theme of the day is unwinding, “Relax” seems to be very fitting too. Chamomile, L-theanine, & passionflower are said to reduce stress, tension, & anxiety, promoting a sense of calm & well-being. Supplements come in 1 oz jars & are $10 a pop. We were told that you dispense one droplet underneath your tongue, ideally in the morning. Each container has about 30 droplets so they should last you about a month. According to the employee, there are no storing instructions to follow (their display of supplements is at room temp) & they don’t have expiration dates, but I am assuming you want to avoid extreme temps & the longer you store these concoctions, the more likely they are to dilute over time- that’s my take.
We take a seat in the courtyard, LET THE TASTE TESTING BEGIN! I love my “greens 3″ juice! Lets be real, “green” drinks are more of an acquired taste, but this tastes fresh & has a hint of sweetness, thank you apple! & a bit of zing compliments of the supporting role played by ginger. I’d highly recommend it! It took Ciav 2 sips to agree. Ciav’s “detox 2″ drink is a bit sweeter so it went down a little easier, but the mint is a clutch ingredients for this balanced blend. We like! We used the almond milk the next morning in our oatmeal…mmm AWESOME! It went down a little TOO smoothly :)
Now onto supplement testing! Ciav puts a droplet of “Cold & Flu Buster” under his toungue & oh man, that face doesn’t look like he’s diggin’ that so much…haha. He manages & reports it was tough at first, but now that it’s washed down he hardly notices what it tastes like. Onto “Energy.” Similar face elicited by “Energy.” My turn to taste. Interesting- harsh taste of herbs in YO FACE. Okay, it’s not that bad, just overwhelming at first. That was fun. Probably 15 minutes after the “Energy” hit, I am starting to feel a good zap of energy flow into my body & I am ready for the next event! I consult with how Ciav is feeling & he says he still feels about the same, which is probably a good thing because his high energy questioning about where we are headed is ALREADY gotten to next, next, neeext level.
Read more about PRESSED Juicery here- You can buy cleanses or juices in bulk, and check out their full menu and other locations throughout LA.
10:30 am:Core Power Yoga @ 11819 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90049
Okay, so I did say bring a yoga mat, towel, & water aaand we are in the vicinity of a CorePower Yoga, so yes, Yoga is on the agenda. The CorePower Yoga Wilshire location is only 2 miles away from PRESSED Juicery, a quick 5 minute drive- so it would actually be a shame if we didn’t squeeze in an hour long flow into our day! Plus, FREE Parking in the underground garage- zing! The plan was to start our day on a healthy note with nourishing juices, then keep the momentum going by incorporating an invigorating workout into our day. If you’re thinking “yoga” & “invigorating workout” shouldn’t be in the same sentence, think again! We attend the 10:30 am Yoga Sculpt class. Yoga Sculpt is a unique flow that incorporates weights to strengthen & lengthen, all while staying true to the philosophy behind yoga. If you’re intimidated, don’t be! A heated room (about 90 degrees) & music set the stage to get you moving & the invigorating flow challenges not only the strength of your physical body, but also the mind & spirit.
I teach Yoga Sculpt on Tuesdays at 7:30 pm at Wilshire which makes me even more motivated to get my booty into other instructors classes because it keeps things fresh. Sitting in the student seat & handing over the reins to another instructor is always a humbling experience. Perhaps other instructors can relate- it’s tough to not hyper-analyze- “Oh, I would do this.. or Ah, I am definitely going to do that in my next class…” Taking other instructor’s classes is a blessing & a curse, but that’s the only way you can keep your sequences fresh & find growth in your own practice. Here, the Ego is NOT your Amigo. So alas, I had energy, I brought the noise, & when I felt spent, I modified. Every second of sweat dripping off my bod was well worth the work. Feeling alive & awake in my own body- LOVE IT!
Prior to class starting, were sitting on our mats getting settled into the room & Ciav turns to me & asks, “what are we doing next.” I’d like to think I didn’t snap, but maybe I did? Who knows. I said something along the lines of, “Is it possible for you just to enjoy what we are doing right now and stop asking what we’re doing next? We get to one destination and you can barely show up to the occasion because you’re so caught up in what’s happening next. You’re at yoga and that’s what’s happening NOW, so don’t be concerned about anything else. I think today is going to be day for you learn the lesson of being “present” in your life, how’s that for a present?” Surprisingly, my tough love is well received as he nods in agreement & says, “You’re right, I am going to focus on being here.” At the end of our 60 minute sweat sesh he comes up to me and tells me that he set the intention to be present on his mat & that it really transformed his practice. Very Cool! If you’re interested in some transforming of your own, check out CorePower Yoga Wilshire, your first week is FREE. Just make sure to tell ‘em you were reading this awesome blog & Amanda R. sent you ;)
Now that we’ve put in WORK, we take our time as we shower up because CorePower has the BEST locker rooms out of any other yoga studio I’ve been to (I am not just saying that because I work there). They are well maintained & fully equipped with all the necessary amenities- from shampoo to blow dryers & everything else in between. After swapping sweaty clothes for casual get ups, we have definitely built up a well deserved appetite. At this point, I don’t think it will make or break any surprises if I reveal that lunch is scheduled into our day :)
12 pm: Seed Bistro @ 11917 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025
Seed Bistro is literally right down the street from CorePower Yoga, like POINT one mile, 2 minute walk status. We walk over to Seed Bistro- which has kinda funky lunch & dinner hours- open 11:30 am – 2:00 pm Monday thru Friday • 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm Monday thru Saturday • Sunday closed. As we head over, my taste buds are dancing because I’ve previously experienced Seed’s culinary amazingness. I have only eaten at the Venice location (read my review here), so I am curious to see what this Bistro is all about. To sum it up, this is what they have to say about themselves….
“We believe that food is an essential source of our energy, health and happiness. In the same way that a seed provides the beginnings for a vibrant plant, the food we eat provides the beginnings for a vibrant life. At Seed Bistro we strive to share with you the fundamentals of our beliefs, experiences, and source of strength and happiness through the food we serve. The cuisine at Seed Bistro is organic, vegan, and macrobiotic, handcrafted and beautifully designed by Chef Eric Lechasseur and his wife, Sanae Suzuki, a macrobiotic counselor. At Seed Bistro the food is prepared fresh daily using macrobiotic principles to create a balanced meal., and we use locally grown organic produce whenever possible. Macrobiotic means “big life” and is a system of eating and a lifestyle approach that support and nourish your mind, body and spirit. Chef Eric prepares also gluten free dishes and his specialty desserts are all refined-sugar free, and some gluten free. The lunch menu is reminiscent of our sister location, Seed Kitchen in Venice, California which is Grab ‘n Go fare, but Seed Bistro steps it up to casual fine dining. The dinner menu is absolutely delicious healthy foods with beautiful presentation. Satisfying the eyes, the mind, and the body, you will look and feel great after eating Seed Bistro’s food. At Seed Bistro, we make our best efforts for offering a healthy plant-based menu that not only nourishes the mind, body, and spirit, but helps reduce our impact on the planet as well. As an eco-friendly restaurant, every detail goes into consideration for the health and well-being of our customers as well as our planet.”
I dig Macrobiotics because you embrace natural, seasonal, local, organic foods and balance your physical, mental, & spiritual states. Macrobiotics is DEEP- it goes beyond just diet recommendations, there’s actually a whole philosophy behind it. I enjoy that the philosophy entails using food & awareness to create a rich, fulfilling, exciting, & satisfying life for yourself. If you’re interested in reading more check it out my Macrobiotic explanation & insights here!
Onto the FOOD! We start with the soup of the day which is Celery Root Soup. Rich, creamy, delectable- this is vegan, right? Can’t tell the difference. Yum! Ciav has no idea what Macrobiotics is, but I love that he likes being exposed to new things. We want to try a bit of everything, so we choose to split a cold salad & a hot lunch entree. The salad we pick is kale, quinoa, avocado lemon,wasabi, nori, and dill for $12. The presentation of this bad boy is impeccable; Kale and quinoa have never looked so darn sexy stacked on my plate like that. We also choose to indulge in the sai sai donburi macro bowl for $12. It’s a steamy plate of kale, bean of the day, squash, shitake, bean sprouts, pickled vegetables, & a choice of brown rice or quinoa- we load up on more quinoa for an added protein boost. WHfoods.org provides tons of reasons why quinoa is a superfood- but most notably, “not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all 9 essential amino acids. Not only is quinoa’s amino acid profile well balanced, but quinoa is especially well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair.”
Food is delicious. We both enjoy the Macro bowl more. I know I liked it more because I was craving some warmth since it was chilly outside. Look at me, finding the balance in life, hot food to even out the cold weather- how “macro” of me. But for real, it is cold outside, I know this is supposed to be LA & all, but sunny SoCal is 44 degrees, thus we opt to try some warm green tea & brown rice blend. Sounds interesting, why not? It was good enough that we order a second round.
As we take the time to indulge our senses & take in this whole experience, Ciav gives me my Christmas gift. He presents me with socks (I told ya, it’s cold outside!) & a KINDLE TOUCH! Ohh, the irony of planning a day of “unplugging” from technology. From this day we must subtract the moments I used my camera to capture all these beautiful moments aaand this moment right now in which we are going to take to play with my new Kindle!!! eeeek! so excited! Geek mode moment of thinking how much more interesting my research articles are going to be when I read them on the beach from my glare free screen. Okay, I know I was complaining that I was cold, so pardon my bratty I am gonna go read on the beach moment.
So somewhere in between macro bowl and plugging back into technology we decide were totally game for DESSERT! We are human, ya know. No questions asked, the $9 pumpkin pie it is. I DIE. It’s beyond amazing, more! more! MORE!! Delicious pumpkin pie, you certainly HEAL me. We ask the waiter where they source the crack they put in it & he tells us they are usually pretty open about telling you what’s in their dishes, but the desserts are a whole different ball game- TOP SECRET. He gives away the obvious ingredient- pumpkin. Thanks, guy. Who cares what’s in it though? I could go on for hours talking about this beautifully presented, sinful dessert, but I’ll spare you. All you need to know is try it. Check out more about Seed Bistro here!
2 pm: Willow Spa @ 3127 Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90404
After being fully satisfied, we get up and bring movement back into our bodies by walking a mere 0.8 miles (15 minutes) to Willow Spa. Now this place is a real GEM. We have both been here before & received massages so Ciav doesn’t know where we’re walking to, but when he arrives, he will know exactly where he is. He’ll know he’s stepping into THE definition of an urban oasis.
“Willow Spa is a Tropical Asian influenced Wellness Spa, offering personalized, effective and unique treatments not found elsewhere in LA. The spa not only provides a unique, lush escape from the burdens of everyday life, but captures true holistic care, offering education and expert advice on health and well-being. You can be guided as much or little as you’d like along your path towards balance, relaxation, and rejuvenation.” Apparently Willow Spa was started by 3 women, 2 chiropractors & a massage therapist who decided to join forces to offer services that combined the traditional spa with the preventative discipline of a clinic. I LIKE…A LOT!
We change into the lounge wear & slippers provided by our greeter & then meet back outside. Thank God for blankets & space heaters! The scenery is gorgeous… complete with exotic, fragrant flowers, the sound of running waterfalls, streams, and lantern lit stone walkways leading to cabanas and day beds around a lush relaxing garden. I take this opportunity to revisit our supplements from PRESSED. We add a droplet of “Relax” under our tongue. Wow, this one actually tastes good! I feel okay, but literally 15 minutes after Ciav says, “I’m totally feeling this. Are you? I feel completely relaxed.” Interesting side note that I am more mellow and was more affected by “energy” & Ciav’s body- super high energy- was more influenced by “relax”. These supplements are onto something with the ability to balance your chemistry. Neat.
It is a Monday, so it’s not crowded whatsoever- we kinda get to sprawl out! I chose to go on a Monday because they run a promotion called Detox Mondays- When you book an Enzyme Bath with a facial, you get 50% off your facial. YES, Please!
While I get my hour long facial, I encourage Ciav to read the book he brought, but he ends up peacefully napping. That works too. I got the Eminence Organic Facial. The Eminence line is handmade, all-natural organic products from Hungary and are a delight for your senses. Using medicinal herbs and fruits to give lasting results, you’ll have a clear, balanced and revitalized complexion. Highlights include using paprika to open pores, natural fruit acids to remove dead skin cells, naseberry or stone crop to hydrate, lemon to clarify, and peach to provide vitamins to the skin. Just what I needed.
Ciav heads in next for his FIRST facial. He’s a dude’s dude, has no idea what to expect so I took all the guessing out & booked him The Gentlemen’s Organic Retreat. This is a real man’s facial using natural organic products especially selected for a man’s skin and individual needs. This treatment is excellent for all skin types including those suffering from over exposure to the sun. This facial is wonderfully relaxing and fantastic for keeping a man’s skin in optimal condition. Treatment features Eminence products. Meanwhile, I read some magazines & relax. He comes out & his skin is GLOWING, he looks great!
One of the greatest things about booking a service with Willow Spa is that you get a complimentary foot massage. This is no “standard” foot bath. It’s 15 minutes of pure bliss for your feet. They are immersed in warm water, sprinkled with Epsom salt, rose petals, and grapefruit slices, all while someone delightfully massages out any foot aches. HEAVEN. We enjoy our foot soak and massage as we drink a woodsy enzyme tea and Akatsuki Enzyme Drink that soothes the body and stimulates enzyme activity within. All done right before we head into our ENZYME BATH.
ENZYME BATH? Explanation Please. You are in your bathing suit and are guided into your own private wooden tub and gently covered with a combination of finely cut wood shavings, rice bran, and fruit and vegetable enzymes. The natural activity of the enzymes breaks down the other ingredients to create a deep, penetrating, heat. While immersed in the Willow Enzyme Bath, your body’s muscles begin to relax, your circulation is increased and your skin is cleansed. This deep heating treatment was originally developed in Japan for the athletes in the Olympics. Max treatment time in bath is 20 minutes and every 5 minutes you are provided with a refreshing lavender compress for your face and water to drink. It’s hot in there! After your bath, your technician assists you out of the bath to another area where the wood shavings are brushed and rinsed from your body. Then you go into the relaxation area where they top it all of with a Thai massage for the lower body. The Benefits of an enzyme bath include…
- Instant relaxation from the soothing heat
- Boost circulation
- Detoxify the body
- Improve mobility
- Relieve joint and muscle pain
- Ease tension and fatigue
- Improve digestion
- Reduce injury
- Calm nerves
We both emerge from our Enzyme Bath Sessions totally zen-ed out. Perfect end to the day. A day full of indulgence indeed! Learn more about what Willow Spa has to offer here. If you go, tell them Amanda Ramirez referred you :)
In order to work this day of yummy-ness into my budget, I taught extra yoga classes the month of November and cut back on spending in other departments. Life is all about balance, work hard & reward yourself often, ideally before you burn out. You don’t need to do something extravagant every time you reward yourself, try finding joy in the act of going on a simple walk in the middle of the work day. This mentality is summed up in the following scene from one of my favorite books, Eat, Pray, Love….
Luca Spaghetti: Americans. You work too hard, you get burned out. You come home and spend the whole weekend in your pajamas in front of the T.V.
Liz: That’s not far off, actually.
Luca Spaghetti: But you don’t know pleasure. You have to be told you’ve earned it. You see a commercial that says: ‘It’s Miller Time!’ And you say, That’s right, now I’m going to buy a six pack. And then drink the whole thing and wake up the next morning and you feel terrible. But an Italian doesn’t need to be told. He walks by a sign that says: You deserve a break today. And he says, Yes, I know. That’s why I’m planning on taking a break at noon to go over to your house and sleep…with your wife!”
Giovanni: We call it “dolce far niente”, the sweetness of doing nothing.
After a day of of healing & relaxation, we walk back to the car while eating green apples & discussing how re-charged we are from the day.You can consider this our version of “dolce far niete.” This Christmas present certainly taught us both how to value surprises, peace, & presence.
This holiday season stay grounded & find new ways to ignite the spark that inspires you to live a more vibrant life! xoxo ar