The Secret to Maintaining Your Health During Travel

Jackie Mulligan - Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Travel can disrupt our healthy lifestyles in more way than one: from increased stress and disrupted sleep to limited food options and more time sitting. Sometimes it feels like a week away can undo all the good progress we’ve been making. Let’s not let travel be a reason for us to deviate from our health goals. How? After years of traveling cross-country to see family and across the world for work, I am sharing my best travel tips to keep you healthy, minimize stress and enjoy the experience of being away.

To Exercise or Not?

Travel in itself can be stressful and adding in intense exercise may not be the best idea for you if that’s the case. If you’re going to compromise sleep to get in an early morning workout, think again. If you’re well rested and have flexibility, then I recommend sticking to your normal routine and making it a priority. Travel can also be an opportunity to switch things up and add in more stretching or body-weight movement which you can do right in your hotel room. My favorite and go-to resource is: ROMWOD. Alternatively, you can go for a long walk or visit a nearby park to do some functional movement like air squats, lunges and push-ups. This can help you to familiarize yourself with your new surroundings and can help reduce stress while you get the blood flowing.


My last post, Give Yourself a Break, provided tips and techniques to getting quality rest that you need and deserve. Adequate rest and sleep are essential for basic function of the neurological, digestive, endocrine and immune systems. To recap, remember to blackout the hotel room (disconnect unnecessary lights and alarms, draw the shades, or bring your eye mask) keep the temperature cool, stick to your bedtime routine (unpack, shower, read, etc.), wear ear plugs and unplug from technology an hour before bed to get quality sleep.

Beat Jet Lag

To prepare for longer trips (one week or more) shift into travel time zone. You may consider moving all activities, meals and sleep time up an hour for up to three days before you depart. For shorter trips (less than one week), I recommend staying on your home time zone as much as possible. Hydrate well and more than usual; avoid alcohol and caffeine. Once you arrive, aim to get early morning sun exposure daily to help reset your circadian rhythm.

Plan Ahead

Part of the fun of traveling includes exploring new restaurants, local foods, and cultures. Do your research beforehand and map out healthy restaurants so you have a plan before arriving. You can search directly on Google, Yelp, or Tripadvisor for keywords like “paleo,” “farm to table” or “gluten-free.” You may also want to research nearby grocery stores and markets.

Surviving Long Flights

To avoid airplane food and ensure you get in sufficient fuel, prepare to-go meals or bring a premade meal. (I often travel with Model Meals). I typically pack a big salad with protein to eat on the plane during meal time. Vegetables often fall by the wayside on travel days, so packing them in a meal is a sure way to keep them in your daily intake. Sometimes, I fast to help me better adjust to time-zones (more on this soon!). Spend the extra money on a spacious seat; it’s worth it. Wear comfortable clothes and get up to stretch. Instead of planning more work for the duration of your flight, enjoy the stillness from being disconnected. Rest. Hydrate. Breathe.

Dining Out

When you arrive at a restaurant, tell the waiter your food preferences (gluten-free,dairy-free, or whatever you are trying to avoid) and ask for their assistance in making substitutions. You can order a salad with oil and vinegar on the side, a burger (sans bun) with a lettuce wrap, or any entrée dish that includes fish, meat or poultry with double vegetables on the side.

Healthy & Convenient (Snacks & Supplements)

Ever realize that you’re hungrier when you travel? It’s like our bodies and brain go into survival mode because there is a chance that food may not be available to us for a longer period of time than we are used to. Packaged foods or low maintenance food make for great emergency snacks, especially while traveling abroad or working long hours away from the hotel. You can pack them in your suitcase and take what you’d like in your carry-on for immediate use.

Some of my favorite “on the go” food include (most are also available at WholeFoods):

– Jerky like CHOMPS sticks
– Bars like RXBAR, Simple Squares or Mammoth Bars
– Nuts and seeds (or pre-made trail mixes)
– Dried or freeze-dried fruit like dried mango or apple chips or coconut chips
– Individual packets of almond butter or phat fudge
– Fresh fruits like apples, bananas, avocados or oranges
– Protein substitute to add to your water, tea or coffee like collagen packs
– Vegetables are not easy to find on travel days: Puori-G3 is a perfect replacement
– Daily dose servings of Omega-3 Fish oil, Magnesium and Vitamin D3 in individual travel sachets Puori-3

Go With the Flow

While maintaining your health throughout traveling is ideal, the most important thing you can do throughout your trip is to not stress about getting your workout in or eating perfectly. In fact, stress is one of the main causes of digestive issues. This means you may be eating a nutrient-dense, whole food diet but if you’re stressed, you’re impairing the absorption and breakdown of your food.

Be Present

“Wherever you go, there you are.” Many of us travel to amazing places for work but don’t get to actually enjoy the places we visit. Even if work takes up most of your time, do what you can to get outside, walk around and take in some of your surroundings. Unplug from your digital devices and look around. Yes, there is time.

Your brain likes a plan, so wherever you’re headed, do your best to plan ahead and prepare. The goal is not perfection– (read: “all or nothing”), but instead, to minimize stress as much as possible so that you can thoroughly enjoy the experience of traveling while also maintaining your health. Let’s change the storyline and turn travel into an opportunity to continue to improve our health.

Give Yourself a Break

Jackie Mulligan - Thursday, February 22, 2018

My last post, "No Sleep is No Joke," I invited you to join me as I give myself permission to be still and rest well in the midst of a busy new year. While everyone hustles off to the gym, makes ambitious to-do lists, tries to fit in that new hobby, I challenge us to question our motives and rest as hard as we plan to play. This post builds on my invitation and unpacks replicable steps you might take to improve your quality of rest.

“Activity and rest are two vital aspects of life. To find a balance in them is a skill in itself. Wisdom is knowing when to have rest, when to have activity, and how much of each to have. Finding them in each other – activity in rest and rest in activity – is the ultimate freedom.”-Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Science Says, Rest (Take a Break)

Lack of adequate rest can lead to high levels of stress and fatigue. In addition, inflammation rises, mental capacity decreases, immunity drops, and metabolism and mood suffer. The distracted, moody monster we become desperately reaches for sugar and caffeine rather than taking the break required. Sound like 10am or 3pm, anyone?

The Living Experiment, a must-listen podcast, features an episode called “Pause.” In this episode, hosts, Dallas and Pilar, explain how to recognize the body’s signals for when a break is needed. Our bodies respond to circadian rhythms– patterns related to 24-hour, night-and-day cycles and they also respond to ultradian rhythms– patterns that occur many times throughout the day. The hosts reveal, “the science is clear: taking brief, periodic … breaks improves not just your health and happiness, but also your productivity, creativity, energy and mood.”

Put simply, our bodies and minds require quiet time to repair and re-energize. Stephen Covey, best known for his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, discusses “sharpening the saw” as the last habit, suggesting that a consistent, continuous dedication to self-renewal (i.e. rest, play, exercise, personal exploration) can empower us to maintain sharp mental and physical edge. Covey notes, “…you can renew and better yourself through appropriate rest and relaxation or you can totally burn yourself out by overdoing everything” (

So how do we build more rest into our day? And what benefits can we expect if we do invest energy into powering down, chilling out, and most importantly having a little fun?

3 Forms of Rest: Total, Active and Passive

Total rest: Complete, utter, thorough, absolute, out-and-out rest! This form is exactly what it sounds like. It means eliminating everyday stressors (i.e. work, working out, errands) for an entire 24 hours. Periods of total rest are the very foundation of the recovery and repair cycles. There should be one day of total rest built into each week.

Active rest is a reduction in workload. Active rest may include putting effort towards daily engagements, but at a less intense level. By decreasing our workload intensity, we give our mind and body the chance to re-energize itself so that we are re-focused and recovered when we return to full involvement.

Passive rest is a short-term break from the work tasks or projects. There are all sorts of ways to get passive rest including: meditation (Headspace –a favorite app!), light reading, listening to music, a short walk (sans technology), restorative yoga, or have a healthy snack with a cup of tea or water.

Plan your rest, just as you would plan any other appointment. Your body and mind will thank you for it and you’ll work, perform and play more efficiently.

Now, Let’s Improve Your Sleep!

Light Exposure: Preparing for good sleep starts first thing in the morning. Bright, natural light exposure, direct to the eyes is needed. This exposure creates balanced rhythms between the hormones that put you to sleep and those which wake you. To follow this rhythm, dim the lights in your home after dark and maybe even get yourself a pair of blue blocking glasses.

Eat!: Start with a protein rich breakfast and continue to meet the nutritional demands of your body throughout each day. Research suggests sleep deprivation interferes with hunger and satiety hormones crucial to regulating appetite. Inadequate and inconsistent food intake can make or break quality of sleep. Getting ample sleep and nourishing thoroughly go hand in hand.

Unplug: Eliminate exposure to all technology for 30-60 minutes before bed. Create headspace to fall asleep more easily with meditation, deep breathing, or light reading (avoid heavy or intense content).

Wind Down Routine: Take a bath, get into pajamas, brush your teeth, read a book and lights out—sound familiar? For some, this was the consistent childhood bedtime routine. Our brain would recognize the habitual series of events and signal that it’s time to rest. We need to borrow this old habit and recreate it as adults, or invent it, if it was never instilled. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time consistently (even on weekends!) will get our brain and body in healthy rhythm.

Magnesium: Essential for more than 300 enzymatic processes in your body, magnesium calms the central nervous system helping to quiet a racing mind and relax muscles. My favorite kind is PurePharma M3.

Sleep Environment: Sleep in a dark, cool room. Being too hot or too cold can disrupt sleep. Conceal light that may beam from your digital devices (i.e. alarm clock, TV) and minimize extra noise with earplugs or a white noise machine. Leave electronics out and save your bedroom for two things. (Hint: one of them is sleep).

Ditch caffeine and alcohol: Research reveals that any significant amount of alcohol or caffeine within a couple hours of going to bed negatively impacts sleep. This results in abnormal sleeping patterns. Being asleep is not the same as being in a deep sleep. Caffeine is expert at interrupting, and alcohol is pro at destroying our quality of sleep. You might ditch caffeine after noon, and experiment with ditching alcohol completely.

Train smarter, not harder: High intensity training, especially in the evening, can interfere with sleep. If you prefer to get in some pre-bedtime movement, try yoga or simple stretching– both can help you unwind and relax into a restful night. Continuing to think about our health as a bank account, we need to manage withdrawals so we don’t end up bankrupt– overtrained, under recovered and sleep deprived.

Clear the Commotion: Save the intense TV dramas, work emails, heavy reading material, or bone-to-pick for daytime. All of the above stimulate the stress response and make it harder to wind down.

Bottom Line: Adequate rest and sleep are essential to our health. Both improve the quality of our life and allow us to operate at our best. Rest is a skill and an artform. It’s vital to our wellbeing. Give yourself a break!

The Power of Rest, Matthew Edlund, MD

No Sleep is No Joke! Why Adequate Sleep Matters to Health and Performance

Jackie Mulligan - Sunday, February 18, 2018

In a recent post, “An Invitation to Stillness,” I wrote about the power of stillness in a culture that champions activity and productivity above all. Stillness for many means mindlessly browsing the internet, incessantly checking the news and social media, watching TV, or engaging in other forms of distraction that offer no rest for the brain and body.

Sometimes we make rest negotiable and other times we forget how to do it. Many of us underestimate the body’s need for sleep, especially since we’re committed to staying “busy.” Turn the phrase “don’t just sit there, do something” on it’s head to embrace “don’t just do something, sit there.” With the perception that we need to accomplish so much work while also balancing career, family, and personal obligations, we feel pressure to “get it all done” in a day. Too often we compromise our sleep to fit more in, but what are we actually accomplishing? If we learn how to properly rest, we can do less while becoming healthier, more productive, and live more fulfilling lives. Without adequate rest and sleep, we cannot be healthy.

“Sleep, and enough of it, is the prime necessity. Enough exercise, and good food are other necessities. But sleep—good sleep, and enough of it—this is a necessity without which you cannot have the exercise of use, nor the food.” ~Edward Everett Hale, “How to Get the Best of It,” c.1892

Adequate rest and sleep are essential for basic function of the neurological, digestive, endocrine and immune systems. Ever wonder why you get sick after not sleeping well for a few nights? How about why you’re drinking bottomless cups of coffee throughout the day and reaching for sweet and savory snacks in the afternoon? Or perhaps you’ve questioned why you’re not able to fully recover from workouts?

Life is rhythmic; everything we do follows cycles of activity and rest, of which sleep is the most critical part. When we chronically short-change ourselves of sleep, it shows up in our health in many ways. Studies show that the average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep per night, teens need nine hours and adolescents need ten hours. Consider, how much sleep are you getting? Is inconsistent and inadequate sleep hindering the quality of your life and exercise results?

Well Rested
– Improves memory, creativity and focus
– Curbs inflammation
– Maintains healthy immune system
– Healthy blood sugar regulation and weight control
– Improves recovery and performance
– Increases energy and overall mood
– Reduces stress
– Clearer, healthier skin

Sleep Deprived
– Cognitive decline, memory loss, inability to make decisions
– Systemic inflammation (the root of all modern disease)
– Weakens immune system
– Increases hunger and cravings, weight gain
– Decreases physical performance
– Negatively affects mood and mental health (including depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, and bipolar disorder)
– Inability to manage stress, impulsivity
– Acne, breakouts

I invite you to join me in bravely facing our struggle to gain thorough rest. Stay tuned for next steps that you can take along with me as we take back our health and raise our quality of life. After all, no vitamins or quick-fix can replace good sleep. No sleep is no joke!

Look for Part II coming soon…

An Invitation to Let Health Happen

Jackie Mulligan - Tuesday, January 09, 2018


Healthy. Hot. Fit. Strong. Sexy. Somewhere between endless selfies, “fitspo” hashtags, and Instagram stories, these words have lost their meanings and have instead devolved into an image obsessed, narcissistic culture. Health has become the new sex symbol, and it’s crucial to challenge this misconception. The health of our communities is at stake.

This is a touchy subject, but here it is: Looking “fit” does not necessarily mean you are healthy. Understanding how we arrive at achieving health and feeling beautiful matters. Let’s delve in!

I invite you to think about the problem of hyper-perfected ideals, the potential downsides of chasing aesthetics, and ways you can shift your own body image ideals in a healthier, happier direction. Let’s build our self-esteem and stay sane in a world obsessed with image, shall we?

You’re fit, but are you healthy?

“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open.” – B.K.S. Iyengar

Health is the absence of illness, a feeling of expansion, resiliency, energy, peace, bursts of confidence, bright eyes and sustainable balance. Pursuing long-term health does not need to feel arduous or unattainable. True health feels good. (*Note, it is important to point out that healing is different.)

Health is the alignment of many facets: It’s how we eat and sleep, manage stress, and interact with community. It’s our desire for personal growth, play, work-life balance and a nourishing environment. Health is an ever-evolving way of life that has no one-size-fits-all template. It is your habitual patterns and behaviors, your mindset, what you do on a daily basis. Have you turned inward lately to question why you do what you do to maintain your health and if you are enjoying the fruits of your labor?

Our body image alone does not indicate our health, but society tells us otherwise. The desire to emulate a particular image can distract us from what health is really all about. We fail by aiming for metrics and end up feeling terrible!

Body fat percentages, cholesterol levels, lab reports, bodyweight, pull-ups per minute, mile times, and waist measurements are not sole indicators of our health. A healthy body has a properly functioning metabolism, the ability to absorb and use nutrients, and the athletic and reproductive fitness necessary for survival.

A body can have all the health markers in place and be free from disease yet still have fat on it– leaving an individual to feel less than ideal by societal norms. On the flipside, an “ideal physique” does not always cross check with health markers. Healthy living can certainly result in an attractive physique, but it doesn’t always work the other way around. Outward appearance is only an approximation of our health or longevity. In short, the best marker of health…is health itself!

Hot or not?

So, what does “hot” mean these days? Lean? Muscular? Shapely? The pursuit of the appearance of health?

Chasing an image becomes draining, can lead to detrimental behavior and is often unattainable. Many of us struggle with body image. In an effort to manage or contain these feelings, we tend to over-exercise, under-nourish, and strive to reach a self-prescribed goal weight that may not align with the what your body needs to thrive. At what cost? Trying to control or manipulate our bodies and how others perceive us often leads to an exhausting downward spiral. We isolate ourselves and adopt addictive behaviors like counting calories, measuring macros, obsessing over the scale, overtraining and constantly comparing ourselves to others or even our past body. Regardless of how we actually feel, the majority of us will be frustrated, angry, and dejected when we don’t reach or sustain our goal; our sense of self-worth becomes skewed.

It’s not entirely our faults. Society’s perceptions of health is influenced by the vibrant, persuasive media. One second, voluptuous is the body ideal, the next it’s an unrealistic waif look…Our happiness has started to be fueled by the billboard we glance at and our Instagram likes. We’ve adopted the “If, then” mindset: “If I have a ripped abs, then I will be happy.”

What’s Really Hot

Let’s start the revolution to redefine hot as confident, honest, self-aware, driven, happy and balanced. While our culture inundates us with suggestions for how to use our bodies – purely for pleasure, as trophies on display, or as subjects that we strictly reign over – what would our lives look like if we took a radical approach and instead treated our bodies as the gifts they are?

Let’s listen to and embrace our body’s natural needs, and prioritize health, rather than social norms that have no business stepping between us and our physical selves!

I invite you choose health: Tune in and get honest about what matters to you. Untether from a culture focused on image. Let go of exhausting, self inflicting, unrealistic goals. Stay in your own lane! Be good to yourself, inside and out, rather than getting clouded by the pursuit of appearance. Find clarity on what you are truly hungry for: self acceptance, food freedom, connection and community. Let health happen.

Ready to take immediate action? Here are some questions to consider:

– What are you doing for your health? How is it working for you?
– How do you measure your health? What are your health markers?
– Who are your health role models? How do you emulate these models?
– Are you chasing an image or a lifestyle? Is it sustainable?
– Where are there gaps in your health?
– What are your health goals? Why have you chosen these goals?
– What are healthy habits you’d like to add to your repertoire?
– What are habits you may consider eliminating?


Theology of the Body Explained by Christopher West (podcast)

Wellness Interview with Self Care Expert: Danika Brysha

Jackie Mulligan - Monday, January 01, 2018

Meet self care expert Danika Brysha: CEO and founder of Model Meals and a gorgeous “plus-size” model. She is a dear friend, colleague, mentor, and functional nutrition client. I sat down with Danika to talk all things wellness and to answer the questions you've been asking.

Some of the topics we cover (and the time in the video we begin talking about them) are:

  • getting back on the healthy wagon when you've fallen off (4:00)
  • morning routines (7:28)
  • when to eat breakfast; intermittent fasting, and balancing hormones (16:40)
  • how to find a great functional nutritionist or become one (31:45)
  • healing thyroid naturally (37:56)
  • vegan diets and keto diets (41:35)
  • managing stress making time for self care when you feel like you're only taking care of others (47:15)
  • natural afternoon energy boosts (58:05)

We finish the video by giving you each of our top 3 wellness habits that we incorporated in 2017 that had the biggest impact. (1:02:25)

We are so excited to share this content with you! Let us know what else you'd like to hear from us and we'll address it in our next video!

To watch the interview, click the title above or watch on youtube here.

An Invitation to Stillness

Jackie Mulligan - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

“Not many years ago, it was access to information and movement that seemed our greatest luxury; nowadays it’s often freedom from information, the chance to sit still, that feels like the ultimate prize”
- Pico Iyer, The Art of Stillness

This time of year, it can be especially challenging to manage stress. The season can be overwhelming: finals week for students, end of Q4 for businesses, extra social gatherings, travel plans and financial strains. We receive many invitations to divert our attention throughout this season, but many of us are missing the biggest invitation of all: an invitation to be still.

When experiencing stress, people report symptoms including:

– Feeling overwhelmed
– Brain fog and decision fatigue
– Poor digestion
– Racing heartbeat
– Frequent mood swings
– Physical fatigue
– Waking up throughout the night
– Racing from one obligation to the next
– A constant sense of urgency

Sound familiar? As a society, we’ve become addicted to stress-sustaining habits. We accept demands to do more, be bigger, faster, and multitask to increase our productivity. We’ve started to believe that the busier we are, the greater our value. We’ve confused being busy with being productive. We are getting it wrong.

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” (Thoreau). What are we busy about? We might stop and consider if we’re being deliberate in everything we do throughout the day. Are we acting with clear, focused intention and attention? Are our engagements habitual or purposeful? Is our time spent allowing us to value those we hope to celebrate most this season – including ourselves?

We might consider how our ancestors lived for thousands of years by replenishing, restoring, and recovering over the winter season. They weren’t racking up debt to add more unnecessary objects to their lives; they weren’t walking around like zombies glued to electronic devices. I invite you to join me in rethinking the holiday season narrative pushed onto us by our careers, families, and personal expectations and allow ourselves a big timeout. But how?

Here are some strategies that might help us slow down when life seemingly speeds up:

Eliminate unnecessary tasks and “obligations”: Saying “no” does not need an explanation.

Plan for margin: We tend to underestimate how long things take us to do or how long it takes to get somewhere. Allow for transition time and plan for possible delays. If it takes us thirty minutes to drive to work, plan for forty-five. This allows time for the unexpected road detour or gas stop without adding stress. We may even arrive early!

Identify your triggers: Pay attention to what causes stress and anxiety in life. This takes courage and often requires honesty in giving up things we are attached to while creating new, healthier habits.

Cut down on caffeine: Reread the previous bullet. I repeat, sometimes we might [temporarily] give up attachments. Chances are, we are stimulated enough.

Surround yourself with people who raise your spirits and give you energy: Have you ever noticed that you leave some people or situations feeling drained? And others where you feel energized, empowered, and joyful? Which ones would you rather be around? Choose wisely.

Ask for support: Sometimes, life derails us with things that are beyond our control. Enter: the power of community. Ask for help and support. We don’t have to do it all on our own.

Create a routine: Our brains likes a plan, especially under stress. Creating predictability and consistency with what we can control (meal timing, sleep, work schedule) can help offset unexpected stress.

Manage perfectionism: Allow yourself permission to approximate. Explore the balance between “all-or nothing.”

Train smarter, not harder: Think about your overall health as a bank account. If you withdraw too much, you’ll end up in the red. Things like high stress, inadequate sleep, inconsistent food intake and continuous high intensity training can compound to ensure poorly managed health. Take care of yourself, by making deposits. You may want to consider low to moderate intensity training that you enjoy like strength training, yoga or hiking to invest in yourself during busy seasons.

Breathe: Simply inhaling and exhaling is one of the fastest ways to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and shift us out of the ‘fight or flight’ stress response towards relaxation. It improves attention and fine-motor coordination to get us out of our heads and back into our bodies and the present moment. One of my favorite stress relieving breathing practices is alternate nostril breathing.

Gratitude: Starting or ending our day with five points of gratitude can change our whole perspective and mindset. Gratitude is the attitude!

Unplug as often as you can: Power down, presence on.

The honor of your presence (not presents!) is requested to share in the celebration of the season and yourself. You are cordially invited to do less, rest, restore, recover. Be still.