It was springtime, I was getting restless in my rainy little town in the UK, and I decided I wanted to travel to the place of green juices and sunshine. On a complete whim, I risked everything and booked a long-haul flight to the USA to indulge in plant-based food and the LA lifestyle.
Feeling like my heart belonged in this beautiful state, here are the 12 things I learned from my vacation:
1.) It’s totally acceptable to exercise in any way or any place
While walking along the beach first thing in the morning, not only did I observe people avidly running, but also two men boxing in the open space, people free running up trees, women flinging their legs over railings to do stretches I didn’t even know were possible, and my favourite was seeing someone doing yoga on the side of the road. The focus was the exercise in question, and no one seemed to care where they were doing it, just as long as they were doing it.
2) Raw food is SO good
I enrolled at one of the top raw food schools in the country for this trip and knew I was in for a treat, but to be honest I didn’t know how good it would be. I’ve tasted raw vegan burgers before (which were basically like crackers) and I eat salad on a daily basis, but this took it to a whole new level. Making brownies from cashew nuts and pasta from zucchinis, I knew I would never look at raw food in the same away again. I thought that the diet was limited and always resulted in garlic breath, but after four days of culinary training, I discovered a whole new world!
3) Gym outfits can be worn all day
In Santa Monica I was surrounded by yoga studios and gyms, so when I rocked up to the shops in a dress, I was one of the only ones not in exercise gear! Leggings with trainers and sweaters were the major fashion trend, and soon my whole suitcase of clothes became redundant. I wanted to look like I’d done a workout too and was totally happy to spend the day in comfortable clothes!
4) A daily green juice can make you look 20 years younger
I was convinced that one of the teachers on my course was about five years older than me (ten at the most) and after hearing that she had a daughter of my age, my jaw hit the floor and I wanted to know all her secrets. She swore she owed it all to fresh green juices every morning. And this wasn’t the first time this happened: I met a man of 60 who I thought was 30 working in an organic juice bar. To this day I cannot explain how much they both glowed and radiated health.
5) People of all ages can run for miles
Having been inspired to up my exercise while in LA, I pulled on the leggings, tied up the sneakers and started to run. I just about made it to the beach before collapsing in an unfit heap (something I definitely need to work on!). I looked around and was amazed. Men and women who must have been about 70 and over sprinted past me with absolutely no look of effort on their faces. I watched as people of all different ages, sizes, and body shapes ran continuously along the promenade. I couldn’t believe it: age was definitely not a factor when it came to fitness!
6) Living in the present moment can work wonders for your mental health
Having struggled with anxiety on and off for the past 10 years, I knew it wouldn’t be an easy job to get to LA and back without my brain chucking out negative messages left, right, and center, so I armed myself with a multitude of self-help books. One of these was The Power of Now. Learning to live in the present opened me up to enjoy every single second I was away and to appreciate what a beautiful country I was in! When you’re in the present, you notice the trees, the sky, the people . . . it’s endless, and it’s a great way to live!
7) Yoga can be hard work
A lot of the yoga I’d been used to was very gentle and focused around stretching the body and easing it into positions, so when I signed up for a class ‘round the block from my LA apartment, I didn’t think much of it. Oh, how wrong I was. I spent an hour and a half dripping with sweat and attempting to do an inversion when the rest of the class were hanging from ropes, upside down on chairs and balancing their whole body weight on one hand. Yoga is not to be taken lightly!
8) I’m not the only one who knows what chia seeds are
With juice bars on every corner and plant-based restaurants lining the streets, there were superfoods in their masses. I’m usually faced with confused looks when I talk about chia puddings and green powders, but in the land of Hollywood, chia seeds filled my senses—from chia kombucha to coconut chia “yogurts”!
9) Having a cute dog is essential
There was nowhere I could turn without coming face-to-face with an adorable dog. Some were even hidden away in handbags and made me smile at every opportunity. I even made enquiries as to how I could get one home! I realized that dogs bring so much joy and definitely contribute to overall wellbeing!
10) It is vital to read the labels in supermarkets
I admit I got a little caught up in the wellness lifestyle and I started assuming everything in the health food store was good for me. Just as I was about to pay for my many different nut milks I decided to read the label—in horror, I ran to put them back on the shelves as various chemicals filled the ingredients list! Just because it’s in a health store doesn’t mean it’s good for you!
11) You can do incredible things with plant-based food
From tempeh “bacon” burrito bowls to “ice cream” and millet bread, I realized there is no limit to what can be done with plants, grains, and seeds. I now laugh in the face of anyone who says I have a limited lifestyle!
12) It’s okay to say hello to everyone!
This was my favorite thing in the USA. Anywhere I went, people would smile and say hello—it cheered me up from morning till night—something I definitely want to try and adopt back in London!
So all in all, the home of wellness rubbed off on me, and I think that there’s something everyone can learn from taking a trip to LA. Whether it be smiling at anyone you meet, juicing your greens, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, or exercising in any way, shape, or form, this state is definitely an inspiration!