A Guide to LA Wellness Inspired Holiday Gifts

December 15, 2017

If 2016 was the year of “realizing stuff” per Kylie Jenner’s prediction, then 2017 was the year that finally, a fire was lit underneath us. I’m not going to bullshit anyone, we all know this year was exhausting for many reasons and at times, it felt like I had become a Pavlov experiment as after a while of these notification dings being associated with only bad news, my body would hear the sound and immediately cringe. While receiving what felt like 500+ news notifications per day, a greater conversation regarding self-care and the preservation of our wellbeing began to rise. People began to understand that without our health, we may not be able to accomplish as much as we want to for our world, our country, and ourselves.

When I was asked what I wanted for Christmas, my initial thought was, “well… impeachment,” but after a while, I concluded that the more realistic response was, “any wellness inspired item or experience that will help me unwind more.” The materialistic, and boasting on social media, self-care bandwagon is one I do not want to hop on, but I believe it’s okay for me and you to splurge a bit on special occasions if we know it’s going to allow us, or someone we love, to feel damn good. So, for your wellness obsessed loved one, I explored a few wellness experiences in Los Angeles (+ elsewhere)  that would make Donna and Tom from one of my favorite shows, Parks and Recreation, turn to the camera to say a proud, “TREAT. YO. SELF!” (As well as everyone you care about!)


Subscription Service: Daily Harvest

Genius idea! Give a gift that keeps on giving. Luckily, this is not specific to residents of Los Angeles as this is a nationwide subscription service that is only continuing to expand! I’m a fan of scrolling through the Instagram hashtag, #foodporn, and accepting that, whatever it is that I’m eating or drinking, will never be as drool-worthy as the images I’m staring at. I couldn’t find the time to implement more variety in colors, flavors, and nutrition into my diet, all while staying within my food budget, until I was introduced to the frozen food subscription service, Daily Harvest. Daily Harvest makes any freezer it arrives at look like it was just blessed by some fairy godmother of health. Their products, especially the Chocolate Avocado Smoothie, are heavenly enough to make me not fazed by the obnoxious morning noise from my next-door neighbors, which says a lot. And the products are packed with nutrition while remaining loyal to freezer food and its favorable quality of being easy and quick to make!

Step 1- Tear off the plastic cover under the lid and pour the ingredients into a blender.

Step 2- Add milk of your choice (I use almond or coconut milk)

Step 3- Blend!

Step 4- BAM, YOU’RE DONE! You just pour that baby right back in the cup it came from, stick a straw in the lid and you’re good to go!

I know cozy weather is upon us, and while some of us in California will never retire smoothies even on a “chilly” January morning, they do have soup options for those of you who are rolling your eyes at me since you know my definition of a “chilly, winter California morning” means a low of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. But I like to eat with the seasons, and I’ve found that eating warmer foods during these months is easier on my digestive system, so, this allows me to experiment with DH soups. While we all can’t have the marble counter top paired with a perfectly lit kitchen, we can still pretend we’re #goals with a Daily Harvest smoothie, sundae (yeah…game changer), soup, or chia pudding.

If you would like to try out the subscription service for yourself or gift this to a loved one, get the first three products for FREE with my code: @plantbasedpussies

https://www.daily-harvest.com


Gift Card/Date to a Restaurant: Plant Food and Wine

HAVE YOU SEEN A PRETTIER AVOCADO TOAST?! The answer is no, obviously. I had the pleasure of having lunch at the plant-based restaurant, Plant Food and Wine, in Venice and I truly felt like I transported to a secret garden in Europe as I was seated on their outdoor back patio. For my starting dish, I was blessed with avocado toast that appeared to be handcrafted by the gods as it was the fluffiest slice of bread that left me daydreaming about how it would feel if that piece of bread was my mattress. Of course, the entirety of the avocado toast was an actual work of art visually, as well as taste wise. Every single dish on this menu is a masterpiece. Matthew Kenney, a world-renowned vegan chef, is the mastermind behind these creations in LA as well as having restaurants in New York City, London, Miami, Bahrain, and Bogota. I also cannot forget to mention that he has a culinary academy on the upstairs of the Venice restaurant. I’m convinced it’s a group of magical woodland fairies up there because that’s how enchanting this food is.

As we’ve covered, my first dish was the avocado toast that I willingly sacrificed my down payment on a house (everyone, please catch this millenial article reference) for and would gladly do again. For my main dish, I was transported to a garden in Italy as the produce in my Heirloom Tomato and Zucchini Lasagna tasted as if it were picked an hour prior to the meal. I will honestly never recover from that Macadamia Riccotta. I fully plan on buying a tub of that one day and testing it out on my dairy obsessed friends as I know they will have no clue it’s vegan. Okay, does my theory of the academy being a bunch of woodland fairies not make sense when looking at this rich, vibrant pie? Hands down, this pie was the prettiest food item I had ever consumed in the entirety of my existence. That is not a hyperbolic statement. This is THE spot to take your sibling, your parents, your cousins, your lover, your friend, yourself (you deserve it), and even an ex! You will be so distracted by the dreamy atmosphere and the vibrant food that you won’t even notice your feelings of negativity towards your ex! Even if you purchased a gift card enough to get the cheese plate at Plant Food and Wine, it would be well appreciated by anyone, so, this is a gift that absolutely will not disappoint.

http://www.matthewkenneycuisine.com/plant-food-wine-venice


The DEN Meditation

With two locations in Los Angeles (West Hollywood and Studio City) there is no excuse to not attend a class at The DEN. I think one of the biggest misconceptions about meditation is that you must clear your mind and frown upon yourself if you’re unable to, which is why so many people I know are turned off by meditation as it seems intimidating. Meditation at The DEN focuses on being mindful and acknowledging the thoughts that come to us while we are working on being present, and to be real, the classes just calm me the eff down. Each instructor I’ve had at The DEN is a glowing angel who seems to float around the class while maintaining the most relaxing voice that could put me to sleep in under a minute if I lose focus.

I recently had the pleasure of experiencing the 9 AM Chakra class on Thursday with Hilary where this week’s class was focused on the root chakra, which was ironic as I have been recently struggling with sciatica. The guided meditation left me in awe of how simple it is to tap into my body and the truth of how I’m feeling when distractions are removed. In a world, full of bombarding news notifications, as well as instant gratification through social media, I’ll admit I get easily overwhelmed by this small device that is more than often in my hand. That’s why I highly recommend unwinding and grounding yourself with a visit to a meditation class. Personally, I prefer going to these classes alone so I’m not concerned if my friend is vibing with the class or not, so I think gifting someone an individual pass is wonderful. But, you know your loved ones best, and if you feel that going together will be beneficial for the both of you, then gifting a class for the two of you is perfect!

Thank you so much to Hilary and the staff at The DEN for making this Thursday morning better than any other Thursday!


Shape House

Sometimes the technology of the future freaks me out, but in this case, I am full on open arms embracing it after my session at Shape House. I’m a big fan of the whole “work smarter not harder” concept and I personally believe it can fully be applied here as you’re able to sweat while lying down in an infrared bed and watching TV. Yes, you read that correctly, and yes, I also hope this becomes more prominent in the future. There are two different sessions you can do: Sweat and Lymphatic Drainage, and your first visit is $50, which I know can be hard to bite the bullet at first, but hearing the amount of money some of my friends pay for monthly gym memberships, I think this is worth it.

After booking a Sweat session here, I felt that with how sincerely you’re treated, and the fact that I was able to watch The Santa Clause 2 for 55 minutes (I’m still 10) while sweating more than I have in awhile, that price is worth it. When you arrive you receive clothes for you to change into so none of your clothes are drenched in the process and during your Sweat. In the last twenty minutes, you receive a cold lavender towel on your forehead and THEN, you go into the cool down room where you can drink alkaline water or tea and eat orange slices and nuts. I walked out of the Santa Monica location only wishing I had gone in sooner. I’m going to drop a casual hint here and say that I would absolutely LOVE for someone in my family to hook me up with a gift card to Shape House, so someone, please be reading this. Also, this doesn’t have to just be for my Los Angeles locals as they have locations in New York as well! For all of my East Coast friends, I would highly recommend ditching the run outside in the freezing weather for a comfortable indoor sweat where you can then pretend that you’re in California 😉

Thank you so much to everyone at Shape House, I will be back to sweat out the rest of 2017 🙂

Home


The Now Massage

One look at the decor in this space and you will be sold. Sadly, this year my neck and lower back pain have greatly increased leaving me desperate for a reasonably priced massage. The NOW has just that and more at its four locations in Santa Monica, Studio City, West Hollywood, and Silver Lake. Maybe I am just not experienced enough with massages, but normally I find that there are just one or two main options at most spas with options on time duration, but The NOW changes that with its menu that has various massages that all cater to overall healing. The pricing begins with a $35/25 min, $65/50 min, and $95/80 min, which I found to be incredibly reasonable in regards to how you are treated the moment you step in the door and the overall experience with your therapist. Enhancements are an extra $10, so, gifting a loved one a massage with an enhancement, like the eye mask or aromatherapy, would be an ultimate win. After recognizing that I’ve been ignoring my lower body and was in need of being grounded, I went for a 25 minute The ROOTS massage paired with an eye mask enhancement with Sarah B. at the Santa Monica location. Not only did I feel like I was on a different planet the moment I stepped into the main massage room, but I truly felt like a queen when I laid down and the massage bed was heated and I was draped in the coziest blanket. Sarah was incredibly careful and made sure the pressure was comfortable and even offered to spend the last few minutes of the massage on my scalp and neck. The relief I felt when she gently pressed down on my shoulders was life-altering as I always forget that I carry all of my stress up there and by the end of the week it feels as though my earlobes are practically on my shoulders. No doubt in my mind that I will be back as this is a place that I truly felt like they valued my business as well as my well being!

Special thanks to The NOW for being so kind and welcoming. Sarah B. was an amazing therapist, and I highly recommend her to everyone reading this!

http://thenowmassage.com


Whew, these experiences were more than a dream, but most will remain rare occasions for when I am able to splurge on myself. Self-care is different for everyone and if you know you or your loved one will be happier spending a day resting, with good conversation or making a meal from scratch, hiking, building something, etc., then any of those are amazing wellness gifts. Loving yourself and taking time to unwind does not mean you must ball out every day, so, do what feels right for you! If you feel compelled, then make no mistake and book a visit/get a gift card for family and friends to any of the spots above. A little message I like to keep in the back of my mind is that while I live in LA, and would love to do all of the self-care experiences that celebrities do frequently, my salary is much different than theirs as of right now and I can’t live how they do. Luckily, the above options I found to all be reasonable for the quality that you receive and I know that if I were lucky enough to be gifted any of these experiences, I would be over the moon! Hope you all have the most wonderful holidays and you are able to find time to log off and unwind from the chaos of 2017.

 

More about Sophia Zogopoulos

You can call me Phia, Bad Gal Phi Phi, or Donut Queen, it really is your choice. Greek gal with a (polite) smart mouth who is a singer-songwriter and mother of the vegan brand, Plant-Based Pussies. A graduate of Chapman University with a degree in Political Science which I cannot thank my professors and parents enough for as this education has greatly come in handy thanks to the 2016 Presidential Election (never ending sigh.) Most likely can be found dramatically talking about being a Cancer and how much the moon is affecting me. You can find me preaching about the importance of self love, helping Mother Earth, and of course, daily booty shaking sessions at @phiazmusic on IG/Twitter