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What does it mean to be “well”?

When I think about wellness, a myriad of definitions surface, most of them focused on the external or physical body: fitness, weight, beauty, aesthetics, fashion. Especially living in LA, there’s this sort of unspoken assumption that we should always look as if we’re about to walk the Red Carpet. This message and emphasis on the physique can be destructive and actually result in behavior that comprises our true individual wellness.

To me, wellness is about reconnecting with the self and finding balance in our everyday lives. This process is deeply personal and emphasizes the internal emotional and spiritual experience. Of course, the physical body plays a role, but I actually think that the body is a byproduct of wellness. When we practice self-love and self-care, our body thanks us by feeling good, exuding confidence and glowing with a shine that can’t be purchased at a beauty supply store.

My own personal wellness has been a priority to me since college. But, when I opened Alma (now with a permanent location at The Standard, Hollywood) and founded Alma Community Outreach 501(c)(3) in 2012, I quickly realized that in order to effectively run a business and nonprofit, I had to first carve out time for myself. To some it may sound selfish, but I am a strong advocate for the notion that—in order to nourish and inspire others—we must first do the work individually. And, contrary to what many believe, wellness doesn’t have to be expensive, nor does it require a three-week holiday on some gorgeous, remote island (though that sounds idyllic).

Wellness is about maintenance and must be woven into our everyday lives: A cup of coffee in the morning, an evening walk, a yoga class, a phone call with a sister or best friend, a coconut/honey facemask, a shared meal with the person you love. These simple gestures for ourselves go a long way and can feed us when we feel exhausted, uninspired or overwhelmed. Trust me: When we nurture and care for the individual self, a ripple effect is created and the positive energy we cultivate moves into our circle of family, friends and community.

Here’s a recipe I love that supports this notion of ongoing wellness and practicing self-love:

Rolled Omelette with Arugula & Avocado Salad (for one)

Eggs are my spirit food and I eat them daily. I recommend going to your local farmers’ market for sprout fed/grass fed eggs, avocado, lemon and fresh greens. (I like a bitter green mix.)

Ingredients:

4 eggs

butter

1 avocado

market mix

lemon

olive oil

sea salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat pan, add butter to coat pan.
  2. Whisk 4 eggs together and add to pan.
  3. Keep pan on medium heat so eggs don't cook too fast.
  4. Carefully fold omelet.
  5. May leave on heat to make sure omelet is cooked all the way through.
  6. Remove from heat.
  1. Wash greens, dry greens.
  2. Slice avocado.
  3. Add together with lemon, olive oil and salt to taste.

Enjoy with a glass of french rosé!

— Ashleigh Parsons

Ashleigh Parsons is the creative and operation partner of Alma at The Standard, where she and chef Ari Taymor oversee the entire food & beverage program at The Standard, Hollywood. With an emphasis on seasonality and sustainability, their menus feature ingredients thoughtfully sourced from local Southern Californian farmers, a natural wine list and craft cocktails. Parsons has a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and has staged at La Chassagnette, a Michelin starred restaurant in France. In 2012, she founded the nonprofit, Alma Community Outreach, which aims to educate youth about health and wellness.