This month's Gather&See girl is natural health and well being expert, Xochi Balfour. Through her blog and book (The Naturalista), Xochi is full of uplifting and inspiring advice and ideas on how to lead a healthier, happier lifestyle. Check out some of her top tips and G&S picks here.
1. Xochi, your blog The Naturalista is really inspirational - how did you first get into holistic well being?
I have always been interested in holistic and alternative living but I’d say my true path was really born out of a moment of crisis when I set up my own street food business with my partner four years ago and burnt myself out completely after about eighteen months. Drinking coffee all day, eating all the heavy carbs and burgers around us, not taking care of ourselves on the inside or out took its toll and it was really hard - we had followed our dreams and I didn’t want to break under the strain of that reality. I enrolled in a nutrition diploma and began writing about my journey back to wellness and vitality on The Naturalista. It started with nutrition and natural beauty and then the fundamental importance of spiritual inquiry and mindfulness crept in; I now fuse all these elements to inspire individuals and my readers to find their own forms or inner and outer harmony amid the energetic demands of 21st century living.
Image by Xochi
2. What are your top tips to those that want to detox and gain more balance in their lives but have little time?
My book, The Naturalista, is based on my blog and written with busy, overstretched people in mind. I have been there and I know that costly cleanses and drawn-out therapies aren’t feasible for most of us. In my journey, natural healing tools including meditation, aromatherapy, practising gratitude, creating an altar to keep us aware of our intentions and journey… are all immensely powerful things we can do ourselves to tap into our inner landscapes and see what no longer serves us and needs to be let go of. From here, we can tune into our bodies and learn to really listen to them and what they want or do not want - there is no quick fix for achieving optimal wellness and the journey takes time. I also wrote a free digital ebook for Amazon which is designed as a one day “life cleanse” to reset and renew - a springboard from which to dive into healthier living long term. Food is a vital part but it’s not the whole story and in my own experience, no amount of green juice will make you feel truly well if you are not tending to the inner garden as well...
Image by Xochi
3. You are training to be a nutritional therapist - what are your current can't live without health foods?
I am a big devotee of cacao and love making all sorts of healthy chocolatey creations as well as diving a little deeper in sacred cacao ceremonies, the plant is a great healer, full of heart-opening anandamides (the bliss chemical) and potent antioxidants.
I also try to incorporate as much turmeric into my diet as I can - I am really drawn to the vibrant colour which reflects its liver-cleansing properties, and with so many environmental free radicals to fight living in the city, its high antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory properties make it a great naturopathic ally.
I also eat a lot of nuts - almonds, usually - as on the nutritional path, healthy snacking has become of utmost importance to me as I have a high metabolism and need to fill myself up regularly. The protein and fat content keep me going on the move and while we can tend to spend a fortune on exotic bounce balls and other manufactured treats, a good handful of organic nuts with some goji berries or cacao nibs (!) is just as exciting, free from hidden sugars and binders, and better for you.
Image by Xochi
4. You have recently launched your first book, The Naturalista, how was that experience and what can we expect from the book?
It was an amazing journey and I’m so grateful for the beautiful book we created. We had a really talented all female team behind it and wanted to create a window into a way of life that is fundamentally rooted in nature, with all its colours, flavours and textures at the core of the recipes and inspirations. It covers nutrition, natural beauty and mindful living and is a reflection of my own journey from imbalance back to vitality.
5. What or who inspires you in your work?
I am endlessly inspired by my husband who is such a creative force and a real go-getter; he is a very talented cook and potter and his creations always make me so happy and delighted. I am also inspired by many teachers that we have travelled to around the world, whose lessons and insights we channel and continue on our holistic Sacred Space retreats that we have started to hold here in the UK.
Image by Xochi
6. What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Listen to your body.
7. What makes you angry?
The sparks usually fly the hardest when I come up against someone as stubborn as me. I am learning my way around it but I am a scorpio and sometimes I just won’t be told what to do. And mess; and people who drop litter. I get bright white rage.
8. What makes you happy?
Being in nature, and really immersing myself in the experience with all my senses. It is such a vital antidote to London life and increasingly healing for me. I also feel very grateful for my job and being able to create content that inspires me for a living, and sharing it with others. Also chocolate.
9. What’s your favourite restaurant?
We rarely eat out these days; I am not sure why but I suppose I just love being in the kitchen! Tonkotsu ramen from Bone Daddies or Shoryu is usually my London restaurant craving and sometimes comes on so strongly I just have to hot foot it there even if I am on my own.
10. Where’s your go to place to relax?
The garden, or the countryside. We live in Walthamstow and the village here is very peaceful so I enjoy being outside when the weather allows us. I am also a big believer in baths and snuggling in bed - extraction from either can be quite difficult...
Images from "The Naturalista" by Rachel Weiss
11. Latest discovery at home or abroad?
The Mooncup! it has changed my life.
Also real fresh organic Indian turmeric blows my mind; and organic cinnamon sticks. I throw those two in everything.
12. Where is on your travel hit list for 2016?
I’d love to go to Bali and I am really excited to be a founding member for Obonjan, a new wellness collective on an island in Croatia launching this summer - so some sand and sea are in order.
13. Which city in the world would you love to live in for just 1 year?
I’d love to spend more time in San Francisco; I have been briefly a couple of times but not immersed myself fully in its colours and culture yet.
14. Which is your favourite piece on the G&S website at the moment?
The Maksa Emmy dress, it is perfect for weddings which is where I find sticking to sustainable fashion can be hardest...
15. What is your personal style?
Eclectic, laid back and increasingly comfort-oriented as I spend more time doing group work and in nature. I live in jeans but also enjoy embracing more feminine silhouettes and textures as I get older. I am never without my opal amethyst Pamela Love wedding ring and some sort of crystal necklace (or two) for protection and guidance in the world.
16. Who is your fashion hero / style icon?
I don’t really have one as I find my own style very personal and it is always evolving alongside me!
Photographer - Kyle Galvin
17. Which item of clothing do you most treasure?
An impossibly beautiful vintage silk Japanese kimono that my husband bought me from Coco de Mer shortly after we first met. I love it so much I don’t actually wear it which is something I should look at...
19. Why is shopping ethical important to you?
The fashion industry has such a strong and direct impact on mother earth and it is time we sat up and tuned into this without the veil of denial keeping it at arm’s length. We are eating more organic and buying more organic beauty which is a great start but until we can ensure Fair Trade working conditions and sustainable practice across the industry, we are turning our backs on something so huge. Each consumer has the power to choose, and instead of asking why organic food / beauty / clothing is so expensive, it’s time we asked why the alternative is so cheap, and at what true cost.
Images from "The Naturalista" by Rachel Weiss
20. Why is clean and natural living so important to you - what are the benefits you have felt personally?
Each step I take on this holistic journey I find myself more in tune with nature and so much of what we need to heal our modern spiritual and physical afflictions and imbalances can be found there - not always in the pills, lotions and potions that we so often place our faith and money in. Living more naturally, we cultivate a deeper sense of harmony with (and trust in) the living world around us and we start to close the disconnect that so much of modern life makes us feel. That spills over into our relationships with each other and with nature as our teacher - and life force - we come together on a much more loving level. Whether it’s through nutrition, natural skincare or sites like Gather and See, we are creating an increasingly conscious consumer community and cultivating a sense of kinship with the people who produce the goods we buy - it is all born of the same desire for a better, more considerate way of living.
Buy Book The Naturalista