New Year New You

Self Magazine's Editor-in-Chief Talks Health & Wellness

And the occasional cheeseburger and fries.

By: Emily Ramshaw
Photography:

There's always a thing or two to learn from a health editor. Especially when said health editor is EIC of SELF Magazine. But we can also see ourselves in Joyce Chang. For one thing, her wellness M.O. comes from Friday Night Lights, which, we're pretty sure we don't have to say, is kind of amazing. Another thing: she'll try anything once and we can relate (we're editors, what can we say?). And she knows her way around a hotel gym—if anyone has worked off jet lag on a elliptical at 5 AM, it's us (and Chang). But mostly, she's realistic about wellness. Like she has a personal chef deliver healthy food to avoid the late night order-in. And she's totally up for a regular cheeseburger and fries. In other words, she's our girl.

General Wellness

“Bright eyes, full heart. It’s borrowed from Friday Night Lights but a good measure nevertheless! I can tell how I’m feeling when I look in my own eyes in the mirror—if I need more rest, to eat better, to work out. It’s a physical test of how my body is feeling—but the full-heart piece, I can see that, too, if I’m happy and feeling good in my life and in the world.

Everything is better after a good night’s sleep. It’s a bit elusive for me—I’ve always been a bad sleeper, since I was a kid, so I really cherish it when it happens. I try to get in yoga, cardio and strength every week. And to eat more cleanly than not.

I used to think being healthy was very rigid and had a lot of rules. Like a lot of people, that probably led me to swing wildly between being super healthy and super not-healthy. Now I’ve settled into something that is pretty healthy most of the time, and I like how that feels. Feeling good is the best health plan. When your body gets used to eating well and getting enough exercise, it craves it. It’s kind of a self-regulating system, and you don’t have to be so conscious of it.

I’m up for anything. I’ve done cupping, had energy work done, had adjustments of small bones (I’m not doing that anymore). I’m a believer in acupuncture and practitioner of TM. I’ve done every variety of detox and reset. I tried the Master Cleanse years ago when Beyoncé did it. I’ll try anything. But I also listen to my body—if it’s not working for me, I stop. I recently did a program called The Layer through Taryn Toomey—it’s mainly a vegan eating plan, but there are additional rituals. One of the things you were supposed to do is use a tongue scraper in the morning. Sounds weird, looks weird, but even now that the program is done, I’m still using my tongue scraper!”

Eating

“I drink water constantly. My fridge is always stocked with water.

I don’t have time to cook during the week, so I have a personal chef deliver me a few healthy meals a week to have on hand when I get home late. If the easiest choice is the healthy choice, you’ll make the healthy choice. When I’m cooking myself, I either go simple and healthy—last night I made salmon with a lime-Sriracha sauce from SELF with spinach—or if I’m entertaining I like to go all out. I love cooking from the Barefoot Contessa or BA or from my old Gourmet cookbooks. I don’t count any calories when I entertain. I love cooking for fun and pleasure.

Not a big snacker overall. I’ll eat popcorn or a Pink Lady apple, or have hot chocolate. Depends on what kind of snack I need.

I have so many [indulgences]! I indulge regularly—but make sure to balance it over the week. I love a good cheeseburger and fries. I normally eat just half, though. I am also a great lover of bread and cheese. And pasta. And wine. I could go on and on.

My most ordered breakfast is softly scrambled eggs, a side of avocado, multigrain toast, hot sauce.”

Mental Health

“Exercise and rest are the most important things to keep me on an even keel. But I also don’t keep things pent up. If I’m upset, I allow myself to be upset. If I’m stressed, I let it out—could be a hard spin workout, or could be watching a marathon of Narcos on Netflix. I listen to my body and to my moods.

I also think it’s important to remind ourselves that we’re not actually as in control of things as we think. Life is full of curveballs. I think women often punish themselves when things go wrong—and it’s not necessarily under your control, and definitely not always your fault. So putting that in perspective keeps me sane.”

Travel

“I am a connoisseur of hotel gyms—and generally there’s always an Equinox nearby. Even if it’s just a half hour on the treadmill or elliptical. If I’m organized and am in one place long enough, I’ll have solicited a list of workout destinations in that city to try from our amazing fitness director, Liz Plosser. L.A. is probably my main travel spot, so I have my sites: Cardio Barre, Burn 60, sometimes Tracy Anderson, Precision Running with David Siik, and various yoga instructors on speed dial. I am a better breakfast eater on the road than at home—I’ll have room service early with eggs and avocado, or oatmeal.”

Fitness

"I normally workout first thing in the morning, so I don’t really have time to eat beforehand. Maybe some coffee. Or I work out after work. So when I’m done, I’m showering and going on to dinner. It’s really based on scheduling more than fuelling. I always drink a lot of water during and after, a little before.”

Advice for anyone looking to be healthier

“I think it’s helpful to have a buddy or to be part of a community that is supportive of you. Whether that’s your friend, boyfriend, partner, colleague, gym, team, studio—or whether it’s SELF. Nothing wrong with that. If you’re slacking, make a date with someone to go to a workout class. It will keep you accountable. You’ll go, and you’ll probably have fun, and it will make you want to go again.”

“Getting Real”

We’re taking an honest look at love, life, and all the things that come with being an adult.

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