The girls behind everyone's favorite smoothie bowls talk meditation, pH levels & Bikram yoga.
Just when you thought health and wellness had reached its apex of cool—did the founding fathers ever think we would be taking pictures of ourselves getting vitamin drips and eating mashed avocado on toast?—a Chinatown eatery with a fervent following of cool girls goes and turns our acai bowl game on its head. Tavi Gevinson and a handful of shout-outs in Vogue first put us onto Dimes, the Daria Werbowy-frequented downtown restaurant that's since become our go-to when we're in the mood for a huge, healthy salad with a side of burrata. Here, the two founders, Alissa Wagner and Sabrina DeSousa talk staying balanced as they run a business, hydration and how probiotics change just about everything.
“Your body is a well equipped machine and it's really important to learn to tune into it's nuances. It will communicate what you need mentally and physically through cravings, changes in appetite and condition of skin to give a few examples. Learning to listen to these bodily 'nudges' and responding accordingly is an important part of keeping healthy.
Achieving balance is also a priority of mine. I'm prone to high levels of stress but have come up with a few ways to tamp it down. I've discovered that it's crucial to take time each day just for myself, whether its 5 minutes or 30, to go for a walk, read, or meet up with a friend. It's a great way to stay connected to yourself and keep you from becoming overwhelmed with the outside world. I've also learned to avoid coffee, except for the occasional cup. It makes me too jittery and only fuels the fire.
As I've gotten older, I've become much more confident and accepting of myself. As a younger woman I didn't have the confidence that I do now and wasted a lot of time wishing for things to be different physically, or materially. That's just not part of my language anymore. In my thirties I learned to love myself, to be proud of who I am and to be able to see my assets rather than perceived flaws.” —Alissa Wagner
“It’s about making sure that you’re taking a more wholesome approach: eating less (to no) preservatives and being conscious of having a more natural diet. Its also harder on the body to digest food if you’re super stressed. Being more mindful when dealing with your stress levels, exercising and encompassing the things that you know work.
For me, I'm always trying to control my stress by exercising, or even meeting up with girlfriends is a huge help. Being that I'm at Dimes most of the time, I don't tend to eat lot of meat. I'm always fighting this but the one thing that I don’t do, is stay hydrated, it's a constant battle. I just bought myself a canteen to carry around everywhere to remind myself to drink up!
Our bodies change as we get older. I’ve always been pretty lean but my body was far more forgiving when I was in my early 20s. Now that I’m 31, I've noticed the changes but it’s important for me to make sure that it’s not about how my body looks, but how it feels. I go to the gym for energy, stress and yes, of course, I do it to burn some fat but I think it’s really important to just listen to your body and not over do things.”—Sabrina DeSousa
“I used to meditate regularly but over time fell out of practice. When I was meditating I saw some amazing benefits in my general state of wellness. I also take long walks—I have a one year old dog that I spend lots of time with.” —AW
“I do this breathing technique called the Doctor Weil 4, 7, 8—you breath in for 4 through your nose, hold in for 7, and then you release for 8 through your mouth making sure that the tongue is sitting on the roof of your mouth. It helps with stress, internal tension and anxiety. I do a set of 4, twice a day.” —SDS
"When people are on vacation or traveling they tend to eat whatever is around and forget to pay attention to their diet. I try to make sure, even if it’s just one meal a day, that I’m eating something that’s really healthy like fresh fruit or yogurt. I also try making sure that I’m getting enough sleep—I’m a big proponent of the benefits of sleep so I always try to make sure I’m well rested. I try to adhere to somewhat of a normal routine when I’m on the road so I don’t get too out of whack.” —AW
“When I travel I like to make sure that I take probiotics with me as I don’t really know what my diet is going to consist of. On my last trip I took a parasite herb blend that also fights candida.” —SDS
“I’m pretty old school: classic water. I love raw coconut water as well. I think it’s the closest thing to just water that your body needs, except it gives your body lots of potassium and electrolytes. I just drink tons of water throughout the day.
I cook really simply when it’s just for me. I like to do one pot meals or a really hearty salad with a protein. In the winter, a stew that has a ton of vegetables, ginger and turmeric to ward off colds. I tend towards things that are really easy to throw together and keep well for a few days. I eat a lot of fruit, especially kiwis. Raw veggies with hummus are a great way to easily up your vitamin intake.
I love chocolate. If there’s a box of Back to Nature cookies in the house, I will eat the whole thing, so I tend to not buy those.” —AW
“[I take] probiotics, manuka honey and apple cider vinegar every day. Probiotics really helps carry the good bacteria into your gut. People should know that about 80% of your immunity lives in your gut, so making sure that you have a healthy environment in there is key. Manuka honey is a great anti-viral, I eat a spoonful everyday. Apple cider vinegar helps to alkalize my pH levels.
When I cook for myself I usually just see what have around freestyle it. I'm pretty well stocked with a variety of spices, it's the one thing I always use to amp up flavor. I usually have pickled red onion in the fridge I like to throw that on everything. Generally, when I cook for myself it’s mostly vegetables. I love to do a whole platter of roasted veggies with spiced yogurt or chili oil.
I'm addicted to chia pudding as a snack. I'm not huge on breakfast so I tend to have it later in the day." —SDS
“I love doing hot yoga. For a while I was doing Bikram yoga five days a week, which I think to some people might sound crazy. At the time I was completely in love with it.” —AW
“I’ve been rowing at the gym however, I’m still an amateur to the gym world experience. I run a lot, so I like to mix things up to make sure that I’m working out different parts of my body.” —SDS
Advice for anyone looking to be healthier
"Achievable goals are really important. I think one problem people have with healthy lifestyles is they get fed up with the way they’re living and they’re like ‘that’s it, I’m not eating meat anymore, I’m not eating this anymore,’ and they take on this overwhelming challenge that sets them up for failure. The best thing to do is to just make small daily changes with whatever you’re battling with; if you have coffee and you’re putting three sugars in it, go down to two sugars, and eventually just try to wean yourself off entirely. Incorporation is a better way for you to go. It’s a mucher easier way to succeed and achieve results. Add a vegetable to your lunch, add a grain to your breakfast, just start small and as you develop new habits, it becomes a lot more enjoyable.” —AW
“It’s just important to be realistic and take baby steps. It’s far more traumatizing on your body when you decide to do a detox or cleanse and immediately fall back into an unhealthy lifestyle. Eating wholesome and incorporating those things into your daily diet is incredibly important and far more effective.” —SDS