[Well, adj., In good health | Being, n., The nature or essence of a person]
The Well-Being Series is all about spotlighting people who are really nailing the whole health + wellness thing. Each of these incredible humans is giving us a peek behind the curtains at why and how they lead a high-vibe, holistic life. There’s no one-size-fits-all way to be well, and they’re here to prove it. Life’s one big experiment, so feel free to try their nuggets o’ wisdom, rituals, and tips on for size and see what fits.
Now it’s time to meet this week’s Well-Being legend, Libby Vilner.
If you can’t tell by the photo above, Libby Vilner of Life With Libby is an actual ray of sunshine. She’s a lover of all things organic and non-toxic, and her blog covers an array of lifestyle content from food, to exercise, to fashion, to travel – she does it all. I met her a few weeks ago at one of my essential oils workshops (a Q+A I did with Libby on that here), and I could tell she was a kindred spirit as soon as she started talking about all of the nasty toxins found in everyday products (toxin nerds, unite!). She’s as smart as she is beautiful – and good vibes legitimately radiate from her. Without further ado, check out Libby’s Q+A below and soak in her wisdom.
How do you define well-being?
Well-being for me is the balance of all aspects that go into the makeup of our lives on a daily basis – from our diets, to our physical activity, to our work life, to our social life, to our families and loved ones (pets included!), and to, of course, ourselves.
As easy as it is to type this concept up, it is not an easy to live by and accomplish. I believe that in different stages of our lives we have different sets of priorities, and therefore different meanings for the numerous aspects that make up our lives.
Everyone has their own concept of happiness, what generates our happiness and well-being within us is individually defined, and constantly evolving through others around us and through our lived experiences.
I believe that everyday we make decisions in order to create balance in our lives, and this balance brings peace of mind, health, success, love, and a the ability to be your best self.
What’s your big “WHY” in life? Why do you do what you do?
Wow, this is a big question that I can expand on from a few different starting points. I have two passions in life which I am working on merging. When I am not working on my blog, Life With Libby, I am a full time graduate student at Boston College. I am one year away from graduating with a masters in clinical psychology and mental health counseling.
The ‘why’ for studying this subject is a long and personal story that maybe one day I will share with everyone, but helping others that may have a hard time helping themselves is a passion of mine. The help may be needed due to either a mental illness, social injustice, immigration, a lack of support from our health and justice systems, domestic violence, or simply going through teenage years.
Next year, my internship will be at a local high school where I will be seeing teens individually, as well as running a domestic violence group. I hope to help make positive changes in their lives, spread awareness, and provide resources.
Why I decided to blog is due to learning from my older brother who is a total environmentalist about how harmful the products I used to use are for the environment as well as for myself. The more research I did the angrier I became, and wanted to tell everyone I knew all about this crazy nonsense. I then got a phone call from my boyfriend’s oldest brother who came up with the blog idea, and told me I just HAD to create one, so I did. Life With Libby came to life within one day!
My hopes from my blog and my why I do it is to spread awareness about the toxicity within the beauty/cosmetics industry, alongside inspiring some fashion and style, as well as giving travel advice from the places I go to.
Two truths and a lie. Ready… go! (Lie revealed at the end of the post.)
I was born and raised in Israel.
I never drank a cup of coffee.
I am fluent in 3 languages.
When and why did leading a holistic lifestyle become important to you? Was there something specific that sparked your journey?
Yes, there was, as I mentioned a bit before, my older brother, Ben, is very passionate about holistic living. When we were young, my biological father (who still lives in Israel) used to smoke almost 3 packs of cigarettes a day. My brother would steal his cigarettes, and break them in half so he could not smoke them, and would steal them from his mouth or fingers and throw them away.
Eventually, my dad did quit which is amazing, but it was all thanks to my brother. He was like Mowgli (the cartoon movie) as a kid, always in the trees, picking lychees’ out of the trees (we lived on a lychee farm) and simply one with nature.
Today, he is vegetarian, and bought some land in MA with his girlfriend who shares the same values, and is an amazing yoga instructor. They are building a house together the is eco-friendly, growing their own food, and it’s inspiring.
He was the one that generated the awareness of the toxins in cosmetics for me, and essentially, converted me to the green side. You can check out his FaceBook group – “Ben’s Sustainable World”.
For people who are just dipping their toes into the health + wellness pond – what’s the first simple thing they can do to get started?
I would say the first simple thing one can do to get started with a healthier, more wellness conscious lifestyle is to do some ingredient scanning on the products you use on a daily basis, sometimes numerous times a day (such as toothpaste).
What helped me a TON when I began the ‘switch’ is two different apps that allow you to scan your products – both cosmetics and household cleaning products.
Once the item is scanned, a detailed ingredient list shows up, explaining each one and how harmful they are to our wellness along with rating the items on a scale of 1-10 for toxicity.
This simple step helps you immediately stop exposing your body to the harmful chemicals and the app provides you with safer options that you can buy via Amazon, Ebay, etc. The apps are both free to download and are called THINK DIRTY, and HEALTHY LIVING.
What are your daily self-care rituals?
I have this huge water bottle that can hold almost a gallon of water, I fill it up every morning, add two slices of lemon to it, and make sure to drink all of it PLUS another half. It is crucial to drink enough water every day as our bodies are made of mainly water!
I am not sure about the statistics but I do know that an absurd amount of people do not drink remotely enough of what they should. So, I would suggest to buy one of those big water bottles, they are fun to drink from too when they have a little straw.
Another self-care ritual is taking care of my flowers and plants every morning, it gives me so much pleasure to take care of them, water them, and watching them grow!
A self-care ritual which is not daily but 4-5 times a week, is going to the gym. If I don’t go, I feel like that poop emoji 💩, except with a frown face. I absolutely love working out, I love to socialize at the gym (I take workout classes and we are kind of like a little family!), and I love to see results and feel good and confident in my body.
Are there components of your self-care that can be easy to skip/let slip? Do you have any tricks to get yourself back on track?
Yes, for example, not having time to fill up this huge water bottle in the morning because there’s not enough filtered water and there’s no time to wait for the water to filter! The only trick is, telling myself it’s okay if I am late to where I am going because water is important – but if I truly cannot be late, I make sure to buy some water and drink up wherever I am. Although, when I get home I will still fill up that water bottle and attempt to drink it all before I go to sleep.
As for the gym, it can be hard to stay on track whenever I go on a trip – for example, I will be leaving Boston soon for 2 months! The way I get myself back on track is by trying to stay in places with a gym, and working out every morning for a bit, that way I do not lose all of the endurance I have built up. Coming back to Boston after the trip, I take things easy and rather than a 2-3 hour session in the gym, I just do one. Having friends in the workout classes expecting to see me when I’m back also helps not get lazy!
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I was a very, very chubby child. I actually went to weight watchers before moving to America and lost 7 Kilos at the age of 9-10. A lot of people don’t believe me but I’ve go the pictures to prove!
What makes you feel on top of your game?
Creating a to-do list and then crossing things off! Love the feeling of getting things done.
They say laughter is the best medicine – what makes you laugh the hardest?
I am not sure what makes me laugh the hardest, I think it’s a who. I’d say my boyfriend and my mom make me laugh the hardest!
What do you love to do or create at home to make you feel great? Could you share a favorite recipe/DIY/exercise/meditation?
My boyfriend and I actually have a little ritual that makes us feel ‘complete’ that we do at home every night before bed. Stretching! We go through every single stretch, getting to every muscle.
He’s a soccer player and I tend to work out 2 hours almost every day, so stretching at night is super relaxing, healthy, and a great way to get into the ‘here and now’ before bed. It helps get rid of running thoughts, worries, and obviously sore muscles.
What do you want to be remembered for?
Honestly, I’m not sure. I guess just for being a source of help, inspiration, and happiness. I love to get people to smile!
Connect with Libby: (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
*Two truths + a lie – The lie = Libby’s fluent in two Hebrew and English, just okay in the third but not fluent – Portuguese*