You know that A word that keeps getting thrown around? No, no...not that one! That seemingly lovely word that suggests depth, awareness and integrity? That favorite wellness-world catch-all? Yep, you know it: Authenticity, with a capital A! Despite its intended meaning, its current ubiquitous status has depleted much of its power.
Enter Jordan Younger, the exuberant founder of TheBalancedBlonde.com. With a super open-book attitude about her own journey in wellness (think fitness and vegan enthusiast veers dangerously into obsessive territory, finds her way back to healthy balance and shares it all online and in a book!), she’s making Authentic feel, well, authentic again. Thanks, Jordan!
A health coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and life-time yogi, The Balanced Blonde breaks down what that tricky term means to her, how she found her way through her own personal wellness maze, and how to start your New Year being (authentically!) you!
SBS: How did TheBalancedBlonde.com start?
JY: I started blogging at the end of college to document my love and passion for plant-based cooking and living a healthy, happy, colorful life, both on and off the plate.
Blogging and I developed an instant love affair, and it wasn't long before I was pushing aside all other responsibilities (namely, the graduate school program I was enrolled in!) to blog, blog, and blog some more. I loved the writing, the photography, the connection with my readers and the fact that I was inspiring people to live a healthier, happier life where they could be most comfortable in their own skin. That still amazes me to this day and fills my heart with gratitude.
Not long after I started blogging, I couldn't help but incorporate the rest of my lifestyle into my blog, as well. From fitness, yoga, and my family to my travels and life in NYC and then LA, I started writing about all of it.And then there's my lifelong obsession and personal research on health, nutrition, fitness and wellness, which is where I still draw most of my information from. I’ve made it my business to learn as much as I can about all different areas of fitness and wellness, from marathon training to the Ayurvedic Panchakarma. It's what I love, so it comes naturally to me.
SBS: What are some challenges you’ve faced on your journey as a blogger, yogi and wellness pro?
JY: Life’s a balancing act. There have been obstacles, including my transition from plant-based vegan to non-vegan, and the extreme lifestyle switches that took place for me in the early part of my blogging career. But if you do what you love, even the challenges are easy to overcome.
SBS: Why does yoga resonate with you so much?
JY: Oh man, that’s a loaded question! Yoga is everything to me, in so many ways. Ultimately, the euphoric connection between mind, body and spirit that occurs in a good yoga class is the feeling I live for. Yogic philosophy really resonates with me, and the physical practice is what my body responds best to. Without a daily physical practice, I feel it in my body. I am a highly sensitive person, so the daily heart opening, flowing, twisting and bending helps keep me balanced. I truly believe that if everyone in the world had a daily yoga practice, the world would be a far safer, happier and more peaceful place.
SBS: What resources and trainings do you credit with your approach and success?
JY: Now coming up on the tail end of my 500-hour yoga certification, I tell people I feel like I have a masters in yoga! There really are yoga masters programs, and I'd love to do one someday. But right now I’m focusing on soaking in all of the info from my incredible journey with YogaWorks. I have fallen deeply in love with everything from the chakras to the sutras to the physical asana practice itself. I am about to start teaching my first restorative, meditation-based class in January at a studio in Venice, which I’m very excited about.
SBS: What are some yoga trends you love? What are some you think should be axed?
JY: I love a good yoga sculpt class, and those are super trendy right now. Shout out to CorePower's epic sculpt classes! I also love that wearing yoga clothes in and out of the studio has become a total social norm. (Thank god, because it's all I wear.)
And as far as things that should be axed: Certain parts of the yoga world can be cliquey and gossipy, just like every industry. I would like for that to ultimately die down or stop because it's so anti everything yoga is about!
SBS: What are your favorite things to see happen to students in your yoga classes? What are things you see in class that you try to correct?
JY: I love, love, love seeing people who come to practice week after week improve. I have some regulars who come every single week, and watching them get deeper into their bodies and sink deeper into poses they weren't able to do in the beginning is such an incredible journey to be a part of. I also love when guys who always perceived yoga as very easy come to class and realize how physically challenging it can be. It’s always a win to show someone that there’s something for everyone in the practice.
I correct people when they’re not properly aligned so they don't get hurt! Otherwise, I'm all about people making the practice their own, as long as they are respectful of the rest of the students and contributing energy to the overall vibe of the class.
SBS: How does your favorite combo of yoga and running work for you? How do you approach diverse training?
JY: It’s the perfect combo because they supplement each other so well! In some yoga classes you get that cardio element of the pumping heart rate, but most classes are not about that. So incorporating running a few days a week works well for me and my fitness goals. And everyone who runs should absolutely have a steady yoga practice. It keeps you open, limber and injury-free! Yoga also really helps runners connect to their breath, which is important. I’m also into HIIT and the occasional Pilates class.
SBS: The word “authenticity” is so important to SBS, and based on your site, it seems it is to you too. Unfortunately, it has also been tossed around so much, that the meaning can seem nebulous. What does that term mean to you in your everyday life?
JY: Authenticity is key! So, so key! I can't stand inauthentic: people, places, brands or otherwise. I think anyone who is spiritually in tune (or even remotely in tune) with themselves can sense an inauthentic being from 10 miles away.
The word definitely gets used too much, normally from people calling themselves authentic in an almost defensive sort of way. So I like to see it being used in conjunction with true authenticity. To me, to be authentic means being unapologetically you and not trying to portray anything untrue about yourself just because of how you think it will help others perceive you. It means sharing all parts of yourself with those around you, always being truthful, sharing the highs and the lows, exploring genuine passions, having vulnerability and depth and showing genuine and heartfelt interest in those who are important to you.
SBS: What are five things we can do to work toward a healthy life, starting now?
JY: Move your body every day! Eat a healthy, clean, nutrient-rich diet. Stay super hydrated. Sleep! Surround yourself with healthy, like-minded friends to keep you inspired.
SBS: You wrote a book, Breaking Vegan, about your own journey, which includes struggling with obsessive eating and wellness issues and moving from being a vegan to non-vegan. What are some warning signs that someone might be getting a bit too obsessive with health and fitness? What made you realize you needed a change? What were helpful tools for you to move toward balance?
JY: Usually I tell people: When food and health start becoming negative or stressful in your life, you may have a disordered eating approach. It stops being all passion and feels like more of a chore. I had a few major signs that I needed to change. For one, I couldn't go to a single restaurant with friends, and my family had major issues traveling with me.
Helpful tools for me were getting a nutritionist, dropping the food fears, writing my book in which I am open about my experience, going to therapy weekly and saying no to labels.
SBS: You went from being a vegan to a non-vegan. How has your body and energy changed? What are some of your favorite whole foods now?
JY: I have way more energy now! I ran a marathon last year, which I never would have been able to do when I was eating only plants. Now I eat a ton of salmon, cage-free eggs, legumes, quinoa and organic chicken.
SBS: You have an amazing Q & A portion of your website, and it’s clear readers truly trust you. Why do you think they feel comfortable coming to you, and what do you hope to offer them?
JY: I love that portion! I think they come to me because I have a very close connection with a lot of my longtime readers (and new readers too). I try to be approachable and get back to everyone, and since I share so much of my own life, I think they feel comfortable sharing a bit of theirs with me too.
Jordan’s LA and NYC Favorites:
Healthy Restaurant: Cafe Gratitude
Splurge Restaurant: Buddakan in NYC
Fun Activity: Hiking and/or beach walks
Calm Activity: Hiking in Will Rogers State Historic Park or getting a massage
Resources: MindBodyGreen, The Chalkboard Mag, and Well+Good
Yoga Apparel: Lululemon, Alo Yoga, and Beyond Yoga
Fitness Studios: YogaWorks, CorePower, and Orangetheory Fitness
Chill Music: Trevor Hall, James Blake, and Twenty One Pilots
Yoga Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/12164107666/playlist/4qNWiBEhg3PxPhhIFJykvC
Jordan’s SBS Mantra: Be Fearless...because when you're fearless, you’re all of the other mantras, too!