Annie Daly, Destination Wellness

Annie Daly, Destination Wellness

“It’s so easy to go on Instagram and click, click, click. All of these devices are all around. You can so easily forget to tap into your roots.” Journalist and author of Destination Wellness: Global Secrets for Better Living Wherever You Are, Annie Daly, shares her favorite philosophies that she’s picked up during her travels, what she learned from her experience with adult acne, and how we can all begin to improve our individual wellbeing.


Zibby Owens: Welcome, Annie. Thanks so much for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Lose Weight.” We’re going to discuss Destination Wellness and all your learnings about wellness from all over the world.

Annie Daly: Yes, thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here.

Zibby: I loved your story. Actually, why don’t you start out by telling people who are listening about Destination Wellness and why you did it, what it’s all about. Then I’m going to go into what I liked and stuff.

Annie: Ultimately, it’s about my personal journey around the world in search of well-being and happiness. The idea came about actually from my job. I was working as a wellness editor at a big wellness magazine in New York. I was just inundated with products all the time every day. They kept getting sent to me. I just became disillusioned with the idea that wellness meant something that you had to buy. It became a journey for me to figure out how to define wellness in a way that wasn’t so associated with products. I had sort of known from previous travels that it’s not necessarily like this in other places around the world. It’s not so commercialized, especially in the wellness industry that I was so entrenched in in my job. I just decided to apply that global outlook and go on this journey to interview people about how they defined well-being in a less commercial way.

Zibby: I love that. This whole podcast is about how to feel better in your body. Wellness is so essential to that. Of course, it’s so easy to get hooked by all these simple tricks. Take these vitamins. Do this. Do that. I feel like the perfect moment in this book was when you were sitting at coffee. I want to say you were in midtown with the — he wasn’t a rap star. What kind of music?

Annie: Oh, Chronixx, the reggae artist.

Zibby: The reggae artist. You were like, “So I hear you love yoga. Are you going to go to any yoga classes?” He was like, “You can’t go to yoga. You do yoga. You are yoga.” Such a different mindset.

Annie: Exactly. That was honestly one of the big moments that inspired me to start this journey. Thinking about yoga in that way, the fact that I had asked him that question, the fact that I thought that yoga was something that you had to go to, it really made think, wow, why am I so entrenched in this idea that wellness means boutique fitness classes and wellness means these products and these lotions and all of the potions and everything? Whereas he was just like, “Yo, you have it all wrong. Wellness is a state of mind. It is a state of being. You can’t go to it. It comes to you.”

Zibby: Wow. I really thought that way. I don’t do yoga that much. I’m always like, I’m so stressed about getting to yoga so I can lay there on the ground and do nothing at the end. It’s so silly, which is probably why I don’t do yoga anymore. It’s too much of a stretch.

Annie: I think I had a line in the book that was like, “Yoga is so ridiculous. We’re all so stressed out about being late to relax.”

Zibby: It’s true. You said it much better than me. Yes, late to relax, even to a massage. Oh, my gosh, I’m getting a massage in twenty minutes. You got to get there. It’s like, what’s going to happen? You’re going to miss one minute of a massage? This culture of rushing and squeezing it all in. You even point out in the book that we take all these indoor exercise classes now that just simulate being outdoors instead of just being outdoors.

Annie: Right, exactly. All of these things, they’re so easy to get wrapped into it and hooked into it and just convinced that this is the way that you need to be. Then the minute that you free yourself of that notion and that idea and you begin to see that you can get all of the same benefits for free, it’s a very freeing idea.

Zibby: It’s revolutionary. I also went through this whole period of time where I was really into spinning. I don’t know about you, I feel like I tend to pick a workout. Then I do that for a while. Then I move onto the next. I was in my spinning phase. After a while, I was on the street or something and a biker passed me by. I was like, I might actually be really good at bike riding right now. Maybe I should try to race or something. I’m building up this useless skill of sitting in one place. Sometimes it takes somebody like you going around the world to shed the light for the rest of us. I love your notion, by the way, of the house vibes. That’s why I was commenting about your plants because I just love that. I want to read this one part from — which section was this in? I think this was still the Jamaica part. I’m pretty sure.

Annie: Yep, house vibes is Jamaica.

Zibby: You said, “Surrounding yourself with plants at home also helps create what Michael refers to as a bubble of vibes, AKA, your own little urban oasis sanctuary. City life is hard with everyone rushing around doing things, so you have to just build your own little world with your plants and your music and your cooking, he said, as I nodded my head yes, yes, yes. I am a firm believer in the magic of house vibes. For me, that means filling my apartment with green plants and cozy twinkly lights, lighting incense and crisp white candles, and turning on uplifting music, usually reggae, let’s be honest, as soon as I walk in the door.” I love that. I just love it. It’s so funny how the whole idea of how they do things in Jamaica of planting and eating in that certain way from plants which started this whole movement can go leap across the world and end up with the plant in the back of your Zoom.

Annie: I know. It’s so true. I really love that idea as well. Just to back up a little bit to explain to listeners who may not be familiar with this philosophy, Jamaica is — basically, I traveled to six different places around the world. Jamaica was one of them. The others were Hawaii, India, Norway, Brazil, and — whoa, wait, am I forgetting? Japan. Did I say Japan?

Zibby: You didn’t say Japan. Jamaica, Norway, Hawaii, Japan, India, Brazil.

Annie: Exactly. Basically, in each place, I tried to focus on one or two philosophies that were embedded into the culture that we could all learn from. The philosophy in Jamaica that I focused on is called Ital. Ital, it’s the Rastafari way of natural living. It actually has a bit of a dark history. It is rooted in colonialism in Jamaica. Rastas were shunned by the colonialists. They had to flee to the hills in the Blue Mountains. In doing so, they developed such a strong connection to the land because they were up there. They had to grow all of their own food because they were shunned from society. That’s the origins of this idea. It has since evolved into this, it’s a vegan movement. It’s a vegan lifestyle that really prioritizes avoiding all processed foods and tapping into this visceral connection with mother earth. What I love about that house vibes anecdote, to bring it back to that, is that Rastas originally, they lived in the hills in Jamaica, but now they are sort of spread all around the world.

That quote comes from a Rasta that I interviewed in Brooklyn. I was so curious because I had been to Jamaica. I saw them living off of the land and being so in tune with farming and growing their own food. I just wondered, how do Rastas do this in Brooklyn when obviously you’re not living on a farm? That quote gets to the idea that so much of growing your own food isn’t even just about living naturally. It’s actually about living on your own terms and taking this moment to remove yourself from society and being self-reliant. That’s the art of that quote. That’s what I love about this entire wellness philosophy. It points to the idea that we all tend to get so involved with eating naturally and eating organic and making sure that we’re eating in the most healthy way possible. That’s all well and good and definitely something we should be focusing on. Also, there’s this whole other part that says that when you’re eating these fresh foods, what you’re also doing is you’re removing yourself from supporting all of these big commercial brands that might not be serving you. I really like that duality. It’s focused on the nutritional benefit, yes, but it’s also this other deeper, bigger way of thinking about eating. I think that’s so profound and great.

Zibby: I should’ve started with that before going into the quote, so thank you for that.

Annie: I was just thinking .

Zibby: I know. That probably made no sense. I’m sorry. Thank you for that.

Annie: There’s a lot of backstory to this quote.

Zibby: Instead of me just jumping in.

Annie: Otherwise, I’m just floating around in incense, which is also great.

Zibby: There were a lot of different points of the book where you talked about eating and different approaches to food and nutrition and everything. I was really interested in the Ayurvedic section where you talked about how it cleared up your adult-onset acne, which by the way I loved that you talked about in this book because women do not talk about it. Frankly, nobody talks about it. So many people have to deal with it. It’s just so awesome to read about it and to have you talk about your insecurity about it. Did you debate putting that in? I feel like that was one of the more personal moments of the story.

Annie: It really was. Thank you for bringing that up. As this book is coming out, I’m thinking about what people will be reading. Oh, man, that section, I really think about that section a lot because I admitted to the fact that I was pretty insecure in my twenties from this acne. At that time in my life, I was working on women’s magazines. I had these high-profile meetings that I had to be in. I wasn’t on camera, but I was on. I had to be on every day. Having all of those breakouts was really pretty traumatic in a way. My skin has since healed. I’m not even sure why, honestly. Maybe it’s just age. Maybe it’s Ayurveda. Maybe it’s a combination of a million things. I think I’m a little bit less stressed now than I was then. Who knows? Yes, thank you for bringing that up. It was stressful.

Zibby: It was one of my favorite parts. It’s really great. It’s just great. Teenagers should know about it, just having the point of view and the perspective and that everybody goes through it. Maybe this is fodder for another spinoff book or something, your book for teens. Maybe that’s coming next.

Annie: It really could be because I think it’s definitely a topic that people don’t talk about as much. There’s this idea that if you have breakouts that you are not taking care of yourself, that you’re somehow this dirty person who missed the memo on how to care for your well-being, when in fact, of course, when you have that physical representation on your face, you’re going to ten thousand more great lengths to try to get rid of it. If anything, you’re paying attention to everything you do even more. It’s like you become obsessive. Maybe I’m breaking out because I ate this thing. Maybe it’s because of this. I’m happy that I included that, if nothing else, so that I can reach somebody who may be struggling with this as well to let them know that, A, they’re not alone; B, it is not a representation of your well-being and your ability to take care of yourself; and C, that people see the whole you. You think that they’re looking at you, but really, they’re looking at your whole self.

Zibby: I feel like it’s the perfect example of how our bodies aren’t totally under are our control. You can do so much. You can go to the gym. You can pick your clothes. You can do all these things to control how you look, but then illness happens or this happens or that happens. This is just the perfect, yeah, you know what, we’re not in control, necessarily. We can do our best. Sometimes you just have to go with it. It teaches a lot.

Annie: It really does. Even just getting back to the India chapter, what was so fascinating about that whole journey into skincare — just to sum it up really quickly, I wrote about this in the chapter, that I went into Ayurveda — it’s the Hindu philosophy of well-being, basically. It’s a whole science. It’s a whole thing. It is based on the idea that natural foods and everything natural is better than processed, very similar to Ital actually. That’s sort of a running theme throughout the book. I went into this retreat that I went to thinking that I was a little bit scared because I have been so scared to put anything on my face. That definitely stems from all of these years of insecurity about breakouts. One of the things that was so interesting to me in India is that they encouraged putting lots of things on my face to help heal my skin, including fruits and milk. I put buttermilk on my face. I put papaya on my face. I put all of these natural ingredients. I went in thinking, oh, my gosh, I am going to have such breakouts. I don’t put anything on my face if I don’t look it up on the internet and test it a million times and make sure that it’s legit. I’m putting milk on my face. This can’t be good. Lo and behold, I leave, and my skin is shinier and just cleaner than ever. Go figure.

Zibby: Where are you today with your whole health and wellness and eating? Are you still doing the Ayurveda? You said in the book you were, but who knows?

Annie: Mm-hmm.

Zibby: You are still doing it. Are you trying to get outdoors more for workouts? What of these lessons have you now implemented into your life?

Annie: Overall, one of the main points of the book is that it’s all about these simple ideas of health. It’s really about leaning into these things that bring us back to the basics. That goes in so many directions. That goes to hanging out in nature instead of feeling the need to go to a trendy workout class. That goes to connecting with your family. That is a huge part of well-being. People don’t necessarily think of that as a wellness practice. Definitely, it doesn’t involve lighting incense and creating a home of crystals. That’s all well and good too, but these are really, really basic ways to live. They’re so good for your well-being. Yes, connecting with family, going out into nature. Another philosophy that I loved was from Hawaii. It’s called Nānā i ke Kumu. It basically translates to, look to the source. I was talking to this one Hawaiian. I was asking him how he defined well-being. He said that, to him, it’s about looking to the source. It’s about knowing where you’ve come from. I love that idea become I think it’s pretty easy these days to just live in this surface world where it’s so easy to go on Instagram and click, click, click. All of these devices are all around. You can so easily forget to tap into your roots. Whereas he was saying that when you’re aware of where you come from, it contributes to this wonderfully holistic idea of well-being. Something as simple as asking your parents, hey, tell me a little bit more about my childhood. Let’s talk about this random uncle that I have. I don’t really know much about him. Who’s random Uncle Billy? It doesn’t even need to be blood related either. I live in Brooklyn. It can be getting to know the neighborhood, the history of this neighborhood, and really tapping into that. It’s this holistic idea that we feel better in our present selves when we understand the past around us.

Zibby: Love it. That’s awesome. What are you going to do next? What’s up on your to-do list? Are you going to write another book? What’s ahead for you?

Annie: I try not to plan that far into the future. Honestly, I don’t know is the basic question. There was actually one section in the book that points to that as well. It was another Hawaiian philosophy where I interviewed this navigator. She was ultimately talking about how in the West, we tend to try to really create our futures. We think that everything is in our control. This is such a product of hustle culture. We think that we can just map out our destiny and map out our lives and do A, B, and C to get D. Ultimately — it’s going to sound very, very hippie. It is a little bit. She was saying that the philosophy that she believes in is that you really have to just quiet your mind and listen to everything around you. There are all sorts of signs that you’ll pick up on. You go with the ones that you can hear. You can only hear them when you’re silent and when you’re away from the noise and when you disconnect yourself from the idea that you can create your own future.

Zibby: I love how you’re saying that and I can barely hear you with all the sirens outside my window. I don’t know if you can hear them. You’re like, disconnect from the noise. I’m like, what?

Annie: That was basically a very long-winded, hippy-ish answer to say that I don’t really know what my future holds, but I am going to listen to the signs around me as I go and go with them.

Zibby: Amazing. I loved when you talked about being on StreetEasy and looking at all the different places of where to move. I’m always on StreetEasy. Every day, I’m like, what about Miami? What if our lives were here? It was nice to see.

Annie: Listen, does anybody really know what they’re doing? No. Everybody’s just pretending. Everyone’s just scrolling StreetEasy imagining all the what ifs and the possible lives that we have. Ultimately, if you’re really quiet enough and you’re really in tune with yourself enough, you’ll be able to tap into that inner course and see the direction that is right for you.

Zibby: It is probably not Miami, FYI, for me.

Annie: Probably not. Then again, I don’t know you well enough to fully understand why.

Zibby: Just trust me on this one.

Annie: I do know that you’re a native New Yorker.

Zibby: Yes. Maybe life would be fun in Miami. It sounds like it would be amazing. Who knows? Next time I run into you, maybe I’ll be there. Life works in mysterious ways. Thank you so much for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Lose Weight,” sharing your wellness experience. This was such a fun book. My favorite part was getting to know you in the book. I think you should keep writing about stuff that you go through. It doesn’t matter, you don’t have to travel to India. It could be what’s going on in your life now. I think you should keep doing that kind of stuff.

Annie: Thank you. That is so nice to hear. I definitely will.

Zibby: Thanks, Annie. It was so nice to meet you.

Annie: Thank you so much. You too.

Zibby: Buh-bye.

Annie: Bye.

Annie Daly, Destination Wellness

Destination Wellness: Global Secrets for Better Living Wherever You Are by Annie Daly

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