My Feel Good Routine with Arielle McFadden



By Elizabeth Villa with Arielle McFadden

In our new series, I'm asking individuals to share the self-care practices they're feeling good about so that we can get ideas that might work (and not work) in our own lives. 

To kick it off, I talked to Los Angeles yoga teacher Arielle McFadden about her relationship with food, getting to know her body, and how she deals with the "shoulds." She is so real and so ready to share practical tips. Enjoy and be sure to check out one of Arielle's classes!

Q: You mentioned that food for you is feeling good right now. Why does it feel especially good for you?

A: It is such a nurturing and "mothering" act–preparing food. A while back as I was going through my Yoga Psyche Soul training we were learning about our root chakra, how it relates to our day to day, and what stage it is formed in our development. One of the things we were instructed to do was to prepare meals for ourselves to help connect more deeply to our root chakra, to our most authentic and primal selves. I “heard” that and learned it, but it didn’t really click.

I find that the act of preparing food, of picking good organic healthy ingredients, of consuming something I have made really does GROUND me and brings me JOY. Much like when a person prepares food FOR you. To self nourish with food is a new place for me to be in.
For most of my life food served as either: a coping mechanism, a way to numb, a way to deprive or punish, then it became a way to be fueled for my active lifestyle. So often I was shoving a bar down my throat in the car between clients just for the sake of knowing I NEEDED to eat. Now, it's become a way for me to balance my hormones, to express love for myself, truly to be kind to myself.

When I really was feeling at a loss with my cycle I read Woman Code which also helped me to truly understand how important it is to eat foods to provide nourishment, not just "energy." That book really changed my life and as I started following that protocol the Yoga Psyche Soul information finally CLICKED.

Q: How are you doing it?

A: I pick EASY things to make first and foremost, ingredients I can use for multiple recipes, and I make time to prep. I don't really have time to spend an hour in the kitchen making food on a daily basis, and I cannot afford to have TONS of organic produce in my house: especially if it doesn't get used. So I make sure whatever I buy I will use up. I always have apples, kale or spinach, and lemons. Making a smoothie the night before with Philosophie superfoods so I know I have something I can have on the go that is super nourishing is key.

I wake up around 5am almost every day, so that whole "morning routine" thing a lot of yoga teachers talk about? No fucking way LOL I am sleeping as close to 5am as I can and hitting snooze a few times. Then quickly getting up to take care of the dog, make oatmeal, and head to clients. So night before is clutch. Another HUGE staple I never run out of us quinoa. I mean, you can make ANYTHING with that!!! Sometimes I even ADD it to my oatmeal!  

Then I get to play from there with regards to what I make. Thankfully, I do NOT care if I am having the same lunch for 3 days. I am all about USING all of my produce. It's been super easy as well to buy organic produce affordably with Imperfect Produce. I also use the My Flo app (after devouring the Woman Code book) to check in on the types of food that supports the phase of the cycle I am in, so it's almost like "grocery list prep." That helps me pick what I'm ordering from Imperfect, and also I know as I approach menstrual phase I use more of the Philosophie Cacao Magic due to its iron content, more so than the berry bliss or green dream, in my smoothies.

Q:  What are the benefits you're experiencing?

A: I am HAPPIER. I am ENJOYING my food. I mean it's an EXPERIENCE.  Even if it's in the car between clients as I sit outside their house. Or in the back room at One Down Dog before a class. I LOVE the taste of my food. I have sustained energy throughout my long and giving days, I sleep better. I am more in tune with my body and what it is telling me, and have gotten better about catching myself being unkind to myself. Because feeding yourself is KIND, so it sets a nice tone for you to follow everywhere else in your life.   

Q: You mentioned that food habits have been keeping you grounded, what other rituals or routines keep you grounded?

A: Bath time!!!! Cuccio Somatology has a milk bath and a detox bath that is just the most wonderful experience. Spending 10-20min NOT near my phone, just laying in the water, maybe reading a book, it's just such a beautiful way to drop in. I also am fortunate enough to have a yard and I am OBSESSED with my plants and the hummingbirds, so spending time watching them. Listening to the birds on walks with my dog: and walking her WITHOUT my phone. SO GROUNDING. Of course a yoga and meditation practice is as well, but to be frank as an instructor my time is spent teaching, and the free time I have is usually when all the studios are closed LOL So I don't get to do that as often.

I do like to try and spend time meditating when possible. The Calm app has been really lovely for that: even if I don't do a guided meditation, the music selection is glorious and gives me permission to even just spend 2 min breathing.

Oh! And reading.

Okay wow everyone probably thinks I'm in my 50s. I like to read, be in my yard, and take baths. LOL SO exciting! But it's true. HOLDING a physical book! Ugh it's so nice!

Q: Any tools/resources you use to help?

  1. Imperfect Produce
  2. Cuccio Somatology: USE CODE "ARIELLEYOGA10" FOR 10% OFF. This is not sponsored. I have a code because I am OBSESSED lol and Danielle is a friend!
  3. My Flow app
  4. Philosophie superfoods: Powders, coconut butters, and honey
  5. Pugnation LA: I am a pug mom. Go rescue a pug, or any dog for that matter. Or cat! But get an animal. That is SO grounding and wonderful.

Q: What do you do when you don't have time for a whole routine?

A: I take 2 seconds when my alarm goes off to say thank you that I am awake, that my pug and my fiancé are awake, that everyone I love is waking up that day. I make a glass of lemon water, apple cider vinegar, and Spirulina before eating anything. If I did not prep a smoothie: I throw a nut milk, superfood powder, vegan protein powder and organic berries into the blender. And I remind myself a few times during the day to take a deep breath.

Q: How do you navigate the "shoulds" and have the conversation with yourself when you don't feel like you're doing "enough" but really you're listening to what your body needs?

A: Today was a PERFECT example! I found out that Soul Cycle is FINALLY (like it's been years) having those free training classes. Meaning you can take a class with an instructor still training or just out of training FOR FREE. Let me say this again: FREE SOUL CYCLE. And so I signed up because I happened to have the time to pop down the hill.

This morning I am definitely PMSing: I have bad circulation in my body and a terrible headache.

The way my schedule was: I was going to drive up the hill (I live in the Valley) after morning clients on the westside for like 30 min, then drive out into Hollywood to take class, then back up the hill for 2.5 hours to then drive down to the Eastside and back into Hollywood for classes.

Why? Because in my brain I should spin because spinning is good cardio and burns fat and I'm fat and ...wait omg WHAT?

BOOM! My motivation was not to move my body because it feels good and I love it. In fact, the thought of all that driving which I do all the time out of necessity for work made me anxious. WHY drive extra? WHY limit the time I can spend working at home cooking, resting, taking care of my dog? Oh because there's still a part of me that feels insecure and not enough? UNACCEPTABLE.

I have a headache! I need to take it easy because usually I don't have that luxury. Of course I "should" work out. But I also MUST take care of myself. It's truly about listening to your motivations. I don’t know how many of your readers have experience with toddlers, I used to be a nanny: so I would ask you to think about when a four year old is asking you "but why?" OVER AND OVER to the point where you just BLURT out the truest answer. What would your answer be? If that isn't a self-loving and kind answer: then you are doing it for the wrong reason.

This is a work in progress: I will NEVER have that nailed down. But, I will always do my best to try.

Q: Do you have any tips for listening to yourself?

You are CONSTANTLY having a dialog with yourself. There's the first voice: the one that says the same stuff over and over, "I want to go to Greece." "I need to change careers." "This relationship is toxic." Then there's the ego, "I cannot afford it, maybe someday." "That's too risky: why would I leave job A, and what would I even do?" "He/She isn't THAT bad."

That FIRST voice: That's your gut. LISTEN to that voice. This may be a shameless plug, but that voice is loudest for me when I do yoga. I used to be in a very toxic relationship and EVERY time I was in class I would hear my heart BEG for me to get out! BEG! It took years, but I finally listened. And my life changed instantly and became more than I could have ever dreamed!

For some people journaling does the trick, or running, or spinning...or talking to a friend. But there is a way to start to practice hearing your heart, then hearing your ego, kindly telling your ego "thanks but no thanks." And proceeding to follow your heart.

DO IT. I promise you: when you do something coming from a place of love, the universe meets you there to support you. Sounds SOOOO hippy dippy: but I am the living embodiment of that.