Why I’m Not Writing a Blog Post About My Trip to California

“Collect moments. Not things!”

Back in July, I booked a trip to California to visit my friend Lauren. At the time, I was feeling anxious and overwhelmed and unsure of what I was doing as a freelancer and she suggested taking the trip to get away for a little bit. The only free time I had was in October, which back in July felt like it would never happen. But once the week came, I was more than ready for a trip away from my work and routine.

Now I am a serious Type A personality, so every detail of every trip I take is planned. I’m talking about food, workouts, meetups! I was planning to make this a working vacation by booking some fitness classes, figuring out which restaurants to eat at, which crystal stores to visit and where to get all the best wellness treatments. And then I was going to write a blog post about it so I could share it with you. I mean, this is what I do — even when I went to Baltimore for a working trip, I planned everything and had the best time documenting everything I ate and experienced.

But as I began planning, and writing an itinerary, and figuring out travel distance between locations I wanted to visit and how to fit in sunsets on the beach with infrared sauna sessions with yoga and spin classes, I realized I was still completely overwhelmed and the point of the trip was becoming obsolete. So here I was, with a plane ticket to California, very little money, postponing work to take this trip, and I wasn’t going to do work. This wasn’t me at all, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized why I needed to stop planning. I needed to just live.

I needed to let the trip plan itself. Lauren knew I needed to get away back in July, so I needed to trust her, and myself to know what my mind and body needed. And what it needed was to let go of control. Work would still get done, but it would get done on my time. I am so controlling and it causes me to stress out big time, and the hardest thing for me to do is to just let go and trust. But here I was, on a beach in California, with barely any working internet, a 4 page to-do list, and no desire to to any of it. So I trusted myself to have fun and still get work done, but to not stress. And guess what happened! I had fun!

So what did I do for a week in California?

Well one thing is for sure, I didn’t workout. And I didn’t stress about it. Every day in NYC, I wake up at 5am to get to an early morning workout class before everyone else’s day even begins. Well, I still woke up at 6am, but I did it without an alarm clock, I did it without worrying if I would be late to a class and have to pay a late or cancellation fee. I slept until my body was ready to wake up. And then, I sat by the pool, or walked on the beach just enjoying life.

I didn’t immediately jump on Instagram, or check my email, mostly because there was a lack of internet, but also because I didn’t want to. I mean, don’t get me wrong, my business is based on social media, blogging and emails. But I always say I want the content to be authentic and since I was on vacation, my scrolling and posting would be on vacation time. So I stopped stressing about peak engagement times, followers, likes, commenting and tagging and just let it all flow how it was supposed to.

I stayed present in my surroundings and with the people I was with. I did things out of my comfort zone because I wanted to, not because I felt like I had to document it for a blog post. So, sorry to tell you, but I can’t give you any insider wellness tips about Santa Monica. But I can give you some guidance on what you can do on a trip there if you’re willing to just let go and trust yourself.

Hiking Temescal Canyon Trail

So I may not have visited a workout studio, but I did get in some exercise. I got out in nature and experienced what the world can offer when your body needs to sweat. Lauren and I joined LHLosAngeles for a morning hike and meditation. We hiked the 3 mile, 900 foot elevation trail and ended with a guided meditation.

Now I know I said I didn’t workout, but this hike left me sweaty, sore and grounded. I am grateful for being able to get outside, be out of a stuffy studio and move my body naturally and mindfully.


Maybe I worked out more than I thought — just not in the traditional sense. 3 out of the 6 days that I was in California I got to experience the Shifter! It is a machine created to get your body moving and balanced. It’s a non impact workout and stretch all in one that helps create flexibility, mobility, strength and balance within your body.

And it is a mental workout as it forces you to focus on the wave that your body is riding in a meditative state, otherwise you lose the focus and momentum that your body has created. But once you get back into the meditation, the movement is seamless and effortless. The shifter aligns the body and mind and improves any stagnation in the body, preventing and healing disease.

Venice Canals

There is nothing more beautiful than walking around a new location and exploring it with a present and calm mind. And that’s what I did when we went to the Venice Canals. It was a nice break from the crowds on the beach and boardwalk and reminded me of my honeymoon 4 years ago to Venice, Italy.

The houses were starting to decorate for Halloween and it was fun to see a small community come together in celebration and joy for others.

Santa Monica Farmer’s Market

I didn’t plan to visit any specific restaurants (except one, but more on that later), so we played it be ear when it came to food. Now, normally I’d be super anxious about this because of my particular paleo way of eating, but I trusted Lauren and myself to know what I can and cannot eat and to not be so controlling about where we did that. We enjoyed a lot of delicious food out, but we also went to the Sunday local farmer’s market where we picked up a ton of vegetables to cook all week.

We made delicious frittatas and sauteed vegetables and sipped on fresh almond milk and ate Ayurveda, paleo pear turmeric bread. Everything was so fresh and flavorful and tasted even better because I didn’t try to control anything that we bought or made!

Primal Kitchen Culver City Restaurant

The only real plan I had was to visit the Primal Kitchen Restaurant in Culver City. You all know my obsession with Mark Sisson and Primal Kitchen is real — I use the avocado oil for cooking daily and love adding the mayo, dressings and primal fuel to my weekly meal prep routine!

The restaurant opened in September and is based on the principles of Primal Kitchen Foods to give the community fresh, whole foods that are quality ingredients but serviced conveniently. It reinvents the fast-food restaurant in the best way possible. The mission of the restaurant aligns with my own personal mission to make clean-eating and living a healthy lifestyle convenient and accessible to everyone!

I wanted to order the entire menu — I think a visitors tasting menu is needed. I was torn between ordering the waffles and fried chicken, the burger, and the pork belly. It’s not often that I can walk into a restaurant and not worry about reading the ingredients list, asking if something can be made gluten or dairy free, or if it’s organic and local. Everything on the menu is paleo friendly with some keto options, and Primal Kitchen Foods products line the shelves for purchase along with some other paleo favorites!

Here’s what I ate:

Pork Belly

served with bone marrow & ghee parsnip puree, carrot slaw, kimchi and Primal Kitchen chipotle mayo

Sweet Potato Wedges

wedge cut fries with spices and seasoning

All American Burger

served on a cassava flour bun, Primal Kitchen mayo, ketchup, and fries

Double-Chocolate Mug Cake

made with coconut and almond flour, espresso powder, and chocolate chips topped with a coconut cream whipped cream!

I don’t have any other words, except — go to Primal Kitchen Restaurant as soon as you can!

M Street Kitchen

The fresh food tour continued with lunch one day at M Street Kitchen located in Santa Monica. The menu features organic, local and seasonal foods and was accommodating to making sure my meal was gluten and dairy free! I ate a fresh Santa Monica Salad featuring kale, hard-boiled egg, bacon, tomato, added avocado and grilled salmon (hold the corn and blue cheese for paleo friendly). Lauren ordered the Brussels Sprouts salad and my friend ordered the Bangkok Thai Salad. We were definitely part of the clean plate club during this delicious meal!

Four Sigmatic Shroom Room

I love my shroom coffee and drink it every day. It was exciting to visit the Four Sigmatic Shroom Room located on Abbot Kinney in Venice. It’s a great place to sample the different mushroom coffees, purchase shroom coffee and other shroomy apparel. I had the best time meeting up with my friend and fellow IIN health coach Amanda and sipping on shrooms with her for an afternoon! And we’re not talking about portobello or button mushrooms — we’re drinking lion’s mane, chage, cordyceps and reishi! And with the added mushrooms, the coffee has a smoother taste and no caffeine jitter.

Health benefits of drinking mushroom coffee include:

  • immune system booster
  • anti-cancer
  • rich in antioxidants
  • protects against free-radicals
  • reduces the risk for chronic disease

Dogtown Coffee

Santa Monica is the birth place of skateboard culture after the surfers of Dogtown came together at the Zephyr shop to skateboard when they weren’t in the water riding waves! There is a lot of references to Dogtown in Santa Monica and I enjoyed coffee and an Acai Energy Bowl at Dogtown Coffee on main street. This small coffee shop features a menu of local and organic ingredients and freshly brewed coffee. Tons of locals lined up every morning for breakfast and it was fun to sit outside early in the morning watching the surfers walk to the beach to catch the morning waves!

Kippy’s Ice Cream

Yup, I ate ice cream because it’s vacation and I like to indulge on dessert. But I didn’t get a tummy ache because Kippy’s is non-dairy ice cream made with coconut milk and contains 5 ingredients or less. It’s sweetened with honey or dates making it paleo-friendly, and the option for vegan-friendly. Every ice cream flavor is dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, xantham-gum free, and nut-free. So obviously I had to try as many flavors as possible (meaning we went back twice).

My favorite flavors were the chocolate date, vanilla date, cinnamon date, strawberry cream and chocolate chip with a MCT & cacao hard shell topping.

Life Food Organic

Life Food Organic is a local juice shop featuring vegan eats, fresh pressed juice and tonics/elixirs. There’s also a beautiful outdoor seating area where Lauren and I spent one morning working while sipping on fresh green juices!

Santa Monica Pier & Ferris Wheel

So I live in NYC and I’ve only been to Coney Island a handful of times because 1) it’s far and 2) it’s just a tourist trap. But the Pacific Park Santa Monica Pier is a lot of fun, even just to look at while watching the sunset on the beach. It made me remember to embrace the fun on the trip and enjoy the childlike moments at all times. On my first night, Lauren and I rode the ferris wheel just as the sun was setting and it was pure magic!

Sunset on the Beach

How can you not watch the sunset on the beach when you’re visiting a beach town. And the water was so warm so standing with my feet grounded in the water while playing was probably my favorite part of the trip. Sunsets are the most beautiful thing that nature has to offer us and it reminds us all to slow down and enjoy the passing moments. There are also weekend drum circles on the beach to celebrate the sun setting as we get to live another day.

Don’t miss the moments to watch the beauty of every single day, not matter what else is happening in your day! Slow down, embrace nature, smile, laugh and jump in the water with purpose and passion.

Why I’m Not Writing a Blog Post About My Trip to California

So, here it is — my non-blog post about my trip to California. I didn’t plan anything, I didn’t stress on eating the right foods, taking the best photos and getting all of the information I needed to share with you. And look what happened — I had a lot of information to share! That’s the best part — when it’s organic, authentic and bliss. It makes my job a lot more fun when I get to have fun doing what I love and helping others share those happy moments.

So next time I visit California, maybe I’ll do some wellness tips by visiting infrared sauna and float tank studios, yoga studios, local spin classes and famous historic locations. But being on vacation doesn’t have to be stressful and I enjoyed every moment of my trip without any regrets, doubt or worry.

Originally published at www.balancedlife-leslie.com on October 19, 2017.

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