Zady Lady: Meet Chef and Wellness Expert Sophia Roe
There are a thousand reasons to admire #zadylady Sophia Roe, the sparkling and relatable chef and wellness expert whose candid videos on health and mindfulness light up social media. If we had to pick just one, though, it would be her uniquely tolerant and holistic approach to the journey to wellness. Her method incorporates a lot of great information about food, but it is also more comprehensive than that, encouraging her audience to be aware of and kind to themselves, and the world around them.
We sat down with Sophia to learn more about what it actually means to embark on a path to wellness, and how to go about achieving this goal.
The term “wellness” is so ubiquitous now - how do you define it and what caused you to pursue it?
I think most people determine wellness by assessing how they look physically, not often how they feel mentally or how they’re actually performing. Just because you eat healthy food and have a nice figure doesn’t mean you fall under the category of being “well” if you walk around feeling insecure, constantly beating yourself up, or are stressed and not sleeping. That isn’t my personification of “wellness.”
I believe wellness is simply waking up and registering that you feel good, your stress is manageable, you have mental confidence, and total and complete awareness of what you put into your body, and how exactly it’ll make you feel. Being aware, confident, compassionate, and respectful to your physical, mental, and emotional well being are the biggest factors in my definition of wellness.
Some examples include: not depriving yourself of feeling alive, and remembering what that is like; drinking water in the morning because it’s refreshing after being dehydrated all night; eating a handful of blueberries or an apple or grapefruit first thing instead of a bagel because of how alive this will make you feel; waking up 10 minutes early to stretch; not rushing through the day and being more present; chewing and enjoying your food, and sitting down to eat when you can instead of standing up or running around; slowing down on the road; not holding your breath and remembering to breathe when you’re stressed; smiling at a stranger; finding something to be grateful for every day; taking a walk outside; not talking shit about people all the time; saying thank you more; making time to do more of what you like: writing, reading, knitting, cooking, drawing/painting, singing, whatever it might be; taking a class in something you’ve always wanted to try…
All that shit is wellness before kale smoothies and quinoa bowls.
What do you think some common initial challenges are to pursuing a wellness diet, and how do you recommend getting past those hurdles?
Some initial challenges I often see, are “where do I start?,” “why didn’t I see any changes or feel any different?,” and the biggest one: “but… aren’t I going to be so hungry?”
I recommend a food journal at the very beginning. Keeping a log of what you eat, how you feel after eating, how much sleep you get, how stressful your life is - these are really important aspects to start with. We are all built and designed differently, so our processes will be different. It’s also important to be realistic with yourself and your goals. Wellness and elevated health and beauty takes time! There are no quick fixes. So it’s important to be patient with yourself.
And as for being hungry, the goal is not to starve yourself, but to treat food as fuel for your body. We often reward ourselves with food. As much as I enjoy decadence, which doesn’t need to be eliminated, it should be kept to a minimum. Cravings will subside once you limit the "bad for you” foods. So it’s important to stick to your guns at the beginning and fight the cravings. Once you’ve reached a point where the cravings aren’t so bad, you will be surprised how much you don’t even want those foods you used to reward yourself with.
You live in New York City. Where do you find fresh, local produce in such a hyper urban environment?
So many people are surprised to know that NYC actually has an amazing supply of fresh, local, and organic produce! There are so many farms in Long Island and upstate New York that bring their produce to the city to various farmers markets, sometimes on a daily basis. Grow NYC farmers markets are located all over the city and operate almost seven days a week!
My favorite has to be the Union Square Farmers Market that happens Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. I always come with plenty of empty bags to stock up for the week on Monday. For the best selection, get there early! But for the best prices, try later in the afternoon.
How do you apply wellness principles outside of your diet? We do so by ensuring that the pieces in The Zady Collection are free of pesticides and toxic dyes, which would otherwise be absorbed into the skin, the body’s largest organ.
There are a million and one ways to apply wellness in your everyday life. It’s as simple for me as never leaving the house without a canvas or grocery bag made with recyclable material. We unfortunately live in a plastic world. Fifty percent of the plastic we use, sadly, we use just once! Being conscious of plastic consumption is a huge wellness principle. Drinking water out of your own bottle or glass can be an easy tool to lower your plastic consumption. Being conscious of our soaps, laundry detergents, household cleaners, and skin care products is another wellness principle. People often don’t think about where those chemicals go when they disappear down the drain. Polluting our water sources is detrimental to humans and other species alike, so it’s extremely important to be aware of what we put down the drain.
The hugest component of how I live my “wellness” lifestyle outside of food has to do with my extreme consciousness about the clothing I put on my body. Many people have no clue that the clothing industry is the second leading contributor of carbon dioxide to the environment! The industry is not only destroying the air we breathe, but is also treating clothes with chemicals that are being absorbed into our skin and water.
It’s incredibly important to be just as conscious of what we put ON our bodies as we are with what things we put in them. That means choosing a wardrobe based on environmentally thoughtful sourcing, production, and design quality, and getting to know the clothing you buy. So many people want to know where the tomatoes or eggplant they bought were grown, but have no care in the world as to where the shoes or shirts they’re wearing were made, who made them, or what they’re made of! Some simple changes, like avoiding synthetic or chemically dyed clothing and opting for locally sourced and/or organically grown linen, cotton, or alternatives wherever possible are incredible ways to embody wellness principles outside of just diet.
We love your videos - they make us feel like a close friend is sitting in our living room teaching us about food! What made you choose this as a primary medium of communication?
I think part of what makes health and nutrition so daunting and intimidating to people is that it doesn’t feel realistic or attainable. People become discouraged before they ever even start their wellness journey. I really feel like the comfortable and “one step at a time” approach is missing in the health and wellness realm. I want people to see me in my real life elements, and see that I’m a real person. I’m not perfect! I’m my own project, just like they are their own projects. I myself respond much better to a relatable message, or one expressed through an understanding approach.
If you had to pick 5 foods everyone should have in their kitchen, what would you choose? What are some other initial steps people can take to embrace the principles you teach?
Lemon, ginger, red leaf lettuce, coconut milk, chia seeds for sure! These are always in my kitchen. Lemon and ginger for their cleansing and digestive properties, and they are amazing for inflammation and immunity health. Red leaf lettuce because not only is it a super nutrient green, but it’s also loaded with antioxidants, unlike many other greens. Coconut milk because it’s my personal favorite alternative milk, but there are tons to choose from! Chia seeds because they’re an amazing plant based protein, and are extremely versatile and can be sprinkled on top of anything.
Is there a quick snack recipe you’d like to share with our readers?
People tend to like crunchy stuff like potato chips or pretzels. So I like to make beet, parsnip, or even apple chips if I’m in the mood for something sweet. Make sure you preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and thoroughly toss the base ingredient of your choice in coconut oil, with a sprinkle of salt, or cinnamon if baking apple slices. Bake a total of 20 minutes, flipping over after ten minutes. They’re delicious, and so good on their own or with a dip of your choice.
What are the next steps for Sophia Roe? We’re dying to know!
I’m currently trying to do more collaborative work with like-minded people on bigger picture issues. I’m really hoping to get my YouTube channel and website launched early this summer as well. I’m super excited to have more than one platform to spread my messages of health, beauty, and all things wellness.
Sophia Roe of Brain Beauty Project was photographed at AP Cafe in Bushwick, Brooklyn by Matthew Johnson, with special thanks to Tanya Landeta. Sophia is wearing the .03 linen t-shirt, Japanese gathered blouse, and .06 alpaca sweater in charcoal, all from The Zady Collection.