Healthy Hero: Kris Carr (Crazy Sexy Cancer)

This week as part of our "Healthy Heroes" series we are profiling the amazing Kris Carr, New York Times bestselling author, activist and self-styled "cancer thriver".

Image: Kriscarr.com

Image: Kriscarr.com

On Valentine’s Day in 2003, aged 31, Kris was diagnosed with a very rare and incurable (yet slow-growing) Stage IV cancer (FYI - there is no Stage V). After shopping around various oncologists and a slew of treatment options (including one suggestion of a triple organ transplant), Kris settled on a doctor who suggested she "watch and wait" rather than rush into any aggressive and debilitating treatments. In the meantime, she was inspired to totally overhaul her single-girl-in New-York lifestyle and diet and embark upon  a journey of self-education and deep healing. As an actress by trade, she courageously charted her progress and voyage of discovery in the frank and inspiring documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer, igniting a global wellness revolution in the process. 

Having diligently studied, trialled and tested numerous alternative and functional health philosophies, Kris found a balance with a vegan lifestyle which has enabled her to celebrate her 11th year of her cancer diagnosis this year. While she is still living with her cancer, it is currently stable and she has proven that a 'terminal' diagnosis doesn't have to mean there is no hope.  In her own words:

I learned that a nutrient dense, plant-passionate diet rules, the Standard American Diet destroys (everything), stress sucks (all life-force), exercise is non-negotiable (great for your head, heart, cells and ass-ets), joy is utterly contagious, and having fun must be taken very seriously

She has therefore devoted her life to becoming a passionate advocate of living consciously and consuming mindfully, all with a liberal dose of humour.

As she has learned to live with cancer, her brand has broadened to focus on living the healthiest life possible rather than solely on how to cope with a cancer diagnosis. Having experimented across the spectrum of 'alternative' therapies on her journey, she has settled on a regimen focusing on a plant-based, high-alkaline, anti-inflammatory diet with daily green juices.

Her unique style, described by the New York Times as "a mash-up of 'Eat, Pray, Love' and the expletive-laced pro-vegan “Skinny Bitch” books, frilled with easy intimacy and bedecked with hot-pink chick-to-chick flourishes", may not be for everyone,  for her many fans, her humorous, upbeat brand of self-love and wellness is genuine and infectious. 

Inhabiting such a controversial space, as you can imagine, KC is not without her critics, who mainly argue that her brand trivialises the severity of cancer for those battling the condition and who point out that not everyone is 'lucky' enough to have a form of cancer which can remain dormant for long periods.

Nonetheless here at The Holist HQ, we think she is a brave, courageous and hilarious woman whose passion and determination to change the narrative on cancer and terminal illness should inspire all of us to lead the healthiest lives we can. While at times her unique brand of uber- American peppy, kick-ass self-love can become a little much for us reticent Brits, it is hard to deny she inhabits an incredibly inspirational space for anyone looking to devote themselves to a healthier life, especially for anyone diagnosed with a chronic illness.  

We also love her realism, she recognises that a strict vegan lifestyle can be a daunting undertaking and isn't for everyone and her site is full of useful tips for how you can make smaller changes to your lifestyle which can still make a huge difference, for example, cutting down your animal product consumption to a maximum of 2 - 3 times a week and choosing products with a certified humane seal of approval to ensure they are free of antibiotics, hormones and other nasties.

Her online community, especially her informative blog, which you can find here, is jam packed with useful advice and inspiration for anyone in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, whether chronically or terminally ill or not. If you find that her message resonates with you and want to go a bit deeper, she has also distilled her decade of wisdom into a series of books and online programs. While some of these are cancer focused, she also focuses on optimal health more generally in books such as Crazy Sexy Diet (which she describes as her bible for a healthy lifestyle) and Crazy Sexy Kitchen (which is a more recipe-based offering). She is also a great speaker and magnetic personality so check out her You Tube channel, and her other talks online including her interview with Oprah.




Healthy Hero: Michael Pollan

When we first embarked on our healthy journey here at The Holist, we were desperate to learn more about nutrition, our food chain and what we should eat and why and wished someone could point us in the direction of sound advice that we could trust.

In this new series here at The Holist we’ll be doing just that and introducing you to a few of our favourite wellness personalities to help you on your quest to educate yourself on your own healthy living journey. First up is the amusing and astute 'real food' activist and writer Michael Pollan.

Image: Michaelpollan.com

Image: Michaelpollan.com

Pollan is a multiple New York Times bestseller and award-winning writer and journalist who has spent the last twenty-five years writing “about the places where nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in the built environment”. He has been named one of the world’s most influential people by TIME magazine in 2010 as well as one the Top 10 “New Thought Leaders” by Newsweek in 2009. 

Pollan’s In Defence of Food was one of the first books we read on our journey towards a healthier lifestyle here at The Holist. His message, that the incredibly complex and contradictory vortex of advice on what to eat could be boiled down to seven basic words, Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”, instantly had us hooked. The book’s message is simple, reject the “edible food-like substances” that we have been conditioned to consume, in favour of real food. Basically, “don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognise as food”, he argues. Humans have been deciding what to eat for time immortal and yet somehow today we have found ourselves at the mercy of the unholy trinity of the omnipotent food industry, nutritional science and the media who rule the simplest decisions of human nutrition. 

The result is 'the American paradox' (equally applicable to us in the rest of the developed world): namely that the more concerned we become about nutrition and health, the sicker and fatter we seem to become. 

Pollan blames the ideology of ‘Nutritionism’, essentially the belief that the nutritional value of food can be reduced to the sum of the individual nutrient values therein. The problem with the widespread adoption of this ideology, Pollan explains, is that given that nutrients are invisible to the human eye, we are reliant on the ‘priests’ of Nutritionism (nutritional scientists and journalists) to interpret the latest orthodoxy for us. Both the food industry and nutritional science therefore have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of public bewilderment surrounding nutrition, which perpetuates the vicious cycle.  Unfortunately, due to the inherent reductionist bias within science, studying each nutrient in isolation rather than as a composite whole ignores key contextual factors related to how we eat such as diet and culture. As a result, policy makers can’t make up their mind as to what constitutes good and evil resulting in dangerous and contradictory public health advice (the fat fallacy anyone?) which in turn has led to the development of some of the worst chronic diseases of our time such as obesity and diabetes.

In Pollan’s view, the question of our health is a inseparable from that of our food chain. Therefore, we need to reject Nutritionism and instead look back to a time when the prevailing ecosystem was for people to eat real, unprocessed food, they sourced from locally, grown sources.

One of the reasons we started The Holist was to provide our readers with a trusted haven for health news and information, somewhere that will do the hard work for you, digesting and distilling the most important advice from the constant barrage of contradictory health messages peddled by the media and food industry. For us Pollan's values are the perfect starting point and serve as a vital reminder that, despite the stereotypes, living a healthy lifestyle is a realistic and attainable goal for us all. In fact, In Defence of Food is one of the first books we recommend to family and friends when we are trying to convert them to our philosophy! So if you’re looking for a powerful manifesto to help you navigate the shifting sands of what really is good for you, delivered with the eloquence and wit that you'd expect from a former Executive Editor of The New York Times Magazine, then we suggest you turn to Mr. Pollan.

No need to take our word for it, have a look for yourself! Speaking at an event chaired by Tim Lang, professor of Food Policy at City University London, in this video Pollan argues that cooking is one of the simplest and most important steps people can take to improve their family's health, build communities, fix our broken food system, and break our growing dependence on corporations. If you liked this, also check out his TED Talk 'A Plant's-eye View' here.

Here are a couple of our favourite books by Mr. Pollan, (you can buy them here) which we'd strongly recommend as a great starting point for getting back to basics and understanding where your food comes from. An abridged version of  In Defence of Food’s main message can also be found in Pollan’s New York Times article ‘Unhappy Meals’.  Pollan's works will also give you the chance to arm yourself with some pretty powerful ammunition to reply to all the haters that criticise your lifestyle choices. He also has links to many of his articles and some really useful FAQs on his website michaelpollan.com.

What are your thoughts on Pollan's message? Let us know below!

We are in the process of building out the Resources section of the site so you’ll have all of our favourite healthy living resources and recommendations in one easy place. Watch this space!

Instagram Inspiration  

The time has come to confess our undying love for Instagram. With so much junk from Buzzfeed and the like clogging up our Facebook mini-feeds these days, we love having Instagram as a space to inspire and to remind us why living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t need to mean eating rabbit food. Here at The Holist, we are really motivated by beautiful visuals which makes Instagram the perfect healthy living inspiration, with creative recipe ideas, motivating quotes and lots of amazing fitspiration!

We’ve set out our top ten fave healthy Instagrammers from around the world to inspire you to living a healthier life today. In the meantime check us out on Instagram @theholist.

Have we missed anyone? Let us know your favourites in the comments section below!


Calgary Avansino, UK (@calgaryavansino)  

Image: calgaryavansino.com

Image: calgaryavansino.com

The darling of the burgeoning wellness scene here in the UK, Calgary is the former Executive Fashion Editor, and a current Contributing Editor at Vogue UK (we love her Weekly Wellbeing blog) and a budding health entrepreneur.

Follow her for: delicious real life recipes, an insiders view of healthy London and inspirational quotes and tips all delivered with fashionable flair.  


Jessica Sepel, Australia (@jshealth) 

Image: jessicasepel.com

Image: jessicasepel.com

Jessica is a gorgeous Sydney based qualified nutritionist, health blogger, and wellness coach. We love her holistic and realistic lifestyle philosophy and beautiful recipes which are all backed up by sound nutritional theory.

Follow her for: her beautiful Aussie glow and scrummy, easy weekday suppers.


 Green Kitchen Stories, Sweden (@luisegreenkitchenstories and @gkstories)

Image: Greenkitchenstories.com

Image: Greenkitchenstories.com

We are cheating a little here as technically this is two accounts, those of David and Luise Frenkiel, the husband and wife couple behind the award winning vegetarian food blog “Green Kitchen Stories”. One of our favourite food blogs, they aim to come up with healthy vegetarian recipes using whole food and organic products and all beautifully weaved in with the story of their expanding family.

Follow them for: stunning photography, travel inspiration, heartwarming family pics and some serious healthy food porn.


Deliciously Ella, UK (@deliciouslyella)

Image: Deliciouslyella.com

Image: Deliciouslyella.com

Ella Woodward is the brains behind one of our favourite UK based health blogs, Deliciously Ella. A few years ago, suffering from a rare illness, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, Ella found herself bed-ridden 95% of the time. Having switched to a whole foods, plant-based diet, given up all meat, dairy, sugar, gluten, processed food and additives and has allowed her to regain control of her illness and come off her medication. 

Follow her for: stunning photography, easy recipes and insider London tips from one of our homegrown wellness superstars.


 Lorna Jane Clarkson, Australia (@ljclarkson)

Image: Lornajane.com.au

Image: Lornajane.com.au

Lorna Jane Clarkson is the active living powerhouse behind Aussie fitness apparel brand Lorna Jane which now has 155 stores worldwide. We love to see how LJ manages to commit to such a healthy lifestyle and remain true to her philosophy of the daily practice of Move Nourish Believe while running a hugely successful business empire.

Follow her for: for beautiful fitness fashion inspo and a serious power female role model.


Laura Kasperzak, US (@laurasykora)

Image: twofitmoms.com

Image: twofitmoms.com

New Jersey based yogi Laura Kasperzak is a leading Instagram yoga celebrity with over 800,000 followers. Her regular Instagram yoga challenges inspire you to push your practice that little bit further while providing simple instructions for challenging poses and useful tips for modifications. The occasional cameo by her super cute “Mini-me” daughter is a bonus!

Follow her for: the kick-up the backside you’ve been needing to get your Om back.


My New Roots, Denmark (@mynewroots)

Image: Mynewroots.com

Image: Mynewroots.com

Effortlessly cool Sarah Britton runs one of our favourite whole-food plant-based recipe blogs, My New Roots from her home in Copenhagen. She is a Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Nutritional Practitioner and blends beautiful photography alongside creative whole food recipes that pack a nutritional punch.

Follow her for: her stunning photography and delicious whole food recipes served with a side of Scandi cool.


I Quit Sugar, Australia (@iquitsugar)

Image: Sarah Wison Facebook

Image: Sarah Wison Facebook

You must have been hiding under a rock to have missed the recent headlines on the dangers of sugar for our health. IQS founder, Sarah Wilson, has been onto this for a while and credits quitting the sweet stuff with her recovery from autoimmune disease Hashimotos. Her ever expanding IQS empire is a great place to start when trying to wean yourself off the sweet stuff. Spoiler, you don’t even have to give up desserts or treats!

Follow her for: the skinny on sugar free and amazing recipes for sweet alternatives to embrace.


Kimberly Synder, US (@_kimberlysynder)

Image: Kimberlysynder.net

Image: Kimberlysynder.net

A New York Times' bestselling author and Hollywood celebrity nutritionist, Kimberly has worked with A-listers from Drew Barrymore to Dita Von Teese. She subscribes to a gluten and dairy vegetarian whole-foods lifestyle she has called the Beauty Detox Solution.

Follow her for: healthy wanderlust inspiration and insider tips and recipes inspired by her Beauty Detox philosophy.  


Amanda Bisk, Australia (@amandabisk)

Image: Amanda Bisk Instagram

Image: Amanda Bisk Instagram

Another Aussie (sorry, they just seem to do a healthy lifestyle so well out there)! Former Athlete turned Exercise Physiologist and Model Amanda makes the list for her steadfast commitment to active living and also for her incredible flexibility, a reminder of how amazing the human body can be.

Follow her for: serious fitspiration, her mind-boggling bendiness and some major tan envy!