With a passion for helping women to change their lives, Jamè Heskett, M.D., is founder of The Wellpath wellness center and retreats. She is also author of The Well Path: Lose 20 Pounds, Reverse the Aging Process, Change Your Life in which sheshares a 60-day program for achieving optimal health by integrating a series of small steps, such as boosting circulation, learning the difference between real and false hunger, and more, into everyday life. As a mother of three, a wife, a yogi, and an accomplished hiker, Heskett practices what she preaches, prioritizing health and wellness in her daily life. Here she shares some of the ways she strives to optimize her own wellbeing.
What does wellness mean to you?
Wellness to me is the overall wellbeing of my mind, body, and soul. Is my mind unbound from wasteful chatter and distraction so that it is free to be fully creative, curious, and efficient in the tasks before me? Is my body in balance and in a state of homeostasis, so that I can build strength, endurance, and have the energy I need to participate in physical activities without limitation and with freedom from disease? Is my soul the primary driver of this life I am pursuing? Does it shine through with love and openheartedness when life confronts me with interpersonal challenges, and am I living an authentic life? If the answer is yes to these, then I am well.
What are your favorite things to do to maintain your personal wellbeing?
Physical activity is very important to maintaining my personal wellbeing. Sitting for any period of time feels detrimental to my wellbeing. Being in nature is a critical factor of feeling well for me. I live on 37 acres and just visiting the trees makes me feel well. Time alone, practicing stillness, and rejuvenating is also very important.
Is there a specific fitness activity that you love and why?
I really love most fitness activities, but my favorites are yoga and hiking. Both are very meditative for me—a reset. Hiking combines intense physical activity with nature, and it always wins if there is a choice. I’m currently halfway done with hiking the Appalachian Trail, and I’ve started hiking all the 3,500-feet peaks in the Catskills. Endurance, high intensity, balance, full body—hiking hits all the important notes for me.
What is your favorite healthy food, and do you have a favorite way of preparing it?
I am a true veggie lover. I have an obsession with Brussels sprouts. I add them to everything. I have two favorite ways to prepare them. Easy prep is just spraying a little olive oil spray on them and tossing them into the air fryer with a sprinkle of coarse salt for four minutes at 400 degrees. When they are done, I add a few red pepper flakes. The other method is to mix honey, sriracha, and lime juice together to create a little sauce and warm it on the stovetop. When the Brussels sprouts come out of the air fryer, I just drizzle the mixture on top.
What is your favorite healthy beverage (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), and do you have any insider tips for preparing it?
I rarely drink alcohol anymore, and I don’t really miss it. I love buying pure juices like carrot- ginger or beet juice and adding a little kombucha, such as Ferm Fatale or lemon-ginger, to them. This gives it a little sparkle and a very light buzz. I find if you put anything in a fancy glass, it satisfies the desire for a ritual like pouring yourself a glass of wine every night. It’s not about the alcohol, it’s about the ritual. This is how many of my clients successfully reduce their alcohol intake.
What is your greatest wellness achievement?
My greatest wellness achievement has been writing my book The Well Path, creating a retreat program and private community based on that methodology, and helping women to change their lives.
What person in wellness do you most admire and why?
Hippocrates, because I have always believed in a holistic approach to wellness. Hippocratic philosophy is basically the idea that the knowledge of nature is only possible from medicine when it is approached as a whole. It is the whole basis of everything I practice as a doctor, and it hasn’t always been popular or well accepted in my field or among my peers, especially early on in my career. I am proud that I have never compromised this philosophy.
What is the best piece of wellness advice you have ever received and from whom?
The best advice I have received about wellness was from my mentor, Janet Hopkins, Ph.D., during my medical residency when I was struggling with the limitations of Western medicine. She always said, “There are many ways to heal people.” So, whenever I cannot find a solution, I just retreat to that basic principle and give support, advocacy, and empathy until a solution is found. Sometimes there are no solutions, and you can still powerfully contribute to healing others.
What do you think is the most exciting wellness innovation you have recently discovered?
The most powerful wellness innovation that I use daily in my practice is carboxy therapy. I use injections of CO2 to powerfully rejuvenate the circulation, to stimulate angiogenesis to resolve many problems that result from poor circulation, such as aging, hair loss, post-surgical scarring, cellulite, stretch marks, and more. It’s not a recent discovery, but everything always pales in comparison no matter how fancy or expensive or new it is. I’ve been doing it for 21 years, and every day, I’m still excited about it. I get excited about epigenetics and technologies that can harness the body’s natural ability to rejuvenate. I don’t get excited over quick fixes or band-aids that don’t consider the underlying physiology of the body, which is so powerful and necessary to leave intact for overall wellbeing.
What is your idea of balanced healthy happiness?
Healthy happiness is really achieved when you let go of expectations and the attachment to the way you think things should be. Letting life unfold as it does and riding the ups and downs with a deep knowledge that you can handle whatever comes your way. Finding your true North and living authentically is huge too.
What do you think is the most overused word or words in wellness?
Well, I don’t like the term “anti-aging,” although I am guilty of using it. I’ve been using vital aging for years now and hope it catches on. I also don’t really like “biohacking,” because it gives the impression that we can trick the body by adding this or that to change the course of physiology. Our physiology is too complicated to throw in a few things here and there and think it’s going to be the key to ultimate longevity. Eat well, find ways to consistently moderate your response from stress, get outside, and be physically active most of your day—there is no need to hack anything. Your body will be in balance. When your body is consistently in a state of balance, you will be well.
Do you have a secret health or wellness tip you would like to share?
The secret is that simple, sustainable actions are the key to achieving optimal health. If there was a magic bullet that would get you there, but it was not simple or sustainable, it would be worthless.
What is your favorite place for a healthy vacation or escape?
Anywhere there is a mountain involved, and I’m required to climb over it to get to my destination. I have spent the last 10 years with most of my vacations backpacking the Appalachian Trail up to 130 miles at a time. My next one will be my longest at 159 miles. Park the car at the end, and all you have to do is walk. It just hits all the great things for me.
Is there a particular wellness company or brand that truly impresses you with their efforts and why?
I just started working with a company called Compounded Nutrients. When I started my practice, I would formulate nutriceutical combinations for my clients and pack them by hand. Now I can create 100 percent customized capsules that contain all the specific components each client needs based on their individual history and lifestyle. I love anything that lets me practice from the standpoint of the individual with customization. I just click on what the person needs, and they put it into one capsule for them. It’s their own individual formula, and the company auto delivers it. It serves as a huge high-value compliment to my practice.
What is your favorite self-care routine?
An early bedtime, seven hours of sleep, warm water with lemon first thing in the morning, daily writing pages or journaling, yoga, getting outside, working while on the treadmill as much as possible, magnesium baths, eating fresh food, communing with nature, alone time, and making sure that boundaries are practiced so that self-care can be consistent.
What is your go-to for de-stressing?
For stresses that are ongoing, I try to use exercise and self-care to mediate the stress hormones. For minor daily stressors that can subtly hijack you all day long, I counteract with the knowledge that I have no control except to be patient, joyful, and compassionate in my interactions. I practice letting go a lot.
What aspect of your wellbeing do you struggle with the most, or would most like to improve?
I am a thinker, and thinking can be great when you are trying to strategize work and projects, but often it can overtake the parts of life that are better left to your heart and soul. I am constantly working on cultivating appreciation for my mind and honoring my true inner self. Forgiving the pain and living in a place of inner peace is a consistent place of work for me.
What wellness-related books or authors do you recommend, and why?
Well, my book, of course! There are also many others I have learned from. Right now, I would recommend Clarity & Connection by Yung Pueblo and the Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer. An oldie but goodie is Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself by Alejandro Junger, M.D.
How do you celebrate small victories?
I learned this trick with my kids when they struggled and had a victory. You sit and reflect on it: How it felt and what it means. Just sit for a while, considering all the sensations that victory brings.
What brings you joy?
Helping others make sustainable change in their lives so they can live more freely. Finding peace and meaning in my life on a daily basis and seeing my children get through challenges and learn in ways I didn’t know until I was much older.