We’re finally closing in on those actual summer weekends, where you find yourself with a bikini and one-piece in hand believing it’s finally warm enough to swim in the water you’ve been soaking your feet in since Memorial Day. It’s a time when we’re all thinking about health and wellness, so we could think of no better Friday to catch up with SELF’s Editor-in-Chief Joyce Chang. Chang let us in on foods that make you glow, top beauty products and why matcha and kickboxing are both new potatoes…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
The first cup of coffee is very important! If it’s a lazy weekend I’ll have a Café au Lait in bed from my Nespresso machine or if I’m up n’out as we like to say at SELF I get it from Sant Ambroeus. I like my coffee very hot and they have the best to-go cups. And they’re very cute with their pink logo.
Breakfast was a very important meal in my house growing up. My dad is a breakfast-making maestro. I’d import my dad’s egg making skills. I like mine over easy, yolks perfectly runny, on avocado or spinach on multigrain toast or English muffin. Hot sauce is a must. I also have a tendency to over-beverage. For my dream breakfast/brunch, I’d have coffee, water, a green juice, and a bloody mary. The NoMad makes quite a nice one. I don’t finish any, but I like having a little bit of everything.
The lunch I’m happiest eating is the Lobster Cobb at the Beverly Hills Hotel, on the patio, with an Arnold Palmer.
How and where you eat dinner is as important as what you eat. I’m daydreaming about having a picnic in Central Park, which is a block from my house. I live right by the Mark Hotel and they are lovely about packing you up food and loaning you silver and napkins. I’d have their kale salad—it’s the perfect texture, not too rough, dressed very lightly, with jalapeños that add heat and the meyer lemon pasta. I’d supplement with meats, cheeses and good bread. No picnic is complete without meats and cheeses and some surreptitious Sancerre in a Solo cup.
How has the magazine industry changed since you started?
When I first started, I lived for my byline and seeing my name in print. Now everyone is published on his or her social media on a daily or hourly basis. All of our voices matter. I love the immediacy and authenticity of it (at its best). I’m glad I came up as I did though—I learned the rules as an assistant at Condé Nast and as a young journalist at the Times. I am a big believer that you have to learn the rules before you can break them. You can’t know what you don’t know. But when you’ve really learned your craft, you can make educated choices. I think of myself as a hybrid editor—someone who learned from the greats of journalism but also a native of a multi-platform world.
What is your personal definition of good content?
Good content serves its purpose. Whatever that purpose is—service, entertainment, inspiration, provocation, education. When it’s done well, it sticks with you and you pass it on.
What changes have you been determined to make at SELF?
It’s my mission to help the self-made women who read SELF achieve their personal best in all areas of their life. I don’t want to create another how-to guide for six packs and weight loss. I want us to change the conversation around weight and help motivate and inspire women to get up and out and to live full, healthy, active lives. By taking care of themselves they will be better equipped to take care of others and pursue their passions professionally and personally. Physical well-being is a gateway to greater heights. I want to inspire women to set their own goals and paths, enjoy the journey, and take pride in the accomplishment.
How do you practice beauty from the inside out?
I think enjoying your life is the best beauty secret. I don’t deprive myself and I enjoy what I eat. Whether it’s a simple grilled chicken salad with lemon and a little olive oil for lunch (which is what I eat most days) to a slice of pizza, I don’t overthink it. I keep a fairly unconscious system of checks and balances of what I eat and what I do. Other than that—water, water, water.
For me, exercise is the most important thing. If I am active enough, I can eat whatever I want. When I exercise regularly I sleep better, my skin is better, my color brighter, and my eyes clearer.
Does there need to be a different approach to publishing health and wellness content versus fashion and celebrity content? How so?
Health content is not supposed to be medicine. Health is about living a full, wonderful life—so we do our best to capture that in SELF.
Health and wellness can be done in a really stylish, chic way. It’s a misconception that health content is boring or unattractive. I don’t think a lot of people who have come from a fashion/celebrity world go into health and wellness, so that eye has been missing. SELF treats health and wellness beautifully—we shoot a fitness story or a health feature story with the same level of photography and thought that we do for a cover or a fashion shoot. It’s part of who we are—we want to inspire our readers to appreciate the beauty around them—yoga on a rooftop, a gorgeous trail run, the brightness of fresh veggies, etc.
I also think that the news cycle is so fast and furious—but so is the world of health and fitness. The advancements in science and technology play out in this space like no other at the moment, and it’s women who are leading the way in these arenas. That’s incredibly exciting to us—it’s in our DNA and our understanding of it is very deep and authentic. Our readers want to know more than how many almonds to have for a snack. They are truly engaged and care about the world they live in—how to live most consciously and to help other women do so as well.
Good journalism is good journalism—and whether it’s health, wellness, fashion, celebrity or news—it has to be accurate and correct. Because we are informing women about their health and their body, we take our facts and science very seriously. That’s the main difference between fashion/celebrity and health—one is a science.
What are your morning and nightly beauty routines?
In the shower, I mainly use BeautyCounter bath products (hair, shower gel, body lotion)—they’re as chemical free as possible. Considering how these products seep into your skin, I want to use things that are as safe as possible.
Before I leave the house, I spritz on Nutrient Essentials gardenia oil. It’s so pure you can technically eat it. Or I use Serge Lutens Nuit de Cellophane.
Advice to women getting up, looking in the mirror and getting dressed…
We’re obsessed with getting up and out in the morning at SELF. We have an Up & Out page featuring a really cool woman every month; #UpNOut is a hashtag our readers use all the time to tag their runs, smoothies, etc. on Instagram.
My #UpNOut routine starts very gently. I don’t use an alarm clock to wake up—it’s my one superpower. I can set my body clock to wake up. I have always hated how harsh an alarm was and I taught myself how to wake up naturally. I don’t rush in the morning. I think you should start your day being kind to yourself.
When my feet hit the floor, I literally think to myself, lets get up and out! And I just get into my day.
The only other advice I have is: it’s worth having an organized closet. It saves so much time and makes getting dressed easier when you can see everything. I’ve color coordinated everything and nothing is squished. It kind of makes me feel like I’m shopping my closet. I’m also reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo right now.
I also think spending less time looking in the mirror is better than more. The more you look, the more you’ll find. I can literally put on my makeup and do my hair without looking in a mirror. I like having that kind of self-knowledge.
What are foods that make your skin glow?
Water, avocado, and lots of veggies.
What are your go-to snacks?
I’m not a big snacker. In the winter, I like having a hot chocolate in the afternoon. If I crave something not sweet, I snack on popcorn. Little Lad’s is a brand you get at health food stores. It has a secret herbal mix and is totally addictive.
A healthy way to start your day…
Outdoor yoga. When it’s warm I go to the park with my yoga instructor and do it on the lawn. It’s so peaceful; you forget you’re in the city. Though of course, sometimes dogs come bounding over to you and knock you out of your headstand. But it’s impossible to be mad at a happy dog.
What’s always in your bag?
I lose my voice often so I generally have Ricolas in my bag. I stole these hand sanitizer wipes from the Four Seasons in DC called La Fresh; they are 100% biodegradable and alcohol free—I am going to have to source them.
And of course my iPhone.
Where do you love to travel? What won’t you travel without?
I follow the sun. The beach or the desert. Palm Springs is one of my favorite places. I’m a pretty low maintenance packer. I like going where all you need are bathing suits, some nothing little dresses, sandals and SPF.
What are your favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?
Besides NYC, I’m most often in Los Angeles. Sushi Zo is incredible. It’s in a strip mall in Culver City but it’s populated by every studio head on any given night—and you just eat what they bring you. There is no choice—they even tell you “soy sauce” or “no soy sauce.” I kind of love that—surrendering and just enjoying the ride.
My favorite meal in LA is outside LA actually and it’s not a restaurant. The Ranch at Live Oak is a hiking retreat that I go to somewhat regularly. They only serve vegan—and my favorite is a spicy eggplant with forbidden rice. Really to die for. Low in calories, but off the charts in deliciousness.
I’m sure everyone talks about Paris and Rome, so some recommendations in other places…In Buenos Aires, steak at Las Lilas because beef is better in Argentina and the little tag they stick in your steak that says “Estoy Jugosa” makes me laugh. In Sao Paulo, Sunday lunch at Figueira Rubaiyat is something to behold. There’s a huge banyan tree in the middle of the restaurant and everyone there is a multigenerational family spending all day over lunch. It’s lovely. And my childhood favorites from two former hometowns: Cheesesteaks from Jim’s in Philadelphia and wood fired pizzas from Al Forno in Providence, RI.
In the same vein as what is the new black in fashion, what’s ‘the new potato’ in health and wellness?
Matcha is the new kale. Full contact kickboxing (with pads and bags) is the new spin. Australia is the new Tribeca/Flatiron—every cool fitness line is coming out of there (The Upside and Vie Active are a couple great ones) and Aussie trainers are gaining so much traction with millions of followers. Supertrainer Kayla Itsines developed our summer challenge on SELF.com now.
There’s an endless line of new potatoes in the world of health and wellness. That’s what makes it so fun.