Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cold & Thirsty

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with Brooke Rewa from Culver City's recent addition, Cold & Thirsty, in order to discuss her health journey- a passion that led to her own line of cold-pressed juices and fresh almond milks, then a partnership with a friend offering "Cryotherapy." The juice (such as "Glow," a delicious combination of pineapple, cucumber, spinach, kale & apple) and milks (think flavors like lavender or honey vanilla) are incredibly nutritious and tasty, and at the end of our interview, she kindly offered me a Cryotherapy session! Though I was worried that it might increase my anxiety, it actually lessened it. For hours after, I felt amazing- very clear headed, happy, and incredibly relaxed. Read more on her path to wellness and to learn what in the heck "Cryotherapy" actually is and how it can help. 

What did your life look like before you became interested in wellness? 

I was actually vegan, but when I first moved to LA I started getting sick. I'm from Buffalo, New York, where a vegan's options are mostly salad. In LA, you can have fake tuna, fake cookies, fake brownies, fake chicken, fake hot dogs. I began eating all this processed food and thought it was fine, because it was vegan and therefore still good for me. 

That's when I started having some health issues, and I was going to doctors and not getting any answers. I was having all these invasive surgeries, looking at things trying to figure out what was happening. It got to the point where they just said, "We don't really know, you might have IBS, which you'll just have to deal with." My blood levels were fine when I saw all the doctors. One even said I was allergic to eggs, but since I was vegan and wasn't eating any at the time, it made no sense. They tried to go to the base of things. First, it was Celiacs then gluten intolerance, but none of the blood tests came back positive. I swallowed a pill that showed everything inside my intestines. I had a colonoscopy then an endoscopy..nothing. A doctor told me I would have to take MiraLAX everyday, so that I would go to the bathroom. I felt discouraged, but then I thought that [that] can't be the answer.

How did you begin to turn your life around? 

One day I was sick and at a friend's house, and he had cold-pressed juice. That was before it was popular. It was delicious, and I started doing research on cold-pressed juice, bought my own juicer, and started doing it at home. Within two days of juicing, I felt amazing; my problems completely turned around. So I kept on this whole foods, holistic diet for a year- nothing processed. It reset everything that was going on internally. Now I can eat other things- not that I stray much- but when I do stray, it's fine, because my gut is healed. The juice thing was amazing. My hair and nails started to grow. My skin was glowing. I had a crazy amount of energy and felt really good. 

Why start your own juice business?

Once cold-pressed juices started becoming more popular, places began to pop up everywhere. I thought, "This is great, now I don't have to make my own juice anymore!" But I realized that many of them didn't taste very good, weren't organic, and were bottled in plastic. Then I came to the point in my life where I was helping others with their businesses and wasn't happy. I was good at launching businesses, but if I was going to help others launch their own companies, why not launch my own? Juice was something I was passionate about. I really do think a juice can change the way you're feeling, and you notice changes right away. I put a lot of herbs and super foods in my juices, so they're very nutrient-dense. We source everything locally, and it's all organic. 

When it comes to almond milk, the only kind people can buy is at the stores, and those are heavily processed and loaded with chemicals. There are actually some companies being sued right now for having two-percent or less of actual almonds in their milks! Lots of people are getting off dairy, but they're getting boxes of chemicals. So I wanted to have an option for others with dairy intolerances. It's really taken off; it tastes good, and people feel well after drinking it. People want real food, and it needs to become available to them!

Did you ever struggle with depression, anxiety, and other emotional pain? 

I had just moved to LA, so I had a brand new job in the film industry. That made me anxious, and then any time I would eat, that would create even more anxiety [becoming a bad cycle]! That whole year was definitely very full of anxiety.

Since your health philosophy entails a holistic approach, in what ways have you learned that mental, emotional, and physical health align? 

I think there's a certain aspect of [emotional and mental] wellness that comes from taking control of your health. It's knowing your health is in your hands, and you're making choices to be healthy! That whole year I felt so out of control with having no answers. Doing this put the power back in my own hands, and it was totally life-changing. All I learned began with myself. I think that a lot of how you feel starts with your gut. I had gained weight being a vegan, was sleeping a lot more, and felt less energetic. A few nights of the week, I'd have some drinks. Then I noticed that for days afterward, I had anxiety.

The healthier I felt, the clearer my mind was. I deal with a lot of clients who say they have brain fog, which leads to them not being able to do things. They can't see their way through the day because of this "fog." Not eating the right foods leads to a this, which then leads to depression and anxiety. When you hear "brain fog," you don't think gut health, but it is. 

Why "Cryotherapy?" 

My business partner, who is one of my good friends, knew about it. I decided to try it, but the day I was supposed to go, I started to get a really bad migraine. I had been getting migraines almost weekly, because I was holding so much tension in my neck and shoulders from stress. And that was something that was adding a lot of of stress to my life, because I was panicking about getting the migraines! I ate as cleanly as possible and did a lot of different body work to release it, but nothing was working. So the day I was supposed to try it, I thought it was going to be awful. But during the Cryo, it started to go away. Within an hour it was completely gone and never came back, which had never happened with anything I'd done. I've not had a migraine since that day! And now any time I start to feel tension building up, I hop in the machine, and it goes away immediately. 

Cryo increases your metabolism, gives you more energy, you get better sleep for the next few nights after you do it, and the day you do it you burn between 500-800 calories. It also helps with inflammation and chronic pain, and it starts working right away. We have people come in here with chronic back pain or hip pain- pains they've had for years and years. Some people come in whose last hope is surgery. After three or four sessions, the pain is completely gone. So many clients are really grateful for it, because it's only a three minute process. 

It just makes you feel good- like everything is going to be okay. It's the coldest thing you've ever felt. It's not wet though, and you warm up right away afterwards. You just fight through it and feel amazing afterwards. It's worth it. 

* Cryotherapy is basically done by a machine- or "cryosauna"- that reaches up to -264 (theirs goes to -240) degrees while you're in there. It's dry, cold air and nitrogen. An individual wears no clothing except for wool gloves, socks, and boots. The body's response when facing such extremely cold conditions is to go into fight-or-flight, or survival, mode. This forces blood to your vital organs in order to protect them with more oxygen and nutrients. Once you leave the sauna, this enriched and less toxic blood then flushes back through the rest of your body. Brooke called it "super blood," and after my session, I understood what she meant! 

What are some staples in your diet that help make you feel your best? 

Definitely juice- I juice everyday. I add medicinal herbs like astragalus, which is good for your brain. Turmeric is really great too, and so is chaga [a type of fungus that grows on trees and has been shown to enhance the immune system and fight degenerative diseases]. Fresh food- as local as possible- is important. I buy locally, because you're interacting with the people who actually grow your food. I think that makes a big difference. I also try to eat seasonally. If watermelon isn't in season, then I'm not going to eat it. Your body is on this clock, and it knows. 

*As a side note, seasonal produce is shown to have less toxins- as it doesn't need to be grown with as much human assistance- along with more nutrients and benefits. The earth's natural cycle coincides with the body's, as lighter foods tend to be in season when the body is hottest during the summer, and heavier foods grow in the winter. 

Are you still vegan, or do you now eat other things? 

Being a vegan, you can think it's a better way [than how others eat]. There's some truth to it, but I was a vegan for six years. Then last January I started getting insane cravings for chicken! I'd been a vegetarian since I was twelve, so I hadn't had chicken in years. I could taste it in my mouth. For six weeks I had these cravings, and mentally I didn't want to do it. I was fighting it, but my body was telling me something. I finally ate it, and I felt amazing. I'll have chicken now every five or six weeks, but I have to be craving it. Otherwise, it doesn't taste good to me. 

We beat ourselves up over this stuff! I was embarrassed, and I didn't want to tell anyone. Being vegan was such a huge part of my identity, and I was worried people wouldn't buy my products anymore just because I wasn't vegan. I think our bodies go through different phases at different parts of our life. Being vegan is great at some points, but as we age, a lot of us need different things. It's important to listen to your body. I consider myself a "nutritarian"- I try to eat nutrient dense foods. 

Has anyone inspired you on your wellness journey?

I'm constantly inspired by my customers and the people running small businesses around me. It's a really great community in LA. People are doing this because they love it, which is really awesome. I love customers who are educating themselves and listening and willing to be educated about these alternative ways to be healthy, instead of just running to the doctor whenever something is wrong. 

What do you believe is the most important thing one can do every day for his/her mental and emotional well-being? 

I think it's really important, whether it's first thing in the morning or at night, to take some time and just breathe. When I wake up or any time I feel myself starting to get frustrated or anxious or down, I like to step away and take a couple breaths then remind myself of what I'm grateful for. And say it out loud; put that energy out there in the world. 

I believe you can breathe through anything! My meditation is in very small amounts, and it's really just breathing. I try to do it for about five minutes every morning- focus on my breathing, and afterwards say what I'm grateful for. My mind wanders a lot because of running two businesses and being so busy, but I think five minutes is realistic. It's so important and so energizing and sets you up for success throughout the day.


  1. This was a truly inspirational post. I will be incorporating those breathing techniques in my day to day ritual as well. My wife has such bad anxiety and I know she could really benefit from this. Thank you for this great bit of information I will be sure to share it further with others who could use it. Thank you.

    Denis Hightower @ Pittsburgh Cryotherapy

    1. Hi Denis,

      I'm so glad you found this helpful! Breathing is so important, especially when we get caught up in our thoughts and fears. A great way to incorporate it in your day is to take a few deep breaths (count to 3 or 4) in and out a few times a day. It's that simple to become more aware of your body! Best of luck xo