The Age I Am is Not the Age I Feel

This feature first appeared on goop.

ELISSA GOODMAN  holistic nutritionist, founder of The S.O.U.P. Cleanse, and author

Her skin sparkles, her smile is brilliant and easily roused, and her energy is grounded and quietly confident. “I like how I look now, at sixty, better than I did in my thirties,” says LA-based author, S.O.U.P. Cleanse founder, cancer survivor, and holistic nutritionist Elissa Goodman. “I know I feel better.” Before her current journey as a health guru, Goodman was diagnosed with cancer at thirty-two. “Cancer turned out to be a blessing,” she says. “It forced me to realize that I was a giant stress ball, climbing the corporate ladder. I always took jobs that were over my head and never felt I was good enough. I didn’t take care of myself—I constantly grabbed sugary foods and caffeine, which made me feel good for a nanosecond but terrible in the long term.” After the cancer diagnosis, Goodman discovered that she also suffered from Hashimoto’s disease and celiac disease.

Alongside radiation treatment, Goodman started investigating therapy, yoga, and naturopathy. When her husband lost his own battle with cancer a few years later, she went back to school to study Eastern and Western nutrition, Chinese medicine, and Ayurveda. She wrote a book about recovering from cancer and began practicing as a nutritionist, designing cleanse programs for numerous LA wellness restaurants before starting her own company. Today her S.O.U.P. Cleanse is famous: Customers get five days of organic plant-based soups, salads, tonics, broths, and lattes designed to help boost glow and gut health and to support metabolism and help control sugar cravings; the idea is to reset for a healthier diet going forward.

Goodman says that ultimately, it’s the emotional element—loving yourself, believing you’re important—that translates to looking good. “When you’re conflicted, it shows up on your face,” she says. So the mom of two goes with what she loves, balancing clean eating with healthy indulgence, meditating, exercising, taking phone vacations, and smoothing on Tata Harper skin care; the combination, as you can see here, is really working for her.

1 RESET YOUR GUT

Taking out added sugar, dairy, gluten, any GMOs, and most chemical additives may help you reset the gut and feel good every day and as you age. A healthy cleanse—on mine, you get fifty different types of vegetables over five days—should be about increasing nutrients and training yourself to eat real food. I love soup, and it turns out a lot of people do better with hot food. When you have an autoimmune disease or you’re immunocompromised, for example, I’ve seen that jumping into a raw vegan diet can really tank you. Whether raw or cooked food agrees with you can also depend on the time of year.

Fermentation is another way to make food easier for your gut: Something like coconut kefir has natural ferments that fuel beneficial bacteria. Your gut needs heathy bacteria to help break down food and to help balance inflammation and mood. [Editor’s note: Delicious recipe below.]

Probiotics—whether you get them through food or supplements—are incredible for digestion and skin. I love the Canadian brand Genuine Health. It’s tricky to know which brands are legit, so if you know a brand is legit, stick with it.

2 TAKE GREAT CARE OF YOUR SKIN

I love stuff from Tata Harper—when I smooth on Elixir Vitae, my skin looks noticeably more supple. It’s so good. I apply Creme Riche cream over that, and the combination is super skin-plumping. For eye cream, the one from Barbara Sturm is seriously moisturizing and helps wake up my face and bring life back around my eyes when I dab it on in the morning.

3 ENJOY YOURSELF

Don’t obsess about being “good” all the time—it will make you sick. I’ve struggled with orthorexia—and honestly still struggle with it a bit. I’ll go somewhere and they won’t have anything healthy on the menu, and that can be hard for me. But I do love food, and I love to go out to eat, and I’ve become better at loosening up. My fiancé eats healthily but not as intensely so as I do, and that’s good for me. I aim to eat clean about 80 percent of the time and then allow for pizza, pasta, gluten, cheese, and alcohol the other 20 percent. I’ve found that for many people, your body can hold up against that when you treat it well most of the time, and it’s important to go out and enjoy yourself.

4 EXFOLIATE

In the mornings, I do a quick cleanse with clean baby wipes. At night, once a week, I use the GOOPGLOW peel pads, and they make my skin glow. They work by taking off all the dead skin, and I feel like they help my lines look a bit better. The rest of the week, I do a milder exfoliation with Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask—my skin, which is on the dry side, feels youthful, springy, and alive afterward.

5 A LITTLE COLOR IS SUPER FLATTERING

My makeup vibe is beachy California and really simple. The SPF 40 foundation from ILIA is amazing, both for protecting my skin and for the tint, which is the perfect touch of warmth. I dab on RMS concealer wherever I need it and finish with a little RMS Lip2Cheek for some subtle color.

6 PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE

At 7 p.m., I turn off my phone and don’t look at it again until 8 a.m.—it stays downstairs, and I sleep upstairs. I’m really good about that and about meditating religiously; just five or ten minutes helps get my head straight. Journaling is a huge help for me, too, because I’m high-energy and can easily get overstimulated. In the morning, I journal to help my anxiety and fears, and at bedtime, I write down three things I’m grateful for. Power yoga is another big thing for me: I practice four times a week.

7 TAKE BATHS

I love the goop Martini bath salts: I’m an Aries, so I work a lot, I’m driven, and they sort of help bring me back down to earth. Baths are lifesaving—water is so calming for the system.

8 SAY IT: “I AM ENOUGH”

As women, there’s this messaging that we’re not young enough, pretty enough, or thin enough—and we have to let go of it. Negative thought patterns like hating your body ramp up cortisol levels and can downregulate the immune system. Say to yourself, “I am where I need to be. I have everything I need. All I need is love. I am pretty.” Mantras help bring us back to a calmer state, where we can accept ourselves. I have mantras on my mirror in my bathroom—I say them all day. Loving yourself and your body is the ultimate way to get healthy in every aspect.

9 YOU CAN STOP CRAVING SUGAR

I was a sugar addict growing up because my mother took all the sugar out of our house. She thought she was doing a good thing, but it was overkill, and as a teen, I couldn’t get enough sugar. My husband was also a sugar addict and had to have dessert after every meal. After he passed away and I started eating more vegetables and getting more nutrients, I found I had zero sugar cravings. I think a lot of that also had to do with restoring my gut with probiotics, collagen powder, and fermented foods. Studies suggest that when your gut has enough good bacteria, you might not crave sugar as much. I still have no desire for it.

10 ENERGY IS CONTAGIOUS

I’m trained in Reiki—I use it to center myself, and I use it when I’m cooking sometimes to infuse the food with loving, nourishing energy. It feels incredible to give people clean food that makes them feel better.