I’m so excited to have Jordan Younger from The Balanced Blonde on the blog today. I’m low-key/high-key freaking out right now, you guys!
Jordan Younger is the blogger behind the blog, The Balanced Blonde. Since starting her blog in 2013, she has turned it into a brand, book and podcast. Jordan is very well-known in the wellness space – she is practically a celebrity!
I met Jordan through my family friend, Danika, roughly 6 years ago. From the day I met her, she could not have been sweeter. She is so incredibly selfless, inspiring and patient. No matter who you are, she will take the time get to know you. Jordan will never tell you, but she is kind of a big deal! She has 229K+ followers on Instagram and has been featured on The Today Show, Elle Magazine, Refinery 29, and many other well-known publications… she is a very busy girl and yet, here she is on the blog today, to take the time to inspire us all with her health journey.
Please welcome Jordan from The Balanced Blonde to the blog – enjoy!
- Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
I grew up in Sacramento, California! Nor Cal, baby. I had a lovely childhood and I have the fondest memories of it. I went to a very tiny liberal arts school from Kindergarten through 12th grade so it was basically like having a second family at school… and getting to explore all of the creative avenues that I love! I was very into theatre and writing starting at a very young age, so my childhood consisted of a lot of both of those things. I always thought I would be an actress or a fiction writer… but then again, blogging did not exist back then! I feel like blogging is the perfect combination of all of the things I have always loved.
- Tell us a little bit about you: (Wellness blogger + wellness expert)
I went to college in Los Angeles and during that time fell very deeply in love with the health and wellness lifestyle. You could actually say I fell in love with the lifestyle when I was about 12 years old, since I suffered from lifelong stomach issues that turned me onto being vegetarian and gluten-free in the early 2000’s. WAY before that kind of stuff was trendy or even remotely easy to do! I also got into yoga around the age of 14 for the same reason.
In college I finally convinced my parents to let me do a yoga teacher training, and the rest was history. I fell hard and fast for the wellness lifestyle. I went fully vegan at the age of 20 and was in love with the way eating so clean and healthy made me feel. I started my blog, The Blonde Vegan, with every intention for it to be a hobby. But pretty quickly the blog gained some traction and I ended up deciding to pursue it full-time after the first year.
Now, I am a health coach, writer, blogger, podcaster, and was once a yoga teacher many moons ago but I still incorporate my love of yoga into what I do now. I have also experienced a very deep and wonderful spiritual awakening that now is a big part of my work and the courses I lead, the podcasts I record, and the blog posts I write! I also write books, which brings my life full circle back to what I fell in love with at such a young age.
- You first started blogging many years ago as The Blonde Vegan…why did you change your name to The Balanced Blonde?
Yes, I started TBV in early 2013! I blogged for that first year all about vegan food, the vegan lifestyle, raw vegan life, juice cleanses, marathon running, etc. But during that first year I also experienced a bit of an obsession with the healthy vegan life. I was going through a lot in my personal life and my family life and I ended up leaning very heavily into food to control my life. Also, I was suffering from the earlier stages of Lyme disease (which I had no idea about until many years later) so was intuitively trying to use food and veganism to make my physical symptoms feel better.
I decided around that time that living a label-free lifestyle would be healthier for me while I healed and found more balance when it came to food. To be honest with you, I was listening to a lot of noise around me at that time- therapists, nutritionists, other bloggers, other voices, friends, family, etc. and kind of lost myself there for a while. I ate a lot of meat during that time to prove to myself and those around me that I was not this strict, rigid person with a problem and made myself so physically ill I shudder to even think about that time in my life.
I intuitively made my way back to the plant-based life in my own time, and have found so much physical healing (again) through this lifestyle. I have SO MUCH compassion for the younger Jordan who was transitioning from TBV to TBB because I was dealing with so much at that time and was so young and trying to figure it all out. All of the sudden I was catapulted onto Good Morning America, CNN, The Doctors, The NY Times, etc. all chronicling my story but really all of the outlets were twisting my words and sensationalizing my story… which gained me a lot of “vegan haters.” It was a ROUGH time.
- What was your life like transitioning from The Blonde Vegan to the Balanced Blonde?
That time was definitely rough, but I feel I grew up a lot during that time and developed a very thick skin. I had death threats day and night from some radical outliers in the vegan community that went on for about three years. Every day I had emails or social media comments telling me I was way too fat, or way too thin, or a horrible person, or the most annoying person in the world. Now, people could say just about anything about me and I could probably let it roll right off my shoulders because I know what they feel about me isn’t actually about me at all… it’s about them and the self-work they still need to do.
Also, during that time I moved back to LA from NYC and ended up creating a life here in Los Angeles in the wellness world. I met some incredible people and was so happy to be closer to my family and my longtime friends again. I also met my now-husband during that time, we ran the LA Marathon together, and my career really, really took off. I published my first book and went on a national book tour and got to meet so many incredible readers and humans. Taught a lot of yoga! So it wasn’t all bad, it was actually very fun. The darkness and the light, all rolled into one!
- You are very open about overcoming an eating disorder and orthorexia on your page (which I very much appreciate)… can you speak about that time in your life?
Yes, I have such an interesting view about that time in my life now. Aside from what I mentioned above, I know I definitely leaned on food to control my life and that was not healthy. I was listening to a lot of outer noise around me that made it very difficult to just be me, and do what I needed to do which was listen to my intuition.
I am so happy to have a more balanced approach to food now. What I will say to anyone struggling is this… your journey does not have to look like anyone else’s or be some cookie cutter healing story. I stopped being vegan because at the time I felt like I would “be more healed” if I didn’t have those labels and rules. And for a period of time, that was healthy for me mentally. But ultimately coming back to the plant-based life is what has healed me and brought my journey full circle.
So just know, you can do whatever you want to do when it comes to healing. Ditch the rules and do YOU. Eating disorders are never about the food, it’s always about what is going on on the inside. Once you start to do that inner healing work, food becomes beautiful, food becomes medicine, food becomes joy and laughter and community and deliciousness. I wish that relationship with food for everyone, and I know the journey is an inside job.
- Did you have a turning point moment when you realized you couldn’t live like this anymore?
Yes! I definitely had a turning point moment where I felt like I was going to explode. I didn’t want to have rules anymore and I just wanted to FEEL good. I realized I had been restricting a lot of the healthy vegan foods that I loved, like complex carbs and basically all cooked food (I was raw vegan at the time). So that had to go.
But again, what I was dealing with was super internal. And then I later learned that what I was suffering from was chronic Lyme disease, so I now see that throughout my entire “eating disorder” journey, I was really just trying to self heal these debilitating Lyme disease symptoms. So I look back on that time and I actually see it very differently than I did while it was happening, but hindsight is 20/20 and I am still grateful for the way it all played out… because I had so much healing to do, all around.
- How did you build trust within yourself and how did that help you overcome binge eating?
After being quite restricted for so long, I really swung the pendulum the other way. I wanted to prove to everyone around me that I did not have a problem or an eating disorder, so I started eating all types of food… meat, dairy, frozen yogurt with tons of toppings every night… it was a dark time. I was also using food to self soothe at this point, especially with the death threats and the hate being spread my way every day during that time!
I really wish someone could have told me at that time that I had Lyme disease and a very delicate system, and eating all of that crap was wreaking havoc on my hormones, my body, my mind, soul and spirit! So really my intuition was spot on with veganism all along… I just needed more variety.
I remember one night driving around after having gone to a fancy dinner in West Hollywood with a friend where we had eaten lots of food and drank lots of wine, and I pulled into a late night frozen yogurt place on my way home. I ate that and I felt so full to the point of wanting to throw up, but emotionally I felt empty. So I then stopped at a gas station and bought a large bag of M&M’s. M&M’s!! This is coming from someone who made a career out of inspiring people to not eat processed foods.
I ate half the bag, looked at myself in my car mirror, and told myself this was it. I was done. I was emotionally an absolute mess. I was in a destructive relationship at the time, but even more so than that I was in a destructive relationship with myself. That was literally the final time that I used binging to soothe my emotions. I still occasionally overeat yes but that is an entirely different story. I committed to doing the INNER work after that, and the rest was history.
- Very recently, you were diagnosed with a chronic illness called Lyme Disease. How long do you think you have had this disease without being diagnosed?
Yes, I was diagnosed two years ago by the grace of God, literally. I had been suffering for so long at that point. My gut tells me that I had been living with Lyme for at least a decade before being diagnosed… which traces all the way back to those stomach issues I had when I was 12 years old!
- What symptoms were you experiencing that led you to be diagnosed with Lyme disease?
A few of the symptoms I was experiencing at that time were terrible rashes and full body hives, chronic fatigue (EXTREME… could not get out of bed for almost a year), a uterine fibroid the size of a grapefruit, brain fog, severe joint pain, severe jaw pain, and mysterious full body pain that was starting to take over my life. It was so, so confusing, but after learning that all of these things were inextricably linked, it made so much sense.
- What have you learned from having a disease?
I always say that getting sick is truly the greatest gift you can be given (although it can also be the hardest thing in the world, and trust me it is) because it will shake up your life in every single way. You will be forced to look at every side of yourself, from every facet and every angle in order to find healing. I have uncovered past traumas from childhood and adolescence that I had completely forgotten about or glossed over as “not that big of a deal” that have been sitting in my body and soul and wreaking havoc on my sensitive system for all of these years.
Lyme does come from a tick bite, yes, but I find that many of us have the similarities of needing to get to the root of the emotional issues as well. That way you will have the greatest opportunity to heal. 🙂
- So you don’t drink alcohol (I feel that)… can you tell us why you decided to stop drinking and how you manage social events?
Yes, I stopped drinking alcohol for good about a year and a half ago, but to be honest I really had only had about 5-6 drinks in the last 5 years leading up to that!! When I was in high school and college I drank very heavily… mostly just because everyone else was doing it. I never liked the taste of alcohol or the way it made me feel. But when I got sick with Lyme and really dedicated my life to the healing lifestyle, it no longer made sense to me to put something I view as a poison into my body.
I would never judge someone else for drinking alcohol and I do believe our bodies are all different (bio individuality all the way), but to me, alcohol IS poison. And these days one of my favorite things about my life is that I do not drink alcohol! I feel like it has made me even more fun to be honest, because I am living in my authentic truth. I have a podcast episode all about it here where I dive deep into the topic!
- Foods that cause you inflammation?
So many foods!! Nightshades, high histamine foods, nuts (sadly… even though I still eat them), garlic, onions, and pretty much anything that is not vegan or gluten-free. I choose to live this particular lifestyle (vegan, gluten-free, salt oil sugar free), because it makes me feel amazing and keeps that inflammation at bay. There is nothing as awful as walking around super inflamed every day!
- What does your morning routine look like?
Well, lately during this interesting time we are all in (2020, man, ahhh) my life has been a lot more laid back in many ways which I am really enjoying. I typically wake up around 8am, go into the kitchen to make my celery juice, and then turn on my infrared sauna. While the sauna heats up I drink my juice and read the news, entertainment, books, right now I am really into stoicism and reading The Daily Stoic. I also always read a passage from A Course in Miracles during this time and do a little journaling sesh on the lesson. Then I make cold brew coffee with cinnamon and bring that and a big glass of water into my sauna. In the sauna I meditate and sweat it out for around 45 minutes every morning. Then I get out, shower, and start my day!
I usually have a big bowl of fruit (I follow food combining which has changed my life), and either check my email, write a blog post, sit down to host a podcast interview, or do some free writing. I am working on a memoir right now about my Lyme healing and spiritual awakening experience so if I am in the mood and feeling inspired, I work on that first! Then I tend to break up the day with walks outside, calls, photos, some time with my family or friends, and I try to wrap up in the early evening and get outside or do a yoga flow.
- Before we wrap up, three quick tips that help you relieve anxiety.
CBD (code BLONDE with Cured Nutrition for a discount!), getting outside in the fresh air, and being with people who I love.
- Where can everyone find you?
They can find me at thebalancedblonde.com, @thebalancedblonde on IG, the Soul on Fire podcast on iTunes, and my weekly email newsletter where we go deep every week + I answer advice column Q’s and give hot tips on wellness! So fun! Come say hiiiiii!