Wellness entrepreneur Hannah Bronfman will be the first person to tell you to trust your gut. The gut, she says, is the body’s first brain. It’s why 98 percent of diseases start in your gut, and also why, after years of neglect while working as a late-night DJ, it was a visit to a gut specialist that kicked her health journey into high gear.
“The idea that gut health is a huge part of your well-being is very true,” Bronfman tells journalist, author, and former editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue Elaine Welteroth at the debut event for WeWork Now, The We Company’s first no-membership-required workspace and retail concept, in New York City on Tuesday evening. “It’s unfortunate because [bad gut health] comes after so many different signs, and we don’t necessarily know how to read them.”
Now, though, she does, and she believes everyone else should, too. For the food lover, beauty-product addict, and exercise junkie, good health is a gift, but not a privilege, and we should all have the same access to wellness despite the health-care industry’s diversity and accessibility limitations. It’s a topic she discusses at length in her new book, Do What Feels Good: Recipes, Remedies, and Routines to Treat Your Body Right.
Bronfman admits it’s a simple title, but it says a lot (and it’s already resonating with her 511,000—and counting—Instagram followers). “It’s all about listening to your body and really figuring out, ‘How does food make you feel? How does exercise make you feel? How do the conversations that you have with your loved ones make you feel? What are the toxic relationships that you have that are weighing you down?’”
Answering those questions may be easier said than done, but Bronfman has no shortage of intuitive, easy practices to ensure that you, too, are treating your body right. Read on for the highlights.
Don’t lose track of those things that make you feel good. Growing up as a ballet dancer and later while participating in team sports, Bronfman became intrinsically connected to physical activity. But early on in her DJ career, she lost sight of that love of fitness, as well as some of her other physical needs—like sleep.
“I was burning the candle at both ends, and not in a good way,” Bronfman remembers. “It was unsustainable. I knew it would be really detrimental if I didn’t get it together.” So she began playing earlier gigs that would allow her to do things like cook for herself and get to sleep on time. “That was the road that got me back on my path.”
Don’t let your negative self-talk be stronger than your positive. To offer another gut analogy: It’s easy for bad bacteria to overwhelm good bacteria, and it’s also easy to give way to negative thinking, even unknowingly.
Bronfman presents the example of her grandmother, who passed away due to complications from a lifelong struggle with anorexia. “I saw the way she treated herself, and it was a really toxic way of living,” Bronfman says. In the ballet world, Bronfman herself had witnessed the ways in which negative body image can affect girls at a young age. “These are the types of things where, if you can’t get a grip on in your life, they will stay with you forever,” she says.
Discover and nurture your superpower. Bronfman’s ballet dream came to a close when, after hitting puberty, she remembers acknowledging that she was “trying to conform” to the body standards she saw across the dance world. She hated every bit of it.
She moved on, diving into team sports—like soccer, track, and basketball—and adopting the skill sets that those entailed on and off the field. During the interview, Welteroth proposes that this is Bronfman’s “superpower”: consistently breaking out of molds and claiming one’s own space in the world, like venturing into wellness while also working as a DJ.
Don’t let not-knowing stop you from trying. Doing what feels good in a literal sense may not always be what’s best for you long-term. Take starting a business, with the possibility that it could fail. After Bronfman’s first venture, a last-minute appointment-booking app called Beautified, did just that, she admits it was difficult to stand up again. But never did she regret trying it.
“I had never imagined what being an entrepreneur looked like until I had an idea I was super-passionate about and started chipping away at making that become a reality,” she says. Besides, what was she going to do besides reinvent herself? “I had a failed business, but I had to keep going. You have to get up and pivot.”
Practice what you preach. Even in the midst of a busy multistop book tour, Bronfman prioritizes self-care, like exercise and proper nutrition, and does so unapologetically. “It’s a lot being ‘on’ all the time,” she says. “It’s important that I take care of myself so that I can also be present and be on my game for all of you.”
Just give yourself 20 minutes. If the wellness world is under scrutiny, it’s because the vast majority of entry points are neither attainable nor inclusive. Bronfman is not afraid to use her platform responsibly, and part of that is helping to redefine what wellness truly is. “Wellness is not about organic food or taking a boutique workout class,” she says. “It’s about the in-between moments. It’s about how you treat yourself.” To start doing what feels good, Bronfman suggests giving yourself 20 minutes to do just that. We can all find 20 minutes, right?
“Give yourself 20 minutes at your lunch break, 20 minutes after work, 20 minutes before you go to bed,” she says. “We all have space for that. We just don’t know how to prioritize it.”