Image: Evan Robarts

How This Nail Artist’s Trip To A Sweat Lodge Helped Her Create A Healthy Self-Image

By Andrew Rickards

Image: Evan Robarts

An elevated practice that helps you live your best life? That’s a ritual. We've asked women we admire to share the daily rituals that make them who they are. Discover their secrets and try a new ritual for yourself.



I’ve always struggled with having a healthy relationship with food and exercise. I always associated exercise with weight loss exclusively, and I thought that exercise was pointless if it wasn’t something I did to make my body fit the mold of what I saw was attractive. I’ve been recovered from a ‘binge and purge’ eating disorder for some years now and can eat healthily, but I still never incorporated exercise into my daily routine.

When a friend took me to something called Shapehouse — it’s basically a place where you sweat in a heated pod and watch Netflix — I started experiencing the health benefits of sweating that were unrelated to weight loss. After this a-ha moment, I wanted to chase that post-sweat, endorphin-high feeling of wellness, so I started exercising in a moderate way on a daily basis. It’s helped me both physically and mentally: I’m way less prone to depression when I’m taking care of myself by exercising. If you’re someone who struggles with getting motivated to exercise or doing it in a healthy way, here’s the breakdown of how I did it myself.

Ask a pro

My friend bringing me to Shapehouse was the start of my wellness journey, so to speak, and I would’ve never gone there if she hadn’t invited me. When starting a new routine, it’s important to look for resources that can teach you a healthy way to do it. For me, that meant accompanying my friends on hikes, which led to me eventually feeling comfortable enough to hike and go running on my own.

Do an inventory of your friends and family to see who you could ask for help: who do you know that works out regularly, or just does something cool that you want to do, like dancing or yoga? Whatever it is, look for people to guide you through the first baby steps of doing it, and don’t give up if you don’t like the first thing you try. Search online for information about anything you’re curious to learn. I haven’t used ClassPass, but I have friends who love it for discovering new classes without having to pay a ton for each one. Eventually, you’ll find something you enjoy.


Get sweaty

Once you find an activity you like, start doing it enough that you work up a sweat. It can be as simple as a ten minute run, walking 10,000 steps throughout the course of your day, or lifting a few weights at home. Then, start slow. I’m a very all or nothing person, so my exercise was always excessive or non-existent. Don't exercise out of guilt. Instead, listen to your body. Sweat in a way that makes you feel good, and do it a couple times a week: don’t over-do it!

Next, keep up the warmth by taking a hot shower. It not only soothes your muscles — even if it’s a 30-second warm shower — but it also cleanses you of the day. It lets you get into bed having gotten rid of anything you don't want to take with you into your sleep.


Plan it out

After I started exercising, my schedule changed so that I could incorporate it. I’d wake up fifteen minutes earlier just to run a little, or I’d schedule hikes and Shapehouse trips with friends for after work to make sure I got a quick workout in. You don’t need to exercise at the same time every day or get crazy about going to the gym, but try to look at your week’s schedule on Sunday (or whenever) and see when you could fit in a few minutes to exercise. Set your alarm and mark your calendar accordingly so that you’re set up for success, even if it’s just for a small block of time a couple times throughout the week. I try to remind myself that I always have at least ten minutes, so I’m able to fit it in when I feel overwhelmed.


Take care of your bod & brain

Once I started taking into account what would make me feel good vs. bad, it was easy to make better choices: I can’t exercise if I don’t eat, and I won’t want to wake up in the morning to run if I drink the night before. When you make healthy choices, you start craving healthy choices. Once you start exercising, you’ll gravitate towards healthier food. It’s like when you’re hungover and you crave junk food, except the opposite.

Go with your healthy cravings and make sure you’re eating enough, getting a few fruits and vegetables in your diet, and drinking water. This extends to your mental health too: I work as an on-set nail tech, so I’m privileged to be around models and see just how many hours go into making them look good, which allows me to consume media from a skeptical point of view. Even still, I don’t have cable TV at home, because seeing a ton of ads can be really triggering. If you find that following a ton of polished people on Instagram makes you envious, just unfollow. It’s good to unplug and take care of your brain, so you can keep taking care of your body, too.

Adopt this Ritual for yourself

Steph Stone

Steph Stone has been working as a professional nail artist for over five years, gracing the covers of your favorite magazines via the hands of Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Shay Mitchell, and many, many more. In her spare time, she loves baking, frequenting ShapeHouse, discovering new skin regimens, and finding other things to put under the umbrella of "self-care."

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