Svn (7) Questions with Wellness Expert, Svn Space Podcast Host and Contributing Editor, Dominique Astorino

1. Tell us about your background and how you came to where you’re at now.

My career in wellness started before I even started exercising myself! I was working for Hurley/Nike starting in my college years, handling marketing, social media, digital content, and PR. Eventually I signed up for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco (which I had heard about from Nike colleagues), and started working out and running and training for the first time in my life. That was a huge turning point in my life. 

From there, I fell in love with fitness, learned how to use a healthy lifestyle to heal some mental health issues, and started writing about it in the process on my blog. The blog took off, which led me to a position as a fitness editor at PopSugar. After growing a ton there in a short period of time (and writing over 4,500 articles on health, fitness, nutrition, and more), I started my own business where I can create content and continue to educate a global audience on all things health, wellness, and happiness (which I think go hand in hand!). 

My story count now is somewhere north of 5,000. I interview doctors (MDs, DOs, NDs, DCs, PhDs, PsyDs, etc), trainers (ATCs, CSCSs, CPTs), nutrition experts (RDs, CCNs) physical therapists and occupational therapists, mental health therapists, coaches, astrologers, reiki masters, acupuncturists, nurses and PAs, energy healers, food scientists, farmers, and more on a weekly basis — I’ve been joking that I’ve been doing on-the-ground research for a healthy living PhD, but have actually started to consider getting a PhD thanks to a suggestion from my MD friend from college. Perhaps I’ll be Dr. Dominique by 2030 😂

2. How did you first learn about CBD and do you have a personal connection to this wonder plant ingredient? 

I had truly never heard about CBD until early (maybe springtime) 2017. A publicist for Charlotte’s Web (what’s up Dara) reached out because she had seen my stories on PopSugar about anxiety and natural treatments for mental health. Knowing I was open to natural anxiety remedies, she suggested I try CW CBD. I took it on as an editor experiment — PopSugar had never covered this topic before, so it was a pretty big deal. I took it for seven days and took notes on how I felt. 

I remember about halfway through the experiment I was having a panic attack (a rather long one) and so I took a little extra CBD. No exaggeration, it was like an off switch. I hadn’t felt something that powerful (with no adverse effects) since I had been prescribed Ativan years ago (and as some of you know, Ativan has the ability to be super addictive, and to cause anxiety if you come off of a long term prescription). I felt like I had discovered a big life secret and knew that more people had to know about it. 

The story came out and was such a wild success that I became the unofficial “CBD reporter” at the time and began interviewing dozens of doctors and scientists. It totally was one of my “beats” at that publication. Once I started out on my own, I began covering the topic for more outlets and thanks to all the hours of research and interviews, became really knowledgeable about hemp, phytonutrients, cannabinoids, and the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). 

And just from a personal standpoint, CBD has helped me recalibrate things in terms of anxiety. I haven’t had to take prescription anxiolytics in years (my psychiatrist is thrilled, lol) and it’s been an excellent ingredient in my overall mental health (and physical health) recipe and regimen. 

3. From the many articles you’ve written and asked to partake in, can you list a few things that excite or fascinate you about this space (Wellness, Hemp and CBD)? Feel free to mention anything ‘odd’ as well ;) 

Something that really blew me away recently was from our recent podcast interview with Pelin Thorogood, President and Co-Founder at Wholistic Research & Education Foundation and Chief Health and Research Contributor for Svn Space. She was describing how they’re researching biomarkers to determine who will and won’t have a positive or effective reaction to CBD, based on their physiological makeup. The implications this has, not just for CBD, but for medicine in general is insane.

Another thing I love is how breaking down the stigma of cannabis has also forced us to break down some walls around mental health. I’m a bit Pete-Davidson-esque in that I’m very open about my mental health struggles and make fun of myself a lot (if you can’t laugh at your anxiety, you gotta reevaluate!), but it’s nice to see the mainstream starting to open up about their struggles, too. We’ve all got something going on, it’s just a matter of acknowledging it, embracing it, and accepting that it’s just part of your story and not a flaw. I think CBD, because it’s inherently an anxiolytic and antidepressant (don’t @ me, FDA), has brought the conversation about mental health to the forefront.

4. Do you feel the topic of CBD is only scratching the surface? Overwhelming? What is the one misunderstanding or piece of messaging that is either talked about too much or not talked about enough?

I think as with most things in medicine and science as a whole, there’s so much to get into. Someone I interviewed once reminded me that we’ve had a century to study corn, for example, and all its uses, parts, etc. — but cannabis has been prohibited for almost that entire time, which has obviously put a cap on all those studies for that plant. It might feel overwhelming now with everything coming out, but it’s almost like we’ve been bottling all this stuff up for so long, and it finally exploded. 

While the whole “cannabis isn’t bad” thing might feel played out (and just outright basic/common sense) for some of us who embraced that fact years ago, there’s still a huge section of people in the US (and globally) who haven’t come to that realization just yet. I think we still have a bit to go for complete acceptance, even just on CBD. Look at the government too; presidential candidates who are more left leaning still don’t believe in legalization of cannabis, even though it’s been clinically proven to benefit so many patients with so many ailments.

5. As Svn Space’s Podcast host and wellness expert, what are you most looking forward to in 2020? 

I’m so excited to educate more and more people with this platform. I think Svn Space has really discovered an untapped niche and a void in the market and has the ability to be of serious service to many. Looking forward to seeing Svn Space (and Svn Space’s audience) grow, to interviewing some incredible people on the podcast, and to keep learning for my healthy living “PhD.”

6. List some or all:

3 things you’re listening to:

Music: Angèle, Bigflo & Oli, Videoclub | Pod: InnerFrench (explanation: I’m trying SUPER hard to get to bilingual status, lol, but the French music is honestly so rad)

Your go to Netflix show:

OK so on theme with the last bit, I just watched Plan Cœur (The Hookup Plan in English) and Le Bazar de la Charité (Bonfire of Destiny, LOL) — two Netflix originals, SO good. I’m more of a movie person than a TV person, honestly, but I love SNL and anything that makes me laugh.

    Book:

    This has been all over the place! I’ve been bopping around between self development, fiction, romance, and fantasy lately. Recently finished: “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottleib (highly recommend), on deck: “The Ride of a Lifetime” (Bob Iger’s autobiography) and “The Field” by Lynne McTaggart (recommended to me by my friend/astrologer).

    If you could only eat one meal 30x days in a row (don’t worry about health implications), what would that guilty pleasure be?

    Dude for sure dessert. I love sweets more than any child, guaranteed. It’s such an issue haha if my body didn’t start rejecting sugar after a normal serving size I’d be in trouble. Give me a chewy brownie, a crêpe stuffed with something good, german chocolate cake, a pint of Jeni’s or scoop of Berthillon, an almond croissant, etc. My spirit animal is carbohydrates.

      7. Any words of wisdom to share? 

      One of the biggest things I’ve learned in the past five years when it pertains to wellness is this: don’t wait for permission to cut yourself some slack and give yourself a break; give yourself the permission now. Your phone dies without a few hours of charging, your computer has to restart if you run too many programs for too long — and you’re a person, so inherently not as bulletproof as a machine. 

      We make a lot of excuses for not taking a step back to take care of ourselves, to not pause, but a lot of it is fabricated. Things like “I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money, work can’t do XYZ without me” are not as true as you think they are; saying we don’t have the time (or any other resource) is only true until we are forced to have it by extreme things the universe throws at us. Remember the last time you were in a rush and said you didn’t have time for something, but you got a flat tire, locked yourself out of the house, or got stuck in a gridlock? You suddenly “had” time. 

      Figure out how to give yourself more points of respite and time to yourself so you don’t run yourself into the ground. This will make your life better, your work better, your relationships better, and will lead you to be a better version of yourself.



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