Welcome back to the In Her Shoes series, where we share inspiring interviews with influential experts in health, nutrition, and lifestyle.
Whenever I meet healthy, beautiful, successful women, I’m always dying to know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. What do they eat? What products do they use? What’s their routine? I’m obsessed with other peoples’ stories and love sharing uplifting women with y’all!
Today we’re chatting with Courtney Carver, minimalism expert at Be More with Less (a blog about simplifying your life and really living), Project 333 (a minimalist fashion challenge where dress with 33 items or less for 3 months) and A Simple Year (an online course designed to help you be healthier and happier).
Courtney is also the author of several books, including Clutterfree and Soulful Simplicity, where she shows us the power of simplicity to improve our health, build more meaningful relationships, and relieve stress. Who doesn’t need that?!
GETTING TO KNOW Courtney Carver
I first came across Courtney’s work after I went through a series of panic attacks and extreme anxiety this past Spring.
I was overwhelmed, exhausted, burnt out, stressed and sick. And I knew I needed slow down, simpilify my life and reprioritize what was really important to me.
So after some Googling, I came across the blog Be More with Less and I started binge-reading everything Courtney had ever wrote, in awe, everything finally clicking and making sense.
I felt inspired and calm, in control of my emotions and ready to start anew. I love the way Courtney teaches others how living with less can lead to so much MORE.
If you could use some advice in the minimalism, simplifying, finally living and enjoying your life realm, I highly recommend taking Courtney’s course A Simple Year, which opens for registration in December!
A Simple Year is a 12-month, go at your own pace course that is designed to help you simplify your life, gently and with purpose. You’ll learn something new each month and focus on what matters most with 12 simplicity advocates that specialize in topics like clutter, food, money, relationships, and busyness.
I also really connected with Courtney’s personal story, as she found minimalism after being diagnosed with MS and discovering that by decluttering her life and focusing on her health, she was able to live with this chronic disease and actually be healthy AND happy!
WHAT ARE THE FIRST 30 MINUTES OF YOUR DAY LIKE?
Almost every morning I start with some combination of writing (3 morning pages as recommended in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way), meditation, walking, and yoga.
When I first started practicing a morning routine I only had a few minutes. Over the years, I’ve carved out more and more time and now my morning routine usually takes 2-3 hours. If I’m traveling, I do a shorter version.
SHOWER TIME! WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO PRODUCTS?
Because I travel so much, I’m not that fussy about these products (as long as they don’t smell fruity).
WHAT’S YOUR TYPICAL BREAKFAST?
I typically eat the same breakfast and lunch for a few months and then switch it up. I love streamlining decisions like what to eat or wear to limit decision fatigue.
Currently I’m eating 2 soft boiled eggs on gluten-free toast with steamed spinach and black coffee.
ARE YOU A TEA OR COFFEE DRINKER?
I like tea and coffee. The only other thing I drink regularly is water.
WHAT’S YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE?
I try to walk at least 5 miles a day and do yoga. Occasionally I’ll drop into a spin or other workout class but mygo to is walking and yoga.
I love to hike too, but that’s less for exercise and more to get out of my head. The best way to do that is to get onto a trail. I live in Utah so there is somewhere to hike year-round. Hiking always makes me smile even when it’s more challenging than I anticipated. I love that tired legs, full heart feeling when I get home.
TIME TO GET READY! WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO BEAUTY AND SKINCARE PRODUCTS?
I’ve tried to minimize this area in my life, but a good moisturizer and lip balm is a must-have. I slather up at home (morning and evening) and especially when flying.
I used to buy all of the pretty palettes and purchased cosmetics I hardly wore. In 2010 I did an inventory of what I owned from makeup brushes to product and realized I had more than $2500 in 2 drawers. This was a hard pill to swallow as I was deep in debt. So that’s where all my money was going, or at least one place.
My closet was a close second in terms of wasted money. There were clothes in my closet with tags still hanging. I wanted the deal but never wore the item.
Shortly after I simplified my makeup and started owning only what I actually use, I started Project 333, a minimalist fashion challenge so I could end the closet chaos and determine what “enough” meant to me.
The challenge was to dress with 33 items or less including clothes, accessories, jewelry, and shoes for 3 months with no shopping during the 3 months. It was a life-changing experiment I continue today, 7 years later.
WHAT’S IN YOUR MEDICINE CABINET?
I don’t have a medicine cabinet, but I do have a vitamin drawer which includes multi-vitamins, probiotics, vitamin D and B-12, Turmeric, Ginger, and marine collagen peptides. I’m not always taking all of those things, but usually some combination.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE ON-THE-GO SNACKS?
I prefer not to snack. I’m what author Gretchen Rubin describes as an abstainer.
It just means I’m happier with none instead of figuring out what enough is or sticking with one. I know there are healthy snacks, but I generally stick to eating meals.
Melissa Hartwig, creator of my favorite food challenge, The Whole 30 describes it best here when she says, “It’s exhausting for me to think about “moderating,” as the concept makes my brain go into overdrive. “What’s ‘a little?’ What’s ‘too much?’ What’s ‘too often?’ If I eat one bite of a cookie every day, is that better or worse than a whole cookie once a week? If I add this cookie to that wine, is that too much? I haven’t eaten any treats all week—does that mean I have no balance?” It. Never. Ends.”
That is SO me. So, it’s a work in progress for me. I really like sugar! I’m on day 6 on my 5th Whole 30 right now and feel so much relief from not having to moderate anything. Each time I do it, it gets easier and easier.
WHAT’S A TYPICAL LUNCH LIKE FOR YOU?
I’m a big fan of smoothies for lunch. My go-to smoothie combo is a blender full of kale and spinach, a little coconut water, 1/2 an avocado, 1/2 a frozen banana, a few pineapple chunks, chia seeds and a scoop of marine collagen peptides.
WHEN YOU’RE GROCERY SHOPPING, WHAT INGREDIENTS DO YOU AVOID ON THE LABEL?
It really depends. I prefer to avoid food with labels altogether (especially while practicing Whole 30), but when I do indulge, I try to steer clear of foods that contain things I can’t pronounce.
WHAT’S IN YOUR PANTRY?
So boring, but the things I use almost every day from my pantry are salt, pepper, and olive oil.
DINNER TIME! IF YOU’RE EATING OUT, WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR ON MENUS TO STAY HEALTHY?
Salad with shrimp, seafood without heavy sauces or something vegetarian/vegan. I pass on the bread basket and dessert menu. If I see it, I want it (abstainer).
WHAT’S ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND?
I always have lip balm on my night stand and sometimes a book or my Kindle. I try to read fiction at night instead of health-related or business books.
I just finished Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self by Manoush Zomordi.
And I’m really looking forward to reading Brené Brown’s new book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone.
BED TIME! WHAT’S YOUR NIGHTLY ROUTINE?
I’m usually in bed between 9 and 10, although sometimes much earlier. I don’t have a great evening wind-down routine, but because I wake up early in the morning, I’m sleepy early in the evening. In the cooler months, I love a cup of tea before I go to sleep.
FAVORITE HEALTHY INDULGENCE?
There are so many things, like napping for instance, that I used to consider indulgences but now I just think about as healthy.
I used to feel guilty about taking time to treat myself, but when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006, I made the decision to do whatever I could to live well with MS.
I’ve realized that things like naps, massages, slowing down, and being more mindful contribute to good health. I can’t possibly feel guilty about that.
My favorite healthy indulgence would be a 90-minute massage when I know 60 minutes will be enough.
FAVORITE PRODUCT THAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO TRY?
I’d highly recommend fun challenges that help you learn about what you want and need in your life, like minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 for your closet, and the Whole 30 for your diet. You’ll eliminate decision fatigue and discover so many surprising benefits.