Few people fit the ideal aesthetic of good health better than Nikki Sharp, a former international model who’s recently emerged as a new voice in the world of wellness. She’s energetic, incredibly fit, knows her way around the kitchen (she trained as a holistic chef and has cooked for several well-known celebrities), plus, she’s a certified health coach. Oh, and she absolutely radiates good health and well-being. With one highly-successful clean living book under her belt and another on the horizon, what does it take to live as well as Sharp? We caught up with her right after a trip to Indonesia to ask about her favorite spots in her Los Angeles home base, plus gleaned some smart health tips that anyone can benefit from.
LUXURY RETREATS: You recently returned to Los Angeles from a trip to Bali, Indonesia. How was it?
NIKKI SHARP: I literally just woke up one day wanting to go there, bought a ticket, and was there a week later. It was my fourth time visiting. Bali is place for me that’s deep-down spiritual, and just rips your heart open.
LR: You’ve been a successful international model and an Instagram star, but what really caught people’s attention is your best-selling book The 5-Day Real Food Detox (out March 2016). And now you have a second book on the way?
SHARP: The 5-Day Real Food Detox started as an eBook. I didn’t care about making money, it was mainly me giving away this awesome program that I’d made for myself. But then, almost overnight it started selling like crazy. I was as shocked as anyone that it took off the way that it did—it sold 100,000 copies. After that, Random House gave me a two-book deal.
My second book comes out in May 2018, and it’s a cookbook and a diet plan that’s all about meal prepping. My goal is that anyone who picks it up will lose weight, get healthier, and realize how easy and efficient meal prepping is and how it can help.
When I wrote the detox program, I realized the importance of meal prepping—the more you prepare, the more success you’ll see. If I had things prepped to make a stir fry or a salad, I’d eat really healthy. But if I came home hungry, there’s no way I’d spend the time. When you have good food ready to eat in the fridge, you’ll eat it. Now I make sure I have roasted vegetables, proportioned nuts, salads I can throw together, hummus already made… It can be as easy as putting healthy smoothie ingredients into a Ziplock bag, sticking it in your freezer, and dumping it into your blender in the morning. The more simple you make meal prepping, the longer lasting the changes.
I tend to meal prep on Sunday nights. The idea is, you’re preparing yourself for the week and getting motivated. I love to put on a movie or put on music, or have a glass of wine while I prep food. I try to make it fun, so it’s not this tedious boring thing.
LR: Let’s talk about your home base of Los Angeles. Juice bars are absolutely everywhere. Do you have any favorites?
SHARP: Kreation Kafé [locations in Los Angeles, Venice, and Santa Monica] has incredible juices, and some of the city’s best and healthiest grab-and-go meals, too.
LR: Where do you head for a healthy lunch?
SHARP: I love Café Gratitude [a plant-based chain with multiple locations in Los Angeles and San Diego]. I literally get everything. I love the raw pesto kelp noodles they do and their roasted brussels sprouts. Their macrobiotic bowl is my number one go-to order – it has sweet potato, brown rice, kimchee, greens, almonds… I know that bowl well. It’s very clean, filling, and tasty.
I also go to Plant Food and Wine for lunch. It’s all plants there: I’ll have spinach quinoa, maybe some red peppers and a side of mushrooms, plus they have some really good Alfredo-style noodles and a plant bowl, which is one of the best super-clean options.
LR: What are some tips you have for anyone trying to eat healthy—but still wants to eat out regularly?
SHARP: I always say, know the menu before you go. Look for things that are steamed or grilled—those are always your best options. If you’re ordering a salad, look closely at the dressing. If it says ‘creamy,’ you know it’ll have dairy and probably not be the healthiest option. Switch to a balsamic or olive oil and vinegar dressing instead. I also love grilled or roasted vegetables, they’re some of my favorite things. Order them on the side, or see if they can be swapped in to replace something less healthy on your plate.
Don’t be scared to ask for modifications. I often swap in tomatoes, which I don’t like, for cucumbers. I believe we’re in such a time right now where everyone is allergic, or gluten-free, or this, or that. But if a restaurant doesn’t allow modifications, don’t go. I always say choose quality over quantity, even if it’s more money. You’ll feel fulfilled, and not shitty afterwards.
LR: What about when you’re traveling? How do you handle eating well?
SHARP: On vacation, in whatever culture you’re in, make a point to enjoy the food. For examples, if you’re in France, and you know that a buttery, rich croissant is what the country known for, have one and enjoy it! Don’t stress about it. That stress is worse for you than what you actually eat. When you’re stressed, you stop processing food.
I get asked all the time, ‘What’s the healthiest thing we can be eating as a society?’ And guess what: Positive thoughts are the healthiest thing you can ever eat. They’re something that affects every part your body way more than that one piece of food.
I follow my body’s intuition. If I go out for a few nights straight, I’ll listen to my body, rest, and eat nourishing foods to recover.
LR: Taking care of your body involves more than just eating well. Do you have any favorite workout spots in Los Angeles?
SHARP: Wanderlust is an amazing yoga studio here. Tantris is also one of the better studios with amazing teachers. The smaller, less corporate places are generally better because they’re managed by people who are passionate.
LR: Do you maintain any sort of workout schedule?
SHARP: I feel best when I work out six days a week. And that’s doing everything from yoga or two-a-day day workouts to just walking. There’s no program that I follow, but I love lifting weights, I love yoga, I love hiking, I love running. That’s the most important thing, to find what you love and do it.
That same idea goes for everything: Find foods that make you feel good, and focus on how they make you feel. Even pizza. It may feel good in the moment, but an hour later I guarantee it won’t make you feel good. I feel that sleep is completely underrated, and our society is so go-go-go that we’re missing out on the things that provide nourishment and happiness, like putting our phones away and spending time with the people we love.
LR: Do you have any words or mantras you live by?
SHARP: Slow down and appreciate every moment, stop trying to just get to the destination. It’s the journey of every single day that matters. I constantly ask myself, did I do things that nourished me, and was I happy?