Determining Your Ideal Wellness Routine—Through Your Blood
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Determining Your Ideal Wellness Routine—Through Your Blood

Can blood work help provide a road map for our beauty and lifestyle choices?

By Fiorella Valdesolo
Fri, Aug 27, 2021 10:02amGrey Clock 4 min

Blood work is a standard component of annual physicals, but what if it were also commonly done at facialist appointments? Such is the case when you book a session with Bay Area–based skin-care specialist Kristina Holey. The results of clients’ blood panels help Holey, who does all of her consultations in tandem with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner Justine Wenger, guide her choices for holistically treating their skin concerns.

The human blood system interacts with the entire body—organs, tissues and all. “It supplies nutrients and oxygen, removing CO2 and other waste products, and it’s also a medium through which all our tissues and cells communicate via a bewilderingly complex chemical cross-talk,” says Paul Clayton, a medical pharmacologist and fellow at the Institute of Food, Brain & Behaviour, affiliated with Oxford University. The most basic blood panels cover metabolic function, lipids (or cholesterols), iron, thyroid and, sometimes, vitamin D. But they can get far more granular and include a comprehensive thyroid, zinc, B vitamins and ferritin. If hormones are suspect, then Holey looks at a reproductive hormonal panel for any imbalances. Blood panels can also identify toxic exposures and markers for cellular function, which can give you an idea of your cell’s ability to repair damage, says Chika Okoli, a functional medicine physician at the New York City location of the Well, a wellness facility that consistently uses blood work.


“During Covid consumers became more conscious of their health,” says Lola Priego, founder and CEO of Base, an at-home diagnostic system that relies on blood and saliva testing. A physician reviews all results before uploading them to the Base app, and the Base medical advisory board oversees the algorithms giving users nutritional, supplemental and lifestyle suggestions. In addition to finding conditions like hypo- or hyperthyroidism, elevated cholesterol and diabetes, looking at blood data can help to address issues like sleep quality and chronic fatigue, Priego says. The clinical laboratory market experienced growth throughout the pandemic. Base, for example, launched and raised a $3.4 million round of funding during this time, while London-based blood-testing brand Thriva raised a $4.8 million extension to its series A funding in May 2020. “The so-called ‘lab on a chip’ technology is developing rapidly,” says Clayton, adding that Theranos, the failed blood-testing company, is an example of how badly things can go wrong. “It’s eventually going to become something like what Theranos promised but couldn’t deliver,” says Clayton. For the time being, most of these companies outsource to established labs to get the results.

The state of our blood can also affect our skin. Without healthy circulation and microcirculation, the skin, like any other organ, doesn’t function as well. “It leads to accelerated aging of the skin and reduced elasticity, hydration capacity and probably immune function,” says Clayton. Holey frequently looks to blood tests for guidance when troubleshooting a skin symptom. She says she sees correlations between anemia and perioral dermatitis or rosacea, while low vitamin D levels sometimes connect with psoriasis and eczema, and high cholesterol and poor digestion with breakouts or seborrheic dermatitis. “I am not an M.D., so it is never about diagnosing,” says Holey, who studied engineering and cosmetic chemistry. “If what I am seeing topically lines up with my hypothesis given what I see from labs, then I can better direct to the most appropriate M.D. or specialist.” She encourages her skin clients to keep up with annual blood work. “You can start to see trends or catch low or high levels from year to year,” says Holey. “It’s like starting a library of your health.”

“The so-called ‘lab on a chip’ technology is developing rapidly.”

— Paul Clayton

In the practice of TCM, blood plays a critical role. “We are constantly thinking about how strong the quality of blood is and how well it moves throughout the body,” says Sandra Chiu, acupuncturist, herbalist and founder of Lanshin, a Chinese medicine clinic in Brooklyn. But the method by which blood is evaluated is radically different from Western medicine’s approach. “We often look at, or ‘read,’ the skin to ascertain the state of blood,” she adds. For example, says Chiu, in eczema when the skin is dry and itchy, that is considered excessive heat in the blood manifesting on the surface; when skin is dark red or almost violet, as is the case with rosacea or some types of cystic acne, that means there is significant stagnation. Looking at the blood, via the skin, helps guide Chiu’s treatment approach.

Getting the details of my own blood work served as a guide for me as well. After I submitted blood and saliva samples to Base, my results were transmitted a few weeks later via the company’s app, along with an invitation to set up a consultation to discuss them. Some of the information was unsurprising: My HbA1c (blood sugar) levels were elevated, which meant I should cut back on refined sugars and carbohydrates, and my cortisol levels were wreaking havoc on my sleep, so I needed to reduce my stress levels, relax and meditate. Discovering that I was low on vitamin D—and learning how to improve that score with exercise, diet and supplements—did pinpoint a possible source of fatigue, brain fog and dry, patchy skin. While blood work can certainly offer helpful data in regard to our health and beauty choices, Holey cautions against letting it be our only guide. “Take it all with a grain of salt,” she says. “What we have really learned is that blood work is just one piece of the puzzle.”


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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Is ‘Rizz’ the Secret to Getting Ahead at Work?

Whether you call it charisma, charm or magnetism, some people seem like naturals. Good news: It can be learned.

By Rachel Feintzeig
Mon, Jul 22, 2024 4 min

Great leaders have it. Gen Z has a new word for it. Can the rest of us learn it?

Charisma—or rizz , as current teenage slang has anointed it—can feel like an ephemeral gift some are just born with. The chosen among us network and chitchat, exuding warmth as they effortlessly hold court. Then there’s everyone else, agonising over exclamation points in email drafts and internally replaying that joke they made in the meeting, wondering if it hit.

“Well, this is awkward,” Mike Rizzo, the head of a community for marketing operations professionals, says of rizz being crowned 2023 word of the year by the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s so close to his last name, but so far from how he sees himself. He sometimes gets sweaty palms before hosting webinars.

Who could blame us for obsessing over charisma, or lack thereof? It can lubricate social interactions, win us friends, and score promotions . It’s also possible to cultivate, assures Charles Duhigg, the author of a book about people he dubs super communicators.

At its heart, charisma isn’t about some grand performance. It’s a state we elicit in other people, Duhigg says. It’s about fostering connection and making our conversation partners feel they’re the charming—or interesting or funny—ones.

The key is to ask deeper, though not prying, questions that invite meaningful and revealing responses, Duhigg says. And match the other person’s vibes. Maybe they want to talk about emotions, the joy they felt watching their kid graduate from high school last weekend. Or maybe they’re just after straight-up logistics and want you to quickly tell them exactly how the team is going to turn around that presentation by tomorrow.

You might be hired into a company for your skill set, Duhigg says, but your ability to communicate and earn people’s trust propels you up the ladder: “That is leadership.”

Approachable and relatable

In reporting this column, I was surprised to hear many executives and professionals I find breezily confident and pleasantly chatty confess it wasn’t something that came naturally. They had to work on it.

Dave MacLennan , who served as chief executive of agricultural giant Cargill for nearly a decade, started by leaning into a nickname: DMac, first bestowed upon him in a C-suite meeting where half the executives were named Dave.

He liked the informality of it. The further he ascended up the corporate hierarchy, the more he strove to be approachable and relatable.

Employees “need a reason to follow you,” he says. “One of the reasons they’re going to follow you is that they feel they know you.”

He makes a point to remember the details and dates of people’s lives, such as colleagues’ birthdays. After making his acquaintance, in a meeting years ago at The Wall Street Journal’s offices, I was shocked to receive an email from his address months later. Subject line: You , a heading so compelling I still recall it. He went on to say he remembered I was due with my first child any day now and just wanted to say good luck.

“So many people say, ‘Oh, I don’t have a good memory for that,’” he says. Prioritise remembering, making notes on your phone if you need, he says.

Now a board member and an executive coach, MacLennan sent hundreds of handwritten notes during his tenure. He’d reach out to midlevel managers who’d just gotten a promotion, or engineers who showed him around meat-processing plants. He’d pen words of thanks or congratulations. And he’d address the envelopes himself.

“Your handwriting is a very personal thing about you,” he says. “Think about it. Twenty seconds. It makes such an impact.”

Everyone’s important

Doling out your charm selectively will backfire, says Carla Harris , a Morgan Stanley executive. She chats up the woman cleaning the office, the receptionist at her doctor’s, the guy waiting alongside her for the elevator.

“Don’t be confused,” she tells young bankers. Executive assistants are often the most powerful people in the building, and you never know how someone can help—or hurt—you down the line.

Harris once spent a year mentoring a junior worker in another department, not expecting anything in return. One day, Harris randomly mentioned she faced an uphill battle in meeting with a new client. Oh!, the 24-year-old said. Turns out, the client was her friend. She made the call right there, setting up Harris for a work win.

In the office, stop staring at your phone, Harris advises, and notice the people around you. Ask for their names. Push yourself to start a conversation with three random people every day.

Charisma for introverts

You can’t will yourself to be a bubbly extrovert, but you can find your own brand of charisma, says Vanessa Van Edwards, a communications trainer and author of a book about charismatic communication.

For introverted clients, she recommends using nonverbal cues. A slow triple nod shows people you’re listening. Placing your hands in the steeple position, together and facing up, denotes that you’re calm and present.

Try coming up with one question you’re known for. Not a canned, hokey ice-breaker, but something casual and simple that reflects your actual interests. One of her clients, a bookish executive struggling with uncomfortable, halting starts to his meetings, began kicking things off by asking “Reading anything good?”

Embracing your stumbles

Charisma starts with confidence. It’s not that captivating people don’t occasionally mispronounce a word or spill their coffee, says Henna Pryor, who wrote a book about embracing awkwardness at work. They just have a faster comeback rate than the rest of us. They call out the stumble instead of trying to hide it, make a small joke, and move on.

Being perfectly polished all the time is not only exhausting, it’s impossible. We know this, which is why appearing flawless can come off as fake. We like people who seem human, Pryor says.

Our most admired colleagues are often the ones who are good at their jobs and can laugh at themselves too, who occasionally trip or flub just like us.

“It creates this little moment of warmth,” she says, “that we actually find almost like a relief.”


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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