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Interview

Cristina Cuomo on the Hamptons, Wellness and the Ocean

A BWB exclusive Q+A with Cristina Cuomo, founder and editor of Purist, a wellness media platform.

Mother, wife, surfer and editor. Cristina Cuomo embodies all modern health and wellness seekers and has turned her life-long love of the Hamptons into a platform that gives its followers all the best information out on the East End of Long Island. A battle with both Lyme and COVID-19 has taught her how to heal herself which she happily shares with us all.

What was your first job?

Writing restaurant reviews for a local paper in Southampton, NY.

How did you become interested in publishing in the first place?

My junior year at the Chapin School in NYC, I started reading plays by Tennessee Williams and fell in love with dialogue and writing. Telling other people’s stories seemed like a good place to start.

You somehow work non-stop while raising three kids, and still have time for friends. What is your secret to making it all happen?

Find balance. I do a few things every day that enable me to activate my superpower of juggling ten things at once.

  1. Breathe more: We only breathe enough to survive, yet we know the positive effects calculated breath work has, so I practice resonance breathing for a few minutes.
  2. Eat better: I try different vegetables, fruits, prepared meals like Sakara Life, and intermittent fasting to stimulate the metabolism.
  3. Listen to the body’s clock and circadian rhythm: Find a sleep schedule that feels restorative and stick with it, as well as a meditation practice.

Your mother was the first person I knew who shopped in the health food store and thought about the food she was feeding her children. What health lessons have you passed down to your kids?

I make my kids try everything healthy until I find what they like. I also talk a lot about the benefits of certain foods. I’ll say to my son, who is the most resistant to my food lectures, “Eat these cucumbers. They will put hair on your chest.” Or, “Eat your stems and stalks for natural probiotics!” They laugh at me, but they will remember that the broccoli stalk is good for them for some reason.

Learning to take control of one’s health is paramount.

Empowering our children to think for themselves can only happen through teaching good habits at home. School doesn’t teach nutrition or the importance of maintaining a balanced gut, which is the root of regulating how illness manifests in our bodies. Learning to take control of one’s health is paramount. Cooking is important, as our youth must be prepared for college and be able to control what they eat, so I always suggest one learns that at a young age.

I also have to be mindful to give my kids the best tools for changing this planet for the better—and the backyard is where it starts. My son worked on a farm all summer to combat the city kid’s “nature deprivation disorder” that I read about in Vitamin N (for nature). I want him to put his hands in the earth and learn the importance of caring for and eating off the land.

You have battled two illnesses, Lyme and COVID-19. What have you learned in dealing with these two very scary health scares? What advice would you give to anyone going through something similar?

Knowledge is power.

The short answer is: chronic illness is something one can manage, but it requires discipline and positivity. The best advice anyone ever gave to me was to be my own doctor. Learn everything about an illness and what to do to get healthy. Knowledge is power. Years of different illnesses that compounded and compromised or weakened my immune system—Epstein Bar, flus, sinus infections, chronic lyme—started to wear me down. I tried various antibiotics, but I had to take a more holistic route to really heal. My naturopathic doctor prescribed that effective path that I maintain today. We mistakenly think that one medicine can eradicate an illness, but it’s a series of repetitive things that we need to do to get healthy and stay healthy.

For Covid, my doctor treated my symptoms and built my immune resilience through recommended foods and supplements. I kept a diary of my personal protocol here.

Currently, I am working on the inflammation and resulting sequelae like fatigue and low energy by eating well, exercising a little bit every day, sleeping better with the help of Rest Easy, a hemp-based calming sleep aid from prima.co, and taking vitamin C, D, B, zinc, and Glutathione, among a few other vitamins. Because I have nerve damage in my sinuses, I don’t smell or taste much six months after having the virus, so I am trying not over-eat in search of flavor!

The Purist is the go-to magazine for health and wellness of all kinds in Long Island. Why is the Hamptons the perfect place for wellness?

The beachside Hamptons has been my backyard all my life. Here, I learned to walk, swim in the ocean, and ride a bike. Those same simple and necessary things we learn as a child should be what we carry through into our adult lives. What better community to learn the eight pillars of wellness—social connection, mindfulness, plant-centric, whole foods diet, physical activity, etc.—and share a lifetime of lessons with others?

What’s been the easiest and the most difficult part of starting a new wellness brand?

Sharing information on well-being is certainly the most fun part of Purist. Also, small efforts can lead to change. When we focus on altruistic things like Mental Health Day, World Ocean Day, and Wear Orange for Gun Safety Day, we know people are learning about kindness and focusing on something bigger than themselves.

We share that information through our social media channels like IGTV on my personal instagram @cristinacuomo and @thepurist, through our newsletters that we email out weekly, through our website (which contains daily health and wellness information and where you can sign up for the newsletter and a subscription), and in print through Purist magazine (which we publish six times a year on recycled paper).

The difficult part is managing it all.

Your IG Lives have given your followers and Purist readers a chance to connect to your favorite brands and the experts you trust. What is coming up for the fall?

We want to give our Purist friends the best chemical-free tools to improve their lives and be their strongest selves. We are introducing our podcast this fall to coincide with our videos on wellness. I am most excited about launching a Purist vitamin line in conjunction with a doctor—three essentials that got me through illness and made my immune system strong again.

Favorite thing to do in the Hamptons to relax and unwind? Something everyone should try at least once when they visit the Hamptons?

I am drawn to the sea and took up surfing to stay connected in a deeper, more meaningful way. The mere act of surfing clears my mind as I focus on the task before me, which has enabled it to open up to greater possibilities. After all, we are made of the same property (salt water), which literally super-charges the brain by sending electrical signals that cause a heart to beat and a brain to think. The exhilarating moment when I pop up on my surf board after glancing at the wave over my shoulder reminds me that, as in life, sometimes, you have to glance back in order to better prepare for what’s in front of you.

Be here now.

Psychologist Timothy Leary once wrote, “Surfers are the ‘throw-aheads’ of mankind… The futurists… And they are leading the way to where man ultimately wants to be. The act of the ride is the epitome of ‘be here now,’ and the tube ride is the most acute form of that. Which is: your future is right ahead of you, the past is exploding behind you, your wake is disappearing, your footprints are washed from the sand. It’s a non-productive, non-depletive act that is done purely for the value of the dance itself. And that, is the destiny of man.” And what a dance it is.

Fernanda Niven

Fernanda Niven is a native New Yorker with a passion for health, wellness, education, and food. Her background is at the intersection of fashion, business, and wellness. She has held executive roles at Vera Wang, Parasol – a sun protective clothing brand and was an early investor and lead strategist for Organic Avenue – a raw vegan juice company. Fernanda is on the board of Edible Schoolyard NYC and Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack, NY. She has a BA in Fine Arts from NYU.

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