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photo by Ana Blumenkron

NYC-based Brazilian-American chef Carolina Santos Neves uses food as a filter for the world. She's lived in Switzerland, Russia, Mexico, and Portugal, exploring the cultures and palates of kitchens around the globe. Community is the motivation behind her food adventures now, and you'll often find her collaborating with organizations that inspire and activate. How does she stay in tune with herself? With a good workout and a check-in with her body. 

What's one thing you do for your body every day/week? I'm pretty diligent about working out in the morning. I love it. It's been part of my waking up process for many years now — it goes hand-and-hand with my coffee. The workouts have changed over the years, but that's because I'll get into one thing, and then another. For example, at one point I was really into 305, and now I continue to be into The Class. I also do the workouts at my gym. I always love doing a workout that makes me feel strong! It's all about strength now, and not weight or anything like that. 

What's your favorite thing about your body today? My hands, arms, and my stomach. I think I chose stomach because so much comes from that area. Gut health (trust your gut), but also that's where our babies grow. I've also worked hard at keeping my stomach strong. I chose my hands and arms because they help me do so much every day! Especially in cooking and producing events. Over the years, I've built a lot of arm strength through boxing, pushups, burpees, etc. 

What's a habit or experience you do to feel good? I love wearing dresses. I always feel sexy when I wear them, and feminine. Even though you can feel feminine wearing whatever you want. I also actually love wearing bikinis. Maybe because I'm half-Brazilian, but it's true. I think it makes me feel free and natural and in nature. Reminds me of the water. I also feel sexy in workout pants and a sports bra.

Social media can build a tribe but also be tricky — how do you manage your digital life? Hmm. I have fun with it. But I've also begun to use it as a way to share an opinion or thought or lesson I've learned. I use it to cheer people on or share a story about a friend. So I wouldn't say I have this whole strategy behind it. I just choose to be me, and in that, I hope that people see that.


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How have you taught yourself to love your body? It's been challenging; I'm not going to lie. But I think I realized that health is so important, much more important than being this super-slim version of yourself. It's about nourishing your body and treating it well. It's about feeling strong in your body. When you feel these things, and treat yourself well, it affects other parts of your life in such a beautiful way. 

What do you tell yourself on days that feel challenging? I ask myself some questions. Have I slept today? Is it that time of the month? Did I drink too many days in a row (happens sometimes)? And if I'm feeling blue I try and treat myself to something that makes me feel good in my body, or I take the nap I need, or I just let myself stay in it, and understand why I feel this way. And most importantly, I tell myself: Tomorrow is a new day.