From Convict to Private Chef, How Jess Asaro of @ThymewithJess Found True Wellness
Hi there! My name is Jess, and I’m a Private Chef here in Los Angeles where I cook for celebrities, athletes, and incredibly engrossed business owners. I also run my social media account @thymewithjess on Instagram, where I share food inspiration, talk about personal development and mindfulness, all while keeping it lighthearted and fun. I also have a product line that launches later this year, YEEE!
I was born and raised in San Diego. I left home when I was 18, then six months later found myself back in my hometown. I thought pursing school would be a good idea, but then only two years later, I dropped out. I love learning and expanding my education, but the academic institution just wasn’t suitable for me.
I spent the next few years in the service industry with aspirations to open a yoga studio in L.A. In 2012, I met my then-boyfriend of five and a half years; that relationship changed the course of my life forever, for better and worse. During a time where I experienced tremendous amounts of emptiness, he made me feel alive, safe, and “loved”. For the first time in a while, I didn’t just feel like I was existing. I left home at 23 to travel around the U.S with him while he “worked,” only to find myself in federal custody after the U.S. Marshalls arrested me, just two months after my 27th birthday.
It took me losing my freedom, becoming a convicted felon, and eventually leaving that toxic relationship to realize I had A LOT of work to do on myself. The full story about that experience is something I plan on sharing in the year to come because it was such a pivotal moment in my journey of self-development. I had to face remarkably crucial truths about myself and address childhood trauma that I had so willingly locked away. I am a firm believer that when we go through a traumatic experience, it’s beneficial to share our stories with others in order to help not just yourself, but others as well, on their self-development journey to self-recovery and self-discovery!
It took me the next four years of putting in the real work to heal myself, LOTS of therapy was involved. That arrest made me lose everything I had worked so hard to create for myself. I faced adversity and experienced a tremendous amount of emotional, psychological and mental pain. But I learned to turn that pain into a passion when I started cooking. I started with close to nothing while making just about the same until I climbed my way to the top, where I am today. I started @ThymewithJess as a creative outlet to share my dishes, knowledge of food, healthy habits, struggles, and breakthroughs with friends and strangers along the way.
Self-development is a lifelong journey that I’m still learning and exploring.
Let’s get into the rapid-fire self-care questions:
I like to live my life by this motto:
Don’t put me in a box, I do enough of that on my own, LOL. Really though, don’t put yourself or others in a box!
Biggest lesson I learned in my twenties:
Love alone is not enough. I’ve learned that love does not equate compatibility; that is a hard pill to swallow.
This is still a challenge for me:
Wanting to make up for a night of overeating by working out the next day. This will probably always be a part of me, but I try to be mindful if I’m choosing to work out the next day because it feels good or if I’m doing this to “punish” myself.
My self-care toolkit includes:
The way I speak and think are a BIG part of my self-care practice. Lots of water, and journaling. I have to say, journaling has been a game-changer. My brain has so many thoughts at one time, and a lot of the time, those thoughts are manufactured. Intelligently, I know they mean nothing and are not me or real, but they still project a feeling and writing on paper a stream of consciousness helps me filter through them cathartically. This practice allows me to go back and reflect at just how crazy some of those thoughts can sometimes be. I also think writing down your goals for the day, week, or even year allows for goals to come to fruition. I believe there is something mentally stimulating about long-hand writing!
The first five things I do when I wake up are:
I want to be fully transparent, because I am human!
1. I check my phone, in a perfect world this would happen after my morning routine. I’m working on it!
2. Brush my teeth before I drink a glass of water.
3. Make my collagen cold-brew latte, YUM!
4. Journal – this doesn’t happen every morning though.
5. Read The Morning Brew, a fun way to know what’s happening on the internet and in the world. Then check Reddit for funny memes.
My favorite way to unwind is:
Hiking or skateboarding while listening to music or reading a book.
My go-to dish to make (or buy) when I want to feel good is:
Make: soft-scrambled eggs.
Buy: a salad of some sort with lots of crunch!
My favorite workout in no particular order involves:
The one book that has changed my life:
It’s so hard to choose just ONE, but the first that came to mind is, “12 Rules for Life” by Jordan Peterson.
The one podcast I’m always listening to:
Well currently, Congratulations By Chris D’elia. A friend turned me on to it, and I laugh hard on pretty much every episode!
I honestly can’t choose one so here are the other contenders:
Mental Illness Happy Hour with Paul Gilmartin
Having Funlessness (formerly I seem Fun) with Jen Kirkman
Monday Morning Podcast with Bill Burr
My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark
(These unintentionally happen to be all comedians.)
When I splurge, it’s on: Erewhon – a bougie health food store.
Most affordable, essential self-care product I can’t live without:
Craziest thing I do for self-care:
I don’t know if it’s crazy, but I will not walk out of the house without clean (as in the ingredients) sunscreen on my face and neck, EVER!
Best apps on my phone for enhancing my life:
Favorite piece of advice given to me:
Think before you complain. I really like this one because it’s true. Is it worth complaining about? Spend that energy on finding a solution or redirecting it into something more productive.
When I’m stressed out, this is my go-to:
I have a number scale for myself. On a scale from 1-10 if something is irritating, aggravating, or makes me feel unlike myself, I learn to reevaluate the situation at hand. Anything above a 6 makes me step back for a second. If it’s a 7, 8, or 9, I walk away, step out for a walk, rationalize and come back to the situation. It’s a lot easier to see things clearly when you do not see red.
Feel-good song that is always blasting in my car:
Currently: Lava Lamps by Maty Noyse
My advice to women struggling with self-love is:
Self-love is not a destination. I sort of get weirded out by the self-love movement. I’m all for it, but in our current culture, it’s something that has become trendy, and everyone wants to scream from the rooftops that they love themselves and you should too. It’s not that easy. You WILL wake up and hate things about yourself, things you said, things you didn’t, and so on.
Self-love doesn’t mean you have to LOVE every part of you ALL of the time. It’s merely accepting you for who you are while actively making the necessary changes to become who you want to be. It’s cheesy, but you have to embrace your darkness to see your light, you can’t have one without the other!
Also, never seek validation from outside sources. You have to cultivate that from within. Validation from others is nice, but you should not use that to measure your worth!