Serving as a fashion stylist for Hollywood celebrities introduced Luke Storey to a broad range of wellness trends that were sometimes extreme — injections of poisonous Amazonian frog venom, anyone? Yet, Storey also gleaned a trove of healing and spiritual knowledge from his 22 years of experimentation. Now a transformation coach and public speaker, Storey has a popular YouTube channel and podcast, The Life Stylist, where he shares his strategies for healing and happiness (find his work at www.lukestorey.com).
We caught up with Storey to learn more about his favorite healthy practices — and get the details on that infamous frog-venom experience.
Experience Life | How did you end up transitioning from a Hollywood celebrity fashion stylist to a lifestyle-design coach?
Luke Storey | I moved to Hollywood in 1989 when I was 19 years old after having grown up in various country towns in Northern California, Colorado, and Idaho. When I moved to Hollywood, I began to play in bands and lived the rock-and-roll lifestyle of the early ’90s, and that fun rock-and-roll lifestyle eventually turned into a pretty self-destructive life.
So, when I was 26 years old, I set about to change my ways and began to become deeply interested in spirituality, meditation, and alternative health practices. Around that time, I began a three-month housesitting gig for an old friend of mine who was a fashion stylist, and she ended up hiring me as her assistant stylist. She was very successful, and shortly after she hired me, she booked Aerosmith as a client.
That was my entry from being a musician to dressing a musician, and that led to a long career working in Hollywood: styling celebrities for the red carpet, album covers, tours, music videos, and fashion editorials. I did that for 10 years.
Right around the 10-year mark, in 2008, I decided to start a school to teach people how to do what I was doing, and that school was and is called School of Style. My goal was to create a short and effective training program to bring people into this very closed-off industry that was really hard to break into; today, it’s still running as a completely online model.
Then three years ago, I made the decision to enter the health-and-wellness industry, which has been my passion in the background for the past 22 years, and I wanted to find a way to help convey some of the things that I had discovered from my own healing journey with other people. I’m a huge fan of audiobooks, going back to when they were still on cassette tapes, and I love to interview people and I love to have conversations that are deep and meaningful, so I started my podcast called The Life Stylist in 2016.
After starting the podcast, it’s just been like wildfire: It’s opened up all these other opportunities to do workshops, retreats, and public speaking; going on a lot of other podcasts; working on an online course; and I have a book deal in the works.
EL | What changes in the health-and-wellness industry have excited you most?
LS | It’s a really neat time now because so many of the things that were pretty fringe that I was into for a long time are now very popular. There’s a lot of interest in things like breath work and kundalini yoga and biohacking, and all of these things that have been a staple of my own health and well-being for so long.
There are all these plants from around the world that human beings have discovered throughout antiquity to have really powerful medicinal benefits, and some of them even have psychological and spiritual benefits as well. So something that’s really exciting to me right now is that the world of Western medicine and psychiatry are finally starting to become open to some of these alternative modalities of treatment.
EL | With so many options for optimizing health and wellness, where do you recommend people start on their path to improving their health?
LS | I would say one of the practices that has been most transformative in my own life is sleep optimization. I use a device that uses infrared light on your finger to detect different changes in your biorhythms as you sleep. When you wake up in the morning, you sync your ring with an app and that indicates not only the duration of your sleep, but the quality of your sleep. I found that when I gamify my sleep like that, it really challenges myself to get better and better sleep. You can see that your sleep is often lacking and then use different hacks to make sleeping more restful and more restorative, such as controlling the temperature in your room, the light in your room, and avoiding exposure to blue light and devices after dark.
Another one of my biggest health hacks is just really encouraging people to go outside and safely expose themselves to the sun, and to be outdoors as much as possible. Directly and indirectly exposing your skin — and, more specifically, your eyes — to natural daylight is one of the most powerful things you can do for your health because it ties into sleep and regulating your circadian rhythm.
I’m a huge advocate for avoiding blue light at night. In fact, my whole home is wired with incandescent, old-style amber bulbs, so when it gets dark outside, essentially it becomes dusk indoors, too.
EL | You’ve talked about the benefits of sunlight in your podcast, and also temperature changes for our health. What have you discovered about modalities like cryotherapy or saunas that has been useful to you?
LS | I live in L.A., so throughout the day, I create “seasons,” since we don’t really have seasons here. I create seasons by doing ice baths, cryotherapy, infrared saunas; I do a lot of red-light therapy, which uses three spectrums of red light. I do different things to change the temperature throughout the day from extreme hot to extreme cold, and at least once per day, I’m going to get in an ice bath or do a sauna or something where I’m giving my system a bit of a shock.
I’m trying to mimic the kind of changes that would’ve taken place if I were living as a natural indigenous hunter–gatherer. It would’ve been completely normal to go bathe in a creek or a river that was freezing since that’s all you had. You hear people that are into a paleo diet — and I think that that’s probably a good start for many of us because humans have done well, evolutionarily speaking, on that diet — but what many of us miss is a paleo home and a paleo lifestyle. I do my best to mimic what a natural human’s life would have been, while still taking advantage of the technologies we have, such as indoor lighting, Wi-Fi, cell phones, and all the things that we love and enjoy. We can still live in a nice cozy house but mimic some of the positive effects of nature to improve our health.
EL | You’ve played the role as a human research lab and experimented with some pretty extreme wellness trends. How did you end up trying Amazonian frog venom?
LS | This was all part of my plant-medicine journey. As part of a shamanic ritual or ceremony, indigenous cultures in the Amazon use the kambo secretion from frogs’ venom that gets excreted out of their skin to detox. These particular frogs are tied up and agitated to encourage them to produce this venom out of their skin, and then it is collected and dried and made into a paste and then a powder.
That poison is then administered into your lymphatic system by creating a series of small burns on your skin, and rubbing that powder into the burns. You wouldn’t want to get this particular venom into your bloodstream because it could be fatal, so that’s why it’s administered into burns in your lymphatic system. How humans figured out that this is beneficial, who knows? There’s not even really that much scientific data on it.
I did it on just a gut feeling and figured, if humans have been benefitting from this for thousands of years, I could give it a shot, especially since it’s used as a really powerful immune-system reboot and detox. Well, it’s a purgative, much like some people’s experience with other plant medicines like ayahuasca. You’re supposed to do three ceremonies in a row; I did the one, and I was like, I’m good. I’m clean, I’m clean enough.
EL | After trying various forms of health technologies, and traditional and progressive modalities, what health aide or treatment most surprised you? What did you find the most useful — or skippable?
LS | I think most people would probably have a really healthy, happy life if they just prayed and meditated and had a spiritual practice; did some yoga; moved their bodies to sweat and stay mobile; worked out intelligently; made sure they recovered and slept really well; ate whatever food they wanted that hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides and isn’t terribly high in refined sugar or any other refined substances.
EL | What are some ways you recharge?
LS | I’m an avid meditator and I meditate at least once if not twice a day for 20 minutes in a tradition called Vedic meditation, which is kind of a sister tradition to transcendental meditation (TM). That’s been so profoundly effective for me in terms of regulating my nervous system and keeping myself, at least some of the time, out of that fight-or-flight response. It gives me a moment of pause where I’m able to have a witness perspective throughout a lot of my day so that I’m able to really perceive reality from a bit more zoomed-out perspective.
Also, studying spiritual literature and learning how to live a contemplative life. Whatever experience of God or a higher power of your choice, that relationship can be the No. 1 thing that really adds meaning to life. And when you find that, it compels you to be of service to other people and help them to have that same experience. It’s kind of where I arrived in my life: I’ve got work to do, but I have made a lot of progress at 48 years old, and now I have some room energetically to help support other people. I’ve arrived at a place where I can be of service to others. My life has a deeper meaning and a richer experience moment-to-moment than it ever has before when I was in the survival mode of looking out for No. 1.