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Paleo With a Side of Placenta

Interior designer Nicole Alexander shares her diet, vitamin, and workout routine.

Nicole Alexander
At his peak, Lenger fenced so often — four to five days a week for two to three hours at a stretch — that he developed tennis elbow. Photo: Lisa Predko

Creative energy to craft the perfect space for everything from fitness studios (GOAT Climb & Cryo) to watering holes (Pink Squirrel, Chit Chat Lounge). A sharp mind to juggle timelines and shipping logistics. Strength to tote chairs and install art. Alexander’s role at Siren Betty Design, the firm she founded a decade ago, requires mastery of many domains. Here’s how the 42-year-old River Forest mother of two does it.

Training routine

“Two to three times a week, I take the 5 a.m. class at Spenga in Oak Park. It’s 20 minutes of spin, 20 minutes of strength, and 20 minutes of yoga. It’s far easier to manage stress after I’ve had a good morning workout. If I skip it, my well-being isn’t the same.”

Dietary philosophy

“We eat paleo — proteins and vegetables and a lot of fruit. I’m not super strict — if I’m at work and there’s a cookie, I’m not not going to eat it. But I can tell a difference when I’m not loaded down with carbs. For breakfast I usually do a smoothie with coconut water, almond milk, and fresh fruit, sometimes with a little cayenne pepper or turmeric. I’ll snack on nuts or carrots and hummus or those little peanut-butter-filled pretzels from Costco — they’re so good. My husband and I started doing the meal delivery service Sun Basket for dinner. They give you the ingredients, and it’s 20 minutes: You just chop, chop, chop.”

Fortified waste

“I take vitamin C, fenugreek, omega-3, and 5-HTP for brain health; calcium because I don’t eat a lot of dairy. My husband is like, ‘Is your body absorbing any of those? Because I can smell your pee.’ ”

Sacred soak

“I took my team to Aire Ancient Baths last winter. It’s the best hundred bucks you will ever spend. There’s an outside pool. Once when I went, the snow was falling down, and it was so magical I cried.”

Chiropractic care

“I get my back adjusted once a week. I need to be able to move, because we’re very hands-on. We sprayed 30 barstools the other day with a fabric protectant.”

Maternal mojo

“Both my girls were born at home and I did placenta encapsulation. They dehydrate it and make pills. It’s supposed to help with mood, so every now and again if I’m feeling really stressed, I’ll pop a couple. The same service brought my umbilical cord back and made it into a little heart. That was great, until the dog got ahold of it.”


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