MBP Daily Three: When Your Lucky Underpants Don’t Help

calvin and hobbes lucky rocket ship underpants

From Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Woof. Some days, you’re just so, totally down in the dumps. I knew a girl who called it “going to her dark place.” Luckily, the MBP Daily Three is a tool you can use to pave the way toward a better tomorrow, no matter how you feel today. It’s easy to remember: just check off one thing you’ve done today to nourish your mental health, your physical health, and your nutritional health (mind, body, and plate). The MBP3 might not turn your whole day around, but a little bit of self-care today may do a great deal of good in the long run.

Body: My handsome, bearded husband took the day off for a doctor appointment. Though he practically had to drag me out of the house, we ended up going for a short run through the neighborhood together. My brain was doing this weird thing where I thought if I couldn’t go run a 10k, then I shouldn’t run at all (being a perfectionist is really special sometimes). In the end, I just had to strong arm my way through that resistance and get out there. And don’t think I forget for one second how lucky I am to have a partner who can kindly nudge me in the right direction when I’m getting in my own way.

Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista

Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista

Mind: Our new neighborhood in Brooklyn is home to this cool little business called Sycamore Bar & Flower Shop. It’s, well… a bar attached to a flower shop. They’ve got all kinds of beautiful moss and ivy creations hanging in glass terrariums in the windows, along with gorgeous and unique flowers littering the mason-jar-filled space. After our run, we stepped inside just to have a look around. There was something about taking in the delicate beauty of some of those little succulents and air plants that demanded mindfulness. And practicing mindfulness helped lift my mood. Maybe we just ducked into a little bar and flower shop, but in some way it felt like a tiny trip to some sort of Midsummer Night’s fairyland, and it shook up my day in just the right way. It’s interesting how the smallest things can affect one’s perspective.

Plate: Finally, we stopped at the health food store, and I pulled up a recipe for red lentil coconut soup that I’ve been eyeing on Pinterest for a while. I took my time perusing the store, an enjoyable pastime for me in itself, and gathered the ingredients to make the dish. The truth is, I may not even make it tonight; I may just not have it in me. But I’ll be able to make it tomorrow. And somehow, just knowing that I have all of the ingredients to make such a rich and healthy meal makes me feel more at ease.  No matter what happens, I know I have some rewarding nourishment coming my way.

Will you tackle your MBP Daily Three even when it seems like a futile undertaking? Who are the people in your life you can turn to for a gentle nudge in the right direction? Let me know in the comments below, and have a lucky rocketship underpants kind of day.

MBP Daily Three: Baby It’s Cold Outside


snowy nyc cab

Body: Despite icy New York City streets and 10 degree weather, I managed to tackle two yoga classes yesterday. The first, my usual Thursday morning vinyasa class, is one of the most challenging classes I take all week. When I started attending well over a year ago, I used to joke with my husband that “it wasn’t a Thursday morning if I didn’t fall on my face!” Well, I have to say, I’m pretty proud that I now have the stamina not only to protect my pout, but to go back for more. Mind you, my second class was a restorative one, but still… I’m happy that I didn’t shy away from added activity, especially when this wintry weather makes it so difficult to stay outgoing and uplifted.

Mind: Speaking of staying uplifted, I made the executive decision not to spend my free day cooped up home alone re-watching old episodes of Law and Order SVU (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Instead, I decided to stay cooped up in Brooklyn, along with my dear friend and her beautiful new baby girl. Often when I’m exhausted, my natural tendency is to isolate myself, which seems right in the moment but leaves me feeling a bit depressed in the long term. Sometimes I have to push myself to be more social even if it’s not my first instinct, because I know in the end it will leave me feeling more stimulated, uplifted, and inspired. Plus, I had the added benefit of knowing I brightened someone else’s day! After all, it’s not easy to be a new mom stuck at home in the dead of winter.

mother and baby

Plate: The bountiful salad I had for lunch filled me so substantially that I was able to eat a relatively light dinner (1/3 c baked butternut squash, a handful of carrots, and 3 Tbsp hummus) and feel completely satisfied. Making breakfast or lunch your biggest meal of the day is not always easy, especially in our siesta-less American culture. But it is important: not only do our bodies utilize caloric energy most efficiently before 3 PM, but we also tend to sleep better when we’re not overly stuffed. In my mind, these are reasons enough to start “front-loading” your day.

An early 17th century family supper. Image via www.historiccookingschool.com

An early 17th century family supper. Image via http://www.historiccookingschool.com

Here’s a fun fact: the word supper comes from the word for soup, because from the Middle Ages until the 18th century, the last meal of the day was typically a light snack, like a bowl of soup, perhaps sopped up with bread. The middle meal was traditionally the largest and main meal of the day and was called… wait for it… dinner!

Yesterday turned out to be rich and rewarding despite freezing weather, but today is a new day calling for a new MBP Daily Three. What will you do today to nourish your mind, your body, and your plate?

MBP Daily Three: When Life Gets Messy


MindBodyPlate Salt Spill

Life gets messy. We make mistakes. Things go wrong, and it’s not always possible to make them right. But no matter how hopeless a situation may seem, there is one thing that is always in our control: the extent to which we have our own back.

If you’re a sensitive soul, it’s all too easy to take everything that’s gone wrong and use it to punish yourself. Depending on how many years of practice you’ve had beating yourself up, having your own back in the midst of conflict might seem like an impossibility. So it’s important to start small. Little acts of self-care go a long way in getting you through the mess.

The next time you’re struggling to uplift yourself, remember the MBP Daily Three. Relentless self-care in the form of tiny but deliberate acts of self-kindness will give you something to grasp onto when you feel like falling down.

Mind Seek out emotional scaffolding.

When I’m faced with highly emotional conflict, my tender heart takes my physical body for a ride: nausea, elevated heart rate, dry mouth, the works. And since I’m still learning to have my own back, my mental health feels similarly precarious. I liken my state to a tower of jello: the form is there, but the structure is shaky. So I reach out for what I call emotional scaffolding (emotional buttressing might have been more appropriate, but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it). I reach out to my loved ones and picture building an all-encompassing scaffold up and around my shaky tower, plank by plank. With each phone call, text message, or lunch date my scaffolding grows higher. I reach out to others like it’s my job, even if I want to hide at home under the covers. I reach out not so much to commiserate as to remind myself that I am surrounded by people who know me and love for for who I am, as I am.

Body Get outside and get moving.

When your body feels like a shaky tower of jello, running a 5k doesn’t make a ton of sense. So go easy on yourself, but do get moving. A walk to the mailbox or the local coffee shop might be all you can muster, and that’s just fine. When last I felt this way, I met a friend near Bryant Park and asked her to peruse the Alice + Olivia showroom with me. Window shopping may not be an Olympic sport (yet), but it gets the blood flowing, and in my case, it felt therapeutic and safe. Simple upper body strength training is another great option, as weight lifting tends to inspire more than just physical strength. And if your nerves are steady enough to hit up a restorative yoga class, do it. Any activity that gets you moving and stills the mind is really where it’s at.

Plate Keep it simple. 

If you’ve ever struggled with anxiety, you know the curse of the anxious stomach. You feel too queasy to eat yet become increasingly weak as your blood sugar wanes. You’re not doing yourself any favors. But I have some surprising and delightful news for you: you know all those refined grains and simple carbohydrates we’re supposed to steer clear of? Now’s their time to shine. Refined carbs are much more gentle on the digestive tract than whole grains and most other foods, so when your nerves have got you queasy, feel free to bust out the white rice, saltine crackers, and French bread. At this point, providing your body with the energy it needs to function is far more important than achieving some kind of arbitrary dietary perfection. If your nervous stomach wreaks havoc on your intestines as well, you might be interested in congee, a Chinese porridge that is super gentle on the stomach and has, ahem, a binding effect on elimination. Warm, non-caffeinated herbal tea and broth are also good choices that will help you to feel more grounded and calm.

I hope it’s clear that one or two small acts of self-kindness can go a long way in bolstering your spirits when things go awry. While it’s important to admit when you’ve made a mistake, you don’t earn bonus points for torturing yourself about it for days, weeks, or years to come. Self-awareness must be tempered with self-forgiveness. If you’re struggling with that, then follow the MBP Daily Three like it’s a prescription, and you’ll find it gets easier. Because cultivating self-care, having your own back, and putting yourself first actually feels pretty damn good. Even and especially when life gets messy.

MBP Daily Three: Addicted to Miserable


3 Birds

Mind: I’ve had a lot going on this week, and it’s felt more stressful than any in the recent past. After venting to a friend I respect very much, she shared the following: “If you can’t stop feeling overwhelmed you should consider that maybe in some ways you do derive pleasure from it.”

Any time you hear that kind of realness, it’s only natural to resist. “No way am I responsible for making my own life this miserable; I’m a victim of circumstance here!”

But I know she’s really onto something.

So I’m going to spend some quiet time this evening reflecting on the ways I benefit from feeling overwhelmed, overworked, stressed out, or put upon. In what ways am I addicted to feeling stressed out? And what would happen if I just… decided to let go?

Body: I was pretty much chained to my computer today, and by the time 5 o’clock rolled around, I felt like I needed to run for the hills. So I did the next best thing: I got on the subway and headed toward the gym, where I could spend an hour or more getting OUT of my head and INTO my body. A nice walk through Madison Square Park on my way there gave me a much needed dose of green foliage, playful squirrels, and crisp autumn air.

Plate: Green juice, green juice, green juice. Need I say more?

What about you? Are you addicted to a behavior that’s making you miserable? 

MBP Daily Three: Financial Health

MBP3 is a series dedicated to walking the walk. What are 3 things you’ve done today to nourish your mind, your body, & your plate?
Kale by Brian Reed

Kale by Brian Reed

Some days, you just feel a little bit low. Nothing in particular is bothering me, I’ve just been struggling to stay uplifted. Maybe it’s the changing season; maybe I’ve been pushing myself a little too hard; maybe it’s just an unavoidable hormonal shift. It doesn’t really matter, because I’ve learned to take these days in stride. I’ve learned to interpret them as a sign: time to embrace and support myself more fully than ever!

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Body: I didn’t feel like going to my favorite yoga class this morning. What?! Nonsense. I told myself that I just had to make it onto my mat, that if I got there and wanted to spend the whole class in Child’s Pose that’d be just fine. So I went, and of course, once I got moving, it felt wonderful. As usual, it filled me with joy and with pride, and I’m so grateful that I made it.

Plate: For lunch, I threw together a nice, big salad, with kale, quinoa, black beans, onions, avocado, pickled jalapeño, and sauerkraut. On my husband’s advice, I added a teaspoon of black olive & garlic tapenade to a straightforward olive oil and balsamic vinegar pairing. It was a home run!

Mind: Supporting your mental health isn’t always about relaxing or getting all zen. In fact, sometimes the very tasks we find aggravating, challenging, or downright boring are the ones that set us up for long-term peace of mind. So, I spent an hour this afternoon looking at my finances. In particular, I searched among my spending trends for clues as to how I can better save (hint: I could cut back a bit in the “Food & Dining” department – I’ve been on a raw vegan restaurant kick lately and they are not cheap). I prefer to use Mint.com, but there are plenty of financial planning resources available online. If, like me, you’re really in need of a financial makeover / wake-up call, I highly recommend Barbara Stanny’s book Overcoming Underearning; her website has a great collection of resources as well.

How are you faring this week? Are you finding it easy to incorporate the MBP3?

MBP Daily Three

MBP3 is a series dedicated to walking the walk. What are 3 things you’ve done today to nourish your mind, your body, & your plate?

MBP Daily Three

Welcome to the inaugural post for MindBodyPlate’s new weekly series: the MBP Daily Three! The MBP Daily Three strategy is simple: do at least one thing every day to nourish your mental health, physical health, and nutritional health. I’ll be using these posts as way to ensure that I’m not just talking the talk (blogging the blog?), but also walking the walk.

Once a week I’ll let you in on an example of my attempts to integrate the MBP Daily Three, shedding light on my successes, challenges, and the surprising interplay between these three aspects of health. I hope to inspire you to do the same for yourself and to share your creative approaches in the comment sections below each post. Let’s start a revolution of self-care!

MBP Daily Three

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Body: I started the day off with my favorite Thursday morning yoga class. What I love about Marko’s 90 minute Vinyasa flow is that I’m guaranteed an intense workout, but he also incorporates yoga philosophy, stories from the Bhagavad Gita, and chanting accompanied by his beautiful harmonium. I always leave feeling exhausted yet uplifted. Already, we’re seeing that one act (yoga, for instance) can benefit more than one aspect of the MBP Daily Three (in this case, body AND mind).

Plate: For lunch, I was inspired by one of my favorite blogs, Oh She Glows, to create my own ultimate vegan sandwich. My version was unique to what I had around the house, and I decided to do something special for my body by making my own hummus. Oftentimes, store bought hummus contains preservatives or oils that don’t really jive with me. When you make it at home, you know just exactly what went into it – and it’s super easy!

Pickled Jalapeno Hummus

Pickled Jalapeño Hummus

Vegan / Gluten Free / Soy Free

For my homemade hummus, I just tossed the following into my Vitamix:

    • 1 can garbanzo beans
    • 1/4 c tahini
    • 1/4 c – 3/4 c water*
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    • 15 pieces of pickled jalapeño**
    • Juice of 1 small lemon
    • salt and pepper to taste

*I used 3/4 c water so it would blend smoothly in my Vitamix, which made it pretty thin. I’d go with less water if you’re making it in your food processor and/or you want it on the thick side. Either way, it’s delicious.

**You could use anything here in place of the pickled jalapeños. Experiment with whatever flavors float your boat: roasted garlic, chives, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, or roasted red peppers…

Mind: By 11 PM my head was still buzzing, so I set my iPhone Insight Timer for 15 minutes and sat down for a formal meditation practice. Afterward, I decided to refrain from checking my email or Facebook before bed. It helped me center down and set me up for a great night of sleep.

What do you think – are you up for the MBP Daily Three challenge? Let me know in the comments below!