As co-founders of The Culinistas, a full-service, in-home private chef company, Jill Donenfeld and Tiana Tenet have learned to rely on their daily rituals, to help maintain a healthy work-life balance. PSC nutritionist Dr. Chinara Tate caught up with them this week to find out how these two boss women get it done, and weighed in with scientific health expertise to back up their wellness tips. Plus, they shared a few tasty recipes to help ramp up your home cooking this summer.
What gets you out of bed?
Jill: The New Yorker, making my bed & making tea - all holy & necessary acts for a functional day.
Tiana: Packing in as much as possible before starting the work day.
Jill: Running. Tennis. Surfing. Skiing. Eating little fish, dark greens, fruits, and ginger.
Tiana: Daily bath time ritual.
Jill: Alcohol. Sweets. Sleeping all day. Scrolling Instagram & Reddit.
Tiana: Tequila, ice cream & shoes.
One piece of health/wellness advice
Jill: “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
Tiana: “Learn to cook from intuition. It's a creative process and there's no right way to make a recipe. Once you realize this, you'll have more fun in the kitchen and enjoy putting together meals for yourself and others.”
Tiana: I've always been a morning person, so I try to pack in as much as possible before I start the work day. First things first, I scan my emails to make sure there are no immediate work needs and then I breeze through the WSJ headlines. From there, I head to the kitchen and make a smoothie, leaning heavily into greens and superfoods so I start the day right. I'll drink half before heading to my workout, and save the other half for my commute to work. I love an early morning workout and rotate between weight training, cycling & pilates.
~ AM Screen Time. Some people can set an AM screen time budget, stick to it and move on. If that’s the case, great! However, if you find a 15-minute screen time budget repeatedly turns into an hour plus dive into click-bait news, IG scrolling and a stressful dash into work mode, screen time may not be your best bet upon waking.
✔ Green Smoothie. Kicking the day off with something ultra nourishing, satiating and satisfying like a nutrient-dense smoothie is a great way to set intention & cue up other healthful habits throughout the day.
✔ Half Now Half Later. It can take up to 20 minutes for the gut to signal feelings of fullness to the brain. In this time, it’s easy to gulp down something without realizing we’ve consumed enough to begin to feel uncomfortably full and sluggish. Slowing down, eating mindfully and taking a break can be helpful for those who find that they rush through meals quickly and don’t feel so great soon after. If this type of eating is frequent and accompanied by ‘loss of control’ feelings, I would advise seeking professional evaluation.
Jill: I blink a little & remember my dreams, then I read something, usually part of an article I fell asleep to in The New Yorker. My morning routine revolves around making my bed & making tea, which I believe are holy & necessary acts for a functional day. I get up and set water to boil while I brush my teeth & wash my face. I steep the tea in the time to get everything nice and smooth and pillows perky on the bed. That the actions work so well together seems fated.
✔ Making the bed. No matter how brief or seemingly trivial, morning activities that help start your day off with a sense of accomplishment are important. Prioritize them.
Tiana: I absolutely love a bath and use that to unwind and reflect each night. It's incredibly relaxing and the perfect way to end the day.
✔ Evening ritual. Many of those working remotely may find it particularly challenging to separate work from home life right now. For those newly experiencing this merge, it is critical to engage in routines that say ‘the work day is over.’ One way to do this is to establish a consistent evening routine that marks an exit from work life and re-entrance into the home for relaxation and restoration. Making tea, engaging in mindful meditation or yoga or drawing a bath are just a few ways to make this transition. Experiment and figure out what works best for you.
Jill: I am active generally — I run, I play tennis, I surf, I ski. I eat a lot of little fish, dark greens, fruits, and ginger. I read, study something or listen to very good music everyday. I take turmeric pills. I try not to be so hard on myself.
✔ Don’t beat yourself up. When we are compassionate with ourselves, wellness activities are wonderful for us. Alternatively, when we pass judgement on ourselves for not partaking in them, our thoughts can quickly precipitate feelings of anxiety and stress that undermine our physical health.
Tiana: Tequila, ice cream & shoe shopping.
Jill: Many. I don’t stick squarely to anything. I love alcohol. I eat sweets often. I love sleeping all day when I can. I scroll through Instagram & Reddit too much.
✔ Mix it up. An all or nothing approach to wellness can undermine our health. It is ok to engage in activities just for the joy of it. It is ok if these activities serve no other purpose.
~Too much? If engaging in a particular activity is interfering with daily life activities, social relationships and/or leads to a sense of loss of control, it may be time to reach out to a mental health expert for advice and support.
Rituals and routines are important - even the seemingly trivial ones. They help ground us and set intention for how we want to show up in the world around us. In the evening, they can provide us with cues to create a much needed boundary between work and home life.
Sometimes wellness looks like the most healthful path forward. Sometimes it is simply doing the joyful thing or the unreasonable silly thing. All of these can be positive and affirming ways to approach health and well-being.
If routines and habits begin to impede wellness, progress and daily function, it may be time to consider seeking the counsel of a licensed clinician.
Be compassionate with yourself and extend yourself some grace. This is a challenging time and if you are doing the best you can to temper fear, worry and stress in the most healthful way possible you are doing more than enough right now.