Lisa Bryan: “Stretches and deep breathes”

To remind people of how incredibly unique and individual we all are, based on genetics, experiences, environment, and so much more. So instead of comparing ourselves to one another, we should focus more energy and intention internally on our own beautifully unique body. And then listen to it. As a part of my series about “How […]

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To remind people of how incredibly unique and individual we all are, based on genetics, experiences, environment, and so much more. So instead of comparing ourselves to one another, we should focus more energy and intention internally on our own beautifully unique body. And then listen to it.

As a part of my series about “How to Slow Down To Do More” I had the pleasure to interview Lisa Bryan.

She is a respected food blogger known for her ability to inspire audiences to whip up wholesome meals, get back to the basics, and embrace a life that’s a little more simple and far more vibrant. Lisa’s online platform, DOWNSHIFTOLOGY is a growing digital hub where she shares delicious recipes, kitchen advice, and cooking tutorials with her engaged community of over 11M.

Lisa’s recipes are gluten-free and prioritize fresh, seasonal, whole foods. Her food philosophy is simple — eat real food. She prioritizes ingredients as close to their natural state as possible with a rainbow of color across the plate. Her approach is rooted in mindful, intuitive eating and she frequently highlights flavorful vegan, keto, paleo, and Whole30 dishes to show that food restrictions are not life restrictions. Lisa believes that eating clean and healthy isn’t about labels, dietary dogma or the latest trend — it’s about food that’s nourishing for yourunique body.

Lisa is a sought after speaker and panelist at various food industry conferences, including Tastemaker and TECHmunch. She was recognized as a Top 100 Responsible Health and Wellness Influencer and finalist in the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ 2020 awards.

Lisa has partnered with prominent brands including Vitamix, KitchenAid, Staub, Zwilling, Simply Organic, Vital Proteins, Lundberg Farms, Conrad Hilton, and Athleta. She’s been featured in leading press publications including Shape, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, TheKitchn, Refinery29, Well + Good, Elle and Huffington Post, amongst others.

Lisa received a Bachelors of Science in International Business from Pepperdine University and MBA from the University of Southern California. She is a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

It was the perfect storm of corporate career burnout and failing health. As a former executive my days consisted of long hours, high stress, and poor eating, usually while running between meetings. Wellness was not a priority and I sure didn’t understand balance. Eventually, I realized my work and lifestyle were affecting my health, so I oped for a “life do-over” and quit my job. After several months off, the dots finally connected and I learned how to really nourish my body — through food and lifestyle. That passion fueled the creation of Downshiftology.

According to a 2006 Pew Research Report report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed”. Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?

For a long period of time busyness and multi-tasking has been glorified. If we have time on our hands, rather than celebrate the space and time to recharge, we’re made to feel lazy, and that we should add several more “to do’s” to our list. Technology and social media has of course only amplified this to an always “on and connected” mindset that’s difficult to escape.

Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?

The human body is not meant to be always on. That’s why sleep is so critical as our rest and recharge state. When we’re sleeping our brain is building new neural pathways and helping us to learn, pay attention, be decisive, solve problems and remember things. Sleep protects the brain, improves creativity and helps to keep us emotionally stable. Likewise, breaks throughout the day impart similar benefits to our productivity, health and happiness.

On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down?

It’s the old adage of spending a lot of time at work but not really getting anything done. Just because we’re in front of our computer staring at our screen doesn’t mean we’re productive. Most entrepreneurs, inventors and thought leaders tell stories of how their “lightbulb moment” came during a walk in mother nature, an afternoon nap, or a break from the hustle. Because it’s precisely when we can slow down and take a deep breath that our most brilliant ideas pop in our head.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

  1. Create a sleep sanctuary: go back to treating your bedroom as a sleep sanctuary, and not an area for working on your laptop or mobile device. My sunrise alarm clock uses gentle light to wake me in the morning, rather than a blaring alarm, which sets the tone for the rest of the day. I also adhere to a sleep schedule as much as possible as our bodies thrive on routine, so I’m in bed by 10pm and up at 6am.
  2. Stretches and deep breathes: When I wake up in the morning one of the first things I do is take 5 deep breaths. It’s centers me and allows me to take stock of how my body feels, before the noise of the world sets in.
  3. Tea breaks: I normally take 1–2 herbal tea breaks throughout the day, which also serve as multi-tasking-free zones. They’re 10–15 minute breaks meant to enjoy and be still in the moment.
  4. Prioritize calm eating: Eating can be a rushed process for many people, grabbing food on the go or eating while talking on conference calls. I make sure to eat lunch away from my desk and focus on the flavors, textures, and enjoyment of what I’m eating.
  5. Meal prep: Many people don’t eat healthy because they feel it’s time consuming to cook fresh food. But that nourishment of whole food ingredients is critical to fueling their body and brain. That’s why meal prep is key. By meal prepping healthy food and ingredients ahead of time, I’m always guaranteed to have healthy and nourishing food ready to go.
  6. Get out into Mother Nature: Being constantly tethered to technology makes getting out into Mother Nature all the more important, as it immediately lowers stress and anxiety. So I prioritize outdoor walks daily. There’s this amazing healing and rejuvenating that happens to our bodies when we surround ourselves with green trees, lush grass, and blue waters.

How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?

Mindfulness is being present in the moment, and aware of our thoughts, feelings and surroundings. I love to travel and whenever I’m in an amazing place in the world, I always remind myself to savor that exact moment in time — to take in all the sights, smells, noises, and colors, and to acknowledge my body, thoughts, and how I feel in that moment. It captures so much more than any photo could ever attempt to do.

Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?

I think everyone could practice more mindfulness while eating. Setting down your fork between bites, properly chewing, allowing your stomach to digest food properly, enjoying the smells, tastes and textures of the ingredients, acknowledging how certain ingredients make you feel — it’s a small habit with profoundly positive impact.

Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?

I take breaks throughout the day and listen to the Headspace app. But the Calm app is also a great option. For people with over-active brains (like myself) the apps gently guide you through short meditations, recharging your brain and body. And the great thing is you can practice meditation anywhere.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices

The book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky, is a great research-focused book on stress and anxiety. I also love Oprah Winfrey’s SouperSoul Sunday television show that delivers insight from inspirational thought-leaders and wellness experts. And who doesn’t love Elizabeth Gilbert and her musings on life.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” — Mark Twain. I always say that I’m a collector of experiences. Most of my most fondest memories, craziest adventures, and rewarding success has come from simply saying “yes” and going for it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

To remind people of how incredibly unique and individual we all are, based on genetics, experiences, environment, and so much more. So instead of comparing ourselves to one another, we should focus more energy and intention internally on our own beautifully unique body. And then listen to it.

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