Never Let a Bad Day Turn Into Two
February 9, 2011

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There’s a particular maxim that I like to proffer up to clients who email me with reports of a bad day. In the context of CR counseling, this usually means that they ate a little more than they should have, or ate foods they aren’t proud of; or that they’re former eating disorder sufferers who felt tempted to restrict food. No matter who they are or what they tell me, I usually respond to the confession of “today was a bad day” with the same words:

OK. Let’s not let one bad day turn into two.”

My point is pretty obvious: it’s easy for anyone to overeat, undereat, stress eat, or eat emotionally in response to a particularly lousy 24 hours. We’ve all been there, and of course we know that poor eating habits reinforce the anxiety by loading us up with feelings of guilt. But the worst response to this pattern is to let guilt or stress become so overwhelming that we continue to eat poorly (or undereat); if we do that, we’ll only let one bad day turn into two, and two into three, and so on. The best way to handle any day of food imbalance—whether that was a cocktail party where you went overboard on drinks and hors d’oeuvres, a stressful day at the office that meant 12 trips to your coworker’s candy drawer, or a fight with your spouse that left you in the kitchen at midnight with your hand in a cookie box—is to stop, take a deep breath, and overcome the impulse to panic. This day will ultimately be negligible if you wake up tomorrow and give yourself a fresh start: despite what we all fear, no one ever gained or lost a meaningful amount of weight or compromised his or her health from a single day of eating. It’s what we do every day, not once in a while, that matters.

The personal part of today’s post isn’t actually about poor eating, though I didn’t happen to eat well yesterday. It’s about a day that was stressful. So far, school has been wonderful in many ways: it’s expanding the scope of my knowledge, it’s presenting me with all sorts of intellectual challenges, it’s making me more excited than ever about health care, and it’s already giving me some fantastic new friends. But it’s also incredibly hard. I’m taking a lot of classes, and they’re all tough. Math and science don’t come easily to me the way the humanities always did. As a result, my ego’s taking a beating, and it’s easy to feel demoralized.

That, coupled with too little sleep, too many late night classes, and too little time with friends, led to a fabulous mini-meltdown last night. Arriving home at 11 pm after a three hour lab (which was so long that I didn’t even finish on time), I flopped into bed, had a good cry, called M in a state of woe, and contemplated whether or not I’m cut out for this. I was too hassled to pack dinner last night, and normally, I’d have fixed myself a nice meal when I got home no matter how late it was. But last night I was too tired even to brush my teeth, and went to bed on an empty stomach. Empty, that is, except for the giant coffee I’d inhaled at 7 p.m. (my third of the day).

I believe that’s what we officially call a nutritionist’s FAIL.

But even if I went against all of my own advice yesterday—always be prepared and pack meals, don’t drink coffee after 4 p.m., and never, ever skip a meal—I woke up this morning and took my own most cherished piece of advice to heart: I didn’t let one crappy day turn into two. I did a (very) early morning yoga video, went for a run, ate a nourishing breakfast, and took thirty solid minutes to regain some perspective. Nobody said this would be easy, least of all me: I knew when I signed up for the post-bacc that I was taking on the biggest challenge of my life so far. I haven’t been a student in about six years, and I’m studying subjects that I never had to master in the past. I’m familiarizing myself with a future that’s going to be immensely difficult at every turn. I’m effectively putting my social life on hold for a while, and I’m doing it all as I continue to run a counseling practice, blog, and be in a long distance relationship. And guess what? It isn’t going to get any easier: med school will be even harder, and so will clinical rotations, internship, and residency. This is all just a taste of what’s to come.

The good news is that this is what I want, and—no matter how hard it is—I’m as driven as I was before. The other good news is that I have a loving circle of friends, an amazing, supportive boyfriend, a mother who knows how to handle my hysterics like a champ, and a lot of resilience. After a few early hours on campus in tutoring and office hours, I’m feeling a lot more calm about my classes, my workload, and the rest of the semester. And as M (wisely) noted last night, even if the worst case scenario were to happen, and I was to find that this is all beyond the scope of my ability—which I doubt, but it’s always possible—I’ll find something great to do instead. And I’ll have learned a lot about vectors in the meantime.

For the record, I might have forgotten to pack dinner last night, and I might have thrown back enough coffee to start levitating yesterday afternoon. But I didn’t do what I really wanted to do, which was to buy a pack of smokes. And that’s pretty good 🙂

Moral of this long and winding story? Nutritionists are people, too. When I tell my clients not to let a bad day multiply itself into two, I’m using the same advice and logic that I often have to use on myself—even if I don’t always mean it in the context of food. We’re all human, and we all have days that involve picking ourselves up and dusting ourselves off and starting all over again.

In the meantime, I happen to think that the best cure for a bad day is to nourish one’s body with wholesome, nutrient-rich food. We can’t always control the forces that make us anxious, but we can definitely improve our responses to stress and pressure by fortifying our bodies and souls with a decent meal. So here’s my breakfast smoothie today, which was filling, nutrient-dense, and delicious.

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Blueberry, Banana, and Avocado Smoothie (Raw, vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Serves 1

1 large frozen banana
1/2 (heaping) cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup almond milk
1 packet Vega Smoothie Infusion in berry flavor (or a vegan protein powder of choice)
1/4 large avocado
4 romaine leaves
1/2 tsp maca
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender till smooth, adding more almond milk if you like (I like my smoothies thick and eaten in a bowl).

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Sit back and let your body soak up the nourishment.

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Wondering about the addition of maca? Yeah, me too. Maca is an Andean root known in health circles for “balancing hormones,” “increasing sex drive,” and “reducing stress.” I’m not actually confident that it does any of these things. But I was in the mood to believe the stress reduction part.

Lunch (sorry for the camera pic) was a a nutrient dense salad of yam, beets, tofu, greens, cabbage, and my raw sunflower herb dressing, which got a great response this week:

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Other nourishing meals from this past week have included black bean and red pepper dip (the bottom layer of my three layer dip) with cheesy red pepper hemp dip over kale salad:

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Oodles of sweet potato hummus in collard leaves:

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Quinoa over salad with my sweet & salty avocado dressing:

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And a lot of green breakfast mush:

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Also, a healthy amount of chocolate. A girl’s gotta live.

Being a nutritionist and counselor may not give me any special defenses against stress or anxiety or caffeine abuse. But it sure does make me conscious of the incredible, curative powers of good food and cooking.

What foods do you rely on to remedy a bad day? And what are your other go-to tricks for not letting one bad day turn into two? I’d love to know!

xo

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    96 Comments
  1. Gena, i realize it’s been a good 4 solid years since you published this post, but it still speaks to me so profoundly! It’s so easy to fall into the trap of food guilt and shame of, “i should be farther along”, and expect more of yourself. It happens frequently for me. I’m so grateful others struggle and our own human-ness gets in the way, but there’s grace!

    <3

  2. Oh I so tend to turn one bad day into a sequence of bad days, as well as opposite, one good day into many good days. It’s so true, one bad day doesn’t make you much harm, it’s worse to have two, three… bad days in a row. You fail not only once, but twice, three times if you don’t choose the very next day to be a good day!
    You know I owe you the thank you for once writing about your skin care. Ever since I’m using coconut oil to nourish my skin! And it’s best.

  3. Gena physics and math have very little to do with actual medicine, so while the schedule is often a tough time sucking thing, it actually does get easier because the subject will come more naturally. It gets more clinical, relevant, about the body. Which physicis isn’t, I don’t know why you have to prove yourself in it at all. I didn’t do amazingly in those subjects and I turned out just fine MD-wise so don’t worry. Just do your best to get the grades but don’t stress if it doesn’t feel like “you” because it doesn’t have to.

    Carry almonds with you always. And V8 in a pinch. Coffee at 7 then nothing after sounds awful you poor sweetie.

  4. Thanks for being honest about your bad days and thanks for the advice although I know this its always good to be reminded 🙂

  5. Hi Gena,

    Thank you so much for this thoughtful post. I am very new to blogging, but I have been following your blog for quite some time now. I really love your outlook on food, body image, and life. You truly are wise and your blog seems to inspire real conversation and engagement. It’s awesome! And, of course, your food always looks (and from what I’ve tried TASTES) amazing! I’m also very inspired by your decision to go to med school. That’s bold and brave and you should be proud. I’m planning on going back to school in the fall (after being out of college four years) and am pretty, well, scared. It’s going to be a huge life change. But I’m hoping I’ll feel, like you, energized and empowered by my decision. Hang in there!!! And thanks for sharing about life as a student–it helps.

    I also just posted about your post tonight. I couldn’t agree more about not dwelling on bad food choices. Easier said than done, but so important to remember.

    Thanks again! 🙂

  6. This is just the post I needed to read! I hate when I have one bad day, and then think it’s going just to get worse from there, but i can control it so it doesn’t.

    chocolate is the way to go for me. Or muffins, with chocolate of course. 😉

  7. I love this post!!! Exactly what I needed to read after a very off-week. It’s been emotional and I’ve been indulging too much!! But guess what? I won’t let a bad week turn into two!! Thanks Gena, and good luck with school! You are an inspiration!
    xoxo
    Lola

  8. Sorry you’re going through a rough patch! You don’t have to like or be good at labs to be accepted into a great medical school–my husband and I are examples. 🙂 Most labs are unnecessarily confusing and tedious I think. Take care!!!

  9. Gena, I found your blog about a month or so ago and have failed to at least comment and tell you how refreshing and inspiring it has been to my need for culinary variety in veganism and even moreso, what a pleasure it is to read your written word. This post especially.

    I think I’ll tape that one to the monitor: never let a bad day turn into two.

    Thank you.

  10. I’m on a low carb diet and am loving cooking great meals. I however get tripped up on weekends at parties or going out. I would say that sometimes I get tripped up by eating a bad treat at a party or having a few beers on the weekend. I know it doesn’t work for some people, but my motivation to not let one bad day turn into another is the scale. I weigh myself every morning at the same time and record it in an app on my phone. I know that weight will go up and down, but I have been seeing a downward trend that is motivating. Everytime I slip up and notice my weight to increase slightly, it motivates me to get back on track again and push through it. Thanks for the post, and good luck to you.

  11. Usually i have a “bad” eating day when i’ve somehow forgotten to eat my quinoa, so i make some and eat it in any number of ways. It always puts me back on track!

  12. I loved reading this Gena :). I could almost feel your despair where you describe throwing yourself on the bed and crying your mom/boyfriend. I’ve been there far too many times. And there were times I was in that place too often and I had many many bad second, third, etc, days. But reading this made me realize those days are far and in between now 🙂

    I am happy to read how you picked up on your second day!

  13. I love your honesty, and this is something I need to hear all the time, so I’m thinking I’ll be re-reading this many times in the future. Beyond the food thing, I can relate to the not smoking thing so much, because I will be quit for months and then go through a tremendously busy time and get right back to it as if I never was quit. So tons of applause to you for taking a step back and being mindful!

  14. What a beautiful post Gena. I admire your courage and resilience to overcome bad days, and like you said, to not let them turn into two bad days.

    When I am really stressed or anxious, I always find that an at-home spa day nourishes my body and soul. I do an epsom salt bath or a dead sea-salt bath along with a warming clay face mask and some homemade brownie sugar scrub 🙂 Of course, real brownies always help too, as does reading cards from former friends that always lift me up.

  15. Smart is smart. I, too, have a harder time grasping math and science at first. But, sometime in college I realized that there was a bigger payoff to learning something hard than there is to learning something easy. All of the things you are learning will eventually click and the struggle will add to the sweetness.

    Also, really needed to hear this. I’ve been eating stuff that does not serve me this week. I’m not going to let one bad week turn into two. Because the not turning one bad day into two ship has sailed.

  16. Hi Gena, I know how you feel! I’m around the same age as you and I’m heading back to school for a Physician Assistant program in a few months. There are definitely moments of anxiety and times when I wish I had decided on this career path sooner…but be encouraged! Your experience and strength in the humanities will eventually benefit your studies and will really translate over once you are in the clinic. Plus you are being a great role model to your readers by going after your dreams! Best of luck–I’m sure you’ll take down Physics like a champ.

  17. THANK YOU for this post! When I’m stressed, I want to eat more than my body needs, and when I’m tired, it only gets worse. Thank you for reminding me to hit “pause” and not let one mistake turn into a domino effect that keeps on creating “mistakes!”

    Hang in there Gena, you’re a champ!

  18. You know what I wish? That I was in NYC too so we could meet up and have a vent session. Seriously. And I need life updates!

    Anyway, bad days are SO bad because most days are amazingly good. My ego took a huge beating when I was going through the job search (and also facing my first student loan payments). It’s fascinating, though, how everything has worked out for now. My job–full of lovely people who make me laugh– is just a few minutes away from where I live, and I pay all my bills on time. That, for me, is enough for now.

    Except for the fact that I’d like my boyfriend to be 10 minutes away instead of 2.5 hours. But it’s working!

    Anyway, miss you dearly!

  19. Sorry to hear about all the stress (ah, the one part of school I could do without) and that you turned it around so beautifully. And it’s funny, but while I could certainy relate to wanting to overeat or turn one bad day into two (I LOVE that you have that motto!), when I read “buy a pack of smokes,” a little bell went off! I would never have thought that cigarettes could once again be appealing (I quit about 12 years ago), but talk about conditioned response! Glad you didn’t. (And I won’t, either). 😉

    Vectors!! Blah!!!

  20. Hi G. You know what happened? I got a job, practically the perfect one, ( seriously, and I wasn’t even sure what my perfect job looked like…). I say this not to brag (although I’m thrilled, haha) but to share what everyone’s responses were: I’M PROUD OF YOU. I never realized the power in that phrase before now. It meant that even through a year of emotional meltdowns and feelings of loneliness, misdirection, and uncertainty, I had successfully led myself directly to the next happy and satisfying stage of my life. I didn’t know it was coming and I certainly don’t know what comes next but I did this, and that alone is something pretty darn amazing.

    On that note, I say to you that I am proud of YOU. I’m proud at you for taking a chance at your dreams because even though it’s hard, and even though there’s always the chance that it may not take you to the place you’ve planned, it will most definitely bring you forward, closer to where you’ll feel that you’re supposed to be. And you, my friend, deserve ever ounce of that glorious next step.

  21. and i didnt even get around to mentioning the brilliant advice! checking the previous day’s baggage at the door is one of the hardest things for me sometimes, but your words are very simple and very wise.

  22. oh gena, im so sorry. i can relate to so many parts of this post. keep your head up and remember your long term goal because i promise patient care has NOTHING to do with vectors. and if it makes you feel any better, i am a math and science person and o chem was my idea of hell. seriously. crying over labs was a weekly occurrence. there may be 5% of the population that it “comes naturally” to, but the rest of us just suffer through. know that its a universal thing. plus, M is right, in the VERY worst care scenario youll figure out a solution that works for you. and then youll know that at least you tried this path. but that wont happen anyway. i know you are mentally tough and persistent enough to struggle through this. feel free to call or email me any time to vent. ive been through it all. HUGS!!

  23. A beautiful post Gena. One of the turning points for me in my battle with compulsive overeating was learning that when “healthy thinkers” eat something not so wonderful, they brush it off and move right on to healthy eating again, as opposed to me–when I ate something less than desirable I would think negative thoughts and tell myself that I’ve messed up, I can never do this right and I might as well just keep on eating crap. When I learned about how naturally thin people think, I gave up my old way of thinking on the spot and never looked back. What a relief!!!!

  24. This post has perfect timing for me!! I went to a life coaching session today and ended up bawling my eyes out because I realized that I’ve just been trying to make everyone else happy and not taking care of myself in the process. Completely agree with food that being good for you helping heal you though, even just the act of making something good for me makes things better. Hope your tomorrow goes better than today!

  25. An inspiring post and such great advice. What a healthy perspective to acknowledge your bad day for what it was and move on with your life. I have often let one bad day turn into two and then felt so guilty about it. No more!

  26. Thanks for sharing all your inspiration and keeping it so real! You really show the source of your compassion for your clients and that you walk your talk.

    Smoothie sounds delectable: one thing I would say is that for me, a green smoothie is a great opportunity to add some ‘strong’ greens that are harder for me to eat ‘straight up.’ I find it really easy to eat romaine leaves; not so easy to eat, say, cilantro or parsley, which are so nutrient dense. If I put several sprigs of cilantro/parsley in a smoothie, it’s barely detectable as a flavor but it adds wonderful things.

    For me, writing, taking a walk, rebounding, all help remedy a bad day. And more coconut oil and/or spirulina/chlorella seem to help me too.
    Thanks for sharing, and good luck with this amazing challenge you’ve taken on!
    love
    Ela

  27. Hi Gena,
    Thanks for sharing. Life and school can be tough. I’m 56 and just finished a double masters degree at night while working full time. So keep following your heart. You are a lot younger than I am so go get them if that’s what you want. Your blog has helped me immensely recovering from surgeries. I’m not sure where all my recent schooling will lead me but I’m glad I did it. The juices have helped me and are delicious! My husband is out of town and I’ve only had a little salmon and turkey bacon in the past few weeks. Don’t know what will happen when I go back to work next week but this has been a good exploration. A long winded way of saying thank you for all you already offer the world and me. Your journey has just begun! Love, Karen

  28. You are at the bottom of a steep learning curve. But once things click, and believe me, they will, raw intelligence is raw intelligence, even if you’ve been channelling it in other directions for the better part of a decade, you’ll discover something about math and science that will come as a relief, and that is, once you know something, you know it. And you can get As (if they matter to you) quite easily. There’s not an infinite number of additional sources to check, or an infinite amount of revision, etc. Scientists like to say the humanities are easier, but really, they’re not. They’re deceptively easier because the discourse, at the introductory levels, is more popular, and more accessible. So it’s a more gentle on ramp when you study the humanities. So, the steeper learning curve with the sciences scares a lot of people off, perpetuating the myth that they’re harder. Which is hogwash.

    • I truly do marvel at your reasonable, sharp mind. And as usual, you know precisely what to say, because you see things so clearly. Thanks, E. xo

      • I agree with Elizabeth! And at the same time, I totally hear you, Gena, as I’ve always thought of myself as not especially gifted where math and science are concerned. But the bottom line doesn’t have to do with any self-imposed predisposition (or lack thereof)–you are f***ing SMART, girl. That much is undeniable. And that much you can rely on–hooray!

        So basically, massive high five to you. You’re pulling this off like a rock star, and your words are well worth remembering, especially for those of us going through big changes! 😉

        xoxo

  29. Thank you so much for this post, Gena. It’s only this past year that I’ve been able to set aside bad days and start anew. For me, it’s more about not letting one day of anxiety and panic turn into a week of feeling worthless and hating myself, with food playing second-fiddle to the emotional upheaval. Luckily, I’ve stopped punishing my emotions with food as much these days.

    On a happier note, your thick pudding smoothie looks like what I made the opther day, although mine was completely different! It was frozen pineapple, blood plums, raspberries, soymilk, agave and spinach… funny how similar they look when completely dissimilar in make-up!

  30. I have been indulging in huge salad beasts the last couple of days to combat my chips and dip dinners lately, and it has been glorious. Lots of raw, delicious awesomeness in my belly!

  31. this is such great advice, though i would expect nothing less from you. i am always impressed by the way you manage to serve your clients not only as a nutritionist, but as a therapist as well. they’re lucky to have you. 🙂

    after a bad day, i try to fill the next with things that ground me – nourishing foods, exercise, social interaction, a glass of wine, a good outfit. i always keep in mind that i’m the one in charge of my life, and i have the power to put a smile on and face the world with a positive attitude.

  32. Thanks for this post! I just had a “bad day” and was feeling so guilty. These were the words I needed to hear to get off on the right foot tomorrow.

  33. Fantastic post. Bad days happen. Good cries happen. I think having the strength and wisdom to not let one horrible day ruin the rest of your week/month/outlook/etc is key. I am going to repeat your mantra often, as I think it is so powerful and true.

    My mom used to always tell me to ‘just go to sleep, you’ll see it differently with a full night’s rest behind you.’ And she was right just about every time.

  34. Sorry you had a rough day, but good for you turning today around! Love your motto! Everything looks delicious! Sending you big hugs! Xo

  35. Fantastic post Gena! If I have day when I feel off with my eating/sleeping or exercising, I try to get out early for a run and have a green smoothie. That combination feels like a gift and it tends to bring back my energy and enthusiasm.

    If that doesn’t work, I call my best friend and chat. Nothing is more nourishing than a little love and laughter.

  36. You are wise beyond your years, Gena. I marvel at your seemingly superhuman capabilities, so while I am sorry that you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s refreshing to hear you share your human woes. Your boyfriend’s advice is precisely what I would offer: take it day by day, challenge by challenge. Give yourself permission to change your grand plan as you face each decision at each stage of this journey. Also, try to not set the bar to “perfection” as it relates to your academic work. Rock on!

  37. Can I ask if that berry smoothie would be just as good and thick without the banana? (and you use no gums , right?).
    Also, what is the green breakfast mush. I’m trying to gain weight…and I keep loading a lot of food into me and am starting to wonder if I should start drinking or making mushy things ALL the time instead…this is hard.

    And I admire you. Tremendously.

    • As usual, all I can say is that I know nothing of smoothies without banana! I think coconut would work nicely. And I don’t use gums — they give a mouthfeel I don’t like.

      The recipe for the green one is here: http://www.thefullhelping.com/green-banana-breakfast-pudding/

      I think blended food is good for weight gain bc you can get a lot of calories in without too much volume, but I’ve also never seen anyone gain from a diet of all mush. You need to eat a lot of solid food.

      And, thank you:)

      • Thanks for the advice.
        I’m having a hard time because all the doctors I’ve seen just look at me and say ‘gain weight”, so ALL of them ignore my complaints about my aboslute horrific digestive and bowel issues. And to be honest, I’m scared and fed up with mainstream medicine. I’ve seen nutritionists in past and they were nice, but also I just couldn’t mentally handle their ideas (though both were super low-cal..saying 0.5 pounds per week gain only)…but then I think, sure but maybe higher gain is better. Although, I feel bad because I’m not exercising at all, I just kind of feel all broken down, arthritic, weak like, you know? The latest naturopath I consulted with was Heathy Pace’s from http://www.universaleater.blogspot.com …and hers is really more primal based (but not cause she doesn’t mind potatoes and maybe brown rice, and also says yes to dairy, just cause I can’t be restrictive)…but then she also seemed really turned off about idea of chias, beans, etc (cause my tummy is so out of whack). I’m not vegan at all, so I like the approach of whole, real, natural foods (I know its opposite to yours, forgive me)…but I also feel worried now ; like i can’t eat beans or maybe some vega or bars or just carb meals without meat, or i shouldn’t have grains cause I don’t exercise…or like i eat WAY more than she ever recommended. Like maybe I should go on her recommendations and my digestive system will clear up and absob nutrients better…but then I worry cause I’m so so low weight that I just can’t afford to lose more, so i keep eating and eating and possibly making it worse.
        Gosh, I’m sorry for saying all this…i guess i’m venting…i know its not all about the food, its easy to think it is when my tummy and digetstion and all that is really bad; but i can’t afford to take homeopathic remedies all the time and have my doubts about that stuff also; maybe i need to commit to it more. Hard to figure it all out! Particularly eating all the time ; like it comes to a point where nothing is right anymore.
        Okay rant over…you SO did not need to hear that when you have so so much on your plate. Ignore it all….I will Journal instead, promise not to be a bother anymore.

        In meantime, i wonder if those smoothies would serve me well; they look amazing…so so amazing.

  38. This post was exactly what I needed to hear! I’m in an intense nursing program that condenses about 3 years’ worth of classes into 15 months, so I know the stress you’re feeling right now! Having collards wraps with your sweet potato hummus and veggies to look forward to during my evening break was one of the things that helped me to get through a grueling (but really rewarding) 12-hour clinical last week.

    I woke up on Sunday, ready to face an entire day of studying for my huge test on Monday, only to find that I had the beginnings of a sore throat. Great. I decided that I may not be able to change that a sore throat will develop over the next day, but I certainly can try to beat it with nourishing foods! I made a nice big mason jar of green juice, ate a few tablespoons of raw honey, managed to get down some ACV, and ate lots of vegetables throughout the day (I would have added some coconut water, but I didn’t have any.). Guess what? The next morning, my sore throat was completely gone. Coincidence? Maybe. I attribute it to nourishing foods. 🙂

  39. What a great post! Such a simple saying, but sometimes it’s so hard to do!

    You’ve taken on a huge challenge and you will succeed. We are all rooting for you!

  40. Love this post, definitely some advice I need to take for myself!

    Also, Gena, I wanted to say that I made your sweet potato hummus with fresh processed tahini, warmed chickpea, and a sweet potato straight out of the oven– I think it was the most amazing thing I ever tasted. I put it on my kale salads a few times this week but at least half of it was demolished right after I made it!!

  41. Great post Gena, for such a busy schedule – you’re doing awesome because I’m not sure I’d have energy to run after a day of few eats. Meltdowns happen and today was a close one for me when the do-do hit the fan at work making me late for a lunch date and throwing mountains on my plate.

    Like you, I try to view the next day as a new start and opportunity to bounce back. Comfort foods after a bad day are usually a vegan bean soup and/or a heaping serving of banana soft serve.

  42. I am so proud of you, Gena! For going back to school, for sticking with it even though it’s tough right now, for giving it your all – and for not letting one bad day turn into two. 🙂 You are an amazing, amazing woman, and I admire you in so many ways & for so many reasons. <3

    P.S. That smoothie looks fantastic!

    P.P.S. Sometimes a good cry followed by sleep is the best therapy out there. 🙂 Personally, I cry a lot & for many reasons; happy, sad, frustrated, mad (that's one ugly cry!), overwhelmed (good or bad), etc. etc. etc. My tear ducts are probably the most overused "muscle" in my body. 😉

  43. You must be related to Superwoman! It’s amazing that you can handle as much as you do, and it sounds like you’re handling it great.
    When I’m stressed, it’s straight for the chocolate, which is fine when I can manage to eat it in reasonable amounts.
    What has helped me handle stress far more than anything else is reading Eckhart Tolle and the whole Eastern spirituality shebang. Numerous studies show that meditating for even a few minutes a day leads to structural brain changes that allow us to handle stress better. And for me it really helps to remember that stress is just mental noise designed to protect us from anything that might go wrong, even though almost all of the things we stress about never happen. This definitely helps put things in perspective.

  44. Hang in there! I think sometimes a bad day is in order to remind us of how good, good food makes us feel! I do that every so often with coffee, thinking one extra coffee or having one late in the day won’t hurt just this once…then I pay for it and realize that my body really does know best!
    I know you hate them, but I find the green smoothie kinda resets my body and makes my tummy feel so much better. That or a mixed bunch of greens…
    Just to let you know, I did a 3 yr long distance relationship between NY and Toronto–soooo hard to do, but well worth the effort–we’ve been married for 16 years! So hang in there–you can do it!

  45. Gotta love those mothers! Mine, too, is a pro at handling my crazy antics/hysteria when I’m stressed about whether or not I’m doing the right thing by being in grad school. I hope that it gets better, because I think your decision to go back to school is courageous. You’re going to make a terrific doctor 🙂

  46. Agreed! Nutritious food is always the best remedy, especially when it is in the form of a giant salad or a green smoothie:)

    I love my smoothies thick also, bowls are SO much more fun!

    My best solutions are to take a nap or get in a workout, eat something delicious and nutritious, and take some me time. Otherwise, I get too caught up in responsibilities and it makes me feel terrible!

  47. Hi Gena!

    I found your blog a fews weeks ago while looking for a tofu scramble recipe and I’m officialy hooked. I’m slowly reading through all of your archives which I find really inspiring. I’ve been vegan for more than 8 months now but I’m having a lot of problem with my digestion and I hope that following a more raw diet could benefit me te way it did for you. You recipes all looks so delicious that it makes me believe I could actually eat more raw.

    I had to comment today to say how courageous I think it is of you to start medical school. I’m reorienting my career as well from television director to kinesiology and it will take me 5 years to complete it. I’m working two part time jobs and blogging at the same time. Even though I like everyting I do, some days are so busy and stressful that I start rethinking everything. Cries and doubts have been part of my life for the last few weeks but I’m stopping it now, thanks to your advices. The power to make tomorrow a better day is in my hand. Thank you so, so much. You made my day.

    That being said, I just wanted you to know that I’ll be reading your blog everyday but won’t always comment because english isn’t easy for me (I’m french canadian). In fact, it took me almost 15 minutes to write this note because I had to check a lot of words on Google. Thank God for Internet dictionary! I’m sure there is still a lot of mistakes in my writing so I hope it doesn’t offend the former editor in you! 😉

    I hope today was a better day for you. I’m sending you positive vibes. 🙂

    • Bless you for taking the time to write this comment! Thank you so much. I am delighted that you’re reading, and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  48. You and I are in similar spots right now. I’m looking for on the go meals that are quick, nutritious and wholesome to get me through my tough school week. Being back in school taking a full load of tedious classes really puts a toll on me mentally and leaves little time for cooking, so I love when I see your posts about those topics.

    I’ve been preparing batches of soup, hummus, nut butters, cutting up veggies, baking tofu, pureeing squash and carrots, etc. to last me the school week. I highly recommend doing weekend food prep!

  49. On Eating and Stress:

    Eating foods I’d want when I’m stressed usually leads to more stress. I’d usually like to gorge myself on lbs. of crunchy cold grapes or the pudding-like texture of (more than one, really) baked satsuma sweet potato at room temperature or cold. I mean, I could spoon a ridiculous quantity of cashew butter or peanut butter as long as it’s stiff and not oozy. Stiff, hehe.
    I guess though, that I don’t have stress foods. I have three square meals a day and if I miss one, I endure a bit of hunger before the next one.
    Oddly, it’s when I prepare too much or way too little that I get in trouble. If I over thing the amount of nutrition I’m getting in a day, I might overeat. Thinking about things too much can lead to worry and overconsumption or consuming of the wrong things.
    Conversely, not thinking about your food for the day/week enough can lead to similar consequences.
    I think you should do a post about moderation.
    I’ve been “meditating” on my moderation lately, as I’m NOT by any means a moderate person. I’m all or nothing most of the time. But I’m happiest when what little moderation I can manage comes to fruition.
    “Moderation” and that other vague but attainable word-goal, “Balance”…are maybe the types of things we should remind ourselves of in the chaos of life.
    Sometimes, like you did Gena, you practice moderation without even planning on it (no cigs- on the plus side, coffee/no dindin on the negative)…and the next day…renewed vision.

    Was that incoherent?

    • Not incoherent!

      I consider myself to be both a moderate and not a moderate eater. I rarely overeat, ever, and I never went through a post ED-binging phase, but I also don’t like being confined to a portion I didn’t choose, and I choose generously, so I’m somewhere in between. Hard to explain, which may be why I’ve never posted on it. I’ll get to that 🙂

    • *over think

      And by “stress foods” leading to more stress, is the that the foods I’d want for comfort under stress are the same ones I’m vulnerable to overeating. So I’m always proud of myself, when under stress, I choose foods I wouldn’t feel guilty about after eating. A big ol’ nutrient dense salad is always the preferable. You got heft, crunch and repetitive fork to mouth.

  50. Gena, I think crying and hearing some wise words were the perfect actions to take. Screaming is good too. And when you can’t do those things writing down angry/sad thoughts helps a lot. The emotions are going to be there given that you’re in a super challenging position, and you’ll have to let them out.
    Labs are brutal. I wanted to major in physics (and art) my first year of college, and after two semesters of physics w/lab I no longer had any desire. Same for wet lab work after bio and chem labs (I majored in neuroscience). They all tend to be pretty soul-draining. Grad school is pretty draining too… seems to be a long exercise in learned helplessness (you watch your carefully designed experiments fail or the result turn out insignificant over and over again, and try to regain courage and start again).
    I’m terrible at stress eating and using food as a reward or compensation for a bad day. Recently I’ve been using Taste Nirvana coconut water for this role because it’s nourishing and low-cal yet actually tastes like a reward to me. I drink it after hot yoga and also after I have a bad experience, particularly if it’s an unpleasant task I completed or something I had to do against my choice. I would try to give yourself rewards of some kind after those kind of days- a funny TV show if you have time, a favorite blog, favorite music, chat date with a friend, etc. I also try to think back to my last meltdown- why it happened, whether that thing turned out to really be consequential, etc. Helps put it in perspective.
    Just remember that lab courses come with meltdowns, period. It’s sort of a lifestyle in science I think. And a big culture shift… you’ll adjust. sending you tons love and calm 🙂

  51. Feel better, Gena! You are amazing to maintain such a hectic schedule. The hard work will pay off 🙂

    Quick q: I also love coffee, but love green juice in the morning too… Is it perhaps not so good to consume these together or doesnt really matter?

    • Meh. For me, they turn my stomach together, but I don’t really think that’s a scientific basis for not drinkin them together — it’s just my own reaction!

  52. You have no idea how much I can relate to this post as well as how comforting it is to know that I’m not alone. Yesterday I went to work in the morning, then on the way to class saved a stray dog, went to a lunchtime lecture (without any vegan options, grrr), went to research lab, stopped by my internship, walked the dog, then went to my night class. All this while under eating and not drinking enough H20. I don’t know why I was surprised when I woke up in the middle of the night with a pounding headache that has persisted throughout the day. Thanks for your grounding words and for putting things in perspective. 🙂

  53. The food totally depends on mood: Popcorn made w/ coconut oil is sometimes the closest i can get to staving off actual SAD food. Better are cheesy kale chips when i really want doritos and big mugs of “thai miso” (brown miso w/ coconut oil, lemongrass EO, and Sriracha) for times when normal people would want a hug 🙂

    I let one bad MONTH turn into two, so can’t speak to that. When my support buddy fell thru, so did my own good behaviors. (What do you do about that?!) My main rules are similar to yours, so i need to add catching it at the first day.

    LOVE your blog & am super-stoked that you’re gonna be an MD!! The world needs more like you <3

  54. I appreciate bloggers who share the good and the bad (particularly in the context of speaking to the reader to give us something to think about). Thanks for that.

    Your nourishing eats looks wonderful.

  55. I definitely can relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed with science courses after having a more “liberal arts” geared mind. Just know that the stress DOES get better once you’ve taken a couple science classes and the friendships that you form while studying organic chemistry at 3am will be some of your closest.

  56. I was having a bad day physically yesterday too and I was getting too weak from not eating enough. I finally just decided to make a nice pan of beans and kale and it made me feel so much better! Not eating enough can make one even more cranky. I do remember the days of being so busy that a meal was the last thing I could figure out sometimes. Glad you got back into your groove. Wishing you lots of stamina and patience.

  57. Yes this post came at such a good time, Gena! I’m glad that you are feeling better 🙂 For a bad day, I like granola or pancakes. To remedy a bad day, I usually write, or play some music….or just call my mom!

  58. ::hugs:: um….i think you are totally entitled to have a mini meltdown. you have so much on your plate! i usually crave a fresh juice when i’m stressed and a hunk of good dark chocolate. i usually do some yoga on those days as well as a hard workout isn’t usually what i’m ‘in the mood’ for haha

  59. i’m having an awful day. the type of day where eating sounds nausiating and i can’t really stomach anything. well, anything other than my comfort foods: carrots and hummus. i might attempt a salad later or a smoothie (the one you posted looks so delicious). it’s so funny to see what i crave when i am stressed now as compared to a year ago. instead of refined carbs and sugar i am finding myself more drawn to fruits and vegetables. it’s madness…and i like it 🙂

  60. I love this post 🙂 I’m in school as well, and I totally understand the occasional need to come home and cry/vent/take in too much caffeine. When I have a bad day, I put a post-it note on my bathroom mirror before I go to bed with a message to myself about making the next day a great one.

  61. I had a 3-hour lab I didn’t finish yesterday too. Though I’m stressing out about food, what to eat, when to eat and how it all fits in with my schedule, I really like your advice and I’m going to keep focusing on trying to view things optimistically so that I can make life easier on myself.

    Lately, some frozen fruit and some roasted squash and granola all seem to meld together to calm me – though it has been causing problems too. Anything crunchy and satiating (i.e. nuts) has been something that brightens my mood.

  62. Oh Gena, I can feel the stress and anxiety in the first part of the post but can then feel it lift. Your writing is beautiful.

    But what is even more beautiful is this part: “I woke up this morning and took my own most cherished piece of advice to heart: I didn’t let one crappy day turn into two.”

    Amen.

    I am going through a time in my life where the demands of family, supporting my family, a fulltime job, and somehow balancing all other aspects from blog to friends to my own workouts to errand running seem…..like a HUGE thing and there is no end in sight.

    All I can tell myself are things like I will get through this. I am strong. If I fail today, I can get back up and try again tomorrow. I am doing the best I can, given the circumstances. I am doing my best. And that’s all I can ask myself, really. Or anyone can ask of herself in a parallel stressful situation.

    You are doing wonderfully for handling it all, for keeping it all in perspective, and mini meltdowns come with the territory. Especially in physics labs! Not my forte, either!

    Hang in there, Gena! 🙂

  63. I LOVE your reminder to not let a bad day turn into two! Also, I remember something about the student life making me prone to feeling on the verge of a meltdown–maybe it’s the stale air of university buildings or the very long classes without the flexibility that even a long day at your desk allows. But hang in there!

  64. Such a good reminder! I work as a health coach and I think that people often assume that coaches and nutritionists and people in similar professions don’t have any trouble keeping themselves healthy and happy, when in fact I find that I benefit as much from the extra support as anyone else. Congratulations to you for being able to get back on track!

  65. My advice is now exactly the same as yours – I often am guilty of letting one bad day run into another, so this post was super!!!
    I tend to rely on bars too much when I’m busy – Clif bars, Vega bars, etc etc – exspensive and not really very healthy…!

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