K. Chayne is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied Psychology, Environmental Studies, and Marketing. Through her multidisciplinary studies and her multicultural background, Chayne developed a particular interest in the relationship between human health and world sustainability--an interest that eventually led her to write her debut nonfiction book, Thrive. By proposing a broadened perspective on health--one that encompasses the health of the mind, body, and our collective environment--Chayne hopes to empower her readers to cultivate meaning and create sustainability in all areas of life.
I enjoy waking up to natural daylight, so I avoid using blackout curtains. If I need to wake up even earlier on a particular day, I’ll even intentionally leave my curtains open when I go to bed. I find morning light to help me wake up more easily.
Shortly after waking up, I’ll have breakfast, as my body needs to be refueled right after I get up. I usually incorporate some simple stretching exercises into my morning routine, e.g., while I’m standing around waiting for my oatmeal to cook or my hot water to boil, etc.
At night, I slowly dim my lights, as I get closer to my bedtime, to save electricity and to help me fall asleep more easily. I discuss the benefits of slowly dimming our lights to mimic natural daylight fading out in the evening within my recently published, research-based book on healthy living called Thrive. I have found doing this to work well for both my body and my electricity bill. As I get ready to hop into bed, I’ll try to take some deep breathes while doing some stretching exercises to rewind as well.
I don’t follow any special diet, but I emphasize eating primarily high quality, whole foods. I eat mainly plant-based foods, but I’ll have animal products twice or so per week. When I do, though, I seek out products from pastured, naturally and healthily raised animals.
There are no “staples” in my diet, because I believe diversity is crucial in maximizing our nutritional profiles and in maintaining agrobiodiversity on our planet. I try to switch up my meals as much as possible, and I avoid buying the same produce within two consecutive grocery trips. The result is that I don’t really have a typical breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
However, throughout the day, I aim to eat 50% fruits and vegetables, 25% whole grains, and 25% protein-rich foods to keep my macronutrient intake balanced. How I allocate these among breakfast, lunch, and dinner, though, or where I get these foods from really vary day to day.
I try to snack throughout the day, rather than having big breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. I find that doing so keeps me energized throughout the day and prevents me from getting “food comas” typical after huge feasts. And while I focus on eating whole foods most of the time, I make sure to give myself the freedom to eat whatever I feel like once in a while.
I don’t take any supplements currently, as I try to get the majority of my nutrients from whole foods, and my whole foods from a variety of sources. However, if I’m ever deficient in something, I’m open to taking naturally derived supplements to give my body an extra boost in nutrients.
I stay fit mainly through keeping myself active throughout the day. I have to admit that I don’t have the time or motivation to go to the gym every single day, but I do try to incorporate as much movement and physical activity into my existing routines as much as possible.
For example, I got a portable stepping machine while I was full-time writing Thrive so that I could work my body while doing what would otherwise just be a “desk-job.” I choose to take the stairs whenever possible; I try to walk as much as possible; and I opt to carry baskets instead of carts at supermarkets whenever I’m shopping for a light to medium load of groceries. For more examples of how I keep my body active throughout the day, you can check out this recent article I wrote for Peaceful Dumpling on “5 Easy Ways to be Active Every Day.”
I value loyalty, reciprocity, honesty, and intimacy within relationships. A healthy relationship, to me, is one that is mutual and respected by both members involved. It is also one where both persons openly express their appreciation for one another, and it is one where both persons actively dedicate time and thoughts to the other without being asked. Although I try, as much as possible, to give to others without expecting any returns, I think relationships are inevitably and ultimately stronger when acts of kindness and thoughtfulness are continually reciprocated.
Home is where I rejuvenate my mind and body so I can function at my peak potential every day. I get distracted very easily, so I need my space to be as clutter-free and free of noise pollution as much as possible. I also need a lot of plants within my personal space. I can’t even count the number of succulents and plants I have anymore, but entering my greenery-filled home always gives me this unexplainable, relaxing sensation. It truly has become an eco-sanctuary for me.
Stress-Release and Centering Tools
I’m a pretty levelheaded and calm person, and I don’t tend to let my nerves or stress take over. No matter what upsetting situation occurs, the first thing I tell myself is, “It’s okay.” Then, I’ll come up with as many reasons as possible why things will be okay. Having studied psychology, I am very aware that being upset or stressed will only do my mind and body harm. The way I see upsetting events is that it’s not worth it to let external, unfortunate circumstances or pessimistic, negative people bring me down.
But of course, negative moods are inevitable and are actually essential parts of a healthily functioning mind. When I catch myself thinking negatively, I’ll take some deep breathes, think about the root causes of my emotions, and try to interpret the situation more positively. I’ll think about what I can learn from the unfortunate experience, what I’m grateful for in my life, and how previous negative situations have resulted in better self understanding, further self development, and stronger senses of self-resilience. And finally, I’ll listen to soothing music, do something creative, spend time with my puppy, Oscar, my family, and close friends, or take a stroll in a park or greenery-filled space.
Nature feeds and lights up my soul. I’m a true believer in Biophilia—Edward O Wilson’s theory that we have an innate need to connect with living things—and I find getting in touch with nature to magically soothe my mind and body no matter what mood or situation I am in. Spending time with Oscar, my family, and close friends also replenishes me. So, I guess immersing into pristine, natural landscapes with my loved ones is where I would be happiest.
I feel a sense of purpose whenever I am able to make someone feel better, make someone’s day, make someone feel appreciated, or more generally, just help someone or some situation in any shape or form—no matter how big or trivial my impact. So, writing Thrive, a book focused on how people can become happier and healthier, and how people can indirectly take care of our planet, was very fulfilling for me. Although I know the book will not please or enlighten everyone, every one additional person who is able to find something valuable from the reading will make my writing journey feel a million times more purposeful.
Since Thrive just launched a week ago, I’m most excited right now about sharing what I learned while writing and researching for Thrive with my readers. I really look forward to hearing my readers’ thoughts and receiving constructive feedback from them. Knowledge is so empowering, and there’s so much I have yet to learn myself. But with insightful, honest feedback from anyone who’s read my book in its entirety, I’m certain I will be able to learn from my readers and continually improve my writing and deepen my knowledge on our world.
Photo of K. Chayne by Justin Jay.