In SELF’s new franchise, The Meal I Eat When I’m Feeling…, we talk with chefs, celebs, athletes, and people in the culinary space about the specific foods or meals they turn to amid certain emotions—and how eating their favorites plays a vital role in their self-care.
As a Peloton instructor, podcast host, motivational speaker, Nike athlete, and best-selling author, Tunde Oyeneyin knows what a packed schedule feels like. But, as she’s learned, it’s not necessarily the specific events, or even the number of activities, that can drain you. What plays a bigger role? Her headspace as she prepares to tackle her to-do list.
“You can have 17 things that are high priority on that list, and if you are fresh and in a good state of mind, then those 17 things can feel easy, like just part of the day ahead,” Oyeneyin tells SELF. “On the flip side, you can have just six things that are high priority, and if you’re not coming from a place of rest, then those six things can feel like a hundred.”
Oyeneyin’s day-to-day can be physically taxing: Her cycling classes, bike boot camps, and new full-body strength routines are known to be sweatfests to the tens of thousands of Peloton subscribers who tune in to each one. Her days can be mentally taxing too: Her speaking events—whether she’s on stage for Nike or last year’s book tour for Speak: Find Your Voice, Trust Your Gut, and Get From Where You Are to Where You Want To Be—are just as high-energy. But if you prepare your body and mind for these efforts, you can tackle them feeling uplifted rather than depleted, Oyeneyin says. “You don’t have to wait for this ultimate breakdown to happen or for you to be completely empty [before focusing on replenishment],” she says. The key, according to Oyeneyin, is to make time for yourself to relax and recharge before your body battery starts to fizzle.
“On my best days, I’m rejuvenating myself when I find myself at 70%,” she says. “Not only do you feel good and fresh and full, but you feel like you have so much to give to everybody you interact with.” An important part of Oyeneyin’s self-care routine—which she describes as “soul care”—is taking the time to nourish her body with food that prepares her for those physical undertakings and gives her joy and satisfaction when eating it. One dish she often finds herself reaching for? A watermelon and feta salad with onions, mint, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and a touch of honey balsamic glaze. “It’s such a cool, refreshing salad,” Oyeneyin says. “The watermelon is so hydrating, the mint gives you that mojito-next-to-the-beach kind of feel, and who doesn’t love a little bit of salty cheese?”
SELF sat down with Oyeneyin to chat about how the meal replenishes her—and how it just might hit the spot for you too.
1. Don’t be afraid to stray outside your comfort zone.
Though Oyeneyin has considered the watermelon and feta salad a staple for the last 10 years or so, she admits she didn’t find it quite so appealing at first. “The first time that I heard about this salad, it was kind of off-putting,” she says. The pairing of sweet and savory—the watermelon and cheese—seemed an unlikely combo, Oyeneyin says, and she wasn’t sure how tasty it would be when those two flavors merged.