Jessica Murnane is the creator of the One Part Plant movement and author of the One Part Plant Cookbook (an initiative to get everyone on this planet to start eating one plant-based meal each day), host of the One Part Podcast (where she brings tough questions to inspiring people), and the founder of Know Your Endo (an endometriosis education, awareness, and support platform). We first learned about Jessica through her amazing podcast, which is a weekly must-listen for us when it’s in season, and we’ve been eagerly following all of her thoughtful, multifaceted projects ever since.
In this interview, Jessica tells us about how much changed for her when she switched to a plant-based diet, from her health to her mindset, as well as about using alone time as a way of dealing with stress, a really fun form of exercise that she does five times a week, the importance of simplicity in skincare, her dream morning routine, and much more. We also get to learn about Jessica’s incredibly important and exciting new project that just launched!
— Is routine important to you or do you like things to be more open and free?
I say I want things to be super open and free…but then I like to know exactly what is going to happen during my work day. So I guess, professionally I need routine. And personally I crave spontaneity and freedom. Monotony and I do not go well together.
— What do your mornings look like? If they differ from day to day, describe your ideal morning.
My dream morning would be… waking up before my family and meditating. Eating breakfast and taking some time to read before I start the day. I DO plan on doing this most days. But the past few months has been sleeping in until 7am and putting a pillow over my head and saying “5 more minutes!” while my husband makes my son waffles. It’s been a wild few months. So I allow myself to do what feels best right now. I’ll get back on that mediation and reading train again soon.
— Do you have any bedtime rituals that help you sleep well?
I used to suffer from chronic insomnia ever since I was young. It was so brutal. But since I changed my diet and lifestyle about seven years ago, I sleep like a baby. It still surprises me every night!
— Do you have any kind of mindfulness practice?
I love Kundalini yoga so much.
— Describe your typical or ideal meal for each of these:
I’m going typical here:
Breakfast – Lately, I’ve been doing what my friend Robyn Youkilis calls Power Parfaits. Yogurt (I eat greek-style almond milk kind) mixed with some protein powder and then topped with some seasonal fruit and seeds or nibs or whatever gives it some crunch.
Lunch – Some sautéed kale with garlic, sauerkraut, and sweet potatoes.
Snack – Tart green apple with almond butter.
Dinner – Some sort of simple Thai or Indian curry with veggies thrown over some Jasmine rice.
— Do you partake in caffeine and in what form? If not, what is your drink of choice in the morning?
I wished I liked coffee! I get so envious of that ritual. I usually just start my day with water.
— Do you have a sweet tooth?
YES. All caps, YES.
— Are there any particular supplements, herbs, or tinctures/tonics that you take regularly and find to be helpful with your energy level and general wellness?
I take B12, Vitamin D, Turmeric for inflammation, and Selenium to help my thyroid. I’m super sensitive to herbs, so keep it pretty basic!
— What is your approach to feeding your son? Do you try to guard him from all unhealthy/processed foods, or are you more relaxed about it all?
Great question. I don’t buy any processed stuff for our house, so it makes it easy for him not to eat it. It’s really all he knows, so isn’t really a “thing”. But if he’s going to a birthday party, I’ll let him have a cake or whatever dessert they’re serving. And sometimes when he really wants a slice of pizza, I let him. Which is always hilarious because he doesn’t like the cheese or the sauce, so he just eats the crust.
When he first started eating big kid food, I was like “ugh, I don’t want him to eat gluten and things that don’t make ME personally feel good.” But his body might be different than mine. I also don’t want him to have an iron clad stomach that if he introduces gluten or processed foods later on in life (because it will most likely happen at some point), it will make him feel super sick. So about 80% of the time he eats like me and the other 20% he doesn’t. All that being said, he’s only three! So we’ll see what happens in the next few years. I never want him to have shame or weirdness about food, so trying to be open.
— Do you exercise and do you have a particular exercise routine that you repeat weekly?
I need exercise to be a normal + nice person. The endorphins help me so much and can tell a huge difference in my mood when it’s not happening.
I have a rebounder (mini-trampoline) and do it 5 days a week. I put on the past night’s episode of Desus & Mero and bounce until the show is over. And then do some light weights after. I also love Bikram.
— Do you find exercise to be pleasurable, torturous or perhaps a little of both? How do you put yourself in the right mindset in order to keep up with it?
I never mind jumping, ever. It makes me so happy. But I’ve done some boot camps and things that have felt really tortuous. But then at the end, I feel so proud I did it…I forgot how hard it was.
— What is your skincare approach – face and body?
I keep it really simple. I used to have the worst skin ever. Lots of acne and just bad skin, overall. The second I stopped using all washes and creams and buffers…my skin changed. I was working it to death and just trying to put more and more stuff on to fix it. Now my routine involves just a few products that are only made of oils and natural ingredients. My favorite brands are SW Basics, Franklin + Whitman, EcoVie, and Odacite.
— Do you have any beauty tips/tricks you’ve found to be especially useful throughout the years? Family heirlooms are very much welcome.
I think my biggest tip is not overdoing it. My friend Adina Grigore wrote this great book called Skin Cleanse. In the book there is a challenge to go product free (we’re talking everything) for a couple of days. When you do it, you realize how many things (and oftentimes chemicals) we’re using everyday. You never know how things are making you look/feel until you actually remove them.
Oh! I just thought of a good tip! I had dinner with a group of women recently and one was a glossy mag editor and she said the best trick she learned from a beauty guru was to apply your moisturizes and cleansers up your neck and face (never in a downward motion). As we age, women’s faces begin to sag – so we should be pushing our faces up and not down. Whether this works or not…we’ll see. But it made sense to me in terms of gravity!
— Do you practice any consistent routines in order to avoid stress?
Being alone. At least for a few hours every weekend, I take off and go to a coffee shop or take a walk or something without my family or friends. I need this alone time to refuel. If I’m not in a refueled headspace, stress can get the best of me. Before I found tools that worked for me, my nickname was Stressica. Not kidding!
— If stress cannot be avoided, what are your ways of dealing with it?
When I was doing research for my new course (The Endo Toolkit), I found some research that revealed that cortisol levels are significantly higher in women with advanced endometriosis as compared to women without the disease. I have Stage IV endo and this was so eye opening for me! It made me more diligent to continue to find some stress-management tools to help me throughout the day. Whether that’s just breathing or not looking at social media or the news, or just going and jumping for a little bit. I think the key is to have a couple things in your back pocket that you know you can turn to when sh*t hits the fan and/or you feel overwhelmed.
— What measures do you take when you sense a cold/general feeling of being under the weather coming on?
Oh my gosh! I used to load it all on. I gotta take this supplement! I need this hot cider! I need to stop everything! Now, I just go and buy a good orange juice and not stress about it. I swear the stress of not getting sick was making me sick. Sometimes it just happens, especially with toddler germs around you. I just roll with it.
— What do you consider to be the single most important change you’ve made to your routine or lifestyle in terms of wellness?
Diet, 100%. No question there. 7 years ago I couldn’t even get out of bed because of my endometriosis. I changed to a whole foods plant-based diet and everything changed. My diet change made me feel so good that I was able to exercise again. Which made me happier and more open-minded about new experiences and people. I mean, before I made all these changes I would have given a side eye to the idea of “self-care” and talking about all these things. I have come soooo far, man.
— How do you deal with periods characterized by a lack of inspiration or procrastination?
I really used to beat myself up about being a procrastinator. But then I realized I was a “marinater”. I let things marinate until they’re ready. When I’m working on a project I’m consistently thinking about it and forming ideas, even if I don’t realize I’m doing it. I just let things cook until they are fully baked and not feel bad about that.
— A book/movie/class that influenced your view of self-nourishment or self-care.
A few come to my mind, but it’s usually a documentary about an artist or chef that doesn’t give a sh*t about what people think. They create things they love. They live the life that makes them feel best. They just do their thing. That’s the ultimate self-care, creating and not giving an eff. It always inspires me to do more of what I WANT to do with my work and life and not what I “should” do.
— Is it safe to say that what you do today – your podcast, your cookbook, and your new project, Know Your Endo – all came about as the result of you learning to manage your endometriosis and wanting to help others do the same?
Oh for sure. A friend of mine and I were talking a few weeks ago and she said she was envious of how focused my work was and with Know Your Endo I was able to truly find a niche. And I told her that she should go out and get a disease and maybe she can do the same thing. I was kidding. But it’s true. All this happened because I had a disease that almost broke me.
Now that I’m on the other side, I couldn’t help but share everything I learned and continue to learn. That’s the key, I want to continue to learn and be curious. With every single guest I interview on the podcast, there is at least moment when I think “damn!” and learn something that changes how I think about something. My One Part Podcast family (the listeners and guests) are such a big part of my life and I’m so grateful for them.
After I wrote my cookbook (which had one page about endometriosis in it), I was shocked at how many messages I received from people saying it helped diagnose them or that it was the first time they felt heard. This felt so wrong to me. How is a cookbook with gluten-free cookies and avocado toast diagnosing people? I knew I had do more. So I got to work and created Know Your Endo.
I think my favorite part of the site is Ask A Dr. In this section, I have some really nitty gritty questions answered by one of the top endo surgeons in the country. I can talk all day about diet and lifestyle tools all day long, but I’m not a doctor and it was important to me to have that voice on the site. And then there is the course! The course is a 5-week program to learn tools to help manage your endo pain and symptoms. Because there is no cure for endo, it’s critical that find tools to manage it every single day through diet, movement, stress-management, and natural products.
— We love your cookbook, One Part Plant, and the podcast you created all about putting that cookbook out into the world. You don’t hide the fact that you were a beginner cook yourself while developing the recipes for your cookbook. How did you use that fact to your advantage and what was your process for developing the recipes?
In the beginning, it was rough. I compared myself a lot to my friends (that were trained chefs) that also had books that were coming out. But I had to remember why I got the book deal in the first place – it was because I was a home cook. I was someone that didn’t know how to make rice 5 years ago and taught herself how to cook. I was able to create really simple and delicious recipes that anyone could make, even if they were just starting out. I don’t like making complicated recipes, so why would I include them in my book? It took awhile to get there, but once I did…I was flying. I feel proud of the book because of it.
— You’ve created two amazing podcasts, One Part Podcast and The Cookbook Deal, and now you even do podcast coaching. Do you have any general advice you like to give to anyone wanting to get into podcasting?
You just gotta start. That’s annoying to hear, but there is no other way to say it. A lot of my coaching client’s biggest fear is that no one will listen. But I truly believe that you if you create amazing content and share it (no matter how small your list or following is), people will listen. You might not have 1 million downloads to start, but I’d rather have 50 people listening in the beginning than having zero and feeling like sh*t because I was too scared to start. STARTING IT IS THE SUCCESS.
Fun and Inspiration
— What is something you are particularly excited about at the moment?
– The Know Your Endo course! It seriously makes me so excited I can’t even deal.
– My collaboration with Quarterlane. I curated their 2018 Wellness Book Box!
– I haven’t had a couch for over six months (long story) and finally getting one this month. I still haven’t figured out which one, but so excited to create a space for my family to hang together. Any suggestions of good ones are welcome!
– To create a garden. I have an actual backyard with grass! Living in Chicago for so long, I never had any outdoor space. I have no idea how to even get started with creating a garden…and it’s gonna be a lot of fun to figure it out.
— What do you do to unwind or treat yourself?
I love TV and not even ashamed of that. My friends are always shocked at the TV I watch! I never miss a season of the Bachelor, love rom coms, cooking competitions, and generally like any show that has to do with high school. I just started watching iZombie. Which is weird, because I don’t usually like shows like this (about zombies!) But it’s sweet and funny and feels like a treat to just curl up and watch it.
— A book/song/movie/piece of art to feed the soul:
Book – I read so many books to prepare for my podcast interviews, that I’m usually reading a big issue of Vanity Fair in my downtime.
Song/Album – anything Cardi B, right now (I’m working on these dance moves…)
Movie – any and all food documentaries
Piece of Art – Oskar’s Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet
— Is there anyone you would like to hear from next in this interview series?
Heather Crosby always inspires me with all that she does.
Rachel Holtzman is one of the smartest women I know.
Photos by Lindsey Harris Shorter, Nicole Franzen and Jessica Murnane.