Darya Rose is the creator of health and wellness blog Summer Tomato, where she approaches health and nutrition as a lifestyle, foregoing needless diets or routines based on deprivation. In other words, a healthy diet shouldn’t be about willpower; it should be something you enjoy so that it’s no work at all.
She’s also the author of Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting, and recently launched a new online program called Foodist Kitchen, which teaches people how to cook without recipes by fostering an intuitive sense of how flavours work together. (It’s Dr Rose, by the way — she also has a PhD in neuroscience.) We caught up with Darya to learn about her works habits and favourite tools she uses to get things done.
Location: San Francisco, CA
Current Gig: Author of Foodist and creator of Summer Tomato
One word that best describes how you work: Healthily
Current mobile device: iPhone 6
Current computer (and what OS is it running?): iMac + MacBook Air when travelling. Both are running OS X.
First of all, tell us a little about your background and your current work.
I’m Darya Rose, PhD, author of Foodist and creator of Summer Tomato, one of TIME’s 50 Best Websites. I spend most of my time thinking and writing about food, health, and science. I eat amazing things daily and haven’t even considered going on a diet since 2007.
At Summer Tomato I teach you how to get healthy and lose weight without dieting by building healthy habits that you actually love. Science shows us that willpower is not effective for achieving long-term health goals, but that rewarding habits can change your behaviour for a lifetime.
In 2010, I completed my Ph.D in neuroscience at UC San Francisco. About a year before graduating I started writing about food and health at Summer Tomato. By the time I defended my thesis, I had a new career.
In April I launched Foodist Kitchen. Over the years I’ve learned that cooking is by far the most important habit you need for getting healthy, but that it is also the biggest barrier for most people. After months of research I discovered that the biggest difference between people who cook regularly and those who don’t is whether they rely on recipes or cook from intuition. For intuitive cooks, the process is fun and creative, and relatively easy.
What apps, software or tools can’t you live without?
Audible is definitely my favourite app on my phone. I put the setting on 1.5x or 2x speed and I feel like I’m downloading information into my brain a la The Matrix. I swear it makes me smarter.
I also don’t know how’d I’d function without Amazon Prime or Shyp.
What’s your workspace setup like?
I love working in my home office and recently got a Stir Kinetic desk, which I adore. It subtly nudges me to stand up every 30 minutes or so, and ensures that I don’t spend too much time sitting. I’m super impressed.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?
Meditation. It’s tough to build a meditation habit at first, because it just feels like you are burning time and gaining nothing. But eventually with practice you get better at focusing and prioritising, saving heaps of time and stress every day. I no longer bounce around between projects or back and forth to emails. I am able to stick to what’s important until it is finished. It is so liberating.
What’s your favourite to-do list manager?
I use the Reminders app on my phone, my email and my calendar.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?
My Fitbit has travelled all over the world with me and I always get 10,000 steps per day. I use that benchmark as my bare minimum of physical activity, which is both an important and attainable goal.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret?
I’m really good at optimising my habits, particularly my health habits. I’ve set my life up so that exercising, meditating, eating well, cooking healthy meals, and even making sure my dog gets enough exercise is fun and easy. None of these things feel like a chore, because I’ve found ways to make them simple and rewarding. I’d say it’s easier for me to do them than not do them.
What do you listen to while you work?
If I’m writing I need silence or at least lyric free music. I wrote a lot of my book to the Twin Peaks soundtrack. When I’m running errands or working out I’m obsessed with audiobooks and The Tim Ferriss podcast.
What are you currently reading?
The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking, by Matthew Hutson. I don’t think there is any subject more fascinating than human psychology.
Any favourite cookbooks that you can’t live without?
I cook without recipes most of the time. It’s my secret weapon for making cooking fun and creative instead of a tedious chore.
Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert? Maybe both.
Great question! I’m obsessed with personality tests most of them show that I am an extroverted introvert, if that makes sense. I love my alone time, but I also love quality time with interesting people.
How do you recharge?
Workouts and meditation keep me sane. My weekly trip to the farmers market inspires me to eat well all week, which also feels like a recharge.
What’s your sleep routine like?
I’ve gotten much better about this over the years. I stop looking at computer screens before 9pm, and am usually in bed by 11pm. I wake up without an alarm, usually around 7am. Since I’ve been meditating I stopped clenching my jaw while I sleep.
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see ____ answer these same questions.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t get married before you’re 30.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans?
We’ve asked a handful of heroes, experts and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces and routines. Every week we’ll feature a new guest and the gadgets, apps, tips and tricks that keep them going. Want to suggest someone we should feature or questions we should ask? Let us know.