A little over a year ago, I developed a mnemonic that’s become a big part of my life.
To “mesh” refers to fit together closely, like a net’s interwoven fabric. I came up with the acronym MESH to “knit” my essential habits into a consistent daily routine.
For most of 2020, I’ve practiced the acronym MESH method approximately ten times a day.
- M- meditation
- E – exercise
- S – stretching
- H – hydration
Besides helping me achieve my exercise goal of 1,000 pushups a day, it’s brought me more peace and stability during the volatile months we’ve all just come through.
Beginning when I wake up and ending after dinner, I stop for a mini-break every hour or two to complete these four steps. After finishing, I use my iPhone’s Alarmed app to check off the completed round.
Understanding the Four MESH Steps
MESH begins with a meditation to help me refocus on appreciating each moment.
This step typically lasts for 30 seconds to one minute. I breathe in and out, paying attention to each breath. Occasionally, I focus on a word or thought. Most often, however, I’m aware only of my breathing.
Mary O’Malley, one of my favorite authors on the subject of meditation, writes in Belonging to Life:
“Meditation was usually seen as the act of stopping thought or creating better states of mind. This kind of meditation is about focusing on what is right now rather than about trying to create something different.”
Some might find my meditation too short, but I don’t critique my habit. I just enjoy the few seconds of mindfulness and move on to Step 2.
Yesterday, I wrote about my 1,000 pushup challenge. But that post ignored something!
In addition to the pushups, I’ve also been doing the same number of lower-body exercises (squats, jumping jacks, or high knees). Both the upper and lower body exercises take me just a minute or two.
The secrets to my success?
Consistency, and an odd form of accountability. My accountability partner hasn’t been a person; it’s been the iPhone I used to video record every single set I’ve completed this year.
I didn’t necessarily record them to share. I did it to prove to myself that I’d completed each pushup accurately.
But MESH doesn’t require me to complete high-intensity exercises like pushups. During my two-month recovery break last fall, I replaced those with shadow boxing and a few other low-impact exercises!
After my exercise, I do 30 seconds to a minute of simple stretches. These help me in five crucial ways:
- They increase my flexibility.
- They improve my posture
- They prevent injury.
- They improve my athletic performance.
- They immediately relax me.
I’ll often continue stretching while I complete Step 4:
I’ve posted several times on the importance of getting enough water. But after writing recently about running-related sodium loss, I’ve switched to drinking only “to thirst,” as Dr. Michael Greger recommends in this NutritionFacts video.
So Step 4 only requires me to hydrate as thirst needs. I might have a sip, or entire glass, of water. Or I might snack on some thirst-quenching fruits or vegetables.
Many fruits and veggies contain from 80 to 90 percent water:
- Broccoli (cooked)
Step 4 demands me to pay attention to my body’s needs. Am I genuinely thirsty? Or am I hungry for a healthy snack?
I don’t enjoy being dehydrated, so I make sure to drink plenty of water. However, I’ve stopped forcing myself to down an “expert-recommended” number of glasses of water each day.
By including water-rich healthy foods in my daily diet, I keep my mind and body at peak performance!
What MESH Has Meant to Me
I can’t think of a better year for me to have been committed to MESH. No matter the difficulties brought on by COVID, I’ve been practicing it approximately ten times a day, almost non-stop.
MESH helped me accept 2020’s challenges much more serenely – and in constant gratitude for life’s simple gifts.
I also find practicing MESH keeps the days from passing in a blur. They help me better allocate my time to what matters most: work, family time, and play.
Finally, MESH helps me live a whole-food, plant-based life. I crave healthy food because I know it’s powering me to be my physical and mental best!