Some people are just meant to change the world. You know the people I mean? The ones who completely light up when they tell you about what they believe in. The ones who work relentlessly and forgo days off because they want to, because they believe in what they’re doing. The ones who do what they do for the sole purpose of bettering someone else’s life. That’s the kind of person I want to introduce to you today, the lady behind Balance By Monica, a woman who will change a lot of lives for the better. She’s one of my biggest role models. And my little sister :)
Before I go on, full disclosure: she may be my sister, but just like a generous eatery that offers me a chance to try their new menu, I wouldn’t back her or promote her if I didn’t unequivocally believe in what she’s doing. And having worked in the health & wellness industry for many years, where I spent a good chunk of them running health programs for children and teens (like the MEND program to help educate overweight and obese children and their families), once she told me what her plan was, I was backing her 110%.
Mon grew up as the sporty sister (I was the academic one, the other sister was the performing artist). She was the family’s star athlete, and the only one of us three girls who never had any major body image issues; I put that down to the fact she’s always been so healthy and active. She studied psychology at uni, and is now a primary school teacher. But, like me, she’s a restless little thing who always has something else on the horizon. So now, while teaching kiddies full time during the day, teaching spin and pump classes in gyms after school and on weekends, and cooking like a fiend in the spare time between, she’s taken on the big task of going back to study again, the thing she’s always been passionate about: nutrition.
Balance By Monica started as an idea years ago, as simply a way to share the food she was cooking, after constant “OMG your food is amazing!!!” type comments from family, friends and total strangers. She finally got her Instagram page up and running this year where she’s starting to share some of that delicious food with the world, but there’s so much more to it than food porn.
Mon wants to grow this little idea into a bigger platform that she can use to educate people on the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. And by healthy lifestyle, she doesn’t mean all kale and chia seeds and no more chocolate; the biggest point she wants to get across is that another diet is not the answer. Once her studies are complete and she’s a qualified nutritionist, Monica plans to use that knowledge along with her degrees in teaching and psychology to make a serious difference.
“I love food. Food is life.” Direct quote she gave me over our breakfast date last weekend. And she genuinely does love food; it’s an all-consuming passion. Yeah, she’s a healthy eater, but the reason for that is because she’s a firm believer in balance. That’s what this is all about; it’s ok if that beautiful chicken salad for lunch is followed by a piece of cake. One of the biggest problems is when people forget about balance; the other big problem is a lack of education around making smart choices to help keep that balance.
Being a primary school teacher, she’s been exposed in a pretty scary way to the eating habits of the majority of kids. She’s seen kids turn up to school without having had breakfast, or with a lunch box full of cookies to see them through the day. Other kids still might have 5 pieces of fruit and nothing else. The problem isn’t that parents don’t care about their children, they just don’t necessarily know any better. Having to teach these kids, Mon also sees how their poor diets affect their energy and concentration levels, as well as their ability to learn; she said it’s pretty obvious come the end of the day which children are eating the right things. By educating the parents and showing them quick, cheap and easy ways to feed their kids, she’s hoping those lessons will filter down to the children, and everyone will be happier and healthier.
She said at the end of the day, she just wants to make a difference and show people that they can live a happy and healthy life without extreme diets or cutting out entire food groups or taking any other drastic actions.
Mon’s also kindly passed on a recipe for me to share next week; her gluten, sugar and butter free banana bread (pop back in a few days for that gem), but for now, feast your eyes on that Toblerone cake food porn…
Also, if you know anyone else who’s trying to make a difference through food and/or travel, please let me know – I’d love to talk to them and start writing up some more profiles like this! I feel like we’re so exposed to all the bad things going on in the world today, that if we can start shining light on the inspiring people out there who are trying to change the world for the better, that can only be a good thing :)