Charity’s #TransformationTuesday Story

Charity’s #TransformationTuesday Story

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I started with Well Balanced Nutrition because I had gained weight and I wanted a boost to continue my weight loss journey and to get healthy.

Where it all started

I had been exercising and trying to eat right, but the scale wasn’t moving. My husband contacted Lucy because he works for The City of Durham. Lucy met with both of us then I switched to one-on-one appointments. She is a very kind and considerate person who wants you to succeed. She explained about the Well-Balanced Plate and how it works. Lucy also suggested I write down everything I ate. This helped until I got stuck again and we figured I was eating too many carbohydrates so she recommended I cut down to eating one carb per meal. Once I started doing this the scale started to move again and I achieved my goal.

How I know I’m on track

I knew I was on-track when I saw the scale started to show my progress and boosted my confidence. I have a habit of weighing myself every morning, but this helps me because if I ate too much then I know how to get back on track.

I know I can make mistakes but I get myself turned back around and just keep going and stay positive. Sweet foods have always been my weakness and I know they cause me to overeat. When this happens, I get myself turned back on track when I see that the scale has gone up. I start eating more fruits, vegetables, and protein to get full verses something sweet. I stay positive with the help from family and friends.

Secrets to success

The best strategy I learned from WBN is writing in my food journal daily and knowing I can do this with help and support. Lucy has helped me get to where I am and I am someone special and will continue to strive to be the best I can be!



HALT: A tool to head off emotional eating

HALT: A tool to head off emotional eating

Monday, June 5, 2017

It’s Friday night, you made it through another busy week… Time to celebrate.

So often our celebrations include food and maybe an adult beverage or two. Nothing says “happy birthday” like cake, “thank you” like a bottle of wine, or “I love you” like chocolate candy. For many of us, food is our love language and as the saying goes, the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right? 

We are emotional creatures and we have to eat. Sometimes those feelings – or “all the feels” as Kristen and I say – cause us to eat emotionally.

The birthday cake incident

After a particularly unique week, I found myself in celebration mode last Friday night. It was my nephew’s birthday and naturally, we had cake to celebrate. As my clients will tell you, I practice abstinence when it comes to baked goods with frosting, but my rebel brain decided “it’s an ice cream cake so what’s the harm?!” I had one spoonful from my generous boyfriend, and that’s when the sugar dragon started to roar. I followed that one bite of cake with a large spoonful of marshmallow fluff, potato chips, and hot fudge (a real bedtime snack of champions).  Secretly, after everyone was done eating the cake, I went into the freezer and had several more spoonfuls. Looks like I’m human and face the same temptations as everyone else. Luckily, the next morning I was reminded I don’t need to make up because There’s nothing wrong with indulging sometimes and I got right back to practicing the well-balanced way

In retrospect, I would have used my new handy mindful eating tool, HALT. This acronym – HALT – stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired and is sometimes used in addiction counseling. The research shows we are more vulnerable to make our worst decisions when we are responding emotionally. Some of us experience more than one at a time (hello, hangry).

Well Balanced Nutrition HALT: A tool to head off emotional eating

What I didn’t mention before, we started the birthday celebrations at 10:45 PM. That is 15 minutes after my bedtime and not surprisingly I was pretty tired. In hindsight, I realized if I had been true to my self-care I would have graciously said goodnight at 10:30 and prevented the whole sugar binge episode.  As I often remind my clients, when our brains are tired they tell us to eat sugar because it’s a quick source of energy. 

The solution 

First, identify vulnerable moments. Many people I speak with identify as emotional eaters. I would argue that we are all emotional eaters. Some of us turn to food when we are happy, others when we are sad, and some eat food for comfort if we’re lonely. It can turn into a problem when you find yourself doing it often and habitually. Are you making less healthy choices when you get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? 

Food for thought:

Next time you find yourself tempted to grab food outside of a regular meal or a well-balanced snack, consider this handy tool and ask yourself “am I really hungry or am I angry, lonely, or tired?”

Tell us in the comments below, how do you choose to give yourself loving-kindness in place of using food?

 Well Balanced Nutrition HALT: A tool to head off emotional eating

How to make time to slow down this summer

How to make time to slow down this summer

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The kids are out of school, summer weather is here, and today is the first day of June. Hellllloooo summer!  

I was reminded recently that we can let our summer happen to us, or we can be proactive and design the summer we want. I don’t know about you, but one full of adventure, magic, and memories sounds nice.

A summer like that won’t happen all on its own, but with a little bit of thought, we can make it happen. All it takes is a little break from our everyday routines – an adventure or two.

In a recent podcast, Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, pointed out that when we disrupt our routine a little bit, and embrace the magic of summer, it can make time feel as if it’s slowing down. Having a break in our year, something fun and different to look forward to, can make our life more rich and memorable.

Doesn’t that sound lovely??

Even for busy, full-time professionals, summer can be a chance to break up our routine. Here are some really simple ideas I’ve come across that could make your summer special.

  • Have a fun lunch date every week with friends, family, and coworkers – switch up your date or your location each time
  • Try a new group activity each weekend like free yoga in the park, local hiking or swimming.
  • Have a cook-off competition with your friends and family.
  • Explore new foods! Try as many summer vegetables (ones that you don’t normally eat) as you can.
  • Explore a different park in NC each week.
  • Design your own bucket list of adventures to complete by the end of summer.
  • Join us on our Well-Balanced community adventures!

Food for thought:

Will your summer just happen to you or will you make it magical?

Tell us in the comments how you will design your summer!

Well Balanced Nutrition How to make time to slow down this summer


5 ways to save on food without clipping coupons

5 ways to save on food without clipping coupons

Y’all, I just found out my boyfriend used to be a couponer! How awesome is that? I’m frugal too but in a different way. I’ve been joking for years that I’m actually a 90-year-old woman because I frequently wash and reuse Ziploc baggies, I save all the plastic soup containers from the Chinese restaurants, and I have no problem buying the store brand.

Recently, while talking with a client and learning about all the delicious fresh produce she has been throwing away, I decided it’s time to share some of my frugal secrets with the tribe. A major key to saving money is making the most of the food you buy and not letting it go to waste. Make your food bill stretch a little bit further by doing these 5 things.

1. Don’t throw away perfectly good leftovers! Some folks throw away leftovers 2 days after cooking them. According to the Mayo Clinic, we can keep leftovers up to 4 days. Cooking on Sunday? Eat it or freeze it by Thursday.

| In America, we throw away an average of $1,200 in groceries every year! Yikes! |

2. Make friends with your freezer. At one point I found 9 different kinds of cheese in the refrigerator and thought “that’s a little excessive.” I put a couple blocks in the freezer because then I don’t feel obligated to put cheese on everything – not there’s anything wrong with that. :-P. It’s not just cheese that can store well in the freezer until you need it. Here is a great list of all the things you can freeze. Another great freezer tip I love is how some folks buy meat in bulk at the local market, such as Kenyon’s Meat Market, in Mebane and then they pull out what they need for dinner each morning. Brilliant!
3. Buy in season. Have you noticed that asparagus gets to be really affordable in March? That’s because asparagus is an early Spring crop. Seasonal produce is not only more affordable, it tastes better too! And if you buy local produce from the farmer’s market, you will typically find the most nutritional value as those foods are picked when fully ripe. Check out what’s in season now.
4. Chop it up immediately. You know those sad green onions, celery stocks, or bags of lettuce you find wilted and juicy at the bottom of the refrigerator? Instead, we recommend designating one day to wash chop, and store in Ziploc baggies or other see-through containers all those delicious colorful foods you intend to eat that week. Doing so increases your chances of eating them, not wasting them.
5. Don’t put produce in the beer drawer! Seriously, the drawers in the refrigerator especially the old less fancy refrigerators aren’t doing you much good. When we hide our fruits and vegetables in drawers we tend to forget about them until it’s too late. Instead, let’s refer back to tip #4 and keep our washed and ready to eat fruits and vegetables on the top or middle shelf where we will see them and enjoy them regularly.

Food for thought
When you throw away food consider looking at that as throwing away $5 or $10 bills. That sounds crazy!

You can save money, time, and guilt by implementing one or two of these tips. Which one will you try this week? Tell us in the comments below!

Well Balanced Nutrition 5 ways to save on food without clipping coupons

Sometimes it’s a simple solution

Sometimes it’s a simple solution

Monday, May 15, 2017

There are so many diets, research articles, and ideas it can become overwhelming to try and choose the healthiest diet for you and your family. Kristen and I have talked about many different diets, and you know it’s our well-balanced mission to help people ditch the diet mentality and make it simple. 

Knowing yourself is important.

I had a client come to me with an interest in feeding her family more healthy food choices. She told me “I’m really good with the guidelines and rules so if you can just give me a few rules to stick by, I will do it.” This rule mentality works really well for some folks and I was glad she knew herself well enough to tell me her preference. 

How we kept it simple 

In our session, we focused on simple, healthy habits that start at the grocery store, like understanding food labels. She took the guidelines we discussed to heart and ran with it. By the next appointment, she was proud to report putting any foods with unpronounceable words or too many ingredients back on the shelf. Instead, she is eating mostly whole foods. Now, this mama feels confident making healthy foods choices for herself and her family. Success!

Why this works

After watching this TED talk about The Mindset for Healthy Eating by Gillian Riley, I was reminded that diets typically include prohibiting certain foods or food groups. That prohibition mindset typically leads your brain to fixate on the food that you are supposed to be avoiding. By implementing healthy habits instead of restrictions, and by keeping things simple, we can set ourselves up for success and make it a more enjoyable experience.

Food for thought: 

Sometimes we make healthy eating a little more complicated than it needs to be. 

Consider this week one simple change you can make it to your eating habits to incorporate more whole foods or reduce the complication of eating well. Tell us about it the comments.

Well Balanced Nutrition Sometimes it's a simple solution

The exercise mistake you might be making and how to fix it

The exercise mistake you might be making and how to fix it

We all know we need to move our bodies, that sitting is killing us, and that we ought to get to the gym or go outside more. After all, our health depends on it. Right?

BUT WAIT, we are thinking about it all wrong….

As it turns out “health is not an optimal way to make physical activity relevant and compelling enough for most people to prioritize it in their hectic lives,” says Dr. Segar,  a psychologist who specializes in helping people adopt and maintain regular exercise habits and the author of “No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness.”

Well Balanced Nutrition The exercise mistake you might be making and how to fix it

The exercise mistake

We are making the mistake of putting too much emphasis on the long term effects of exercise. According to the research, we spend the least amount of time exercising when we do it for weight loss and better health. That is true even for older adults, a study of 335 men and women ages 60 to 95 showed.

Furthermore, we think of exercise as hard work, a struggle, or a chore.


So what are the two secrets to exercising more?

First, make it FUN!

This may be different for everybody. What you think is fun, might not be the same thing your coworker thinks is fun. That’s okay! You get to find what works for you and your personality. If you grew up participating in team sports, then find an activity you can do in a group. If you like dancing, find a fitness class that will reflect that. Outdoor activities like walking on scenic trails or riding a bike in the neighborhood could be the right fit for those who hate the gym. If you are a busy mom or busy professional, you could find quick workouts on youtube that take 20 minutes or less that you can do from anywhere.

Second, call it anything but exercise!

Well Balanced Nutrition The exercise mistake you might be making and how to fix it

Give your workout a name that focuses on the immediate benefits you will receive from moving your body. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.

  • Adventure – Scenic Walk – Field Trip – Play Break – Nature Bath
  • Mood Lifter – Stress Reliever – Trail Mediation – Me Time – Sanity Saver – Mindful Moment
  • Brain Booster – Memory Lap – Clarity Walk – Mental Break – Focus Booster
  • Daily Vitamin D Dose –Sunshine Soak – Sunshine Therapy
  • Fresh Air – Breathing Break – Energy Enhancer


Food For Thought:

Similar to the word diet, exercise has a negative connotation for many of us and doing it for “better health” is just not rewarding enough to make it a regular habit. Answer these questions in the comment section below.

  • What could make exercise fun for you?
  • What immediate benefits of exercise do you enjoy most?
  • What will you call your workout sessions now?

Well Balanced Nutrition The exercise mistake you might be making and how to fix it

3 healthy leadership tips for a more motivated team

3 healthy leadership tips for a more motivated team

Monday, May 1, 2017

Like many of you, Christina is a busy professional who is in a position of leadership. She was a pretty healthy gal before she started coming to see me, but she wanted to do even better, especially as a leader in the office. Her wellness WINS are highlighted below. Her story is a reminder of how our behaviors not only impact our own lives but also those with whom we work. 

Making self-care a priority

Christina hates running but she found that training for a 5K and 10K race last year kept her inspired to exercise consistently. She pushed herself because she knew being active was important for her health. To fuel her life she enjoys healthy vegetarian foods. She especially loves anything with chickpeas and fresh vegetables.

Inspiring and encouraging others

Not only do Christina’s coworkers notice and get inspired by her healthy meals she brings from home every day but they also see her taking an active role on the employee wellness team. Plus, after enjoying a fun well-balanced walking session with me around downtown Durham, she incorporated walking meetings with her staff. How fun is that!?

She also cares about her friends and encourages them to adopt healthy habits. One example includes suggesting busy professional friends invest in a meal delivery service, which can make it easier to prepare fresh and well-balanced meals at home. Click here if a meal delivery service sound interesting to you.

Now it’s your turn.

A healthy and happy team is a more motivated and productive team. Here are 3 healthy leadership tips we can all learn from Christina.

  1. Lead by example – It starts with you. Christina found an exercise strategy that worked for her. She also packs her lunch with leftovers and keeps healthy balanced options in her desk, like that can of chickpeas :-P. 
  2. Make it fun and do what you can – Would you rather sit windowless office for meetings or enjoy some sunshine? Take your team out for a walk like Christina or break up your long meeting with a fun mini activity break. It does not need to be a sweat session, just let everyone get up or get out and move their bodies. 
  3. Provide/create a nurturing environment– Donuts and candy dishes look fun but often leave people feeling guilty or sluggish after the sugar buzz wears off. Do you have sliced veggies and a fruit for an easy colorful side dish with lunch or dinner? To live healthy and happy we need to set ourselves (and others) up for success, y’all. Check out Kristen’s blog for a few more ideas.

Food for thought 

We have an opportunity to positively impact those around us, whether it’s our family, friends or coworkers. How are you leading yourself and others to healthy habits?

Which healthy leadership strategy are you already rocking?! Let us know in comments below or give a shout out to the healthy role model in your life!

Well Balanced Nutrition 3 healthy leadership tips for a more motivated team


Easy Morning Egg, Potato and Zucchini Cups

Easy Morning Egg, Potato and Zucchini Cups


Until recently, I have been eating upside down. No, not eating while standing on my head – that would be an interesting site. Ha.

Well Balanced Nutrition Easy Morning Egg, Potato and Zucchini Cups

I was starting my day off with too little calories and eating most of my calories toward the end of the day. That’s a bit upside down considering we need good fuel during the day when we are moving, thinking, working, walking, and doing all the things and at night we tend to slow down, relax and unwind – things that don’t require as much fuel.

When you are busy, it can feel hard to give breakfast the attention it deserves. For a while, it was the last thing on my mind in the morning (even though I was fixing my kids a good breakfast). I was just grabbing something small that would satisfy me for the moment. As Lucy explained a few weeks ago, eating too little early in the day can easily lead to overcompensating in the evening. This was definitely true in my case. I was feeling hungry and deprived by the afternoon. Then, my belly would start hurting. I’d eat too quickly at dinner time and then my belly would hurt even more. Ugh. It was not a good cycle. Can you relate?

Is breakfast that important?

In general, eating breakfast has been associated with lower body weight. Seventy-eight percent of those who have lost weight and kept it off for a year or longer are regular breakfast eaters. Breakfast has also been shown to increase fullness while reducing appetite, food cravings, and brain signals that regulate reward-driven eating behavior. Furthermore, studies show that eating a high-quality, high-protein breakfast decreases late-night snacking of foods high in sugar and fat.

So, if food cravings and late night snacking are things you struggle with, I highly recommend focusing on your breakfast. Perhaps you are eating upside down, too? Try a high-quality, high-protein breakfast.

What is a high-quality, high-protein breakfast?

Well, first, your breakfast should be made of real food. I know it’s super tempting to just grab a protein bar or granola bar on your way out the door, but those protein and granola bars often include a lot of artificial ingredients and added sugars and is far from what nature intended. This is not to say it’s never okay to have them. They should just be a backup breakfast instead of a go-to breakfast.

Secondly, you want to aim for a breakfast that contains between 20 and 30 grams of protein. Here are some examples of what that might look like:

  • Two Egg Omelet with leftover veggies, 1 oz of beef and cheese = 29 grams protein
  • Egg and Canadian Bacon Breakfast Sandwich on English Muffin = 26 grams protein
  • 8 oz Greek Yogurt with 1 oz Nuts = 26 grams protein
  • Peanut Butter Quinoa = 31 grams protein
  • Easy Morning, Egg, Potato and Zucchini Cups with fruit and yogurt = 30 grams protein
Well Balanced Nutrition Easy Morning Egg, Potato and Zucchini Cups

If you are like me and have busy mornings that can feel rushed, you may like this make-ahead option that works for me.

Well Balanced Nutrition Easy Morning Egg, Potato and Zucchini Cups

Easy Morning Egg, Potato and Zucchini Cups

Kristen Norton, RD, LDN
These can make your morning easy-peasy and delicious! Make them on the weekend and reheat them each day. They go great with yogurt and fruit or avocado and fruit.
Course Breakfast
Servings 6


  • 1 medium zucchini grated
  • 1 cup frozen hashbrowns
  • 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1-2 teaspoon Savory All-Purpose Seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Grease an extra large muffin tin with oil.
  • Evenly distribute the hash-browns in each cup. Then the shredded zucchini and cheese.
  • In a bowl, whisk the eggs and add in salt, pepper, turmeric and a savory all purpose blend (or use your favorite blend).
  • Pour egg mixture into each cup Give each cup a little stir and bake for 20-25 minutes.


To reheat: Place on microwave safe plate and heat for 1 minute 15 seconds on 50% power. Add 10-15 more seconds as needed.
Nutrition Facts: Calories 312, Protein 16g, Carbohydrate 14 g, Dietary Fiber 1 g,
Total Sugars 2g, Total Fat 21g, Saturated Fat 7g, Monounsaturated Fat 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat 3g

Food for thought: Let me know if you try these and what you think! Or share with us your favorite make-ahead high-quality protein-packed breakfast.

Well Balanced Nutrition Easy Morning Egg, Potato and Zucchini Cups

Is your fridge your friend or foe? 6 healthy fridge-hacks

Is your fridge your friend or foe? 6 healthy fridge-hacks

Your food environment can set you up for success or it can make healthy living a struggle. Last week, we gave you a checklist for your countertops and your pantry. In part TWO of the spring cleaning series, we have a checklist for your FRIDGE.

It’s all about visibility and convenience. The most visible foods are the ones we eat first. Research tells us that we are 3 times as likely to eat the first thing we see then the 5th. So, if there is any question at all, you’re going to choose that piece of chocolate that is front and center of your fridge instead of the veggies hidden in the back or in a drawer – the beer drawer as Lucy calls it. =)

Here are 6 fridge-hacks that will make your fridge your friend. You can choose to do them all or tackle one at a time, it’s up to you!

1. Take the veggies out of the crisper drawers and place them at eye level. Put the less healthy items in the drawers. When people did this for just one week, they reported eating almost 3 x as much produce as they did the week before.
2. Better yet, cut them up first. Making fruits and vegetables convenient to grab-and-go increases your chance of eating them. Keeping a bunch of oranges in your fridge is one thing, but cutting them up so they can be devoured quickly makes them even more attractive.
3. Keep foods you want to eat in clear packages and at eye level. If you want to eat your salad or your vegetable leftovers the worst thing you can do is put them in aluminum foil. Instead, use clear containers that make the food visible.
4. Keep foods that you don’t want tempting you, wrapped in foil and placed in the back. Same concept as above, we eat what we see. Maybe you still have some girl scout cookies or a whole pie in your fridge that you don’t want to eat. Wrap them up and send them to the back so they are out of sight, out of mind.
5. If you are a soda drinker, moderation is important. Keep 2 or fewer cans in the fridge. This slows down how much you drink because warm soft drinks aren’t as tempting. You could even keep sodas in the garage or some other inconvenient place.
6. Always stock at least 6 single-serving, easy-to-grab, nutritious snacks. Snacks containing lean protein will sustain and satisfy you like cottage cheese cups, Greek yogurt, cheese sticks, and boiled eggs. Other great snack options are single servings of hummus, guacamole, and nut butter for pairing with your precut veggies.

Well Balanced Nutrition Is your fridge your friend or foe? 6 healthy fridge-hacks

Any easy way to eat 3x as much produce: keep the veggies out of the drawers and put them at eye level instead.

 *These suggestions are based off research from Brian Wansink, author of Slim By Design.

 Food for thought:

  • Which fridge-hacks will help you the most and why?
  • Have you already implemented these tricks?
  • What worked well for you?        Tell us in the comments below.
 Well Balanced Nutrition Is your fridge your friend or foe? 6 healthy fridge-hacks
Do first what is most important

Do first what is most important

Sunday, April 16, 2017

I originally heard this phrase, “do first what is most important,” from pastor Kendrick Vinar at Grace Church. It applies to all parts of life.  Especially important when we are distracted by shiny objects all day, every day. (Yea, I’m looking at you Pinterest and my shiny new iPad)

Often, folks tell Kristen or me about how they want to live healthier, eat better, include more exercise, and manage their stress; however, they just don’t have time. 

Then there are examples like a Jeanie. Jeanie is a dental hygienist at a busy community dental clinic and has been trying to lose weight for the past six months. Each time we meet, Jeanie has a new kitchen tool or smartphone application that is going to fix all her unhealthy habits. Then, the next month there is another new program or app that she’s found. Most of these tools have helped her figure out what is not going to work. It wasn’t until the celiac diagnosis that inspired Jeanie to make some real some changes. For those of you unfamiliar with this disease, Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that damages the small intestine after ingesting gluten. It occurs in 1 out of 133 American’s – about 1% of the population – and has contributed to some of the gluten-free craze, which is currently sweeping our nation. 

Back to Jeanie’s story, after being diagnosed she quickly made many changes to her schedule to make time to cook, which she previously assured me she had no time for. She found support groups and contacted her favorite dietitian to get started. Then, she bought a cookbook with a gluten-free meal plan to help learn how to cook/eat without gluten. For her health, Jeanie knows this diet and lifestyle change needs to become permanent, unlike previous efforts that have come and gone. That’s why she has put this at the top of her priority list and made taking care of herself and her health most important during this transition.

Too often, I see people putting their health at the bottom of the proverbial to-do list. 

| She has put this at the top of her priority list and made taking care of herself and her health most important during this transition. |

Food for thought:

What is at the top of your priority list? That’s easy to figure out by looking at what is on your calendar or to-do list. 

What habit or shiny object is currently taking your time or energy from focusing on your health? 

If you gave up a “bad habit” during the Lenten season, do you really need to re-introduce that habit, food, or beverage just because today is Easter?

Do you first what is most important.

Well Balanced Nutrition Do first what is most important