You are what you say you are… Why words matter

You are what you say you are… Why words matter

The other day I was listening to a play back of a message I left for someone. It is so strange to hear your own voice, right? The first thing I noticed was that I took really long pauses in between my words. Maybe it is something that only I notice or maybe it is something other people pick up on too. Either way, I am a bit self conscience about it but here is why it happens.

I have grown incredibly aware of how important our words can be. Words, the things that fly out of our mouths, sometimes all willy-nilly like, can leave a lasting impact. You might remember a specific moment when someone’s words made a lasting impression on you – for better or for worse. Maybe it was a motivational speaker or something that was said during an argument. Those are big moments.

Even in the small, everyday mundane moments, our words matter. We can really be in the habit of saying the same words over and over without realizing it. A simple example is how many times we go around saying something like…  “How are you?” “Fine, and you?” “Have a good day!”

Now dig a little deeper and think about all the other things we just automatically say. As a parent, I say “See?! Now that’s what you get for doing XYZ.” Or, “That’s why we don’t stand up in the chair.” Ugh… it just comes out like word vomit. I cringe when I hear myself saying that because no one needs to be reminded of a mistake they made in the midst of the pain. Chances are they’ve learned the lesson and they just need a little empathy and understanding.

We can say similar things to ourselves, often without noticingI ask my clients to weigh themselves daily if they are trying to lose weight, but I tell them to be careful of their words and thoughts as they are doing it.

“I’m so fat.” “I can’t believe I ate all that.” “I’ll never lose this weight.”

These are the kinds of words and thoughts that can really sabotage our best efforts. When we see or hear negative words our bodies send out stress signals. Even worse, when we do it over and over again we can really start to believe those words.  The more we hear, read, or speak a word or phrase, the more power it has over us. This is because the brain is always searching for patterns and repetitions in order to make sense of the world around us.

Instead of letting words get the best of us, we can use the power of words our advantage. We first have to gain awareness and then control over that which we are exposing ourselves to daily. Our natural tendency is to focus on the negative, and it takes work to turn that around. So when I speak slowly, it’s because I am consciously making an effort to catch and cancel out those negative words. It’s definitely a work in progress.

Food for thought:

What words do you speak, read or think repeatedly?

Try this today:

Go on a negativity diet.

  1. First, notice and be aware of your negative words and thoughts.
  2. When they pop up, you can say, “cancel, cancel, cancel!”
  3. Replace negative words with positive ones. Try saying challenge instead of problem or yes, later instead of no, not right now.
  4. Replace judgments and criticisms with words of kindness. We are all doing the best we can so be kind to yourself and others. Or if you must give negative feedback try sandwiching it between two positive statements/thoughts.

Boost the Power of Positivity. The next key is feeding your brain more good thoughts than bad.

  • For every one negative thought you have, generate 3 to 5 positive thoughts. Your positive thoughts don’t have to be perfect, sound good or even make sense.

Feed your brain a hefty portion of positive words at least 3 times a day.

  • Start your day by reading or saying positive affirmations, quotes or scripture.
  • End your emails with a happy message.
  • Drink from a cup with an uplifting message on it.
  • Plaster sticky notes with positivity on your mirror, computer, phone, etc.

Tell us..

What ideas or thoughts do you have on the power of words?

Well Balanced Nutrition You are what you say you are... Why words matter

Connecting the ‘know how’ and the ‘how to’

Connecting the ‘know how’ and the ‘how to’

Monday, November 28, 2016

It’s here! We’re in it. The infamous holiday season. No matter how busy you decide to be this season it’s no excuse to put your wellness goals to the backburner.

Last week, while listening to Darren Hardy talk about how to succeed in business and life I got to thinking about his use of tough love. Sometimes his message makes me a little angry; however, he’s got a good point.

Most of the time, for anything we want to do it’s a matter of having the right knowledge and being brave enough to try. For example, all summer I kept saying I wanted to swim in the quarry at Eno State Park but could never figure out where to get in so it never happened. Last weekend, my friend showed me the way and now I know for next time (when it’s warm enough to get in the water!).

I believe this is often the case for our healthy habits. We want to do well and we “know” what to do, but we might need someone to show us how. Thank goodness for YouTube!

What seems like it should be simple can often feel overwhelming. Think about when you learned how to drive… This may be harder to recall for some of us! It’s an exciting but daunting task. Driving is a lot of responsibility and there are many moving parts, literally. Nowadays, you get in the car to drive without thinking about all the steps.

There is always a learning curve to each new activity we take on. Whether you’re eager to become a grill master or learning how to cook for one, it’s important to be gentle with yourself and take it one step at a time.

Food for thought:

Have you been making excuses to put off learning a new skill? ______ If yes, what do you want to conquer? _________________________________________________________________

Do you need more information? _____ Where can you find it?


Maybe you need a class or someone to guide and support you. Who can you ask for help?


Well Balanced Nutrition Connecting the 'know how' and the 'how to'

One thing you can do this holiday season to preserve your sanity

One thing you can do this holiday season to preserve your sanity

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. – Brene Brown


I’ve learned a lot about boundaries in the past 3 1/2 years. When my daughter was born I discovered just how much your heart can love a tiny human. Naturally, I want to give her the world and I want her to be happy. Now more than ever, she has been testing her limits and pushing her boundaries as three-year-olds do. In those trying moments, I want to give in to her desires just to make her happy. Yet, I know avoiding temporary disappointments will only lead to long-term consequences.

If I let my little girl do whatever she wanted, she’d miss out on opportunities to develop life skills like learning how to share, be a friend, follow directions, and get along with others. On the other hand, if I’m too strict with her, she might not learn to think on her own, her confidence could suffer and she might grow to resent  me. The sweet spot is right in the middle where loving boundaries exist.

A boundary is simply a line drawn between what is okay and not okay. While I’m in the thick of establishing these loving boundaries as a parent, I realize how important this concept is for our health and wellness goals as well. We have to determine for ourselves what is okay and not okay to preserve our health in the long-run.

For example, one of my clients has recently entered a new relationship. She realized upfront that she could easily get swept up in other things if she didn’t define what was important to her now. She knew that getting a good workout in at least 3 times a week kept her mentally and physically feeling her best. So now that she has this boundary set in her mind, it becomes easier to choose the gym even when other opportunities arise. She’s choosing to focus on the greater, long-term results of loving herself, instead of focusing on what would make everyone happy in the moment.

The holiday season is a time when we could all really stand to set loving boundaries. It is so easy to worry about disappointing others that we often forget to care for ourselves. Setting boundaries can be the most loving thing we do for ourselves this time of year. Your boundaries can help guide your decisions  and make it easier to stay true to yourself through the hustle and bustle.

Food for thought:

Boundaries are a function of self-love and self-respect. – Brene Brown

What boundaries will you set for yourself?




Do right: Lessons from Maya Angelou

Do right: Lessons from Maya Angelou

Monday, November 21, 2016

Inspiration. Lately I’ve developed a habit of enjoying my morning coffee break with inspirational YouTube videos. It started with Dr. Wayne Dyer, then I discovered more gems by Evan Carmichael featuring the Maya Angelou Top 10 Rules for Success.  As one of my favorite sayings goes, “inspiration without action is just entertainment.” Therefore, I strive to connect their wisdom to my journey and apply it to the health and wellness message we bring to our Well-Balanced Tribe. 

The first tip by Maya Angelou stuck with me all week as it reminds us to “just do right!” This can be applied to all facets of life – from how you treat a disgruntled coworker (with loving-kindness!), to deciding what to do for dinner. 

I’ve mentioned before I used to be a nailbiter, and I am proud to say now I don’t bite my nails most of time. There is the occasional moments I catch myself and hear Mama Cathy’s most loving nag voice of “quit biting your nails!”  When I’m doing right that includes regularly clipping my fingernails, painting with a color or clear nail polish and staying mindful of moments I feel tempted to start nibbling. 

I had a client last week who is working on making more well-balanced meals for her family. She’s rediscovered the plethora of options using her crockpot – hooray Pinterest! Unfortunately, now she worries if she should be buying organic? And what about the effects of soybeans on men and young children? And how about the canned cream of mushroom soup, isn’t that really bad for you? Instead of worrying, I suggested this client to continue making those 3 dinners a week and she aims to ‘do right’ by including at least 1 vegetable with dinner. 

We are all at a different stage in the journey of living healthy and well-balanced. Doing right for you may be not ordering French fries with the spicy chicken sandwich at Wendy’s. Or doing right means taking time on Sunday afternoon to chop veggies for dinner during the week. Or taking time to review the action plan checklist each day to see if you accomplished the wellness goals you set. 

Food for thought: 

I want you each to feel proud of the steps you’ve taken to be well. It’s a journey (marathon, not a spirit, for the runners out there). 

What did you do right last week? _________________________________

We are proud of you too! Keep up the good work Well Balanced Nutrition Do right: Lessons from Maya Angelou  . 

Lucy’s Favorite Collards w/ Bacon

Lucy’s Favorite Collards w/ Bacon

Y’all it’s finally happened… I’ve been in the south long enough that I developed a taste for cooked greens and bacon. So yummy! Below is a recipe I’ve modified from Martha Stewart and my friend, Culley. 

Lucy’s Favorite Collards w/ Bacon! 

Well Balanced Nutrition Lucy's Favorite Collards w/ Bacon


  • 2 bunches collard greens, stemmed 
  • 3 teaspoons vegetable oil 
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced 
  • 3 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips 
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar 
  • 1 cup homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes 
  • 1 Tbsp molasses


  1. Working in batches, stack greens; cut crosswise into 2-inch-thick strips. Gather strips; cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Transfer to a large bowl of cold water; swish to remove grit. Transfer greens to a colander using a slotted spoon; let drain. Repeat until greens are free of grit. 

  2. Heat oil in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and bacon; cook until onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Add greens; cook, stirring, until greens begin to wilt and are reduced in volume. 

  3. Raise heat to high; add vinegar. Cook, scraping up brown bits from bottom of skillet, until vinegar has evaporated, about 1 minute. 

  4. Add stock, red pepper flakes and molasses; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, until greens are just tender, 12 to 14 minutes. If making ahead, refrigerate, covered; reheat over low heat.

Lucy’s Favorite Collards w/ Bacon

Lucy Hayhurst


  • 2 bunches collard greens stemmed
  • 3 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 red onion sliced
  • 3 slices bacon cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 cup homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp molasses


  • Working in batches, stack greens; cut crosswise into 2-inch-thick strips. Gather strips; cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Transfer to a large bowl of cold water; swish to remove grit. Transfer greens to a colander using a slotted spoon; let drain. Repeat until greens are free of grit.
  • Heat oil in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and bacon; cook until onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Add greens; cook, stirring, until greens begin to wilt and are reduced in volume.
  • Raise heat to high; add vinegar. Cook, scraping up brown bits from bottom of skillet, until vinegar has evaporated, about 1 minute.
  • Add stock, red pepper flakes and molasses; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, until greens are just tender, 12 to 14 minutes. If making ahead, refrigerate, covered; reheat over low heat.
3 things to do after you are as stuffed as the turkey

3 things to do after you are as stuffed as the turkey

Awh..the season for feasting is here. There is a good chance you will be eating some turkey, gravy, rolls, stuffing and all the things to go along with it soon.  YUM!! Who is excited for the yummy food?! (Me!) I could go on about how to be mindful, eat a well-balanced turkey dinner, avoid overeating but let’s face it…. Thanksgiving is about celebrating our food! Dare I say it but… I think it’s okay to overindulge a bit at your Thanksgiving meal.

Perhaps the most important thing is what you do afterwardHere’s what I plan to do after the feasting is done.

  1. Get outside and move! One year I did a turkey trot walk/run the morning of Thanksgiving. Another year my family walked around Duke’s campus after eating our meal. This year I’m gonna #OptOutside! Will you join me? Let’s say no to the long lines and madness of shopping and say yes to nature!! We’ll be posting pictures of us opting outside on our Facebook page. We wanna see your nature selfies too! Post them with the hashtag #OptOuside and #wellbalancednutrition
  2. Go green! Leftovers are awesome. We will likely have plenty of turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls and pie left after it’s all said and done!  It’s really easy to over-do it if we don’t balance them out with some fruits and veggies. I am planning to buy a variety of greens and fruit to eat alongside the remaining foods from the turkey day spread.
  3. Eat breakfast. When you overeat a bit on Thanksgiving, skipping breakfast that morning or the next day may seem like a reasonable thing to do but it’s not wise. I will keep my metabolism going with a small and healthy morning meal such as eggs and fruit.

There you have it, folks! Those are my plans. What will you do? Comment below and let us know or let us know on Facebook.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Ya’ll!!

Well Balanced Nutrition 3 things to do after you are as stuffed as the turkey


Loving-kindness: exercise for the soul

Loving-kindness: exercise for the soul

Monday, November 14, 2016

Whoa! We made it!

We’re on the other side of November 8th and no matter how you felt when you woke up November 9th I’ve been thinking we all need a bit more love and kindness.

A few months ago I went to a talk at the City of Durham and our City Manager spoke about the philosophy they share with their employees. It’s three parts, starting with taking care of yourself; then taking care of work/life responsibilities and finally taking care of the community. I love this! It directly lines up with what we teach at Well-Balanced Nutrition.  First and foremost, all of us need to take care of ourselves. Last week, I had a client who was trying to give from an empty cup – see What fills your cup? – and as a result her mental and physical health are declining with poor sleep, high blood pressure, weight gain and elevated stress hormones. 

 As Dr. Wayne Dyer reminds us we cannot give away that which we do not possess. For example, you promise someone a bag of oranges, if you don’t already have oranges at home you would have to go to the store and buy them. To share love and kindness with your friends, family and community you must start by loving and being kind to yourself. Some do this by staying connected to their source, God. While others find more connection in nature or other outlets. 

In an effort to help myself, and everyone in my life, I spend time practicing a loving-kindness meditation or exercise as I walk through the woods, which I shared below. This gives me peace and gratitude while I use energy to send love first to myself, then my loved ones. Ultimately, extending this loving-kindness to someone I find difficult to love. Maybe it’s a politician, a group of people with different beliefs and more violent lifestyles or a coworker who causes stress or anxiety. 

Food for thought: 

I invite each of you to join me in 5 to 10 minutes of this loving-kindness exercise today.

Caution: Doing this exercise will make you feel happy and peaceful.


Shared by: Ann Thornton 

(Say aloud preferably, but you can speak it silently)

Loving kindness to [your name]

Repeat 3 times
May [your name] be happy, free from worry and pain
Repeat 3 times
May [your name] have the strength, courage, hope, and faith to meet and overcome the difficulties in her/his life.
Repeat 3 times
Next replace your name with names of your close loved ones, then you can pick the names of others you want to send loving kindness. Last, replace your name with someone you may be having difficulties with or trouble understanding.
You will soon memorize the phrases and the words will come naturally.
I was taught not to say them with strong emotions, but rather just calmly repeat them.

Three things dietitians wish you knew

Three things dietitians wish you knew

Have you heard of the cave man diet? How about the Twinkie diet? Then there is the Whole30, Alkaline diet, the Zone diet, South Beach diet and so on. We hear new and often conflicting information on food and nutrition several times a day.

There is a new diet or a research finding on Dr. Oz, O Magazine, or on your Facebook feed all the time. It’s exhausting. Overwhelming. Sometimes annoying and downright confusing.

With so much out there, what is a gal or guy to do when they just want to eat healthy? Have more energy? Make a change?

It’s important to find a Registered Dietitian you can trust. An expert in the field that understands what it takes to change habits. I polled my fellow RDs to bring you THE THREE THINGS DIETITIANS WISH YOU KNEW…

  1. Want to make a healthy change? You cannot do it overnight. Consistency, tracking, and accountability are the keys to healthy change. BOTTOM LINE: If a program or pill promises instant results, sounds too good to be true or makes it seem way too easy… it probably won’t work in the long run. You have to be willing to put in the work and have patience. The good news though, is you don’t have to do it alone. You got this and we are here to help.
  2. We aren’t judging your food choices. If you sit down at the lunch table with one of us, you shouldn’t worry, we really don’t want to be the food police and we don’t want you judging what we eat either! Dietitians eat sweets and junk foods sometimes, too! BOTTOM LINE: No food shaming here! We try really hard not to label foods as good or bad. We actually encourage enjoying sweets, beer/wine or other indulgent foods that are worth it to you on occasion.
  3. There isn’t a ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL approach to healthy eating. Each of our bodies is unique and the foods that will make us feel our best will be different. We love to help people figure out the right eating pattern that fits their individual needs and preferences. BOTTOM LINE: Just because your friend had success on a diet, doesn’t mean you will. We encourage you to do what is right for you. We can help you find what that is.

Food for thought:

Do you agree with these 3 things?

What is the most absurd diet advice you’ve heard?

So what’s the right choice for you? I know, I know. Maybe you’re thinking, “if I knew that I wouldn’t be talking to you!” That’s why we call it a journey.

Start your wellness journey with us today.

Mama Cathy’s Well-Balanced transformation

Mama Cathy’s Well-Balanced transformation

Cathy Passeun, aka Mama Cathy, is an inspirational woman. When we lived in Arizona she frequently climbed Shaw butte – A solid 3 mile hike uphill in the desert. When I was in middle school she went to grad school and completed a masters degree. When I was in high school she chose self-employment to have more freedom in her schedule and spend quality time with her teenage daughter (brave, right?!). She has bought and sold houses and investment property. She teaches yoga and stays actively involved in her church as a believer in Jesus Christ. The word you are looking for is multifaceted. 

When my mom got above her desired weight range earlier this year she became motivated to get it in check, and lucky enough she has a dietitian daughter. 

Mama Cathy is preoccupied with knowing how long it takes her to do certain tasks. For instance, she discovered it takes 7 minutes to empty the dishwasher – now when she’s contemplating if there is enough time she knows it’s just 7 minutes. Recently, in an effort to include more energy during the day my mom started including a whole grain English muffin and a microwave scrambled egg at breakfast (did you know this is a thing?!). One day, for fun she timed how long it took to prepare and eat this meal, which she discovered totaled 16 minutes – 3 minutes to cook and 13 to eat. Now she knows how to (1) make a simple, healthy and well-balanced breakfast and (2) block time for breakfast, which is important for her weight-loss goals. (see note from Mama Cathy below!) 

I’m not trying to call her out; however, my mom is no stranger to fast food restaurants.  As a busy executive for JDRF she is often on the road for business. Going to a sit-down restaurant is not always an option so occasionally Wendy’s, Taco Bell or aother drive-thru comes in handy. Last week while running around town, Mom realized she forgot to eat breakfast before leaving home. While driving by McDonald’s she noticed a grocery store in the same shopping center and passed the drive-thru to go pick up hard-boiled eggs and an apple to give her the protein and complex carbohydrates for energy to last through the morning.  

For as long as I remember my mom has always been a walker, but in more recent years I’ve discovered she loves taking classes. Forever a student, she enjoys the community and encouragement in the group fitness setting. Now Mom signs up for water aerobics at the community center and looks forward to her workout and whirlpool time every Monday and Wednesday evening. 

I’m so proud of my mom for many reasons, but this year I am especially proud of the commitment she made to her health. She inspires me and I hope has inspired you too! 

Food for thought:

It can be overwhelming when you try to change your diet and lifestyle. Fortunately, you are part of the Well-Balanced Tribe who wants to encourage and support your healthy choices. 

What is 1 day-to-day habit you can work on this week? ___________________________

How can you make it fun (like combining exercise with the whirlpool fun!)?


Note from Mama Cathy: 2 thoughts – breakfast takes 16 minutes because I’m also making a fresh made shake that I put in a travel mug and take to work with me. While I’m cooking my breakfast I’m also making my midmorning healthy snack. Also, just so folks know change can take a while-it took me six months of being on Weight Watchers to get to this point with my food.

It didn’t happen all at once it and it certainly doesn’t happen quickly and it doesn’t happen in the span of an hour show. It’s something where I believe little changes incorporated overtime are really what add up to the difference.

Saturday Morning Pumpkin Muffins

Saturday Morning Pumpkin Muffins

Staying in your pajamas a little longer, watching cartoons, and snuggling on the couch… all reasons I love Saturday mornings. It is a sunny but cool day here in Durham and the perfect fall day for pumpkin muffins. We had these as a mid morning snack and they really hit the spot!

Well Balanced Nutrition Saturday Morning Pumpkin Muffins

This recipe is modified from this post over at The Kitchn. They make a point to use the individual spices instead of the premixed pumpkin pie spice. They also remind you that the recipe calls for plain pumpkin puree not the sweetened pumpkin pie mix in a can.


Well Balanced Nutrition Saturday Morning Pumpkin Muffins

Saturday Morning Pumpkin Muffins

Kristen Norton
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Baked Goods, Breakfast, Snacks
Servings 18


  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups pumpkin purée one 15 oz can
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Heat the oven to 350°F.
  • Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan (or two 6-cup muffins pans) with liners, or skip the liners and just grease the cups.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating after adding each one.
  • Add the pumpkin purée and vanilla extract.
  • Stir in half the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the second half. Do not overmix.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups so they are 3/4 of the way full.
  • Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until a tester comes out with few crumbs.
  • Let the muffins cool enough to handle. Enjoy!!