Health & Fitness

LES Get Personal: The Balanced Berry

August 10, 2016

This week I am VERY BERRY happy to feature a fellow foodie and fitness lover, Les from The Balanced Berry! (Get the pun in the title? And in that opening? I know, I’m clever.) About a year ago, I stumbled across Les’s blog while perusing Pinterest, desperate for a high-quality smoothie bowl recipe. I wanted something that would be nice and thick but also wasn’t just a straight-up shot of sugar like most recipes online. I found her recipe for “The Best Green Smoothie Bowl,” and lemme tell ya, it IS the best green smoothie bowl in the game. I then found myself spending hours on Les’s blog, drooling over her recipes and getting to know more about her through her lifestyle posts as well.

There is much much more to Les than insanely delicious recipes, though. First of all, Les has a beautiful soul. I don’t know how else to say it. She’s a deep thinker, and she just gets it.  Les always keeps it real, and her total honesty with her readers is one of the things I love most about her. Her fun-lovin’ nature is contagious, and she has the best sense of humor. Les is all about living a healthy lifestyle in every sense of the word. She’s into yummy, healthy food, fun workouts, meditation, self-care, green beauty, and just overall BALANCE.

I hate to say it, but a lot of people in the wellness world talk about “balance,” but don’t actually promote balanced lifestyles. Les does promote a balanced lifestyle, though, and she gives her readers tangible, realistic tips for reaching an all-around state of well-being in their lives. I love her so much for that. She’s so down-to-earth and relatable – you’ll fall in love with her as soon as you read any of her posts. Les and I also have a lot in common, so I felt an instant connection with her as soon as I started reading her content. I’m hooked. We like to joke that we’re soulmates, but I’m seriously convinced we are. So it’s not really a joke. Anyways, who’s ready to get to know a bit more about The Balanced Berry?!

First, tell me a little bit about yourself so my readers can get to know you!

Hi Addicted to Lovely readers! My name is Les, and I blog over at The Balanced Berry. I was born and raised in the Seattle area, which is where I still live but I am a California girl at heart. I have always loved California and from a young age knew I would end up there. Stay tuned on that! I currently work in corporate communications and also work part-time as an educator at lululemon. My hobbies include writing, taking photos, exploring farmer’s markets, trying new restaurants, trying new beauty products, and any and all DIY projects.

 What does the term “health” mean to you?

To me, health means being in a state of well-being from the inside out. It is the connection of a happy mind and a happy body. You really can’t have one without the other!

How and when did you first get interested in healthy living?

I have always been interested in healthy living, but I didn’t begin to understand what healthy living meant for me until I was in college. My dad has always been really interested in nutrition and natural alternatives, and my mom has been a great influence when it comes to making time for fitness. Trips to the health food store with my dad as a kid were the norm, as was seeing my mom take her water aerobics classes at the local pool while I took swimming lessons. Both of them have influenced my interest in healthy living a ton. I definitely went through a less-than-healthy eating phase as a teenager, but was always active because I grew up playing sports.

In college my weight yo-yo’d up and down a lot the first few years, and I became more interested in learning how to take care of myself again. I really kicked my butt into gear the summer before my senior year of college, when I had a corporate internship and realized sitting at a desk all day really took a toll on my mental and physical well-being. That was when I established a regular workout routine and started focusing on the importance of eating whole foods. When I returned to college my senior year I lived off-campus and began cooking for myself. That was when I started reading healthy living blogs and started experimenting with healthy recipes. That was a great time in life to really hone in those healthy habits, because that’s the only way I know how to “adult.” 😉

Let’s talk about your blog! What inspired you and how did you get started?

I fell in love with healthy living and fitness blogs when I was in college. I loved reading about real women like me sharing their journeys and what healthy living meant for them. After college I had a ton of friends, family members, and personal training clients asking for recipes and more tips. I realized after spending SO much time reading blogs, it was silly that I didn’t have my own especially because I had so many people asking for it. I actually started a blog right after college, but never really kept up with it because I was trying to mimic other bloggers and it just didn’t feel authentic. After scrapping that one, I started The Balanced Berry a few years later and actually stuck with it!

How did you come up with the name “The Balanced Berry”?!

I spent a few years taking my interest in healthy living too far, and I had an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. It didn’t help that at the time I was also working as a personal trainer and was in the gym basically 24/7. I had just slowed down and was starting to appreciate all that my body could do instead of focusing so much on how I looked. The Balanced Berry was dedicated to me finally reaching a place of balance. I’m going to be honest, I struggle with my blog name a ton. Sometimes (all the time) I wish I had a different blog name because there are so many blogs dedicated to “balance” out there that it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. But the blog has caught on enough that I would feel silly changing it now.

Well I love the name! You recently started a YouTube channel (which I am so excited about!). What inspired you to start your channel, and what are your goals for it?

I LOVE YOUTUBE. I was actually obsessed with YouTube before I started reading blogs. I would spend days upon days watching makeup tutorials in college (my friends still tease me for it). I just loved the connection YouTubers have with their audience, and I have wanted to start a channel forever. I finally got over my fear of getting on camera and just went for it! At this point, YouTube is really saturated so I don’t expect to become a viral sensation. I just want to give my followers another chance to connect with me, and I want to appeal to those who may be visual learners and prefer video over reading blog posts.

Where do you get your recipe inspiration from?

From a ton of places! For starters, I have always loved being in the kitchen. As a kid, I was way more interested in cooking shows than cartoons, and watching so many really helped me learn the basics. I also just love to experiment, and love seeing how things work together so I’m always whipping up concoctions on the fly. Usually those “on the fly” recipes turn out to be the best ones! I also get a ton of inspiration from my family and meals that I eat out. Those were the inspiration for two of the blog’s most popular recipes! My summer kale salad recipe was inspired by a salad my uncle brought to a family party, and my broth bowl recipe was inspired by Panera’s. Those are by far the two most-loved recipes on my blog.

What are 3 of your favorite beauty products?

I am so glad you asked – I am a huge beauty junkie. Over the past 4 years I have really started getting into green beauty. I realized it was silly to put tons of crazy chemicals on my body if I was so good about being careful with what I put in my body. Right now my top 3 favorite products are 100% Pure Mascara (I love the black tea version), Beautycounter Tinted Moisturizer with SPF, and organic argan oil for my hair.

What’s your favorite form of self-care?

Self-care is something I have really been focusing on lately. Up until recently I equated self-care with something indulgent – a manicure or spa trip. But I’m learning that self-care is a necessary part of life. It’s all about filling up your own cup before you can help others fill theirs. Right now I’m really working on getting more sleep – that’s an area of self-care that I am lacking in! Fitness is also a huge part of self-care for me. I need to move my body in some way every day, even if it just means taking the stairs at work.

What’s your exercise routine like?

I love it all! I get bored easily so I am always trying new things to mix it up. Strength training is my first love, so I try to hit the weights a few times per week. High-intensity circuits (using kettlebells and TRX) are my favorite. I also love vinyasa yoga and barre because I am really inflexible and they are so challenging. Although I have a few half-marathons under my belt, running isn’t my fave but I love the rowing machine and doing stairs for cardio!

What’s your go-to, quick and easy meal?

Smoothies! Whenever I need quick sustenance, I whip out the blender and throw in frozen bananas, frozen mango, spinach, almond milk and a little protein. I never get sick of it. One of my favorite “real food” quick meals is my quinoa lentil broth bowl recipe (on the blog!). It is so easy to make, and it is so good.

What’s one myth in the health/fitness industry that you want to put an end to?

Oooh there are so many! First, I want people to get past the calories in vs. calories out mentality. We are all so much better off focusing on the quality of our food, rather than treating eating like a math equation. The second one that really bugs me is online “fitspo.” Nothing against those people, but so many of them are professional bodybuilders/competitors. What they share online is for the sake of their sport and aesthetics, not health. Yet I see so many people who are not in the world of fitness competitions trying to live a similar lifestyle. A cut body does not equal health!

TRUTH! What’s one beauty tip you swear by?

I LOVE using oil to take care of my skin. I used to have really oily, acne prone skin and have really seen my skin transform by using oil to remove my makeup. Sounds crazy, but it works. I wouldn’t recommend coconut oil on your face because it is really heavy and can clog your pores, but sweet almond oil or avocado oil are amazing for oil cleansing. I love following it up with a spray of homemade toner made with rosewater. It seriously feels like a spa treatment every night.

It’s Sunday morning…what are you having for breakfast?!

I love a good, hot waffle with berries and maple syrup. That or a full-blown smoothie bowl. I am always chugging smoothies on-the-go out of a mason jar while I’m rushing to work, so having a pretty Insta-worthy bowl on the weekends is definitely a treat!

Favorite sweet treat?

Fro-yo for sure!

What advice do you have for someone trying to transition into a healthier lifestyle? What would you say to someone who doesn’t know where to begin?

I always like to tell people to add instead of subtract. Instead of thinking about what you need to eliminate from your diet, or what habits you need to break, think about what you can add to your day to help yourself be healthier. Maybe that means you have a goal to drink a certain amount of water, you buy one new-to-you item of produce from the grocery store each week, or you add a 10-minute walk to your day. Once you get in the groove with one positive change, they will have a snowball effect because you will want to continue doing more things to make yourself feel good.

What are some of your favorite blogs to read and/or Instagram accounts to follow?

I have too many to name! Yours of course 🙂 I also love Davida from The Healthy Maven, I have been following her for years and love the new direction she is taking her blog. Ashley from Fit Mitten Kitchen is a force in the kitchen and makes the most incredible recipes. Lindsey from Nourish Move Love kills it too. She makes fitness so relatable and fun. Also, Catherine from The Blissful Mind is a wealth of amazing information about mindfulness, self-care, and minimalism in a non-preachy way. I am always binge-reading her blog posts! There are so many more blogs and influencers I love, but those are the first that come to mind.

Share your current favorite recipe with me!

This summer I have been all about tacos. So random, but I love them. Lately I have been making a super simple shrimp taco recipe. I simply sauté shrimp with a little oil, cumin, chili powder and lime juice. I serve them on corn tortillas with lots of cilantro, avocado and more lime juice. So easy and so good!

A HUGE thank you to Les for letting me interview her! Make sure you head on over to The Balanced Berry for more recipes, tips on self-care, beauty hacks, workout inspo, and more! And make sure you subscribe to her YouTube channel, too, if you haven’t already – her matcha latte vid is my FAVE!

What do you think?

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