Managing a full 21st-century life with ruthless prioritization and banana peel tea–a great conversation with Michelle Pfennighaus. (Be sure to look for the link to pick up Michelle's gift to The Productive Woman listeners!)
21st-century life requires “ruthless prioritization”
Nutrition coach Michelle Pfennighaus identifies herself as a work-from-home mom because she is either “mom-ing” or working. She has a background in advertising and worked in corporate America, riding the subway to work and working weekends, so she knows what that life is like, but now she's mostly home, balancing work and her children. She has also been practicing yoga for over a decade.
A typical day
“My days do follow a pretty similar pattern,” says Michelle. She says this is easier for her because she doesn’t have to think so much about what she needs to do and can instead just get things done. She has two boys and a husband to help get out the door in the morning, so her mornings are a whirlwind of taking care of everyone else, after which she goes to the gym around 9 a.m. This helps her to get out in public and exchange some energy and get some exercise as well. That thirty minutes at the gym each morning is non-negotiable for her.
Once Michelle is back home for the day she might be on the phone with a client, running a group program, blogging, writing, doing interviews, creating content, and doing some “house stuff” in between. She will throw in a load of laundry, prep dinner, and take care of other household tasks. For example, she manages her family’s finances and home repairs because her husband works a demanding job outside the home.
At 5 p.m. she picks up her kids. Once home, they have a quick dinner, get lunches packed for the next day, and tend to the rest of the evening routine. After the kids are in bed, if she's lucky she'll have some time to spend with her husband.
Lately, she's been trying to wind down better at night so she can get more quality sleep. (She said the quality of her sleep has gone down since her first son was born.) In order to do this, she prioritizes getting to bed an hour earlier, puts her phone in airplane mode, and she creates a dark space and she reads a novel or something for pleasure at night. This helps her wind down and get to sleep. (Watch below for info about her secret “sleepy time” tea.)
Michelle's perfectionist tendencies sometimes lead to her taking on too much because she feels she’ll do it better and faster. She's learning that this doesn’t leave her time to do the “big picture” items on her list, so she's trying to let go and let others help so she can focus on those really high priority projects.
“These crazy days we have and lives we are leading require ruthless prioritization.”Click To Tweet
As a nutritionist, Michelle has a lot of great meal tips for busy women. She said it’s important to start with a meal plan that is realistic and not overwhelming. Having a plan–even if it's something as simple as ordering pizza–helps simplify your days because the decision about what to eat has already been made. In terms of making a healthy meal, you can pull from simple dishes you already know how to make, such as a hamburgers or eggs. It’s important to let go of perfectionism and give ourselves some slack to do what’s easy.
She also says you don’t need a recipe to come up with a healthy, delicious meal. She has five dinner formulas that she rotates through. For example, a broth bowl requires broth, protein, a vegetable, a noodle or grain, some seasonings, and whatever you have on hand. To get you started, Michelle is offering TPW listeners a gift: her Five Stress-Free Dinner Formulas and Shopping Lists; pick up your free copy at FindYourBalanceHealth.com/productive.
Among many tips Michelle shared is her daily cup of tea made with a banana peel, a drink she says is rich in magnesium, a mineral that helps your body to relax. (Michelle says when you're stressed it's common to be magnesium-deficient.) She had tried various magnesium supplements, hoping they would help her sleep at night. When they didn’t seem to help, she decided to try the banana peel tea and found the help she was looking for. She puts a banana peel in about 2 cups of water and lets it simmer for about 20 minutes. She then strains it and then drinks the tea before bed.
For planning and task management, Michelle loves pen and paper and uses a paper calendar in conjunction with her online calendar. She remembers better if she writes something down with a pen. She uses Trello for more complicated projects. She likes that she can reorganize her Trello to-do list as she needs to, and the visual layout helps her easily see where a project is in a certain phase.
Time-blocking has taken on new meaning for Michelle as she has been using a Post-it® note to block out certain times of day for certain tasks. This has helped her to stay more productive.
What happens on a day you feel gets away from you?
One reason Michelle segued out of advertising and went into nutrition was that her health was suffering. She had crippling anxiety, IBS, fainting episodes, and dizzy spells. Once she gets off track she can slip back into the patterns that led to those symptoms. She realized that by being careful about what she eats she can control how her body feels. When her meal plans are in place and she is eating well, she feels better and can think better. So eating right and getting enough sleep are top priorities for her. She has her meal plan on the refrigerator and it frees up head space for her.
Michelle also knows that when she feels anxious she tends to breathe shallowly, so she does breathing exercises to help her to relax her system. She learned that with her yoga training over the years. She explains how your diaphragm works and how you can activate a nerve that goes to your brain and tells you to relax.
What’s on the horizon for Michelle?
Michelle is going back to school this fall and is excited about the opportunity to learn more about the science behind different issues women deal with such as thyroid and menopause issues. She is also starting a live radio show with two co-hosts and they will be taking callers live starting September 28th. Click on the Healthy View Radio link in the Resources section below to join their Facebook group and be the first to know when the show goes live and how you can find it!
Last words on making a life that matters
“These crazy days we have and lives we are leading require ruthless prioritization,” says Michelle.
'You have to consider your options and ask what's going to serve you in the long run.'Click To Tweet
She encourages us to think the basics of life: food, breathing, and sleep. Stick to the basics and remember ruthless prioritization.
More about Michelle
Michelle Pfennighaus is a Holistic Health Coach certified by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She suffered for years with debilitating IBS and anxiety, until finally healing herself through changes in diet and lifestyle. Since then, she has used food as a catalyst to transform the lives of thousands of clients worldwide. Her first career was in Big Advertising; when she was let go in 2008 due to the economic downturn she started her health coaching business. Her life's reinvention was part of the story told in the documentary film “Lemonade,” and she’s been featured on ABC, NBC, and NPR. Learn more on her website. Michelle is married and the mother of two boys, ages six and three.
Connect with Michelle
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