Living healthily is all about balance and Monica Mignone is all about that life. Being a Teacher, Nutritionist and Fitness Instructor in Melbourne, Monica definitely has a lot on her plate and is a great example of how to remain healthy, active and balanced with a healthy relationship to food and living. She chronicles her relaxed approach to food and well-being on her Instagram and has recently published a book. We are totally on board with her no-deprivation approach and 80/20 way of living.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself – who you are and what you do.
My name is Monica Mignone and I am a primary school teacher, group fitness instructor, nutritionist, health blogger and author (just saying all of that exhausts me!) from Melbourne, Australia. I started my Instagram page @balancebymonica for no reason other than to simply share the food I was cooking and eating with the world. Fast-forward one year and I have now started a small business, launched a website, spoken at some big events and self-published my first book ‘Balance’.
2. What was the ‘uh ha’ moment that inspired you to get in to health and wellbeing?
Although I have always been a very healthy and active individual, I went through a phase in my late teens where I decided that I was unhappy with my body and needed to lose weight. I made a decision that I would go on a diet in an attempt to shed a few kilos- and that’s where it all went pear shaped! I spent over a year of my life not allowing myself to consume sugar, alcohol, grains or fried foods, and surprise surprise, I lost a heap of weight. However, with this weight loss did not come the happiness that I expected. With it came avoiding social situations, mood swings, a lack of energy and an obsession with food. Finally escaping the diet trap and learning how to eat intuitively again has inspired me to get into health and wellbeing to advocate balanced eating and balanced living. I have learnt firsthand that I can eat all the foods that I enjoy while still maintaining a healthy weight, and I want to show others how they can do this, too.
3. Talk us through a typical day in your life…
5:30am: I am one of those crazy morning people that rise before the sun. The first thing I do when I wake up is get changed into my workout gear and have a big glass of water. I then go for a walk with my puppy, do a 30 minute HIIT workout in my backyard (please note, this is VERY challenging to do when you have a lap dog) or teach a body pump class at the gym.
7.00am: Once I have showered and gotten ready for work, I make myself a glass of warm lemon water to sip on while I prepare breakfast (typical nutritionist). I try to have a different breakfast every morning as I get easily bored if I’m eating the same thing every day. My favourite breakfasts at the moment are blueberry and orange rind bircher muesli, or a slice of dark rye toast with smashed avocado, feta, poached eggs and a side of wilted spinach.
10:30am: I always have my mid-morning snack at this time because it’s recess at work (#teacherlyf). I usually eat an apple with nut butter, a couple of homemade goji berry bliss balls or some grapes and cashews. I generally opt for fruit in the morning to avoid sugar cravings in the afternoon.
1pm: Before eating lunch every day, I drink a glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to prevent bloating. My lunch always consists of some form of carbohydrates, protein and good fats, with my go to at the moment being a cold quinoa and kale slaw salad with goats cheese, dukkah and a can of sardines in olive oil.
4pm: I am always ravenous come 4pm, probably because I spend my day tending to a room full of 5 year olds. My afternoon snack is generally carrots sticks with peanut butter, a homemade seed and nut muesli bar or some of my beloved chia seed and peanut butter cookies (is it obvious that I am slightly peanut butter obsessed?). I always base this snack around good fats as they keep me full until dinner time!
6.30pm: Ever since I can remember, I have always eaten dinner early so that I have plenty of time to digest before going to bed (there is nothing worse than trying to go to sleep on a full stomach). While I’m cooking dinner, I sip on a glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. I never try to avoid or limit carbs at night time, as I have found that this just leads to me overeat later on in the night. My all time favourite dinners are crispy skin salmon with smokey sweet potato fries and a green salad, or chicken pesto pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and bocconcini cheese.
8.30pm: I generally eat enough throughout the day that I don’t really need an after dinner snack, but when my boyfriend opens up a Cadbury Snack block, I’m there (I generally steal all of the pineapple and strawberry pieces and leave him with the rest)!
4. Coffee or tea?
Give me all the tea, all the time! Green tea, black tea, chai tea, lemon and ginger tea- you name it, I drink it!
5. What is your indulgence of choice?
Cheesecake in any way, shape of form.
6. Three foods you can’t live without?
Peanut butter, cheese and salmon.
7. What’s your go-to snack for those days on the run?
A banana and a handful of almonds.
8. … And any last words of advice or tips for those starting out on their health journey?
Please don’t get caught up with the number on the scales, because there is so much more to health than how much you weigh. Health involves eating nourishing, whole foods most of the time, and indulging in whatever you want in moderation. It involves socialising with friends and family, but also taking time out to do things for yourself. It involves moving your body in ways that you enjoy, but also ensuring you get enough rest and sleep. It involves having a good work-life balance and being able to manage stress. And most importantly, good health involves being happy!
To find out more about Monica, visit her Instagram!