Q&A with Molly Alliman of Balance by Molly
This sounds dramatic, but Molly changed my life. She helped me view food in an entirely new way - removing the "good" and "bad" labels I had placed on certain foods for the majority of my adult life. Instead, she taught me to tune-in to my cravings and how to listen to what my body wanted. She runs Balance by Molly, where she offers corporate wellness programs and personal health coaching.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I feel like I am on a podcast with you Ali, and that I should say “thank you for having me” or “long live the kween” and stuff like that. But it’s just me, typing away on my computer at home like a true winner at 11pm on a Friday night. My boyfriend and I had planned on making French toast for dinner tonight for some major turn up vibes. Realizing we didn’t have any maple syrup, we decided to ditch this idea and ventured out to our favorite local spot here in San Francisco, Media Noche. Upon arriving at this tiny Cuban food haven, we were greeted by a sign that read “closed for unforeseen maintenance.” Unfazed, we circled around to a local store and bought some maple syrup. French toast it is! Made with sprouted wheat bread and pasture-raised eggs, of course ;) while watching previews of movies we were thinking about watching on Netflix, but then finished dinner before actually picking one.
I think this scenario pretty much sums me up. But wait, did you want the part about me going through a health crisis, finding healing through food and then going through a career crisis and finding healing through starting my own health coaching practice? Don’t worry that’s coming! Literally in the next question (Ali, you are killing it with your question transitions).
What was the inspiration behind Balance by Molly?
The inspiration behind my Health Coaching business was to teach people how food can be used as medicine and to feel their best. Like many of us, I was raised on processed food and didn’t think much of it. In my early adult life, I lived off of fast food, microwave dinners, Swedish fish, flavored vodka, and bagels and cream cheese. When I got really sick at the age of 24, resulting in a litany of diagnoses and eventually the removal of my gallbladder, I knew I needed to make changes. Problem is I didn’t even know where to start, or even how to cook a vegetable.
Not one of the doctors I saw, asked me about my diet or what I was eating. So after surgery I travelled to Thailand as part of a 6-month trip during the economic crisis in 2008 and stayed there for a month. It was here that I met a holistic nutritionist from England who taught me about whole food nutrition. It completely blew my mind. When I returned home, I cut out all processed food and started to eat only real food. The changes happened almost overnight. I lost almost 30 pounds, my acid reflux went away, the bloat, the inflammation, etc. and I had SO.MUCH.ENERGY. The kind of energy where you leap out of bed at 6am, go for a run on the beach (I was living in Santa Monica at the time), and your focus and mental clarity is on fire throughout the day with no afternoon slump or sugar cravings that used to leave me wondering who ate the entire bag of Famous Amos cookies… oh wait, that was me.
After my friends watched me go through my transition, they began asking for my secret. Then after that, friends of friends and so on. I didn’t know this could be a business. I was riddled with self-doubt and also held captive by the golden handcuffs of my banking career. I had spent 13 years of my career climbing the corporate ladder and becoming a well-compensated Vice President at a large bank doing large loans to large tech companies. How could I give that up?
When the question became “HOW COULD I NOT?” that’s when I made the leap. No looking back.
What was the transition like from an office job to self-employed?
It was hard. I won’t lie to you about that. I roller-coasted mentally for the first few months from “what the f@$& have I done?!” to “f@$& yes, I’m doing it!!” But I truly believe that if you are seriously scared of something, then you should probably do it. And that nothing good or rewarding ever comes from walking the easy path. I was so scared that I wouldn’t get any clients. That I wouldn’t make any money. And god forbid, that I would have to go back to banking (the horror!).
Before I left my banking career, a female exec who I admired told me “do what you love, and the money will follow.” The truth of that has never been more loud and clear.
If you are making the transition yourself, the advice I give is to establish a routine that works for you. If you want to keep the 9 to 5 mentality and shut your computer off at night and on the weekends, then do that. If you aren’t a morning person (ahem) and want to sleep until 9am, meet with clients in the afternoon, and then work on marketing, writing, emails and administrative tasks after 10pm or midnight when your brain turns on… then honor that too. You are your own freaking boss. I also truly love knowing that what I create and make is mine. Not someone else’s. And not for 77 cents on the dollar. (Yay feminism!)
What do you love most about your job?
Every time I get a text or an email from a client telling me that I changed their life. This is what I love most about my job. When I see the lightbulb go off in my client’s head and they see the change they need to make. This is what I love most about my job.
I received a text the other day from a friend of mine who works for a company that helps place me with tech companies for corporate wellness gigs. She was doing an exit interview with an employee who had written “Side note: my favorite talk that I went to was actually Molly’s nutrition talk in October. It really made me stop eating so much processed foods and switch to whole foods and I have lost 13 pounds since then!”
I smiled forever after that one. This is what lights me up. To be able to effect change in other people’s lives. This is what I love most.
What do you love most about yourself?
That I enjoy life. I truly do. Even the bad parts. It is a pretty bad ass thing to be human. We get to experience a huge rainbow of emotions, experience people and relationships, make mistakes, learn from them and then dust ourselves off and start over. I have learned to be resilient and also kind to others. But most of all, kind to myself.
Take us through a day in the life of Molly. We want all the deets!
I am pretty much a wellness cliché. I have a giant 20 oz. glass of warm lemon water in the morning when I wake up followed by a giant smoothie (current go to combo is pineapple and greens). I check my calendar, text my clients to confirm the following days appointments. I then spend a few hours going through my ever growing “to-do list” and answer emails (apparently there are a lot of morning people who email me between the hours of 6am and 9am). I make an instagrammable lunch at home or meet up with a friend or friends at a healthy spot with ingredients I trust. I then start taking clients usually by 1pm to 6pm. I cook an early dinner, or order take out from Media Noche or Souvla (do you see a pattern here?), read a book, watch a show, then dive in to work again until about midnight. If I am up later then I am scrolling the gram looking for inspiration, or cool new clothing or design brands.
Instagram posts usually happen at 2pm, 5pm or 9pm and working out usually happens at 10am, noon or 5:30pm – yoga at Moxie or pilates at MNT STUDIO. I am low impact these days. Sorry Soul Cycle, you’re cool but apparently, I am not.
What's on the horizon for Molly Alliman in 2018?
Honestly, I am not sure yet, but it would be sweet to predict the future. I have some pretty cool partnerships that I am working on that I hope will work out. I would love to make more time for writing and recipe creating. Maybe turn that into a book. I would love to take on some male clients. I would love to increase my corporate client base. Get on a few airplanes, see some things. And I hope there will be surprises and curve balls. I like these :)
And lastly, what makes you feel like a kween?
Is it corny to say meeting cool people like you through this crazy platform called Instagram? Meeting and befriended true entrepreneurs who uplift and inspire makes me feel like a kween because we all share the crown. I would put Nicole Modic of @kalejunkie, Elaine Hayes of @mntstudio and Hande Mirel of @handemirel in this category as well. They have supported me since day one of this journey and I am forever thankful for my fellow kweens.