Laura Lea of LL Balanced.
Laura Lea slays the game. (The woman does have two first names, after all). After finding herself unhappy while living in NYC six years ago, she decided to shake it up. She completely changed the course of her life, moved back to Nashville and followed her passion: cooking.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi guys! So I am, first and foremost, a frenchie and cat mom. But on the work front, I am a Certified Holistic Chef, which basically means I cook healthy food! I run my business, LL Balanced, in my hometown of Nashville, TN. The majority of my work centers around recipe creation: I create weekly content for my blog, and I am working on my second cookbook. My first cookbook-baby came out this past May, and I loved every moment of the process.
What was the inspiration behind LL Balanced?
This business was a happy accident that resulted from very unhappy circumstances. 6 years ago, I was miserable, anxious and depressed living in New York City. I found no joy or pride in my work, so I distracted myself by partying and eating out almost every night. Several years into this self-destruction, I knew I had to do something to change the course of my life. I stopped going out and began waking up early on the weekends, throwing on a backpack and exploring the city. I found myself gravitating towards the farmers markets and towards bookstores—specifically, the cookbook section. I’d stuff my backpack with fresh local produce, squeeze myself onto the subway and head home to concoct recipes. A few months into my home-cooking venture, my anxiety and depression began decreasing dramatically. At the time, people understood the aesthetic relationship between healthy food and a healthy body, but there wasn’t much buzz about a healthy brain. I decided I wanted to create that buzz as a living!
What do you love most about your job?
Reader feedback, hands down. There is nothing goose-bumpier (?!) than hearing that my recipes have helped someone enjoy cooking, enjoy food, and enjoy improving their health. Or hearing from a mama that she can finally make just ONE meal, which pleases all family members. That is everything.
What do you love most about yourself?
Wow, what a fantastic question! I love that people seem to feel better after spending time with me. Feel happier. I don’t even know that I can take credit for it, but it’s certainly something I am grateful for and proud of!
Take us through a day in the life of Laura Lea. We want all the deets!
You asked for it! Ok, so first things first—I wake up and do a mental gratitude list. Down to the smallest things: my warm bed, sunlight in the curtains, the sound of my cat outside the door. This sets the tone for my entire day. Then it’s slippers and, right now, a fluffy jacket to take the dogs outside for a potty break. Then they bolt inside to await their breakfast, since we always feed our animals before ourselves. While I’m feeding the girls, I sip on my “morning drink”, which is 32 ounces of filtered water, the juice from 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and about 1/3 packet of Go Every Strawberry Lemonade sugar free drink mix. It’s a local Nashville company I adore, and they use stevia instead of anything artificial. Finally, it’s time for my brekky! I am definitely a sweet over savory gal in the morning, so I usually reach for a smoothie or my Superfood Matcha Latte with a piece of whatever baked good I have on hand (there’s almost always a loaf or muffins lying around). I just posted a recipe for PB&J Banana Bread, and it is giving me LIFE. I also love warm oatmeal or overnight oats, and I’m big on yogurt bowls as well. Siggis vanilla 4% with Purely Elizabeth Maple Walnut Probiotic Yogurt and the semi-dried frozen apricots from Trader Joes is a go-to combination.
After breakfast, I stand at my desk (I prefer to stand for my digestion in the morning) and get my best brain-work done for a few hours: writing posts, editing recipes, answering emails. Late morning is my usual workout time, and I’m currently DIGGING Orange Theory. I typically do 3 OTF classes per week, every other day, and in between I walk or do yoga. Post-workout is either shower or lunch, depending on how hungry I am :). I try to meal prep on the weekends so lunch and dinner are easy to grab: I’ll make a big batch of roasted veggies and a grain or pasta and some kind of protein, OR I’ll make one of my casseroles/large batch dishes. Then I just throw some leftovers together with a fresh element—greens or sprouts typically—and the meal is ready! I always…ALWAYS end my lunch with a piece of dark chocolate and some tea. My current fave combo is Endangered Species 72% with cacao nibs and Gaia Gas and Bloating Tea (it is a licorice flavor, which I personally love).
The afternoon is my time for recipe testing, food photography and errand-running—all activities that require concentration, but not the super-intense kind! I also prefer shooting my food pictures with the late-afternoon light (around 4 pm right now). Most days, I need an afternoon snack to get me to dinner, and 85% of the time I go for a sliced organic apple with cinnamon and lemon juice. It’s incredible! Sometimes I’ll pair that with a handful of Brad’s Raw Veggies chips or half a RX or Go Macro Bar with nut butter.
I like to get a little more motion in the ocean before the day is done, so I’ll often take another 30 minute walk around 5, either outside or on the treadmill. I shouldn't work afterwards, but I typically do keep working till 6 or so. Once I’ve finally shut it down (ISH) for the day, I throw dinner together for myself or myself and my husband (he works late).
Ahhhh, evening time! 7-9 or so pm is my time to unwind with a long epsom salt bath…yeah, pretty much every night! The magnesium in epsom salts helps relax my muscles, and I also add a few drops of calming lavender essential oil to the water. Once bathed, Max and I hang with the pets. watch an episode of something (right now we’re going nose to tail on Breaking Bad). I start to turn into a pumpkin around 9:30, so we get rid of the screen, and I do a short meditation holding my favorite crystals. Then it’s an easy book…ideally a fantasy like The Magicians and off to dreamland!
Laura Lea of LL Balanced.
What advice do you have for others who are considering launching their own brand/business?
Two things. 1) Do it anyway. Whatever you’re working towards is going to start with (and continue to have) great uncertainty. I think many many aspiring entrepreneurs hold themselves back, purposefully or not, because of self-created barriers. You don’t need to know what you’re doing. You don’t need to have all the answers. You don’t even need to have an end goal. Just do it, focusing on ONE day at a time and doing your best each day. Which leads to…2) Success comes from CONSISTENCY, not perfection. You must must must be consistent. That doesn’t mean you don’t change tactics or try new things—of course you will! But it does mean that you shouldn’t give up or change course until you have tried…practiced…consistently. Don’t let mistakes be the reason you break a routine that, if implemented daily, will accumulate into a spectacular product.
What's on the horizon for you in 2018?
Cookbook #2!!! Yay! I am starting on my second-born child in about 6 weeks, and I couldn’t be more excited. That’s all I’ll say for right now :). I will also be continuing to create content for YouTube, and I have some fantastic brand partnerships lined up as well.
And lastly, what makes you feel like a kween?
Being included in the roster for this girl-boss interview series, for one!!! But more than anything, earning the respect of the people I care about and trust. I am truly humbled by affection and kind words I receive from my readers, but I also receive the occasional not-so-nice words. And I just try to remember that the haters AND the lovers (??) don’t really know me, and that’s ok. If I’m making those who do really know me proud, I’m all good.