A series of stories about inspirational South African Women
#2 Michaela Mallet, owner, and founder of Better with Balance
Men can’t braai. We said it, men can’t braai! Women are the flavour in whatever we are cooking. Women are the idea seekers and healthy side dish creators! We checked in with a fit, feisty, and powerful woman with a drive for health and fitness, Michaela Mallet, from Better with Balance. Read her story about why she is passionate about women’s health, and how she is changing lives one plate at a time.
Let’s be real for a second. We know you’ve had a sneaky extra piece of garlic bread before the table was set. Or the tip of boerewors just as it’s finished braaiing. A few pieces of feta while making the salad or the corners of the braai broodjies you cut off to identify them. To not waste food and all. This was just the during-braai-snacks, we’re not even talking about the pre-braai chips, biltong, and cheese plate. Suddenly your jean button feels like it wants to pop! You feel sluggish and just way too full after a Saturday night braai. Be honest, it’s happened to us all!
That is where Michaela’s story started, hopping from one diet to the next after nights of overindulging. Every single Monday starts something new to try and make up for the wrong way of eating. She’s always been very weight conscious, constantly trying to shed a few kilos. This contrast between overeating and crash diets led her to develop an eating disorder called binge eating. Binge eating is a known eating disorder where you eat in large amounts at random times. “It’s like an out-of-body experience when an urge to binge hits you,” says Michaela.
She’s a qualified chef with a specialty in patisserie, but this was a toxic environment for her. Although this was what she thought she would become, the country’s best pastry chef, it made her want to binge more. Rough doesn’t explain what it was like. Always up-and-down, from one binge to the next. Years of her life that she lost because she was on a search to always lose a little more, eat a little more, feeding the negative habit she’s developed into a horrible destructive cycle.
Moving to a different province didn’t do the trick, changing careers didn’t help, not even a few weeks in rehab cured her. It was a realization that her eating disorder won’t ever go away, she had to live with it. Most of all, she had to take control back over this dark cloud that was obstructing her from living fully. Her final choice was to strive for a career in personal training, health, and fitness.
In just a few years, she grew her business into something much bigger than personal training and into an avenue for women to learn to live with balance. She’s taken her journey to recovery and used it to help other women that are struggling with the same thing, but may be too scared to talk about it. She’s taken her pain and used it as fuel to relate to women, to build them up, and give them a second chance at becoming the best they can be. Michaela has become a voice of motivation. A platform for advice. A resource of information for everyday questions women might have about nutrition, anatomy, exercise, and losing weight.
For her, it’s not about losing weight to get ready for a big life event. It’s not about fitting into a smaller size jean again. It’s about being happy in your own skin. It’s about going to a braai, eating what you want, and enjoying yourself! It’s about learning to forgive yourself for overindulging, but in the same breath, taking ownership of it, and making healthier choices the next day. The platform she’s created with Better with Balance has given women the ‘it’s okay they need, the encouragement to leave all the pressure of losing weight behind and learning the necessary skills to achieve their ultimate goals.
Her chef background has taught her the skills needed to create convenient, easy-to-put together meals for her lean queens.
Michaela’s top tips for eating mindfully at a braai
Option 1 – Plate it!
- Dish everything you want to eat on one plate.
- Eat at a table where you will be mindful of what you’re having, taking in every taste, every smell, and texture. It is important to stay mindful, otherwise, you will go back for more to be reminded of the taste.
- Try not to snack off the braai, pick from the table.
Option 2 – Split it!
- Dish up a starter and mains plate.
- Your starter plate contains veggies, salad, or even a little piece of bread.
- Your mains are meats, more salad, and veggies. When you start to eat your mains, you’ll feel full because of the starter plate – resulting in a more satisfied start to a meal without overeating.
It’s all about mindfulness and moderation. It’s about learning to forgive yourself. It’s about women coming together in a circle of support. It’s about living your best, happiest life and eating the extra scoop of potato salad! It’s about not restricting yourself to undereat, then falling into binge eating. It’s truly about being better with balance.
To Michaela and her Better with Balance platform and movement, we salute you for sharing your story. For using it to lift other women up. For guiding women to be the best versions of themselves they can be!
Michaela’s yummy braaied butternut and pecans
- Slice butternut into 1cm thick slices.
- Braai for 15-20 minutes till soft and a little charred. You can boil your butternut slices beforehand to make the braai time a bit shorter.
- Dress with honey, diced pecans, and feta on a bed of rocket or baby spinach.
To watch her full story, click here.