If you have been following along on my blog for a bit, you’ve probably noticed I have a thing for people who channel something they love into a business. This is just one of the many things I admire about Lake Forest’s Molly O’Neil.
I first met Molly a year ago when she offered a workshop at Forever Om yoga studio in Lake Forest. Molly, who is a certified health coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition—as well as the owner of mPowering Health & Wellness—lead us through a series of tweaks in how we were eating with the hope of helping us feel and live better.
“I’m a huge believer that if you make one small change to how you’re eating or exercising for week or a month, you’ll notice the benefits and then be open to layering on another change,” she says.
Although Molly began her career in television production, she has always had a passion for the health and wellness world.
“I just naturally gravitated to Shape and Women’s Health magazines and I’d pick up these tips that I’d share with my family and friends that they didn’t seem to know,” she says. “Then more and more people suggested that others might benefit if I shared this information on a bigger scale.”
After moving to the North Shore, having her two children, and receiving her certification as a health coach, Molly launched her business mPowering Health & Wellness. “I often talk about how I wish that the holistic health resources that we have today had been around when I was a child,” she says. “With mPowering Health & Wellness, I do a lot of one-on-one coaching. But I realized that I also love leading seminars and working with children.”
For the first time last fall, Molly and close friend Jen Buettner (from Lake Forest)—also a mother of two, certified yoga instructor, nurse by background, and owner of JB Mindful— pooled their collective wellness resources and offered a four-week series to teenage girls ages 13-16 called “Girl Power” at Gorton Community Center. They broke the sessions into two 45-minute segments with the first half focused on nutrition and the second half on learning the fundamentals of yoga. Molly worked with the girls on how to add healthier foods into their diets instead of restricting themselves in any way. Jen broke down the vinyasa into basic yoga poses with the hope that someday these girls could participate in a community class without hesitation. This duo was thrilled with the community’s response to their program—drawing a cross-section of girls from area schools. They look forward to building on this momentum with more classes being offered on Sundays this November.
While Molly has a large following from her girl and teen workshops, adults (especially women like me!) are clamoring for her know-how.
“When I got my certification, I just assumed I would be coaching people on how to lose weight,” she says. “But one of the biggest requests I receive are from people looking for advice on how to manage their autoimmune disorders. These disorders are at the root of so many illnesses.”
Molly did a great deal of research into autoimmune disorders—even taking additional coursework on the subject—and quickly learned the impact diet has.
“I’ve always liked cooking and eating as clean as I can,” Molly says, also admitting to being a dedicated food logger. “When you eat clean, you take out all of the garbage—mostly the preservatives and the added sugars. The top sources of inflammation are sugar, dairy, gluten, soy, and alcohol.”
Molly never dreamed that her health coach certification would take her into the food business, but it has. She launched a variety of healthy bites called “Molls Balls.”
“People are so busy that they just want some of the figuring out done for them,” she adds. “I’ve made these balls with health-promoting ingredients that are free of gluten, dairy, soy, and added sugar. I’ve also portioned them out to be a healthy serving.” People can find Molls Balls at Elawa Farm’s Market, The Dailey Method in Lake Forest, Be Market in Lake Bluff, and Love That Spice in Highland Park. You can also order them directly from Molly’s website.
When I asked Molly if it was hard to start her own business, she was quick to say “no.”
“The Institute for Integrative Nutrition did a great job getting us ready to bring our skills to the market,” she says. “The hardest part for me is deciding where to spend my energies—there are so many places this business could go—all of them good!”
Molly’s Healthy Tips
As we gear up for the holidays, Molly offered the following tips to build some better habits in the weeks ahead:
- Stay hydrated. Water helps us function, think, sleep, and manage stress better. Molly recommends 60 ounces of water per day plus 1 ounce for every minute of intense exercise.
- Eat more fiber. Aim for 25+ grams per day if you’re an adult and 10+ grams per day for children.
- Eat less sugar. Try to stay under 25 grams of added sugars per day for all food and drink (most labels spell this out).
- Be active and get more sleep. Both are key to reducing stress!
To learn more about how Molly may be able to help you live a healthier life, visit mollsballs.com.