A Mother's Lifestyle: Interview
Q: Tell me about yourself. What do you do?
A: My name is Michele Colabrese. I am a wife to a hard-working supportive husband and mother of three lovely daughters. I am blessed to be able to live out my passion to inspire healthy living. I own a home-based business with the Juice Plus Company, substitute teach in the Hoover City Schools, instruct a Jazzercise fitness class five times a week, teach Sunday school at my church, and coach cheerleading with Hoover Athletic Association.
Q: What a busy schedule! How do you balance this lifestyle?
A: It is fairly simple, most days, to balance my busy schedule as long as I stay passionate about what I am doing. I also have always been the type of person that would rather not miss the chance to sit on the edge of my daughter’s bed and chat for a few moments, jump on the trampoline with my youngest, or sit with any of my children and listen to their story rather than do the dishes. The dishes aren’t going anywhere, but don’t let me miss this moment.
Q: What barriers do you find yourself running into?
A: The biggest barrier for me is time. Keeping things in order can be tricky, especially when factoring in everyone’s busy schedules. Taking quiet time for myself in order to find clarity to stay purposeful and passionate is a priority.
Q: Why should practicing healthy lifestyle behaviors be so important?
A: Practicing healthy lifestyle behaviors is important, simply stated, because it makes you feel better. I frequently tell my family that we can’t reach our highest potential if we aren’t well. I teach my daughters that they have a moral obligation to take care of their bodies. Their body is a temple and they should treat it as such...feed it well and exercise. It’s really not that tricky if you think about it.
Q: Why should others be concerned with their health? What barriers do you see for people in the community?
A: I asked a college student visiting from Italy this summer what he thought the biggest difference between life in Italy versus life in the U.S. and he said, “everything and everybody here is fast.” There is truth in that, and this seems to be our greatest barrier to living a healthy lifestyle. It seems we rush through life trying to do too much, and sadly, I feel there is too little focus on individual overall wellness. When the message and focus of the food industry is one of convenience, it speaks volumes to the general public that is too busy to listen and learn. This brings me to a lack of education as a major barrier. Many people may not know the reasons why water is better than soda, or why physical activity each day is good for us. Perhaps some do not realize that food in its natural state is best for our bodies or that an apple is different from applesauce. The problem is that it’s not easy when food in its natural state costs more than processed food that is convenient and mass produced. I tell my kids all the time that the body is meant to heal itself on the inside. The same way an open wound will heal and get a scab, the inside of our bodies will naturally defend and heal itself, if healthy. If people realized that simple lifestyle changes in diet and exercise could make a huge impact on their quality of life for the long term, then we would most certainly be a healthier people. Other major barriers are availability and opportunities regardless of socioeconomics and any disabilities. I believe equal rights cannot be overemphasized. People with disabilities should have the same opportunities and be very well represented.
Q: What are some ways you practice healthy behaviors?
A: I love eating fruits and veggies, working out, and trying new recipes – I like to opt ingredients to make them healthier. While practicing many healthy behaviors is a norm, my family also enjoys an ice cream sundae and occasional treats, like my favorite potato chip snack! Since it is challenging to affordably eat the recommended seven to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, my family takes Juice Plus whole food capsules, adding 30 vine ripened fruits and vegetables to our diet every day. I also grow my own surplus of veggies including tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, eggplant, kale, Swiss chard, herbs, and so much more! My family enjoys walking our dog, Zoey and spending time together, realizing that a healthy mind is equally important to overall wellness. One more fun thing we often do is park at a farthest spot away in a parking lot in order to take advantage of a short brisk walk. For our family, it’s all of these small simple changes that over time that I trust will make a difference.
Q: How do you advocate for a healthy lifestyle?
A: Although I am far from a perfect example, my friends and family often refer to me as an advocate for living a healthy lifestyle. I realize how important it is for all of us to be willing to believe that change is possible. I have gone full circle in my life from eating very healthy as a child to living a life of unhealthy eating, and now to a life of mainly healthy eating and regular physical activity. Because of simple changes over time, I have been able to inspire the people in my life to make simple changes to improve their health too. I enjoy teaching and encouraging my Jazzercise customers how to safely stretch, breathe, and push themselves to give their best. I also share healthy recipes with friends and family. I also try to stay informed of community health improvement plans by attending Health Action, Bold Goals coalition and Voices for Alabama’s children meetings.
Through my Juice Plus business, I am able to help people bridge the gap between what we should eat and what we actually do eat. When substitute teaching, I encourage healthy behaviors to kids such as choosing water over sugary drinks. My favorite class to sub for is PE. I love putting some music on for the students to get moving in whichever way they can.
You never know who is watching and how your lifestyle can influence other people. My hope is that as my children grow and mature, they too will be advocates in their circles of friends to help others see that healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle are satisfying to make huge impacts in their lives.
Q: When I first met you, I remember you mentioning something about a ‘Core Four’ that you practice in your family. Tell me more about this.
A: I do preach the ‘core four’ to my girls, and to anyone that will listen! I think it’s an easy way to take a step towards making a simple change to be well.
1. Drink water: Every chance you get, choose water.
2. Eat lots of fruits and veggies: Nutrients, phytonutrients, and antioxidants needed to heal our bodies can be found in fruits and veggies. This is why MyPlate encourages half of every meal to be made up of fruits and vegetables.
3. Exercise: Park far away from your destination, turn some music on in your bedroom, take a walk...anything...everyday.
4. Sleep: Too often I see adults and children that do not get enough rest.
I, most importantly, stress if one of these four factors is missing. The choices we make today affect the way we feel tomorrow. Keep it simple and make small changes for a healthier life!
Q: Spring has finally sprung. How do you promote healthy decisions in the spring?
Picture of a Tower Garden by Juice Plus
A: One way to promote healthy decisions in the spring is to get outside. Taking a walk, playing volleyball, or a taking a hike at Moss Rock [a local hiking trail] are activities we enjoy. While I do enjoy traditional gardening, my vegetable garden uses state of the art growing technology called aeroponics. The Tower Garden by Juice Plus offers a cleaner, simpler, and more efficient way to grow fresh healthy food for my family. There is no soil, so there are no weeds. It uses 90 percent less space, increases yields by an average of 30 percent, grows plants up to three times faster, and uses as little as 2 percent of the water used in traditional gardening. My family loves the more colorful, better tasting, and nutritious veggies we get from our Tower Garden. The Tower Garden opens doors for me to inspire healthy living by sharing this product with others. I have helped schools across the state [of Alabama] obtain Towers in an effort to educate the youth on the importance of whole food nutrition. Spain Park and Gwin Elementary, to name a couple, have Tower Gardens in use. They are definitely an effective way to inspire healthy living.
The information provided here is offered as a service only. The National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability and the UAB/Lakeshore Research Collaborative do not formally recommend or endorse any products listed. As with any products or services, consumers should investigate and determine on their own which equipment best fits their needs and budget.