A high-stress job led to a decade of hurried, frozen and restaurant meals for lunch and dinner. The toll was evident on Stephanie Leach’s family and she knew a change had to be made—and change she did. Stephanie relocated her family to Colorado, left behind a stressful career to become a certified health coach and makes healthy eating and cooking a cornerstone of their lifestyle. Her story is inspiring and we admire that she also dedicates her life to helping other busy moms find their path to better health.

Name: Stephanie Leach 
Children: One 
City: Longmont 
Occupation: Certified Health Coach

1. How did you hear about LiveWell Moms? 
I learned about LiveWell Moms through the LiveWell Colorado website. I believe my first exposure to LiveWell Colorado was through the 360 Gut Check TV advertising campaign. 

2. Why did you decide to sign up for the LiveWell Moms program? 
I signed up to be a LiveWell Mom because I am dedicated to helping busy women lose weight, gain energy and lead their families to better health. 

3. Describe where you are personally on the journey to health and wellness? 
As a busy mom and wife with a demanding, high-stress job, I often found “eating healthy” challenging. But a decade of fast-food lunches, restaurant meals and frozen, processed dinners had done a number on our waistlines and our wallet. I was tired, burned out. Something had to change. 

I began cooking more at home as a way to de-stress and put the cares of the workday aside. I love food and find nutrition interesting. As I explored new recipes and ingredients, my confidence in the kitchen grew. I discovered that cooking healthy meals at home was the best way for me to take control of my family’s health and our food costs. I also learned that cooking healthy meals can fit into a busy lifestyle, and they taste better and give my body the fuel it needs to keep up with a hectic schedule.  

My awareness of the power of our food choices – both the impact on our bodies and the environment – increased dramatically after I enrolled in the Health Coach Training Program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. I am now an AADP Certified Health Coach, trained in more than 100 dietary theories, lifestyle management techniques and coaching methods.

I have made lifestyle changes including a kitchen garden in our suburban backyard, buying organic, humanely raised meat and eggs as often as possible, and eating more vegetables and less meat.  And I got rid of that high stress job! 

I now work from home, focused on getting the “healthy eating is important and do-able” message out to other moms.

4. Describe where your family is currently on its journey to health and wellness? 
My husband has finally adopted a healthier eating mindset.  After his mountain biking accident last year, he realized he needed the best nutrition possible to recover fully from his concussion. He stopped the fast-food lunch habit, and began enjoying delicious brain boosting smoothies for breakfast, and nutrient dense lunches. He lost 25 pounds along the way, and is now my biggest advocate. I am so proud of him!

My son is 10 years old, so the packaged snack foods and sodas are a lure for him. But after he reads the ingredients on the label, he often puts it back on the shelf. He is selective about the school lunches he eats, and most often prefers to bring a lunch from home.  He likes trying new foods, and has started helping me with some of the cooking.   

5. Why do you believe it is important to instill healthy habits in our children starting at a young age? 
From infancy, a child’s palate is being developed. If you serve a variety of foods and flavors from an early age, you have fewer problems with picky eating.  Children sometimes go through stages where they don’t like something, but I’ve learned that if I keep introducing the food in different ways, over time they usually learn to like it. They’ll be more inclined to make healthy choices as they get older. 

6. How concerned are you about obesity rates in Colorado and across the nation? Do you believe individuals, especially moms, have the power to make a positive impact on reducing obesity rates locally? 
I am very concerned about the obesity rates in Colorado, especially in children.  Colorado may have one of the lowest obesity rates among adults in the nation, but our children have one of the fastest growing obesity rates.  In most homes, the mom does most of the food shopping and meal planning. Moms absolutely have the power to dramatically reduce obesity rates. Healthy eating starts at home. 

7. How do you try to make a difference in your child’s health and wellness at their school? In your community? 
A lot of my efforts are online on my website www.familieseatingbetter.com, supporting the busy, working mom community with actionable nutrition and health information in the form of blog posts, free e-books and coaching programs. In my local community, I enjoy visiting local farms and building relationships with the people devoted to providing nutritious and sustainable food. 

8. Why would you encourage other moms to become part of this grassroots ambassador program?
We need more moms to share their personal path to better health. Every person and every family is different. What works for one person may not work for someone else. The more information, suggestions, tips and support we can put out into the world, the faster we can help more families take control of their health.

9. Is there anything else you would like other LiveWell Moms – or potential program members – to know about you and your family? 
We relocated from Spring, Texas, a large suburb of Houston, to Longmont, Colo., a few years ago. We love it here, and enjoy frequently hikes and 4×4 trails in the surrounding mountains. Even though life gets busy, I remind myself to slow down, watch a sunset, and savor the flavor of Colorado.