Running your own business and also carving out self-care time isn't easy. Here's how Caroll Lee of Provenance Meals does it.

By Julia Malacoff
Provenance Meals

Turning your passion into a business is no easy task, but that's exactly what Caroll Lee, founder of Provenance Meals–a Brooklyn-based, rapidly-growing meal delivery service–managed to do. Specializing in food that's free of gluten, dairy, and refined sugar, the company has become a one-stop-shop for busy folks who still want nourishing meals.

So how did Lee get her start in the wellness industry? "What began as pleasure for feeding friends and family a home-cooked meal made from real food has evolved into my mission," Lee says. "As a foodie and a nutritionist, I want to bring joy to people through delicious, nutritious food. I want people to know what good health feels like, and to understand that food is an incredible way to bring more health into your life."

But when your business is expanding, it can be a challenge to fit in time for self-care, carve out blocks for relaxing with loved ones, and stay calm when things get stressful. (Did you know that burnout is now recognized as a real medical condition by the World Health Organization?!)

Luckily, Lee has mastered the art of work-life balance. Here's how she navigates a typical work day.

Morning routine: Matcha and Meditation

You've probably read a million stories about high-achievers who rave about waking up before sunrise. According to them, once you start getting up so early, it's "SO EASY." Well, here's some refreshing news: Lee isn't obsessed with mornings—and she's still super successful. "I would love to be a morning person by nature, but even after having two kids and completely changing my routine to match their needs, it still hasn't transformed me into a magical get-up-and-go type of gal," she says.

But like lots of other go-getters, Lee does have a defined morning routine. "The first thing I do when my alarm goes off at 7 am is drink a big glass of water and then make my morning matcha, while my husband and I get the kids ready for their school day." Once her kids are out the door, she'll meditate for 15 to 20 minutes. "Sometimes I'll squeeze in a home workout or run if there's time," she adds. (Never tried it? Here's the beginner's guide to meditation.)

Then, it's time for breakfast—usually one of Provenance Meals' protein-packed egg dishes. Once breakfast is over, she heads off to work. Lee even finds inspiration in her daily commute: "I usually work out of The Wing in DUMBO, and since I live along the Brooklyn Greenway, it's a gorgeous bike ride along the piers. That fresh air and exercise are so important in getting me ready for my workday, and the views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline along the way remind me how lucky I am to live here."

At work: Protein, Hydration, and Pep Talks

As the founder of her own company, Lee's workdays are constantly varied, which means she needs to be on top of her game. Instead of relying on snacks to maintain her energy, she favors a three-meals-a-day approach, and prioritizes two main nutrients to power her through: protein and hydration.

Instead of grabbing a cappuccino when that mid-afternoon slump hits, Lee opts for a caffeine-free choice—her brand's pomegranate lime chia fresca. "It's more hydrating than plain water. Chia seeds absorb 10 times their weight in water and form something called 'gel water,'" she explains. Not only do the protein and fiber in the drink keep her full between meals, but it also keeps her skin plump and dewy. (Related: 17 Chia Seed Pudding Recipes That Taste Better Than Dessert)

As with any fast-paced job, stressful moments do come up. "I give myself a lot of pep talks!" Lee says. "As I've gotten older (and I like to think, a wee bit wiser), I find it easier to stand in my own self-worth and have the confidence to do what I want to do and say what I want to say." She credits much of this awareness to meditation and mindfulness. So when things get tense, she tries to keep herself centered: "Mostly, I try to be grateful for what I have, appreciate everyone on my team and what they do every day to help me realize the company's mission, and to let go of anger or emotions that don't serve me or the ones I love."

Evenings: Family Dinners and Travel Planning

As you can probably guess, food plays a starring role in Lee's home life and post-work routine. "As a family, we try to sit down to dinner together at least a few times a week," she says. Her kids are 10 and 14 years old and have their own busy schedules, making time to eat together an occasional challenge.

But it's worth the effort. "Carving out the time to chat about the highs and lows of our days over a good meal helps me to put a bookend on my work day and relax into the rhythm of the evening ahead," Lee says. "Once dinner's over and we've cleaned up, I like to get out of the house one more time for an evening walk or jog along the Brooklyn Bridge piers if the weather permits."

If that doesn't happen, Lee usually hangs on the couch and plans upcoming trips from her laptop. "I'm a bit obsessed with traveling the globe," she says. "I don't experience nature as much as I'd like to living in NYC, so travel is how I regularly get my nature fix. So when I want to de-stress, I'll hop online and start making plans for my family's next trip." They just returned from Japan earlier this year, and this summer, they're exploring Portugal together. "I'm already dreaming of fresh grilled seafood on the beach and a nice glass of vinho verde!" (In need of a life refresh? Here's how to use travel to spark a personal breakthrough.)

Bedtime routine: Blue Light-blocking Glasses and Gua Sha

Once the sun sets, Lee turns her computer and phone onto "nighttime mode." "In an ideal world, I wouldn't be on either of those devices after sunset, but that's not always possible," she admits. "I also have blue light-blocking glasses to reduce eyestrain and help keep my body on a natural rhythm of sleep and wake cycles."

Holistic skincare is also part of Lee's nighttime lineup. "Gua sha is an ancient East Asian technique that involves a stone tool that is gently rubbed along key points on your face and neck—most notably your jawline, cheekbones, brow bone, and forehead—to smooth out wrinkles, increase circulation, and drain lymph," she explains. "It feels incredible and is extremely relaxing. This is when self-care works—when it feels like an indulgence rather than another item on your to-do list."

And above all, there's a common thread throughout all of Lee's daily routines: "I'm here to be me as authentically as I can be," she says. "Whether I leave my legacy as a businesswoman who helped change the health of the country, or as a mom who did her best to raise her two kids into responsible citizens of the world, I am going to do it in my way, with my values, to the best of my ability."

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