Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD
Inspiring Women to Balance Work, Family, and Wellness
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Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: So welcome, everybody to this week's podcast episode for the Financial Freedom for Physicians Podcast. And I'm your host, Dr. Christopher Loo. And as you know, we talk about four different types of freedom: time, financial, location and emotional freedom. And what started out as physician guests and listeners has now expanded into business owners, investors, entrepreneurs, coaches, so hopefully, the two can benefit from each other.
So, today, we have a special guest, Mia Moran, and she has a really interesting bio. She's talking about inspiring women as a mentor to help them balance work, family, and their wellness. So she's going to talk about time, freedom, emotional freedom. So Mia, welcome.
Mia Moran: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here today.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, we were connected through a PodMatch. And we talked backstage and I know the four pillars are finances, location, time, emotional freedom. So tell us more about yourself and how you got started.
Mia Moran: Okay, so the one thing that I have not experienced that I'm assuming some of your audience has, especially in the physician space, is I have definitely always been an entrepreneur. So I understand that builds in some location freedom that I know not everybody feels, but we can talk to that a little bit too. So I definitely have that, I don't know that it's an advantage. But I have that experience.
But in being an entrepreneur, I haven't always been the same kind of entrepreneur. So I started off actually owning a pretty big design firm, which I grew while having three kids who are now teenagers, but at the time they were babies. And so my experience began kind of as really indebted to my business. And having this experience for one day, I remember looking across my desk, and at the time, I had three kids under the age of five. So for anyone listening who has kids, you can imagine that this was like somewhat of an intense motherhood moment. And for sure, it was so much easier to be at work than to be at home, like I fully like had I had a nanny who was there like, I felt very supported in that way.
But I remember this day looking at this stack of coffee cups, your physicians are also going to laugh at this that was stacked up on my desk from when I had gone to work that day. So whatever it may be, I got there at 830. And it was only 3pm. And there were like seven of them. And I was like first of all, how have I gone to Starbucks this many times in one day? And second of all, like I was always told that caffeine was supposed to give you energy, and I'm freaking exhausted. So what is going on? And so that just caused this like whole, maybe a breakdown, I don't know. But it just caused this whole moment where I was like, oh, shoot. I have checked off all my boxes. Like I married the guy I wanted to marry, we bought a home, we had three kids, I built this company, like I had all the things. And what I hadn't really seen, while I was looking at these coffee cups, was that I was miserable. Like I was not happy, like all the things hadn't brought me happiness at all, and I was exhausted.
So the miserable part felt like I didn't deserve it. So I sort of put that aside for a minute and I went with the exhausted piece. And the most tangible piece of the exhausted piece was that over the course of being pregnant, nursing, all the things that one does when they have little babies, is that I had gained 65 pounds. I think from the stress and like hormones and all the things. And so I decided that what I focused on was really my body. And so it was just sort of one thing that led to another, and I would say it led to body freedom, which isn't one of your pillars, but it was definitely something I had not experienced before where I really got healthy and that shifted my happiness, it shifted my energy. It just shifted what I perceived was possible because before that moment, literally I did not know how to cook. Like I think an egg would have been a challenge. If you told me to go buy kale at the grocery store I might have cried. It just wasn't my thing.
And so I really had to learn and commit quickly, as somebody who didn't think I had any extra time. So I did that and I ended up writing a book on health and food and family and how to get healthy. I'm telling you all this because one I think that health is really important and wellness is one of our pillars. I wrote this book and went on and I spoke to and met thousands of women. I started, for some bizarre reason, in California, and I live on the east coast. And I brought my kids with me, I homeschooled them for a year on this book tour. And I just kept, realizing that people in the room knew way more about food than I did. Like, I thought I was going to educate people about green smoothies. And people in California had been having green smoothies, like long before I ever knew what one was.
And so I was like, What is the problem, like what is going on here? And it really ended up that it was time, like no one thought they had the time to make change, and everybody was really craving change. And mostly that was in the form of connection with their kids, a healthier lifestyle, easier ways to make money, all the different things, but for everyone I kept talking to it was like, I just don't have enough time. Like, I certainly don't have enough breathing room to change. So that's sort of how I got to where I am today, where I talk a lot about productivity and how that might look different for today and for women.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: That’s quite an interesting introduction, because you talked about burnout and stress and being a woman in today's world. We'll start going down the rabbit hole. So one thing is, you talked about having it all. And how specifically can we each have it all, whatever having it all means in today's society.
Mia Moran: Exactly. And I think that's the most important piece of that, because I think we really have to define that for ourselves. And I think especially I would imagine, for everyone who's listening who's still in medicine, as women, I just think it's so embedded in everything, like from magazines to where we came from, that we either are good at work, or we're good at home. And like, there's this huge divide the second year, when kids start school, like you've chosen.
And I've had this interesting thing of like, I never actually felt in either camp, because in some sense, I had this time of freedom as an entrepreneur. So I didn't really like to relate to the people who were like being told when to be at work. Yet, I totally didn't relate to the moms who are home, either. And so I think that was this middle way through for me, where I was like, Wait, why do we have to choose this? And then for everyone, no matter which you choose, whether you choose whether you're going to like to be a good mom, or be good at work, which is ridiculous, because of course, you can do both those things.
We so often leave self care on the plate and, and especially for like, I'm assuming that a lot of your working audience is part of this sandwich generation, so whether you have kids or you have parents, I just meet so many women who are actually in the middle. And they're not only caring for kids, they're caring for older people, it's ridiculous what we have to do and, and taking care of ourselves just gets put last. And so those are the Alls that I'm really referring to. And so I think we just really have to redefine what all that means. And what's really important to us.
And once you know what's important to you, I really believe time bends. And I know that sounds weird. And it's not like it really bends. But it's like, I never would have imagined that I had time to like change over my food 12 years ago. I never would have imagined that I could go on a book tour for a year. Like it's just like you just figure it, you know, the second something feels like it's just for you. Everything changes. And when we're really listening to how somebody else thinks it's supposed to be, I think it's much harder to figure it out. Because then you really are playing Jenga, because it's like, I'm supposed to have this, and I'm supposed to have this, I'm supposed to have this, and how does it all go together? And it feels overwhelming just even thinking about it. Yeah.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, I think it's so hard in today's hustle culture. A lot of the narratives we grew up around, it's all based on a male dominated narrative and media. You're supposed to have this, drive this type of car, live in this neighborhood. You know, all of that. What's interesting is, you talk about it's sort of like a balance, and it sounds like you balance yourself well. So what does balance mean to you, and have you always been good at feeling balanced?
Mia Moran: Well, not before the coffee cups, but since the coffee cups I've gotten pretty good. But I think that what's really important around balance, is just really understanding the season you're in. That's a really important part. So of course, there's parts of our careers that are a little bit more hands on, at which point we go, - I don't know, if everyone's watching video right now, but my hands are going up - it's like, then you just need the bird's eye view of like, okay, this is like a work time, how am I balancing that out with downtime? What does that look like? And so if you're always thinking about balance, then you're always planning.
And the other thing about balance is, I think, I don't even know how this happened. But when we're talking about work/life balance, we're thinking of a timeline, which a lot of us like. That's the first thing that comes into our head and the secondary thing and timeline, it's very linear. And so it's like you want equal chunks. But balance is actually a weight, like it's actually volume. And so if you think of it like a huge plastic ball, which is hollow, which is what I'm going to call work for right now. And then you think of this, like a little gold nugget, like they can balance each other out. So if you just make a plan where you’re eating well, maybe that's the gold nugget, or you're going to yoga during your lunch break or whatever, like it's very easy to balance out. Things that feel out of balance. And it doesn't necessarily have to be equal time. And I think that was the biggest aha for me.
And I find that when I'm focused on balance, which I've had to do, unfortunately, in like, sometimes not great circumstances. Last year, one of my children didn't thrive during COVID. And so it was a lot of attention toward that child, and my business thrived. Like I just feel like when you're really thinking with the lens of balance, you figure out what it takes to balance the thing out, and it doesn't have to be effort. I think that's the thing. We always think it's more time and more effort. But I think it's just really thinking in advance, and thinking as sort of the next version of yourself and what that would look like. Does that answer that question?
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Oh, yeah. I like that analogy of thinking in terms of time in chunks, and really just focusing on that, and turning off your email notifications or your cell and all that. And the other thing is, what is the first thing we should look at when we're feeling overwhelmed? More awareness? Tell us more.
Mia Moran: Yeah. So balance is joy. Like all those things, they're all feelings, right? And so is overwhelm. So, I think that's the first thing is it's like, oh, it's just catching that. And like, and obviously, there are moments when we're doing a lot of things, and it overwhelms our system. But it's like, I'm overwhelmed right now. I don't have to be in a constant state of overwhelm. That's more of a choice, right? So one of the things I love to do is just catch. Like, oh, I'm feeling really overwhelmed. Because I have this stack of paperwork, I have this stack of patients that I have to write all these reports on, or whatever and so it's like, and that's feeling overwhelming, like at this moment.
But that doesn't mean we have to be in a constant state of overwhelm around the fact that we always have to do paperwork. And so to me, that sort of starts to shift, like the conversation of how I'm feeling about overwhelm, because overwhelmed can be, to me can just be this consistent story of like, it's too much, it's too much, it's too much. So really just catching ourselves like, yeah, it is too much right now. And I'm gonna balance that out by leaving at three or going home and hugging a kid or having a healthy meal or going to an exercise class or whatever that looks like for you.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, that's interesting. I know, you talk a lot about finding flow when you're constantly in survival mode. And how pushing less and being way more productive. Yeah, it's really interesting. I know a lot of physicians, especially female physicians, because they have their careers, but then they have to juggle their family and all of these responsibilities. So it can be quite daunting. I think so many doctors are burned out, just after a COVID. But I'd like to transition into food and wellness, and how does that impact work life balance?
Mia Moran: Can I say one thing about the thought before first?
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah.
Mia Moran: Okay. So we're gonna get to food, I promise, and how that affects it all. But one thing I was just thinking, as you were saying the thing about burnout from the pandemic and going home. That's a really good example of the weight of things and just some of the things we've been conditioned to do. So I think anyone who has you know, as I would say, especially doctors, we work such long hours. And so then when you get home, first of all, you probably need some time to unwind. But second of all, there's that immediate thing that you have to spend all the time with kids, or connecting with a spouse or whoever's in your life. And that's an example of like, the gold versus the plastic. Like, yeah, you could spend all your free time with your kids when you're not working, but probably, that will lead to overwhelm and burnout really fast.
But that, to me, that's an example of like, but if I choose to come in, take care of myself, or not even come straight home, but like have a path, maybe that is when I just breathe deep in the car for 10 minutes, or do a meditation or go move my body or whatever it is. And then I walk in, and I'm fully present. Even if it's just for 10 minutes, that's much more connecting to a kid or a spouse than like eight hours of you being stressed. So that's an example of how we can balance it out. And it can be a lot less overwhelming. So I just had to say that for anyone who could serve.
So then, food. So for me, that was the piece of that journey 12 years ago, that I just had to figure out how to really keep in. Because when I cleaned up my food, sometimes I describe it as like I went to a therapist for 10 years. It increased my happiness, my productivity, and my focus in a way that I had no idea that it could do that. And so I think it's really important that we that we prioritize that and we don't let that slide, because it really can be the foundation to how we show up at work, like how we feel in our bodies, which then affects how we show up to the people we love, which then affects like how much energy we have to do other things. So I just feel like it affects so many things. And then I'm kind of laughing to myself thinking that I'm talking to doctors, because I want y'all to share this too.
It was the thing that I'm like, how do we not know this? Like, how is this not common knowledge? But it's not. What we put in our bodies is not common knowledge. And I'll say that what I did 12 years ago was kind of extreme. Actually, I decided to go raw vegan for a year. And it did shift what I did, but the two things that I found really affected me a lot were the gluten and the dairy. So I've managed to keep those out all this time. And I just feel good, right? Like, of course my body does all sorts of strange things because I'm a woman with hormones, but that just keeps us like baseline of like, my energy is even and I feel good. So I just feel like when we start to think about how our health can really support us in our work and how we show up in our family and how we show up in our life we can really change - its freedom. It literally creates freedom.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, I've been reading a really interesting book about food and just diet and it comes down to just macronutrients and micronutrients and how it affects your brain chemistry, your body. You don't really see it but then you notice and feel it, so it's quite fascinating. What you put into your body, not only just information, but then your food, that's very interesting.
Mia Moran: Yeah, all the different parts and it's so easy when we get busy too - I guess COVID made it a little bit harder - but it's so easy to go get takeout and like to do these things in passing and not really think about it. And then summer brings in all these like gatherings of people and we hate to say no, but I don't know. The second I really planned for that and followed through on my plan. A lot of times, what I say about planning is it's just your past self giving your future self the gift of really being in the present.
So it's like when you're planning, I try to really get in alignment with the future me, which would make very different decisions than the current me. The Current Me, I want french fries. Future Me is always healthy and energetic. So she might make a different choice. So I tried to channel her to make my plans. And then it's like when I'm in the moment where I know it's time to follow whatever plan I've made. It's like oh, yeah, she wants these things. So it's very important to me it relates a lot to money, because money it's so easy to like, spend now, but we know that we should save it. You know what I mean? There's a lot of parallels there. So food for me, it's just like, how can we make smart choices for our future? It is not always easy to make those choices in the moment.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. It's been a great conversation. And I know particularly the female cohort will really resonate with what you're talking about, and how can people get a hold of you, contact you, maybe work with you?
Mia Moran: Yeah. So our website is plansimple.com. And we have a free course there actually, that's called from overwhelm to ease. And so it just takes us through the process of really understanding both as emotions and then figuring out how to plan your day. And then I also have a podcast called The Plan Simple Podcast. So anyone who listens to podcasts, that might be a really good resource.
And the way that we work with people is really around planning and productivity. So we work with people to really figure out what they want and to make a plan for it. And then we literally are very handhold-y around making sure that people that women follow through, because I think it's one of the places where we've been left to our own devices. We haven't been guided. And I think we all need to take personal responsibility for what we want, but we don't necessarily have to do it alone. And women very often do all the things alone.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Especially in this day and age. We have so many resources, and we have communities. So it's so much easier. So thanks so much for coming onto the show. And we'll be looking forward to hearing about your future success.
Mia Moran: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Many thanks again for being here. If you’re new, you can find me online at Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD, where I have links to other episodes or links to online resources that will support you on your financial literacy journey. I’ll see you there in on next week’s show. While I bring you thoroughly vetted information on this show regarding a variety of financial topics, I cannot promise you a one size fits all solution. This is why I caution you to continue to learn. Educate yourself and seek professional advice unique to your situation. If you want to talk to me, I welcome it. Please reach out via my website or email at Chris@drchrisloomdphd.com. I read and personally respond to all of my emails. Talk soon!
Editor's note: This transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.