‘We have a say in our health’

‘We have a say in our health’

Staying energized and balanced with Jennie (Fagen) Malloy ’07

Jennie (Fagen) Malloy

Jennie (Fagen) Malloy ’07

When it comes to her wellness journey, Jennie (Fagen) Malloy’s story begins with some unconventional advice. While pursuing a Take 5 scholarship in voice at the University of Rochester, her vocal cords became inflamed and damaged. When Malloy’s doctor recommended dietary and lifestyle changes, she was initially skeptical and couldn’t imagine how non-medicinal remedies would help. But when she healed after following through with his advice, she realized just how much food impacts every aspect of our lives.

Inspired by this newfound sense of ownership in her health, Malloy went back to school for integrative nutrition. By combining her training with knowledge from her undergraduate degree in brain and cognitive sciences, she forged a new approach to improve people’s well-being, productivity, and happiness.

As the founder of workplace wellness company Lights Camera Kale, Malloy helps busy professionals develop concrete skills and habits to improve sleep, stress management, work-life balance, and more. Her clients range from tech start-ups to law firms and Fortune 500 companies, including PayPal, ZARA, LinkedIn, and JetBlue among others.

Based in the New York City area, Malloy recently expanded her offerings to include online content that clients can engage with remotely during the time of COVID-19, when physical and mental wellness are more important than ever.

“Many of us are burning the candle at both ends,” she says. “We receive so much cognitive input on a daily basis. Our brain needs time to rewire and organize, just as our bodies do. By better understanding how we function as individuals, we can use this knowledge to improve our productivity, health, and ultimately our happiness.”

Beyond the buzzwords

What excites Malloy most about her work is challenging preconceived notions of what wellness is. Instead of looking at it as a product or end result, her goal is to reframe wellness as a process that fosters greater purpose, happiness, and creativity both on and off the clock.

“Wellness is a journey of making small, incremental changes over time,” she adds. “Everyone is capable of achieving their own version of health and happiness. Part of the problem is, when we do achieve progress, there’s always room for more. If we can instead identify our version of self-improvement early on, and celebrate the progress made along the way to reaching it, we set ourselves up for a much more fulfilling path forward.”

Malloy leads interactive workshops and personalized coaching at companies to help employees make these incremental changes. While many clients aren’t sure what to expect walking into a coaching session, Malloy always clarifies that her role isn’t to tell them what they “should” be doing, but rather to listen and be a sounding board for enabling change.

Staying connected and empowered.

In April 2020, Malloy partnered with the University of Rochester’s alumnae networks in Metro New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and the Bay Area to present an interactive, virtual workshop on maintaining well-being while working remotely.

Attendees joined from their homes across the country, and the conversation flowed as many shared their personal experiences navigating wellness along with a “new normal.” In true University of Rochester fashion, the hour ended with Jennie leading a group sing-along of “The Genesee,” showcasing the spirit (and voice) that started her own journey more than ten years ago.

You can view the presentation here, and explore several key takeaways below.

1. Keep an open mind.

Avoid the common mental pitfalls of “I already know this.” or “This isn’t going to work for me.” Instead, remember that it’s not about what you know, but how you’re going to implement it in a way that leads to what you want.

2. Pay attention to how food makes you feel.

Every bite we take makes a difference, either supporting our well-being or promoting damaging inflammation. Focus on fulfilling your needs without being self-destructive, and choose to connect with how foods make you feel over conventional diets or deprivation.

3. Prioritize the total package.

Well-being is a comprehensive picture of the following: creativity, energy, productivity, work environment, home environment, physical activity, healthy eating, hydration, unplugging, relationships, stress, anxiety, and sleep. We often tend to hyper-focus on one factor, so be sure to check in with yourself to see what other areas could use some attention.

4. Competency breeds confidence.

When it comes to getting motivated and starting something new, break down difficult tasks into smaller steps. Remember that practice makes perfect and give yourself permission to make mistakes along the way.

5. Set priorities and boundaries.

Get specific. You’re the only one who can define a meaningful and productive day, so decide what that looks like for you. When working from home, establish physical cues (such as a closed door or wearing headphones), a dedicated workspace, and remove distractions.

P.S. Beware of the multitasking myth: When multiple stimuli are competing for attention, your processing capacity goes down.

6. Start small.

Being overwhelmed leads to burnout and inaction. Find your “why” and think about what you can implement one day or week at a time.

7. Celebrate your wins to create more.

Above all, be kind to yourself.

We all can do something to help. Consider donating supplies or foodgiving blood (URMC is facing a critical shortage), making a gift to our URMC COVID-19 emergency fund, and supporting our student emergency fund.

— Alyssa Davis, May 2020