The Health Diaries

Why This Women’s Health Care CEO Gave Up All-Nighters

‘I do very little social media — it’s not really my style.’

There are many ways to live a healthy life. The Health Diaries is a weekly series about the habits that keep notable people living well.

MMelissa Hanna is changing the way new moms and babies access health care. She is the founder of Mahmee, a platform that lets hospitals, health systems, and their patients coordinate comprehensive maternity health care, from birth to baby’s first birthday. Mahmee helps moms easily access all of their providers, like doctors, midwives, doulas, lactation consultants, nutritionists, and more.

Founded in 2015, Mahmee has over 900 practices in its network and has received funding from the dating app Bumble.

Hanna shares with Medium how she balances life in a tech startup with her love of board games and cooking without recipes.

I wake up between 7 and 7:30 a.m. most mornings. Sometimes I start with a bit of yoga and stretching, or if the weather is nice, maybe a jog around the neighborhood. I try to eat breakfast at home before I head to the office. I make oatmeal with fruit and nuts and drink a lot of water. I’ll drink at least 16 ounces to start my day.

I started cutting back on coffee last winter. It’s helped me limit coffee intake — [coffee] made me too jittery. I’m already a very active and high-energy person. I love coffee, but I’ve limited myself to one to two espresso drinks only on the weekends. I rarely drink coffee during the week anymore.

I look forward to checking email and Slack in the morning. It gets me excited for the day. I do very little social media — it’s not really my style.

I get to the office between 9 and 9:30 a.m. Once I get situated at my desk, I’m often in meetings and on a lot of calls and video calls with people. I really enjoy video calls; I like to see people face to face. Half of our team works remote or has a flexible schedule. It’s always a different combination of folks every day, which is really nice. I’m usually switching between meetings, going over product reviews, and strategy meetings. Once or twice a month, I work from home the whole day when I have to deep-dive into something that requires serious thinking and I know I won’t be as effective in the office to do so.

I have a room at home filled with indoor plants. It’s really a guest bedroom that we’ve also turned into a mini yoga studio. But we’ve nicknamed it “The Oxygen Factory.” I love practicing yoga there. I have a set of yoga dice that has different poses to help me make a yoga routine for the day. They’ve helped me to get into the habit of doing yoga at home. It’s very therapeutic and does something for our whole space — for the energy and the air quality. We have a rubber tree plant, a snake plant, an aloe vera plant, and two orchids I’m trying to get to rebloom. I love plants and the process of nurturing them.

I decompress from the day by cooking a really healthy and robust dinner. My significant other, Ryan, also works in tech. We both have a lot of screen time during the day. When we get home, we silence all that and cook for a couple of hours. We make our own recipes and experiment with stuff. Every Sunday night, we get a farm co-op box full of fruits and vegetables and herbs.

We do a lot of vegan and vegetarian dishes. But I don’t have a label for a type of diet I subscribe to. Recently, we bought opah cheeks, [a fish] that prepares like a cut of steak. We did burrito bowls instead of pulled pork with opah cheek. We make a lot of soups, like a carrot and parsnip soup or beet gazpacho — it is a really beautiful bright pink — and top it with a dollop of yogurt cream. This week, we’re making squash ravioli and short ribs another night. We love a broad variety.

We love having our friends over for dinner and board games. We usually host two to three times a month. It’s always a casual night. I’m a board game junkie. They require different ways of thinking. We like to play fun and strategic board games. Right now we are playing Pandemic Legacy Season 2. Legacy games are cool because every time you play the game, it evolves slightly with new characters and features. We also love Downforce, Black Orchestra, and Western Legends. In the tech world, you can get so bogged down in digital life, it’s important to break free of that and spend time in-person with people.

Soda is my treat. I don’t really drink it much, but sometimes I just love to have a Coke or Sprite. Nothing “diet.”

I try to get a minimum of six hours of sleep a night. I used to be a night owl and pull all-nighters more frequently. But I’m sort of over that point in my life. I prioritize a restful sleep. At bedtime, I use aromatherapy [and] essential oils. I spray my bed with lavender oil and set an aromatherapy mister. If I’m struggling to sleep, I use a product called reBloom. It looks like 5-Hour Energy, but it is a sleeping tea. Sort of like holistic or herbal-based tea.

Emily Shiffer is a freelance health writer and editor living in Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared on Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Prevention, and more.

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