As a mother of 7- and 3-year-old sons and a 21-month-old daughter, 35-year-old West Orange resident Jen Maidenberg is familiar with taking on a firm tone to discipline her children. Her new role, though, as The Wellness Bitch, has required Maidenberg to take on a different position. "I am done being too gentle," she said. This new moniker may be shocking to those around her.
Maidenberg is most known around town as the founder and creator of Mindful Living NJ, a company that offers public relations and marketing support to wellness and holistic practitioners. The organization runs the annual Mindful Living Holistic Health and Wellness Fair, an event that draws hundreds of attendees.
"The fair gives the community a chance to experience different health modalities they may not have been able to try otherwise, " said Maidenberg. She currently is in the process on bringing the Fair to other New Jersey locations. "I am co-sponsoring the event with Wholesome Kids Cook founder Nicole Koroghlian. We are looking to host the Fair in Princeton. The tentative date is set for Nov. 14, 2010," said Maidenberg.
After a conversation with a friend six months ago, Maidenberg realized she had a lot more to say to the community, but decided she needed a different approach. "My friend asked me what was I trying to say to people," she said. "I explained how I wanted to inspire them to live a healthier life and to help them make healthier choices. I wanted to wake them up.
"I've spent years educating people and empowering them. It dawned on me that I was being too gentle and too compassionate. I really wanted to be screaming in their face."
The Wellness Bitch was born.
With blog posts that lament the fact that her child's preschool gave out berries with whipped cream, "I'm sick and tired of them feeding my kids crap," she posted. Maidenberg is prepared to deal with the possible backlash.
"I am not blaming people or making them wrong," said Maidenberg. "I want to point things out. I feel people are not having authentic conversations since we don't want to step on anyone's toes or hurt their feelings. I'm telling it like it is."
She knows there is also a risk involved. "People may not like me," she said.
She said she hopes that people use The Wellness Bitch as a go between for situations in their own lives. "Perhaps you don't want to tell your sister in law that she is feeding her children junk food," she said. "You can use my blog as a conversation starter."
Maidenberg is just as passionate about giving back to the West Orange community. She recently taught an after school enrichment class in her oldest son's elementary school, Hazel Avenue Elementary School. It was called "The Powers In You: A Feel Good Through Wellness" class.
"I taught the 10, 5- and 6-year olds topics such as nutrition, yoga and greening your home," said Maidenberg. "The kids had the chance to become the teachers to their parents." She also has led workshops on issues such as anger management and switching to an organic diet on a budget.
The Maidenberg's have lived in West Orange for the past four years, after having lived in South Orange. "In the area of where I live, I love you still get a flavor of the history of the town," she said. "I think the houses are gorgeous with such character."
Who knows, though, how long Maidenberg will remain in West Orange. "I auditioned to be the next Oprah," she said. "I am always looking for a bigger platform to share my message, whether it's a book or a (television) show."
Maidenberg's message is clear: "People need to wake up to the impact of the choices they make each and every day. A lot of modern disease and epidemics, such as cancer, ADHD and type 2 diabetes, stem from or are aggravated by poor eating habits, chemicals in our homes, food, and environment, inactivity and toxic behavior patterns," she said. "I want to make sure, at the very least, people are conscious about the impact of their choices."
Do you have ideas for upcoming columns, know an athletic enthusiast, want to ask a question or can put me in touch with people who are creating a healthier West Orange? E-mail Hurtado. Hurtado is an enthusiastic fitness expert with years of experience and has spent nearly a decade on the business side of publishing as a Beauty Director at magazines such as Mademoiselle and Seventeen.