Catch this prestigious pastry chef on her new show “Bake with Anna Olson” on Food Network Canada. Photo Courtesy of Food Network Canada.

What’s your secret to keeping the balance between your career and the rest of your life?

I can’t say that I am always successful at achieving that. My schedule is quite varied and I can go through frenetic busy periods, but I do know that there are always quiet spells to look forward to. I am busiest in spring and fall, but summer is quieter (fewer events, and more recipe development, which I can manage into a realistic schedule) and January (no one wants to hear from a pastry chef after the Christmas holidays!) During those busy spring and fall seasons, it’s the mini breaks that work – taking two hours off on a Wednesday afternoon to turn off the email (but that’s hard to do) and read a book with a cup of tea. As long as I have a bit of quiet time in the week, I am OK.

What’s the biggest challenge you face when it comes to balancing your life?

Booking days “off” like I book work days. My business is not a Monday-Friday operation (lots of weekend events) so I have to schedule days off and turn away projects in order to maintain that balance. I also have to take care of making a work day balanced – I can find myself going from an early AM morning TV appearance on a breakfast show through a full day of meetings and then ending with a cooking class in the evening. If that happens I try to make sure the following day has no big commitments or decision making.

What I have to watch for is that I don’t sacrifice my exercise routine just to find more time in the day. I’m not into “working out” but I do go for a 30 minute vigorous walk every day. When I’m most stressed about my busy schedule, I’m tempted to skip it in order to give myself extra time, but that walk is more than just exercise – it clears my head and lifts my spirits – I realize now that it is a key part of managing my stress and shouldn’t be skipped (even for sleep).

What tips can you offer other women who are all striving to keep the balance in their lives?

I don’t have young children at home, and I appreciate the struggle of finding balance when you have to switch from high gear at work to another high gear at home. My only advice I could offer is to try and find that moment of quiet (even if it means a hot bath after the kids are in bed) just to mentally regroup.

How do you balance healthy living and a healthy eating routine in your hectic schedule?

BREAKFAST! I’ll admit, I used to skip it to save time, but I realize now that I’ve crossed that magic 4-0 that I need breakfast to have a productive day. Being around desserts all day, I rely on oatmeal in the AM to give me sustained energy so I don’t make poor snack choices. And when developing dessert recipes or on a food photo shoot, we always put out hummus and veggies as well as olives (if you are trying to fight a sweet craving, eat a few olives – that salty bitter taste will quell any wishes to put something sweet in your mouth after that!).

What’s your guilty pleasure or secret luxury, something that is yours that you use as an escape?

I love bad-for-you movie theatre popcorn, and I pay extra for that extra butter (not the “topping”). Good thing I only go to the movies once or twice a year – I choose to go to a movie more to indulge in the popcorn craving than to see the picture.

Who do you turn to when you feel that you’re going to lose balance?

That 30 minute walk helps me process things, especially if I go walk with my husband, Michael. We can talk through our day and he’s such a positive person that he can usually help me see a solution or at least get me laughing again after a tough day.

Visit www.annaolson.ca for more.

Follow Anna on Twitter @olson_anna

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