wellness expert

"If you try to appeal to everyone, you won’t affect anyone" with Jennifer Woodward

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Jennifer Woodward is a Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist who specializes in helping women to get to the bottom of their chronic health concerns.  She believes in finding the root cause to autoimmune disease, weight issues, hormonal imbalance, and chronic fatigue. Drawing on her extensive clinical and practical knowledge of the body, she crafts individual healing programs to help women thrive.

 Can you tell our readers about your background?

I have been a student of the body since I was a young child. My mom suffered from brittle Type 1 diabetes and our lives were run around her disease. If her sugars were too low, she would have a “reaction” and pass out and the paramedics would have to be called. If she was too high, she was manic and spacey. She was a great mom, but my sisters and I learned how to care for her early on.

In college, I constructed a special minor in Nutrition and pulled from nursing and pre-med and biology to learn all I could about the body while I was pursuing Psychology, which I thought was going to be my career track.

Life pulled me in another direction and I started working in a lucrative position for Abbott Labs, selling pharmaceuticals to physicians. The training I received also gave me plenty of information about the human body’s physiology and me found it fascinating, though the job itself was pretty repetitive and dull.

 I took a 12-year hiatus from the workplace to raise and homeschool my four kids, but when they were ready to go back to “real school”, I was ready to pursue my true passion: nutrition. I went back to school and studied to become a Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist. FDNs are integrative health practitioners that look at the body. We are trained to disseminate traditional and functional lab work to look for the hidden causes of disease. 

I finished school and went into private practice as soon as my kids were back in the classroom.

What inspired you to start your business?

 Most of us are in the integrative health field because we have our own health problems traditional medicine not solved that. I am no exception to this. For years, I just did not feel “well”. I was exhausted and had skin issues like psoriasis and suffered from major digestive complaints like IBS, pain, bloating, and food allergies. I had undiagnosed thyroid issues and was plagued by recurrent Epstein Barr reactivations. These problems led to anxiety, mild depression, and severe insomnia. My hormones were all over the place. I had gone from doctor to doctor and had found no help. In fact, I had gotten worse, and I was at the end of my rope.

As I was searching for help on the internet (!), I came across a few FDN practitioners and the healing modalities they used made sense to me. All of my doctors were treating my symptoms, one at a time. Functional Diagnostic Nutrition treats the body as a whole. I asked my husband for his thoughts on enrolling in the program and he was all for it. So I did. As I started to feel better, I was inspired to bring this information to as many women as possible. I couldn’t get my business started fast enough.

Where is your business based? 

My physical location is in Bakersfield, California. I work in an office with some amazing chiropractors. But much of my business is non-local. I work online via a HIPAA-compliant platform with women all over the world.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

I finished school and realized I had a passion for helping women but no business training. My husband has started many businesses on his own, so I asked him a bunch of questions and he helped guide me toward the logistics of starting a business. I’m a girl, and I love pretty things, so I started with my website and branding just to get my creative juices flowing. I spent countless hours on trainings and seminars on how to brand and advertise via social platforms.  A local business here offered me a great deal on their excellent two-day immersive branding workshop. That stuff was fun for me after so many months dealing with the headiness of my studies.

On the practical side, I registered my business with the state, obtained my reseller’s permit, drew up documents with my lawyer, found some sweet office space with some wonderful people, and started hustling to promote my business.

I taught cooking classes in my home with a friend and then made my attendees stay for an informal class on food and hormones. These were fun (good food and alcohol and music!) and became popular. I started getting clients who liked my message. 

Jennifer Woodward

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

Social media is hands-down the most effective way of raising awareness for my business. 

I actually, am a private person. I had no social media before I started my business, and I was a happy abstainer. But I realized that social channels would be excellent and organic means of promoting my business, so I sought out people to teach me how to use these. Some of my friends with established businesses gave me pointers, I paid for some classes, and I taught myself the rest.

I realized I love to teach. Public speaking does not scare me, and I can speak better in front of people than I can in real life (like when I am talking to my kids and tell them to “go get an apple out of you know, that big cold thing!”)

Teaching on social channels allows me to connect with people and share information that is of benefit to them. A wise friend told me one time, “give 95% of your content away for free”. Holy shit, I thought. No way. But it was a great piece of advice. If I learn something new, I share it right away so people see me as a helpful teacher. That’s really what I want to be, anyway.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

 I knew nothing about starting a business. It felt super daunting to create something out of nothing. My first year in business, I overpaid the state by $1600 by double-paying taxes because I didn’t know enough about business financials. It took me countless hours to learn how to build and maintain a busy website. I was constantly worried that I was doing something wrong on the business side. To overcome this, I prayed a lot and took things one day at a time. I realized that I couldn’t be too prideful in wanting to do everything myself, so I sought out advice on how to run the business side of things, and now I feel like things are running smoothly on that end.

A huge challenge for me was to not take things personally. I am a perfectionist, and I am super empathetic. When things were going great for my first clients, I was on top of the world. But when clients were not progressing in the way I thought they should, or when I could not unravel a complicated health problem, I would start to doubt myself personally and professionally. My husband had to remind me of my role- as teacher and educator, not a “fixer”. Our FDN model is “an opt-in model of self-care”- meaning that we teach and encourage, and the client has to do the work. Results aren’t really attributed to us either way. Once I saw this more, I became a better practitioner.

How do you stay focused? 

I can’t do vision boards or even daily checklists. It drives me nuts. I am very good at looking at the big picture and working backward. Once I see the desired outcome in my mind’s eye, I can take the steps necessary to get there. 

It helps me to incorporate daily exercise, eat really well, spend quality time with my family, and be present wherever I am. My husband and I have our morning a ritual where we get up early, drink coffee and read our Bibles, chat about random stuff, and get ready mentally for the day. 

I also go to bed by 9:30 most days. Ha. 

How do you differentiate your business from the competition? 

I teach wellness, but I am not all or nothing. I am a mom of four with a husband who has to entertain for part of his job. While a healthy body is a necessary part of overall wellness, I focus more on teaching my clients how to relax, relieve stress, sleep well, and enjoy the life they have. I take a more balanced approach to wellness and I think my clients love that. I teach them how to nourish themselves so they can nourish others. 

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business? 

My weekly Instagram videos are an effective marketing tool. I love to share information every Tuesday, and my followers are always appreciative for health tips. Most of my free 15-minute discovery calls start with “I have been following you on Instagram for a while….

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

Find exactly who you want to serve. I work with men and children and families and corporations and group homes and I love all of it, but my passion is women’s hormonal health. This is where I focus all of my studies and classes and programs. I want to be the best at what I do, so I have to focus on my niche. If you try to appeal to everyone, you won’t affect anyone. 

What’s your favorite app, blog, and book? Why? 

My favorite app is Mint. Fiscal responsibility is one of the primary rules of having a successful business. I can track my expenses and income here. I don’t naturally take to rules or budgets, so this is a great tool to keep me on track financially. Having the Mint app made me delete my second favorite app, that devil Amazon. Stop stealing my money with tchotchkes I don’t need, damn it!

What’s your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

My favorite app is Mint. Fiscal responsibility is one of the primary rules of having a successful business. I can track my expenses and income here. I don’t naturally take to rules or budgets, so this is a great tool to keep me on track financially. Having the Mint app made me delete my second favorite app, that devil Amazon. Stop stealing my money with tchotchkes I don’t need, damn it!

My all-time favorite blog is Mark’s Daily Apple. I have camped here on the weekends for years. I’ve read all of Mark Sisson’s books and most of his free stuff on the blog. I’m bummed he followed the recent keto trend because he has always risen above the diet rabble, but his insights on integrative health are unparalleled. He was living this lifestyle before most of us were born. I love the way his site balanced health and real life, and the research articles I pick up from his blog are incredible. Thanks for everything, Mark. 

My favorite book is Kelly Kapic’s Embodied Hope. We don’t know how to deal with suffering as a culture. The church is even deficient in this area. Kapic looks at physical suffering from a personal perspective and gives a great framework for how to deal with it yourself, and how to help others who are suffering.

What’s your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

My online HIPAA-compliant platform is everything right now. I can work anywhere I need to with Healthie. I invested in it last year and it has been a game changer for me. I can host video chats with my out of state or out of country clients. I keep all records securely online. Clients can book via the website, change appointments, and get reminders. I set up a series of welcome videos and worksheets for the first 28 days of working with clients so they can stay motivated and encouraged. They can use the app to check in with me daily- log food, mood, exercise, weight, and chat with me right there on the platform. I love how it helps me separate business and personal life. I was getting bogged down by client texts at 9:30 on a Friday night, so this is a great way to keep everything in its place. Instead of using 4 or 5 different programs to run my business, I have one. And it’s awesome. 

What is your beauty routine? What are some of your favorite products?

 Oh hell yeah- fun question. I am an earth mama at heart and try not to put anything on my skin that I know is not good for me.

In my morning shower, I use a Rose Beldi soap that my friend gifted me. It reminds me of a Turkish spa and is great for my skin. I’ve got a full line of Kevin Murphy hair products that my sister-in-law and hair stylist insists I use because there are no harmful ingredients like phthalates or sulfates.

After my shower, I use Jason Vitamin E 25,000 IU cream on my face and body. I use Old Spice Men’s deodorant because it is stronger than the weak shit they put out there for women and I feel like I smell sexy all day long. In regular deodorant, there is no aluminum.

Thanks to my friend Sarah, most of my makeup is from Kosas. She is militant about her beauty products’ ingredients and I have benefitted from her research. On days I feel like I need a power move, I’ll apply Darkroom lipstick and prowl about my day. I wear minimal makeup. My skin is clear and usually looks fine without anything on it, thanks to a great combination of food and supplements. If I am speaking at an event or on TV or filming a video, I will go heavier on my makeup. Most days it is mascara and lipstick though.

At night, I use a trick I learned 10 years ago from - wait for it- Keeping up with the Kardashians.  To take off any makeup and clean my face at night, I use a piping hot clean washcloth and steam my face, then gently wipe off and buff my skin. It works like a charm.  I will put more Vitamin E cream on my face. Sometimes, I’ll put a layer of carrot seed oil or Le Prunier plum seed oil on my face or hands too.

How do you balance work and life?

I have four kids, a husband I adore and love spending time with, I coach school and club volleyball, teach Sunday school and host a life group at church, and am trying to build a two business while I take classes for my Master’s degree in integrative health. We love to entertain, and my husband is constantly coaching a sports team besides his fast-paced job. Writing it out feels overwhelming. Every day is packed, but I remind myself that I chose this life and I am blessed to have my family and get to pursue my passions.

I make sure I exercise, but not too much as I know now that overexercise destroys my hormone levels and causes my Epstein Barr virus to flare up. I’ve been into swimming lately because I live in the desert and it’s easy to swim in my backyard and I get a lot of great ideas while I am doing the meditative work of kicking and pulling and breathing. I can’t take my phone or computer in the pool, so swimming is a mental break for me.

I fuel myself with plenty of protein and produce. I have learned to rest when I am tired and make sleep a priority. I read for pleasure to balance my studies for work or school, and this helps refocus my brain. 

I love to cuddle with my kids and my puppy on the couch, and we will watch a movie as a family a few times a week. 

Since it’s just me at my business, and I am in the building and learning phase, I can get into the bad habit of working all the time. If I am not working at Reformed Metabolics, I am taking classes for school or researching medical mysteries for clients. It can get overwhelming to work all the time, so I set time limits for myself on projects and give myself grace. 

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/reformed_metabolics/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100017962119133&ref=bookmarks

What’s your favorite way to decompress?

I have two.

One is a great workout, and the other is a slow and luscious evening of cooking seasonal food while drinking an amazing glass of wine and lingering long into the evening with good friends, enjoying great conversation.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

I am partnering with an amazing businesswoman locally. I am creating a line of superfood powders. She will be incorporating these into her storefront’s smoothies and juices, and we will be marketing them directly to consumers. In my trial runs, they have gotten great feedback already and I am so excited to bring them to people. I love it when I hear that clients and friends are sleeping better, experiencing less anxiety and anger, and enjoying more balanced hormones.

I’ll be making headway in my Master’s program and creating four programs for eating well and balancing hormones based on the four seasons. I’ve been studying Eastern medicine as I delve into herbs and superfoods. The Eastern cultures have used food as a medicine far longer than Westerners have, and the gentle, nourishing nature of foods and herbs to support health blows my mind. I want to bring this grounding wisdom to the fast-paced, reductionistic culture that so many women in the US are a part of.

How can our readers connect with you?

You can find out about what I do at www.reformedmetabolics.com.

My Instagram is a great place to get tips and tricks on health: https://www.instagram.com/reformed_metabolics/ . I respond to DMs within 24 hours and love connecting with people in this way. 

I am on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100017962119133&ref=bookmarks

You can book a free 15-minute discovery call to discuss your chronic health concerns and autoimmune issues and see whether we are a good fit to work one-on-one here:

https://www.reformedmetabolics.com/services

Q&A with Health Expert & Entrepreneur, Melissa Eboli

Melissa Eboli

Melissa owns a healthy cooking and wellness company called Via Melissa. She is a certified nutritional chef and graduate of The Academy of Culinary Nutrition (2016). She is also a certified nutrition and wellness counselor from AFPA (2009) and a certified personal trainer through Hofstra University's continuing education program and AAPTE (2009).

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I am a New York native that grew up in the suburbs of the Bronx, in a coastal area called Throgs Neck. I also have a BS in advertising and marketing from Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).

I worked in advertising/marketing for 14 years for some amazing companies including Penthouse Magazine, Virgin Mobile, and Fisher & Paykel Appliances to name a few.

When I was 29, I developed adult asthma along with food sensitivities and multiple chemical sensitivities. The silver lining here was that I was forced to do a complete 180 in my life to live a clean lifestyle and manage these new illnesses. This is when my lifelong hobby of cooking was taken to the next level and my allergen-friendly style of cooking really began.

What inspired you to start your business?

I continued to suffer from allergies coupled with chronic fatigue that was all brought on by the chronic stress I had from my job, until one day I hit a brick wall, so to say. That wall was in summer of 2016 when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. That is when I had my "aha" moment and awakening which was “ life is short and you never know when curve balls will be thrown at you”.

I realized I wanted to be a health advocate to teach people how to eat clean, allergen friendly and disease preventing dishes. Weeks after her diagnosis, I gave in my resignation from selling appliances and enrolled myself into The Academy of Culinary Nutrition to begin the process of launching what is my business today. I feel I have been given a gift of being a natural recipe developer and this gift needs to be shared with as many people as possible.

Where is your business based?

My business is based out of New York. However, I travel to clients and service the metro area anywhere in a 60-90 mile distance in any direction.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

I worked with an amazing business coach who gave me the tools and confidence needed to leap from being a 9-5’er into being my own boss. I attended a culinary program to hone in on my skills, wrote up a business plan to follow and completely re-vamped, then re-launched viaMelissa.com. In the last few months, I launched a new website called ViasKitchen.com truly portray my cooking business.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

Social media has been instrumental. I use Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn as my go to apps. I also pitch the media on a regular basis and have been fortunate to have many write ups and features this year alone. I also partner with CPG companies to increase my awareness.

One brand I work closely with is Simply Beyond Spray on Herbs and Spices. I use its products in many of my dishes and develop recipes for them which are featured on its website.                

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Though I've had a lot of media exposure, obtaining new clients is always a challenge. I’ve been fortunate with websites like Thumbtack.com where I get numerous leads on a daily basis. I also have a few B2B partners I work with. I’ve learned to be creative and resourceful.

 How do you stay focused?

I’ve always been a self-starter and most jobs I’ve had were remote positions. I know that if I’m not out there promoting myself and making new contacts the business isn’t just going to come to me. My focus is knowing the more I put into it, the more I get out of it.  As much as I work, I love what I do and most times it seldom feels like “work.”

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

I offer cooking lessons, personal chef services, and catering. I am different because I am conscious of food allergies and special diets. I cater to the vegan community and clean eating overall. I also use organic ingredients as much as possible down to the spices.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

Online tools have been the most effective for my particular business. Being listed on websites like Thumbtack, IfOnly, and CozyMeal has truly been instrumental.  Building partnerships and relationships with companies that send me to their clients are also a large part of my business. This includes corporate wellness companies that have clients looking for healthy catering or corporate retreat companies that want a chef in their arsenal looking for cooking classes.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

Don’t give up! Being your own boss is not easy, and you may not get it the first time around. Additionally, be flexible and open to ideas from others. If your initial plan isn’t working, go a different route. Being an entrepreneur is no easy feat, but if you are talented and passionate about your work, the sky is the limit!

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

I don’t really have a favorite app. The one I tend to use the most is Instagram for my social media marketing but I wouldn’t necessarily call it my favorite.

A great book I read last year was called Knockout my Suzanne Summers. She explains how many people have cured cancer naturally without big pharma and the blog I love reading it HearPreneur. I get to learn success stories of fellow entrepreneurs as well as tools, tips, and tricks of the trade from them.

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

I love using Wix.com! I’ve developed both of my websites with the easy-to-use platforms and I even run my blog and contact management through the site. All of their products and services are very user-friendly no matter what your skill level is.

Who is your business role model? Why?

One of my role models is Racheal Ray. I aspire to have an empire like hers one day. Books, TV, merchandise and all things culinary! I would love to be the modern day, healthy version of her.

With so many other chefs who have been on the scene, she has had and continues to have a long running career. She started off small/local and made it big!

What do you have planned for the next six months?

I am eager to carve out some time to shoot some professional quality food videos as well as work on a healthy cookbook; just figuring out the angle is the hardest part. I have a library of original recipes that I would love to share. I will also be focusing on my catering business and seeing how I can grow and staff up to start to take on larger scale events.

 How can our readers connect with you?

www.viaMelissa.com

www.viasKitchen.com

Facebook & Instagram: Organic Cooking Via Melissa