Fed & Fit

Ep. 94: Becoming a Nutrition Consultant

On today’s episode, I invite Fed & Fit listener Nina to come on the show for Reverse Interview all about how to become a Nutrition Consultant! Nina and I talk about the different career and education paths available for folks interested in pursing a nutrition consulting practice.


We’re back with our 94th episode of the Fed+Fit Podcast! Remember to check back every Monday for a new episode and be sure to subscribe on iTunes!

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Episode 94 Sponsor

  • Today’s show is proudly sponsored by Aaptiv! Be sure to enter the promo code ‘fedandfit” (one word) at checkout, and your first 30 days are on the house.

Episode 94 Transcription

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Cassy Joy: Welcome back to another episode of the Fed and Fit podcast. Today, I am so excited to bring you another reverse interview. And if you are a new listener here, I’ll briefly describe what I mean by that {laughs} because it’s probably a new concept.

So a reverse interview; this concept is an idea that came to me when I was emailing with some really wonderful folks who had some great questions. And of course, I always make a point to answer all the questions. Because there’s nothing worse than having your question go unanswered. And when folks would ask really good questions that I thought more people could benefit from, maybe the conversation or the answers, it dawned on me that maybe I should invite them to come onto a Skype call {laughs} and we’ll record the conversation, and if everything turns out well could possibly publish it as a podcast episode. And it kind of is the idea that I’m inviting a Fed and Fit reader/listener to come on the show and interview me with whatever pressing questions that they have; with the hopes that it resonates with more than just then. And if it doesn’t, then that’s awesome. I’m happy to have helped one person {laughs}. So that is the concept.

Today, I’m joined by the lovely Nina. Welcome to the show, Nina.

Nina: Hi, thank you for having me Cassy.

Cassy Joy: Oh, thanks for coming on. I’ll tell you guys briefly about Nina, and then the way that these shows work is that I will pass the microphone; not actually because Nina and I are not in the same room, {laughs} but I will give her the baton, give her the floor really to ask whatever questions she’s got. And she’s got me for the next 30-ish minutes; maybe less, maybe a little bit more; who knows at this point.

Nina: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: So just to tell you briefly; she lives in San Marcos, Texas, which is amazing because we’re practically neighbors. I’m in San Antonio, Texas, so we’re just about 45 minutes from each other. And she is a lab tech there; that’s one of her primary things that she does in town, and she also coaches the gold fit classes. Welcome to the show, Nina.

Nina: {laughs} Hi everybody.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} This is all so exciting. Ok, so you wrote in with some really great questions, and I would love to hear what they are. And if you’ve had time to dream up even more, then you feel free to ask those, as well.

Nina: Awesome. So yeah, I just started pursuing nutrition and fitness a few years ago; I just love what paleo and healthy eating did for my body, and I just became so passionate about it that I wanted to pursue more dreams that I have, more than what I’m already doing now. And one of them was to possibly get into nutrition consulting, and I know that’s what you do. Similarly, I know you graduated from A&M with a science degree, which I also did. I wanted to know how you decided to transition between science, not so much in nutrition, but pursuing that as a career field.

Cassy Joy: Great question. Well, first, I just have to scratch my curiosity; when did you graduate from A&M?

Nina: Well, not A&M; I mean, I also graduated with a science.

Cassy Joy: Oh, science, got it. Ok, man I was going to whoop all over the place! {laughs}

Nina: {laughs} No, I went to Texas State and I just stayed in San Marcus.

Cassy Joy: Got it. Awesome. Texas State is a wonderful school, for folks who aren’t familiar with the area. Got it. That’s really cool. And what did you get your degree in?

Nina: In chemistry.

Cassy Joy: In chemistry; ooh, you super smarty pants.

Nina: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: {laughs} Well very cool. Yeah, so I did. I got a bachelor of science, specifically in entomology, which probably a lot of folks here have heard, and that might shock a lot of other folks {laughs}, which is just the study of bugs. And I said a few times, but it was really just something fun to study while I was pursuing pre-medical prerequisites.

So; let’s see, your question how did I decide to transition from that science background to more specifically nutrition.

Nina: Mm-hmm.

Cassy Joy: Well, I would say; it’s a great question. I would say that that curiosity in the field of nutrition really was sparked after I graduated from Texas A&M. I went and worked for a physician, so I could kind of get more hands on experience; sort of like internship, where I could see what it would be like in a medical office. Because she was practicing the kind of medicine I thought I wanted to do. So I kind of wanted to get an idea of what that actually looked like before I just jumped into medical school; you know, another 8-plus years of schooling. So I wanted to work with somebody and experience what they were doing so I could really, really be sure that that’s what I wanted to do. And in that, I also got experience because of this particular position, in some health care administration and also in some public health type roles. Because those were the three different career paths that I had entertained at that point in time.

And in working for this doctor, I quickly realized that my passion for the medical field was real, and it was true, but what I admired most about her practice was the emphasis she put on educating her patients on nutrition. And you know, now in hindsight, she and I might have different viewpoints on nutrition, and maybe the different things that we would have counseled different folks. But it was really fascinating, and it was a light bulb that went off in my head. It’s not necessarily that I want to heal sick people all the time; what I really wanted to do at that point was help keep people from ever having to go to the doctor. You know, that was my very bright, shiny, idealistic viewpoint {laughs} on the profession. Not to say that; it’s just not that cut and dry, but that’s really where the motivation came from; was if people are being coached on these lifestyle habits from the beginning, who knows what they could prevent; and preventative medicine was something I became very interested in. so that’s how I originally decided professionally that maybe that would be a good route to go.

And it was a surprise, because I thought I was headed to technical school. I thought I was either going to get my Masters or my MD in something that was very technical and instead after I finished working for her and I concluded my internship, I went and I started a blog. Because I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do next; I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to go become a registered dietician, or what was next for me. I just knew I wanted to start on some kind of a path. So that was really it. And simultaneously, I was also having some introspective work done on myself and figuring out my own path and changing things; healing myself and starting myself on my own kind of healthier lifestyle, and building some lessons learned in that way.

Nina: Awesome. Well, besides her, would you say that anyone else inspired you? Any bloggers that you started following within that time to kind of help you narrow down what you wanted to do specifically, as far as becoming a consultant or a registered dietician?

Cassy Joy: Oh, this is not going to be a very helpful answer, Nina!

Nina: {laughs} That’s ok.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} You know, back when I started; this was over 9 years ago. And back then, I don’t, paleo wasn’t necessarily mainstream then.

Nina: Ok.

Cassy Joy: Now there are wonderful people out there who are doing all sorts of things, and you can find all kinds of dieticians and nutrition consultants, and nutritional therapy practitioners; all different trades, who are doing all sorts of different business, and you can really get a good idea of all the possibilities out there. Back then, what I would say what inspired me; man, I think I was interviewed on a separate podcast and we actually talked about something similar to this. It was kind of me and the computer. As far as getting ideas on how to eat, I dug into PubMed. I’m kind of a data geek, and I loved that background, and I leaned on it a lot. But I did a lot of research on how I should be eating instead of digging into a lot of blogs, because I really wasn’t sure what to call it then, aside from anti-inflammatory. So it was hard for me to find professionals who were doing what I wanted to do. So it’s hard to say. The only name that comes to mind back then was; I don’t even think she blogs anymore, it was Jen’s Gone Paleo; did you ever come across that blog?

Nina: No, I haven’t.

Cassy Joy: Oh, she made these seed crackers that I still love, and I adapted many times over. That was the first paleo type recipe blog that I found. And I honestly found it accidentally, because she was just using ingredients that I was like, “Oh, these match the way that I’ve decided I want to start eating.” {laughs} And so, that was about it. Robb Wolf was out, of course, and his book The Paleo Solution, which I didn’t read for a while. But I kind of saw what he was doing from the sidelines. Man that’s really not a helpful answer, is it? I just started searching. When I started the blog, which of course was just a food blog at first, and people started asking me more detailed questions, I saw an opportunity to help coach folks, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing it without a little more education.

Nina: Right.

Cassy Joy: So that’s when I decided it was time now to go back to school. And then I just started searching nutrition, and I was eager to get the practice up and running as soon as possible; because by that point, I decided I wanted to run my own business. So I knew that kind of narrowed down the scope a little bit. I didn’t want to go work for another company or consult on public nutrition, if that makes any sense.

Nina: Yeah, absolutely. What sort of program did you complete, and the certification that you hold?

Cassy Joy: So I went through Bauman College; they have a campus, I think their main campus is in Berkeley, California. And I chose Bauman mostly because I really liked the curriculum. It placed a really heavy emphasis on biochemistry, which is something that I really appreciated and wanted a refresher on. And a lot of it was a refresher; if you graduated with a bachelor of science in chemistry, I would assume that you took some of these types of classes.

Nina: Yes.

Cassy Joy: So it would be sort of a review; but it’s presented within the context of the body, and always coming back to nutrition and optimal living. Which I found really interesting. And I really appreciated. At this point; and there might be at this point. Back then, there was not a program set up on a true sort of grain-free, biased or paleo type template. That really wasn’t out there, and what Bauman presented that I really liked was this open-ended curriculum. They had all kinds of homework assignments, and of course they have their own sort of agenda that they present on what they consider to be the foundations of health. But you could adapt it to your own personal beliefs.

Nina: Right.

Cassy Joy: And by that point in time, I knew that I believed very strongly in the path I had chosen; the anti-inflammatory path of reducing; trying to eliminate as many inflammatory foods, and I had identified grains, and legumes, and vegetable oils, for example, as inflammatory foods. And you know, some of those; the vegetable oils still pop up in a lot of mainstream curriculums, for example, as a healthier alternative. And Bauman, instead of punishing a student for having that kind of bias, they allowed me to just kind of choose my own path in that regard.

Nina: Ok.

Cassy Joy: So I really appreciated that.

Nina: That’s awesome. Did you have to get a separate certification to practice?

Cassy Joy: Good question. So it depends on the state. You and I are in the same state, and my practice has evolved since I first started, but back when I did start, Bauman’s covered me. So when you graduate, you graduate; I can’t remember the exact name of the certification; I had it up earlier. They send you your diploma, and you’re done. You’re registered at that point in time. You do have the option; you’re eligible once you do graduate from Bauman’s nutrition consultant program, you have the option to then become board certified in nutrition consultants. And they offer you the link, and there’s stuff you can study, and you can take that test, and sometimes that’s nice depending on the type of practice you want to build. And then you would keep that active. But that’s essentially the way that you would go. And there’s continued education, of course, involved in that path, as well.

Nina: Right. I’m guessing you pursued this online.

Cassy Joy: Yes, yes.

Nina: Ok.

Cassy Joy: Good question. So the nutrition consultant program, they have an in-class option. And I’m not just trying to push Bauman, there are other wonderful programs out there. But they have their in-class program; I wrote it down earlier, it was 15 months, and then online you could stretch it out to 18 months, but I think I knocked it out in about a year.

Nina: Oh, ok.

Cassy Joy: So you could go through it faster. The course work really isn’t heavy if you don’t have a whole lot of other obligations.

Nina: Right. Well that’s good. Would you have any other strong recommendations for programs?

Cassy Joy: Yes. I’m a big fan, also, of the NTP or NTC certifications, and that is through the Nutritional Therapy Association. So the NTA program. I would say the NTA and NC, and Bauman. So the NTA program and Bauman’s are probably two of the more prevalent certification programs within this vein of nutrition consulting practices that you’ll find for one on one type businesses; at least in my experience, that’s what I’ve come across. And within the NTA, the Nutrition Therapy Association, they have a couple of different certifications. So NTC is nutrition therapy consultant, and that is the lesser involved of the two programs.

Nina: Ok.

Cassy Joy: Ok, so an NTC, from what I gathered, is 9 months long, and it’s; oh, puppy dogs!

Nina: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: {laughs} It’s 9 months long, and the cost of the program is about $4,000.

Nina: Ok.

Cassy Joy: Now their other one is called the NTP, nutrition therapy practitioner, {laughs} he’s ready for his; he’s fine. I told Nina ahead of time that we’re all casual here. Gus barks all the time. So NTP is you have to go through an extra set of training; there are a couple more mandatory in-person workshops, and I think that’s about $5,000 for that program. It’s a little bit longer, I believe, and essentially what it allows you to do is they have a hands-on sort of thing they implement in with their training in their practice. So if you ever wanted to do some sort of a hands-on type service.

Nina: Awesome.

Cassy Joy: That would be the way to go. So those are the two programs there, and Bauman for perspective is about $7,000. So it’s more expensive, a little bit longer, and I can’t speak as well to the NTAs what’s in the curriculum itself, because it’s been so long since I researched it. I just know back then the curriculum in Bauman was closer to what I wanted to learn.

Nina: Awesome. So once I guess you got your business running, and you’re consulting people, what would it look like in a day coaching one on one with any clients, and how did you build that clientele?

Cassy Joy: Good question. {laughs} He agrees. So, what did it look like in a day? I would say, first building clientele, I’ll talk about that because when you first start, if you don’t have any sort of clients already kind of waiting in the wings, it can be pretty slow going. So I would recommend, actually starting; if you want to do a personal business; right, your own business consulting one on one, I would recommend starting, if you haven’t already, a blog ASAP.

Nina: Ok.

Cassy Joy: And what that will do is in order to be; in today’s day and age, if you really want to be trusted as somebody; if folks are going to want to hire you, right? Say I need help, and Nina’s the one to help me and I know she can do it. In order to earn that kind of trust, you kind of have to be pre-vetted, right? And one of the ways to do that, you can be pre-vetted by let’s say a physician, networking with physicians in your area, talking with them, telling them you’re around, your philosophy on nutrition, how you really like; you’re not giving medical advice; you’re not treating and you’re not diagnosing, but you can complement someone’s; like a physicians practice by helping to coach on lifestyle habits, for example, and how to optimize lifestyle through food choices. You know, go and put yourself out there, talk to doctors, and you can start a business based on referrals.

Or, you can start a business based on just organic traffic. And if you start a blog, and you share your best ideas online and some of your philosophies, and you give free advice away as much as possible; just like this podcast, you know? Trying to give away as much advice as possible all in the hopes that I’m helping somebody out there. But eventually over time it builds a trust, so that if you do have a service that has a price tag on it, someone would be more likely to trust you because they know you and they know your philosophy and they know you’re quality of work. So I would say start a blog as soon as possible, and set yourself up on publishing content, at least once a week if you can. And start building an email list. You can go onto Mail Chimp is a really easy user friendly service, and I believe it’s free for the first 3 to 5,000 people who sign up, so that should last a good while. So, yeah, that’s the way. Go start building an email list, put your best ideas out there, and then try to capture folks.

A good way to capture emails would be to give away a free eBook. You know, like these are my top 5 nutrition tips; whatever you’re most passionate about in your business, package that into some sort of a fun guide, and then give those away as incentives to sign up for the email list. And then once you do that, when you’re ready to start accepting clients, you can email your list out, and say, “Hey guys, I have an opening for 3 new clients coming up in April.” You know, “Send me a note if you want to reserve a spot.” And that’s really how you start to cultivate a community of people who trust you, they know your work, they’re staying up to date.

And the people; I will say some of the people who I worked with that were some of my favorite clients were the ones who had already read everything that I wrote. You know? That’s not to say that working with somebody who is brand new isn’t wonderful and fun, but there’s a lot of value to that. So that’s, I would say, how you get clients to start.

Now, what did my day look like? Back when I was doing one on ones, I would build content for my blog about half of the day, to be honest. I would spend a good 4 to 5 hours making new content, writing it, doing other sort of administrative tasks, and then 4 to 5 hours I would spend on either coaching calls or I would spend on writing plans and giving specific feedback to my clients. And that became a bunch of different variety forms. I had standard meal plans that I could give folks, or for, of course, it’s more effort so I would have to charge more, if people wanted more specific detailed ones, or if they wanted original ones and I would help write those. Then I would spend time on the phone with them; 30 minutes a week every week as long as we worked together.

Nina: Mm. that’s really helpful.

Cassy Joy: Good!

Nina: Building a blog and putting your ideas out there, I wouldn’t have thought to go that route immediately. I would have been trying to get in contact with people; but yeah, tackling it on all fronts, that’s awesome.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, definitely. I would say; and for folks who are listening who have been on the fence about starting a blog; just do it.

Nina: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Really, just do it. Go ugly early, get it out there, get it done. It applies to you. Even if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking; “But my business is different.” {laughs} Really; if you have any interest in ever selling any sort of a product or building a personal brand or owning your own business, start giving away some of your best ideas for free, in the form of a blog. Content; we’re in a day and age now where content is kind. You’re not going to win people over by having the prettiest package; you’re not going to win people over by having the best prices. You’re going to win people over by having fantastic content on a consistent basis. So I would just keep that in mind.

It’s going to feel like you’re shouting into the abyss when you first start; because you’re going to be like, four people read all of that work. {laughs} I felt that way for a long time. But know that eventually it really adds up, and having a library where folks can scroll through and read more of your stuff really helps a lot.

Nina: Awesome. What would you say were some of the hardest challenges, and then the greatest rewards you faced as a consultant?

Cassy Joy: I would say some of the hardest challenges; let’s see. You know, some of the more difficult challenges, and this is even true today, in running a program and working with other coaches that are working within my business. One of the hardest challenges is working with clients who are unrealistic with themselves, you know. Or just not honest with themselves.

So I would say; for example. If somebody is working their way, they’re working really hard through a program. Let’s say they’re following the food scope to the letter, but they’re not sleeping or drinking enough water, they’re not going to see as wonderful results, right? And they’re not going to see it very quickly. And a lot of times, those kinds of things; like sleeping at night and drinking enough water are easy to put on the backburner because they’re not; they don’t feel as actionable as having kale for lunch. It doesn’t feel as necessarily as fun.

But as everybody here knows probably really well, my personal take on it is those two are more important than food. So one of my challenges is trying to convince people of the importance of sleeping enough and drinking enough water without being pushy, right? Because at the end of the day it’s everybody’s journey, and at the end of the day I’m really here to listen and I’m here to support you. I’m not here to correct you and tell you when you’re doing things wrong. But you always do probably see opportunities for improvement in your clients.

So I started off answering this question a different way. But I would say that would be my biggest challenge; listening to somebody’s struggles, offering insight, but trying not to be pushy. Because at the end of the day, I don’t’ want to stress people out. I think; I also see part of my job as trying to eliminate stress. And by telling somebody that they’re doing it wrong, only adds to that stress bubble. So just trying to support and encourage folks through those, and then hopefully gear them towards a place where they can make those realizations themselves, right? I can offer lots of documentation; they can read all the documents, they can read the book, you know, they can go through all the videos and everything and understand and see all the ways that I’ve talked about how sleep is important, but at the end of the day they have to decide that for themselves. So that was always challenging.

And then one of my biggest rewards; I mean, it’s just those success stories, girl.

Nina: Absolutely.

Cassy Joy: And as soon as you get one, you’re just going; it just sends you through the moon. It is the best feeling in the world. And every time; even if, when you start your blog.

Nina: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: {laughs} And you start getting emails from people, and even if they tell you that the blog post you wrote about; gosh, I don’t know, something you really feel passionate about, what fluoride in your water really means, or whatever it is. You write something, and they send you an email just telling you how much your blog post helped them. Those kinds of; even success stories on somewhat of a smaller scale. If you just help somebody realize something differently, or if you help them lose 50 pounds and go off some major medications as a result. Those are some of the really coolest experiences that you could really hope for.

Nina: That’s awesome. And I have one last question. It’s, what is the best piece of advice you can give someone like myself going into this?

Cassy Joy: Ooh. The best piece of advice.

Nina: Or few pieces of advice {laughs}.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. You know, as far as the schooling goes; one piece of advice that comes to mind there, is turn, whatever homework you have during your nutrition training classes, whichever route you decide to go; I would write all of your homework, for Bauman for example they have you write handouts. So if you want to write a handout; choose a mineral, or choose a vitamin, and you choose vitamin C and you write a handout on it, I would treat it as if you’re using it to give a real client. They tell you that when you’re taking the classes, that that’s a good idea, but I would say that really helped my business from the start. Because when I ended it, I had meal plans that were ready to go. And I had about 25 handouts that were ready to go. And I probably went way above and beyond than what was required for the schooling program itself, but I had a package, I had a business ready to start and ready to send stuff out to people. So I would say treat your homework in nutrition school, whichever one you decide to go through as if you’re using it for a real deal client deliverable.

And then I would say for building your practice; start off slow. There’s no reason to jump into anything too fast. Take on maybe one to two clients at a time, until you really feel like you’ve got the hang of things. Because at first, I gave my beginning clients way more time, because I was learning the ropes, right? So I would start off slow. Don’t be afraid to honor yourself with competitive pricing. It’s so difficult; I was talking to somebody about this earlier today. She was talking about writing an eBook; and I was like, don’t undercut yourself. Don’t put it out there for $1.50 just because you feel like; who am I to charge more than $1.50 for an eBook, you know? At the end of the day, if you really want this to be your livelihood, start thinking seriously about pricing. Go look and see what other people are charging for hourly rates, and don’t be afraid to really honor yourself based on what you want to be making in the future.

And you can do that, of course, if you have built trust with folks. And through I blog I think it’s a really great way to go; but like I said, through strategic relationships with other physician is another good way. So those are some of them.

And then don’t be afraid; that last piece of advice is to start the blog. Seriously, Nina, start it now. Even if you change the name, and even if you change your URL and you change your whole concept; whatever it is. Don’t feel like you have to have it all figured out right now, but start writing and start hashing out some of your ideas. And I bet while you’re going through school, you’re going to have; blog post topics are just going to come to you and you’re going to want to share some stuff. So use that as an outlet and you’ll be able to hit the ground running when you graduate.

Nina: Perfect. Thank you so much for all of this information. I’m sure other people will benefit from all of this.

Cassy Joy: Yeah! I hope so too. I hope it was helpful.

Nina: Absolutely.

Cassy Joy: Good. Do you feel like you’re going to go crush it now? {laughs}

Nina: I do. I feel so much more motivated.

Cassy Joy: Do you? Good! {laughs}

Nina: Yes. {laughs} I’m excited.

Cassy Joy: I’m excited for you. I’m excited for San Marcos; they’re going to have such a bright shining nutrition consultant or nutrition therapy practitioner.

Nina: I know.

Cassy Joy: That’s awesome. Well keep me posted; I want to know how things shake out from here.

Nina: I definitely will. Thank you Cassy.

Cassy Joy: Awesome, thank you Nina. And thanks to everybody else who listened today. Remember you can find the full transcript for today’s show on http://FedandFit.com. You can always find us on iTunes, Stitcher, and if you like the show, please leave us a review; I almost said on Amazon {laughs}.

Nina: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: On iTunes. It’s been a long day. Leave us a review on iTunes; that really helps other folks find the show. Thanks so much, we’ll be back again next week.


2 Responses to “Ep. 94: Becoming a Nutrition Consultant”

  1. #
    Melissaposted February 15, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Hi Cassy!

    What’s the water bottle you mentioned? I think I heard you mention it on the Balanced Bites podcast as well… Thanks!

    • Cassy replied: — February 16th, 2017 @ 12:37 pm


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