Hey Sammi! What business did you start?
Hey! I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and started my nutrition private practice, Nutrition Works NY, to share my knowledge and help others reach their health goals.
What education and knowledge did you have to acquire before? How long did that take? Was it worth the wait?
After graduating college, I went to New York University to get my degree in nutrition. I took about 2 years of prerequisite science and nutrition classes at NYU. During that time, I volunteered at a hospital, in a private practice and at a school teaching nutrition classes. These activities and coursework all helped me gain the necessary education and experience in order to match with a hospital in a year-long Dietetic Internship program. I completed my Dietetic Internship at the James J. Peters Bronx VA Medical Center and after that, was eligible to take the RD exam to become a Registered Dietitian. Finally, during and after my Dietetic Internship, I took classes towards my Master’s in Clinical Nutrition at NYU.
All in all, it took about 4 years to become a dietitian and get my Master’s degree. It was long, and difficult at times, but absolutely worth it.
Was there a scary part of starting?
Definitely! I worked as a dietitian for about a year and a half before officially starting my own practice. It was scary going off on my own, knowing that any successes, failures, and even hardships that a client might endure all comes back to me. Ultimately though, I love what I do and am confident in my abilities – knock on wood, so far, my clients have been successful!
Do you have a favorite part of running the business?
As cheesy as it sounds, I love helping my clients and watching them succeed. I went into nutrition because I felt that eating healthy is really very simple – it can be hard to do because many people don’t understand how simple it can be! I love seeing my clients have that epiphany moment when they realize they are able to eat healthy, enjoy what they’re eating, and not feel deprived. I probably get just as excited for my clients as each of them do when they reach their goals.
What do you try to do to differentiate from other people in your industry?
Going back to that idea of simplicity, I really like to focus on keeping nutrition easy. In general, if something doesn’t feel easy, we’re less likely to do it. I don’t believe in crazy supplements or superfoods. I focus on a balanced diet that includes every single food group – from broccoli to chocolate cake. Once you learn that there’s a place for the occasional treat in a healthy diet, you allow yourself to enjoy that treat without guilt or overeating.
I also always try to meet my clients where they’re at – I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition. I’ll never tell my clients to follow a vegan diet, eat all organic foods, start or stop counting calories. If there’s a concept that they believe in and are interested in, I’ll give them the scientific facts that both support and negate that idea. Whatever they decide to do, I help them to follow it in a healthy, simple, and convenient way to reach their goals. When it comes to nutrition, there’s a way to make almost every concept work.
Any amazing feedback or success stories?
Yes! I’ve worked with clients that have lost weight (up to 80 pounds!), lowered their cholesterol, and regulated their blood sugar. It’s all so awesome and rewarding to see. Most recently, I worked with a teenage girl who came to me completely afraid to eat carbohydrates. She now makes carbs part of every meal in a healthy way, all while maintaining a healthy weight. Seeing clients reach that level where they’re finally comfortable with what they eat and in their own skin is really the best.
Is there a common misconception about health that clients have?
There are so many! The first one that comes to mind is the almost trendy idea of “clean eating” – I can’t stand it! It doesn’t even really have a meaning. So many people tell me that they’re hesitant to work with a dietitian because they’re not ready to eat 100% clean – either they have an event coming up that they want to enjoy, or they don’t want to give up foods like pizza and ice cream. I would never counsel anyone to eat 100% “clean” any way. It’s no fun! Plus, a truly healthy diet is one doesn’t demonize any one food and is sustainable – meaning it includes the occasional treats.
How has running this business affected your personal life?
There’s definitely less personal time than there used to be! I still work full-time in addition to my private practice, and run my nutrition Instagram account, @veggiesandchocolate. Surprisingly, my Instagram account is almost the most time consuming out of everything! I try to accommodate my private clients as much as and whenever I can – before work, after work, and on the weekends. It takes up a lot of my free time, but is absolutely manageable. More importantly, I really love what I do with my private clients, so it’s also enjoyable.
Any advice for women looking to start their own venture?
Just get started! I kept hesitating to start my practice because I was scared, but truly the only way you can fail is if you never try. It’s also helped me a lot to set small goals and deadlines for myself. When no one’s holding you accountable, it’s easy to put things off. Setting tasks for myself to complete each week helped me finally get started, and still helps me to stay on track.
So many! Can I pick 3? As it relates to above: “You’ll never regret what you did do, only what you didn’t do.” The mantra that I wear on my MantraBand bracelet every day: “One day at a time.” And my all-time favorite quote that applies to basically every situation: “Expect nothing. Appreciate everything.”
Toast Sammi with a little Mariette, Order Here.