Hello, Working Girls: Brittany Mullins and Sasha Nelson of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition
Meet Brittany Mullins and Sasha Nelson, two talented graduates of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition who are now leading successful health-oriented businesses and blogs! Brittany is the talented blogger behind Eating Bird Food, and Sasha is the owner of Sasha Yoga + Wellness. at Read more to learn about the ladies' experience at the Institute, as well as how they stay healthy while maintaining busy lifestyles.
Q: You both work in the health and wellness sector, and you both run successful blogs! How do you balance it all and maintain healthy habits while leading busy lives?
Brittany:It can definitely be a challenge to balance everything but eating healthy and staying active are a big part of my lifestyle so they’re pretty much second nature at this point. Of course I’m human and I’ll skip my workout occasionally, eat treats and enjoy a cocktail here or there but I’m all about balance and feel like this approach helps keep me sane. My secret weapon is planning ahead. For example, I like to schedule my workouts for the week ahead of time and do some quick meal prep on Sundays. Being prepared goes a long way and makes it much easier to stick with healthy habits.
Sasha: Between teaching yoga all over the city, coaching in person or over the phone, updating my website and blog/newsletter, testing/developing recipes, writing, dancing, traveling and having a personal life - it does in fact take quite a bit of work in terms of maintenance and continually providing content. That being said, what I write and create all comes from the heart, so although time consuming it is the most rewarding thing I've ever done. It really is a lifestyle; when I am inspired by something I get to write about or cook it, which is something I would do naturally, except now I get to share it with an incredible community in hopes that they will feel inspired to live their best lives.
Being the founder and CEO of my own business (of which I am so proud) can result in days where I constantly look at my calendar to ensure I know where I am supposed to be and when, and because my work reflects my personal life it can be a challenge to figure out how to differentiate the two. I believe it is imperative to practice what I preach, since that is how my business first started and continues to evolve.
I have never sacrificed the way that I eat - staying nourished has always been paramount to me, a trait I attribute much of to my mom's Italian ancestry. I rarely eat out and when I do I am unashamedly choosy. More often than not I make all three meals at home, prepping beforehand when I can and taking it on the go if necessary. When I eat out I prefer clean restaurants and pick meals that are something I would make myself/others at home.
Other non-negotiables are my Saturday morning McCarren Park Greenmarket haul, yoga or dance whether it is a home practice or class, traveling as often as possible, self-care rituals like meditation and visits to trusted healers, and quality time with friends and family (which often involve food or yoga, obviously).
It took me almost six months of working 7 days a week to recognize that my self-care regimen needed improvement, and so I created space in my schedule even if it meant letting go of classes. It is a continual lesson and growing process to arrange my schedule, goals and business timeline, but I am in it to win it.
Q: What was your experience with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition like, and how did your education prep you for the jobs you have now?
Brittany: I graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in October of 2011. I was already blogging about health and wellness at the time, but I also had a full-time marketing job. The health coaching certification gave me the knowledge and skills I needed to be a health coach but also gave me the self-confidence to quit my full-time job and become self-employed as a health coach and blogger. It was just the foundation (and push) I needed.
Sasha: My experience as a student of Integrative Nutrition was, like many others, life-changing. At first I was not very interested in coaching, but I had just finished a YogaWorks 200 hour teacher training and felt it would be an excellent supplement to the work I was doing with yoga, especially because the philosophical aspect of the practice was so intriguing to me. IIN taught me, first and foremost, that I had something to offer and that I was worth/capable of offering it, which sparked the fire in me to do what I call wellness + lifestyle coaching.
I had some valuable business skills in my back pocket from my MFA in Fashion Merchandising at Academy of Art University, but was not so familiar with the entrepreneurial marketing tactics discussed and suggested in the Health Coach Training Program. The information and tools provided on creating a newsletter and how to effectively network, for example, helped me organize templates and topics for newsletters, and offered practical insight on how to talk to people about what I did at industry events. I was inspired to create a website and start coaching clients, of which the paperwork and outlines provided by IIN remain instrumental, and to get creative in the ways I wanted to offer my services to my clients.
I learned about the importance of consistency in terms of staying present and relevant in the field, and most importantly remaining authentic. As a yoga instructor and a listener, the program enhanced my attention and awareness; I am continually blown away by the power of hearing people out instead of constantly responding, which is something that IIN highly encourages.
Aside from teaching yoga, coaching, dancing, writing, developing healthy recipes and working for Hyde sustainable yoga apparel, IIN provided sensational tools for my own self-work, especially when paired with yoga teacher training. I have never felt more connected to my purpose, my Self, the food I eat and the people in my life. I loved the lectures and I even enjoyed the confusion that often followed - one day I was (and still often am) certain that Ayurveda was the ultimate way to live, the next day I was uncertain if I should continue to not consume meat, then I was sold on the health benefits of raw dairy products, only to listen to another convincing talk about the magic of vegan raw foods. It was and still is an incredible time of discovering what does or does not work for me, and for that I am forever grateful. It is from this blossoming ability to look within that I am able to fully serve my clients.
Q: For fellow Working Girls on the go, what’s one easy tip for staying healthy and fit, even with a demanding work schedule?
Brittany: Add in a little activity whenever you can — walk or ride your bike to work, take the steps instead of the elevator, ask co-workers if they’re open to hosting a “walking” meeting, walk or sneak in a quick fitness class on your lunch break, walk during conference calls, etc. Wearing an activity tracker (even for just a few days) is a great way to figure out how active/inactive you are throughout the day and motivate yourself to add in more activity if needed.
Sasha: I would suggest to make a list of or bring to your attention the things that are most valuable to you. For example, the things that mean the most to me are spending time with the people I love, and taking care of my body through food and self-care. Even if it's just a quick email, visit or phone call, I have always scheduled time (even during my busiest weeks) with the people I care about, and believe this is imperative for everyone's health.
Along the lines of doing what is most important to us: I would also encourage Working Girls on the go to not do things out of obligation, like subbing a class or writing a blog post because you feel you "should," but to do it out of actually wanting to do it. This does not mean I ditch keeping track of my finances because I really do not feel like looking at my spreadsheet, but I do want to be successful and organized, so I carve out time for that. I also want to feel healthy and balanced outside of my work, so I make time to spend with others, eat well, go to yoga or dance, have some me/quiet time, and travel. I want to feel good in my body and clear in my mind, so I visit various healers and doctors I trust and eat in a way that makes me feel nourished.
Get in touch with the things that fuel you, make lists if and when that is helpful to organize your thoughts, and keep your eyes on the prize(s).
Lastly: respect who you are and where you are on your path, exactly as you are today.
Q: What advice would you have for women seeking a career in a similar field?
Brittany:The health and wellness field is growing at a rapid rate. We’re facing an obesity epidemic and people are realizing that they have to make changes — and fast! There’s a huge need for health coaches and now is a great time to become one. If it’s something you’re passionate about, I highly recommend going for it. Helping others learn how to eat healthfully, cook healthy meals at home, gain confidence, increase their self-esteem and live healthier, happier lives is really rewarding. I love my job and wake up excited about it every morning!
Sasha: I would suggest they recognize that being an entrepreneur, especially in the field of health and wellness, is a continual growing process. For example, I often felt I had to have things perfectly organized before I published my website or started coaching, but some of the best work I have created has come from being only slightly prepared and taking a leap from there. Not to discount the assuredness or stability that good preparation provides, but to encourage women in this career path to seriously go for it. If something fails, learn from it and then leave it be without letting it deter you from what you want.
I also hope to empower these women to remember that we all have something unique and beautiful to offer the world. It does not matter if someone else has already done it, because it will be special coming from our individual hearts.
I highly recommend we all continue to support each other and to take care of ourselves and each other. Making time for self-care is so imperative in practicing what we preach, and taking care of others will help to spread these much needed good vibes of health and wellness throughout the world.
On a smaller-scale, which I've mentioned before: stick with your heart's desires, hold the vision no matter what, and know that anything is truly possible if you want it to be.
Q: Overall, what’s the top reason that you would recommend the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to fellow women seeking a career in health and wellness?
Brittany: The program is the perfect combination of nutritional and coaching training, but also includes marketing and business building components so when you graduate your ready to start putting your certification to use right away.
Sasha: I would recommend IIN to fellow women seeking a career in health and wellness simply for the reason of what it can offer you, in general, both in your personal life and in your career. Whether you work a 9-5, are a stay-at-home parent, write a book, launch a career in coaching, develop a food product or go on to Medical School, this program will bring to light whatever part of your life is in the shadows. Because it encourages this deep self-work, it will shift and support your awareness around and relationship to everything from food to people to spirituality. Try it and see for yourself.