INTERVIEW: Positioning for a Healthy New Year and Beyond With Evelyn D.
The new year can be a great time to start fresh but how you start goes a long way. With health and fitness on people’s minds this time of year we thought it would be great to reach out to Functional Nutritionist Evelyn DeDominicis to get her insight on a variety of health and nutrition topics. As a Functional/Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Health/Lifestyle Coach, and Yoga Teacher, Evelyn is someone who has become very in line with her purpose in life, but life wasn’t always rosy. Wanting a deeper sense of fulfillment she has taken big chances, put the work in, and is now making a difference in people’s lives the best way she knows how to. Read on as we talk about career, nutrition, balancing life, and much more!
In learning about your company, Evelyn D., much of what inspired the creation of it was your personal experience of overcoming certain health conditions. Tell us a little bit about your philosophy, experience, and how your programs are designed to help clients.
Evelyn: Since I was a teenager I’ve struggled with body image issues and weight. I remember restricting eating, taking diet pills and over exercising as early as 8th grade and all through high school – all because I wanted to fit in and be “popular” – which, to me, meant being skinny like the other girls.
This distortion continued to a lesser degree into my 20s and 30s as I turned to fad diets – Slim Fast, Weight Watchers, Master Cleanse – you name it, I tried it. I just always wanted to be skinnier, smaller, more “tone”. I’d lose weight and gain it back, go on another diet and repeat the yo-yo cycle over and over, every year.
It was in my mid 30s, after my daughters were born, that I developed autoimmune thyroid disease (called Hashimoto’s) and then other hormonal and gut imbalances, candida, heavy metal toxicity, etc..At the time, I was eating a vegan diet which eventually morphed into a processed soy-based vegetarian diet which just made things even worse.
My health conditions, along with a stressful corporate career, led to more fatigue and weight gain in my late 30s and 40s. Even though I was educating myself on health and nutrition as much as I could on my own, I still struggled with my health so I began investing in more formal education with health coaching, nutrition, healing and culinary certifications. I eventually got my Master’s Degree in Nutrition, made significant progress in my healing journey and started to work with clients on deep healing too – not only from a food and nutrient perspective, but also healing their relationships with their bodies, with food and with their mindset.
There’s a huge disconnect in our culture today. I think in some ways it’s worse than ever with social media, airbrushed models, health care, food manufacturers manipulating processed foods to make it hyper palatable and cheap, but in other ways, the body positivity movement, Health At Every Size organizational efforts and the growing appreciation for eating real, whole, sustainable foods is helping bring more awareness and appreciation for true health and more nourishing foods.
The latter fuels my approach when working with clients and groups. I call it “finding your food flow”. It’s not about following the latest diet trends and trying to be a size zero. That’s the ‘outside in’ – external approach. I integrate an ‘inside out’ approach. It’s about connecting with how foods make you feel and coming into balance with your health, hormones, and weight. It’s more intuitive and less dogmatic and restrictive. Sure you can try on Paleo, Real Food Veganism, or Keto to see how these eating approaches feel, but let’s not try to fit everyone into the same diet, plate or pyramid. We’re all unique.
You have had an interesting career path. You started in finance, moved up the corporate ladder, and eventually decided years later to shift into nutrition. Along that path you went back to school to achieve a second degree, this time in Nutrition, and numerous certifications to help support the transition. What inspired that change and what advice do you have for others seeking similar change in their life?
Evelyn: This was a major transition and although it hasn’t been easy, I couldn’t imagine going back to my old corporate career – and not to brag, but I was good! Senior VP, international team (whom I loved), hundreds of millions of dollars of responsibility, 6 figure salary, huge bonuses, first class fights and hotels. I even worked from home.
The work just wasn’t fulfilling. I wanted something more. I literally felt pulled to do something in the field of health and nutrition.
It took me a few years to have the courage and to make a plan to leave. I remember telling my boss, asking about severance. He had a meeting with the big exec over our Line of Business about my potential compensation package and he couldn’t believe I had the “balls to go”. I think he either was impressed or thought I was crazy.
Eventually (in 2010) I left with a year of severance, a few nutrition-related certifications and not a lot of leads or direction. I spent a couple years just exploring. Trying things on. Gaining clarity. It was in that time that I decided to get my Master’s Degree in Functional Nutrition because I was encountering clients with major health conditions, most on serious medications and I didn’t feel qualified to help them without potentially hurting them. Meditation and kale doesn’t fix everything! I needed more legitimate qualifications. This level of education has allowed me to really help clients improve and I have the freedom to combine my deep appreciation for the mindset, self care piece of the puzzle with all the functional nutrition, science aspects that are equally important when it comes to health.
I can’t recommend that everyone do what I did. I had support from my husband and a decent pension and savings to work with. But I absolutely encourage people to pay attention to how they feel in their work and start to shift to doing more of the things they love – things that light them up. The security of a corporate job or a professional career is an illusion and if that job is soul sucking, you are not serving the world as you could and as you should by staying there. Pay attention and start taking some steps toward what you’re drawn to. Even if it’s just a side gig, hobby or class at first, just start shifting.
On January 4th you began a brand new challenge called the ’28 Days to a Lean 2018’ to help clients reset their bodies in the new year. It’s unique in that it offers four different options to complete the challenge. For those looking for a program to start off the new year what sets this one apart from a typical detox? What are some important fundamentals people should understand when it comes to the “NewYear” mentality of getting healthy and fit?
Evelyn: I just launched a guided Intermittent Fasting program with both real food Keto and balanced macronutrient eating approaches. It’s not restrictive or dogmatic. It has recipes, shopping lists and meal plans to get you started. This program involves eating real, whole foods and gives people support as they try-on these eating styles. Along the way, the participants are guided by me to become more intuitive and connected with the signals their body’s send. Anyone who’s interested can jump into the January Beta group (the next one will roll out in the spring. Sign up to get on the mailing list – you’ll get a meal planning guide too just for getting on the list.)
January is a great time to reset. The holidays can really derail our healthy efforts with rich food and alcohol, so I’m not against New Year Detoxes and Cleanses as long as the ingredients are very high quality and they involve real, whole foods too. I teach Paleo/Whole30 group programs, Gut Healing programs and Crossfit Nutrition challenges at several locations in the area and online throughout the year.
Whatever program you choose, participate fully with a spirit of self-awareness and curiosity – with respect for your body and with acceptance for where you’re starting – and see what you notice. When it’s over, integrate all that was positive – everything that made you feel great – and let the rest go.
We’re only a few weeks into Winter. This is the time of year where things like the common cold and flu creep up along with other conditions like seasonal depression. What are some practices and purchases that make up your “Winter Survival Kit?”
Evelyn: Stay hydrated, move everyday, watch your stress and get lots of sleep and rest. Nourishing soups, stews, and chili are perfect in the winter along with herbal teas. Salads and smoothies are a little cold for this time of year, so eating heartier winter greens and roasted veggies are perfect substitutions.
I also take immune boosting supplements like Reishi Mushroom extract, Elderberry and Vitamin C when I need extra support.
As you know we have a big giveaway going on. We’re giving away 12 months of Spotify along with other prizes like gift cards from Apple, Whole Foods, StubHub, and Barnes & Noble. From a health and spiritual perspective we want to know what you’d recommend for winners of these prizes.
Evelyn: ⁃ Favorite App – Instagram
⁃ Favorite Book – UGH! That’s tough, I read so many books! From a health/food landscape perspective, my favorite is Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. My favorite mindset book is A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. As far as fiction, this sounds corny, but The Shack had a great impact on me. It taught me about surrender and letting go of pain and resentment and the metaphors were super powerful. I guess that’s more of a spiritual fiction book.
⁃ Favorite Whole Foods purchase – Kevita Lemon Cayenne Probiotic Drinks (and Kale 😊)
DNA test kits were a hot item this holiday season. Having gone through testing and receiving results I am well aware that the results can be overwhelming. What should people understand when they receive their results? What are some ways your company utilizes results to improve/expand health and fitness?
Evelyn: At one point I had offered Nutrigenomic testing from a company that analyzed about 100 SNPs and translated them to the appropriate diet and exercise recommendations. It was interesting, but I didn’t find the nutrition recommendations to be aligned with my whole foods, intuitive philosophy. What I recommend now is just using 23andMe and finding a functional medicine practitioner that can interpret the data along with functional testing and your health history to get a complete picture. It’s not JUST DNA, but the whole picture that’s key – hormones, digestion, immune system, the microbiome along with diet, lifestyle and mindset. Collaborative Natural Health Partners is my local recommendation, a place where I work and teach.
You run programs offered on EvelynD.com, provide workshops and classes with other companies, and continuously build on your research. Being a mother of three what is your approach to balancing your busy professional life with your personal life so they both flourish?
Evelyn: My daughters are teenagers and 22 so they’re pretty self-sufficient, thankfully. I think it’s important to teach your kids to do things for themselves – to allow them to figure things out and fail. Support them, sure, but don’t enable them. This is how they grow and become strong and independent.
I also model life balance because it’s one of my highest values. I wasn’t always this way, but I’ve learned to keep myself balanced and cared for and I’ve gotten better over the years. Live in your truth. Say NO to what isn’t aligned with your values and to things that drain you. And say YES to those things that will move you forward and serve the world – to make it a better place. Our kids need to see that so that they can follow suit and do even more good in the world.
Finally, what can we expect on EvelynD.com and your other offerings this year?
Evelyn: There’s LOTS in the works!…More programs and support to help people rebalance their health, weight, and mindset.. I’m working on a Mastering Menopause program for the older ladies and will continue re-launching the Intermittent Fasting/Keto programs too. I’ll also be writing and speaking more – podcasts, classes, articles, emails, blog posts and I’m also writing a book that talks about how to come into hormonal balance, how to eat intuitively and find your own “food flow”.
We’re bombarded with information on what to eat and what not to eat – more information than we’ve ever had access to in the history of civilization! But we’re more confused, sicker, and fatter than ever. It has to stop – and it’s not that hard. My goal when teaching, speaking, writing, and working with clients and with everything I do is to help people connect more with themselves and how foods and other lifestyle factors make them feel. True health starts on the inside, not the outside.
Check out Evelyn on the Keto For Women podcast!
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