Good morning guys!
I’m just tying up a few loose ends before vacation time officially starts, but before leaving, I wanted to let you in on what you can expect around here while I’m away. I’ll be staying pretty unplugged over the next week in order to fully enjoy ever bit of this Maui trip, but would never leave you hanging.
So here’s the game plan. I’m a big believer in surrounding ourselves with people who lift us up and challenge us to be better. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several, especially since starting this blog. Over the next week, you’ll get to meet three ladies who are not only huge inspirations to me for different reasons, but ones I’m also proud to call friends. They’ve each got their own unique stories and definitions of health, and all three are up to some very cool things as female entrepreneurs in the wellness industry.
Kicking off the Women In Wellness Series is Emma Andrews. Emma and I first met back when I was still at university in Waterloo, and she was out here in Vancouver, working as Vega’s Education + Innovation Manager. We bonded over our love for running and plant-based nutrition, and hung out at a whole bunch of races and Vega-hosted events. She was very much part of the crew who convinced me I needed to move out to the west coast, and one of the people who made me feel right at home when I arrived.
Since then, Emma’s moved on to so many exciting endeavours, both athletically and professionally. Rather than me telling you about them, let’s hear straight from her!
1. Tell us a little bit about your background. What drew you to holistic nutrition and inspired you to pursue it as a career?
I grew up in Canada’s ranching heartland – the foothills of Alberta – and ever since I was little, struggled with pervasive asthma and allergies, to everything from pollen, to hay, and grass. The very environment I was surrounded by everyday.
My symptoms peaked in university with the onset of chronic bronchitis. I was dependent on multiple inhalers, was often absent from class, and despite a love of running was unable to exercise at high intensity. For a girl in her early 20’s, I was not thriving.
Motivated by a desire to be active without limitations and live prescription free, I became obsessively interested in learning about, and exploring alternative approaches to healing. I was lucky enough that my Mum, a Registered Nurse, first encouraged me to see a Naturopathic Doctor. Together we identify food triggers, addressed the root cause of my symptoms, and through my own insatiable research, I soon became immersed in the world of holistic health.
I moved to Vancouver in 2008, and I decided to take my enthusiasm for natural health to the next level. I made a career pivot, and enrolled in the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN). Mid way through the program, life took an unexpected turn.
In December 2009 we lost my Dad to a sudden heart attack. My Dad’s scenario did not fit the majority of “standard criteria”. My family was always highly active (in large part due to my Dad’s example), he didn’t smoke, wasn’t obese, and was only 53 years old. This experience solidified for me the importance of a holistic approach to health.
Today I believe and advocate that lasting health is a combination of dietary strategies, lifestyle modifications, and natural supplementation when needed. My mission is to help educate and empower others to take a proactive approach towards their longevity. We’re in this together. For the long run.
2. A lot of my readers are runners, and you’ve got plenty of experience under your belt in that area! Do you have any athletic goals that you’re currently working towards?
I’m training for the Chicago Marathon (which will be my 7th), on Oct 8th! I also recently ran the Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon, and the Lululemon Seawheeze Half. The majority of my races these days are more a celebration of feeling strong, happy and running injury-free!
3. I know that meditation has become a really integral part of your personal wellness routine over the last year or so. What inspired you to try it and remain consistent? What benefits have you experienced?
I really started to make it a serious habit during a 3-week challenge at Moment Meditation in December of 2016. Attending consistent classes that were 30 minutes or longer, really had a noticeable impact on my anxiety levels, and helped me feel far more resilient to stress.
I went through a period of major life changes in a short amount of time, including leaving my job, starting a consulting agency (Pineapple Collective), and moving homes. When I started to feel panicked at work a lot and anxiety flaring up, I realized I hadn’t paid enough attention to my mental wellness over the years as I had my physical fitness and my nutrition. True holistic health encompasses what you put in – and on – your body, your mobility, and the thoughts you think.
Now I feel a lot more ease through-out my day, and a great sense of wellbeing. It’s positively affected my career, and my relationships.
4. Tell us about Pineapple Collective.
We’re a collective of nutritionists, educators and marketers who help natural health and wellness brands tell their story. We do this through education experiences, nutrition communications, and content marketing strategy.
There’s myself and our Founder, Lynsey Walker –also an RHN – who heads up our Eastern office, and we work with an intimate network of preferred collaborators for various types of project execution.
We just finished creating and designing an e-workbook called “Developing a Brand Story that Resonates” that we’re really excited about. It’s for emerging brands and ‘solopreneurs’ to leverage the power of strategic storytelling in their business.
5. As a busy entrepreneur, talented athlete and holistic nutritionist, you undoubtedly have a ton of projects and people constantly competing for your attention. How do you manage it all while maintaining the commitment to your own wellness?
This has changed over time for me. I used to say ‘yes’ to so much more. But at the time, I was really exploring who I was, and what really lit my fire.
Cliché perhaps, but I feel like now that I’m starting to settle into my 30’s (I’m 32), I have a more refined filter for what I put my time and energy into. A while back I adopted the saying, “if it’s not a heck yes, it’s a hard no”. I try to implement this to save myself from overcommitting – one of the main sources of stress for me.
6. What advice would you offer to women thinking about pursuing careers as entrepreneurs in the wellness industry?
Build up your knowledge and experience. Educate yourself constantly: go to shows and expos, read journals and popular blogs, monitor social media and get out to community events. Talk to your target consumer, and expose yourself to the industry as much as possible.
Then…roll up your sleeves and get busy. Work part time at a clinic or a health food store to get to know business operations and expand your network, collaborate with a few brands as an ambassador or content contributor to help raise your profile, develop your own content for a blog or social media channel to showcase your expertise.
There’s no shortcuts to the ‘ideal career’, so much of it is about testing out different strategies, and refining them as you learn what works. I would also encourage diversifying your streams of revenue, because sometimes it can surprise you what becomes the most lucrative, or fulfilling.
7. Knowing what you know now, what are 3 pieces of advice you’d give to Emma 10 years ago?
- Definitely to ‘lead with ease’ more often. Don’t try to force an outcome, or rush the process.
- Be here, now. Mindfulness and the ability to be present are two of the most powerful tools in your arsenal.
- Proactive > Reactive.
There you have it, guys! I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Emma. Perhaps some of what she’s shared provides a spark of inspiration to you, whether it’s in terms of athletic goals, career aspirations or overall holistic wellness.
Stay tuned for Wednesday because I’ve got another incredibly talented lady lined up in this series. Until then, if you’d like to leave a thank you for Emma, or share what resonated with you in her message, feel free to leave a comment below. Have a great week!