Can you share with us your journey to being an entrepreneur? How did it all begin?
I was in corporate America doing nothing with fitness instruction. [Fitness] was just a hobby for years until I hit my own personal rock bottom. After I had my daughter, I went through a divorce and gained a lot of weight. It was also a time [of] the housing market crash and the financial market problem. Because I was traveling full time and going to be a single mom, I had to take a voluntary job demotion. The one thing I felt I had control over was getting my body back on track. I started focusing on eating right and exercising, and I shared it on Facebook for my own accountability. What happened was people became interested in the recipes I was sharing, so they started asking for more. I launched a digital e-book because people asked for it. I didn’t expect it to take off the way it did, but I’m a sales person at heart, so the more I realized people wanted this information, the more I started to build on that.
You say you’re not a fitness instructor, so what would you consider yourself to be?
I’m a licensed master’s sports nutritionist and a functional fitness trainer, which means I did get my certifications. I have the credentials [to be a fitness instructor], but I never taught group classes, worked at a gym, or took on clients. I was just sharing information on recipes and nutrition, which led to people asking me for help.
You are diagnosed with Celiac Sprue, but you didn’t allow it to ruin your life. I find that very inspiring! Can you tell us how you used this diagnosis to change your life for the better?
The diagnosis was done years ago, before I was doing anything with fitness or nutrition, before anyone knew what Celiac was. I had really bad stomach pains, swollen lymph nodes, and all kinds of issues from the undiagnosed Celiac. Once I found out what [Celiac Sprue] was, I eliminated gluten from my diet, which instantly got rid of the symptoms. But as people became more familiar with Celiac, more gluten-free processed foods came to the market, which definitely contributed to my weight gain. When you’re eating real, unprocessed foods the way I was when I was first diagnosed, that’s really healthy for you. I naturally stayed thin and lean. As soon as I introduced highly processed gluten-free foods into my diet, I had a huge weight gain. So when I was searching to get healthy again and to lean out, I un-processed my diet.
Describe your morning routine and how it helps you jumpstart your day.
One thing I’ve done consistently the last few years on social media is post a do-at-home body weight workout video every morning on Facebook and Instagram. There’s about half an hour spent, first thing, checking that [the video] went through okay. Typically I’ll listen to a podcast while I’m getting ready because I like to learn through podcasts and books on tape. Then I eat breakfast. Lately, I’ve been having a coffee drink mixed with a natural whey protein and some fruit to start my day. The next step is [marking] out what needs to be done for the day—things I need to do to move the business forward. I block time in my schedule for those [priorities]. Setting up my day is the same routine every single morning.
One question I get asked a lot and I’ll ask you now: how can anyone become successful?
People will reach out to me and ask, “How do I do what you do?” But the thing is, nobody can really do what somebody else did. What you can do is focus on your strengths—be authentic to what makes you special—then share that information. When you share and listen to what people that are attracted to your information are asking for, that’s really the key to success. And of course being consistent!
One of your slogans is a “Become Your Best You. Build Your Best Body and Stay Motivated.” How do you get your clients to stay motivated?
There’s not a formula to follow. Everybody has to have their personal “why.” You can pick up a plan from anybody, but if you don’t know why you’re trying to change, it’s difficult to stay motivated. First, understand what it is you’re trying to change and why, then create a vision that you can look at and feel everyday. People react to feelings, so I talk a lot about vision boards. If you know you want to feel a certain way and you put images up that you can look at daily, [those images] will help spark that feeling and make it easier to move toward your goal.
There are many fitness and health instructors with various workout plans. How is your workout plan different from other ones?
Everything I do is based on simplifying—I simplify fitness and nutrition for people. When I talk about diet, it’s not about depravation, but about what good you can add to make less room for the bad. As far as workouts go, what I’m saying is focus on your body in a short amount of time to create progression and intensity. Make it as challenging as you can for yourself for that short period of time and be fully present in that workout. My workouts are very short, but they’re very effective and challenging.
You have several recipe books, including 1 book available in stores and 4 available online. I’m a chef, so I have to ask you: What is your all-time favorite recipe to make at home and why?
(Laughs) That’s a hard one! We’re talking 500 recipes! But a favorite that people love is my raw cookie dough recipe.
Ready-to-Eat Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
You don’t have to wait for these to bake! The best part of chocolate chip cookies is eating the dough—just spoon it right out of the bowl.
• 1/2 cup packed almond flour
• 1/4 cup tapioca flour
• 5 tablespoons cold unsalted grass-fed butter
• 1 tablespoon agave nectar
• 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 ounce chopped dark 85% chocolate
• Generous pinch of pink Himalayan salt
Combine all ingredients except chocolate in a blender and blend until smooth. Stir in the chocolate and enjoy!
What is the top 3 best advice you can give to my readers?
1. Focus on addition, not subtraction.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others. Focus on your strengths, and how you can become even better at those.
3. Be consistent. Whatever you’re doing that you like, that you’re good at, or that people respond well to, do more of it!
What’s next for you?
We’re working right now to take Natalie Jill fitness to a whole other level. We’ve been focused on my main online web audience, which is about 3 million social media followers, but we’re looking to expand it to mainstream. The first steps were getting my book, Unprocess Your Diet, out to stores and doing a lot more mainstream CD segments. We’re [also] expanding to a nutrition software where we can do customized diets for people and to membership-based sites. [Lastly,] we’re making more motivational merchandise to keep people excited and engaged.
What would you like people to remember you for?
It’s not that I need people to remember me for something specific I created or something I said, but more how I made them feel. I love when I can talk to somebody [who feels like giving up] and change their entire view—make them feel empowered, re-motivated, and engaged.