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Hello, friends!

Have you checked out the latest recipes, videos and podcasts at RealFoodLiz.com?

Don't forget Skincare Saturdays at the Purely Primal Skincare blog, where I talk my junk-free skincare favorites.

And as if I could hose y' down with any more of my thoughts - it's time for your EXCLUSIVE subscriber-only Email Monday post! 

Today we're talking about what happens AFTER you realize that you want to be a nutrition consultant. 

Seriously. Now what?

Once you're certain you want to help others get on the Real Food train, a whole world of UNcertainty opens up. What kind of program is right for me? Where do I start? Which programs are worth the money, and which ones are worth the time?

First and foremost: DON'T let those sometimes scary questions intimidate you. If it's your passion, you CAN make it happen. Don't wait, don't hesitate. (That sounds like a song, no?)

I say all this because I waited FAR too long to get started. When you wait, a few things will happen (or, y' know, DON'T happen):

  • You either waste months, sometimes years, before finally getting started - then, you realize how much MORE you could've done by now had you just not dragged your feet.

or

  • You waste months, sometimes years, wondering if a career path is right for you instead of ACTUALLY FINDING OUT one way or the other.
If there's a little bird (or cricket, or angel, or whatever) on your shoulder telling you I think I can do this...I really WANT to do this - listen

Here's my story: I'd been blogging for several years, and living a Real Food lifestyle all the while. I was obsessed with the science, the background, and the implementation, but when people asked me for ideas, help or my simple thoughts, I felt uncomfortable.

I felt that, until I was actually certified - until I was "official" - I was an enthusiast. And while there's nothing wrong with being an enthusiast, being an enthusiast does NOT make one a qualified practitioner. 

I wanted to be sure I had a firm footing from a program I respected before I tried to help others in any official capacity. I wanted protocols in place for evaluating, gathering information, and serving people with compassion.

I knew I wanted all that. Yet, for several more years, I hesitated. I waffled. I flip-flopped, hemmed and hawed and...you get the idea.

And during that time, NOTHING HAPPENED. Except, of course, my brain got sore from the constant self-doubt spewing from my internal monologue. The holistic programs I liked were too expensive, I told myself. The collegiate programs I felt would provide highly recognizable "letters" behind my name were...well...chock-full of conventional wisdom and would take three times as long to complete.

How can I spend all that money, time, or money AND time with no guarantee I'll be successful?

Umm, BIG NEWS, Liz: you're NEVER guaranteed to be successful. You're not guaranteed anything, in fact, but you're definitely not guaranteed it if you never even try.

So there you have it (or, there I had it). I had to try. I had to accept the potential downsides and consequences if it didn't work out. And I had to do my darndest to make sure that it did.

And holy goats on a truck. It DID work out. 

I chose the Nutritional Therapy Association's program because I loved the curriculum and the fact that I could learn online, while still attending several conferences to solidify the in-person element. The program was REAL FOOD BASED; centered around Paleo-friendly principles, and included the study of anatomy, digestive health, hormonal control, cardiovascular health and detoxification, and even business fundamentals.

(Other programs out there with excellent curricula are the ones from Bauman and Hawthorn University. I chose against IIN simply because I didn't find their curriculum to fit my desires.) 

Second only to your choice in program is the way you approach your education and your goals from the moment you decide to go for it. This starts BEFORE you complete your program, so listen up!

Here's what you need to know about getting started, getting the word out, and staying on a roll.

> Before you go back to school, get on the WEB

Unless you're part of a local, engaged community (CrossFit, church, etc.) that knows what you’re all about, you need to have a blog. That’s just how things work. It’s how potential clients get to know you. You don't have to display all your personal information on the internet; but do begin sharing as soon as possible.

Get a basic Wordpress blog and start talking, in brief (you don't have to write a novel), about what you’re eating and why, what you find important and why, and what YOUR journey has been. 

Find your voice, because THAT will inform your practice. It’ll also help you develop web skills if they’re lacking – a HUGE leg up once you’re ready to go pro.

> Get your certification BEFORE you start helping people.

Yes, you'll be blogging, but NO, you won't be taking clients or giving official advice. You'll be talking about what YOU are doing and what YOU find important, but waiting to open your practice is a matter of protecting yourself.

Proper certification will help you use the right disclaimers, the right language, and coordinate the LEGAL approach to assisting others. Don’t put yourself at risk, even if people are banging down your door – get that cert!

Equally important: shoot your preferred school an email to find out what your scope of practice could be in the state you live in. While they may not be able to tell you specifically, they should be able to point you in the right direction. For example, I used to live in a state (New Jersey) where I could practice in conjunction with another licensed practitioner (in my case, I shared an office with a chiropractor). When I moved to Missouri, I changed my business model from 1:1 to 1:internet. More info here.

Getting that cert is also about shoring up your knowledge. While you should start your blog NOW, it’s important to get that cert before you start helping people officially. I thought I knew everything I needed to know before I received my certification, but I didn’t. (Ouch, does that hurt to admit!)

> Trust your gut when building your practice.

Want to work from home or an office? In person or via Skype? Through writing books or eBooks, even? Want to work with athletes, new moms, or Reality TV Starlets? Want to use your credentials to write about nutrition and not take clients at all?

What you do with your desire to help is up to YOU. Your business may not look like anyone else’s, but if it feels right, it IS right. Be confident and creative. I repeat: Be confident and creative.

> Seek continuing education.

Eat up every opportunity to learn, even if you don’t get “official” credits for it. Take online courses, both nutrition and business-related. Read books. WRITE A BOOK. (It’s hard, but YOU CAN DO IT, and it will teach you more than you could imagine!) Educate yourself by EXPERIMENTING on yourself (sounds weird, but it’s not). Go to seminars. 

> Be YOU. Because YOU are awesome.

Don't worry about what other people are doing, because what OTHER people are doing is not authentically you.

And here's some hard talk about managing social media in a genuine way: when it comes to social media, don’t try to build an audience – whether via blog or Facebook – by making meaningless comments to "get on the radar," requesting “like” exchanges, or by tagging multiple popular pages in generic statements in hopes of building a community base, just because you think that's what you're SUPPOSED to do to build an audience.

The internet might tell you to do that. But it doesn't work, because it doesn't accumulate the KIND of "likes" or attention you want: the kind that converts from "like" to CLIENT.

Build your base organically, through the content you provide. Share it through your personal social media pages. This will garner the audience you want and enable you to help people rather than just accumulate “likes” from people who aren’t necessarily engaged with your purpose.

YOU are awesome. So be YOURSELF! I promise, it works! Slow and steady, now - too much, too fast is a recipe for burnout and overwhelm, anyway.

> Never take offense.

This is something I have to remind myself of every. single. day.

Some people won't be as nice as you might prefer. Some people, especially on social media, will be downright mean. Horrible. Trollish. Combative. IGNORE IT AND DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT.

Don't spend your precious energy engaging with those whose clear purpose is to incite you. JUST. IGNORE.

Seriously.

And when you DO respond to people, always respond with patience, grace, and WITHOUT knee-jerk emotion - even if they're being total butt-faces. (Technical term.) You never know what people are going through, so keep an even keel. This will ALWAYS yield better results than the alternative.

Cool? Now get started! Your future awaits - and there's never been a better time than NOW.

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