Q&A with Nutritionist Esther Schultz

We’ve been begging Nutritionist Esther Schultz of The Wholesome Fork to use OUR kitchen to try out all of her amazing recipes, and then leave the leftovers, especially the Almond Date Granola Bars. So far it isn’t working.

What is working is her determination to take action everyday to help people remove the shame, guilt, and stress of food and show them ways to enjoy nutrition.  We talked with her about her journey.

How did you find that idea that started your business? Where were you at in life when you started?

I used to be a Barrister (trial attorney) in London. I thought my career was set for life. Then I came to California to work with a Human Rights lawyer in Venice Beach for three months and met my husband surfing. Two years later we got married and I moved to Los Angeles. I did what everyone in dreary London talks about doing – I gave up the rat race and moved to sunny California. But I quickly realized that I did not want to be an Attorney in the US, so I started looking for a new career. I spent some time thinking about what I really enjoyed in my personal life, and how I could turn that into a job. Then one day, while I was reading an article in a magazine about healthy food, it hit me – nutrition. I love food, I love being healthy, and I love helping people. So I went back to school to study to become a Registered Dietitian. Eight years, 32 classes, one Bachelors degree, one (almost) Masters degree, and two children later, here I am starting my nutrition business.

How did you know your business idea was something that you were going to make happen?

It wasn’t until 6 years into my studies that I started to really think about nutrition as a business. By that time I had narrowed down my interests. I knew I didn’t want to work in a hospital. Instead, I wanted to help people stay healthy and avoid the hospital. I also knew that I wanted to be my own boss, and I wanted to be able to pick up my children from school every day. So in 2015 I resolved to have a private nutrition practice with an online component when I finished college.

What was the biggest fear you had to overcome to take that first step?

The very first step I took towards my business was starting my blog back in 2015. My biggest fear was that my blog wouldn’t be good enough, the content interesting enough, or the photographs attractive enough.

I looked at other nutrition blogs that were beautiful and flawless (to my eyes) and I was terrified that mine would not compare. Then I did something that totally changed my approach. I started to look at the very first posts on some of the best food and nutrition blogs. They were not even close to the standard of their more recent blog posts. Many of the photos were poorly lit and not particularly well composed, the writing was mediocre, and the recipes were pretty straightforward. And it dawned on me – no one starts out perfect. But if you don’t start at all, you will never achieve anything.

What is the biggest fear you are still knocking down every day to keep your business moving forward?

I have a terrible case of Imposter Syndrome. I often feel that everything I know about nutrition is common knowledge, and I don’t really have much to offer. Thanks to the wonderful advice of SisterUp co-founder, Lindsay, I now have a post-it note permanently stuck to my computer that says, “Of course I can help”. Whenever I feel Imposter Syndrome coming on, I read it to remind myself that I do have the knowledge to help people.

Who has been your biggest cheerleader?

That’s a tough one because I have had (and needed) many cheerleaders along the way. My biggest cheerleader has probably been my good friend and college buddy, Alyssa. We are writing our Masters thesis together, have taken all our classes together, and have lifted each other up when we felt as though we would never make it. She is also a mom so she understands the trials and tribulations of being a graduate student and an entrepreneur while raising children.

Who was your first client or first sale?

My first paying client was actually a dog. I was approached by someone whose dog had kidney disease. The special food was so expensive that they wanted to make it at home instead, but they wanted to make sure it was nutritionally appropriate for the dog’s ailing kidneys.

What is something you do for self-care?

I love to soak myself in a hot bath with Epsom salts and a good book. The magnesium in the Epsom salts is wonderful for tired muscles, and helps replenish the additional magnesium that my body uses when I am particularly stressed.

How do you balance work with your family life?

I have been struggling with finding a good balance, but recently I had a breakthrough.

It dawned on me that I always had one eye on my business. Whether I was checking Instagram, making lists of things to do, or updating my Facebook page, I always had my mind on something to do with work. It meant that I was never fully present with my family. Now, I compartmentalize the two. Each week I work out what hours I am going to dedicate to work, and I make sure my children are being taken care of during that time. At all other times, I am fully focused on my family.

What do you hope your children are learning from you?

I hope my children are learning that you can do anything you put your mind to. With hard-work, strategic planning, and a positive attitude, you really can achieve anything.

What advice would you give women just starting out?

Start! Just make a start. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfect. Heck, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t good at all. Just start. And chip away, little by little. You don’t have to be an overnight success. Many people reach success slowly. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

What’s on the horizon for you?

I am starting to put together my first nutrition program. So far my income has been from private one-to-one counseling clients and ads on my blog. My next step is to have a formal program that people will be able to purchase from my website. It is something I have always had in the back of my mind, but now it is time to start making it come to fruition.

What is your go-to singing –  top of your lungs, windows – down in a car song? 

Happy by Pharrell Williams. No matter what mood I’m in, it always cheers me up.

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