Education & Career Help

I’m thrilled to have the chance to help future nutrition professionals. Let’s spread the word about Real Food far and wide!

Due to the volume of career-related inquiries I receive, I’m unable to respond to every inquiry individually in a timely manner – despite how much I’d love to talk to each and every person! For the sake of getting those seeking advice a response as quickly as possible, I’ve created the following entry. I hope it helps!

My qualifications

I am a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP™) certified by the Nutritional Therapy Association. Click here for my video review of the NTP™ training program.

Other past educational and professional endeavors:

I completed the CrossFit Level-1 certification and the Poliquin Biosignature practitioner certification in the early 2010s. I allowed both certifications to expire because they simply didn’t resonate with me as I progressed in my journey.

For several years, I lectured with, developed nutrition materials for, and served as a member of the Board of Directors of The First Twenty, an organization dedicated to improving the long-term health of first responders. I also worked with Steve’s Club National Program, an organization bringing fitness and mentorship to at-risk youth.

I’m also an author – I wrote Eat the Yolks (published by Victory Belt) and The Purely Primal Skincare Guide. 

I’ve been featured on television and in several publications as a nutrition expert, including Paleo Magazine (where I wrote a regular column for several years); OK! Magazine; Peppermint Magazine; The Huffington Post; and The Examiner.

Eight years ago I co-founded the Balanced Bites Podcast, a top-rated wellness podcast that continues to provide sound, balanced ideas every single Thursday.

I’m not a doctor, a registered dietitian, or a clinical nutritionist, and I do not consider that a limitation to my career – nor does it have to be a limitation to yours. I’m not attempting to do what they do (nor should you), and most of them aren’t attempting to to what I do, either.

My efforts are not bound by the often slow-moving pace of information from academia to clinical practice; nor are they limited by membership in professional organizations that are sponsored by processed food corporations like Coca-Cola and SoyJoy, as the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics happens to be.

That said, to lack a conventional education in nutrition means I’m absolutely required to read, research, and seek as much independent education as I possibly can in order to be a reliable source of information. All the information you’ll need, as an independently certified practitioner, will NOT be handed to you. You must seek it, and from there, you must distribute what you’ve learned through your own channels as I have – through blogs, books, podcasts and workshops.

I’m blessed that a good volume of people find me trustworthy. When you’re not a doctor or a conventionally-educated professional, you’ve got to be grateful for every single person that trusts their gut enough to trust YOU. And above all, you’ve got to trust yourself.

Most important: as is the case with many of us, my qualifications extend beyond a few lines on a resume. The qualifications I list here are not the sum-total of the work I’ve done. With the listed work, as well as other undertakings, I have worked very hard to accumulate varied experiences across the health-and-fitness spectrum. I seek continuing education from varied sources, including local AND online classes, and read as many books and journals as I can.

My undergraduate degree was in English, which powers my first love – writing (I didn’t say grammar – I said *writing!*) and this is why I’m able to communicate nutritional and lifestyle information effectively online and in print. I was a writer first. This has been the single most powerful force in driving the success I’ve been blessed to have. This won’t necessarily be YOUR experience – we all have different strengths – but it has been MY experience.

Most requests for career advice center on my certification with the Nutritional Therapy Association. If you choose to enroll with the NTA, please list my name (Liz Wolfe) as your referral! I’d greatly appreciate it!

The Nutritional Therapy Association is, in my opinion, the best holistic nutrition program available. I believe this for several reasons:

  • The core curriculum is varied and dense in information, and provides leads to further education and learning.
  • The curriculum reflects my personal values – after a decade of searching, I have come to firmly believe in the “real food” approach to supporting the body.
  • The curriculum provides exposure to alternative points of view, but focuses on real food and practical ways to help others implement a that lifestyle.
  • The curriculum provides exposure to evaluative methods and procedures (from functional physical evaluation to online surveys) that enrich my knowledge and my practice, although I do not use all of them professionally at this time – simply because each practice must be structured as each practitioner sees fit!
  • The NTA provides excellent business counseling and resources.

All that said, a few important points:

You can do well in the course without exploring all the resources the NTA provides, but that won’t make you a good practitioner. This is a good thing for folks who complete the course for personal learning only, as many do, or to augment an already-established medical, health or fitness practice, but completing the course requirements (ie “testing out”) alone will NOT make you a good, intelligent, or well-rounded practitioner. You must make a point to explore the resources given, the source materials provided, the books they recommend, and the continuing education they provide in order to be a good practitioner capable of helping others effectively. That’s a responsibility only YOU can take on.

Creating a successful practice is not easy. It helps immensely to already have a network established – whether that’s through a blog, a gym, or a community group (church, meetup, etc) that you’re part of.  It took me four years to build a self-sustaining practice, and those were 4 years of relentless hard work undertaken as a total career change. It was not easy, but it was worth it!

YOU must figure out what you’re good at. Nobody can do this for you. If you have a passion for helping, you must trust yourself and your gut instinct when building your practice. It may not look like anybody else’s practice, and that’s OK.

You MUST seek continuing education. The pace at which new information and research is released is staggering. You MUST keep up! For example, if you’re interested in sports nutrition, the NTA will provide a great springboard – now, go seek further certification in sports-specialized arenas and institutions. Self-experimentation is also a form of continuing education. Sometimes it backfires – but you always learn something. (Wink.)

If you build it, they don’t always come. Getting your certification doesn’t always guarantee clients. You may have to pound the pavement, network, and be patient as you build your practice. You may have to spend money on web development or “trade” consulting for web work. There’s nothing more rewarding than building a practice, but it may not come easy. Don’t get discouraged.

My Nutritional Therapy practice

I started out doing consultations at my gym and via Skype. As my personal bookings grew over the years, however, I felt it was professionally and financially sound to open a public office. I opened this office within an excellent sports-oriented chiropractic clinic; a clinic from which I was also able to draw clients. This was a mutually beneficial arrangement, as the clinic was able to advertise an in-house nutrition professional; and we were able to refer to one another  knowing we were referring clients to a trusted individual. In certain circumstances, we were able to co-manage client care.

In 2013, my husband’s military orders moved us halfway across the country – so I closed my office, packed up my practice, said goodbye to several beloved projects, and began my new adventures as an amateur homesteader while continuing to write, podcast, research and learn. Several years later, we added our first child to the family and I streamlined my projects even more – but I still love the work, and I’ll never totally stop.

My advice

Know the laws in your state. You MUST find out the laws governing nutrition consulting in your state  yourself. I cannot help you with this. In many states, you must work UNDER a licensed health care practitioner to legally consult with individuals about nutrition. Contacting local physical therapists, chiropractors, or trainers not only helps establish a referral base, but keeps you legal. Writing and creating other materials not related to individual consulting is a great way to help people without going the 1:1 route.

Charge for your time. Your time is valuable, and as your practice grows, you will do yourself a disservice by not charging for your time. Even if you WANT to help everyone for free (and you may HAVE to work for free at the beginning to gain experience or in exchange for testimonials), you need to value your time, your sanity, and your ability to support yourself enough to bill as is appropriate. If you’re generating content through a blog, a podcast, or a facebook page, you’re creating plenty of free material for people to use. At some point, you must draw the line. You’ll know when that is. (Generally, it’s before you get chronically stressed and after you realize you’ve replied to requests for free advice until 3AM one too many times.)

Trust your instinct. In choosing an educational program, a career path, or a daily work routine, you must do what feels right FOR YOU. My practice is – and should be – unique to me. We all have different strengths, interests and points we find important. Trust that your voice is IMPORTANT (it is!) and move forward confidently. You won’t always have the approval of others, and sometimes seeking too much advice can harm more than help. Sometimes you’ve just got to GO FOR IT!

Be honest and realistic about your scope of practice. You should utilize disclaimers and be clear about your INABILITY to diagnose, cure, speak to, analyze, or treat any disease. You can offer guidance about FOOD and LIFESTYLE, and, at times, targeted non-medical SUPPLEMENTS, to people who understand who you are and what you’re able to do, and who have willingly engaged your services. Protect your clients, protect yourself. Period.

Don’t stop learning. I think I’ve covered why this is important!

WRITE. We should ALL be talking about the things we’re passionate about, and we should be doing it ONLINE. Blogs are free, and they HELP PEOPLE. Get your voice out there. It may even enable your practice to grow.

Be genuine. Don’t spamAnd for God’s sake, start an email newsletter. If you go online, don’t try to build an audience – whether via blog, Instagram, Facebook or newsletter – by making meaningless statements, requesting “like” exchanges or tagging multiple popular pages in generic statements in hopes of building a community base. Build your base organically, through the content you provide. Feel free to “tag” or cross-post relevant or helpful information, of course (WITH APPROPRIATE CREDIT). 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. And START AN EMAIL NEWSLETTER. I have used Convert Kit and MailChimp.

Understand that, when it comes to MY practice, I try really hard. And I’m also really damn lucky. In 2008, when I first stumbled upon this way of life, I was working in a totally unrelated field. I started blogging as an enthusiast of the “real food” diet and lifestyle…and, soon after, I realized that THIS was what I wanted to do. With a little luck, MANY hours of writing and income-free passion projects, and lots of support from my husband, I was able to build my website and my practice. I am extremely fortunate to have gained momentum organically, but that doesn’t mean it was an effortless or overnight process. I have put in more work, blood, sweat, tears, and time than I ever thought I had in me. My blog, which started with about 3 readers per week, grew as I stuck with it. (I stuck with it because I did it out of genuine passion! And I’d still be writing it if I had no readers at all.)

After several years, my audience had grown enough to offer my business the blessing of some built-in exposure. With the addition of some outside writing projects, my contacts in the health field, some flat-out serendipity, and the sheer fact that I jumped in to the pool at the right time, I have been able to build a business. I literally built a career from my passion. There were risks involved – both personal and financial – but I am so fortunate to have found a pool of health-conscious people to work with. I am so grateful to have a phenomenal, engaged, wonderful group of clients. I’m grateful for all my great luck, and I’m proud of my hard work.

Thanks for reading!

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