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Conversations with Stephanie Machacek

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Machacek.

Hi Stephanie, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I was an athlete growing up. I played softball, and soccer, and ran high school track. I loved how movement made me feel. I remember being on a solo training run one day and a thought hit me like a lightning bolt. I want to help other people feel this great! For a 17-year-old, I didn’t know what that looked like but that thought carried me through into my college years.

I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and earned my personal trainer certification. I thought that was it! I started training people right out of college but soon realized it wasn’t for me. I was offered a job as a Health Coach and thought, “what in the world is a health coach?”. At the time this was a brand new profession. It was a desk job so I wasn’t interested at first because I didn’t want to sit all day but I told myself to give it a year.

Well, 10 years later I was loving that job! Working with people to improve their health by stopping smoking, getting active, and losing weight was very rewarding but it was still missing something. I soon realized that nutrition was the missing link for most people so I decided to earn a Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition and then sit for the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) board exam.

Earning these credentials was a long process but it taught me so much about human nutritional habits, physiology, and the root cause of illness, which, has everything to do with what someone is or is not eating! I’m a forever student so I have decided to move further in my nutritional studies by pursuing a Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition and should be complete with that program by 2024.

Nutrition is an ever-evolving area and with new research coming out, new illnesses, and new issues constantly impacting our society, I find that I can’t get enough of this fascinating field.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Looking back on my path to where I am now, it’s amazing to see how everything happened and fed into the next thing. I was so hesitant to start that Health Coach job because I thought my identity was being a fitness person. When I let that go and tried out something new, it turned out to be the springboard into who I am today.

All of the skills I picked up along the way are exactly what new clients say is the reason they come to me now. We are all a delightful mix of our past experiences and when that is used to do what you love, it’s a beautiful thing. I welcomed all the challenges along the way because through conflict comes clarity.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
As a Clinical Nutritionist, people automatically assume I have a super strict and restrictive diet, or that my diet must be “perfect”. I have set my whole practice around having this NOT be true. Restrictive rules and diets do not work. I think we all know that by now yet our society and the diet culture continue to make us believe if a diet didn’t work then we must be doing something wrong.

There will never be one perfect way of eating for everyone. Nutrition must be personalized to the lifestyle and uniqueness of each person. I not only help my clients find the best, most optimal way of eating for their particular situation, but we spend a great deal of time focusing on the habits and mindset around the food choices that are made.

I came to realize that even if we found the most optimal solution through nutrition for someone, if their mindset was still stuck in old food beliefs or old habits, then they would ultimately resort back to them. This, in my opinion, is why most diets fail. When we are faced with challenges in life (illness, schedules, vacations, holidays, etc.) we resort back to our “foundational habits” which for most are not optimal for the goals they have.

Food habits and mindset is part of my core training when working with clients because until we create a new, healthy foundation of nutrition habits, nothing will stick permanently.

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
I’m always reading and listening to podcasts around health, business, self-help, and mindset. I love hearing all perspectives on topics so I have about 20 podcasts that I subscribe to. I started my own podcast called the Food Factor podcast as a way to help people get simple and actionable information they can use in their lives immediately.

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Image Credits
Alyssa Popp at Apopphotography

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