With the constant highlight reels of social media profiles, it’s easy to forget sometimes that people we perceive to have it totally together at the top of their field also felt like a work in progress at one point or had to learn some valuable lessons. Here, several women from the food and wellness world share career and health advice they’d give their younger selves.
Keri Gans, RDN, is a dietitian, author of The Small Change Diet, and host of The Keri Report podcast.
When asked about what career advice she’d give her younger self, she says, “One of the most important things I would tell my younger self is to save money. As much as you might want that new pair of cool jeans or shoes, money in the bank is far more valuable.” She’d also add to “create a business plan with enough flexibility to pivot” and that “networking is key. The more people you connect with the more opportunities that may present themselves.”
A few other things she’d share with her younger self are, “Beat to your own drum. We all have different skills we bring to the table, embrace yours! Comparison can be the thief of joy. And take chances. You never know where an open door (or window) may lead.”
Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, is a plant-forward nutrition and wellness expert and the co-author of Sugar Shock. She’s also a columnist for TODAY.com and previous Nutrition Director for Good Housekeeping.
The career advice she’d give her younger self is, “Know your value, learn how to communicate it, and negotiate for your worth. In my early career, I didn’t think to negotiate my salary because I was landing jobs I coveted. Thankfully, I had some wonderfully supportive mentors and bosses along the way who helped me understand my value, and I became more skilled at having conversations around money. It made me anxious at first, but I want to work with people and organizations that appreciate and respect what I bring to the table, and a part of that is being paid appropriately.”
As far as self-care is concerned, she says, “I’ve always been consistent with exercise and healthy eating, but I was inconsistent with meditation until about 10 years ago. The beauty of meditation and breathwork is that the time you spend doing it pays off at least tenfold. When stress is mounting, it helps me stay present, focused, and grounded. And I can be more thoughtful and deliberate in my actions instead of reactive. It also helps me sleep better, which always puts me in a better frame of mind. The best parts are that it’s free, can be done anywhere, and you can practice it in under five minutes on days when time is tight. There’s no downside!”
Radhi Devlukia-Shetty is a plant-based chef, mission-driven entrepreneur, co-founder of two adaptogenic tea brands and the author of an upcoming cookbook. She shares original recipes (like this plant-based mac-and-cheese she created in partnership with Califia Farms) and wellness tips with her millions of followers.
She’d tell her younger self to “do the things that make you uncomfortable and always say a prayer of gratitude.” Something else she shares she would tell herself at the beginning of her career is “It’s difficult not to worry what others are thinking of you. Whenever you find yourself thinking that, ask yourself, ‘Why do I care?’ I used to worry about that quite a lot and have learned to ask myself that and really listen. If it’s a family member, I want to know and resolve that, but if it’s someone I don’t know, why waste the time?”
Nina Damato went from a career in the arts (at one time, she helped pick the costumes for the musical Legally Blonde in New York City) to innovating the seafood industry — a category primarily dominated by men. Having grown up around noisy kitchens, as her parents both had prestigious careers in the organic food and restaurant world, she eventually felt called to return to her home in Washington D.C. and join her family working at Blue Circle Foods, the first seafood producer with upcycled certified products. Starting with hiring out samples in grocery stores, within eight years she worked up to her current position as the brand’s Managing Partner.
“At a young age I was exposed to an environment that fostered entrepreneurship, creativity, and risk tasking,” she shares. “Through that experience it taught me that the people you surround yourself with can significantly influence your realm of possibilities. Reflecting back on my growth trajectory, I have focused on pursuing opportunities that met key criteria; one of those being working amongst women leaders. I would tell my younger self to identify a mentor who 1) embodies your future self, 2) doesn’t fit the mold, and 3) and is generous in spirit.”
She also adds that she would tell her younger self the importance of “SPF 30 daily” and also to , “eat your omegas and forgive quickly.”