, Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife, wants people to be the best they can be, in everything they do. As a Registered Dietitian and Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, she helps people achieve their best through making good food choices and supplementing nutrition with Herbalife® products. Susan recently sat down with us to talk about topics including her history with the company, her transition from consultant to Director of Nutrition Training and how Herbalife products can be part of a healthy, active lifestyle. The following is an edited transcript of the conversation.
What originally sparked your interest in nutrition?
I entered college as an English major, but my interests in science led me to switch to biology. I started to see how my interests in science, human health, cooking, gardening and just a lot of things that were food related, seemed to be carving out a path for me in the field of nutrition. At the time, I honestly didn’t even know that you could major in nutrition. Then, one of my instructors in a cell biology class started talking about nutrition and dietitians, and a light went on. The field really pulled together things I was personally interested in, and of course we all want to be able to take things we are passionate about and turn them into a career.
There are a lot of nutrition companies out there. Why did you choose to work for Herbalife?
I started working with Dr. David Heber (Chairman, Herbalife Nutrition Institute and Nutrition Advisory Board) at UCLA in 1998, and he introduced me to Herbalife in 2003. I was working at UCLA full time and I had a role as a consultant with Herbalife. At the time we were just starting to look at the product line and provide nutrition advice, as well as look at areas where nutrition education was lacking. My position evolved slowly, as year after year I got more involved. Five or six years ago I got more heavily into the nutrition education aspect through blogging and sending out nutrition tips.
What are some key ways in which you’ve helped to shape the worldwide nutrition philosophy at Herbalife?
I have to give Dr. Heber most of the credit for that, but one of the things that has been important to me has been to educate people about our philosophy and the value of combining Herbalife® products with a healthy diet. We know the products are delivering good nutrition to people, but I would never want someone to think that as long as they are using the products, everything else they do doesn’t matter, because it does. The way that you look, perform, think and function every single day is a reflection of everything that you put into your body. If you want to be the best that you can be in everything you do, the way you do it is by making good nutrition decisions. As dietitians, we are food oriented and our goal is to teach people to eat as well as possible. That’s been my major contribution to the philosophy.
What are the benefits to people who use Herbalife® products as part of a healthy, active lifestyle?
The benefit to incorporating Herbalife® products into a healthy diet is that depending on which products you are using, you have nutritional insurance – that is, you know that nutritional needs that may be lacking are now being met. It’s very hard to ensure that you are getting all of your nutritional needs met from food. It’s even harder if you’re on a calorie-controlled diet because you have to make sure you get your vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates within that limited calorie budget. As a Registered Dietitian, it’s even hard for me and I live and breathe this stuff. For me, if I start my day with Herbalife® Formula 1 Healthy Meal Nutritional Shake Mix, then I know that is one serving of high-calcium dairy food that I just got because I make my shake with milk. I probably wouldn’t get that serving at any other time of the day because I don’t use milk as a beverage. I also get a serving of fruit and protein, and I know I’m already off to a pretty good start nutritionally. Having Herbalife® products makes meeting daily nutritional needs easier. It doesn’t mean that what you eat the rest of the day doesn’t count. It means that these products are helping to fill in the gaps. Plus, Herbalife® products allow us to tailor how much protein people get based on body size and that’s great. It’s been a very important message for us to educate people on the importance of protein.
What are some nutrition mistakes that you commonly see people making?
Looking for the quick fix is the biggest one. People see other people and celebrities who are losing weight very quickly and they think they can do it, too. They jump on the latest fad diet thinking that will work and not realizing how hard it is to tailor a fad diet to their needs. You have low carb, high protein and all of these other different diets – if one of them really worked for everybody, the whole process would stop. It is a reflection of how much people are really experiencing dissatisfaction with the way that they look or feel. Maybe through the process of trial and error, people eventually figure out what works for them. The research studies tell us that pretty much any type of diet works. As long as you cut calories in some way, you’re probably going to lose weight. The idea that people can find their own way and figure out what is best for them is probably the best way.
In all of my years of counseling patients, I admire people when they are finally ready to make some changes and want to improve and take care of themselves. But sometimes what happens is they want things to happen too quickly and they try to tackle too many things at one time. This is when we have to step back and say these habits that you’re trying to undo have been with you for a really long time. You can’t undo them in a week or two. That’s when we try to get people to really focus on their behavior and let the weight take care of itself.
The other thing is people often underestimate how much they eat and overestimate how much they exercise. And then they don’t understand why they’re not losing weight. That’s really where Herbalife educational pieces come in. It’s also where the Herbalife philosophy of personalization comes in. Personalization is more than simply how many calories and how much protein you need. It involves making your diet and exercise work for your lifestyle, your finances, work schedule and how much you’re really willing to do to get the results you want. Our Members coach customers and help them find a solution that works for them.
If you could give people just one nutrition tip what would it be?
This is something I tell people all of the time – always have a fruit or a vegetable every time you eat. If you do that, it goes a long way towards meeting your fruit and vegetable needs. It’s not as hard as you think. It means putting fruit in your shake, having a piece of fruit for a snack or grabbing some vegetables, like baby carrots, that you can snack on. If you just make that a rule, it can vastly improve your diet.