As a kid growing up in New York, I played sports, ate my veggies, had a loving family and great friends, did well in school, and enjoyed a variety of hobbies and activities. I was happy and healthy to say the least. However, stress and anxiety began to appear during my late teen years. I also didn't prioritize my health at times when I should have, and my well-being was put on the back burner too often. This continued into my early twenties, and, not surprisingly, I eventually reached a point of burnout and decided to make some changes in my life.
To make a very long story short, I ended up leaving my career in advertising to pursue my passion for nutrition, and I moved across the country to Los Angeles for graduate school.
Life in LA was a different world from NYC. I went from the non-stop hustle and bustle of one city to a new place filled with yoga, green juices, sunshine and sand. Yes, it was pretty great, but it was honestly a struggle to adjust in the beginning. Not only was I completely out of my comfort zone, but I was 3,000 miles away from friends and family and everything I knew. Also, people walked at a much slower pace in LA. That was a hard thing for this New Yorker to get used to!
Eventually I settled in and started exploring. There were cool workouts to try (Piloxing, anyone?), farmers markets to visit, mountains to hike, and road trips to take. Along with these new experiences, I began craving new ideas, and I found myself reading lots of books, listening to podcasts, and filling up my inbox and social media feeds with positive and inspiring content. I started feeling better and better every day, and it was clear that something was shifting inside of me.
Some of the new concepts I was introduced to during this time included meditation, self-compassion, mindfulness and gratitude, none of which I knew anything about. As it turns out, there's a growing body of scientific evidence suggesting that these practices can literally re-wire the brain and significantly improve quality of life. They can also play a huge role in our relationship with food. That's when the wheels in my mind started turning, and I knew that I couldn't start a nutrition business without incorporating these broader wellness practices.
I also babysat for a wonderful family with two girls during my time as a grad student, and it's been a privilege to watch them and their friends grow from kids to teenagers over the years. We spent a lot of time together talking about things like health, relationships, stress, balance, and other themes that were present in both their lives and mine, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that they were the ones I most wanted to share my message with.
As I worked to blend these ideas together, it became clear that I would have to take a modern approach if I wanted to effectively spread wellness to today's girls on a large scale. We Millennials and Gen Z'ers are no doubt attached to our devices, and there are critics who like to say that that’s a bad thing. But it doesn’t have to be if we take responsibility for the way we use them and learn to recognize when they can be a helpful tool and when it's time to take a break. They certainly have the ability to bring about positive change in our lives if we use them for that purpose.
After grad school I moved back home to New York, and, in 2015, I finally brought this vision to life that was years in the making. Through all of the ups and downs, the questions, the leaps of faith, the days spent working hard and the nights spent dreaming about what could be, I've learned that Steve Jobs really was right when he said, "Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."
Nancy Sidnam, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist and wellness coach who is dedicated to bringing wellness to today’s generation of girls. She is the founder of The Wellie Life, Inc., a multi-dimensional platform that empowers girls to take charge of their health through a journey of self-discovery.
Nancy earned her MS in nutritional science from California State University, Los Angeles and completed her dietetic internship with The University of Northern Colorado. She also holds a BS in Marketing from Fairfield University and worked in the advertising industry prior to pursuing a career in nutrition. She formerly served as Membership Chair on the board of the Long Island Dietetic Association and is currently a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Nutrition Entrepreneurs dietetic practice group.