Inspired by 52 Cups of Coffee, I've set out to meet & interview entrepreneurs and small business owners doing their part to help people on their journey to health. Whether it's over a cup of coffee, tea, a smoothie or kombucha, I want to meet the folks encouraging positive change in their community.
Do you know someone I should meet? Leave a note in the comments below.
I sat down with fellow Holistic Nutritionist Jesse Lane Lee of Jesse Lane Wellness to discuss the launch of her new cookbook Healthy Dairy Free Desserts, her career path and how she got her start as a nutritionist.
Hema: Tell me about your company
Jesse Lane: My company is Jesse Lane Wellness and it offers holistically delicious recipes, recipes that are all really healthy, you can enjoy them guilt-free (especially the desserts) using alternative ingredients. There’s not a whole lot of dairy, it doesn’t follow a specific diet but there is a lot of gluten-free, a lot of vegan, a lot of paleo but no single diet because I believe that we are all so different soI wanted to make sure that I could help everybody in a way that their body really loves. I also do information posts on different ingredients I’m loving.
H: How long have you been doing this, creating and offering recipes?
J: I’ve been blogging with recipes since 2011 and I’ve been a Holistic Nutritionist since 2013.
H: Most people in the health & wellness space have a story, why they chose this path. Tell me your story.
J: I started in this even before I really knew….when I was really little I had really bad food allergies, it drove my mum crazy. We lived on the East coast and we would fly to Toronto to do allergy testing once a year. It was crazy testing. Is This Your Child by Doris Rapp discusses exactly what I went through. They give you a little drop of the allergen, check your pulse and your reaction, and then give you a neutralizer if you need it. There was one allergen, I think it was mold, that I was running around the place barking like a dog. I don’t remember this….I was super allergic as a child. We did the neutralizing and it kind of went away and it didn’t really manifest again until I was in university. I was in first year, I was partying, I was eating junk in the cafeteria, I wasn’t sleeping and my digestion totally broke down and I had to do something about it. I ended working with different holistic practitioners who helped me figure out what foods were setting me off and how to heal my leaky gut.
"I was partying, I was eating junk in the cafeteria, I wasn’t sleeping and my digestion totally broke down and I had to do something about it."
H: Where did you go to university?
J: Queens. I loved it there! I was doing Engineering, there was the stress of school, partying, what I was eating, not sleeping...
During that time, as you know with a lot of healing protocols you follow a really strict diet because you really need to take out the allergens so the gut has time to heal before you bring them back. I was always into cooking so I was taking my cookbooks, scratching out all the ingredients I couldn’t eat, finding the substitutes that I could eat and making those meals. My housemates were all jealous, none of them could cook, so at one point my housemate was paying me to make meals for her!
H: So you really started your business way back then!
J: Yeah, that’s when all the recipe development started. I was already doing it with the cookbooks I had. Good old Betty Crocker! I rated each recipe out of 10, if it was good or not.
I graduated school and I thought 'I’ve done 4 years of Civil Engineering I might as well try it out', and I didn't like it. I ended up working for 7 years as an engineer but it just wasn’t my passion, it wasn’t fulfilling me in a way that I wanted my career to fulfill me. I was still doing all the cooking and recipe creation, so in 2011 I started my blog. Slowly it was building a following and people were actually making my recipes, which is crazy and so exciting! I decided I wanted to further that education so that’s when I went to school (Institute of Holistic Nutrition).
For the first year as a Nutritionist I was still working full-time [as an engineer] and seeing clients evenings and weekends.
H: You were working full-time as an engineer, going to school part-time and seeing nutrition clients part-time?
J: Yes, it was a little nuts! I ended up leaving the engineering career behind and doing this full time.
H: Everyone has a story, and yours started even before you knew you were going to make this life change. For someone who wants to make a change to be healthier, what is the one thing you would suggest they do now?
J: The easiest thing to do right now is to drink more water. I know you hear it over and over and over again, but so many of us are not getting enough water. It’s free, doesn’t cost you anything, it’s so easy to do and it has such huge benefits. Water plays a role in all the systems of your body, even things like seasonal allergies can be helped by more water, sore joints, headaches, stress….that’s one of the things I like to tell people. Drink more water. It’s easy, free and it’s not going to turn your life upside down. So many people are dehydrated and they don’t even know it.
H: Looking back on your journey to where you are now, is there anything you would change?
J: Good question. I don’t know….there’s got to be something….
H: Maybe there’s not. Sometimes even the tough times are good because they teach you something.
J: It’s so hard. There was a moment when I was in school for engineering when I thought that I wanted to switch to nutrition, but I stuck it through and I think that I needed to stick it through to be where I am now. I can’t really regret that because I’m happy about it. I don’t think I could have quit my job any earlier because I felt I quit when I was ready to, financially, mentally, emotionally.
I haven’t taken a lot of risks…but maybe that’s what I would change, take more risks early on so I could build my business faster.
H: Do you have one daily health habit, the thing that you do every single day?
J: Getting outside every day. I have a dog so I have to go outside every day, but when I quit my job and started working from home I saw some clients at a clinic and I also saw some by Skype, and there were some days I wouldn’t leave the house, I wouldn’t see the sun.
I go for a walk with my dog every day for an hour in the morning, get the morning sun on my face and just enjoy the fresh air. It’s such a nice way to relax. Also, when you are working for yourself it’s not everyday you get to interact with people outside of your home and with a dog it’s great because it’s extremely social at the dog park. I have all my dog friends, the morning people all work for themselves so it’s like our 'chat around the water cooler'.
Even just going for a 15 minute walk, getting in the fresh air to get out of the house, seeing other people, giving your eyes a break from the computer.
"Drink more water. It’s easy, free and it’s not going to turn your life upside down. So many people are dehydrated and they don’t even know it."
H: So switching gears a little let’s talk about food. What is your one ‘worth it’ food….
H: No hesitation!
J: No, I love poutine.
H: What is the best change you have made for your health?
Dropping the obsession with perfection, having to have everything perfect before I send it out, because you end up obsessing and don’t end up doing anything because you are too busy trying to perfect it. It’s hard, it’s really hard to drop that but to know that it doesn’t have to be 100% perfect before it gets sent out, it has to be good and you have to be proud of what you are putting out there but it doesn’t have to be exactly perfect.
The cover of my ebook, I agonized over for almost a month, then I paid someone to do a cover and I didn’t like that cover either. It was so much stress and worry, I didn’t need that.
H: For someone who wants to do what you did, make the shift to entrepreneurship, what’s the one piece of advice you would give them?
J: Make sure you have a good savings account built up before you quit your job. Make sure you are debt-free before you quit. The first few years you are not going to be getting that reliable income, and if you are also trying to pay off debt at the same time it’s going to be very challenging.
It doesn’t mean you can’t start now, you can do it on the side like I did for years. You can still start on a small scale, but I wouldn’t go full-time until you are debt free.
Jesse Lane Lee, BSc, CNP is a cheerful Holistic Nutritionist, motivating speaker, cookbook author, and wellness writer. She is the founder of JesseLaneWellness.com, a web-based holistic nutrition practice and holistic recipe resource. Jesse Lane is a recovering sugar-a-holic. After suffering from candida, she started eating homemade sweets that were made with alternative sweeteners. Jesse Lane had so much fun creating healthy dairy free dessert recipes that she started writing them down so she could share with you in her cookbook. She is the author of Jesse Lane Wellness Healthy Dairy Free Desserts and has contributed to recipes to KrisCarr.com, MindBodyGreen.com and Get Naked in the Kitchen: Healthy Recipes That Are Proud To Bare It All.