The wellness movement, seeking to bridge the gaps left by western medicine, seems to be here to stay. A quick scan of the most popular shows on the subscription service Netflix reveals that we’re hungry for answers to health problems. I recently watched Forks Over Knives (promoting a plant-based diet) and Embrace (about self-love and body confidence). There’s also Heal (exploring mindfulness), and Marie Kondo’s new show teaches how to rid one’s life of all but those things that spark joy. Her popularity may, in part, be credited to her method’s holistic approach to organization. Kondo purports to help people live their best life by organizing belongings, clearing clutter from our homes and our minds.
Local business owner and nutritionist Jennifer Woodward uses a similar, fully integrated approach to women’s health. Over time, certain conditions have been ignored by western approaches to medicine, but Woodward works to help fill that void for her clients. Armed with a degree in nutrition, her business, Reformed Metabolics, advises individuals on their journey toward wellness.
The seeds for Reformed Metabolics were planted during a search for answers to her own health concerns. At a point of desperation and discouraged by the clinical approach to her chronic issues, she set out to solve them through nutrition.
I asked Woodward a bit about her growing business and unique approach with clients. Her responses are below.
Q: Tell us about the mission behind Reformed Metabolics.
A: My mission is to teach women to nourish themselves so that they can nourish others. Women are naturally creative. They love to push out, to nurture and to grow. I find that many women are taught from a young age to stuff their feelings, their emotional hunger and their physical hunger. The body truly does keep the score, and these women generally end up with hormonal imbalances, mood disorders, chronic disease and autoimmune disorders. This grieves me because I have been there.
Q: How did your background inform this business?
A: I have been interested in nutrition since I was a young pup! My mother contracted Type 1 diabetes at age 4, and our family was acutely aware of how her disease impacted her life. I studied nutrition in college and would stay current on nutrition research while I was in my years at a stay-at-home mom. My own health issues were vast — hormonal imbalances, insomnia, weight problems, psoriasis, mood issues and acne. I didn’t want antidepressants or the pill, so all of the doctors I visited were at a loss to explain these persistent, chronic, annoying but not life-threatening issues.
Q: What obstacles did you overcome as an entrepreneur?
A: I’m blessed to have an incredibly supportive husband who finds my nerdiness endearing instead of annoying. He is a financial expert, so he walked me through much of the logistical necessities of starting a business. My business needed to be self-sustaining from the get-go. So I had to learn to do everything myself. Web design, marketing, social media, accounting, client management systems — whew! It has been a steep learning curve. An entrepreneur does most of her work alone, which is a blessing but also difficult. The girls from Brandwell helped me with my marketing and branding, which has been invaluable. I have no one in my immediate professional space to collaborate with or bounce ideas off of, and that is hard, too. On top of all of that, I am a wife and mama first. It is no joke caring for a household and being faithful in my relationship with Christ. These things always have to take priority in my life. Keeping my priorities straight means I am not able to focus on my business as much as I would always like to, but I know my kids will not be these sweet young ages forever.
Q: What kept you pushing through? What motivates you?
A: I think I was just born motivated. My husband ruefully jokes that nothing is ever good enough for me. Being able to channel that into a business has been excellent for growth. I can be a bit obsessive, but I think this is a benefit for my family and clients. My relationships motivate me. My community motivates me. The desire to push through mediocrity and plateaus personally, professionally, biblically and biologically (or health-wise) motivates me.
Q: Why did you decide to open a business here?
A: I decided to open a business here because I am a Bakersfield woman and I want to help Bakersfield women. I see so much grit, passion and strength here.
Q: What advice would you have for others starting their own small businesses (especially in the health industry)?
A: Know your demographic. I know exactly the woman that I can help. I am the woman that I can help. I can be passionate about serving that woman because understand her completely. That is step one. Step two is to make sure that you have all of your business-entity ducks in a row. Get a business license, get a wholesaler’s permit, find a physical space that you fits into well and then decide where you want to put your focus. Do you want a really amazing website? Do you want some smashing social media? Do you want to be the most knowledgeable source of information? Be relentless in your pursuit of these things.
Step three is to never stop learning. After certification, it is up to you to carve out your niche in the area you are passionate about. I help busy moms with autoimmune disease and chronic health-care issues. I study research and literature on this subject constantly so I can stay ahead of information that will make the difference in whether my client will feel "well." Never get complacent and you will always be relevant.
Q: Do you feel like you’re part of something bigger with the popularity of the wellness and healthy-living movements?
A: I feel blessed to answer this question in the affirmative. People are beginning to open their eyes and shake off the burden that comes with living a malnourished lifestyle. It is exciting to see people wanting to take better care of themselves and their families. My heart swells when I hear that entire families are making positive changes in their lives and feeling better because of it. Tiny steps in health can add up to some amazing accomplishments, and I get to see this happen firsthand. The swell has just begun, and health coaches like myself are part of the new paradigm of health care. We are the intermediary between doctor and patient, the guide who teaches you how to live the lifestyle your doctor wants you to live but has precious few hours to show you how to do this. Since I am not a medical professional and my business isn’t based on volume, but results, I have the luxury of time to put into solving complicated health puzzles.
Q: And just for fun, what is your greatest extravagance?
A: My husband, Beau, rolls his eyes every time an Amazon box hits our doorstep. I spend my money on books and supplements. Sometimes random trinkets from Amazon find their way into those boxes, nestled under the books! Beau jokes that my life’s phrase is “More is more, darling.”
Q: One word to describe your current state of mind?
Q: What’s your most treasured possession?
A: Even saying it brings a lump to my throat. These four amazing kids the Lord has blessed me with — Jackson, Rebecca, Roman and Chase. I never wanted to be anything except a mom and I get that joy every day. Even the hard days. My heart beats for my kids.