Kate Johnston is a naturopath and nutritionist who founded her business, Kore Well Being, 3 years ago. After years testing the waters working in a string of different industries, she’s now landed on her feet in the world of well-being and is doing some amazing things in this space. She’s a writer, speaker, wholefoods cook and this year will be releasing her first collaborative eBook, Wholehearted Smoothies…and you may even see her on TV as part of a new series airing this year! I spoke with Kate about what it is she loves so much about her industry, how she feels this industry is playing a part in embracing positive body image for women and her life as a business owner…
Can you share your story to becoming a naturopath and nutritionist with us?
I can’t say that I always knew I wanted to be a naturopath. I grew up in a family where we ate healthily and took vitamin C when we were sick, but otherwise natural therapies and complementary medicine were very foreign to me. When I finished school I actually wanted to study full-time dance in Melbourne. This was my huge love and passion, however I had always been very academic, so was encouraged to consider other career options first. So I tried everything. Literally! I stopped and started two different uni degrees, worked in fashion, hospitality, IT, finance, media and finally landed in advertising. I loved the people I met, and it was certainly a job that I could have progressed with, but it didn’t fulfill me (and I don’t think I had thick enough skin!). Funnily enough, my office was directly across the road from the natural therapies college I ended up studying at. I had already started experimenting with diet due to some of my own health issues, and the more I read, the more I fell in love and wanted to know all I could. I began studying nutrition by correspondence, just out of interest, but after a particularly stressful time at work, as well as being struck down for a month with pneumonia and pleurisy, I realised where my true passion was, quit my full-time job, and marched across the road to enroll in nutrition and naturopathy. The rest is history!
What do you find most exhilarating about your work?
I am so passionate about education and evoking positive, lasting transformation in people. For me, supporting people to live healthier lives, eradicate illness and learn about their body and how to fuel it makes me so happy, but I also love the freedom of being my own boss, and the creativity that comes with running your own business. I live and breathe health and wellness, so being able to share that passion with people and to see it create such positive change… it is definitely exhilarating. Plus receiving emails with subjects like “I’M PREGNANT”, or seeing the look of accomplishment on people’s faces when they lose the weight they wanted, or to finally have alleviated their chronic symptoms – it is amazing and such a privilege to be a part of that.
What does a day in your life look like?
My days are extremely varied – I am currently in my clinic in Potts Point, Sydney, 3 days a week, where I see clients for face-to-face consultations or appointments over Skype. When I’m not seeing clients I will usually be writing handouts, recipes, or articles, researching and reading, or working on my latest project. I also consult 3 days a week for another company where I travel around Sydney educating other naturopaths, nutritionists and GPs on functional testing – things like food sensitivities, stool analysis, hormone or genetic testing. It is really interesting and gives me a nice balance.
You founded your business 3 years ago, can you share any successes you’ve had?
I have been so lucky with my business journey. Apart from the successes I have had with my clients I have also had the opportunity to work closely with some amazing mentors and industry leaders. A few months ago I was asked to MC the Utopia Women’s Wellness event in Sydney, and also was one of the speakers at the Bauer Media Health and Wellbeing Weekend.
You speak at various events and contribute as a writer for health magazines and blogs – was this a natural transition through your work as a naturopath and nutritionist?
It was a natural transition for me – I have always loved speaking and writing, and while I love the work I do one-on-one with clients in my clinic, I feel like I have a much broader message that I want to share, so these opportunities have allowed me that platform. There is such a need for education and I find that people are really craving this information and knowledge.
In these times of social media overload, more than ever females are getting instant gratification for having the ‘perfect’ body and looking a certain way – how do you think your industry is playing a part in embracing positive body image for women?
This is a tricky one… It is sad for me, but I have actually seen quite a number of clients for disordered eating, which has really come about as a result of social media. They are of the impression that everyone eats perfectly all the time, and lives a life that is perfect and exciting all the time. Which just isn’t true. There is definitely a movement towards more self-love and self-acceptance, but we have a long way to go. This is something that I am really passionate about, and am working with some colleagues to hopefully speak with teens and adolescents around the topic. I love that social media has created such awareness and inspiration for healthy food, but sadly there is a dark side to this and as you say, people are getting caught up in instant gratification of instagram likes.
As a business owner, what are some of the challenges you have faced?
Running a business on your own is really challenging, but in the most wonderful way. It is definitely a very steep learning curve – and I’m a “try something and figure it out as you go” kinda girl. I had to build my website, look after accounting and finances, ordering stock and maintaining a dispensary, sales and marketing, and probably the biggest challenge is staying accountable to yourself. In the early stages it was easy to see days without clients as days off… but in reality they still need to be dedicated to other functions of the business. This is where I realise it is SO important to have love and passion for what you do. That is what drives me and keeps me moving forward. Probably my biggest challenge now is making space to actually switch off… I live and breathe what I do so could easily work all day everyday because I love it so much.
You are also a wholefoods cook and you write your own recipes. Tell us a bit about the cooking workshops and demonstrations that you hold?
I’m a total foodie and love experimenting in the kitchen – although I’m by no means a chef! A lot of people have the perception that healthy food will be bland or expensive to create, so I love to show people simple and delicious ways that they can follow a whole food diet. I have run cooking workshops for university students to teach them how to eat healthily on a budget, I’ve also done workshops about breakfast – this seems to be a meal that people get stuck on! I also love to show parents how to make healthy snacks for their kids (and for themselves too!).
What’s next for Kore Well-being? Any exciting projects on the horizon?
2016 is shaping up to be a big year already with the release of my collaborative eBook Wholehearted Smoothies set for January, and you may even see my face on TV! I am also launching a range of online programs, including an 8-week mentoring program for Personal Trainers to teach them about holistic nutrition and how they can add value to the service they offer their clients, as well as a weight-loss program, which really focuses around re-education and achieving not only weight and body composition goals, but amazing vibrant health too.
You are an all-round Well-Being lover – if you could give one piece of advice for people starting out on a journey to Well-Being, what would it be?
Take little steps every day. Even just changing one food or modifying one behaviour can have a great impact. Remember that no one is perfect, and perfection isn’t really the goal. Don’t harbor guilt for the way you used to be, just learn and be open to change and keep moving forward. Good health doesn’t have to be complicated – and don’t forget the power of your mind! Our physical and emotional bodies are so closely linked, so spend some time distressing and working through any emotional baggage you may be carrying – it is amazing how much this can change your experience of physical health.