“It’s impossible,” said pride.
“It’s risky,” said experience.
“It’s pointless,” said reason.
“Give it a try,” whispered the heart.
Stephanie Dunne is a long time foodie and problem solver who became a dietitian because she loves food… cooking it, eating it, sharing it, the science of how it works in the body, and the opportunity to use it for better health.
She is the founder of Nutrition. QED. She created her company to be a great resource for people who want to use the power of food as part of creating the life they desire and deserve. She is our Happy Living Expert on Personalized Nutrition, contributing her thoughts about how food can help us all “to live full, amazing, happy lives.” And Stephanie is a very courageous woman. She’s living the life of her dreams because she has learned to listen carefully to what her heart whispers, and then she goes after it, full steam… wherever it takes her and even when it’s hard.
Stephanie is an inspiration to me! She’s also very funny. I know you’re going to enjoy getting to know Stephanie Dunne a little better from this interview, and I hope she inspires you too!
Hi Stephanie, please tell us a little about yourself and how you got where you are today.
Oh gosh! Where to begin and how much to include so people don’t get bored :). I’m a first-generation Texan who is as proud of my state as any other Texan, but I never felt like it was where I belonged. So, after getting my undergrad degree in Applied Math, starting work for a telecommunications company that paid me well and allowed me to live in Paris for 18 months, marrying the love of my life (a handsome, intuitive and loving Irishman), moving to Seattle and then Manhattan because we wanted to and could, I started to wonder whether what I was doing as a senior manager of strategic projects for a VC-owned telecom company was what I was supposed to be doing with my life.
In true project manager / problem solver / Six Sigma Black Belt fashion, I started brain-storming answers to the question, “What do I want to do with the next 20 years of my professional life?” I mean, I had already lived in some of the best cities in the world; I already had a salary that was bigger than I ever thought it would be (that’s not saying much… my standards weren’t very high given how little money my parents had while I was growing up!), and I was already married to the most amazing man in the world. The only remaining question for me was: What do I want to do?
My list included everything I had ever thought about doing including acting and being a pastry chef. But then came the practicality of asking myself what I actually could do (definitely not acting) and what would fit in with the rest of the life that I wanted (i.e. no thank you to 3 am wake-up calls!). Before long, I realized that the subject I have cared about more than any other for as long as I can remember is food. I love everything about food… eating it, cooking it, sharing it, and how it works in the body. That was when I knew that giving others the tools they need to use food to their advantage was what I wanted to do… and could do… for the rest of my life.
So, I went back to school and got my Master’s degree in Nutrition. Then I completed the necessary requirements to become a Registered Dietitian and Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner. And now I spend my days writing and speaking about how wonderfully powerful food is. And I love it!
How has significance played a role in your journey? (My philosophy on significance has two components: Doing something you love and creating something of value to others.)
When I first asked myself “What do I want to do for the next 20 years?”, the things I didn’t want to do were much clearer to me than the things I did. I didn’t want to keep making money for telecom CEOs. I didn’t want to work for a company that wasn’t making a real difference in the world. And I didn’t want to do a job that didn’t seem to matter (this last point was proven by the fact that the company did just fine when I left to do my internship!).
I mean, I was always good at my job and enjoyed accolades as well as financial rewards throughout my career. And certainly my bosses told me the work I did was valuable to the company. But it wasn’t meaningful to the world. I realized that I wanted to do something that would have a direct and significant impact on others. I wanted to use all the skills I had learned in the corporate world and my natural talents for communicating complex topics in understandable and applicable ways to help people thrive. Much like you Matt, I decided to “improve the health and well-being of the world”.
Was there a specific moment or situation when you became aware of those things that are most significant to you?
It’s certainly not a moment and I’m not sure if you can count it as a “situation”, but my relationship with my husband Jerry has been the catalyst for many of the positive changes in me. Because of the space he has held just for me, I have learned that good intentions aren’t enough (you actually need to do something positive), that accepting someone as they are right now is crucial (because you never really know what’s going on with a person), and that authentic connection is the greatest gift you can give to someone.
The result is that his love, support and insight has allowed me to realize and accept who I am at my core and pursue my dream job with no pressure of having to achieve “success”. Well, unless you define success as achieving the goal you set for yourself, even if you have to adjust the goal as you go along.
What obstacles have you faced in your pursuit of significance? How did you overcome them?
Honestly, I’ve been very blessed in my life and feel like I haven’t had a ton of obstacles! In fact, I grew up in the Bible belt, went to church several times a week for many years and was part of a Christian sorority in college. I remember people saying, “God will never give you more than you can handle” and I thought, “Well, He must think I’m pretty weak then, because my life is pretty good!” LOL!
Of course, if I really think about it, there certainly have been some difficulties. My family didn’t have much money when I was growing up, so I’ve had a job since I was 16 and I was responsible for paying for my own education. I’ve moved several times as an adult and, even though they were all moves by choice, it is stressful to move and makes building friendships difficult, so I have sometimes felt lonely. And when I decided to change careers, I was in school part time and working full time for three and a half years before doing a year-long, unpaid internship to become a dietitian. That huge time commitment put stress on my marriage because we weren’t getting as much quality time together as we both wanted.
But even with those things, I’m not really a “focus on the negatives” kind of person. It’s not that I’m overly optimistic. Rather, I have a “just get on with it” attitude. If something is in my way or not working out, I first decide whether this is really the path I’m supposed to and want to be on. If the answer is yes, then I do what needs to be done to keep going.
What is one thing you wish you had known 10 years ago?
This is a trick question because it feels like the right answer is, “Nothing, because we can only learn what we need to at the time we’re ready to learn it.” And, while I do think that’s true, it would have been really nice to have figured out much earlier that the only thing that matters is love: Love for ourselves and love for each other is the ultimate goal and the only thing that will elevate our collective energy to new levels of consciousness.
So yes, I really wish I had learned what it meant to love myself a lot earlier.
What is one hope you have for the next 10 years?
Just one?! Okay, let’s see… I hope that I fully embrace my personal power, passion, skills and capacity for authentic connection so that I can help everyone I encounter feed the intentions they have set for their own lives.
Are there any books or resources you would like to recommend to our readers?
Here are a few of the resources I have found to be particularly influential in my life:
- Tim Ferriss’ podcast (I call them TIM talks… you know, instead of TED talks. 🙂 )
- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
- A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing your inspiring story with us!
Image via Unsplash | This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click and then purchase we will receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for reading & supporting Happy Living!