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A Conversation With… Joshua Rosenthal, MScEd
Founder, Director and Primary Teacher of the
Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the world's largest health coach training program
Interviewed by Debra Zambetti,
ATH Holistic Nutrition Forum Moderator and IIN Graduate
Debra: Joshua, you have been involved in health and healthy eating for decades. You used to own a health food store, you studied macrobiotics, and you started IIN to fuel a revolution in wellness. Based on all of your experience and education, how has your understanding of health evolved? What does health mean to you?
Primary Food: Along with a satisfying career, spiritual practice, and exercise, happy relationships are vitally important to our health.
Through working with clients and observing human behavior, I became convinced that the key to optimal health is understanding each person’s individual needs, rather than following rules and regulations. Then I discovered primary food, the concept that happy relationships, a satisfying career, exercise and a spiritual practice are even more important to health than the food on your plate. We all know what it means to live healthy lives. We just aren’t doing it. Integrative Nutrition trains health coaches to work with family members, friends and clients so they can attain that high level wellness in an easy, creative way—the way it should be.
Debra: A lot of people who want to make change in their lives -- to be "healthier" -- are intimidated by what others think and abandon healthy habits, such as healthy eating, when they're in social situations. They don't want to miss out, they want to fit in, they don't want to be seen as high maintenance by friends who question their choices and maybe roll their eyes a bit. Can you talk about "fitting out" and how to make change without losing your social life?
Joshua: Our society has created this matrix of standards. It dictates to us its rules about our food, our health, our relationships, our spirituality and how we should live. It’s what is familiar and comfortable to most people. Even if you do not agree with these “rules,” you are expected to abide by them. What fun is that?
The problem with this matrix and making people believe they must fit in is it can lead people to lose their sense of self and therefore diminish their happiness, authenticity and future which may cause problems for your health.
Your crowd eating fast food? "Fit out" and bring something new and healthy to the table!
Many people’s relationship with food depends on who they hang out with. Your friends or family may eat fast food for lunch and dinner. But is that what you want to be eating? You may not want to be the odd person out and bring something healthier to the table. But what if you did? Your friends may be interested in what you are eating.
Escaping the matrix and reclaiming our own individuality and lifestyle is very challenging, but it can also be extremely rewarding. When you start to adapt your own styles of eating, exercise, work style and relationships, you will feel more comfortable in your own skin which in turn will lead to increased health and happiness.
Humans often are slow to accept change, so your friends and family might at first be resistant to your desired changes. Turn that resistance into curiosity and help educate them on what you’re doing and how it makes you feel. Perhaps in the process you can help them to join in your dedication to living a healthy and happy life.
So I encourage you to try “fitting out.” Instead of conforming to what society thinks you should do, find what you truly want to do. Ask yourself: “Who am I, and what do I really want from my life?” And, when you start to wake up and look around, you will find many other intelligent people on the same path.
Debra: The Institute for Integrative Nutrition attracts an amazing range of lecturers from Deepak Chopra to Walter Willett. Who has resonated with you the most? And, if it's not too personal to ask, who has inspired you to change something in your life, why, and what does that change look like?
Joshua: At our school, we bring in the best and the brightest of teachers. They have a wealth of knowledge, unique approach to wellness and resonate with all of us in different ways. It’s difficult to highlight one over another. All of their theories contain valuable information and each teacher contributes their personal nutritional wisdom.
At Integrative Nutrition, we teach the concept of bio-individuality. It’s the theory that there’s no one way of eating that works for everybody. And in turn, there isn’t one teacher or teaching that works for everyone. It’s the aggregate of all the theories and research that leads beautifully to the theory of bio-individuality.
But it is the students and graduates of our school who inspire me all day every day. I absolutely love getting updates about what they’re up to. The Integrative Nutrition community is tireless. They are the most passionate individuals I’ve ever met. And we’re just getting started. The ripple effect is igniting.
Debra: One of the most compelling concepts I learned as a student at IIN was that sometimes "being bad" can be good. For many people, health - especially nutrition - can seem like an all or nothing proposition. Can you explain the importance of "being bad"?
| It's okay to allow some "bad" behavior every now and then to keep you from overindulging.
Joshua: Many people tend to approach health and healthy habits with black and white, all or nothing mindsets, as you mentioned. I like to teach students the importance of “being bad.” Why? Because people are not perfect, and we shouldn’t pretend to be. In a way, it is inauthentic to live life pretending to be so perfect. That is the real lack of integrity.
“Being bad” is defined as something you feel that you shouldn't do. What does being bad mean to you? Is it sleeping in, ignoring phone calls, skipping the gym or eating chocolate? The purpose behind this exercise is to put you back in charge of your life instead of your rigid belief system. When we give ourselves permission to “be bad” we give ourselves the message that we deserve pleasure, self-care, alone time, a break from trying to fit into a cookie-cutter mold.
We are all unique individuals with unique body chemistry and composition. When we listen to our body and understand its signals and cravings, allowing some “bad” behavior every now and then, we reduce rebellious urges that can cause us to overindulge.
Debra: Building community around health and healing is vital to keeping inspired and on track, and of course, for making change on a broader scale. What advice or perspective do you have for people who are isolated and not living in communities with a lot of healthy food resources or like-minded people? How can they build networks and communities to "fit in" to or "fit out" with?
Joshua: So many people don’t feel supported. Sometimes motivating ourselves to take the first step toward positive change is very difficult, especially if you feel like you are alone. That’s why it’s important to have a support system, a buddy, or a health coach to guide and influence you in a positive direction.
As a health coach and teacher I advise all of my clients and students to “fit out.” Everyone has a predictable future, a future that would automatically occur by continuing to “fit in” following the rules, and moving along in the expected way. I had a predictable future. I was raised in an Orthodox Jewish household in Canada. I could have stayed there, followed my parents’ religious belief system and worked as a lawyer in a corporate setting. Instead, I decided to travel and explore other life paths, which eventually brought me into a health food industry.
"Fit out" by being the catalyst for healthy change in your community.
The best way to “fit out” is by forgetting about the past, not worrying about the future and living in the present. What do you want to do at this point in time? The truth is you can’t change what happened yesterday, three years ago or 10 years ago. Live today.
So if your community is lacking in healthy resources, you can be the catalyst for change. You can become the expert and inspire others to follow a path of wellness. Many people tell me that before becoming a student at Integrative Nutrition, they only knew a few people in their social circle who cared as passionately as they did about healthy eating and changing the planet through food. However, as soon as they enrolled, they were suddenly connected with a vast network of fellow students and professional colleagues who cared about the same things that they do. Many students make life-long friends and close business connections that will play important roles in their lives.
Debra: What's the most important thing someone can do to start making real change in their overall wellness?
"Slow down for a brief time everyday. Think. Feel. Look inside. See what feels right. Who am I? Where am I going with this one precious life of mine? As that becomes clearer everything becomes clearer."
Joshua: Slow down for a brief time every day. Think. Feel. Look inside. See what feels right. Who am I? Where am I going with this one precious life of mine? As that becomes clearer, everything becomes clearer.
We normally relate to the food on our plate as our main source of nourishment. However, when you look closely, you see that the things that really nourish you in your life are your relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality. This is what we call our Primary Food. The food on your plate is actually your secondary source of energy. When people enjoy loving relationships, a fulfilling career, regular exercise and connection through a spiritual practice, they are truly nourished and living a full rich life. When your primary food isn’t feeding you in these areas of your life, your secondary food tends to be out of balance. When we crave love or intimacy but aren’t fulfilled there, we try to fill ourselves up with food. If we have a job that is super stressful, we de-stress in other ways that aren’t healthy, like eating a bag of chips, smoking or drinking excessively. Many times when people are being coached on nutrition, they just need to figure out what they are really hungry for.
In terms of health, people generally don’t think about their health until they are sick. I’d like to see a shift in focus from illness to wellness. Learning about and teaching people how to practice prevention and enjoy good health is incredibly powerful . To truly care for our health, we need to eat whole foods in their natural state, take care of ourselves, get plenty of rest and physical activity, do meaningful work and be nourished in our relationships.
One piece of advice that I’ve continually taken and given in my many years in this field is to listen to your body. When we eat something that doesn’t agree with us, our body will tell us. When we are in a situation that doesn’t feel right, our body will tell us. When we need to stop and slow down in life, our body will tell us by shutting down. We need to honor our body and respect its wisdom, it knows far more than we do.
Debra: Joshua, you touch and teach so many people. What's next for you?
2020 Vision - By the year 2020 we want the world to understand that food affects everything - our health and happiness, our planet, our future, and our connection to each other.
Joshua: I have a plan to create a major shift by the year 2020 – and I’m calling this the 2020 Vision. Today, in the year 2010, all of us know someone or some company that does not understand that food affects everything - our health and happiness, our planet, our future, and our connection to each other. This can change.
At Integrative Nutrition, we are committed to being the catalyst for this change. Our goal is to have the world see clearly -- with 20/20 vision -- that food changes everything. We started more than 20 years ago, and have continued to educate thousands of people of the vital importance of true nourishment. In turn, our students have gone on to educate tens of thousands more people. Together we have created a ripple effect that is bringing health and happiness to the world.
Over the past year, we have planted more seeds for our 2020 Vision, which will continue to grow over the next decade. To kick start the project, we've done several exciting things:
*Donated more than $125,000 to organizations working to make our vision of a healthy world into a reality.
*Given numerous scholarships to principals, superintendants, and food service directors across the country, impacting over 125,000 children by bringing healthier lunches and greater awareness to schools.
*Allocated more than $1 million to our 2020 Vision.
*Established the Integrative Nutrition Foundation to fund the 2020 Vision.
*Created a plan for a Seed Grant Program to fund extraordinary students and graduates of our program with innovative projects who are committed to transforming our future.
And that is just the start of it! We will continue to work hard to create a healthier and happier future and for the vision of one peaceful world.
About Joshua Rosenthal
Integrative Nutrition Founder, Director and Primary Teacher
Institue for Integrative Nutrition founder and director Joshua Rosenthal has been working in the nutrition field for over 25 years and is the driving force behind the school. His experience spans the fields of curriculum development, personal coaching, business and nutritional counseling. He is an insightful healer whose simple approach allows people too quickly and successfully reach new levels of health and happiness. He is also the author of Integrative Nutrition: Feed Your Hunger for Health & Happiness.
About the Institute for Integrative Nutrition
the world's largest health coach training program
Welcome to the Future of Nutrition
When I started Integrative Nutrition almost 20 years ago, I was just one person with a simple idea that if I could change what people ate, I could help change the world. I started with a small classroom of excited students who shared my vision. We saw a big challenge ahead of us.
The health movement has come into its own since then. Articles about food and health are on the cover of major magazines. The White House has an organic vegetable garden. Schools are banning soda machines and bake sales. Whole Foods Market is now the world's largest retailer of natural and organic foods. People are catching on and becoming more aware. What was once considered alternative is now becoming part of the mainstream approach.
Last year, we launched our online nutrition school, allowing students from all over the world to experience our program. As we spread our message to a global audience, our community has grown exponentially. We are now 10,000 strong, with students and graduates in 50 states and over 60 countries.
I’m not surprised. Anywhere you go people need and want to talk about their health. You know this probably as much as I do. And you're most likely the go-to person for nutrition advice and love helping others even if you're not getting compensated. But why not get paid for what you love doing?
You might be looking at our school because you're worried about the stability of your job, or maybe you're unsatisfied by your current work. Well, this is your chance to launch a meaningful career and join our thousands of graduates who are making a living doing what they love and helping educate others on the importance of daily diet and lifestyle.
I invite you to look through our website and see how the education and training at Integrative Nutrition can help you reinvent your life. Our admissions advisors are available to talk, listen and prepare you for a powerful education that will open new and exciting opportunities for your future.
Wishing you a year of great opportunity,
Joshua Rosenthal, MScEd
Integrative Nutrition Founder, Director and Primary Teacher
Visit www.integrativenutrition.com for more information.