Mindfulness, Authenticity & Nutrition

Located in the small charming village of Chadds Ford, PA lies a small little yoga studio that could bring zen to even the most uptight human. I sit down with Katie Podralski, the owner of Functional Nutrition Fitness. The raw honesty of her journey in finding her passion with nutrition, mindfulness and the art of being authentic sets her apart from most “influencers.”

By completing 200 training hours of yoga, you begin to learn about yourself and the samskaras (scars) that you carry. “Anything that has ever happened to you good or bad these stick with you, they make us who we are.” By learning and understanding the philosophy behind samskaras, Katie’s scars seemed to be connected to food. “Emotional eating had been so prevalent to my life.” Growing up with brothers, the mindset was to “suck it up.” Emotions and crying and feeling a type of way never seemed to be an option. “I never saw anybody cry, I grew up being tough.” Having trying to understand this and being into fitness was a way of coping. “Even though I became super into nutrition, everywhere I turned it seemed to be a bad thing. I either had to do less or more, I was putting in more money and effort and still felt guilty. It seemed to make my samskara worse.” With this came the trials, of emotional eating or even breaching to the point of not eating. “It was a feeling that I couldn’t do anything right.” When finding normal methods Katie still had guilt. “I felt such extreme guilt because I felt like I wasn’t being about what I was trying to project about fitness and nutrition.” When going through the process of her two hundred hour yoga training, she began to dive into all the methods and teachings of yoga. “There were days when we could bring our food in, and I realized anytime the topic of eating, parents emotions, and fitting in I began to realize these were samskaras of mine…I would just become anxious.” Having this pointed out to her by her instruction Katie realized this was the turning point for her. “I had this moment, like oh I’ve never really dealt with my shit.”  

After completing her training Katie came to a crossroads. “I felt a bit lost, I love yoga but it isn’t something I wanna do with my life.” With this crossroad, Katie had an idea “Fitness and mindfulness they go together. You can’t really escape them. You have to move your body, you still have to eat, they will always be prevalent.” Having to balance out the scale of fitness and mindfulness together, Katie found that the conclusion was there is a gap. “There is nothing that I actually want to work for someone else because they don’t have it for me. Whether it was being a coach for macros eating, or working for people to discuss and help with eating habits. It wasn’t working for me.” Having to feel like she had to be a mask that life is all about fitness and zero ability to bring in mindfulness and the teachings that she learned in yoga. It didn’t spark her talents. “It wasn’t personable enough for me.”

Instead, “I said Fuck it! I’m gonna start my own business.” At first, like any self-starting business, you deal with a trial and error method. “At first it wasn’t about who was hitting their numbers, who was eating the best, it was about those who are making the lifestyle changes and effort..the work.” Discussing how they felt when eating, journaling and actually practicing the methods that Katie gave them. Katie notices that her clients who are taking these practices into their everyday life are those succeeding in helping them not only change their eating habits and lifestyle but figuring out the never-ending that we all dwell on “why are we the way we are?” Nutrition was never Katie’s original path. The idea of nursing seemed promising along with the income and the ability to help people. “When starting nursing there were a lot of red flags for me. I worked in a hospital during my time a lot in psychology observing all types of people.” The psyche and being able to understand it sparked her. “You’re constantly surrounded by medication, and it didn’t always make sense to me.” People suffering from anxiety or mental issues turn to medication. “You can’t dumb down medicine, it has its place. I felt uncomfortable with nursing because the topic of natural things was not brought up.” Dropping out of nursing ,Katie turned to nutrition and her next step was the feeling to be a dietician. Having to study and shadow other people and companies the personable feeling was lackluster for her. “I had to weigh out how instantly I wanted to be in nutrition what kind of people and what kind of situations. I just wanted your basic average human”. By taking in the average person who wanted to better their life and monitor their eating the intense training didn’t seem worth it. Instead, Katie was certified by Precision Nutrition, intensive training and series of exams to help put her on the path she needed. “I just put my own twist on things.”

Learning about food tracking and also putting mindfulness into my life helped me put the  two together. “When putting these two together in the Nutrition world, I realized nobody gave a shit about how people were feeling.” Giving clients not only meal suggestions that range from orderly to treat yourself vibe. Katie also gives them journaling questions. In a world with all these diet fads, Keto and whole 30 etc. They are done by science and people tend to use them. “I don’t knock these fads down because originally they are made out of love to help people. But what is the point if these things are gonna happen?” The crashes and mental and physical effects that these diets have. “You have to make peace with food.”

Any self-starting brand builder has one main platform to build up a brand and that is Instagram. When it comes to Instagram you have to build this box of yourself. Literally a 1080×1080 size. “You post a picture of this is who I am. Originally this didn’t become the platform that it is today. It was just another platform to post your pictures on. Little by little you start to see other peoples pages, its a competition.” The struggle seemed to be that even the most inauthentic person could post a picture saying “Be true to yourself. Post what makes you happy. Everything is intricately placed. It is striving for perfection yet perfection is completely false.” By having this mindset and knowing, Katie took the action of being blunt. Having a desire to connect with people about real topics, “you have to make yourself vulnerable, I would post something and worry is this too vulnerable? Will this get a lot of likes because it’s so real and honest? What kind of judgment will I receive? What kind of reaction will I get with this raw honest passion?” Now, these fears and anxieties have dwindled because of the reaction to them and the passion and work that Katie begins to put into it. “It ties into the big picture of being authentic, it’s not just scratching the surface. People want something that is so relevant to them they want to feel comfortable.” The ability to take a platform that can either make us feel more unfitted than other or the ability to bring like-minded feelings and people together. By doing this Katie pulled a purge. “You should go through your following and cleanse, what person is bringing negativity or anxiety to my feed?”  Its’ a never ending battle that we all have. How do we appear authentic and stay out of the dark hole that social media puts you in? The mindset that Katie has approached was fueled by Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. “I read this book in the midst of my yoga training and I followed it cleaning out my room my life etc. And you should treat your Instagram the same way.” Clearing out such things including your Instagram can be pretty hard for people who have the numbers game in their head. “If someone no matter how my connection was to them if they didn’t seem humanizing enough for me I’d take them off my feed.” The kickback of being unfollowed should matter to you. One of my biggest questions having my own issues with this is what happens and how do you train your mindset not to fall into the dark side of social media. Being a brand and creating a brand you have to be constantly pushing out content. “There are days when I am chained to social media, and if I don’t post my business takes a hit.” With being overwhelmed with DM’s at times you don’t even want to answer or interact. “I have found help with journaling, whether it’s a simple sentence like ‘I don’t want to journal today’ I have gone into blackout mode journaling. You have to let that shit out.” Leaning heavily into journaling, Katie has found a balance into putting work at another never-ending question influencers deal with “what am I all about, what is my message?” At the end of the day, Katie heavily relies on that Authenticity Guaranteed. “It is something I stand by, and if that means I need to step away from social media I will, the people who follow me and know me get it by now.” Setting boundaries for herself when responding to clients while sticking to her practice of her own self-care it can be a hard line to follow. “It’s hard line to build with entrepreneurship and business because it is so rooted in fear, ego, and money. These are real things we deal with.” Being so young, starting a business these are things not many people our age discuss or entirely know how to deal with. “It’s a cliche but you have to love what you do. If you don’t like it, it will never fulfill you.” Knowing this is the truth not only for me and Katie it is something every young person and older these days that deals with breaking away from the typical nine to five job that brings in more dollar signs to your life instead of true joyous moments. The self-awareness that Katie has not only with her business and herself but also the awareness of reality for her clients show that her end goal of authenticity and that personable touch show with the passion and drive that she has for the wellness of others.

To be in your twenties and dive into the art and work of creating your own business and brand is quite admirable. In a world that is constantly trying to urge us to be authentic and are true selves the pressures of social media that make us “create” this facade of authenticity, you question the line of is this really me or is this me better to project? By sticking to her gut her mindset passion and truly being who she is in the most raw and honest way is what sets her apart from many self starters.