Hobbies: Running (with Leo), biking, anything that keeps me moving, reading new nutritional science finding (nerd), drinking wine, cooking (healthy food J) for others, and dress, shoe and grocery shopping (not together, but that would be AMAZING!)
Most fabulous business moment: When I made the decision to start private practice. I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going, but I made the leap and never looked back.
Pets: Leo, JUMBO standard poodle with an expensive shoe fetish (which goes along with my hobby).
Role Model: Obvi my mom. She’s in my every action. Every single strong and vibrant person who is in my life; I find the best in everyone and try to incorporate a little of that awesomeness.
Favorite Food: You’re asking a dietitian this??? Raspberries, whole grilled Branzino, nonna’s pasta with butter and parm, grilled spinach with temp eh, gelato… fav of all time may be the homemade Irish bread at Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin.
Favorite band: This changes about 5 times per day.
Favorite Color: White (is that a color?)
Anything else you think is important for people to know? I love connecting and progressing. I’m most happy when I’m doing both.
“I did it my way.” – Frank Sinatra
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.” – Hemmingway
I’m honored to say that I am part of the Nutrition Professionals of Canada team. I met Lisa at a business building luncheon hosted by Paula Morand and Victoria Craig a few months ago, I was technically an entrepreneur but hadn’t even registered by business yet, and was there seeking guidance, or anything to be honest. After the luncheon was over I went home and got serious about my business, I even registered it officially! YAY!
About a month later, I got a call from Lisa asking if I could provide my services to her business. I played it soo cool, and was like “ya, lets make a meeting.” Inside I was soo thrilled !!! Thank goodness for Paula and Victoria! lol.
Lisa believed in my abilities, skills, and business acumen well before many others did. She treated me as if I had been in the industry for years, and respected everything thing I had to say it was soo refreshing! I am truly grateful that these young entrepreneurs took a chance on a PR girl just starting out! But here is where their personal stories begin, and they are sharing them in style, with clothing from Leslie’s, active wear from Desi’s London, and Hen Jewelry. Makeup and hair were done by the talented team at Studio H, and I was the photographer and creative director! Enjoy, and get to know these lovely ladies!
How did you meet your business partner?
We met each other the first day of our Master’s degree in Nutrition, at Western University in 2008. It was like kismet, we ended up doing all our school projects together, and were inseparable.
We have been through a lot with one another before we ever became business partners; through thick and thin we always have stuck by each others side! We knew that we always wanted to be in each other’s lives, it’s a relationship that goes well beyond business.
What keeps you connected and aligned as business partners?
There is no one answer to this question; we’re both very passionate about nutrition, prevention of disease and illness, and helping people live life to their fullest and happiest; which is through proper nutrition and lifestyle choices.
The big thing that keeps us on the same life path is our belief in Karma, and coming from a place of service. We always think about how our actions, or choices will positively, or negatively affect others and ourselves before we make any decisions, both in our personal or professional life. We come from a place of service, so our intent is to help others, and that drives us professionally to continue always to do better, stay on top of our education, and help educate others so they can be their best self- it’s what we thrive on.
What inspired you to become Dietitians/ Nutritionists?
Nav Sharma: I am a practicing Hindu and my whole life I have been a vegetarian, so nutrition has been critical in my life, making sure I get the right amount of vitamins and enough protein has been crucial to ensuring I stay healthy. It seemed like a natural fit to want to help others through nutrition.
Lisa Cianfrini: Since I was a child my mother would secretly put vegetables in our food; Things like chocolate chip cookies, or our famous pink pancakes ( they had beets in them to make them pink! I had no idea!). I thought this was just normal, and I never knew any different in my life growing up.
When I was a personal trainer, I didn’t see results in some of my clients, they ate horribly and didn’t know the importance of proper nutrition. I felt that I couldn’t help these people just through training because it wasn’t focusing on the cause of their issues, it was upsetting and frustrating to watch, and I felt helpless.
The big AH HA moment for me was when I was taking pharmacology in University; I wanted to be a doctor more than anything! In one of the first classes the professor said that this is the most important class you will ever take and will need to know as a doctor. I hated it and wanted to find a way to prevent the need for drugs and illness in the first place. That night I researched every university that offered nutrition and then I dropped out of Western University’s Biochemistry program and went to school for Nutrition at Guelph University.
What is something that people often misconstrue about you?
Nav: people like to make comments about my slim figure, and they think that it’s not offensive or hurtful. Skinny shaming is a thing! I often don’t mention it to many people because it’s extremely personal to me, but I have always been very thin and it’s not fabulous as people assume. Just like some people struggle with losing weight, Lisa and I struggle with putting it on. I know what nutrients my body needs, what to eat, when to eat it, but it’s hard when you’re trying to start a business to make time always to eat, especially when you have to consume a ridiculous amount of food even to put a pound on, it makes you feel sick to your stomach and bloated! Not very attracted, or fun.
How did you know you wanted to go into business for yourselves?
Lisa: So embarrassing, but kind of a funny story, especially if you know Nav and I. During our Masters in Nutrition at Western University both of us had to do internships with Dietitians/Nutritionists in the community. We followed the same dress code as our superiors, wearing black leggings and long sweaters, thinking this was the proper nutritionist attire ( we were kids and didn’t have a clue!), but we were both written up for dressing too provocatively.
It’s funny now to laugh about it, but back then it was soo embarrassing! We realized after telling one another what happened that we wanted to make nutrition sexy! Not night club sexy, we mean that nutrition is fun and young, and we can embrace our youth and passion for food. We were going to go into business for ourselves, so we didn’t have to conform to what the industry expected us to be (white lab coats and mom jeans), we could be our authentic selves. We could make nutrition real and not so ridged.
What makes you different from others in your field?
Most dietitians go for comfort, working in a hospital setting- Which is great! But were risk-takers! There are only two other private practice dietitians in London, ON. It’s a big risk to take something that people only think is provided in a hospital setting and create a business out of it! Another serious issue is that there is a lack of confidence in our industry. We want to empower other dietitians to have the same confidence we do to help develop and expand the field of nutrition. We plan on doing this through educating others on our practices and getting people more current on innovative scientific nutrition based practices and techniques.
Both Nav and I are huge academics, we both have two undergraduate degrees, our masters and want to pursue further education. We have the ability to read new research studies and interpret the data to implement the latest developments in science-based nutrition and pass along this education, and information to our clients; This is a huge advantage that many others in our field are unable to provide, which makes us unique.
We also want to create a wellness center that focuses on nutrigenomics and nutrition, bringing many highly educated dietitians with different expertise and diverse backgrounds under one roof to cater to our clients and the community. There isn’t anything like this that we know of, and we think it’s important to support others in our field by joining forces and making a change in people’s lives and helping our communities live a better and healthier life.
What is the biggest difference between your business and other nutritionist businesses and Services?
We use nutrigenomics, what is that you’re probably saying to yourself right now? We look at how nutrition effects your DNA. When it comes to your diet, a one-size-fits-all approach may not lead to optimal health. Research has shown that personalized dietary advice based on your DNA is more valuable than general population-based recommendations. Nutrigenomics has developed a safe, easy-to-use kit that enables us to develop a dietary plan that is tailored to your unique genetic profile. We offer what no one else in London can.
We don’t believe in fad diets and cult diet trends like “Paleo,” what is that? It’s the Scientology of nutrition! That is how we feel about fad diets-They don’t work. We believe in educating our clients and using scientifically proven evidence to ensure that you reach your optimal heath needs and goals.
We want our clients to be real with us because the reality is that nutrition isn’t black and white, there are a lot of grey areas when it comes to people and food. We have no judgement because we both have had our own personal struggles in that department.
Were real women, we like to go out, we like having a cheese burger from time-to-time. That’s life. Our nutrition programs surround lifestyle changes; they aren’t just about the food you’re eating, or restricting yourself by only eating healthy 25/7! It’s not realistic, and it won’t work. We want to ensure we help change lifestyle behavior traits so when our sessions are done we never have to see you again! Not that we don’t like you, but we want to make sure we did our job, and that is keeping you healthy and out of our office!
We believe in the 80/20 rule. Be good 80% of the time and have some fun and enjoy those things we crave but shouldn’t eat 20% of the time. Instead of employing rigid health Canada guidelines and food charts on you, we work with you to make small modifications so that you will be happy, not hangry!
What is the best advice to give to someone wanting to become an entrepreneur?
If you’re going to go into business, you have to come from a place of service. You have to want to do it for the good and benefit of others, to help advance and impact society in some positive way. We know that there are many business professionals that don’t embody this optimistic view, but we feel in the end that as an entrepreneur this is a very important viewpoint and that will enable you always to stay on the right path in your lives.
Why did you decide to go into business with a partner instead of going it solo?
Many nutritionists and dietitians work alone in private practices, and we felt that we are stronger as a team then alone. There is power in numbers! We both have unique strengths, perspectives, and social networks that we offer to our business and clients.
Lisa’s personality is upfront and goal-oriented; She is an old soul and connects a lot with our sports and older clientele. Lisa for many years was a personal trainer who worked with many athletes and sports teams; she has a real knowledge and experience when it comes to this area of our profession.
Whereas Nav is a bubbly social butterfly! She gets along with everyone, loves socializing and networking, and grew up in London, so she knows the London market very well. She is great working with the children that come into the practice and takes on more medical clients then I do. We complement one another.
By having the unique partnership that Nav and I have creates a competitive edge! It also takes some of the stress off of being the sole owner of a company because we have the support and larger knowledge base that we can offer one another.
what Are the challenges to being in a partnership?
Yes, there are always challenges when you’re in a partnership, and differences of opinion, but we respect each other and know that we want always to be in each other’s lives. At the end of the day, we have the same business and academic goals in life, so we work hard on our communication, were always honest and we value each other’s opinions. Making decisions may take us longer, but it’s worth it because having different opinions ensures that we’re always doing what is best for our clients and the business.
What is something that might surprise people about yourself?
Nav: Ok, so if you went to school with me you may remember me as the thin Indian girl who wore tri-focal glasses! Yes, not bi-focal’s, but tri! Let’s just say I wasn’t the coolest kid at school, and I didn’t have my first boyfriend until I was in university. But, as you can see now no more trifocals for this gal!
Lisa: I struggled with learning how to read when I was growing up. It was very challenging and stressful, and I didn’t learn to read until I was in grade 5. I can obviously read now because I am a professor at Western University, and teach nutrition. Getting back to that point, in my undergraduate in nutrition I had a professor tell me that I would never graduate from this program, it only pushed me to want to excel and do more in life. Not only did I graduate but I teach in the same department as this women.
Your struggles in life make you who you are, and only you an choose your future. Nav and I are stronger and more motivated because of the adversity we have faced in our lives, it makes us unique and gives us empathy for others. We can relate to many people because our lives have been filled with many hardships as well.
Thanks Nav and Lisa for making me part of the Nutrition Professionals of Canada team, and allowing me to interview you for this profile. It was a really special experience and gave me an incredible insight into “Skinny Shaming!” I made the mistake of saying to the girls how lucky they are to be soo thin without thinking when I first met them; I had no idea that this was a real struggle for some people and it’s hurtful. We always think that the grass is greener on the other side, but we forget that’s not always the case. It was soo insightful to see how nutrition based on your DNA works and how eye opening it is. I even did my Nutrigenomix test and am awaiting the results! I have been tested by numerous doctors for food allergies with no success, so this will provide me finally with the answers I have long awaited…
Kayla Logan PR
Photography & Styling: Kayla Logan
Clothing Providers: Leslie’s Clothing & Desi’s London
Active Wear Stylist: Desi, owner of Desi’s London
Hair & Makeup: Studio H
Studio: Natalie LaPorte
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