Carrie Bonfitto Of Two Hearts Nutrition: “Be Authentic”

The wellness industry is all about interacting with people. You need to have an open heart with everyone you meet, and be true to yourself. I truly love learning about other people’s struggles and helping them to overcome their roadblocks. I still get excited when I can teach someone how to make chicken soup from […]

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The wellness industry is all about interacting with people. You need to have an open heart with everyone you meet, and be true to yourself. I truly love learning about other people’s struggles and helping them to overcome their roadblocks. I still get excited when I can teach someone how to make chicken soup from scratch for the very first time.

The global health and wellness market is worth more than 1.5 trillion dollars. So many people are looking to improve their physical, mental, and emotional wellness. At the same time, so many people are needed to help provide these services. What does it take to create a highly successful career in the health and wellness industry?

In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry” we are talking to health and wellness professionals who can share insights and stories from their experiences.

In this particular interview, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Carrie Bonfitto, NC, BCHN®.

Carrie Bonfitto, is board-certified in holistic nutrition, a health coach and cooking instructor in the Los Angeles area, and author of the new cookbook and nutrition guide, What to Cook, Why to Eat It: Nutrition Facts, Health Benefits & Recipes. Through her private practice, Two Hearts Nutrition, she helps people cut cravings, improve digestion issues such as IBS, regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and generally feel lighter and more energized.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you grew up?

I grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania in the suburbs of Philadelphia. My family is Italian-American on both sides so I was immersed in a culture of food and cooking. At the age of five, I was turning the crank on the pasta machine and by age 11 was fully charged with making weeknight dinners for my family. But I was also always a very active kid. I played baseball with the boys in second grade, softball through high school, and field hockey at the collegiate level.

My first career was in the television industry. I wrote and produced promos for a few of the major networks and worked as a post-production supervisor on several animated series for kids. But I wasn’t finding that work fulfilling. So, I enrolled in culinary school at night to realize one of my childhood dreams. I loved those classes so much. It was around this time that I started writing down my own recipes and handing them out to my co-workers!

After completed my culinary training, I still had so many questions about food and how it made us feel and why as chefs we would choose certain ingredients for purposes beyond flavor. These questions led me to enroll in Bauman College and pursue a nutrition education. I’m still learning every day and actively continuing my studies to keep my board-certification active. Understanding how food impacts the body is fascinating to me.

Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to live a wellness-focused lifestyle? Can you tell us about your main motivation to go all in?

Yeah, even though I had gone to culinary school and was working on my nutrition counseling certification, I never thought I would change careers. This was my passion not my paycheck. But before I graduated, I gave birth to my son and was struggling with extreme fatigue. Now, obviously every mother will tell you that this is common after creating another human who is refusing to sleep. But for me it was more than that, I was so tired that I refused to drive my car because I was worried that I would fall asleep at the wheel. I knew something was deeply wrong, but my doctors were just brushing off my symptoms. So, I dove into my textbooks and based on my research decided to run some self-tests. I showed these to my doctor, and he immediately diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s, an auto-immune condition that impacts your thyroid gland. I wasn’t displaying the normal symptoms of the disease but based on the labs it was undeniable. Even though I now had a chronic condition to manage, I saw this as a big win. I knew exactly what to do to help myself, and the changes worked wonders. Trusting myself and my judgement, gave me the confidence to know that I could help other people, too. It was at this point that I decided to leave the TV industry and start my wellness practice, Two Hearts Nutrition.

Most people with a wellbeing centered lifestyle have a “go-to” activity, exercise, beverage, or food that is part of their routine. What is yours and can you tell us how it helps you?

I am a huge herbal tea fanatic. I drink teas throughout the day especially when I’m feeling stressed. There’s something grounding about forcing yourself to take a minute to boil some water, steep some leaves, and feel that cozy warm mug in your hands. In addition, teas are a powerful way to add supplemental nutrients to your diet. Right now, my nightly wind-down ritual includes a cup a of passionflower tea to help me with relaxation, anxiety, and menopausal symptoms. I drink this religiously at 10 pm every night.

To live a wellness-focused life is one thing, but how did it become your career? How did it all start?

During my certification process, I had to run a few wellness workshops for businesses and community organizations. One of those was Jewish Family Services Los Angeles. I made a real connection with the women who attended their L.I.F.E Program for older adults. When that workshop ended, I was invited to come back to give a monthly wellness talk. This gave me the confidence to reach out to other organizations and institutions. I began giving health talks combined with cooking demo’s all over the city. I spoke at community colleges, law firms, public schools, and baby boutiques, and even did a cooking demo for a group of blind folks. I was hustling any job I could get! Everywhere I went, the people were welcoming and appreciative and I was always grateful to be able to share my food with them. It was from these talks that I began to generate individual clients.

Can you share a story about the biggest challenges you faced when you were first starting? How did you resolve that? What are the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

When I first started working with individual clients, I was trying to be the perfect coach. I would answer emails instantly, respond to texts in the middle of the night. I even had a client calling me every time she sat down to eat. People were taking advantage of me, and I was burning myself out trying to provide top-notch customer service.

I really had to learn how to set boundaries. Now, I’m very clear about my polices for contact and have set hours for responding to texts and emails. The more I respected my time, the more they respected it too. Once I did this, my clients began to take their session time with me more seriously. It was a plus for both of us because without so much handholding, they were forced to be responsible for their decisions and were able to take personal pride in their progress.

Can you share with us how the work you are doing is helping to make a bigger impact in the world? Can you share a story that illustrates that?

Changing people’s relationship with food is powerful. It changes their health and, most importantly, the way they feel. And when you feel better you treat others better and can give more of yourself. I truly believe that sharing healthy food with people makes them happier.

I see this ripple effect all the time. Just this past weekend I did a cooking demo with White Gazpacho at my book launch event. People were so delighted and surprised by this dish. They raved about it! In just the last day, nearly a dozen people let me know that they were going to be making this gazpacho for their friends or their family, some are even featuring it at their birthday celebrations and dinner parties. It might seem like a small impact but it’s a start at creating connection and ritual around healthy foods, which doesn’t happen often enough in our culture.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I’ve already started working on the outline for my next book. My first book What to Cook, Why to Eat It focuses on the “what” and the “why” of healthy eating. For the follow-up, I’m planning on focusing on the “how.” How do we get ourselves to crave foods that are good for us? How do we get our children to eat their vegetables? How do we stick to a meal plan?

Helping people find those small life hacks is so important to their success. And I hope to bring the tricks I use with my clients to more people.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

1. Use Humor

Look, nutrition can be a very serious topic. We are talking about personal and sometimes embarrassing topics. It really helps to have a good sense of humor to get people to engage. One of my favorite stories that I share with people is about the time my dog Rosie decided to poop on my printer! I mean the dog literally decided to climb up on the thing and leave me a present! This lightens the mood and gets people to open-up a bit more about their digestive health. And getting all the facts is so instrumental to discovering the root cause of their symptoms.

2. Stay Attentive

I take my listening ears with me everywhere I go. People want to be heard. Other health professionals don’t always have the time to listen to someone’s full history. But having people tell you their story is integral to them helping themselves heal. The other day one of my clients said to me, “I can’t buy almond milk because no one else in my house will drink it.” I asked her to repeat herself, and she realized how ridiculous she sounded. This helped her to create a mantra of, “I deserve my own milk.” What an empowering idea.

3. Be Respectful

Albert Einstein said, “Everyone is a genius at something,” and I agree. Not everyone knows about nutrition but that’s no reason to talk down to people. I often get booked for health talks with older adults. On more than one occasion, I’ve had someone come up to me at the end of presentation and say, “Thank you for not talking to us like we’re children.”

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. Wellness is an incredibly broad topic. How would you define the term “Wellness”? Can you explain what you mean?

Wellness is the practice of getting back to feeling physically capable, mentally strong, and socially connected. Sometimes we lose this feeling or can’t remember how it feels to be well. Take the classic example of a frog who jumps into a pot of water then moments later someone turns the heat on under the pot. The frog gets used to the water getting slowly warmer and warmer and normalizes this change even though it is slowly killing him. People do this, too. They think that being tired, bloated or in pain is normal. When you recognize your symptoms and make choices to reduce them, that’s practicing wellness.

As an expert, this might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons with our readers about why focusing on our wellness should be a priority in our lives?

A lot of people come to me to improve their appearance. They want to lose weight or get rid of a skin issue. Others have goals of longevity, wanting to prevent disease so that they can stick around long enough to see their kids or grandkids grow up. Still others just want to avoid suffering in their later years the way their parents did. These are all great reasons to make wellness a priority. But I do it to make each day a little brighter. It can be the difference between waking up with a headache or not. Getting to the end of hectic day without needing to collapse on the couch. Having the fortitude to keep your cool with your spouse or your child even when they are annoying the pants off of you.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasingly growing understanding of the necessity for companies to be mindful of the wellness of their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, can you share steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental and physical wellness?

At Two Hearts Nutrition, we adopted flexible schedules allowing employees to work whichever hours best suit their schedules as they were at home juggling remote schooling or managing the anxiety the pandemic created for us all. We set timers for mandatory breaks and encouraged people to get up and walk or stretch to get away from their computers for a few minutes. And each employee was sent a weekly produce box delivery to encourage increased fruit and vegetable consumption.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

1. Show Measurable Results:

Your clients need you to show them something tangible to know they are making progress. It can be the numbers on a scale, their cholesterol levels, blood sugar readings, or symptom-tracking questionnaires but don’t skip giving your clients numbers they can see for themselves and share with their friends.

2. Be Authentic:

The wellness industry is all about interacting with people. You need to have an open heart with everyone you meet, and be true to yourself. I truly love learning about other people’s struggles and helping them to overcome their roadblocks. I still get excited when I can teach someone how to make chicken soup from scratch for the very first time.

3. Commit to Ongoing Training:

Nutrition is a relatively new field of study. Heck, Vitamin C was only discovered in 1933. Keeping up on all the new science is essential to providing research-backed protocols that work. My board-certification requires 15 hours a year of continuing education units, but I do much more than that on my own.

4. Promote Yourself:

Use your creativity and ingenuity to promote yourself and your practice in your community, online and in the media. Develop a mailing list of clients and potential clients, and send regular e-newsletters to keep them informed about your latest success stories and other news, and any upcoming events. Seek out opportunities to speak to community members personally and/or virtually at local colleges, and to any groups of people who you feel you can help such as seniors, parents or people with certain health conditions. I highly recommend hiring a local PR firm or public relations consultant with health and wellness experience to build awareness of you by elevating you as an expert in the media, and on social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok.

5. Gather Awesome Reviews:

I believe that word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising. People vouching for you can’t be underestimated. When your clients give you compliments, ask them to post those rave reviews on Yelp, Google Reviews, and other business websites. I’m still blown away by the generous words people write about me.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would promote the most wellness to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to see social media influencers everywhere eating more fruits and vegetables on camera. Not blended up in a smoothie or chopped up into some elaborate salad or healthy bowl, or heaven forbid turned into a healthy pizza crust. Seriously people, just wash a carrot and nosh on it like you would a banana. Eat a tomato right out of your hand. We have lost the connection with food as nourishment. People get overwhelmed by preparation and cooking technique. We are never going get convince humans to eat more vegetables by hiding them in lasagna. We need to celebrate produce and be awestruck by the bounty that nature provides. People will model this behavior if they see these foods venerated in their lives. My son eats whole cucumbers with his hands because he’s watched me do it, not because I’ve told him to eat them. Let’s lead by example. We could call it the Whole Veg Challenge. It could go viral! Ha!

We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would love to have a lunch with Gretchen Rubin, the Happiness Expert. She’s an incredible mind who has written books on habits, human nature, and happiness. Creating a wellness mindset can be as important as knowing which changes to make. Her work has highlighted many shortcuts and habit hacks that I use with my clients. I draw on her for inspiration quite a bit. I also just want to personally thank her for convincing me to buy a treadmill desk!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

They can visit my website: twoheartsnutrition.com, watch my cooking videos on Instagram and TikTok, and follow me at these links:

Instagram: instagram.com/cbonfitto

TikTok: tiktok.com/@carriebonfitto

Facebook: facebook.com/twoheartsnutrition

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carriebonfitto

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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