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March officially marks the beginning of a new chapter in my career.

After 9 years in the luxury fashion industry and startup world, I’ve decided to transition into the health and wellness space. I’ve been wanting to do something different that’s both meaningful and fulfilling for a while now but had trouble articulating exactly what I wanted to do. It’s a quintessential first world problem: knowing you can pursue anything you want but feeling paralyzed at the thought of the many options at your fingertips *insert massive eye roll here*. It’s taken me a couple anxiety-driven, self-exploratory months to arrive at my decision but now that things are slowly falling into place, I’m feeling really grounded and pleased.

Here are 5 things that I’m most excited about:

1. Working part-time at a Brooklyn-based artisanal chocolate company.

eat chic chocolate
image via @eatchic

I’m literally bursting with excitement at the thought of becoming an assistant chocolatier while learning how to run a small food business. One of the business ideas I’ve been bouncing around involves launching a healthy food or drink product but I wanted actual work experience beforehand.

I discovered an artisanal chocolate brand on Instagram last week and cold emailed the founder telling her that I wanted to help with her business in any way she needed. I immediately heard back! She detailed the areas she needed help in and I was genuinely interested in all of it. Starting this Thursday, I’ll be helping with new business development, marketing and account management, and with production and product development, which basically means I’ll be tasting her amazing chocolate and helping with new recipe development. As a crazy chocolate lover, this opportunity could not come at a better time. It is a dream job come true.

2. My course in Culinary Nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI).

natural gourmet institute NGI new york culinary institute culinary nutrition certificate program
image via @naturalgourmetinstitute

I discovered this culinary institute and certificate program by chance. Tonight I’ll learn about nutrient theory, which basically entails studying how cooking affects nutrient absorption and retention. I’ll learn how to develop specific meal plans and recipes for people with food allergies and food intolerances (me!!).

I’m excited about this because of my own food intolerances. After moving to New York 2 years ago, I started experiencing new digestive issues such as intense bloating. Sometimes I’d be able to narrow down the cause of bloating to certain wheat, dairy and fructose foods but other times, I’d literally bloat for no reason. I’d wake up and before I even had the chance to eat or drink anything, I’d start bloating like a hot air balloon and stay that way for hours, sometimes even days. Arming myself with the knowledge and skills to combat this frustrating problem will provide me with much relief (pun intended). I will also be able to help others in the future with workshops I plan to hold (see #5)!

3. My Holistic Health Coach program at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN).

tara sowlaty IIN institute of integrative nutrition new york online school holistic health coach
image via @nutritionschool

I’ve wanted to do IIN’s program for the last 2 years but was hesitant about pursing this certificate program. I had insecurities about what others might think especially after reading some negative reviews penned by registered nutritionists and dieticians. What really helped me move forward with my decision was my ability to drown out my superficial thoughts by refocusing my time and energy on identifying something I was truly passionate about. When I realized that helping others was what I wanted to do, I knew this program was the right fit.

Another thing that really helped me with my decision was researching successful alumni who have graduated from IIN. Reading about what these graduates have gone on to do inspired me to enroll and forge my own path. Some of IIN’s graduates include Danielle Duboise of Sakara, Elizabeth Stein of Purely Elizabeth (I’m obsessed with her Chocolate Sea Salt Probiotic Granola), Tara Sowlaty of How You Glow, Remi Ishizuka of Rrayyme and Melissa Ambrosini (I love her podcast The Melissa Ambrosini Show). These are all women whose blogs, podcasts or products I am very familiar with and women who I’d love to meet and maybe even collaborate with some day.

I’ll be starting IIN’s program next Monday and will study over 100 diets, learn coaching techniques and business skills. Halfway through the program, I’ll be taking on 6 clients and helping them with their food/weight issues. Really excited about this because it’ll also help me with my future plans (see #5)!

4. Enrolling in the Masters in Food Studies program at NYU’s Steinhart School of Culture, Education and Human Development.

new york university nyu
image via @nyuniversity
I found out about this graduate program by chance. Applications had just closed the week prior and not wanting to wait another year to apply and matriculate, I immediately emailed the admissions office and talked them into letting me apply. They agreed- as long as I could get my application and two letters of recommendation letters in by the end of the week. With only 4 days to get everything together, I hauled ass. I completed my application that afternoon and asked my former manager and former board of advisor to write AND submit my letter of recommendation ASAP. I felt awful asking them on such short notice, especially since they live in Hong Kong and are 13 hours ahead of me, which meant they had even less time to do me this huge favor. But if there is anything I learnt during my years of running my startup, it’s that it never hurts to ask.

I’ll find out at the end of this month if I’m accepted; the program starts in the fall. This masters program will take a deep dive into all areas of food such as business, economics and policy. There are some really interesting courses I didn’t expect to find while browsing the course directory such as Culinary Physics, Food Photography and Field Trips in Food! I’ve never been so excited about going to school. All my fingers and toes are crossed.

5. The myriad of opportunities that will unfold in the weeks and months to come.

Image from Chalkboard Mag

I’ve always wanted to help those who have or are struggling with disordered eating and low self-esteem. Having struggled with both for more than a decade, I know firsthand how frustrating and upsetting it is to vehemently hate what you see in the mirror and to feel deeply uncomfortable in your own skin. I always wonder how different things would have turned out if I had positive role models who helped me learn to love and care for myself physically, mentally and emotionally.

One thing I really want to do is hold intimate workshops that will teach women about healthy eating and the importance of self-love and self-care. I think we all want to feel confident and be 100% ourselves. It can get complicated when you’re constantly bombarded with images about how you should look like. Growing up in South East Asia, all I ever saw were skinny, beautiful Caucasian models on the covers of fashion magazines and ads for all kinds of weight loss procedures, supplements and pills on billboards everywhere I looked. I felt the overwhelming pressure to weigh 95lbs for years and felt like a huge failure each time a new diet didn’t bring me closer to that goal weight. In retrospect, that was such a colossal waste of my time and energy. I want to help others break out of this cycle by emphasizing healthy eating and an active lifestyle.

That’s it! Those are the 5 things I’m really excited about. I’ll be sharing highlights from my journey over the coming weeks and months here and on Instagram! Stay tuned for updates as they unfold.

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