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Navigating Through Challenging Business Times With Nadine Dumas

Accountant-turned-health and fitness expert and professional Eating Psychology practitioner, Nadine Dumas has made a name for herself internationally with her nutrition and fitness regime. From being the cover model for 13 publications and featured in Forbes, Huffington Post and Women’s Health magazines, to building an international brand, it seems there is no stopping this indefatigable business dynamo.

Dumas was born and raised in Red Deer, Alberta.  At age 24, she packed her bags and moved to the Cayman Islands to fulfill her life-long dream by setting up what is now a world-renowned health and fitness practice.

A successful businesswoman and influencer in the fitness industry, her holistic one-on-one coaching, wellness retreats and transformation challenges focuses on mind-body nutrition and eating psychology, coupled with achieving fitness objectives that have become popular among corporate retreats.

The Edge recently had a one-on-one with Dumas, who spoke about her successes, current projects, and about providing mental health advice for business leaders — to help maintain a less-stressful and a more-balanced life during these challenging COVID-19 times.

Since we last spoke in 2017, what are some of the current projects you are working on?

Oh, wow! I can’t believe it’s been that long! Quite a bit has changed in the past three years and even more so in this past year. I am still full-on with my online coaching company, but I have developed a few new products that allow me to reach a greater audience. I have written three books, two on emotional eating and one on stress and burnout; and am currently working on the next, as we speak. I also launched an international wellness retreat in the Cayman Islands, where women from all over the world fly in to spend a week with me in a luxurious villa on the beach. Most recently, I became the CEO of a fitness app that will go live in the New Year; and, lastly, I just developed my first beauty product after seeing a gap in the market due to the pandemic.

How do you stay motivated in your career?

I really love my job, and the fact that it’s always changing and challenging me is what keeps me motivated.

Looking back on your career/life, what are your greatest achievements and most defining moments?

My absolute greatest achievement — and most defining moment in my life — was having my son. I wouldn’t be where I am today in both my career and life without him. Some of my greatest career achievements have been the opportunity to appear on the cover of many international magazines (including yours); and to be featured for my work by platforms such as Forbes, Huffington Post and Inc. 

With the unprecedented times of COVID-19, organizations had to quickly restructure almost overnight. What mental health advice can you offer business leaders and executives, to help maintain a less-stressful and more-balanced life?

As someone who coaches business leaders and executives, I actually found that my business had to restructure overnight in order to assist my clients in the best way possible; and with that, it helped me learn what my clients needed. I had to practice what I preach. Month-by- month I think we all had to pivot and change as the world changed, and do it with the least amount of stress and balance in our everyday life. One area that I really focused on with my clients was to keep what I call a rhythm, or structure, in their day. As simple as it might sound, we focused on the basics: food, water, sleep, and stress.

For example, making sure they are eating balanced meals and drinking enough water. At times like these, it’s easy to fall for comfort food, forget to eat, and increase alcohol consumption. All that can negatively impact our mental state. We also focused on sleep, another area that — if not focused on — can cause us to fall into bad habits. If you are sleep deprived, your focus will not be as clear, your energy levels will be low, and you could react emotionally towards someone or something that was not called-for. Lastly, I have my clients do what I call a ‘stress inventory.’ First, we look at all the stresses they are faced with and decide whether or not they are within their control or out of their control. People tend to focus on stresses they cannot control; and when they try to control them it gets them nowhere, aside from wasted time and head-space.  If I can help them acknowledge this, it takes so much off their plates and allows room for them to concentrate on what is important. There are also the stresses that are within their control, but become ignored simply because it can be a daunting task or outside their comfort zone. My work with my clients on this is to help them lean into these areas with confidence, and look at that stress differently.

Again, with COVID-19, most people are restricted from doing their daily fitness routines and are unable go to the gym as often. What tips do you have for those staying at home?

Following my answer above, rhythm and structure in our daily lives are so important. There are so many options out there to stay active while you are at home and, in fact, it was one of the reasons I chose to accept the position of CEO on the fitness app. Whether it’s a quick bodyweight workout in the living room or a walk with the family outside, you can find so many ways to stay active, and keep it fun in the process.

After spending the majority of this year working with my clients who are now working from home and used to hitting the gym on a daily basis, the one thing I found — and had to work on with them — is the impact that stress causes on the body and how much it can take a toll on their energy levels. Many of my clients struggled to get active daily, for many different reasons. Now, I could be that coach that tells them to just tough it out and make the time; but I am very well aware that sometimes that extra push and stress on my client’s body would do them more harm than good. My goal is to teach my clients how to understand and listen to their bodies, and rest when it was telling them to rest. Working out is a stress on the body, in a different way than one would think of as stress, but it’s still a stress. So, sometimes, being kind and cutting yourself some slack isn’t the worst.

Previously, you mentioned that the core of your empire was built on personal interaction with your clients. Given the continued growth on fitness trainers taking to online platforms, how have you utilized online platforms during this time of social isolation; and has this changed your business model and marketing strategy? If so, how?

The majority of my work is still one-on-one, simply because of the level of work that I do with my clients; but since the pandemic and the growth of my company during that time, I have expanded to different platforms for people to access my coaching in different ways. Whether it be to purchase one of my books on emotional eating or stress and burnout, or to join one of my 4-week challenges where people can learn how their mind and bodies connect with their nutrition. These new business models were created based on what people needed.

If you had to pinpoint one ‘must do’ daily routine for every person, what would it be and how would they go about doing so?

Eat breakfast. This might sound so simple, but I can’t tell you how often I ask new clients what they eat for breakfast, and it goes silent. By simply eating breakfast every day, you will see how it paves the way for how your day is going to pan out. If a client is not eating breakfast it tells me a few things: they are not prioritizing themselves; they are rushed and need to slow down; they are stressed about something; [or] their mind is being preoccupied. And it always results in reaching for something that won’t fuel their body properly later in the day, and finding that their mental state just isn’t sharp.

What are some of the challenges that you have experienced in being an influencer and entrepreneur throughout the years? 

My background is coming from the corporate world, working as an accountant; and so my days were your typical 9-to-5. I did what I was told to do, I knew how much I was making and the work was handed to me. Being an entrepreneur and influencer, it couldn’t be any more opposite. My job became ‘round the clock, I had to decide how to prioritize my work which in turn created my income, and all of the work that came to me was due to my own hustle. On top of the challenges to ‘learn’ how to become an entrepreneur, the other challenges I faced early-on were that: I didn’t know how to delegate; I was afraid to ask for help; and I didn’t utilize my mentors to the best of my ability. I think society and social media played a big role in that in the early years, because I would see all of these successful people around me never talking about their struggles, and I figured everyone was just doing it themselves without the help.

What is your advice to career women, especially mothers like yourself, to help maintain a balanced working life and high-executive career?

Make yourself a priority. I think mom-guilt plays a big role; and again, society and social media play into this where so many women/moms are too afraid to prioritize themselves for fear of what others might say. As a coach who works predominantly with women, I see this far too often and usually when its years and years of not making yourself a priority, to the point where they don’t even know their own identity anymore. Making yourself a priority doesn’t mean that you need to forget about everyone else around you or that you are selfish, it just allows you to become a better mother, wife, and business executive. Something as little as scheduling three workouts for the week or booking a massage can make a world of difference.

What is your advice to up-and-coming fitness influencers, especially those who are trying to build an online presence?

Don’t follow the crowd. There are so many fitness influencers out there and it’s important to create your own identity and what you believe in. I would also encourage them to share their story, what got them there in the first place, and to not be afraid to put themselves out there. Even when you think your story is not worthy enough or ‘big’ enough, I can tell you right now, sharing it WILL inspire someone out there.

Veruschka Mungroo | Senior Editor

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