Dietetic Career Spotlight: Jennifer Neily, Certified Health Coach
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on NOVEMBER 11, 2014
Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND, has a deep spot in my heart and has made me laugh on so many occasions. She was one of the first RDNs I met who made videos and showed me how simple it was to make one. Since then, she has inspired me to make my own nutrition videos. Neily is a spitfire, a motivator, and a leader and I’m so glad to have her featured with NutritionJobs. I know her career path will inspire you, too, so read on. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I was a chubby kid and went to Weight Watchers right after 8th grade. Ever since then I’ve always had more than a passing interest in nutrition but never considered it is a career because of my own struggles. Plus I smoked—a lot. It wasn’t until I gave up that nasty habit that I truly felt I was a healthy person—I ate right, was physically active, didn’t drink or do drugs and finally became a non-smoker! That’s when I decided to go to grad school and study nutrition after 10 years in the business world.
Your Job Title:
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach
America’s Nutrition Coach for Women™
Company you are with now:
Neily on Nutrition
Other Social Media links you would like to include:
Twitter: Twitter.com/JenniferNeily @JenniferNeily
A typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you:
Going to work for me is grabbing my coffee and, weather permitting going to my office out on the back porch. I love working for myself and enjoy the variety of my work. There are about 3-4 main sources of my revenue—nutrition coaching, consulting, teaching, writing/speaking My philosophy is built on the foundation of sound science-based nutrition principles. Although I work for myself and work alone—I am never lonely. I’m very active in social media and connecting with people from many areas of life is rewarding.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
I hired myself!
I received my M.S. in Exercise and Sports Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University and found my calling during my dietetic internship. After graduation I was employed for over six years as a clinical dietitian by Dallas’s Parkland Memorial Hospital. The rock-solid foundation and profound experiences were invaluable as I made my next career move to the world-renown Cooper Clinic in Dallas. Focusing on wellness and disease prevention, for the next five years I provided nutrition therapy and coaching to over two-thousand patients.
Now as a Dallas-based registered dietitian nutritionist, I provide science-based advice through nutrition counseling, coaching, public speaking, consulting, writing, and teaching. I became a Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach and have loved expanding my business to include more wellness and nutrition coaching.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
In all the aptitude tests I took teacher always seemed to pop up. Although I never sought that specifically as a career, it found me—I’ve been adjunct faculty at Richland College for over 16 years. No surprise, I love to teach. Yet more than that I thrive in helping people transform – that’s why learning the art of coaching has been such a tremendous and valuable tool for me.
As a teen and young adult I lacked a lot of confidence but have come to find it as I’ve grown and matured. So I feel freer to let my gregarious goofball of a personality shine forth.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Don’t ever stop learning. If you’re struggling to get continuing education hours, you’re not learning enough. And not just in your field—look beyond. Educate yourself in business skills and other areas that your education didn’t prepare you for.
Take advantage of networking opportunities, national, local and state dietetic groups, and one of my favorites—Nutrition Entrepreneurs. Volunteer, be active—we get so much more out of our profession when we’re involved.
Get online presence with a website/blog and social media. Just get out there and do it! People tend to get caught up in the minutiae and if they’re doing things right. What’s that quote? Over-analysis leads to paralysis.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
Oh that’s easy. Testimonials from clients that their work with me has changed their life, increased their energy, improved their way of eating, ended their days of dieting, etc.
Plus in the classes I teach at college—on the first night of class we discuss the reasons we eat the way we do. One of the reasons is nutrition and I ask a show of hands how many make choices based upon nutrition. A paltry few go up. At the end of the semester I ask the same question and without fail nearly all hands are raised. Money can’t buy that!