On this week's podcast, Marcus sits down with Ellie Rome. Ellie is the owner of Mindful Bellie. Listen to this week's podcast and find out how Ellie went from a degree in chemical engineering to being a full-time health coach with Mindful Bellie! She has also written some blogs for us on eating healthy in Mobile, checkout her most recent blog here!
Ellie: Hi, I'm Ellie Rome, I am owner of Mindful Bellie.
Marcus: Yay. It is so good to have you on the podcast, Ellie.
Ellie: Thank you Marcus.
Marcus: Full disclosure, like we've known each other for a little bit now. You reached out and we sat down and this was before you went out kind of on your own. I'm excited to hear about how things have been going, because it's been what? Like five or so months?
Ellie: Yeah since May.
Marcus: Since May, so it's actually been a little bit longer than that, so seven or eight months. Yeah. But before we get into all of that, why don't you give us some of your backstory? Where are you from? Where did you go to high school? Were you a good student? I know the answer to that. I can tell already.
Ellie: How can you tell?
Marcus: Come on. I know what your degree is in. You don't get degrees in that unless you are a good student. Where did you go to college? Because I know you went to college. Married, any of that other stuff that you want to give us.
Ellie: Okay. What was the first one?
Marcus: Where are you from?
Ellie: I'm from Houston, born in New Orleans, grew up in Houston, and then went to high school in Kingwood High School, it's northeast end. Then went to college at LSU.
Marcus: We just lost three quarters of our audience. Gosh. I will remind you this is a 30-minute or so podcast, so you can be a little more verbose with your answers.
Marcus: Were you a good student?
Ellie: Yeah. Yes I was a good student. I love school. I love school. I graduated in chemical engineering.
Marcus: Really? Couldn't pick anything a little bit more challenging?
Ellie: I wanted to initially go for med school, and then kind of psyched myself out and was like well if I don't get into med school then what would be a really great degree to fall back on? That was chemical engineering. I liked math, I liked science. I didn't really even know what a chemical engineer was to be honest and didn't really know until like my senior year.
Marcus: Senior year. That's great.
Ellie: Yeah. But loved it while I was in it and did that for four years. That's what brought me to Mobile. I moved here after college with a job at Honeywell. Great job, got to travel to China, did some fun stuff, but it wasn't where my heart was, so ended up started growing my health coaching business two years ago and took the leap in May to do it full time.
Marcus: I love it. You're a solopreneur, right?
Ellie: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Marcus: That's good. Often times, when I talk to people if they're a freelancer or solopreneur it's like well you know I'm just a solopreneur and I'm like no like I started Bluefish and it was just me. I mean who knows what the future has for you? But I mean I kind of joke, but I mean you were obviously a good student. You went to a good college and all this stuff. You've ended up kind of back where your passions lied, right? Was it because you wanted to help people or did you have an interest in medicine for other reasons? What was driving that?
Ellie: Yeah. Initially I've just always loved the human body and learning about it and kind of always been. That's what I always do on my side time is researching and I love learning about it. The coaching kind of came up, because my whole life I was a complete sugar addict. Binge eater. I had a compulsive eating disorder I would say. From a very young age, I mean was constantly obsessed with sugar. It's kind of embarrassing. There was so many stories throughout my life that it's like I was found in my friend's pantry eating Rice Krispy Treats like I think I raided my friends probably in like the levels of what-
Marcus: What they had in their pantry.
Ellie: What they had in their pantry, which is so sad and they're just like-
Marcus: Your inner fat kid was ...
Ellie: Yeah. I was tiny my whole life so it didn't really affect me until college when I gained 28 pounds. I was trying to do everything I needed to do to keep it off. I was starving myself. I was committing to hours at the gym and then would end up in bed with a bag of Hershey kisses. It was just this constant toxic cycle and I felt completely out of control with food. Again, I was a binge eater, so I would just eat beyond the point of fullness to this point where I felt physically ill and didn't know how to stop. There was points where I felt like I was jealous of people with bumelia because I wouldn't throw up. It was just like finally ... Well it wasn't just the weight gain. It was this whole part. I started developing an auto-immune thyroid condition. I was chronically fatigued. I had gone from this hyperactive kid who couldn't sit still to someone who didn't want to get out of bed in the morning. I had brain fog, horrible digestive issues, I started losing hair, numbness in my toes where my toes would go white and then my pinky toe would go black and I'd have to go leave wherever I was and go soak them in a tub. It was just like all these symptoms started happening and I didn't know what was wrong, so I went to six different doctors, all of whom just tried to prescribe me with things. They didn't know what was wrong. Some thought it was anxiety, acid reflux. They were just giving me prescriptions.
Marcus: Taking a shot in the dark, just hoping something makes you go away basically.
Ellie: Yeah exactly. I was put on high does of ADHD medications, so Adderall and Vyvanse, just to function. Finally, I went to a holistic practitioner who was the only one who asked me what I was eating. Yeah. Out of all of that-
Marcus: Yeah on a steady diet of gummy bears.
Ellie: Yeah and I thought I was doing pretty well. I was eating-
Marcus: But I don't eat any of that fat. Gross.
Ellie: Right. I was ... Whole wheat bread, lowfat yogurt, Subway, Roly Poly, and all these things. I thought I was doing good besides the binges on chocolate, but she knew pretty much instantly that it was the food that was driving all this. I was found to be sensitive to gluten, soy, eggs, and dairy, so I got off all of those for three months, and I didn't feel much better. I went to the gluten free, allergy free processed foods, which like gluten free cakes and brownies and they're loaded with sugar and hard to digest grains that my body was still reacting to and rancid oils and it was just by no means was my diet healthier. Finally, after those three months, I committed to ... I don't know if y'all have heard of the Whole 30.
Marcus: I have.
Ellie: Yeah, so the first-
Marcus: Well let's not assume that everybody has. I'm sorry. I have, but let's explain to the audience what the Whole 30 is.
Ellie: Yeah. Whole 30 is basically eating real food for 30 days. You eliminate-
Marcus: Oh my gosh. Real food?
Ellie: So like meat, vegetables, whole fruit, nuts, seeds, you're removing inflammatory foods, very commonly problematic foods are sensitive to. Well my first take at it was during finals week. I didn't make it 24 hours. I did not make it 24 hours. It was awful. I remember driving to the Winn-Dixie and I got this box of Enjoy Life, it's that allergy free brand, of these brownies and I ate the whole box. Then after finals week, I committed again because I was ready and I made it the 30 days. That 30 days changed my world. All of my symptoms went away. I lost half the weight in the first month, all the weight by the second month. It was the first time in my life that I didn't crave sugar, and I didn't know that was humanly possible. It was unfathomable to me to be at that point where I could look at chocolate and I didn't want it anymore. It's been six years and I've never went back to that way of eating. That was the start. It started with food. Then it was still the compulsive eating part. I was still-
Marcus: Compulsively eating brussel sprouts.
Ellie: Exactly. No, like you nailed it. You nailed it. I would be at work literally compulsively eating brussel sprouts.
Marcus: Tonight I'm making brussel sprouts, but my brussel sprouts have onions and garlic and bacon and all this stuff in them too. It's like no but I get it. They can be delicious. Roast that stuff and man it's like tasty.
Ellie: Exactly. Yeah. Just eating all the time. I'd be work and there'd be like a stressful email. Let me grab my brussel sprouts or cabbage and was just like constantly eating. That was kind of the second part is learning mindfulness and using learning how to not overeat compulsively.
Marcus: Literally everybody that's listening to this right now is going brussel sprouts? Really? Compulsively? No I mean so we were talking a little bit before this. I've lost a significant amount of weight lately. It's not so much that what I'm eating has changed, but one of the things that I don't think that I recognized, because I was usually pretty good at tracking. I would go through periods where I would track everything that I was eating and I would ... But I wasn't changing anything because I just assumed as a male that was fairly active that my calorie intake needed to be at a certain level. I thought I was doing pretty good but what I recognized was that I was eating way too much. Your binge eating, where you eat until you're too full and stuff like that, I just remember literally sitting around at Thanksgiving or something along those lines and just feel like ugh. I'm disgusted with myself at the amount of food that I just put into my body. It was just a very, very different Thanksgiving this year because I had probably a plate of food and when we finished, we still had a lot of food left over and in years past it would have been like okay if we eat at 2:00, then going back at 6:00 or whatever and getting another plate full and then like the next day eating the same stuff. What I thought about when I was doing this partially because I was responsible for the sweet potato casserole, and we all know how much sugar goes into that stuff, but I was just like you know what? I don't even want this stuff. We ate dinner and literally threw all the leftovers away except for I think there was just a little ... We had a chicken instead of a turkey, so there was a little bit of chicken and I think I took that home. I didn't want any of that other stuff because it was such a high calorie bad for you kind of meal. I get it, splurge, have that meal, have Thanksgiving, have Christmas, do it, but don't do it, do it, and do it, and then wonder on January 1st, well I definitely gotta get into the gym because I just gained 20 pounds in November and December. But anyway, I think for those of you that are listening to this and have some sort of chronic fatigue or some sort of chronic condition, my very first introduction into healthy eating was reading Dr. Wile's book ... I can't remember what the title of it is because he's written so many books, but it was something that was popular back in the early 2000s or something like that. It kind of changed my way of thinking in regards to food. As I hear more about the gut biome, what we do with how we ... If you take antibiotics and how that kills the gut biome and alcohol, what that does to the system, and all these various things, it's just like man there are just so many land mines out there for people and there's not a whole lot of education about this. I guess that's where somebody likes you steps in and can help people with that.
Ellie: Yeah absolutely. So many people may hear health coach and think oh it's gonna be someone to help me track calories and tell me to do sit ups. That's not what this is at all. It's finding out what foods are right for your body, because there are so many foods that are commonly deemed as healthy that are not working for you, that are causing inflammation, that are disrupting the gut biome, and a lot of them there's so many ways to do easy swaps. That's where my work is, to show you, to help you figure out what's right for you. Your body is different from every single other person's body, and it's even at different stages of your life you can handle certain things. Figuring out what's right for you and then how to make it easy. It doesn't have to be hard. We're so lucky now because there's so many products out there. There's so many resources because paleo is huge, and even like the keto community, removing the inflammatory foods, there's products now that make it really really easy.
Marcus: Yeah. Paleo, for those of you that aren't familiar, is very similar to Whole 30, where it's real food, so it's meat and vegetables, fruits, and they tend to stay away from starches, so even like white potatoes and grains and stuff like that, and then keto is even more so if you're familiar with Atkins diet or something like that, then keto is very much on the Atkins side of things where it's literally pretty much all meat and maybe a little bit of vegetables or something like that, but mostly meat. There's even now I'm starting to hear on some of the podcasts that I listen to like Joe Rogan and stuff like that where there's another group that's coming up where it's the carnivore diet, and literally all the eat is meat. I just don't know ... Like I couldn't do it. I've gotta have some ... I've done paleo before. I don't now. If you follow me on Instagram you definitely know that because I put stuff in my story and it's very clear that I don't do that. But anyway, so well back to you. Do you remember your first job?
Marcus: What was it?
Ellie: I worked at Fuddruckers if y'all know what that is. Hamburgers and they had shakes and cookies, so it was like ... I was 16. It was my heaven.
Marcus: Nirvana for you.
Ellie: Oh my god. Yeah.
Marcus: What was a lesson that you took away from that first job? What did you learn and what were you doing there? Were you hostessing or waiting tables or what were you doing there?
Ellie: I was a sales associate. I rang people up and then I expedited food, so added the fries to the burger platters.
Marcus: What was a lesson that you learned from that job? Because usually I find that when people, those first jobs were kind of people's first introduction into the workforce, and they pick up tips and stuff like that. I'll often times use the example of there's a right way to mop the floor, but it also didn't just teach me that there was a right way to mop the floor, but that there's a right way to do most things and that doing things the right way often times saves you time in the long run even if it does take a little bit more time to do it that way. Anything come to mind?
Ellie: That job, I think how much I loved working with people as like a team, which is interesting now that I'm a solo entrepreneur. I know it's in my future to work with people because I just love that team-
Marcus: Well you're still working with people. Not necessarily as part of a team, but you're working directly with people, with individuals.
Ellie: Absolutely. Yeah. I love that environment, and just feeling like working as a group I think is great.
Marcus: Very cool. How did you get started? I know it's May, so you're really close to that. I mean how did you get started with the business? Was it just picking up a client here or there and then were there and kind of ins and outs that you had to learn as far as creating the business and stuff like that?
Ellie: Absolutely. I got started, once I realized I kept having these moments where I was like I wanna coach people. I want to ... Not even coach. I wanna do like help people learn how to fuel their bodies, because they're so all this ... I kept just hearing this, people focusing on their own things and not fueling themselves with the right foods. I didn't know if I wanted to go back to school for nutrition, I didn't know what I wanted to do. Then I found the health coach institute and it was a perfect fit. I got certified and started getting clients just putting myself out there. That was the biggest thing was having to kind of et over that hump. I had some practice clients and that was just going for it. Telling people starting to really embody that I am a coach. That was a big hump. It took a while to kind of-
Marcus: To feel that new skin. Like you were comfortable in that skin.
Ellie: Right, and then from there just yeah, just continuously building that client network and ...
Marcus: It's, you know, and I think the important thing that I want people to take out of this is that it was a side hustle for you for how long?
Ellie: For two years.
Marcus: For two years.
Ellie: Or a year and a half.
Marcus: Yeah and so you know that it's not necessarily something like I even saw was it Jay with the bow ties that we did an interview? He posted something just recently where he was laid off from his real job and had to dedicate himself fully to his business as well. It's just you know like there's this romantic notion of well I'm gonna start this business and I'm gonna quit my job and all this money is gonna come in. The truth is that that's not often the case, that often times you have responsibilities and maybe a mortgage or a car payment or just expenses and you can't make that clean cut, and also I think a lot of people just need the positive affirmation of having done the job for a period of time and knowing that it's gonna actually be a fit before they do something like what you did which is quit an industry that has really nothing to do with what you're currently doing. I think just if you're listening to this out there and you're thinking well I wanna get started on something but I've got this day job, like that's what nights and weekends are for. Suck it up. Get a laptop. Work in front of the computer at night. Work in front of the TV at night. On the weekends, at least a number of hours, like I get contacted often by people that are starting businesses and I'm like you don't have to quit. Do your job but nights and weekends should be dedicated to getting this business off the ground, and then see where it goes. Now do you remember the first person that you were coaching, that really kind of made you think hey there might be something to this? Or the first person that you impacted positively?
Ellie: Yeah. I think one of my first clients, Joy, she was having pain over her entire body. Was thinking it was fibromyalgia. Never got clinically tested for that but was bedridden basically. She could get up and then for a couple hours and then would be back in bed. After we started working together, within 11 days of getting her off of inflammatory foods she went back to her chiropractor. It's this 11-day span from her visit. She had 70% increased mobility in just those 11 days. She called me and was like Ellie, and she would just got her life back. After we did our ... I have a 90-day program. After her 90 days, I mean she is like ... She lives around here. She's the little Energizer bunny now. I did a VIP day with her, which is I take her to the grocery store and show her what to buy, where the swaps are, how to make this work and make it really easy, and she said she always brings memory back to that day. She's like Ellie I thought you were gonna kill me because she had no energy to go out there and do the grocery shopping. I didn't realize but now she tells me and she's just so thankful. That was probably one of the stories that it's just like that's my why. Whenever I get overwhelmed, I'm like more Joys are out there. It's simple things that can change your life.
Marcus: It's amazing to me like people that are fatigued or the other one too that I get, I hear a lot about is irritable bowel syndrome. It's like when you go to a doctor and you have the symptoms for irritable bowel syndrome which I won't go into because I don't want you to turn this off, but when you go in they literally they like you they just start throwing drugs at you. It's like no. More than likely, that's what you're eating and when you're eating and it's also a lot of it has to do all the gut biome stuff that we've been talking about too. Anyway-
Ellie: Yeah I'm glad you said that because IBS, I mean it's an umbrella term. When they don't know what to identify and you've got gut issues, then that's what they tell you.
Marcus: Then they just start throwing ... Even in what's the ... Even throwing prednisone at people and stuff like that. I'm like I don't think you understand what prednisone does to a body. If you can not do that, then that would be a good thing.
Marcus: If you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them? These are hard questions.
Ellie: These are hard questions. There's just so many things. I think do it. If you are holding back, if you feel something in your bones that you are meant to do and you are scared to do it, do it. It is so worth it and one thing that helps me is when I look ahead, I just imagine myself whether it's a year from now or five years from now, would that version of me looking back at the me today, what would they have wanted me to do? Would they have been proud of the version that just like stepped up and took a risk? Or the version that stayed in an engineering job and was kind of just ...
Ellie: Yeah, exactly. So go for it.
Marcus: My story isn't too different in that I had a very comfortable consulting job in DC and just got tired of it. I felt like I was ... I don't know that I've ever mentioned this, but I felt like I was leading a very sterile life. I wanted more of an adventure. That's what caused us to move down here and that's what started Bluefish. Yeah. I'm right there with you, because sometimes you can get lured into the whole comfortable hey I like the paycheck kind of thing, but there's something really exciting, tantalizing about, or passionate about the adventure of running a business. I think if you're wired that way, then the only way you scratch that itch is by actually doing that and being able to take those risks. What are you currently working on? Anything interesting?
Ellie: Right now, currently working on just building more clientele with my personal one on one coaching, and then I'm doing a 21-day reset in January.
Marcus: Cool. Good timing.
Ellie: Yeah. I did one in July and September, and they were awesome. It's online group reset, and it's basically a super practical protocol that ... So I did the Whole 30 and I loved the Whole 30. I preach it. I think it's amazing, but I think for most people it's not a Whole 30 365. It's not necessarily sustainable and a lot of people will fall back into old patterns because it is very restrictive. I wanted to create something that was practical, was something that after the 21 days you just want to keep going because it's easy, you're not deprived, you've got it under control. That's what I've done. I'm really excited for this January group.
Marcus: Yeah that's cool. If you were to look to the business world, is there a person that you look to that motivates you? Don't say mom. Don't say dad.
Ellie: No, in the business world that motivates me.
Marcus: Yeah and I mean it can even be from the health ... I'll give you that. If there's somebody, Rob Wolfe or any of the guys in your industry, like that kind of thing. Is there somebody there that motivates you that you look to and maybe want to emulate?
Ellie: Yeah. I think there's a couple, but I guess off the top of my head I don't know if you know Jess Lively. Have you ever heard of the Lively Show podcast?
Ellie: It's a great podcast. She's into like law of attraction and stuff like that, consciousness and stuff, so I'm learning from her a lot but she's an entrepreneur and just ... She's someone I look up to a lot.
Marcus: Was there another one? It sounded like you had another one.
Ellie: Another one would be my ... I have a business coach right now. Her name is Hannah. She was a health coach, and now she does business coaching. I look up to her a lot. She is kind of like a mentor who is a couple steps ahead of me, so it's like I know what she's doing is very tangible and so it's really cool to have her to emulate and to get feedback from.
Marcus: Yeah. It's always good to have a sounding board.
Ellie: For sure.
Marcus: Are there any books, podcasts, people, or organizations that have been helpful in moving you forward?
Ellie: Absolutely. I don't know if y'all have heard of Don't Keep your Day Job podcast by Kathy Heller. Just actually started listening to that a couple months ago and it is incredible. If you are looking to-
Marcus: Make a change.
Ellie: Yeah make a change, it's really inspirational and helps move through a lot of blocks.
Marcus: Very cool. Anything else?
Ellie: Well these are all gonna be nutrition books but yeah-
Marcus: People want resources, so that's fine. If you have some books that you want to suggest that they read for healthy living type stuff then that would be great.
Ellie: Oh amazing. Okay Food by Mark Hyman. This is an amazing book if you wanna just know what to eat, why, why not to eat it, it's just very layman's terms, practical. I think everyone should read Fat Chance by Dr. Robert Lustig or go watch his YouTube video called sugar the bitter truth. That kind of ... I think that's what drove me to do health coaching.
Marcus: Is there any ... I was listening to or reading something recently where it was the sugar industry that actually funded the cholesterol studies that told people that cholesterol was bad for them which led everybody to leave eating fat and fat they're now finding is not only is it necessary but it's the only real thing that satiates the body. You can eat sugar, sugar, sugar, sugar. It's why you can eat or drink sodas.
Ellie: Yeah you don't get satiated.
Marcus: Because you don't get satiated, but if you eat like a piece of cheese then boom, done. You know like instead of eating a block of cheese, which I don't know maybe some people are into, but I just find it interesting how jacked up like our way of thinking is. You look at the food pyramid and stuff like that and it's all grains and carbs and stuff like that.
Ellie: The food pyramid is so backwards.
Marcus: It's evil.
Ellie: It is evil. If you're still referring to that, please stop if you can take away anything from this podcast.
Marcus: Any other books that you mentioned too? Any other books that you think?
Ellie: If you have an autoimmune condition, the autoimmune fix, so that's anything from lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, actually anyone should read this book. Autoimmune fix by Dr. Tom O'Brien. It's great.
Marcus: Good. Awesome. Now what's the most important thing that you've learned about running a business?
Ellie: Still learning a lot of things.
Marcus: That's fine. I mean I understand she's inside of a year, but what's the biggest thing that you've learned in the last seven or eight months about running this business?
Ellie: I think asking for help, that it's okay not to have all the answers and it's okay to be messy. It's okay to not be perfect and I think that's something I'm currently working through is just to be willing to try things out and you learn from the doing, not from the thinking about the doing.
Marcus: So you've been doing this for a little bit less than a year. I've been doing this for over 10 years. I still don't know all the answers. I still look for help.
Marcus: Yeah. You'll never know everything. As a matter of fact, I often times say to people there was a lesson that I learned at Lowe's and it was that if you can read the label faster than the person that you're helping, often times you're the expert. If you go and you walk somebody over to the product and you grab the product and you say yeah well it says right here that you can do blah blah blah, and so what you do is such and such and such and such, and they're like oh my god you're so knowledgeable. Well you know like there's ... You're always learning. You're always kind of in that mode of having to stay one step ahead and I don't know. Anyway. I was going somewhere with that.
Ellie: I like that.
Marcus: Looking at Jared because we may need to strike. No I'll just leave that in. Marcus is having one of those days. I've had way too much caffeine. How do you like to unwind? That should not be a hard question. Come on.
Ellie: Oh my gosh. I love yoga, meditation, and hot bath. Hot bath is probably the number one.
Marcus: Where are you doing yoga at?
Ellie: I do it at Sway a lot and then Soul Shine in Fairhope.
Marcus: Okay. There you go. And where can people find you?
Ellie: Mindfulbellie.com, and that's bellie, B-E-L-L-I-E.
Marcus: And on the socials?
Marcus: Very good. Now I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?
Ellie: Just thank you so much for having me. This is great.
Marcus: She was completely nervous. Was this good?
Ellie: Yeah it was good.
Marcus: She was completely nervous before. For those of you out there listening, this is a completely nerveracking thing for people to come on and do, and you know like it's really just a conversation but I get it. I mean when somebody is asking you a bunch of questions and stuff, like it can be a little bit nerveracking but you did fantastic. Ellie, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur. It's been great talking with you.
Ellie: Thank you Marcus.