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Exploring Life & Business with Nikki Burnett of Taste Life Nutrition

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikki Burnett.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
For as long as I can remember I have loved animals and science. I grew up with dogs, horses, cats, birds, fish, and rats—they were mostly my brothers’ pets. This led me to study animal science, and I graduated with an MS in Animal Science. As a graduate assistant, I was running the horse breeding operation and teaching undergrad classes. After graduation, the hard reality set in, “What in the world was I going to do with this degree?!”

For a short time, I managed a vet clinic and breeding operation where we had George Strait’s horses (nope, I never got to meet him). But I realized that this was not the life I wanted.

As I began my search to find what I wanted to do with my life, I started studying nutrition. This became my second love. I started working for a small nutraceutical company, which pushed me deeper into learning about natural health, herbs, and a healthy lifestyle. I love the science of the body and how food creates health or dis-ease and how supplementing nutrients can help balance the body.

When I left this company, I joined corporate America, working in pharmaceutical sales for one of the largest pharma companies. Although this was not a position I enjoyed, it set me up to become more knowledgeable about the medical industry, medical language, and interacting with physicians and their staff. It also started my growth in corporate America and the different positions I would have throughout the years, from surgical device sales and medical equipment sales to medical journal publisher and medical clinic business development manager.

Throughout this time, my husband and I married and adopted 2 puppies. Dogs have always been a part of my life, but these 2 boys opened up a new world to me. I began to seek knowledge on what dogs need to thrive so I could give these boys the best life possible. As most people do, I fed them hard kibble.

As I researched, I began to learn how damaging kibble is. I began to learn how damaging yearly vaccinations can be. I learned that feeding dog’s real food is the absolute best way to feed them in order for them to live a full, healthy life.

One day I had coffee with a friend and our conversation moved to health and nutrition. He told me he was going to school for nutrition, and I was amazed at how envious I was of him! I thought, “I will never have time to do something like this.”

How interesting life is.

Not long after, the company I was with downsized, and a group of us were laid off. I was heartbroken. As I started the search for another position, I realized how completely over corporate America and big medicine I was. I remembered the conversation I had with my friend and decided it was my time to completely jump into where I finally knew was my calling. It was time to go back to school!

My degrees include Master of Science, Certified Nutrition Therapy Practitioner (CNTP), and Master Nutrition Therapist (MNT). I do ongoing continuing education including the Functional Medicine modules offered through the Institute for Functional Medicine.

I never set out to be an entrepreneur, but I soon realized that working for someone else again was not the life I wanted. It was time to live by my rules and not someone else’s. So I created Taste Life Nutrition. The name comes from the knowledge that food is more than something that fills our belly. Healthy food is life, and it’s delicious and fun. I do my best to Taste Life every day and try to teach that to all who are seekers.

Today, I am a wife, dog mom-preneur, seeker, science nerd, animal lover, foodie, cook, traveler, wanderer, and I love my time in the sun – the best place to meditate and pray! My favorite song is Three Little Birds by Bob Marley. It makes me happy, makes me grateful for all I’ve been given in my life, and brings me balance. I open every radio show with this song. My favorite car is a classic Corvette. My husband fulfilled a lifelong dream and for our 15th anniversary, brought home a 1970 red Corvette. Her name is Ruby.

I am a speaker and educator, Nutrition Editor for Cherry Creek Fashion Magazine, radio talk show host for Taste Life Nutrition Radio, streaming live on KUHS Denver every other Thursday, and host of Taste Life Nutrition Podcast. I am a raw dog food advocate. I co-host a weekly Facebook Live called Real, Raw Health with Matt Rowe of Parsley Pet and Functional Friday with my health coach, Gabrielle Grandell.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The road is rarely smooth, but with the bumps come knowledge and growth. I jumped into entrepreneurship with little knowledge of what it takes to grow a business. As any entrepreneur knows, the many hats that must be worn can be overwhelming. You not only practice what you love, but you must do many things that you don’t love.
For me that’s bookkeeping and administrative duties. When you’re bootstrapping, you can’t always delegate to others. To grow you must do it all. This was my biggest struggle, but also where I’ve grown the most.
My first delegation was hiring a bookkeeper—I was elated!! Taking that off my plate was an amazing relief. Over time, I have built a team to support me which allows me to continue to grow and do the things I love and that I’m good at, so I don’t have to spend my time doing the things I don’t like or I’m not good at. Building a team is also a lesson and a time for growth, as it can take time and patience to find those who truly want to support you and your mission.

A big lesson for me was learning when to hire a coach. We all have our specialties and I knew I needed guidance to grow the business and for me to grow personally and professionally, and to be the very best I can be. I believe that’s the case for most – coaching creates guidance and accountability. It gets you out of your comfort zone building character, knowledge, and strength. Coaching looks different for everyone – I have coaches for different needs and I am a coach for those with lifestyle and nutritional needs.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Taste Life Nutrition?
When I decided to become a nutritionist, I wasn’t sure what to expect but as I’ve grown, I’ve learned what I love, who I love to work with, and what I need to do to reach the most people possible to help bring truth about health and wellness.

The truth about health and wellness can be difficult to find when we have unlimited access to the internet, full of opinions and false information. Clients often come to me confused and frustrated with questions such as:

How do I know what’s right?
How do I know what’s best for me? For others?
What way of eating is the best?
How do I know what supplements are good or not good?
How do I know which are the right supplements for me? For others?
Which fad diets are helpful? Which are harmful?

The most important truth I have discovered personally and with my clients is that we are all unique and people need to find their own truth in their health journey. What works for one person may or may not work for someone else.

People have wide variances in biochemical makeup, genetics, and experiences, which affect each of us differently. We have different histories, different traumas, different environments, and different stressors. Therefore, I work with each person differently, as a unique individual. Using functional lab testing, I am able to understand the unique needs of each individual and guide each client to meet his or her goals.

I see functional lab tests as a way the body can speak to us and give us insight as to why the body is functioning as it is, good or bad. We are looking to find the root cause of whatever symptom(s) a person is experiencing.
Working together with the client, I create a specific protocol based on the health and wellness needs of the individual. This may include food changes, supplements, lifestyle modification such as taking time to reduce stress, addressing sleep practices, and making sure the body is moving.

The next big truth I discovered was reading a book by Dr. Catherine Shanahan, Deep Nutrition. We often see food as fun, or the enemy, or we don’t understand it. It’s social and brings friends and family together. But what food really is, is a language. Food is how our bodies know how to function. Clean food creates a clean line of communication to our cells and DNA. With this information, our bodies function properly.

Food that is full of chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, and genetically engineered ingredients creates an unclear line of communication and in time will create dis-ease. This shows up as symptoms such as pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, brain fog, etc. These symptoms don’t allow us to live the optimal life we are meant to live which creates frustration, overwhelm, and dissatisfaction in life and with relationships. Life is way too short to live in dissatisfaction!

Health is more than food—all factors of a lifestyle that creates health, or lack of health.

I work with both men and women, but I have found that I love working with women who are driven and motivated to succeed. There are so many women who are trying to live their best life possible, but find something is holding them back—pain, fatigue, bloating, fertility issues—overwhelming them and creating frustration and the inability to be their best.

We help them find what they need for balance and to live optimally.

I have co-created an on-demand program to help people discover their unique and amazing bodies and what they need to live optimally. I have partnered with a neurologically based chiropractor, Dr. Lynn Tran McDonald, whose specialty is brain and cognitive health. We’ve created this program to focus on gut/brain health with the goal of molding this program around specific needs, so the individual has control over their health and their outcomes.

The 5 pillars of this program include:
1. Brain
2. Gut
3. Mindset
4. Movement
5. Lifestyle

This is where fad diets and one-size-fits-all programs fall short. They assume that we are all the same. This program is not intended to cure disease, but to give guidance as to what the individual body needs. For those dealing with chronic issues, it helps to reduce inflammation and gives more clarity around the needs of the body and mind. The better one understands their body, the better the ability to find help.

Find the Facebook group, Body Bliss – Lifestyle Design for the Busy Woman. The link is below. Join us for one of our FREE webinars!

This is a free resource where we support each other, do fun challenges including a free 7-Day Sugar Detox, have live Q&As, and give guidance to each other so together we live the most successful, optimal life possible so we can give all we can to our family, our job, or whatever it is that is the most important to each of us.

Creating Taste Life Nutrition has also given me the amazing opportunity to bring my two loves together—dogs and nutrition. I am motivated every day to help bring better health and longer lives to our furry family members. We bring them into the family to love and care for, and in their own amazing way, they take care of us. They deserve to eat food that will allow them to thrive. What we’ve been taught by big dog food companies is that kibble is healthy and gives dogs what they need to live. What it does is cause illness and early death.

Blunt? Yes, but truth is important. Did you know that dogs should live to be 20 to 30+ years old? People repeatedly tell me that their dog is 7 years old, middle-aged, and slowing down. This is NOT ok, and the fact that we allow marketing to continue to play on our emotions and shorten the lives of our furry family members is disheartening.

I teach people how to feed their dog’s real, raw food and work to take the fear and confusion out of feeding raw. I hear people often say, “I don’t feed my dog human food”. Food is food, not human food and feeding anything other than that is like humans eating cereal every day for our entire lives.

The most common fear I hear is, “I’m afraid of missing something that my dog needs.” There is the feeling that feeding kibble is better because it’s complete. What we’re doing is letting marketing control our thoughts. There is NOTHING complete about kibble. It doesn’t matter if it’s the most organic, biologically appropriate kibble. There is nothing good about it and will only break down the body. By the way, biologically appropriate and kibble are on the opposite ends of the spectrum, another marketing game. Only real food can be biologically appropriate, for humans and animals.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
There are several things that I am most excited about when it comes to health and wellness – for humans and for dogs.

With more understanding of genetics and epigenetics, we’re on the verge of true individualized nutrition and medicine based on the genome and epigenome of the individual. This is amazingly exciting, and I look forward to the developments in the coming years. I just wish it would hurry up!! 😉

Functional medicine/nutrition is becoming the way to help people with chronic conditions. Allopathic (conventional) medicine can’t be beaten when it comes to acute care, and I’m grateful for the amazing practitioners who save lives every day. But when it comes to chronic care, understanding root cause fundamentals can change lives. This is not to say things such as prescription drugs are not necessary. They certainly have a place, but we don’t want to cover up symptoms; we want to address the root cause with the intent that prescriptions are short-term, if possible.

With technology, we can reach more people, particularly those who have less access to good information. We can reach hundreds, even thousands at a time without leaving our homes! We live in a world where a strong immune system is paramount to living a long, productive life. Helping people optimize their immune system helps them optimize their life, family, productivity, and can bring a sense of freedom to living.

We are seeing a shift from the old ways of feeding dogs from kibble to raw. We have more companies popping up promoting real food. This isn’t to say they are all good, we still need to understand the needs of our dogs and read ingredient labels, but this movement is a sign of change and a sign of understanding. We vote with our dollars, and more and more people are leaving kibble for more healthful, real, raw food.

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Image Credits
Kalen Jesse Photography Esther Lee Leach for Cherry Creek Fashion

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