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Meet Trailblazer Nikki Burnett, Functional Nutritionist

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

Nikki, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in small-town Texas. As long as I can remember, I wanted to be a veterinarian – I never considered anything else. Even as I went through college, then grad school (at “The Cowboy Capital of the World”) all I wanted to do was play with horses – so that’s how I started my early career – playing with horses and helping manage a premier breeding operation where we held the breeding horses for a major country singer.

Then one day, as I walked through the barns dirty and sweaty, it hit me – “Is this REALLY what I want to do with my life??” Ugh! So now what am I going to do?

Needless to say, there was a transitional period – what did I want to be when I grew up? During this time, I was like many other young women – just out of college, I had put on some weight and thought it was a good idea to try one of the many fad diets of the time.

Problem is, I didn’t want to put in the effort to truly understand the how’s and the why’s of that diet.
At that point, the Adkins Diet was the end-all-be-all. So instead of reading the book, I did what I thought was expected – all meat and cheese all day long! If you have any thoughts as to what this did to my GI – IT WAS WORSE! I was amazingly miserable!

Oddly enough, as I was moving through this process of learning and understanding (both the diet and my body!) there was an amino acid that grabbed my attention…seriously no idea why.

But what all of this started was a lifetime of research. I needed more knowledge, more understanding, more guidance – then I fell in love.

I remember a friend of mine taking me into my first health food store. I was fascinated – especially by the bulk herbs – but overwhelmed at the same time. “What is all of this for?” “How can anyone keep up?” “God gave us so much to allow us to take care of ourselves – I need to know more!”

My first real experience in the world of natural health was with a small nutraceutical company in Texas. This, as well as my own research, laid my foundation for nutrition and natural health.

I then moved into the world of allopathic medicine. Over the years, I sold surgical devices, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment. I was an editor for a medical journal and the Director of Business Development for a multi-state medical group.

I never stopped researching natural health and nutrition, but this experience laid my foundation for the medical world.

I began to pay attention. At first, I was just paying attention to myself and my own health. I had my share of struggles that I had to fight through to understand. With that, I came out more knowledgeable and better for it. I came to realize that back in Texas when I was playing with dogs and horses, going to school, learning about myself, researching the science of nutrition, and building my knowledge of the medical world – this was paving the road to my future. I began to realize that natural health and wellness was every bit a fascinating to me as supporting animals.

I started noticing family and friends were struggling – and dying – from what we would now call “lifestyle diseases”. Cancer, stroke, heart conditions, diabetes – all of them close to home. Then death – death that, with the proper knowledge, may have been postponed into a longer, healthier life. Instead, it was shortened with much suffering. This is not a way to live. I dreamed about teaching people how to live healthy lives, to be truly healthy – without drugs – but there was still so much I didn’t know. I knew I could make a real difference.

It’s amazing to me how a moment can change a life.

I had met someone during a networking meeting, and we set up a time to have coffee. During this time, we began to learn some interesting things we had in common – particularly natural health and nutrition. He told me he had enrolled in nutrition school – I was shocked at my envy!

My thought was, “I’ll never have the time to do something like that!”

A couple of months later, I was laid off. My heart was broken, and my spirit was crushed. But, the thought of going back to corporate America was more than I could take. It just wasn’t right for me anymore. And there it was – the time I needed to go back to school.

Through every chapter in life we have an opportunity to learn more about ourselves – and it seems the more difficult it is, the more we learn…sort of a dirty trick, but I’ll take it.

School was enlightening and amazing as well as difficult and time-consuming. My goal was to get through a 2-year program with the best grades and do it in short order…which I did. Straight A’s and finished in 15 months.

My first certification is Certified Nutrition Therapy Practitioner, and my second is Master Nutrition Therapist. Continuing education is one of the most important things I do. Although the expense is significant, it allows me to give my clients the support they deserve in a world of much confusion. It’s important to know that in the state of Colorado, it is not necessary to have any formal education to call yourself a nutritionist.

I will soon begin training through the Institute for Functional Medicine – and I’m beyond myself with excitement.

While in school, I was motivated and determined, but I also found that I began to struggle.

There were times when focus was difficult, fatigue set in, as did brain fog and intense overwhelm.

This increased any stress I already felt. I had an amazing amount of support – but this also created more pressure. I was spending money, not making money. All the bills were put onto my husband, who was trying to build his own business. Half-assing was completely unacceptable but there were times I wasn’t sure how much I could give.

I look back now, and what I see are the same things I see when I work with my high achieving clients. The necessity to do well is intense and non-negotiable but when health concerns get in the way, it makes being at the top of your game very difficult.

When working with clients, I’m a bit like a detective. My goal is to dig – to understand what it is with their health or lifestyle that is keeping them from being at the top of their game. I help them find clarity, control, vitality – this allows them to focus on their most important goals.

Has it been a smooth road? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Is there ever a smooth road??

I am a self-proclaimed science geek. Most anything I read, study or research is science-related. What this means is, when I was in school, the only classes I took were science classes. I never thought ahead enough to consider business classes and any math classes I had to take (way too many, by the way!) were torture. Translation – bootstrapping a business is a different language!

I obviously don’t do numbers – the only numbers I like are if they are on a lab report giving me information on how a body is functioning or if they are on my bank statement moving up!

But what I found was a stagnant bank account, I was overwhelmed and confused and discouraged. I procrastinated on getting help so I did what every person does who is unwilling to invest in themselves – I went to the innerwebs – this is a term directly from my husband!! Anyway, I read blogs, I talked to friends, family, and colleagues.

The only thing that happened was I became more confused!

I wanted to travel – I wanted to experience life with my husband outside of what I already knew. I was not living the life I wanted, I was living a life I was trapped in. It was then that I realized I needed to take the same approach with my business that my clients do when they come to me for help.

I needed a coach.

At this point, I’ve had multiple coaches, all have given me something special and have helped me grow a healthy business. They help me continue to adjust and move to the next level which has expanded my ability to help my clients.

But most importantly is the main things I’ve learned from all of them are, dig into the right info, make sure you’re getting the right support, stop dreaming about change and take action!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Taste Life Nutrition – what should we know?
I work with ambitious professionals to help them overcome hidden barriers to both health and success. What many people don’t realize is challenges such as chronic stress, brain fog, low energy, and stubborn chronic issues frequently have their root in unhealthy foods and unknown inflammatory conditions. I help people tailor their food to their unique biochemical makeup and lifestyle needs so they can feel great, thrive, and do more of what they love.

I’m a functional nutritionist. So, what the heck does that mean? Functional nutrition is based in the science of functional medicine. The goal is to understand the body through functional lab testing, genetic testing, environmental factors, stress, and lifestyle.

We need to understand the root cause of symptoms and address the root cause, not cover up the symptom(s) with a drug. It’s about doing a bit of detective work and building specific, individualized protocols and programs based on the needs of each client.

I work with a number of different conditions including:
• Fertility (men & women)
• Hormonal balance (men & women)
• Gut dysfunction
• Autoimmune conditions
• Blood sugar balance
• Cardiovascular health
• Weight management
• Nutrigenomic analysis
• General health & wellness
• Canine nutrition

Yes…Canine nutrition!

My goal here is to help pet parents learn to feed their dogs real, healthy food. We’ve had the wool pulled over our eyes for way too long regarding what true health of our furry family members looks like. We are told that “human food” is bad for animals…WHAT?! It’s FOOD!!! We love our animals and want the best for them. I want to take the fear away that the big food companies have created and teach people that we can feed our animals real food and they will thrive.

And the same is true for humans and if we truly want to thrive, we need to feed ourselves real and healthy food, if we are going to reach out personal and professional goals, we need to make sure we have the right fuel for success.

Which women have inspired you in your life? Why?
My mother has been a huge inspiration for me.

She taught me independence and self-reliance. She taught me that if I wanted something badly enough, I should go get it. She also gave me the courage to fail.

She is a God-loving, self-motivated woman who has spent her life as a worker, a volunteer, and a caretake for her kids and her family. She is generous with her time and her heart and encourages everyone around her in whatever way they need encouragement.

Because of my mom, I have some of the most beautiful memories with her, my dad, and my brother and she has gone out of her way to make life grand for all of us.

Other than my mom, I have to say that I am surrounded by amazing women and I find myself blessed. I am very intentional about the people with which I surround myself and I am truly surrounded by strong, confident women who are making a difference every day in the world. They are successful entrepreneurs and businesswomen, they are motivated, driven, and full of life and knowledge. They are always willing to share, to care, to give, and to cheer me on. They have all had successes and they all know failure. For this, they have built character and they continue to push themselves to be better every day.

Life is full of failure.

I wholeheartedly believe that if we don’t fail, we don’t grow.

Pricing:

  • Functional Nutrition Health Evaluation (2 hours) – $349
  • 4-8 month (+) Strategic Functional Nutrition Program – $9000-$5000
  • Maintenance Program – $150/mo

Contact Info:

                                                                        Image Credit:
Julia Watts – Owner – only photos of me in the blue tank top
Vortala Pty Ltd – Enterprise owner

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