Women In Business Preview: Katie Berrey | Rebel Fitness & Nutrition

Today’s post is a special preview for my Women in Business series that will officially begin in May and extend through October. During these months my business demands more of my time. Rather than temporarily step away from this project I decided to enhance it by interviewing female business owners. There will be one to two interviews per month that will post in place of my regular entries. Many of the contributors are local to Humboldt County, many I know personally; some are my mentors. Each interview will consist of ten total questions, seven specific to their trade or business type, and the final three will be asked in every interview. My hope is that we can learn from one another, inspire growth and change, and support each other’s endeavors.

Katie Berrey is a Humboldt County native; she lives in Eureka, CA with her husband Jason, her five year old son Ezra, and is currently preparing for their second son Asher to be born in September. She is the owner of Rebel Fitness & Nutrition, a “small, boutique-style fitness studio” that uses classes and personal trainers to help clients reach their ultimate goals using a “holistic approach to overall wellness.”

Explain your business & your qualifications in vegan nutrition and fitness.

My business is Rebel Fitness & Nutrition – a fitness studio that offers group classes, personal training, health and nutrition coaching, and “Transformation Programs” for both local and online-only clients. Transformation Programs are 6-month intensive programs that include personalized workouts and nutritional guidelines constructed to help clients reach their ultimate goals. I have a business degree from Humboldt State University with a minor in management. I am also a multi certified personal trainer, corporate health coach, holistic nutrition practitioner, sports nutrition coach and a plant based sports nutrition coach. My plant based certification is from Matthew Kenney’s Plant Based Sports Nutrition Certification program as well as his Plant based Culinary School Certification, which focuses mostly on raw, vegan nutrition.

What are the most common misconceptions about vegan eating you get from clients?

The most common questions I get asked are “How do you get enough protein?” or “Won’t I gain weight from all those carbs?” I find that many people either think that vegans have to eat a very restrictive diet, or that the majority of what vegans eat are carbohydrate-heavy foods. Neither of which is true. People also have a misinformed idea about protein requirements. Most people who are worried they won’t get enough protein if they switch to a plant based diet have no idea how much protein they’re getting in their standard American diet, or how much they need to achieve their fitness goals.

Do you get any resistance from the fitness community regarding vegan nutrition? Or is it mostly supportive?

There is definitely some resistance, mostly from people who incorrectly assume that a plant based diet cannot yield complete proteins or enough proteins. However, I find that most people are supportive, especially since I have eaten many different diets and specialize in customizing our clients’ nutrition plans to suit their individual needs, goals, and lifestyle. Plant based nutrition coaching is just one of the many types of plans that I offer.

Can you build muscle on plant-based diets?

Absolutely! Animal-derived proteins are unnecessary for a muscle-building diet; that is another common misconception. There are many plant based body builders who reach their ideal physique goals through plant consumption, just as others do from consuming animal products. Building muscle is achieved through training, caloric intake, and the balance of macro-nutrients in your diet. It has nothing to do with whether those macro-nutrients were derived from animals or plants.

Can you lose weight on plant-based diets?

Yes, if done properly, following a plant based diet can be one of the easiest ways to lose weight. Eating whole foods from plants naturally helps your body to get to a weight that it feels comfortable at. Eating processed foods and foods high in sugar (not from whole foods) can cause anyone, even those on a plant based diet to gain weight.

What is your biggest piece of advice for athletes looking to transition to plant-based eating?

Seek help from a professional in learning the proper way to eat to fuel your body for performance! Do your research. Don’t expect to stop eating animal products and instantly feel amazing without also removing refined sugar and processed foods. It’s all about the fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and healthy plant based fats. Go for whole, unprocessed foods and you can’t really go wrong. I feel like people go for convenience over health and that can get in the way of both performance and how you feel.

How would you help a new athlete transition to a new nutrition and fitness plan?

Depending on their current diet, I typically will make incremental changes over time, rather than drastic changes all at once. Instead of focusing on all the things they can’t have, I’d work on adding in many more whole plant based foods that I know their body would thrive on. The more whole and nutritious plant based items they begin eating, the less room they will have for animal products. This process is essentially “crowding out” the animal products with more nutritious alternatives. I find people are much more likely to stick to the transition if it’s done slowly over time. Not everyone is this way, but from my experience, most people are. I get to know the person and their habits before implementing a plan since we all operate so differently. What works for one person may not work for the next.

Three General Questions for Everyone:

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

So many things come to mind it’s hard to choose just one! I would say the best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten is from my parents. They taught me to always take the high road and to be the bigger person. I think it’s the best advice because it applies not only to my personal life but is also relevant in business. I never feel okay with myself if I spew off at someone, compromise my integrity, or try to get even. It makes me feel sick inside. Sometimes it’s hard when I’m mistreated, talked poorly about or someone hurts me or someone I love. But I try to keep my mouth shut, hold my head high, and take the road less traveled. I always prioritize showing love and kindness despite how I’ve been treated. I haven’t always done that, but I always feel good when I do. I pride myself on being an honest person with high integrity – I’ve made that a priority and a non-negotiable aspect of who I am, and my husband shares the same values. It’s how we live life together, and I’m thankful that I’ve always been given that advice. It allows me to be true to myself and feel good about my actions toward others no matter what has happened. However, it doesn’t make me a doormat without boundaries, it just means I always choose kindness and integrity over all else.

What has been the biggest challenge AND the biggest reward of owning your own business?

The biggest challenge in owning my own business is accepting change. Owning a business means you have to be okay with the ebb and flow. Income will vary, clientele will vary – everything will vary. For me, someone who loves security and routine, this has been hard. What could be here today could be gone tomorrow and what is absent now could show up next week, but you never get to know ahead of time. You just have to dive in head first and have faith that your passion will keep your business alive! I am getting better at this as I approach my fifth year in business. Things that used to eat me alive with worry and stress don’t bother me so much anymore. I’ve learned (not easily) to accept change, but I still struggle sometimes.

The biggest reward for me in my particular business is the feedback from clients when they have personal victories. There’s no better feeling than when someone reaches out to share their accomplishments, their physical, mental and emotional growth, and ultimately hearing that their life has changed for the better. If I can help even one person at a time make positive life changes, I am thrilled. It’s rewarding and reminds me why I do what I do. Owning a business is hard. It’s blood, sweat, tears and your entire heart. Sometimes everything feels personal, with a constant pressure to move forward and succeed, yet the reward of helping guide someone to better their lives makes every moment worth it!

What is one book that changed your life?

Ask It by Andy Stanley. Stanley is one of my favorite authors and pastors. I listen to his podcast weekly and have read all of his books. This particular book has changed my life in so many ways. It asks “The question that will revolutionize how you make decisions.” This book is the reason why I decided not to move away from Eureka, and to stay local and grow my business. I use his method any time I face a big decision in business or in my personal life. It’s simple yet so effective and has helped me to make some incredibly wise choices in my life. I highly recommend it, along with his other books.




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