Food According to Fashion: How Alina Zhukovskaya Combined Her Passions
Many Integrative Nutrition students enroll in the Health Coach Training Program and end up rediscovering other interests like teaching, exercise, or a new spiritual practice. What’s really special is when a student takes something they’re passionate about and combines it with what they’ve learned in the program to forge a new health coaching practice.
Alina Zhukovskaya is a 2011 graduate living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and has incorporated her love for fashion into her work as a Health Coach and raw food chef. Her unique approach applies the concept of wearing clothes that fit to wearing food that fits. After years of working in the catering business, she enrolled in the Health Coach Training Program, and soon melded her passion for fashion with easy, healthy meals. Alina now shows her clients how easy it is to “love your Gucci’s and your green juice!”
Describe how you began to transition to a healthier diet while working in the food industry.
For nearly four years, I was a vice president of marketing at one of Washington, D.C.'s largest catering companies. My days were wrapped around talking about food, writing about food, designing projects around food, thinking about food and tasting food. It took a big toll on my health and my relationship with food overall.
Because of my passion for food (and no extra time to spend on making it), I started to come up with tips and tricks for easy and healthier cooking. I was offered a TV show on a local cable station in Maryland and hosted my own show for a few months before moving to Florida from the Washington, D.C. area.
The catering company I worked for did not specifically focus on healthy cooking, but because I was so passionate about it, I started the TV show to illustrate how you can take tips and tricks from the pros and make food at home healthier.
What led you to explore Integrative Nutrition's program?
I constantly had to think about and eat food for work, so I gained weight. The first plan of action was to learn a different diet, so I started to read books about food and nutrition. I got so confused with so many theories and nothing worked for me. However, I did however pick up many tips and tricks as I got creative and combined my knowledge from different sources.
I started to give advice to people about food and still had my TV show in Maryland. Then my cousin told me about Integrative Nutrition and said that I would really enjoy it since I have such a passion for this field. I felt the universe telling me it was the right time, and so I enrolled.
What else has changed for you since you enrolled in the program?
I always wanted to move to Florida, and as the universe would have it, I got an opportunity to move there for a few months after beginning class. I asked my company to allow me to work part-time from home, took the chance, and moved. I fell in love with IIN, met the most amazing group of women on the second day of class, and chose to stay in Florida permanently.
I always loved palm trees, so I love being in the environment that makes me smile. I am definitely a happier person being here in Florida. It is a big primary food for me and I can tell that sunshine helps prevent my cravings. I slowly moved from the catering business to nutrition and now have a blossoming business, a new fulfilling life of helping others, and beautiful new friends.
What are some important concepts you took away from your time at Integrative Nutrition?
I learned to listen to others, to see life from different points of view, to help my clients as THEY need to be helped. I learned that there is truly never just one way to wellness and it does depend on my clients. I learned the importance of primary foods!
Before I was so confused with all the dietary theories and how they all fit. Joshua did an outstanding job putting everything in one "digestible" program that's also so hands-on.
Because this was my first time having my own business, IIN gave me priceless advice and assistance on starting one completely from scratch. I also learned how empowering it is to see a client change, to see them get happier.
How did your previous work in catering help aid your new Health Coaching business?
In the catering company, I learned how to present food in the most attractive way, make deliveries, and package food. It definitely helps me create visually exciting meals for clients, but now I can do it with healthier ingredients.
You have a very specific, interesting focus for your Health Coaching practice. Where did the inspiration come from?
I love fashion and I understand people who want to look and feel fabulous, so I compare food and nutrition to the world of fashion. My slogan is “Love your Gucci's and your green juice!” After all, if you want to look fabulous on the outside, you need to be putting fabulous food inside.
I teach my clients how healthy foods can be the most fashionable and exciting accessories and are always in style. With my unique "food according to Fashion" approach, I show my clients how to achieve the true glamour of health and wellness.
How do you apply the concept of savvy shopping to understanding how to eat well?
I believe that everything is a choice and everything has its price and value; the same is true in fashion. Most people are great at shopping, but feel overwhelmed when reaching towards their health goals. This is why I examine successful shopping strategies and see how they apply to eating, nutrition and life in general. For example, a savvy shopper won't spend a lot of money on an acrylic sweater because acrylic is not a quality product compared to cashmere. She knows acrylic won't last a long time, so she invests the money into cashmere instead. Yet the same person may buy a piece of cake that's made with artificial flavors, GMO gluten, and dairy that's full of hormones and antibiotics, just because it looks pretty. How fabulous is it really? After eating something like that, that person sure won't feel great. So, I compare that cake to acrylic and a piece of organic tiramisu that I make with wholesome ingredients to the cashmere – it is soothing to the body and the energy from it lasts a long time. It is definitely the better value for calories and money.
Why is it just as important for people to know how to feel as great on the inside as they look on the outside?
I always remind people that they have to answer to themselves, and if they are trying to cover something up they are only cheating themselves—no one else. If they are ready for a change but are simply scared, I give them support. If they simply weren't aware of what they were doing, I educate them. I find that people who come to me already want to change; they know they are not happy, but they just don't know where to begin. I am there to guide them and educate them.
How do you incorporate this “food according to fashion” concept into your daily work with clients?
I usually use my six-month health coaching practice, but when I introduce foods that people are hesitant about trying, I present them in a way a fashion designer presents an unusual collection. I always bring glamour into the practice. I love the glamour of greens because they are better than any skin cream—you get glowing skin for a bargain! I like to get people excited and get them to see food in a new light. If a client presents a challenge, I see how I can bring in the shopping metaphor and reorient their thinking. I once compared dietary theories to different looks on the runway; they all work for different people, with different body shapes, different lifestyles, and for different occasions. I help my clients find the ones that make them feel and look fabulous!
Is there a need for Health Coaches where you live?
Absolutely. Every time I walk into the Bal Harbour or Boca Raton malls, I see people who are overweight and unhealthy spending money on designer clothes. They know how to buy fabulous clothes, but they seem so helpless when it comes to selecting fabulous food. They know to look good outside, but not how to help themselves on the inside.
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