In light of International Women's Day, we interviewed some of the most influential and inspirational women working in the wellness industry - and we were spoilt for choice! In this article, we chat to registered nutritional therapist and mum of four, Mary Van Der Westhuizen. She shares why her mum is her biggest inspiration and why you should always lead by example...
What does working in the wellness industry mean to you?
I’m passionate about great nutrition and the positive effect it can have on the mind and body so the wellness industry with all its different aspects is a fascinating industry for me to work in (and in sharp contrast to my previous life as a lawyer!).
Who are you inspired by & why?
I’m inspired by my mother who was way ahead of the curve in terms of her understanding of the impact of chemicals and plastics on our health and the environment (although she would never think of herself as an eco-warrior!) and her devotion to cooking healthy meals for her family of 11 children!
What tips would you give other women wanting to get into your business?
If you’re a self-employed nutritional therapist, like me, setting up your own practice can be daunting. Have confidence in your abilities and listen carefully to your clients’ needs. They often hold the answers to their questions.
What are your three top tips?
Work at staying healthy. Eat a brilliantly healthy, nutrient-rich diet and you’ll have the energy you need to achieve everything you have your heart set on.
Don’t over do it. Discussing health and lifestyle with clients is a very personal conversation which often evokes a range of difficult emotions in the clinic. It’s hard not to take these on yourself as a nutritionist. To be in a position to help clients you need to be feeling robust and strong yourself. Look after your own health and mental and emotional wellbeing so that you’re able to help others; make sure you’re able to refer clients to other specialists if discussions lead you to a subject that you’re not qualified to consult on.
Lead by example. Live what you teach; if you can’t follow your own advice then you should think again. It may not be practical, realistic advice if you can’t follow it yourself.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day for me means celebrating women. It makes me think of how far the world has come in terms of respecting women’s rights but it’s also a reminder of how much further there is still to go in some areas of the world.