Going out to that amazing new restaurant tonight? Wondering what your best option is for a healthy and yummy choice? Looking for someone to help you stay on track? Wishing you could have personalized attention literally right at your finger tips no matter where you were? Molly Rieger and Leah Silberman, founders of Tovita Nutrition, have your answer with virtual nutritional counseling, bringing their awesomeness direct to you!
How did you two meet?
We were coincidentally introduced by mutual friends 5 years ago. When we discovered we were in the same masters program at NYU for nutrition, we became instantaneous friends.
- What inspired you to become RDNs?
Leah: For me the journey started when I was in eighth grade. A friend of mine’s father passed away from an unknown cause. This both puzzled and scared me, so I decided to do a bit of research. I constructed a homemade medical textbook, which included an alphabetized list of common disease definitions, symptoms, causes, and methods of prevention. (In retrospect, this was probably a compilation of WebMD printouts). A commonality for prevention of most of these disease states was “eating a healthy diet.” I was instantly fascinated by disease prevention via nutrition.
Molly: My journey began more as a love for food and cooking. I sort of took over the reigns in the kitchen in high school when I couldn’t handle my mom’s dry chicken for one more night (sorry, mom). I loved getting creative with healthy recipes and got more and more interested in the power of food on our bodies.
- How did you start Tovita? What makes it unique?
While we both experienced working as dietitians in inpatient settings, we felt that we would make the biggest impact on clients if we practiced private counseling, so we could provide clients with individualized attention.
While we were looking for office locations in NYC, we had a difficult time deciding where would be most convenient for the majority of clients. We didn’t actually know who our clients would be, so imagine trying to determine where we should open. This dilemma lead us to agree to launch a virtual practice. It is still important to us to maintain a face-to-face interaction with clients, so all of our sessions take place over videoconference. This makes us unique because clients no longer have to travel to and from an appointment! Furthermore, we are not geographically limited to any particular region. We have clients all over the country, from coast to coast!
Beyond our counseling sessions, we are a concierge service for our clients as well. Whether we’re supporting them through various obstacles that occur during the week or we’re reviewing restaurant menus, we encourage clients to maintain communication between videoconference sessions.
- What is the most stressful thing about being entrepreneurs? The most fun?
The lack of predictability is probably both the most stressful and the most fun thing about being entrepreneurs. While our expertise lies in nutrition we are also running a business, meaning there is a lot to learn!
- I just ate…well, I’d rather not say! What can I do to shake off my food coma.
When you overdo it, it’s important not to have that black and white mentality. Instead of accepting that day as a loss, treat each meal as a Monday morning. Rather than beating yourself up, be proactive and eat super clean for the rest of the day, go a bit harder at the gym, and drink lots of water.
- Do you think obsessing over food porn impacts what we end up eating? Is food porn bad for us?
The endless food pictures on social media can definitely create a distorted perspective of what’s healthy. On one hand we have the extravagant burger, ice cream, and cookie pictures making our mouths water and on the other hand we have pictures of people doing yoga drinking green juice making us think “should I be doing that?”. Both extremes can cause us to compare our own habits or diet to people we don’t even know. It’s important to realize that diet is not “one size fits all” and to find the right balance for your body and lifestyle.
I think I know what to eat. I just don’t do it! How can Tovita help?
A huge component of our program emphasizes accountability. Clients food journal using google docs, which makes it easy for us to provide suggestions and comments as they go. When you know you have someone looking over your shoulder, you’re much less likely to take that handful of M&M’s or slice of pizza. We like to think of ourselves as silent motivators for our clients. Even though we’re not with them all of the time, we’re overseeing much of how they’re eating. We all have slip ups, of course, but we teach our clients to make “empowered indulgences” that they feel are worth it, rather than to spiral out of control and feel guilty afterwards.
- Please share with us your favorite quote, favorite song or other piece of inspiration or wisdom.
Leah: “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
Molly: Something I noticed early on is that all of my mentors and role models exude confidence. Whether you have that confidence or are working on it, fake it ‘till you make it!
- Looking back on college, any advice for must take classes or for things to be sure to do during those 4 years?
Leah: Yes! Stray from your comfort zone and challenge yourself, but be practical. Take classes that don’t just fulfill credits, but that you can later apply in life. Just because you’re pre-med doesn’t mean you won’t need to know accounting (in fact, you probably will if you open your own practice). Also, pulling all nighters and binging on candy during finals will not make you feel better!
Molly: I would encourage college students to find a club or group they are truly interested and become involved. Finding a leadership role is not only great for the resume but really builds confidence. Another piece of advice is to find a mentor. I know how easy it is to sit in the back of the class and just get by, but finding one teacher you connect to will make a huge difference post graduation. This is a person you can go to for recommendations, life advice, and career guidance.
- What makes you feel confident?
Molly: I feel most confident when I am taking care of my body, doing what I love, and surrounded by positive and motivated people. I feel most confident when a client expresses how big of a difference the Tovita lifestyle has made on his or her own confidence, happiness, and life. Nothing better than that!
Leah: I’m going to have to agree with Molly. There is no greater feeling of reward than when a client makes progress or ultimately reaches his or her goals and expresses gratitude for Tovita!
- What does “She’s Fit To Lead” mean to you? How does someone become Fit To Lead?
Leah: When your passion and your purpose intersect constructively, you are fit to lead. I believe that a leader takes risks, inspires others, and maintains a line of focus so that his or her passion and purpose never stray too far from one another.
Molly: I believe you are fit to lead when you are truly passionate about an idea or subject and have devoted time and effort to becoming an expert on that topic. Sometimes the best leaders aren’t the loudest or most outspoken but know how to empower others.
Stay tuned for some great food ideas from Leah and Molly. Learn more about Tovita [here].