It’s time for a new dietitian spotlight series! This week I interviewed Marianne Romano, MP RDN, who created her own company Romano Health Coaching 14 years ago and is based out of Albany,  New York.

Marianne, tell us a little about your business and the path you took to get where you are today. I have dual bachelor’s degree in health education and nutrition and later in my career I added a Master’s of Public administration (MPA) with a specialty in management. I have worked in all facets of nutrition and dietetics and created my own company in 2000. Initially, I started my business by counseling patients in a traditional private practice setting. As my practice grew, I saw the need to add health coaching to my business model. I did so in 2009 and that was a very good decision!  I help other RDN’s become health coaches as well as continuing to deliver services directly to clients. Health care professionals, especially RDNs, make great health coaches because we are passionate about health, food, fitness and helping others. My coaching model is virtually based so an office space is not required- coaching is done by phone, email or Skype.

What got you interested in the field of nutrition? My passion for life and fascination with health and food began at an early age. My family was in the wholesale food business and good food was plentiful, fresh and inexpensive. My mom was a pediatric nurse (a healer and helper) loved children and promoted healthy living including home-cooked meals. My aunt and uncle lived downstairs and had a large garden so I learned about growing plants and sustainable food. Lastly, living in a large multi-generational household taught me the importance of family and friends and I found great purpose in helping others achieve lifestyle changes for optimal health.

Sounds like your family set a great example! Take us through a typical day in the life of Marianne. My work involves three areas: coaching clients, mentoring health coaches and counseling patients. A typical day includes sharing the health coaching opportunity with other health professionals especially RDNs. I offer health coach opportunities to others and travel to share this opportunity or create and provide online webinars. I look for like-minded RDNs interested in learning about health coaching. I coach clients all over the country virtually as well helping them create health and get rid of obesity related diseases. Lastly, I also have a physical office space and share the importance of health, fitness and food with patients in that venue.

What is your favorite part about being an RDN? Having the ability to help people (coaches that I mentor or clients) creates better health & positive change in their lives!

What is your biggest challenge? Creating the time and space to grow and develop business ideas. You have to give up things to create the space to grow something new- and that is challenging. But, as you do this you also grow as a person!

Do you follow any special diet? Gluten free- I am gluten intolerant!

Is there any food that you feel like you couldn’t live without? Yes, pizza– gluten free of course!

What is the most memorable meal that you’ve ever had? My husband and I were in Oahu, Hawaii and bumped into a 5 star restaurant- we love fish and seafood! My second favorite spot in the world is the Almalfi coastal area of Italy- I will be there again this October!

Italy 211
Lemons growing near the Almafi Coast, taken during one of Marianne’s trips to Italy.

Are there any fad diets you wish would disappear? If I could make one fad diet could disappear it would be the Atkins diet. Eating very low levels of carbohydrate per day (like only 30-40 gms. of carb) is both unhealthy and lacks flavor and variety.

What is your favorite nutrition related book? I really like “The World’s Healthiest Foods” by George Mateljan. This book has great nutrition info and very healthy recipes. I love to cook and it shares healthy ways to cook foods- along with recipes!

What is your favorite place to go or thing to do in your city? My favorite place to go in my community is the park down the street. I can get there in two minutes flat and it has great hiking trails for me and my dog. She is able to run off leash and has a blast and I get a good work-out. Awesome X-country trails in the winter too!

Hiking in Machu Picchu
Marianne enjoying the great outdoors–hiking in Machu Picchu.

What is the top tip you give your patients, clients or friends? 

Find great mentors and learn from them.

Take time for yourself and those that you love- sometimes it is the small stuff that counts!

Don’t be afraid to develop your ideas and create a niche! In the beginning you will be alone but eventually others will be following you.

Always use (and listen to) your intuition and maintain the highest integrity that you can!

What would you like to accomplish in the next 5 years? In the next 5 years I would like to grow my virtual health coaching business since this would diminish my office space and create even more flexibility in my work!

What would you say to someone interested in becoming a RDN or getting in the field of nutrition? I would say “go for it.” Be prepared to work hard but if you love food, fitness, fun and helping others get healthy this is the path for you!

What advice would I give an RDN that seems to be “stuck” in a dead-end or unfulfilling job? I would say “get out of your own way” and consider health coaching. Health coaching has a different approach than traditional dietary counseling- They (the client) lead the way– not you. I invigorated my work when I added this to my business model and am happy to share my approach with other RDNs.

Thank you Marianne for being part of the Dietitian Spotlight Series!

Connect with Marianne:

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