Emilia Thompsons Career In Nutrition

Published by Sukh Sidhu on September 29, 2022

Hello! Who are you and what do you do?

I’m a Nutrition Consultant and Educator in compassionate, evidence-based nutrition, working predominantly with people to improve their relationships with food and their bodies, whilst at the same time, educating and mentoring personal trainers to provide a more person-centred, compassionate nutrition and behaviour change approach with their clients.

What’s your backstory and how did you end up in your current position?

I’m a bit of an academic, completed a BSc in Sports Biomedicine, MSc in Sport and Exercise Nutrition, PhD in Exercise Physiology and PGCAP in Higher Education Teaching, alongside which I obtained my personal trainer-type qualifications. I’m a registered nutritionist with the association for nutrition and trainee counsellor. That’s really just the CV though. I grew up with a tumultuous relationship with food and exercise. Food for me played a role in managing (or rather, suppressing) a lot of emotions, whilst I continued to highly achieve and aim for perfection in my academic life. Outwardly, I was pretty great. Inwardly, I struggled. I overate, over restricted and over exercised. I spent 15 years with this toxic relationship with food before falling into bodybuilding, framed as an admirable way to do the exact same thing with food, but win trophies at the same time. And I did do that, I came second in Britain in 2018 before hanging up the sparkly bikini. Whilst I was competing, I started a blog about the reality of the process of extreme dieting, documented my entire journey. shared my struggles post-show and realised that actually, there was no support out there for people like me. Fitness was all a front, filled with meal plans and ‘dedication’, leaving no space for people who simply couldn’t understand why they struggled to stick to a diet, or were unable to find happiness despite achieving the body that they thought would bring it. I delved into the research, started discovering more holistic approaches to health and fitness that can support the darker side of dieting outcomes, implementing and subsequently sharing these via my online platforms. I went to California for 3 months, threw myself into meditation, therapeutic techniques and self-discovery and realised the true connection between our thoughts, feelings and food – even within fitness. That’s how my business was born – super authentically through my own journey of discovery and my academic background.

What were your first few months like in the fitness industry?

I was working full time writing a university degree course whilst building my client base, at the same time as prepping for some big bodybuilding shows, so my first few months were intense. There wasn’t anyone doing what I wanted to do, this balance of fitness and holistic work (people rolled their eyes at even the talk of mindfulness), so it was also really pretty daunting. I was so passionate about it, I worked so hard to find the science behind everything I did to show that it was legitimate. I questioned myself – every single day. I felt like a fraud – every single day. But I worked harder than ever – every single day. I was lucky, because I’d done some really honest blogs about my own experience, people could resonate with me, and because no one else was doing it, I probably skipped a lot of the really tough ‘building client numbers’ stage. To this day I think, I was lucky (but maybe that’s the inherent imposter syndrome that lives on in us all…). My relationships suffered though, and I had no real life outside of that post-show pizza. People look at me now thinking I have decent boundaries and work-life balance, but that was non-existent and definitely impacted my personal life for a few years afterward. To be honest, I think that was necessary.

What has the journey been getting from those first few months to where you are today?

In a nutshell? A lot of hard work, self-doubt, gratitude, joy and fear. But mostly, unbelievably rewarding and driven almost exclusively by impact and purpose. Logistically it’s been filled with speaking events, magazine articles, connections, failures wins and lessons, and a lot of saying ‘yes’ – feeling the fear and going for it anyway. Personally, it’s been filled with both wins and challenges to connection, in terms of time and egos, but as my career has developed, so have my values and sense of self, which makes this a lot easier. I now have the ability to prioritise what matters most to me, to set boundaries, to be intentional with my time both within my business and outside of it. As time progresses in your career, I think you become more confident in knowing your values, and you have the luxury of prioritising these, whereas in those first few months and years, you choose to give absolutely everything to your business (as opposed to now, which is almost everything…).

What’s been the hardest moment/biggest challenge of your career so far?

My biggest challenge has been learning the difference between being a proactive and reactive business owner. We’re human, and humans have lives and lives get messy, and when you run your own business, you have to learn to somehow navigate this. For my entire academic career and into running my own business, I always felt I had to do more, be perfect, always be proactive and at the front, or someone would catch up and I’d lose it all. In 2020, I went through the toughest time in my personal life, where I struggled with even the most basic of work tasks. My personal life was taking every ounce of my energy, but by that point, I had 2 other coaches that relied on me to some degree, a business partner and had just launched a new education course. My businesses are build on authenticity, but this moment was so difficult that sharing that would be oversharing, not authenticity or vulnerability. To finally allow myself to say ‘I’ll be reactive in work at this point, life has to come first’ felt like I was fighting everything in my body that told me I was being lazy. But it’s the most important lesson that’s come from my career, that you have to take care of yourself, and when you give 100% most of the time, you can be 80% at times and that’s more than ok. And actually, given an intentional 80%, even 50%, is better than giving a mediocre and messy 100%.

What’s been your biggest win / proudest moment?

This is a complete cliche, but alas. Every time my clients say their life has changed, or a coach from EIQ tells us that their client’s have said similar, those are my proudest moments. It never gets old, and I’m grateful every day that the work these people do can have such an impact on their health and lives. From a personal perspective, I know how transformative that is, and given my core business values are love, connection and health, to see this manifesting in clients and coaches is everything to me.

How and what are you doing today and what does the future look like?

I’m pretty lucky right now to be in Mexico working with Emma, my business partner in EIQ Nutrition. It’s actually a regular day, work blocks interspersed with training, walking and food, the difference here being that we can have off the cuff meetings, live social media sessions, bounce ideas around for business development and have a lot more joy than we would at home having scheduled Zoom meetings. For me, I’m scaling back my personal client work (this has been a transition) so I can spend more time nurturing my coaches to be industry leaders in their respective fields. It’s daunting stepping back a little from direct client support, but I can have more impact when I spend my time mentoring our coaching team to continue to be the leaders in the work we do in fitness. Simultaneously, we’re growing EIQ Nutrition to incorporate in-person networking and events. We launched EIQ two months into a global pandemic in 2020 which was great for optimising everything to an online audience, but there’s a lot of development open to us now. This is where we impact the fitness industry most and help it level up in the support it gives.

What does a day in the life of you look like?

I’m pretty focused on being present in whatever I’m doing, so my work and joy are both very much focused. I tend to do an hour of social media marketing, take an hours walk and breakfast. The rest of the day will be split into work blocks, where I’m either working inside the business with my team of coaches or with clients, developing new content for EIQ, doing live mentoring sessions or podcasting, or doing research and/or reading around key topics for my business, nutrition or therapy fields. In between these blocks I get in meals, a training or yoga session and a walk with my friend. When I’m doing one thing, I’m not flitting around doing something else. I like to work late on weekdays so I can fully switch off on (most) weekends. Deep work. Deep rest

Advice for people who are considering or have just started in the industry?

Figure out your personal and business values first and foremost. Only when you’re living and working in line with these will you feel congruent, passionate and have the ability to work harder than you ever imagined. You can do more than you think. You’re probably not overwhelmed, you’re just not focused, present or prioritising. The sooner you can master that, the sooner you can do more, with less stress and overwhelm. Direct your attention to what matters and let go of what you can’t control. Imposter syndrome is a necessary part of growth, embrace it and use it as a sign that you’re doing something brave. People who experience imposter syndrome generally have higher levels of mastery and collaboration. It’s not a reason to stop, it’s a sign to lean in. It’s ok if you still have your own health struggles to work through, you’re human and it only adds to your empathy for others, provided you are doing the work on yourself, and you are mindful of projection. Your self-awareness and self-work is inherent in the success of your business – don’t martyr yourself or put yourself last. It’s probably going to take time to do something great – embrace the grit.

What have been the key moments in your career so far what was the impact of those moments?

The first key moment was having the courage to leave my work. It’s easy to assume everyone leaves their job to go self employed because they hate it, but I loved lecturing and I’d have done it every day until I retired, so it was a big deal for me to risk it to go off on my own. No one in fitness did anything remotely holistic at that point, so it was a big risk (although, when is running your business not a big risk?). It seems logical that you’d assume my qualifications or trophies to be next, speaking at the biggest expos or publishing in leading fitness magazines, but I think the key moments of my career have been the connections that I’ve made. The second key moment was asking my first, now head, coach Anna Munday to work with me as a coach. This was me committing to growth, to the pressure of having someone somewhat reliant on me for their income, the pressure of their development and ultimately, putting my trust and reputation on the line with someone new. Again at that point, all the talk of ‘scaling’ business was about group coaching, taking on 100s of clients and passive income, and it just wasn’t a way of working that aligned with my values. I had to develop my own business model to suit my clients (not the other way around like most business coaches often suggest). The impact? I now have a team of 6 coaches and we can support 100s more clients in their health, and I’m no longer limited on time to support them. It also fostered one of the best friendships of my life. Starting EIQ Nutrition with my business partner, Emma Storey-Gordon was a big milestone. The birth of the course took place in a freezing Scottish lodge (scene setting) when I was asked to write a course for another company who offered to pay me far less than was fair or justified. Emma, with her outside perspective, business mind and faith in both of our skills suggested not only that we do it ourselves, but that we out-do and out-earn that proposition with a course tailored to what we knew was needed in the industry. We did it, and I don’t think we’ve even touched the surface of the impact of this course will have on the fitness industry, promoting compassionate, evidence-based practice and behaviour change. It also fostered one of the best friendships of my life.

Where can people find you?





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