(#38) MARCIE GOLDMAN
"She gave me another option. It was feminine, curious, and nourishing and gave me a whole new paradigm of health and wholeness."
Where did you grow up? Describe that place and its people…
I grew up in Westport, CT, a suburb of Manhattan. Usually when I tell people I’m from there I get an eyebrow raise, “I know Westport.”, and I feel like I’ve just been typecast. Like how T.V. characters from Connecticut are portrayed - it makes me very uncomfortable.
I didn’t have the same experiences as most kids in Westport. My parents didn’t work in finance or business and commute to NYC by train or go to “a job.” They owned a Boarding & Grooming Kennel on the Post Road in Westport and that’s where I grew up. The perks of living above a Kennel were many. I could walk down stairs to an amusement of dogs & cats. We’d fill water bowls, climb in cages, play with animals for hours and “scoop poop” whenever we wanted. It was a kid’s paradise.
Animals made me feel safe, understood, and connected. They really helped a highly sensitive, empathic, kid like me cope with an enormous amount of feelings & emotions. Besides a soul-connection to animals, the kennel is where I had my first lessons in entrepreneurship, self-employment, and running a small business. Even then I knew it wasn’t easy, but I was born to be a risk taker. Being my own boss was always in the cards. That’s how it was in my family.
Health was not, however, always in my family. My sister and I could walk to three different fast food restaurants in under 3 minutes. On the weekends, dinner was either Dairy Queen (cheese dogs) or Burger King (chicken parm). And if our parents were with us, we’d walk across the street to get ice cream at Carvel (vanilla cone with rainbow sprinkles). But besides the all-you-can-eat fast food, a play land of animals, summers on Compo Beach, sports and an active outdoor life - I couldn’t wait to leave.
What were you like as a child? What did you want to do when you grew up?
At the age of eight, I knew I wanted to be a nutritionist. After my dad had a health-scare, we started eating less fast food and more health conscious foods and I knew, at a really young age, that food impacted my quality of life. I had a very strong inner-knowing that “nutrition heals.” A voice inside my head said to: respect, understand, and harness the power of nutrition and heal the world [in 8 year old language]. Even though I was young, it made complete sense, and I’ve been devoted ever since.
I started by telling my friends what to eat: “Doralynne (my friend from swim-team), don’t forget to drink your milk at the bottom of your cereal bowl. It’s where all the nutrients are!” This 8 year old says with chlorine-straw hair, one hand on her hips and the other waving a finger. Doralynne reminded me of this story twenty years later. We hadn’t seen each other since we were kids when I told her I was a Nutrition Coach. She said, “that doesn’t surprise me!”
What brought you to Boulder, CO? Is there something about Boulder that is especially inspiring to you and your work?
I knew one person from my high school who went to college at the University of Colorado (CU) in Boulder. He gave me one line that made me think, “I’m going to Boulder! Those are my people!” It was an intuitive decision. Before that, I’d never heard of or visited Boulder. I just knew that’s where I wanted to be. Hippies, health consciousness, spiritual awareness, community and health food stores - lots and lots of health food. It was a perfect fit. For the first 4 years of school, I didn’t have a car so I rode my bike everywhere. All 4 seasons, in snow, rain, and heat. That got me in the “Colorado Spirit,” where people are naturally tough, outdoor-inclined and active. Colorado introduced me to a lot of physical-edges and a healthy lifestyle I hadn’t known existed.
While I was at CU, I devoured as many community classes as I could afford - herb classes, free meditation classes from Naropa and Shambhala, and African Dance classes. Boulder had everything I could ask for in “elective education". Of all the schools I could choose, CU didn’t have a Nutrition Program. But, I wasn’t meant to go the “conventional route.” My roommate, at the time, introduced me to Women’s Studies. I didn’t know studying women’s perspective even existed. It was another “aha” moment. I was enthralled and got the guts to declare it as my major. I now had a language for what I already was, a feminist. And it’s actually a HUGE part of my Women’s Health practice today.
I’m grateful I didn’t have a “plan” and that I followed my passion - I would never have found the eclectic education, training, and experiences that Boulder has shown me. From my first herb class with Brigitte Mars to working my first herb job with Catherine Hunziker of Wish Garden Herbs, to the many diverse teachers from the Rocky Mountain School of Botanical Studies, and my first encounter with one of my most important teachers, the woman I would follow to Woodstock, NY to complete a Shamanic Herbal Apprenticeship, Susun Weed.
What were you doing before you made the leap to Nutrition/Wellness?
There was nothing in my life that wasn’t setting me up to be a Healer & Helper. Except maybe when I was playing sports. I spent hours playing soccer and tennis and that was purely about “kicking ass.” That reminds me, before being a nutritionist, I wanted to be Wonder Woman and a dancer.
How did you get started on the path to wellness/nutrition/coaching?
My dad was obese when I was a kid. He doesn’t like when I say this, but the technical term was morbidly obese. When he was a baby, his parents put a sign around his neck that said “Do Not Feed.” He was born an overeater. When I was young and impressionable, he had a health-scare. Several painful bouts of pancreatitis. Lesson #2 of being a healer: Pain is not bad. Don’t try to take someone’s pain away. I learned that the hard way. My first “Health Coaching” job was trying to make my dad better.
The doctors told my dad, "you need to lose weight or else you’re going to die". He decided to make a huge change in how/what/why he ate. He did a complete 180 and started dieting and exercising every single day. I’d never seen anyone with more discipline or determination. He was like “The Biggest Loser” of the 80’s - before that show existed. He lost over 100lbs “quickly” and dramatically. He went from fat to fit and my sister and I were his sidekicks - jogging and dieting, literally, by his side whether we wanted to or not.
But, losing weight in the 80’s was a shit-show. Low fat, low calorie dieting was the standard. It’s everything I talk about what NOT to do. My dad had strict “Food Rules” and started eliminating food groups. First it was fat, red meat, dairy, and over time grains. He got down to a “fish and veggie diet". And I’m not talking ceviche and fresh guacamole (YUM!). It was tasteless, lifeless, “diet food.” So, basically my sister and I went from a junk food diet to a "strict diet” with treats like “Snackwells” and sorbet - to having to figure it out for ourselves.
My dad’s extremes were a red-flag. Don’t get me wrong, there was A LOT right about my dad’s new lifestyle. He was conscious of what he put in his body, he was exercising regularly, ate whole foods and a ton of veggies. He looked and felt amazing. I mean he was the chiseled, muscular, energized version of himself and he got me to understand on a deep, experiential level, that food affects my life! This is one of his greatest gifts because it’s the most important pre-cursor to change. If you don’t believe in cause and effect, that food affects how you think, feel, and behave - it’s impossible to change the way you eat.
But I was looking for something more sustainable, kinder, gentler, and with fewer rules. I wanted the Middle Way. I wanted to get off the swinging pendulum and find a diet that didn’t require crazy amounts of discipline, deprivation, or rules. I wanted to celebrate food and find wholeness.
What and where did you study?
My first herb class was in Brigitte Mars’ kitchen, where the best classes are. Brigitte is an encyclopedia of herbal medicine and also kind, generous, loving, and big hearted. She ignited my passion for Herbal Medicine and introduced me to Susun S. Weed.
I heard Susun Weed give a talk on the Wise Woman Way of Healing. THAT WAS IT. It was the first time I cried listening to a lecture. I knew I wanted her to be my teacher. She finally put words to the “pushing, struggling, heroic” efforts my dad used (and I exhausted) to “get healthy.” She gave me another option. It was feminine, curious, and nourishing and gave me a whole new paradigm of health and wholeness. I lived with Susun for 6 weeks during my Shamanic Herbal Apprenticeship in 1998, and will be her “guest expert” on Ask Herbal Health Expert Blog Talk Radio Show April 12th. [You can listen LIVE at 8:30pm ET or listen to the recording after the show airs].
After my apprenticeship in 1999, I went to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in NYC. It was a live program at the time with only around 100 students. Now it’s the largest Nutrition School in the world. A small group of Health Coaches traveled to India together to study meditation and continue our training. It was an incredible experience. I still endorse IIN and it turns out, many of my clients are either Health Coaches, trained healers, or have decided to become Health Coaches while working with me. I’ve started helping women build their own Health Coaching businesses and get paying clients.
Recently, I’ve studied with Julia Ross and completed the Alliance for Addictions Solutions Mental Health Recovery Nutrition Coach Certification with cherished teacher, Christina Veselak. Understanding addiction makes me good at what I do. I can help my clients make changes they’d never be able to do without the old school “tough love” + will power + discipline trifecta that’s so short lived and devastating.
How would you describe your food philosophy?
Food is to be celebrated, nourishing and whole. Food and life are synonymous. The goal is to have an inclusive diet of all the macro-nutrients: fats, carbs + protein, and to discover your optimal balance. Not to get stuck in a cycle of food elimination and restriction. Whole, REAL, food. I’m pro-farmer & the cycle-of-life, chemical-free, local, diverse nutrient-dense foods. I wince at the “animals are people” movement and the idea that “kindness” towards animals has equated to vegetarianism. Nose to tail meat and fowl, lacto-fermented foods, much larger amounts of fats (including saturated and animal fats) than people are comfortable with, cooked vegetables (including sea veggies) and fruits - plants and weeds, plus raw and cultured dairy products are my whole food choices for digestibility AND nutritional content.
Most people aren’t eating enough food, non-food calories aside. So, the goal in my practice is to change your mind-set to: what CAN I eat? What makes me feel good (side effects included)? In terms of what not to eat, I avoid GMO’s, seed oils, hydrogenated fats and all non-foods: additives, preservatives, “natural flavorings,” colorings. There are no bad foods. Because there is no "perfect diet." I don’t demonize “junk food” or “sugar” to get people to stop eating them. There are no “bad” foods just cause and effect.
Eating nutrient-dense foods is the best way to crave food that’s good for you.
Susun Weed taught me this and it’s gotten more people off sugar than anything else. It’s how I transform cravings. I call it the “back door” approach and I use it with people who’ve been dieting and struggling their whole lives without success. TOUGH LOVE doesn’t work. Eating more nutrition will. And so will getting people back to what Joel Salatin calls "domestic culinary arts.” Access to home cooked foods prevents you from relying on stimulants and non-nutritional-sources-of-energy and a lifestyle that leads to malnutrition.
So any talk of limitation of calories, I avoid. Including Michael Pollan’s “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Anyone with addictive tendencies, a history of dieting or eating disorders - this treads too close to the “diet/binge cycle” and the illusion of “the perfect diet.” You have to get back to spending larger amounts of time thinking about food. Not what NOT to eat, but where you’re going to get it, how it’s going to be prepared and planning meal times. And by thinking of food in a feminine, holistic way, you make it pleasurable, sensual, and aesthetically pleasing. And you get double the nourishment!
Then, HOW you eat becomes just as important as WHAT you eat. I don’t even want to say the words “mindful eating” because for anyone with a history of dieting, that’s triggering. The problem for so many people is they feel OVER-mindful, controlling and neurotic. Mindful eating is a side-effect of eating more nutrients. The transition from being overly-mindful to responding to your body’s desires takes time. I’m finally able to walk people through this process in my new 9 month Mojo Mastery Program. I expanded my 5 week course to almost a year long program so I could walk people through this process, slowly over time, so you can be fully transformed at the end and trust your appetite completely. I also lead a free #30DayBoneBrothChallenge a couple times a year to demonstrate how effective this is in a short amount of time. By “adding nutrition” you can make MAJOR health changes that people who are stuck on elimination diets never reach.
What’s your favorite part about doing what you do?
My favorite part of doing what I do is the personal challenge of overcoming my fears, staying creative, and putting myself out there - because my inner-knowing believes my voice is important but my mind questions myself often. Sharing my opinions and wisdom isn’t always easy and it’s hard to stay consistent, but it’s my ART and my purpose and the most rewarding thing I do.
So are the connections. I am attracting some of the bravest, wisest, most dynamic game-changing women in the world. And they not only are my clients, they become my friends. Psychotherapists can’t say that, but I get to “love” my clients as a Health Coach. And we bring out the best in each other.
Oh, and my dad is no longer extreme dieting. He landed somewhere in the Middle. He actually completed my Mojo Mastery health make-over program and boasts to his friend’s at the dog park that he’s no longer a compulsive eater.
What would you suggest to someone wanting to begin to change the way they eat? any small steps to take?
Change Your Focus from “what should I NOT eat” to “EAT MORE NUTRITION.” Instead of going on that diet or cleanse. Resist! That’s the only thing you should be resisting. Then…
Create a Meal Plan. Pull out a piece of paper, one of your favorite cookbooks, and write down 5 healthy and delicious meals.
BEFORE you plan out a restrictive diet, plan a diet that sounds delicious and exciting. Write a Grocery List. Shop. Stock. And do some prep. You’ll be amazed at how good you feel after a couple of days eating well planned, whole food, non-restrictive meals.
If you want a done-for-you 7 Day Meal Plan and Grocery List, don’t worry, it’s not cheating! I offer over 21 recipes to get you started. These are the exact recipes I use in my Mojo Mastery program and I’m very proud I created something so easy for you to follow.
Lastly, don’t be all-or-nothing about it. If it feels overwhelming to do a week's worth of meal planning, pick a few dinners to get start with. Whatever you CAN do, start now and get cookin!
What are your biggest challenges? Do you have an achilles heel?
I’m an over-thinker. I get distracted easily. And I do things slower than I’d like. I have an ADD type brain so I have to be two steps ahead and know my limitations. I resisted Meal Planning for years (still do) but these kinds of “set-ups” make my life so much easier and I get so much more accomplished.
Structure is good for me and it’s what I resist most. So figuring out how to create structure that I enjoy, like the meal plan, like work-study sessions with close friends… these are all creative and effective.
What lessons have you learned?
When working with other women, be clear about my expectations. I used to be afraid to come across as bossy, demanding or unreasonable, so I avoided difficult conversations only to learn, it only makes it worse. Have the difficult conversations up front. Trust your instincts and saying “no” to seemingly harmless offers that are not aligned with my BIG vision is always best.
What are the things that you want to fill your days with? What are the things that are most important to you?
My best days are stepping outside my comfort zone. Whether it’s writing and publishing, teaching, or speaking in public. Getting out there and using my voice is an edge I have to meet regularly. When I’m making a difference, I feel best. Personal growth is important to me. If my core needs are met: being well fed, moving my body, getting sun and being outdoors, and having some quality social connection - I’ve got my mojo, I’m in my “zone.”
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to do what you do? Or for anyone who wants to live a more creative life?
There are a lot of good programs, don’t waste time choosing. Use your gut instincts and START. This was one big lesson that always stuck with me from IIN, “start before you’re ready”. Choose a school that teaches you how to do that. How to start practicing the work before you’re finished training. It’s too easy to get caught up in “I don’t know enough yet”. If you’re interested, you’re READY. Trust the healer within.
We are born to create, I don’t consider myself an artist but I’ve come to realize, designing programs and teaching is my art. In art, you can’t do it wrong. But what hurts the most is NOT doing it at all - and living in fear of doing it poorly.
What does the word authentic mean to you? How does your work allow you to live authentically?
It means taking away all the “shoulds” and the masks of what a “professional” woman or practitioner is supposed to be/look like and just “be me” - “do Marcie", without trying to win anyone over, impress or manipulate anyone into liking me, and give my voice an outlet for expression.
Do you have a morning ritual to you get you ready for the day?
Facebook or Instagram. I have to be careful with it. I love social media but with an ADD brain like mine, I get overstimulated easily. I don’t have a social media schedule but I’m aware of how I want to feel when I’m done. Most of the time, it feeds and inspires me.
Any badass women you admire? Is there any woman dead or alive that you would want to have dinner with/make dinner for?
My friend Peggy Markel. She’s a poet and a romantic of food, culture & cooking. She’s so sensual and experiential, the way she writes and describes food makes me want to EAT everything she’s making. She does “Food Adventure Tours” in Italy, India, Morocco, and Spain and we’ve been talking about doing one together in Italy.
I’m also a Julia Child fan. She started her career late in life out of her passion and pleasure for food. She bucked tradition as a female chef in a man’s world, she was a teacher, and empowered a generation to cook. She is a great model for being fearless, present, and passionate in the kitchen.
I admire farmers who grow food and the women & men who cook every night for their families. There are so many excuses for not cooking. If you’ve made mealtime a daily ritual, I think you’re a badass. And I admire women who were the first to break barriers. The first feminists, the radical feminist separatists and the lesbians. The bravery it takes to not conform, get prosecuted and shut out for standing up for what you believe in is high on my list of admiration. I admire my woman doctor friend who performs abortions because it’s her life purpose.
Find out how to work with Marcie Here