Interview with LifeStart Wellness Network

Read our interview with dietitians of LifeStart Wellness Network. Learn how corporate wellness nutrition differs from clinical dietetics.

Healthie is excited to talk with the dietitians of LifeStart Wellness Network: Krista King, MS, RDN, LDN, CHC, NASM-CPT, Nicole Olen, RD, LDN, CHC, NASM-CPT, and Randi Karlinsky, MS, RDN, CHC, NASM-CPT. LifeStart Wellness Network is a premier health and wellness provider for corporations nationwide, promoting and facilitating healthier workplace environments across the country.

Tell us about the inspiration for Lifestart Wellness Network and how it came to be.

Krista King: LifeStart Wellness Network was created to transform the workplace through wellness. Founded in 1991, LifeStart’s mission is to help each employee reach their fullest potential through full spectrum services, from design and development to equipment procurement and onsite management.

LifeStart registered dietitians (RDs), who hold health coaching certification through ACE and personal training certification through either NASM or ACSM, use a holistic, preventative health focus to engage employees with targeted wellness initiatives. Nutrition services include weight loss and healthy lifestyle management, disease and condition management, menu development and grocery planning, sports performance, and group nutrition.

Tell us about your backgrounds and careers in dietetics.

Building Nutrition Programs for Corporations

Randi Karlinsky: I completed undergrad at Indiana University Bloomington, majoring in Dietetics. I was specifically interested in turning “unhealthy” recipes into healthier ones AND helping my friends with their eating habits. I went to Loyola University Chicago for my master’s and internship, where I was lucky enough to gain experience in many areas of nutrition, especially bariatric surgery. I loved working with weight loss, along with the surgical side. My first job as an RD was at Mercy Hospital, where I was both a clinical dietitian and bariatric dietitian. I worked there for 10 months before I was approached about an opportunity with LifeStart. The rest is history!

Krista: I completed my undergrad at Michigan State University and my master’s and dietetic internship at Loyola University Chicago. My interest has always been in working in health promotion and prevention. My first job as an RD was providing diabetes self-management education in the home health setting. Wanting to shift my focus to wellness, I learned about LifeStart and have been working here now for 2 years!

How does corporate/workplace wellness nutrition differ from traditional clinical dietetics?

Nicole Olen: Corporate wellness is a preventative medicine field versus being solely treatment-focused. I like working with individuals and helping them make lifestyle changes before ever having to be admitted to the hospital for disease treatment.

Building Nutrition Programs for Corporations

Krista: I have always been most interested in the preventative side of health. In the corporate wellness setting, we have the opportunity to work with individuals on their health goals using a more holistic approach, addressing nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle factors. I love the coaching aspect and really seeing my clients make sustainable health changes.

Randi: Corporate/workplace wellness nutrition involves voluntary clientele versus a clinical setting where the patient may be operating under doctor’s orders or even insurance requirements. Our clients seek us out for assistance, which is a huge difference. I always knew I didn’t want to work in a hospital long-term and loved the idea of joining a new and growing area of nutrition. I left a job that was pretty standard, where I knew what to expect every day, for one that was more unknown. It was a risk, but the best decision I’ve made thus far!

What is the most common obstacle in the workplace regarding nutrition?

Randi: Prioritizing employee health and wellness is still an obstacle in this field. We have come a long way, but still have much further to go in getting companies to prioritize their employees’ health AND helping them take steps in doing so.

Krista: Accountability and follow up can be difficult without the right tools in place. Also, drop off on goals can happen between appointments. Healthie has been a great addition to our tools and services to overcome these obstacles when working with a population of people who are seeking out nutrition services on their own.

"Technology truly is the future of the nutrition field.”

How do you think technology is changing the field of nutrition?

Building Nutrition Programs for Corporations

Nicole: Technology allows for more consistency and accountability between health coach and client. Technology, like the Healthie app, allows for easier charting, improved food logging with pictures, and text message-like feedback, which is quick, yet personal.

Healthie has created a great portal for secure and individualized communication with my clients.  I’ve been able to have a stronger connection with clients between our consultations through the Healthie messaging portal and food logging features. It is helpful to have all our consultation forms available for easy, official documentation through Healthie. Healthie also offers a great way to easily reference back to old client notes and messages.

Krista: Technology truly is the future of the nutrition field. Automating processes using a system like Healthie frees up time to focus more on the client and to take on more clients, instead of getting wrapped up in administrative tasks. This allows us to more readily share our message and work with more people who are seeking out nutrition services.

Plus, Healthie allows us to keep the client connection between visits in one integrated system. Whether we’re using it for just client charting with some or the full platform with others, it has allowed us one seamless solution for all of our client management needs. Our clients love the ability to chat with us between visits, log their meals with photos, and keep track of their progress.

Randi: The internet has allowed anyone to have a voice, which is both a concern and benefit as an RD. It is great that dietitians and other qualified health professionals have an easy platform to share useful information. However, it also allows the unqualified to share information that may not be accurate or possibly harmful to those reading it. Accountability is much easier and more effective with growing technology. Additionally, activity trackers have helped get people moving more and even make it fun!

What’s one piece of advice you would give current nutrition students?

Randi: Gain as much experience in as many areas of dietetics as you can, until you find something you love. I truly love what I do, and as a result, I am more motivated and sometimes even excited to go to work!

"I truly love what I do, and as a result, I am more motivated and sometimes even excited to go to work!”

Krista: Nutrition is a growing field, and there are more and more avenues opening up for nutrition professionals in the field. If you see someone doing something that you’d like to do one day, reach out and ask them what paths they took to get where they are now. Also, take advantage of your internship to really figure out the niche you love most!

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