Britt Reuter: Hi to everyone who is joining us! This is another Women in Wellness conversation where I get to introduce all of you to a female professional with a heart to serve others, and talk a little bit about what it is that they do, who they support, and what resources they may have available for you to explore. I’m Britt Reuter and I run an online virtual clinic from my home in the Boston area. If you want to learn more about me and what I do, you can visit my website www.brittreuter.com or find me on Facebook or Instagram @nutritionbritt.
My guest today is Yvette Waters. Yvette is a Nutrition Strategist and Brand Influencer with Raley’s Supermarket, a family owned chain in northern California and Nevada. Their mission is to infuse life with health and happiness; changing the way the world eats, one plate at a time. Yvette is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance with an Emphasis in Sports and Fitness from Logan University College of Health Sciences. Welcome Yvette!
Yvette Waters: Yes. Thank you much for having me, Britt. I really appreciate this opportunity.
What does a day in the life of the bet look as far as your health routine goes?
Britt Reuter: Yeah, I’m excited to have you here. Thanks so much for coming on today. We have a mutual friend, who suggested that we connect and I’m glad that she did. We share a lot of interests relating to nutrition and healthy living and could probably chat for hours, right? Yeah, we literally have chatted for hours and I know I’ve got habits and routines that I love. What I really want to know is what does a day in the life of the bet look as far as your health routine goes?
Yvette Waters: Yeah, no, I love that question for myself. It usually, obviously Monday through Fridays, kind of the workflow, into work tends to be a lot of meetings. A lot of meetings, a lot of computer work, just planning and strategy, doing a lot of things with a bunch of different groups with our merchant teams, our legal departments, our operations, and then also our leadership roles. From there I tend to go to the gym, but I’m a rock climber. We have a really awesome gym that has, it’s a totally my baby. It’s totally a playground for adults. It’s got rock climbing, weight lifting, yoga, Pilates, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, CrossFit. Pretty much Acro, slacklining, anything you can do. We tend to spend, a lot of times they’re rock climbing, yoga, play soccer, and then mostly on weekends get out in nature camp and things that. I working a lot and then lots of activities, spending time with my friends and my family.
Britt Reuter: That sounds awesome. So well rounded.
Yvette Waters: Yeah, it’s nothing to be upset about. I am truly, truly blessed on everything.
Britt Reuter: Yeah. And to have access to such a cool facility that where they infuse play, you’re saying.
Yvette Waters: Exactly. It’s dog friendly, kid friendly. You can just send hours in there. It’s such an amazing community because when I moved to California, I didn’t know anybody. I got into the gym and now I have a really beautiful community around me. We have similar interests it’s really nice.
Britt Reuter: Yeah, I was going to say since you met there it’s like that you at least have that in common. It’s a great launching off point.
Yvette Waters: Exactly. And that’s how I essentially got to know our mutual friend and her distant relation, but it’s not really great community.
Britt Reuter: That’s cool. Oh, that makes me happy. I love making new friends, I’m glad that you found a way to kind of niche your way in there and now you’ve got your own little friend family going on.
Yvette Waters: Exactly. It was pretty much always, “Hey, I’m here now. We’re going to be friends.”
Tell us a little bit about your unique journey into nutrition.
Britt Reuter: Tell us a little bit about your unique journey into nutrition. When did you first know that you wanted to go to school to be an RDN?
Yvette Waters: Yeah, probably like all of us when it comes to nutrition tends to be some of the same. We had health issues growing up. We didn’t feel good. I was kind of a similar thing. They tried to diagnose me with hyperchlorhydria, so essentially too much stomach acid at four years old and they put me on antacids. I was on antacids for several years and I felt awful. I was always been a competitive athlete and by the time I was in high school all of a sudden, we started to do more and more tests and they’re like, “Oh,” pretty much in the conventional medicine world they were like, “you actually have hypochlorhydria.” By that point, a lot of things already gone wrong and I felt awful. But I was also a competitive athlete, I was going to college playing soccer and realizing I wasn’t up to my best potential, not recovering as well and not having enough energy throughout. It really had a difficult time. Turned and had a passion in nutrition but really wanted to learn the science of it and see what was going on. Understanding more of the absorption, the biochemistry that advanced metabolism aspect of things. Then when I got hurt and I got too many concussions and I couldn’t play anymore, that’s when I just decided, “Alright, I’m going to go and start new, move to completely new place”, changed from business over to nutrition and I never looked back. Diving in deep into that and really learning what’s going on. I was able to change a lot of things that was going on in my body and have been able to support and individualize what’s going on in other clients and patients throughout my journey and support them as well.
Britt Reuter: That’s awesome. To me that really speaks to the power of nutrition, which you and I are both passionate about. There’s always been that thing, “Food is like medicine”. But really food is medicine, it’s information for our bodies and it’s a super powerful tool. And I just love how you experienced that firsthand.
Yvette Waters: Exactly. That was the same kind of thing. It’s awful when you don’t feel well and you’re, you think you’re doing everything right and you’re trying hard. It’s fascinating when you do adjust those things and you actually start to listen to your body. But also, when working with body dysmorphia and stuff to try and create that positive relationship with food again, it’s amazing how much can change with that and just you can wake up and seeing even the little bits of energy that you’re starting to feel and just not that stomach ache for even that hour and stuff. Take that as a win and build off of it. And it’s really amazing how you can create that positive dynamic.
Britt Reuter: Yeah. Yeah. It’s such a drain on your energy, like you’re saying, when you’re in that constant pain or discomfort. Reclaiming that energy and really, I mean you use that to really drive your passion, which is so cool. Imagine all the things that you’d be able to have accomplished even potentially as an athlete without debilitating stomach issues going on because its real distraction.
Yvette Waters: Oh, it’s such a distraction. Exactly. I love how you said, reclaim your energy. I think that’s perfect. My coach, I love him, he’s great, but he lived off diet coke and Pepto-Bismol. We’re 18 to 20-year-old girls who are there like, “Yeah, if you’re going to get us junk food, of course we’re going to eat it because we don’t really know any better. That’s all we have available because you can’t really afford much outs and stuff.” That’s what we were doing. And it was real. I got frustrated with how my body was reacting and performing and recognizing, “Wow, when you can fuel efficiently, but also have that positive connection with it, it changes your life.” I’m climbing, I’m stronger than I ever have. I still play soccer but I don’t have the ball or obviously stay away from other people. But I’m playing stronger than I ever have and I’m significantly older now, so yeah.
Britt Reuter: Oh my gosh. Yeah, totally! Feeling younger every day because of the power of nutrition.
Yvette Waters: Yeah. Love it.
Britt Reuter: I mean more mature, but they say that it’s your biological age versus your chronological age. Your biological age is based on how you care for your body.
Yvette Waters: You really do. And your body is fascinating too. It’s really starting to learn it and see how adaptive it is. It’s cool. otally the nutrition nerd every time.
Britt Reuter: Yeah. I just going to say I love needing out on that stuff, but it’s funny that we would use the same word.
Yvette Waters: Exactly. Ha-ha!
Will you tell us a little bit about your job title and kind of describe what it is that you do?
Britt Reuter: You have a very interesting job title, I think, at Raley’s. Will you tell us a little bit about that job title and kind of describe what it is that you do there?
Yvette Waters: Oh Man. Yeah. Nutrition strategists and brand influencer. Say that ten-times fast. AKA it’s like corporate dieticians. As you said it’s a family owned company. It’s been family owned since 1935. We have about 129 stores. I work out of the corporate office, but I run the nutrition for all 129 stores and we have about six different banners now. They are kind of on their own different type of journey too. Developing that information that fits every single store can be, it takes, it can be really interesting. But our biggest thing is to kind of help healthy happen. And so, I create main strategies and health campaigns. I’m really focusing in on transparency and providing our customers and informed decision. We’re never going to say, “Only eat this” or “You’re an awful person” or “This is bad.” We’re not going to say that, but we are going to provide an informed decision.
We do a series called “bold moves” and it’s really strong. At the check stand we got rid of all conventional candy. We lowered the amount down to only my 25% of the check stands, having more “better for you” options. It has Justin’s, it doesn’t have Reese’s or anything that. We didn’t get rid of it out of store but we did pull it off of the check stands and also provided some different, healthier or more unique alternatives. They have all of this out there. Jerky, they only have water, they don’t have soda in the front end. We also took our sugary cereals, so anything that was 25% or more calories coming from added sugar, and pretty much told our CPGs, our consumer packaging goods, this is the big companies, Kellogg’s, General Mills, things like, “Hey, we’re moving your, you’re stuck down to the very bottom shelf, which is considered the ‘dead-zone’ in retail and we’re identifying the ones that are higher in added sugar and we’re not taking promotional money from you anymore.” Really pushing and starting that conversation and that I drove those. I did the science of its calculations, looking into the ingredients, creating programs that are challenging cause we want to be an advocate for the consumer. We want everybody in the retail aspect of things and the manufacturing aspect of things and the faulty, confusing marketing claims to essentially do better. I help them strategize that, I work with my merchants doing product assortments, and providing them the tools, but also sitting in and with the main, the CEO owner of the company and kind of challenging some of some of our initiatives there making sure that we’re aligned with going along with our mission. It’s really cool. It’s a, it’s a fantastic role. It’s a lot, but we do a lot of, a lot of different things with that, a lot of different PR. Pretty much they animated me.
Britt Reuter: Oh! Where can we fit animation?
Yvette Waters: They’re just coming up now on our Facebook pages and they are hilarious. It’s really weird. It’s about clean ingredient acts. Like, what is potassium bromate even? And it’s forming into just doing different forms of education. And then anything nutrition messaging has to kind of go through me. They’ll send it my way like, “Is this ok to say?” and providing the resources and references. It’s cool. It’s a lot of fun. It’s different every day, which is nice.
Britt Reuter: It does sound a ton of variety and a lot of responsibility. That’s cool. That you have that and it sounds they really honor your perspective. They’re trying to do so much even in a progressive way that I imagine is at an actual expense to them. They’re investing in their people.
Yvette Waters: Yeah, exactly. I mean you put it perfectly. And I love that that’s what came of that learning. They are very progressive and they do do it at the expense. It is costing a lot of money to align with that kind of stuff. And the nice part is sometimes in that field and the retail dietician field, it tends to be, “Well, how do I do store demos? How can I do in-store tours?”, and building recipes and stuff. I think it’s really beautiful and there’s definitely a spot for that. But, in my role they’ve empowered me with the stronger decisions and in those conversations more. And we make not necessarily the most attractive or lucrative decisions, but always having that understanding for health and nutrition because my owner has a really strong passion for it. So, it’s easy to work for in that type of environment. And he’s texting me constantly saying, “Have you read this? Read this book.” It’s a fantastic experience and such, and it’s really awesome working for a family owned company because there’s a lot of appreciation and passion there.
To us it’s more about providing the transparency, than it is to not allowing certain products and because we’re not going to say, “Oh, we know what’s better for you.” That’s kind of the nice part about it.
Britt Reuter: Yeah. I imagine that, some of the things that you said kind of make me think that people that are going into the store and they do want to make healthy choices but in a ‘fit of passion’ or something where you’re just like, “Well, I’m looking at this coke. I wasn’t planning on buying it but I will because I’m right here and it’s looking at me and now, I want it.” But by almost removing it from that main eye sight either where it is on the shelf or at the checkout line when you’re standing there waiting your turn, just by kind of slightly obscuring it, making it just a little bit less convenient people are like, “I don’t need that anyway.”
Yvette Waters: Yeah, exactly. It’s never, it’s not going to, we don’t attack different ones. And if an individual wants a soda, enjoy that soda, hey go for it. There is those point of purchase decisions that can kind of help at least maybe broaden or expand on something you haven’t tried before. Instead of that soda there’s a soda water here. Or, a tea I’m kind of curious about, I’ve seen it around, let me just try it out and see what I think. Or, man I really don’t want to Reese’s today but there’s olives here, this little cute little tiny pack of a couple of olives here. Wherever they’re at on their health journey. Over here keto is huge. Providing, keto-friendly options, lower carb options but also the ones that if you want to indulge, you’re welcome to. And that’s Raley’s has a, we’re not in any form of a niche market. We are a conventional grocery store our demographic really, really ranges. To us it’s more about providing the transparency, than it is to not allowing certain products and because we’re not going to say, “Oh, we know what’s better for you.” That’s kind of the nice part about it.
Britt Reuter: Yeah, I’m sure that a lot of parents probably appreciate that too. I know that the ‘nag factor’ where kids are asking their mom “I want it, I want it” can lead to things getting into the shopping cart or a basket that you didn’t intend. And I feel like what you’re saying is that the consumers are really empowered to make the decisions that they feel is right for them and they can stick with the grocery list that they brought in with them and leave with those things and as a chain aren’t going to pressure them to try to make decisions that are bad, like “Here’s some candy in your face, buy this.” People really feel pressured.
Yvette Waters: They do, they do. And there’s a lot of strategic plays that happen on that floor, a lot of money for promotional products, and stuff that. It’s just really trying to create that balanced shopping experience.
Britt Reuter: I wish that I lived out there because then I would shop there, but I literally couldn’t be further. Pretty awesome. I’ll visit, I’ll stock up, I’ll fly back. That’s a business expense. It’s fine. Nice. Research.
What do you feel is the most impactful thing that someone can do to start improving their health through nutrition today?
Let’s say that someone is watching this who might be feeling a little bit stuck or maybe they haven’t taken too much interest in their eating habits yet. Maybe it’s something that they’ve been doing kind of unconsciously. What do you feel is the most impactful thing that someone can do to start improving their health through nutrition today?
You’re doing great. There’s a lot going on in life. Forgive yourself at first, start drinking just a little bit more water and then create one small change that you can do on a daily basis and work on that for two to three weeks.
Yvette Waters: I love that. That’s always such an important question. When people are asking me that the first thing, I always say is just start drinking more water. That’s all you need to do. Just start there, drink a little bit more water, see where that goes. But really, it’s more, instead of creating kind of an unsustainable for a long period time restrictive diet, it’s more about lifestyle modifications and that takes more time. That takes more understanding of yourself. But, to me it’s really important for the people that are out there that are interested in, or not sure what to do is forgive yourself to start. You’re doing great. There’s a lot going on in life. Forgive yourself at first, start drinking just a little bit more water and then create one small change that you can do on a daily basis and work on that for two to three weeks. As that starts to feel a habit and easier, then find the next small thing to start. That’s the tactic I go to. Food can either really be a fuel for your body, can be a positive experience, or it can really be a stressor. And absolutely that can affect you down to a hormonal level. Understanding that food can be fuel, can actually help you down to a hormonal level, help those stress levels, create those better sleep habits. It’s really kind of ripple effects in a positive way. Just doing that one small, small little thing. If you want to enjoy that cookie, enjoy that cookie, but maybe eat it just a little bit slower. Really appreciate the experience of having that cookie and then don’t get upset with yourself after, even if you’re on a stricter diet, that’s okay. Learn about your body, but it might not be sustainable over a long period of time. Look what is sustainable to you and your lifestyle. That’s what I would probably say.
Britt Reuter: That’s beautiful advice. I really love that. You did a great job on that. I think everybody has something that they can take away from that. Give yourself some credit, give yourself a pat on the back and stay hydrated.
Yvette Waters: Yeah.
Britt Reuter: It’s always that one small change and it can really have a ripple effect like you’re saying. And its sustainability and I love your emphasis.
Yvette Waters: Absolutely. Yeah. Good. Empower yourself. Cause it’s truly is important. We hear a lot of it. It’s trendy right now, mindfulness, intuitiveness and stuff, but it can be a very, very strong thing to do.
Where can people learn more about you and connect?
Britt Reuter: Yeah, absolutely. Awesome. This has just been a great conversation. And, I’m sure that anyone who’s watching this they’ve just been delighted and they want to know how they can stay in touch with you, get connected. Where can people learn more about you and connect?
Yvette Waters: Yeah, absolutely. I mean I am on LinkedIn and Twitter, just @YvetteWaters, YvetteWaters19 I believe. Mostly I focused on Facebook and Instagram. Work initiatives and stuff a lot on Twitter and LinkedIn, we definitely ask to get supported and see what type of moves that Raley’s is making. For myself, Yvette Waters on Facebook and then also YvetteWaters_RDN at Instagram. It’s really more personal of a profile but lots of adventures.
Britt Reuter: I’ll be sure to link to some of those in the notes when I transcribe this so that people can access it readily if they think that they just found their new best friend in you.
Yvette Waters: I love meeting new people. And if people ever have any questions, I’m always happy to help and support you on your journey.
Britt Reuter: Yeah, you’re such a great resource and I’m really enjoying, being friends with you on social.
Yvette Waters: Yes. Thank you.
Britt Reuter: So much fun. Thanks for joining me today and thanks to anyone who’s watching this for taking along with this conversation with Women in Wellness.