Theresa McConnell

Theresa (Tee) McConnell is a nutrition coach, registered nurse, and creator of NuLeaf Nutrition. Her passion for health and nutrition came from her own struggles with diet and weight loss. For years, she struggled with fad diets that promised results but ultimately failed. This struggle led to the creation of her company, NuLeaf Nutrition, which focuses on a holistic approach to diet and fitness. The goal of the company is to challenge commonly held beliefs that to be on a diet means to be miserable.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Theresa also spent several years in the US Air Force, earned her Registered Nurse License, and also happens to be a proud foodie that indulges in her favorite foods such as tacos and donuts.

She also enjoys a wide range of pursuits such as photography and yoga. She particularly enjoys the freedom of being outdoors in the natural world and takes every opportunity to enjoy it when she can with her family.

Join Theresa as she uncovers systemic problems with fad diets and leads nutrition and healthcare down a new path.

Instagram: @nuleaf_nutrition_coach

Website: www.nuleafnutrition.online

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Theresa McConnell Shares Her Unique Journey From Nurse to Entrepreneur and Wellness Coach

Pamela Bardhi
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Underdog. Today, I have an amazing guest here with me today. Theresa McConnell, how are you?

Theresa McConnell
I’m doing fantastic. How about you? I’m excited to be here with you.

Pamela Bardhi
Oh, I’m so excited to have you here. You’re such an awesome spirit and you’re doing so many amazing things in the world right now. And I just can’t wait to get into your story. For those of you who are listening. T is just absolutely incredible. She has such an amazing journey. And what she’s working on now is really remarkable. So I got to start off with this question of where did you find the inspiration, to get to where you are today. What has led you to your journey to where you are today?

Theresa McConnell
That is such a great question, Pamela, I love to share the story just because I was going through a lot of things in life. And just being in a situation where I had the degree and I was in a job that was stable. But it wasn’t something I was passionate about though. So just a little background, I’m a registered nurse and I was working at a clinic. Just doing my thing, doing what I was supposed to be doing. But I was doing nutrition coaching on the side. So, I had that whole background. Anatomy, physiology, and nutrition all that stuff as well as patient care. And so I had all the ingredients to go into nutrition coaching, health coaching, but I was so scared to do it. I had that dream, but I was so scared to really get into it.

But last year, I ended up getting furloughed as a nurse. I know that sounds crazy. How did you get furloughed as a nurse? Yes, it did happen. But it was such an important moment, I want to say, my life. Because it’s kind of like that, aha, like now’s the time. Now’s the time to do what you want to do with your nursing nutrition background. So I decided to launch my business. And it’s kind of crazy during a pandemic, but I think it takes a little bit of craziness to be an entrepreneur and a business owner. I definitely have that craziness and so, I just decided to go for it. So early last year, I launched New Leaf Nutrition, and it is a women’s lifestyle, nutrition health brand, pretty much. And it’s been a fun ride ever since. It’s been a roller coaster, but definitely exciting.

Pamela Bardhi
I love that, I mean, there’s a story, and like, what really inspired you, in the beginning, to go down the medical route, like the route In the beginning?

Theresa McConnell
Yes. So my passion really came from helping people, so growing up. I always had this strong desire to help people and I’m kind of like a science nerd as well. So it matched up well and I just loved helping people interact with people. And I thought that was like a fantastic way to merge all my passions, as well, so definitely.

Pamela Bardhi
That’s amazing. And who inspired you throughout your journey when you were younger? Just in your journey? in general? Was there a particular person, if you will?

Theresa McConnell
Pamela, I’m gonna be totally honest about this. like growing up, I kind of grew up in a little bit of a rough situation. I had a really chaotic family life, so I did a lot of things on my own. So, I had to find the desire kind of deep within myself. And so anytime I found something that sparked my spirit. I really found joy in it and went for it and I ended up. Just learning from the lessons of having that rocky childhood ended up leaning on myself. Learning how to just trust my own intuition.

And I feel like it’s helped me so much, especially as an entrepreneur. It gave me kind of that grit and I think you’d have to agree with me on this. To be an entrepreneur, you need some grit and it’s not always the smoothest ride. But I am thankful for those challenging moments in life. Especially early on because it gave me all that, to really begin a business I am passionate about.

Pamela Bardhi
That’s incredible. The challenge is what we speak of on underdog all the time, like, exactly. How do you get over those challenges? What were some of the hardest challenges that you’ve been through? The only reason I asked this is because people were listening. You just never know who’s going through what. And it’s like, by you sharing and you letting us know, like, Hey. This is how I overcame this when also it might help.

Theresa McConnell
This is what I loved about your podcast. And just like everything about it was just putting yourself out there, your vulnerability. So that others can be inspired by it, so I love that you’re giving me this opportunity to share my story. That hopefully I can inspire some people that are going through a similar situation, give some hope, like, hey, if I can do it, you can definitely do it too. So I want to start early childhood, it was tough. I didn’t really have much of a family, so I know that sounds weird. And I have the toughest time saying it. Like, I didn’t really have much of family life. My mother suffered from a lot of mental illness, so started with postpartum depression. She had a very hard time raising me.

And so she ended up remarrying and then the guy that she ended up becoming my stepfather was also abusive. So my mother was abusive. And my stepfather was abusive, but growing up it started at a really young age, so I didn’t know that it was bad. But they always say like your first, let’s say, from one to seven. Those are the most important years. Because that’s where you’re getting all your programming. So I got programmed with a lot of negativity, it really affected me through life. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I got out of that negative space.

And so yeah, it was definitely rough, for sure. But I knew deep inside, I had so much passion within me growing up. Because I went through all those hardships and just having to see my friends. Have an amazing family life and I was jealous of that. I will admit, I was jealous of friends that had moms. That make them cookies and stuff. Because I never had that, I never had any of that stability growing up. But it really sparked something in me. I will say that it really sparked a fire in me like, Hey. I’m getting out of this situation, because I know I can do better.

So I developed that spark when I was in my teens. And it really helped me get out of that situation. So I left home when I was 18, I actually joined the Air Force. And I will credit that as one of the most amazing. It was a hard decision because it’s so out of my comfort zone. I had no stability in my life and then to go to such a structured environment, like the military, is kind of insane.

But I feel like that’s safe. Going to the military really saved my life, because it took me out of that abusive environment. And let me pursue a degree in nursing. Then I didn’t have to pay for it and it really gave me confidence like, Hey. I got myself and that’s amazing at 18. Like, I got myself out of that situation. Now, I’m making money for myself and I’m putting myself through college. So that I would say was a big moment in my life for sure.

Pamela Bardhi
Amazing. Thank you so much for sharing that too. Yeah, I love that. And I mean, throughout your moments and what kept you inspired in some of like. The roughest moments that you’ve had. Or even just, in general, like to date? What’s something that’s really constantly inspired you. That there’s days that we all have, we’re just like.

Theresa McConnell
Yes, definitely, for sure. And this is gonna sound weird, but I would find the inspiration. Some of the littlest things, but it helped me so much. So I was having a rough day, just like hearing some really good music. And like clinged on to that as a child, like finding pleasure and like little things. Maybe it was like a fun cartoon episode or eating something yummy. Or being able to hang out with friends just being outside. I would find joy in little things, even as a child, and that’s helped me, I’d say so much in life. So I do tell a lot of people that I coach. Look for those things, because there’s beauty all around us. You just have to change your perspective a little bit and look at the roughest moments.

Pamela Bardhi
Right. Totally. Oh my gosh, I love that. Find beauty in the little things.

Theresa McConnell
Yes. And you’ll find inspiration, literally everything even like some song. That you’re listening to on the radio. It’ll just help raise up your vibration for the day like you’re feeling good, you know? So that’s something I’ve done, like persists, like consistently. Throughout my life and it’s helped me so much.

Pamela Bardhi
I love that and I love that you turned to music. Because that’s what it was for me even to this day. If I have a bad day if I just go out and I drive through the city and I just blaring my music. It just releases, yeah things and it’s so crazy how music can do that. So like, for you, basically you found an outlet. Which I think is so important.

And for anyone who’s listening, it’s like, you need to find your outlet, what is it? Because if you don’t find one that’s healthy, you’re gonna find one that’s not healthy. It’s either one or the other. There is no in-between. And I’ve seen it through so many times. Has that been your experience to take? Have you noticed? Anybody who is not conscientious about how they use their outlet. Always ends up in some crazy scenario.

Theresa McConnell
That is so true. And I definitely see that a lot as a coach, too. So a lot of clients come to my outlet, so let’s say they’re having a rough day. They’ll grab a bunch of food or alcohol. Alcohol is definitely a big one. I’ve definitely seen that a lot, especially since the pandemic started. So they’re grabbing the alcohol, they’re finding destructive behavior. But if you can channel that energy to something positive, but I also used working out as an outlet. Because I had a lot of energy and that served me really well.

So I’ll tell people, you don’t have to lift if you don’t want to lift. But find something that works for you that gets your body moving. Because it does something for you, so you’re moving your body physically. It has a positive impact on you mentally as well. So, hey, maybe you want to do something slower? Do some yoga or dance to music, right? If you’re into music, find what brings you joy. I think that’s really important. For sure. Like you’re saying, having that positive outlet is a game-changer.

Coach Tee AHA Moment To Pivot From Nursing To Coaching

Pamela Bardhi
Absolutely. And now for you to transition. So you went from the Air Force, then you went into nursing. You pivoted into coaching, what was like your ‘aha’ moment to switch and pivot from nursing to coaching?

Theresa McConnell
So this is really interesting, so I always loved nursing. Because of the fact that I can help people. I can educate people. It was great. But I really wanted that nutrition piece in there. Because that’s really what I’m passionate about. I feel like there’s so much information out there. We kind of have this problem, we have too much information, we can Google everything. But it confuses a lot of people, so if I can just streamline the whole process for them and educate them. It just works out really well.

So I’m really passionate about that, so I kind of merged the two. I took my nursing background and I merged it with the cook nutrition coaching. Kind of did my own thing within I think it’s made me an amazing coach. But I want to say like, it’s made me a great coach. Because I have a science background, with patient care, all that stuff within nutrition. So I really just merged into my own thing. And that’s what I offer my clients, I hope it’s good, I think they like it.

Pamela Bardhi
It’s really cool that you embed nutrition as part of it. And you also have a nursing background. So like, you know what it actually is. You know, the science behind of health just in totality as a nurse. Then you also add a nutrition piece. Because I feel like sometimes a lot of people like it’s either one side or the other. Either you have the holistic, completely and then you have the nursing part. That’s like what you learn in school and they’re totally separate. Like I’ve never met anyone intertwining both worlds. But the thing is, like when you intertwine both worlds, you become very dynamic. And you can answer a lot of questions. Because you’re using research from two backgrounds.

Theresa McConnell
Yes, I think it’s really important to back things up with research too. So instead of just like I mentioned, there’s a lot of information out there on Google. But how much of it cannot be backed by science. And that’s really important to me, like, hey. This works from a scientific point of view. So I bring a lot of that in there kind of making, it so you can apply it to real-life situations. Instead of throwing out this data at you. It’s like, Hey, this is how you can apply it to your life. And I think it works really well.

Pamela Bardhi
I love that. That’s fantastic. No, I think so too. I think that you’re bringing the best of both worlds, which is really fantastic. And I mean, across your clients that you’ve had so far. You launched it in the middle of a pandemic. Okay, so you’re like, I’m just gonna launch this now? Is anyone switching from a traditional job? And going straight into entrepreneurship? Sounds like you’re almost forced into it, but you’re just a little bit. Yeah,

Theresa McConnell
I was all for it, though, I was like, let’s do it.

Pamela Bardhi
Love it. But like, what challenges have you been through in the beginning of entrepreneurship since you started? And have you gotten sort of past that because a lot of people are so petrified, to take that plunge? Because you’ve applied for another job. You could add on that you probably would have been hired easily. COVID but you know what have been some of the challenges. And how have you overcome them throughout launching your business literally an event?

Theresa McConnell
I think the biggest challenge, I would say, is the mental aspect of it. Because you’re not going to have a lot of people agreeing with you. Pamela, when you’re an entrepreneur, you have a lot of people asking you like. What are you doing? Why are you doing this? And you have to find it within yourself. You have to have that confidence in yourself or have that drive or passion be like, no, I believe in this.

And I believe in it strongly enough to pursue it and see it as a dream and then make it happen. So that was the toughest part, especially in the beginning, I still go through it now, you know. Listening to family members, like what are you doing? You have a nursing degree and you’re trying to be a business owner during a pandemic, you’re just crazy, right? I’m lucky. Yes. But it’s really exciting. And I’m so passionate about it.

Pamela Bardhi
Amazing. What? Well, I mean, like, I know that has always happened to me. When I was shifting from my restaurants into the real estate world, everyone’s like, you have a college degree. You have these restaurants. Like, why are you going into real estate development, you don’t know anything about construction. You don’t know anything about this and I’ll never forget, like this one guy. Like, it motivated me so much. When he was literally sent to me, he’s like, stick to your restaurants and ice cream. And I was just like, what, in my mind, I’m like, this guy. He always acted like a family friend, like he did. His and then like, all of a sudden, I’m like, super excited telling him about like, here’s my first flip that I’m buying.

Like, I’m super excited at my restaurants and he’s just like, stick to your restaurants. That phrase lit up my whole life. I am gonna show up to this man’s literal business. If he still owns it in like 10 years from now and like literally a brand new Lambo. I was like, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. So it’s funny how sometimes, like certain things that people say. Actually motivate you further, because you’re like. If you’re thinking that and you’re somebody who’s close, somewhat close to me. What’s the rest of the world thinking? Because of his thinking, like to imagine what other people think.

So I’m like, they’re gonna be like, Oh, she can’t do it. Like, no, I’m gonna prove you wrong. Yeah, I think that that’s like an underdog trait, but it’s just like. What people just tell you’re just like, No, I don’t agree. But okay, thank you for your input and there’s a way to do it. And that’s exactly what I said to him. I was like, it’s okay. Thank you, for your input appreciate you looking out. And then the back of my mind, I’m like, pull up in limbo it is. So I think it’s awesome that you didn’t listen because a lot of people give in.

Theresa McConnell
It’s a big thing in entrepreneurship. If everybody is listening, if you’re an entrepreneur and your family’s telling you like, hey, you’re crazy. This is not going anywhere. Don’t listen, listen to yourself, to your gut, and your intuition. That’s gonna be your biggest thing throughout this journey. So I can’t say it’s like the smoothest ride. But it’s definitely exciting. And you’ll never be bored. That’s for sure. Right?

Pamela Bardhi
I love it so much. And now, so in your coaching world and mixing it with the nutrition and also your nursing background. What are some of the biggest challenges that people come to you with? And how do you sort of help them get past that?

Theresa McConnell
Right, so that is such a fantastic question, Pamela. I’m gonna say this is the biggest challenge for most people. Especially when it comes to weight loss, it’s a mental game. 90% of it is psychological. I will say that every time because we’ll be doing fantastic in a programme. So the first month, they’re killing it, they’re losing weight, they’re feeling good, looking good all that stuff. They will hit a block because the weight stalls on the scale. And it misses them so much mentally, I see this happen so many times. So my job as a coach is to be there for up that support and say like, hey, this happens to everybody.

Don’t just rely on the scale for your progress. You know, there are other ways to assess your progress. So I really want to make sure I offer that support. Because I see this happen pretty much in every client actually. When they see that weight loss starts to slow down or stop. They will want to just give up and I’m planning on that. This is not the time to give them now we push. Now is the time to push so that is probably the hardest part of their journey. I guess it’s just to get over that mental block, I think Pamela. That goes for everything in life, a lot of this is a big mental game, right?

Pamela Bardhi
Totally. And I had this quote, If you tell yourself you can, then you can, if you tell us Yeah, yeah, you’re still right. If you are like, oh, I can’t do this, you’re not gonna do it. You say, if you sit there and you’re like, I don’t care what I have to do to get there, I’m going to get there. The barriers you create in your mind, are only mental. And I tell people that all the time. Why are you by yourself? There is no limit to what you can do. None? Absolutely not. You set your own barriers on that and I always say like. Society has a way but with stereotypes and all the things that are fed into the mind, right? That they create these limitations in your mind, but like, their mere thoughts.

And if you can learn how to challenge those thoughts, so a whole other level to the game. For example, like, I don’t think about like, nothing’s out of reach, in my mind. I like to tell people that one day, I’m gonna interview Oprah, like. It’s gonna be an underdog and they’re like, yeah, so funny, It’s hilarious. I’m just like, No, I will, what I’m going through, you know, right. So it’s like the same thing and it’s like. You know, in your world. How do you help them sort of get over that block? When they come to that mental sort of shift that they’re like, not, they’re stopping? And you’re like, Okay, okay, how do I get them back up?

Theresa McConnell
Definitely a great question. So I do a lot of mindset work, actually, so with my program. The focus is on weight loss and establishing lifestyle habits. But one of the key things, because I’ve seen this a lot with clients is that whole mental side. So I do a lot of mindset work. And I think that’s important for everybody, not just people on a weight loss journey. That I took a lot of mindset work myself to. Do you do anything Pamela to help you? Because you’re telling us a little bit how your mind works. How do you not believe in various things? What did you do to get there, kind of like mentally?

Pamela Bardhi
Oh, so much self-development work? Yeah, years of endless like mentors and watching other people go through certain situations and seeing their outcome. And just like, years of observing in years of being like, Okay. What self-limiting beliefs am I putting on myself and just like, all kinds of just trying to analyze myself first? I think it starts with understanding your emotions because understanding yourself is like too much of a loaded question. Because we’re all only evolving, so like. We actually will never get to know our true selves, because we’re always changing.

But the one thing that we could do is become aware of our emotions. So like what’s a trigger that gets me pissed off? Or what’s trigger things that do make me happy, like different things and like, learning? And like, before, when I was younger, I was a hothead. You’d said something to me, like, I would go off. And somebody mentioned my name in their mouth,I would be in that person’s face in a matter of 05 seconds and be like. What do you think? Yes. Just say like, I want to hear you say it. Like, again, like real quick, like to my face, though. Don’t say this, like it’s hot.

I used to let energies get to me so much because I’m like. Why would this person say something about me? When I like, have no business? I was always that kid. Like I was just living life, I was like a triathlete. My life was just like, set and like, I never talked crap about people. Whenever I would be out with friends or whatever. Like, I was just always there to have a good time, I never care about gossip. So like, when people will talk about me, I’d be so pissed off cuz I’m like. What did I do, I haven’t said a word about you and then like it would get to me. And I’m like, I never realized how badly I was reacting and letting those emotions in. Then that was consuming my thoughts and then, my thoughts would become negative and angry.

So I think it starts from my mindset stuff, I think it really does start with like. Becoming aware of like, what makes you tick, what makes you happy? What kind of analyzing that and then, kind of like shifting from there. Understanding that like, you can’t just let somebody in like that. A ship will never sink unless water gets into it. You only will be bogged down by what you allow inside. So it’s like for me it was like learning how to become bulletproof, was just that protecting my energy.

Pam doesn’t react, because if you react it’s gonna affect this. It was like years of this cycle of learning and learning. But that’s I think the first thing, that I did was really dive deep and be aware of how I was responding and why I was responding that way. And kind of like training your mind, because like you can’t just don’t happen overnight. Unfortunately, you’re there like, Oh my god, here I am furious again. It takes time and then eventually becomes a habit and eventually you’re okay. But yeah, it’s really fascinating how that all sort of plays out to be honest.

Theresa McConnell
Yeah, for sure. But that mindset works so important for everybody. Especially when you’re trying to reach goals and you’re facing those obstacles. That mindset of work that you’re doing is what’s gonna, like, get you through that. Because without a doubt, no matter what you’re doing, you’re gonna face some kind of obstacle. But it’s up to you if you’re gonna let that get in your way. Or if you’re gonna be like, Nah, I got this right. So, I definitely got to do the mindset work.

Pamela Bardhi
Absolutely. I love that so much. And like, you know, in your world, like, as you’ve been evolving for the pandemic, as a business, like, how has that been? Like, taking a business in the middle of COVID? How I was a bit because obviously everything had to be digital. Right?

Theresa McConnell
Right. I feel like if given a unique opportunity, actually to launch everything online, so it is different. But I think it teaches a lot of people the importance of being able to pivot. And being able to be flexible, like, hey, things happen in life. So it’s your choice if you’re going to be bogged down by all the obstacles. Or find a way to like, get over it, so I think that what separates a lot of people is your mindset. And your determination, like it all, determines your direction and how you handle things. So it really just taught me how to be flexible. If I am okay if this doesn’t work. Let’s figure out another way, let’s find a way around it. I think that’s a very important lesson that, I learned launching a business in a pandemic.

Pamela Bardhi
I love that. And like throughout your experience so far, what would be your number one tip for anyone. Who’s thinking about it, like, Wait last minute, no. Because now we’re in the wintertime and everyone’s summerbud. What would be your biggest tip there?

Theresa McConnell
My biggest tip is to just go for it. If you are not happy with where you are. Take accountability of your own life and your own health. And you can do something about it, you have it all within you to do something. So if you want that change, don’t let anything stop. You just go for it today. Don’t wait till next Monday. Because everyone keeps wanting to like, oh, I’ll just start it on a Monday, right? Well, today is Monday. You know what I mean? Don’t wait, if you want to make that change. Find that fire inside of you and make that happen. Make it happen.

Pamela Bardhi
I love that. And now like in your experience today, right? Like. What would your older self tell your younger self, based on what you know, now?

Theresa McConnell
Let go of the doubts. Just let it go. You only have one life to live. So make it memorable. Go after your dreams and what really sparks that fire in you?

Pamela Bardhi
And now for you? What are you up to these days? I know you’ve mentioned the coaching program, what’s upcoming? What’s upcoming with you?

Theresa McConnell
Yes, so definitely, with the coaching business. I’m really working on expanding and a lot of growth. And it’s been super exciting as well. I also recently launched the podcast, it’s such an exciting opportunity. I’m doing it with my friend and fellow nurse and health coach. Her name Samantha Rambo and the podcast is called nurses corner. And we are just trying our best to educate people through my talk about healthy habits. So we’re not advocating for anything crazy, like starving yourself kind of died. But we’re talking about relevant health topics.

And I think the biggest thing is action steps to say here’s what you can do. So we always try to add some really solid action tips in every episode that we do, so here’s some information. Here’s what you can do about it. Yeah, I hope to keep adding some interesting episodes. I know we have some great plans for it. So working on expanding all that right now. And of course, like making an impact on as many people as possible. I think that the biggest thing for me is really being able to have this opportunity to change lives.

Pamela Bardhi
I love that. And now like where Can everybody find you and your awesomeness.

Theresa McConnell
My main platform, I do a lot of my marketing on Instagram. So you can find me on nuleaf nutrition coach on Instagram. I also have a website that you guys can check out. If you guys have any questions about nutrition lifestyle, definitely don’t hesitate to message me, I love talking with people, I love connecting online. That’s how I met you just like connecting through Instagram and stuff. So I love that opportunity just to connect with people and educate people, so please don’t hesitate.

Pamela Bardhi
Thank you so much. It’s such an honor having you here today. You’re so awesome and inspiring.

Theresa McConnell
Thank you so much, Pamela. I love being able to just hang out with you.

 

 

Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with the amazing Theresa McConnell.