In this episode of #FearlessFounders, I’m so honored and excited to have my dear friend Alex Jamieson, who is a best selling author, holistic nutrition and life coach, detox expert, gourmet chef, among many other things. She is truly a testament to a fearless woman and has created a wildly successful business that is driven by her passion for health and food.
In this interview, we’ll really get into:
- How being a co-creator of the Oscar-nominated documentary, “Super Size Me”, helped jump-start her journey to become a online health coach.
- How some very personal obstacles and challenges impacted her business, life, and well-being, and how she overcame it to find a new path, business model, and lifestyle that really worked for her.
- How she became such a thought leader and leader of this movement to help women embrace their cravings, make peace with food and reclaim their bodies
So grab your favorite guilty pleasure (no shame!), and sit back to enjoy the show. And when you’re done, check out and share her cravings type quiz to see what your cravings mean for you and your friends.
Connect With Alex
Alexandra Jamieson CHHC, AADP, is a best-selling author, holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach, detox expert, professionally trained healthy gourmet chef, and “cravings whisperer.” She has been seen on Oprah, Martha Stewart Living, CNN, Fox News, USA Today and People Magazine. Alex was the co-star and co-creator of the Oscar-nominated documentary Super Size Me and the The Great American Detox Diet and offers remarkably sane – and tasty – advice on how to detox, live healthfully and feel fantastic. Her books Vegan Living For Dummies, and Vegan Cooking For Dummies offer plant-based advice to anyone who wants to eat healthier. Her forthcoming book Women, Food & Desire will be published January, 2015. She lives in Brooklyn where she juggles, somewhat gracefully, raising her 7 year old son, running her company AlexandraJamieson.com, and riding her bicycle to the food co-op.
Alex Jamieson Interview Transcription
0:03 Sara: Okay I think we’re on. Alright, hi.
0:06 Alex: Hi.
0:07 Sara: It’s so good to see you.
0:09 Alex: You too. This is fun.
0:10 Sara: Okay so, I’m so excited to have you on here because you’re one of the women that I truly believe as a fearless entrepreneur has taken so many risks in your career and I think that our viewers are gonna learn so much from you, so I’m so excited to have you.
0:27 Alex: Absolutely. Well let me just say that fearless, I don’t really know if I know what fearless feels like. I do, I mean sometimes, sometimes you go for something and feels so right that you just do it and sometimes you’re going for something and you like oh my gosh this is the scariest thing I’ve ever done and you just do it anyway.
0:49 Sara: Absolutely.
0:50 Alex: Sometimes fearlessness is about feeling the fear and going for it anyway.
0:56 Sara: Yeah, yeah using that fear as fuel right, and to take risks. Okay so I’d love to start with your background and where you got started.
1:09 Alex: Okay, so I grew up outside Portland, Oregon and neither of my parents were entrepreneurs. My father is a lifelong educator, teacher, high school principal. My mom was an artist so maybe she was just a little bit entrepreneurial but she just always had lots of projects going and was very creative, but wasn’t necessarily a successful entrepreneur. You know she was a serial entrepreneur an artist always making things for people and always really involved and engaged but didn’t necessarily know how to make or generate a good income from it.
So, I always thought I was going to be a teacher when I grew up or be a writer and I ended up becoming a writer but I got really into health in my early twenties because I got really sick and I was 30 pounds overweight and I was suffering from migraine headaches almost every day and tons of joint and body pain and really just depressed and exhausted all the time and it had kind of come on over the course of about six months and I grew up in this really, you know outside of Portland, Oregon I grew up on this old organic farm, my mom had an organic gardening radio show when I was a kid.
So I had this memory of being really healthy and knowing that there were natural ways to be well. Well I went to a doctor here in New York City where I had just moved and he wanted me to take pain killers and prozac to help me just deal with the issues.
2:50 Sara: Bandaid the symptoms.
2:52 Alex: Yes. And I was, you know I had these prescriptions in my hand and I was really scared. I, I had this moment of clarity and oh this is a fork in the road because I have a family history of prescription drug abuse and overdose and I just, I did not want to go down that road and I wanted to feel good. You know I had been so inspired by Danielle LaPorte, “The Desire Map” and I’ve kind of transformed it into my work and health, like how do you wanna feel? In your body.
I don’t wanna be taking medication so I got fascinated by food and health, found a doctor that helped me clean up my body, do a detox, do a cleanse, and it just became my passion. You know, learning out to cook in this new vegan, whole foods way. You know, I had never heard of vegan before, I didn’t know any vegans, Whole Foods didn’t exist yet. You know this was 15 years ago and I decided to quit my job, I was working at a law firm. I thought I might go back to school and become a lawyer and I was like nope, that is not what I want.
4:03 Sara: Did you know that you were unhappy when you were at the law firm?
4:06 Alex: Yes. So when I got sick, when I started getting these headaches and weight gain and depression, I was working 10, 12 hour days in a law firm as an assistant. And I just didn’t care. I didn’t care about what I was doing. It was exhausting heavy work and when I started to feel better as I was changing my diet and cleaning my body and reading, you know I was like hiding books under my desk while I was supposed to be typing up letters for my boss so I was like reading books on health.
4:36 Sara: That’s like all of us in our corporate jobs right?
4:39 Alex: Totally, and at the time they wouldn’t let the assistants go in the internet because they
thought we would abuse it. So, you know I didn’t even have access to the outside world. It was all about
the library for me at that point. And I realized I have to, I have to take control of the trajectory of my life.
I was 25 at the time and I decided to quit my job, enroll in culinary school, get a loan, have my parents
co-sign on another student loan for me. Uh and I started working two different day jobs at a vintage
clothing store and then at a bar. Well I went to healthy cooking school all during the day and I worked at
the bar serving pints of beer at night.
5:24 Sara: Did you have this like inner voice that like or this intuition that was telling you like there has to
be something more, or I’m meant to do something bigger than this, or I’m just not happy, or what was
5:37 Alex: I didn’t even know where it was going. I just knew that I felt really passionate about this. And
the thing that I learned from both of my parents, you know my dad was a teacher and he was being
groomed by his father who was a high level executive, you know in the 50’s and 60’s, think madmen kind
of thing. Uh, You know my father was supposed to go on and be a businessman.
6:01 Alex: But he felt a calling to be a teacher and he made his career doing that and both of my parents
always told me, do what you love, the money will follow. Do what you love to do and the rest of your life
will be fine.
6:12 Sara: You are lucky to have parents that taught you that lesson.
6:16 Alex: So lucky. They’ve always been so supportive, so you know going to culinary school was a huge
undertaking, it was very expensive, but I just thought, I was just like, I don’t even know what I’m going
to do with this. I just know this is what I’m so into and it healed my body and if I can tell other people
how to do this, awesome.
6:36 Sara: Oh my gosh.
6:37 Alex: So, while I’m in culinary school and working at a bar all night, I meet this guy at the bar uh
named Morgan and he’s this young, budding filmmaker and we start dating and you know all I do is talk
about food and how all he is focused on is filmmaking and how to make it, break into the business and
after about a year of being together, we come up with the idea for “SuperSize Me”.
7:01 Sara: Okay so for our who don’t know what “SuperSize Me” is, what is it?
7:06 Alex: So, “SuperSize Me” is a documentary, it was really the first foodie documentary where Morgan
decided to eat nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days. Breakfast, lunch and dinner everything. And we
recorded what happened to him, he had doctors following his progress, you know I’m in the movie quite
a bit cause here I was this healthy vegan chef dating this guy who was eating nothing but junk food all
day long and he got really sick, really fast.
And you know I was following all these health giants in my world who weren’t well known in
the mainstream. So people like John Robbins and all these doctors, you know I was like, you have to go
interview these people because they’re the ones that inspired me and they’re not getting attention. So
we put them in “SuperSize Me” and it gave them a huge platform and it really reignited this conversation
around food as health and the movie got nominated for an Oscar, we went to Sundance. We went to
over 24 countries in a year premiering the movies in different countries.
So this little movie that we made because we were both just so passionate about it. You know
we put all of the, all of the costs to make this movie went on credit cards. It was like 60 grand, didn’t
know what was going to happen, if anyone was ever going to see it. Again it was like this leap of faith
that I took into culinary school. It was like the next leap of faith into making this movie.
8:37 Sara: Right, you weren’t planning on it being such a phenomenon and ending up on Oprah or red
8:43 Alex: Exactly, going to the Oscars and having people like giving me designer gowns to wear and like
60,000 dollars in earrings like this is more than my college education here on my year. You know?
8:56 Sara: Had you started your coaching practice at that time or?
9:00 Alex: So I was just going back to school, so after culinary school I worked as a private chef and I
worked in a couple of restaurants and I was really interested in working with people who needed to heal
their body and needed someone to help them with their food. So I was working with cancer patients and
going to people’s home and providing a whole weeks worth of food to help them deal specifically with
their health issues. And right about the time we started making “SuperSize Me” I re-enrolled in another
program to become a certified holistic health coach.
So just as the movie came out, I was now certified as a health coach and again all of this timing
just lined up and thank goodness I had a friend who was an early web designer. You know this was in
2002 and he said, do you have a web page? I was like no. He said, I’m gonna build you a web page for
500 bucks and you should really have a little thing where people can leave their name and email and I
was like, okay.
10:05 Sara: Right, no idea what options at that time or to strategically build your list, yeah.
10:11 Alex: There was no conversation at all. Thank goodness he did that for me I owe him my career
now basically because that, when the movie came out, the last few title cards at the end of the movie
were, if you wanna get healthy like Morgan did with Alex’s help, go to her website. So that’s how I
started building my list was from the movie.
10:30 Sara: Was veganism, at the time, mainstream even?
10:34 Alex: No. Nobody knew what vegan was it was very very radical.
10:38 Sara: But you were in New York and you’ve always been like learning researching and you know
doing your own thing so.
10:45 Alex: Yeah you know my brother had been vegetarian in high school and really I adopted veganism
because I was reading books and I read this Uh this book about how veganism could change your health
and I read it and was like oh this sounds like what I’m going through. So I’m gonna go vegan to deal
with all my health issues and it totally worked.
11:08 Sara: Absolutely. Okay so, so you had this list, you had all of these inquiries of people that wanted
to work with you and at the time did you consider yourself an entrepreneur even though you were?
11:20 Alex: I didn’t. I didn’t know what it was. I just thought oh well I’m a coach, so I’m a coach. But I
didn’t really think of myself as building a business. And because I had never seen anyone do it, except
for, for Morgan, and that was a totally different business model. You know that was being a filmmaker
and having a studio give you money to make a series, like totally different thing. So I have to be honest,
it wasn’t until, I’ve been in business now for 15 years but I don’t really feel like I became an entrepreneur
until a few years ago.
11:53 Sara: Right, that’s, I think that’s true of a lot of entrepreneurs, that especially if they’re passion
driven business, um I’m like, you’re an entrepreneur. You’re selling a commodity, you’re selling
something and it’s just their mindset a little bit differently of how they think of their business and how
they run this enterprise that they’re creating.
12:12 Alex: Right, right. And it can sometimes be, um, we sometimes are us passion, heart centered
entrepreneurs sometimes having a hard time putting a price on what we do. Because it’s just, it’s my
mission and it’s my life, like I’m here to help people, I’m here to do this thing, it’s my art. How can I
charge for this? So getting to place where you’re charging what you’re really worth, the value of your
services and your opinion, is something that a lot of us struggle with.
12:45 Sara: Okay so what happened after “SuperSize Me” then?
12:48 Alex: So after “SuperSize Me” I wrote my first book. And that was called The Great American Detox
Diet and it detailed everything that I helped Morgan do, it detailed my own story. And that was um, that
was a very lucky break for me in that the movie had so much attention around it, I was a chef and a
certified coach, so I was actually contacted by a publisher who said, we want you to write a book. That’s
not a normal story right? Most people who want to write a book, they have to go through the whole
process of like building the story and writing the book and proposal and then pitching it and getting an
agent and all this and I was very lucky in that that happened.
But, I had wanted to be a writer and I had been writing like it was the yearbook editor in high
school, I started a zine in college with friends, so I had some experience with this and I knew, okay I
can write a sample chapter about what this book will be. And that book was my, you know it was a great
advance I didn’t have to pay to put the proposal together and after that book came out it did pretty well,
it did pretty well, um and then I had my son with Morgan and.
14:07 Sara: In the middle of all that?
14:09 Alex: In the middle of all that. um and that was in, when was he born, 2006. So in 2006, just a
couple of year after the movie came out, you know I had been coaching, I wrote my first book. I decided
to take a couple of years off and have our son. I just wanted to be with him and that was all great, good
plan but, things kind of fell apart at that point. Our son was about a year old when, I won’t go into the
details but our marriage started to fall apart and Morgan’s career was getting bigger and bigger and
14:55 Sara: So you were already in the public eye a little bit for this.
14:59 Alex: Yeah, He was definitely more so he was out there, he was the face of all of his projects. I
was taking less and less part in them, you know I was still on a couple of his tv shows but it was very
slim amount of time and I said, you know I just want to take some time to be with our kid, and then the
marriage started to fall apart. And so here we were getting divorced, my career was totally on hold, I was
basically now a single mom and I had to kinda start all over again.
15:30 Sara: Wow, this whole time were you blogging or cause you were already positioned as a thought
leader and I know you had a website out there and you were already a published author. Were you doing
anything else to build your visibility as a brand or was it just this book at this point in time?
15:50 Alex: So, I was still, I was only blogging once a month because, you know, I was taking time off to
be with my kid.
15:59 Sara: It’s about bandwidth and priorities.
16:01 Alex: Yeah, exactly and you know, would I do it differently now if it happened again? Sure, but
it was fine I still had my list, I still had like 10 thousand people on my newsletter list who got an email
from me once a month with a recipe, it was very sweet. But I wasn’t selling anything. I wasn’t offering
anything it was just a recipe basically. Here I now am a divorced mom trying to create a business with
very little understanding of how the internet marketing world works.
So, I got my first coach. I hired someone who I knew pretty well and she had a good reputation
and she helped me create my first online programs and like get a marketing schedule down and
understand how to bring people in and that was like 2009.
16:56 Sara: So what was your decision to no longer be or were you still doing one on one coaching or
what appealed you to creating more of an online program and I think we can go into that because what
I love about everything that you’ve done, you’ve diversified yourself into all these different revenue
streams that a lot of coaches might not consider when it comes to scalability so I wanna kind of dive into
17:22 Alex: Sure, so I was just doing one on one coaching for a while and then I added one group
detox a year. That was a way to get, to work with more people at a time and create a way to scale my
business. My last program was 150 people going through the same cleanse at the same time and I hope
the next one is even bigger. It’s great to be able to get so much content out there and actually bring
people together in a way where they’re supporting each other which is wonderful. So I’m doing less but
more at the same time.
18:03 Sara: So you had your coaching business did you do like that as a side hustle to hire the coach that
you needed to learn more of the internet marketing and all that?
18:13 Alex: Yeah, you know I had my one on one clients, I had my group program and then I had
written these two books which were paying me almost nothing.
18:24 Sara: It’s an expensive business card right?
18:26 Alex: It’s a very expensive business card.
18:30 Sara: Okay so you hired a coach and you started learning more about this internet marketing thing
Okay and what was that experience like because you had to learn it all yourself, you couldn’t just hire an
agency to handle it for you.
18:45 Alex: Well that’s what I’ve learned over the years is that you really have to learn how to do
everything yourself. You really have to know how your email platform works. You have to write your
own stuff. You have to know how your business runs on a micro level and then you can hand it off to
19:07 Sara: It’s so funny, so many entrepreneurs say that because you have to learn so many different
facets of the business inside and out aside from what your passion is and what you’re selling. So I
love that you touch on that and the whole time you’re a single mother and you’re diving in and you’re
launching these group programs and everything. Were you into personal, you know talked a lot about
personal growth and you went through this huge transition and were you balancing out as you’re building
your business like discovering who you are as a woman or what did that process look like?
19:42 Alex: Absolutely, you know it’s, I don’t know if I believe in balance I think it’s, you’re constantly
dancing through life and sometimes the rhythm is faster and sometimes it’s slower. Sometimes you’ve
got a partner and sometimes you’re doing a solo dance. I’ve never described it that way that might be
perfect. I should write that down for a blog post.
So, there were some really rough months I mean there was a whole year of rough month during
my divorce where I wasn’t interested in dating, I didn’t know if my marriage was going to get back on
track, you know going to counseling, going to therapy myself, doing like mind body work with pilates and
going to biofeedback and all the while trying to support my own health. While trying to build a business
and take care of a kid and get divorced.
In the time frame a came upon this very, as you know, a really challenging realization that my
body was asking for meat. Here I was this vegan expert, I had written three books on it and I started
craving meat. I was so committed to the vegan mindframe.
21:04 Sara: You one of the world’s thought leader in veganism and you also
21:08 Alex: Well I don’t know but I had written a few books about it so that’s what I’m known for. I
thought, this is bad, this is not good I can’t do this but at the same time my menstrual cycle was getting
shorter and shorter like every two weeks, I was exhausted. I thought, I teach people how to learn to
listen to their bodies and I’m not allowing myself to do the same. So with some support from some really
close friends, I started secretly eating animal products and it felt physically great but emotionally I was
really in turmoil about it.
It’s interesting to look back at the trajectory of my business because around that time my
business took a little bit of a dip and I now see it’s cause I wasn’t in alignment. I wasn’t calling myself
vegan anymore. I didn’t call myself vegan and I didn’t call my recipes vegan. I said this is plant based
and this is great if you have this health issue. But I couldn’t lie. I couldn’t lie about it. So about a year
and a half ago I finally came out on my blog as no longer vegan and it was crazy. It went totally viral
overnight, thousands of comments, thousands of shares on Facebook. A lot of good and bad.
Looking back I think there were more good and supportive comments than bad but when you
have actual friends who unfriend you on Facebook because you don’t eat what they don’t eat anymore, it
was really emotionally challenging.
22:54 Sara: What was that process like in kind of coming out and you’re like I’m going to be me, I’m
going to stop apologizing for what I want and who I am and you know you started to lose friends or what
was that like going through that?
23:10 Alex: Going through it was so emotional, it was so, I mean I cried a lot. There were days when
I didn’t work because I was numb. It was really scary. I didn’t have a plan for how my business was
going to evolve through all this. I thought, wow I might lose my whole business and I don’t know what
to do about that. I couldn’t let that stop me. I couldn’t let not knowing stop me from doing what I know
I needed to be as a person. With some support from some wonderful people, I finally sent out this blog
post. What happened in that couple of weeks was truly amazing.
It got so much attention that my friend Jonathan Fields you know The Good Life Project. We
did an interview about this whole thing for me and his book agent saw it and said, I want to talk to you
about a book proposal about all of this that’s going on. Jonathan’s agent and I started working together.
I took another huge leap of faith and I hired someone from the publishing and writing world to help me
put together a really strong proposal. That was a huge investment. That was like 6,000 dollars just to
write a proposal to send out not knowing what was going to happen. Again this one worked out.
There were a lot of things that didn’t work out. There were some book proposals that I sent
out that never got made. There’s a lot of interview you do that never see the light of day. Things don’t
always work out but you just keep going with what your gut tells you.
25:03 Sara: Okay so let’s talk about this book that you are birthing to the world that is from what I just
knowing you and your evolution as a woman. This whole time we’re talking about building your business,
you are discovering more of who you are, more of what you desire in life and relationships in all different
areas. You mention Jonathan Fields and I just love him because he talks a lot about alignment and
building a business is more than just building a successful company it’s about building a extraordinary
life. Talk to us about your book you’re creating that’s already ready to go right?
25:45 Alex: Yeah, I just turned the book into the publisher and it will be out January 6, 2015. You’re
coming to the book launch party. It’s called “Women, Food and Desire: Embrace Your Cravings, Make
Peace with Food and Reclaim Your Body”. It’s my story of cravings, reclaiming my health, learning to find
a new path of no rules of eating to really find what worked best for me. And how I’ve used that same
idea to help many of my clients. Up until about six months ago I was still working with one on one clients
as well. Then I started writing the book and doing group programs so my business model has shifted
through all of this but kind of the beauty of being an online entrepreneur is that you can change your
business model. If you can learn a new system, you can change your business model. The book has been
such a learning process and I’m not setting up my online presence to be ready for the attention that the
book will hopefully bring.
27:03 Sara: For women entrepreneurs that maybe don’t have a relationship with their body, or desire or
these cravings, what is some advice that you would give to them and how to kind of start that process?
27:24 Alex: Learning to listen to yourself and trust yourself is one of the most basic tools you can
have as an entrepreneur and you and your body are a team. Your physical cravings for food, most of
us as women have been taught that your body is bad and wrong and always wants wrong things and
you screw up all the time, you’ve failed at diets. We live in this culture of guilt and shame and it’s not
true. The deal is that we have all kinds of cravings and desires whether it’s for creativity or success
or engagement or stepping out into our spotlight or intimacy or nutrients. We have all these different
cravings and we need to learn to listen to them, they are our best allies to not just get the body of our
dreams but to get the life of our dreams.
28:26 Sara: I’ve never heard somebody explain it like that. That your intuition and the craving that you have, deep down it’s in your body and that’s like your guiding light for every decision you make in your business and your life holistically. That’s really brilliant. I love that so much.
28:46 Alex: Thank you
28:48 Sara: Well thank you so much for this interview. I just adore you and you shared so many valuable pieces of information for our women and thanks so much.
28:59 Alex: I love being here with you and I hope this was helpful for some of your viewers.
29:03 Sara: Where can people find more information about you?
29:08 Alex: Well two places so they can go to my website at alexandrajamieson.com or if they want to look more at this whole craving thing we’ve been talking about, I have the coolest cravings type quiz so you can find out what cravings type you are. What do your cravings mean for you? Go to cravingsquiz.com. Find out your type get an awesome report.
29:30 Sara: It’s so brilliant. I love it. Okay everyone check that out and Alex we’ll talk to you soon.
Thanks so much.