Nichi Keuchle is the entrepreneurial mum behind MyHealthyBeginning.com – where Nichi’s work gives children the best start in life by nurturing, empowering and supporting their mums through coaching, doula services, childbirth education and nutrition response testing. She’s on a mission to create wellness one family at a time. Nichi is the creator of the amazing Cheap Easy Healthy Eating System, a simple at-home programme that shows mums how to feed their families on whole food, organic meals while saving time and grocery money. It’s safe to say it’s a labour of love for Nichi whose experience spans back to her nannying days in high school… As well as running her business from Minneapolis, she is busy wife and mum to two daughters.
I’d love for you to tell us a bit about your story. Why did you choose to start your own business? What was your motivation?
If I cut to the chase, what really got me started in the health and wellness field is from developing an ulcer at the age of 16 within 6 months of my mom’s cancer diagnosis. It was one of the most stressful experiences of my life, working 30 hours a week in the afternoon, evenings and weekends while supporting my dad in caring for my younger siblings at the time.
My mom was caring for her health, my dad keeping everything afloat and I had to really step it up. I took myself to the doctor, filled the prescription, felt worse being on Zantac and so I focused on the foods that made my stomach hurt and removed them knowing if I wasn’t down with a bellyache, I could still function. Very shortly after I had to step down from the high school gymnastics team I was on because of the pain that was left over. Then I removed more foods. You have to understand that at the time I wasn’t removing food groups, I just stopped drinking soda, then eating pizza, then eating spaghetti, then eating ground beef, then eating candy, and it just stuck with me. The more I managed my food intake the more I was able to manage my health, and I knew it seemed like some secret.
How did you go from the initial business idea to “open for business” – what steps did you take to get started?
I’ve been in business for 16 years, though much of it was quite hobby-like. It really wasn’t until three years ago that I really got my act together. Initially I was a nationally certified massage therapist, then, because I’m a lifelong learner, I began to add certifications and courses to keep up with my changing interests. Not only did that keep me from feeling or getting bored, I was in a constant state of expansion, mostly doing what I loved until I came up with what I wanted to do next!
Back then I didn’t have a coach, I didn’t have the tools and technology I have now. It was all word of mouth and was going “fine”. Three years ago I realised that “fine” wasn’t paying the bills and no longer cut it.
How does this work alongside your role as a mum of two? With so much on your plate, it would be great to know how you manage “the juggle”.
I really batch my time and believe me, we have our moments. Just the other day our 6 year old mailed me a letter from school, an assignment every child was given to write a letter expressing where they wanted help, telling me it makes her feel badly when I don’t listen to her. It broke my heart. We are together all the time outside of her school time, she’s like my sidekick and it made me so aware of the fact that I’m not present!
The world of possibility in my little babe’s eyes, though, gave us such access to how we can support her needs, how we can feel more listened to as parents and what we created was this concrete agreement to really LOOK at each other when we are being spoken to. It’s the little things.
My husband is awesome. He’s super supportive and willing to help with our girls when I need it. I do a lot of leadership development work so I’m gone an extra night per week and he pulls the weight beautifully. We’ve gotten to this cool place of my success is his and his is mine – that can be everything from being with our girls to feeding them good food to taking the time we need to put into our businesses. He’s self employed as well so sometimes this means more flex time as a family and sometimes we go days without seeing him except at bedtime.
For me, self care is my number one priority. I am a train wreck if I don’t take good care of myself. It’s an everyday thing for me. I read, exercise, and focus on nutrition every single day. Using practices such as Higher Brain Living, acupuncture, homeopathy, and bodywork are really helpful in getting the downtime I need. Sleep has never been as big for me as in the past couple of years, so that’s become more of a focus as well.
…and don’t get me wrong. I have my days where success simply means everyone is fed and alive!
What is your vision or goal for the future??
I get to declare it here! Right now I’m working on a fun project to bring about a kids cooking show. My nutrition practice is a three days per week so I currently use my other two days as a launch pad for my Cheap Easy Healthy Eating System.
What 3 tips can you give to mums who want to establish the right diet and eating habits with their young family?
- If you can find out early on if your kids have food intolerances, you save a lot of time dealing with the immune challenges and issues that come up later.
- Find that out first – I don’t mean just allergy testing. Find someone who tests specifically for sensitivities and intolerances and then plan your eating around the person with the most items needing to be eliminated and build back up from there.
- Figure out what you spend most of your grocery budget on and find resources that support you in cutting that down, not what you’re eating so much as what you’re spending. In my Cheap Easy Healthy Eating System we go over all of this in depth, especially when most families are coming from the SAD (Standard American Diet) which consists of breads, bagels, pasta and little to no variety or colour. It’s all about baby steps and getting mums to feel confident and empowered about the choices they are making. A mum’s choices are never bad when they are coming from a place where she’s working with all she knows. I meet her where she’s at and go from there. There’s a way to save money and time in nearly every scenario.
What have been (or still are) your biggest challenges/fears re: being a working mum, and how did you overcome them?
My biggest hurdle to date was working with a mentor three years ago who ended up being a fraud. I ended up with a total loss of $30,000 along with really seeing that our marriage wasn’t working, I had my head buried in the sand, my ego all blown up and was in denial about so much of my life. It was the scariest time of my life. My thoughts were everywhere from “how are we going to feed our kids” to “how can I work if we can’t afford childcare?” to figuring out how to answer the kids without lying to them when they asked to go for ice cream or to the bookstore or something that required even a few bucks to make happen.
Awful, awful, awful. I already felt guilty for being a working mum when all I wanted was to stay home and raise these babies of mine. That’s when I started personal/leadership development work. I got to work on this like it was my job. Learning about my level of self worth, how I listened to myself and what I made things from my past mean about where I was/wasn’t taking my life-talk about a transforming experience. It’s ongoing. I can’t put it down.
When I look at the number of blocks, mostly around money, that I’ve moved out of the way and relationships I’ve healed, I have no idea where the energy came from to Just. Keep. Going. There were about nine months in there that I hardly remember, the hurt was just so deep.
What’s really worked is to create our family as a team – to create an intense and intimate partnership with my husband, which didn’t just happen automatically, folks, that was a toughie. Everywhere I can in my work I bring our girls into my “team”. When they see “our” work as a purpose and something that brings about change and meaning to people’s lives, they feel proud of what we’re up to and are more willing to give me the time I need to finish a project or be with a client. I can now be more present with them because there are set ways of being.
What makes your life sparkle?
These days, my marriage. Those moments when my husband and I are laying on the couch with the girls in their “nests” with the dog on the floor and I’m reading aloud while he dozes and they play with beeswax. That’s where it’s at these days. Just so simple.
I also love a good, solid 24-hour work retreat. People think I’m crazy, but it ranks up there as a total favorite of mine. I drive about 45 minutes from my house to this little retreat farm, pay my $60 for the stay and a couple of homemade meals, another $60 for a massage. I settle into my hermitage, open my laptop and tackle whatever project is looming. I step aside to read for fun or go for a walk or snowshoe, depending upon the season, and go to bed early or lay down for a quick nap if I feel the urge. And, most importantly, I return feeling recharged and renewed with stress off my shoulders because I was able to really be focused and undisturbed.
What is the one big challenge you face when it comes to designing healthy-eating plans for your family? What one thing can you try to change this week? Check out Nichi’s website for ideas…