Introducing Tina Gowin Carlucci: Supporting Role to Joy Bauer
Nov 6, 2013
PROLOGUE: I had the pleasure of meeting Tina at a recent nutrition conference. When we struck up a conversation during break time I learned about her background and the path that led to her landing a much-coveted job as Joy Bauer’s editorial director. I found her to be both fun and funny. Of course I had to interview her for my blog to share her story and insider tips with other dietitians.
MELISSA: How did you become interested in a career in nutrition?
TINA: Growing up, I was always athletic and coming from a family of vegetarians, my mom always pointed out the importance of fueling my activity with the right foods. In addition, I was always a math and science person, and was fortunate enough to go to a high school with an extensive health sciences program. To be honest, I originally thought I wanted to be a doctor so I took every certification class I could throughout high school – I became a Certified Nursing Assistant, Emergency Medical Technician, and a Pharmacy Technician all before I finished high school. Through these experiences, I learned a great deal about the human body and all the things that could possibly go wrong, but I found that focusing on prevention was the key to keeping people healthy and helping them feel their best. I worked as a pharmacy technician after school and during the summer, and realized that I wanted to help others lead healthy active lifestyles, not just give them a pill and send them on their way.
After graduating high school, I went to the University of North Carolina (still thinking I wanted to be a doctor), and started taking pre-med classes. By the middle of my sophomore year (after volunteering as an EMT on an ambulance I learned that I couldn’t handle the ridiculous hours and dealing with large amounts of blood) I decided becoming a doctor wasn’t the right path for me. I took a look at all the health and science majors available and realized that the Gillings School of Global Public Health had a nutrition program, so I decided to take a class…and LOVED it! Nutrition combines my passion for science with my love of food and sport, and it allowed me to focus on preventative healthcare – it just…fit.
MELISSA: A very interesting route to nutrition! Tell me about your nutrition philosophy – what are you known for?
TINA: In a nutshell, I believe nutrition is about balance not perfection, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. I believe in simplicity (as RDs we can sometimes get caught up and make things way more complicated than it needs to be) and eating as much REAL food as possible. But…there’s always wiggle room!
A little background on how I eat (may help explain my philosophy a little more): I grew up vegetarian because I was raised that way (my family is Hindu), and when I moved to New York City, I started including fish in my diet. Because I’ve been so focused on getting enough protein from non-animal sources for most of my life, I have a pretty extensive knowledge on vegetarian diets. I’m also an avid runner and very aware of how nutrition affects sports performance, and I absolutely love talking about sports nutrition and assisting beginner athletes with their eating regimens. And even though I try to eat as “clean” as possible, I’m still going to drink Gatorade during a marathon, eat ice cream or chocolate when my sweet tooth cries out for something, and chow down on my husband’s french fries from time to time.
MELISSA: That seems like a very balanced and “real” approach. What inspired you to start your own business and where did that lead you?
TINA: My first real job as a dietitian was working in corporate wellness and I absolutely loved it, but there came a point when I felt like something was missing and I wanted something more. I didn’t know what it was, but I decided to give private practice a go. I started a website and registered a business, started a Facebook and Twitter account for work, told all my friends about it, and got a few clients. It still wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I learned a lot from it and I didn’t realize it at the time, but my playing around with social media and writing a blog gave me a leg up when I applied for the editorial director position at Joy Bauer Ventures.
MELISSA: Another good reason to engage in social media! Wow – you must have one of the most interesting dietitian jobs in the world! Tell us about it.
TINA: Currently, I am focused on all things Joy Bauer.
Everything from social media, to blogging, to exploring the newest trends in wellness, and experimenting in the kitchen. I love the variety and the immersion in all things nutrition and nutrition media. It’s a whole new world, but I love it…it fits.
MELISSA: That’s wonderful! Tell us about the types of nutrition communications are you engaged in.
TINA: A bit of everything. I help plan Joy’s media segments, organize her social media, write content for her website and print articles, do a bit of coaching for any group weight loss programs she has going on. I do a little bit of speaking and counseling on the side as well.
MELISSA: Sounds like a nice variety and some pretty cool stuff. What do you find comes naturally for you and what do you have to work hard on when it comes to nutrition communications?
TINA: Honestly, I never in a million years thought I’d be in a job that required writing. English was probably my
worst subject growing up. But, now that I’m writing about something that I care deeply about, it comes pretty naturally (though it depends on what mood I’m in – haha). And doing presentations in front of large audiences – never thought I’d be good at it, but when it comes to nutrition and health, everything just flows. Something I do have to work hard at is figuring out the new trends and what’s hip or hot – I don’t watch TV that much (I had no idea who the hosts of the Today show were until I started working with Joy) and don’t really care about celebrity gossip (though it turns out people love to hear the newest diet crazes that their favorite celebs are into). I never thought these kind of things would help me with my job – but they definitely do and I have to really focus on what grabs an audience’s attention, what will get more interaction on Facebook and Twitter, etc.
MELISSA: I’m glad to hear your honest feelings about not watching much TV and not caring about celebrity gossip. I can so relate to that! And yet, like you, I understand the importance of it. It’s just that sometimes I think I’m supposed to like it but good to hear I’m not alone. Please share one story or experience that either taught you a lot about nutrition communications or you think would help other RDs
TINA: Don’t ever make a joke about Oprah. Haha. At my old job, I gave a TON of nutrition presentations to groups of about 100 people. I was usually pretty good at reading the crowd and getting a few funny tid bits into each lecture (sometimes at the expense of my dear husband – I joke that he’s brilliant everywhere except the square footage of our kitchen – haha), but mentioning that Oprah was the “queen of yo-yo dieting” is a BIG no-no. Not a peep on that one. I guess the lesson learned is that including personal stories is a great way to connect with your audience – it makes them realize that you’re human and that you aren’t a robot who eats perfectly portioned and balanced meals every single day. But, there’s a line that should not be crossed and Oprah is apparently on the other side of that line.
MELISSA: Oh my! Lesson learned, indeed! What are your top 3 tips for other RDs who want to improve their communication skills?
1. Just do it! Fear gets the best of us sometimes and keeps us from writing that blog or applying for that position. Remember that you’re smart, have knowledge that will help others, and that you have something to say that other people want to hear. So whatever your outlet, go for it!
2. Stay true to you – don’t try to be something that you aren’t because it’ll be obvious.
3. You won’t be able to please everyone and someone will always have something to say, but do your research, believe in what you write/say, and admit when you’re wrong.
MELISSA: Such sage advice! Speaking of advice, thank you for all the great tips you gave me for training for my first 15K run which, by the way, I completed a few days ago! It was a big goal for me, since I just started running last year as a “mid-life experiment” – but it’s nothing compared to your running! What are you training for now?
TINA: Yes, I am an avid runner, but I could BARELY run a mile in high school (though I played soccer and basketball all the time), but when I moved to NYC (I’m originally from Raleigh, NC) I met most of my new friends through running. This past May, I ran my first ever ultra-marathon. It was a 50k at Bear Mountain and it took my friends and I about eight hours to finish it.
I had a BLAST! The scenery was gorgeous (so beautiful that when I took a second to look around, I’d inevitably trip and fall – I managed to fall five times during this race and still finished without a scratch), every step was interesting, and it was just so darn peaceful.
Next up? We are heading to Vegas for my friend’s 30th birthday and running the Ragnar Relay “ultra-style” – our team of six will cover a distance of almost 200 miles. We each will run three legs of about 10 miles or so (totaling anywhere from 23-36 miles), sleep in the van, and then rock it out in Vegas when we finish. It sounds like a really great idea now…I’ll let you know how it works out!
Wow! I definitely want to hear about that! Best of luck to you and your friends. Thank you for the interview and sharing your story.
Do you have questions for Tina? Post a comment below!
Like what you read here? Hear what other nutrition experts have to say about careers, communication and chasing their dreams. Visit the Directory of Dietitian Interviews and be inspired!
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I’m the Guilt-Free RD® – “Because food shouldn’t make you feel bad!™”. So, on my Food for Thought blog I’m exploring the secret ingredients needed to enjoy your food with health in mind. I’m also a “Dietitian Enthusiast” so I’m showcasing interviews with dietitians. My “How To” Series shares practical advice to help boost communication skills and gain more visibility, influence and success.
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