Robyn Youkilis | FOunder, Your Healthiest You

"You are enough. You are doing enough."

How do you start your day?

With a big glass of water! I keep a mason jar filled up on my nightstand so it’s there right when I wake up, no excuses.

Who inspires you? 

My friend and soul sister Gabby Bernstein.

What would you tell yourself as a teenager?

You are doing everything right.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? 

You are enough. You are doing enough.

What do you need to get you through each day? 

Water, movement, fun!

What are you reading?

Baby books.

Briefly describe your business and inspiration for it.

I am a Certified Wellness Expert from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), TV personality, and author known for my straightforward yet supportive style. Through my coaching practice, Your Healthiest You, I help my clients get off restrictive diets and learn to trust their gut instincts when it comes to food and life. In addition to working with clients one-on-one and in small groups, I host my own cooking show, {Healthy} Cooking Camp, along with co-host Quinn Asteak. My first book, Go with Your Gut: The Insider’s Guide to Banishing the Bloat with Over 75 Digestion-Friendly Recipes, was released in February 2016.

I’ve struggled with food and body image my entire life, and it sucks. I was constantly comparing myself to other (thinner) women. I wanted to be able to wear anything, not think twice about my body, and feel awesome every day. But it never quite worked that way. It was only when I enrolled in nutrition school that I re-learned the art of eating, and specifically, the exact foods that were right for my unique body. Now I get to guide other people struggling with their own weight challenges and mental patterns to become their healthiest selves. This work is transformative, and I’m humbled to share it with so many people.

How has your passion fueled your business?

I ended up where I am today because I followed my passion, even when it didn’t seem logical. I enrolled in nutrition school even though I had never eaten kale. I had been to Whole Foods once (maybe twice), but that didn’t stop me. What I knew was that I wanted to do something with food, but I didn’t want to be a chef. I was a total foodie, obsessed with food, and that passion for being in the kitchen led me to where I am.

What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?

My passion for being in the kitchen led me to where I am, even though I wasn’t always the healthiest myself, and didn’t know if I had anything to teach to other. I also had no clue about what it took to be a business owner.

What was the tipping point for realizing you had a good business?

I realized I had a good business going when, without marketing much or doing a lot of business-promotion type things, people were seeking me out, wanting to coach with me and signing up for my programs.

What has been the key to your success?

For me, every clear decision I’ve ever made has come from a place in my gut, from that intuitive place of knowing we all describe, for no reason we can explain, as coming from the depth of our tummies. When I first held the brochure to nutrition school in my hand, that place danced and sparkled; without knowing exactly why, I knew it was an inarguable YES.

As an entrepreneur, I have to make a lot of decisions – which projects and clients to take on, who to partner with, who to hire, and who to let go. I always come back to checking in with my gut, and saying yes to those things that excite me, that light me up. It may not be what is taught in business school, but it’s allowed me to create a business, and a life, that I love.

What lessons have you learned along the way that you wish you would have known at the beginning of your start-up career?

Don’t freak out – Okay, you may freak out, but learn to recognize when it’s happening and check yourself. Take a breath, process your feelings (write in a journal, call a friend or colleague, go for a run), and ask yourself “What do I need to do?” Know that mistakes are going to happen no matter what. I have New York Times best-selling authors as friends who have spelling mistakes in their email subject lines. It’s okay! It’s going to happen, but you can control how you react and what you learn from these situations.

Have fun! Life is a long time – If “it” (whatever that might be for you) doesn’t happen right now, it’s okay! Enjoy the process. Most people choose the entrepreneurial path because they are passionate about something, and want to do what they love and share it with the world. But often times we get caught up in the “stuff” – finances, scheduling, number of clients or sales – that we forget about why we got into the work in the first place. On a regular basis check in with yourself – are you having fun? If not, re-evaluate what your day-to-day looks like, where you can create space for more of what you love, and delegate or outsource what you don’t.

What challenges did you face in the early days of being the Founder of your own business?

The biggest challenge for me when I first started out was feeling like I could talk myself in or out of the business any day. Some days I felt like things were moving and grooving, opportunities coming in, client sessions going well; other days I felt stuck, like I could stop with the business and it would be no big deal.

What is the biggest mistake you have made in your business to date and how have you moved past it?

Doubting myself.

What would you have done differently?

Ask for help from colleagues.

What is the biggest challenge you have had in your business to date and how did you pull through it?

Consistency. It still is a challenge for me to find the balance between work and creativity. Sometimes you still have to do the work even when creative inspiration is not coming through, and sometimes you need to take a break, let go of expectations or deadlines and let the inspiration come when it comes. But it’s definitely a delicate balance!

When self-doubt hits, what do you do?

Move. Whenever I hear doubt or negativity coming in, I know I need to get into my body – dance, get to the water (either the West Side in NYC, or the ocean in LA), go out for a night with my husband. Moving my body helps me connect to my heart and to my purpose; it reminds me why I’m doing the work that I’m doing, and allows me to clear out the other stuff that may be clouding my vision.

What is your biggest fear as an entrepreneur?

My biggest fear is being a failure, and by that I mean not being well received in something I do and wasting time or energy on a product or a program.

What aspects of being a start-up entrepreneur do you love and/or dislike?

Love: I do work that I love down to my bones, I’m able to travel regularly around the world, and I get to work on my own schedule! I can take my time in the morning to do all the juicy self-care practices: journal, meditate, exercise and make myself a delicious, wholesome breakfast. Dislike: It is unpredictable and sometimes scary! Being an entrepreneur forces you to face your own insecurities and self-doubt on a regular basis.

Which books, articles, blogs have helped to shape your business and/or leadership style? 

Are there any go-to resources that you have found useful to run your business (service, web site, etc.)?

What do you think the most important attribute a female entrepreneur/ business owner can possess?

Learning to listen to your intuition! As women we are deeply intuitive, emotional and compassionate. Sometimes we are told to “act like men” in order to get ahead in the business world, when in reality we should use our female nature to our advantage!

What do you do outside the office to help you stay creative/productive? 

Exercise! It’s a non-negotiable in my life – it’s something I commit to doing every day because I know it makes me feel my best. Movement is a way to connect to our breath, to connect with our bodies, and to spend time with ourselves. Also, I always say that movement in our bodies creates movement in our lives. When I run or walk outside, I think of it as moving myself forward, not just physically, but mentally. It’s less about my body and more about my thoughts; it sparks my natural creativity. I feel like I am getting things done.

What would you say to another woman who asked you if they should take the leap and start their own business?

Go with your gut! If you are being called to start something or do something, do it! Know that no decision is ever final or absolute – if a project, role, or business doesn’t work out, you can always change your course of action, or go back to what you were doing before.