During the last 25 years, we’ve certified over 110,000 professionals. To celebrate our 25th year in business, we’re selecting 25 grads to showcase this year. Meet our next featured grad, Harvey Slater, an AFPA Certified Holistic Nutritionist & AFPA Certified Weight Management Consultant, who shifted careers from being a chef to building his own private nutrition practice.
How did you originally become interested in health and wellness?
I have a little bit of background in holistic health because I’m also a certified massage therapist. I also studied with a couple of real pioneers of holistic healing, so I’ve always had a little bit of an understanding of holistic wellness, but most of my career has been as a chef and the owner of a catering business in Los Angeles for 20 years.
I had a typical midlife story where my health started declining and I started to become very unsatisfied with my career. I started evaluating my diet and learning how to eat healthier foods. The chef part of me recognized that I had learned only a fraction of what food is really all about. As I started to learn about food as a more of a healing component and for its healing qualities, the creative chef’s side of me put everything together. I saw the potential of taking cleaner, healthier foods and actually making them taste amazing, and I realized there’s this whole new world of food.
As I started to explore the possibility of making this into a career, I was looking for a certification where I could get started. And that’s how I ended up with AFPA.
Why did you choose the AFPA Holistic Nutritionist Certification program?
When I was at the end of my catering career, I knew that I had this aptitude for facilitating positive change in people, and I knew that my purpose was to somehow manifest that within my work, but I hadn’t found the avenue for doing that. As my nutrition journey unfolded organically, it was finally at a point where I realized, Aha, I can be a coach, but I can also focus on nutrition and healing. The idea of teaching people how to get really empowered with their food and not have to follow the status quo is super exciting to me. I could really do something that I’m really good at and make a difference.
The certification was more based in food, which is where I really specialize. That’s what made me choose it because, even though I do a lot of clinical nutrition consulting for my clients, everything is based in examining their food behavior and changing their food lifestyle. I believe that no matter what supplements you take or what medicine you take, if your diet isn’t right and your relationship to your food isn’t right, you’re not really going to ultimately heal the problem.
I made the decision to go with AFPA because I was really new to the field and I didn’t want to make too large of an investment of money or time until I really knew that it was something that I could make a go at as a career. Also, I needed something that I could fit in my schedule with my existing business. The price of the certification and the length of time required was really achievable. It was very easy to digest, and it was a good start for me.
Why did you also choose to enroll in the AFPA Weight Management Certification program?
I like the way the courses are modular, so I was able to build on my first certification and decided to enroll in the AFPA Weight Management Consultant Certification as well. Once I got into my practice, I realized that there’s just a huge demand and a lot of people running after weight loss who are really misguided. I wanted to get a credential so that I could be more specialized and start really helping people with weight management, still more holistically. So, I teach people how to manage weight, more from a long-term lifestyle standpoint.
The weight management course was a good investment. It allows me to really help people with weight management and be an expert on weight management in terms of things like, how the metabolism really works, you know, what types of diets work and why they don’t. I can really advise people, come from a realistic place, and help my clients set proper expectations for their goals and what they want to achieve. And the certification has really helped me a lot with that.
How has your career changed since getting certified?
In addition to being a chef and having my catering business, prior to my certification, I was also a food blogger, and I repped a nutrition line in a network marketing company. After I got certified, I actually learned so much from my certification that I couldn’t rep the product anymore because it really enlightened me about food, ingredients, supplements, and nutrients.
It really shifted me into more of the professional realm. Now, I have a private practice, and I have an office right here in Pasadena where clients come in for consultations. I also have an online portal, so my clients can meet with me in person, or they can meet with me on video chat. I have a whole online course platform so clients can enroll in coaching programs that are all predesigned, and it’s just basically fed to them through a feed. I have a blog on my nutrition website, and I have my recipe blog too. I’m working on building an income from the blogs, which takes a lot of work.
Primarily in my nutrition practice, I’m in the office. But sometimes I take clients to the grocery store, meet with them at the farmer’s market, and sometimes I go to people’s homes, and we’ll do like pantry makeovers. I’ll also work with groups, primarily like group cooking. So, I’m primarily a nutritionist, in a traditional sense, but I have sort of a modern online angle to my business, which helps me generate a lot more business and money.
I’ve always been a little frustrated with the system and how it doesn’t always work for people. Our modern healthcare system really treats diseases, right? It doesn’t really treat health. And I’ve always wanted to do something different, but I’ve never have had the confidence or the permission for myself to just branch out and do that. In the process of being able to undertake this process of learning and developing my new practice, I was able to naturally step into that space. Not only am I now doing something that I really believe in from my core, I’m actually teaching other people that they can do that too. They can do their own evidence-based research and make their own decisions for their bodies. So, a lot of my own personal journey really has affected how I approach my work and how I help people.
What advice do you have to those thinking about making the leap into the health, nutrition, and fitness industry?
My advice would probably be the main thing is I think if you have a core feeling in your gut that this is something that you can help people with, and you have conventional knowledge trying to convince you of something else or trying to tell you can’t do it or you have to do it this way. So, if you’re feeling a core connection to that, I would say go ahead and explore it because you might be pleasantly surprised at how useful you can be out in the world.