For Maria Marlowe, every aspect of her career revolves around healthy eating, whether it's her work as a health coach, writing for Ivanka Trump's lifestyle website or running her 10-week group weight-loss program Svelte, which next kicks off Sept. 15 in NYC and also online.
But she wasn't always so mindful of what she ate. It took a bad case of acne and a suggestion from a college friend that her diet might be to blame that she started thinking about nutrition (especially after her skin cleared up). After graduating from college with a degree in finance and marketing, Marlowe switched gears, learning how to cook at The Natural Gourmet Institute and studying nutrition at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Today, the certified integrative nutrition health coach works primarily with professional women, creating practical, holistic and unique plans.
We chat with Marlowe about what it means to be a health coach, how she built her brand and how she stays healthy herself.
What is your philosophy as a health coach?
I hate dietary labels. I can't stand "paleo" or "vegan" or "vegetarian." I think what happens is, people get obsessed with the idea of what an ideal diet is, and they start ignoring times that it's not working for them anymore. One thing that integrative nutrition teaches is, everyone's body is different. What diet might work for me might not work for you. And a diet that works for me now might not be the perfect diet for me in my 30s. I'm all about listening to your body and avoiding labels and finding what works best for your body. Though I do think the majority of your diet should be plant-based and avoiding refined sugars.
What brings people to you?
The two main reasons why people come to me personally are either they want to lose weight or they have acne and nothing's working. I see so many people in their 20s and 30s saying, "I'm 30, I'm not supposed to be breaking out."
What are the main culprits behind adult acne?
Something that might trigger me might not trigger you, but there are some certainties that I think tend to trigger it more than others. Anything inflammatory -- sugar, gluten for some, diary for others. It might be digestive. There's no one blanket answer for that, it's a matter of looking overall and trying elimination diets and really pinpoint what the culprit is.
What can someone expect working with a health coach?
What I help people do is really change their habits. It's really easy for me to say, "Eat more vegetables and stop eating sugar," but it's another thing to actually do it. I help people retrain their taste buds and take steps that are actually going to change their habits. People are amazed that they can get to a point where they don't crave sugar anymore or feel the need to eat it, even when it's in front of them. Usually when I work with someone it's for 8-12 weeks, depending on how much weight they need to lose or what they need to do. But right now I'm really focusing on my group program [Svelte] and I'm not doing one-on-one as much anymore.
What do you think helps you stand out?
I think my approach. I'm very relatable. There's no judgment involved. I'm all about giving the facts and helping people make decisions on their own. I try to put a little bit of humor into it, some of this stuff can be a little heavy. My approach is to do it easy breezy, one step at a time. You didn't gain 30 pounds in a day, it won't come off in a day. I'm kind of like the women that I'm helping. I was in the fashion world, I was in finance. People are going out, having a cocktail, having to entertain clients and work long hours. I understand the real issues that they're facing. Plus organic is expensive. All these things, I weave that into what I'm telling people. I try to make it applicable to their life. Healthy eating doesn't have to make their life harder. They can find ways to fit it into their life and make their life easier.
What is your fitness regime like?
I'm a big barre fan. I did Physique 57 for a while but honestly it got a little expensive. Who I'm obsessed with now is Kayla Itsines. I have her workout. I end up working out on my own a lot. Though I actually did BFX this morning which was awesome, a high-intensity workout.
How else do you stay healthy?
Definitely diet. I practice what I preach. I eat very healthy -- lots of veggies, no refined sugar. But I do also think it's important to take care of yourself, and it can be very stressful and overwhelming running a business. I try once a month to get a massage or do something where I can unwind and treat myself a little bit. I feel like when you take that time to do that, everything is just better. For meditation, there's a thing called The Path, they move around a bit. I like to do that, they make any space you're at a meditation zen zone.
What are you favorite healthy go-tos in NYC?
I have a lot. But my favorite place ever is Ellary's Greens in the West Village. They have something for everyone and great veggie dishes. It's a nice place to go for dinner with friends or a date. If I'm feeling fancy, I like ABC Kitchen because it's kind of very farm-to-table. And a place that's not necessarily a health food restaurant but they have a very good selection of food is the Marlton Hotel. They have kale salads, all this farmers market stuff, a lot of vegetable options. For quick stuff, I love Le Pain Quotidien. They have a good avocado toast, that's the "it" dish right now.