Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Heather Watson, founder of Dundas Weight Loss Clinic, located in Dundas, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Dundas Weight Loss Clinic is a Nurse-Practitioner-led, health-focused weight loss clinic. Our moms were brilliant - eat your vegetables, go out and play and go to bed on time. My practice is based on the six tenets of health from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine - nutrition, physical exercise, sleep, mental health, social relationships, and addictions. When all these tenets are in balance, you are prepared to take on the world:-D. You can't help medical conditions, life events, etc., but you can put your body in the best possible place to manage whatever life throws your way. Solid lifestyle habits are key. Weight management coaching involves managing nutrition, macronutrient proportions (carbs, proteins, fats), eating behaviors, craving management, lots of education, and unlimited support. No fad diets or quick fixes are involved; rather, the development of solid lifestyle habits. Principles are taken from the newly developed Clinical Practice Guidelines for Obesity Management, as well as the most successful practices from many weight loss programs.
Tell us about yourself
I have been a nurse for 30 years and a nurse practitioner for 15 years. Originally I was a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner who looked after preterm and term infants in the ICU setting. I tried to retire in 2016 and was a dismal failure. I went back to school to become a personal trainer and yoga teacher, but I really missed nursing. In 2016 when COVID hit, I re-instated my license and started working at a local family practice doctor's office. I noticed that the patient population had a large number of people with unhealthy weights and associated illnesses related to their weight (diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal blood lipids, etc.). These illnesses were being treated with medications rather than treating the root cause - an unhealthy weight. The doctor that I worked for very generously let me start a weight management practice. I ran a very successful practice for 18 months until the office was restructured (hired another family doctor), and I was no longer needed. I had a dozen weight management clients and no place to practice. The next thing I knew, I was opening my own office and starting my business.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Making people happier and feel better in their own healthy bodies. Weight management isn't about being skinny; it is about being healthy at any size. Healthy means decreasing or eliminating associated illnesses (diabetes etc.)
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
-managing the huge workload as a sole entrepreneur.
-not being funded by OHIP. Suppose I were a doctor doing the EXACT same job, then the government would recognize my service and pay for it. Obesity is a pandemic and a public health crisis. The Clinic Practice Guidelines for Obesity Management recognize obesity as a chronic disease, but my service is prohibitive due to the cost. As a sidebar, I have cut my salary in half from the hospital, and I have not collected a salary since I started in order to promote my business. Right now, I am essentially paying my rent and expenses (I'll get off my soapbox now)
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Go for it.
- Be prepared to work hard and long hours.
- You will learn as you go.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I LOVE my job. It is so rewarding. My clients are amazing and are working so hard to better themselves and their lives. On a personal level - I have a fantastic husband, son, and dog. My son is exceptional - smart, talented, diverse in his interests, and athletic. I admire him so much. I love golfing, skiing, and traveling. The attached picture is from my trip to India. Presently I support a Pakistan Refugee Camp just outside Delhi, India.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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