Nutrition expert and registered dietitian Andrea Holwegner is the energetic founder, CEO (Chief Energy Officer) and president of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. Since 2000, she has counseled hundreds of individuals, including Olympic athletes, CEOs and families, on the benefits of healthy eating. Andrea spearheads a team of highly trained and experienced dietitians within her practice. She is also known as the chocoholic nutritionist, believing anyone can achieve health without guilt or complexity, and that the secret to success is having fun. Andrea has been featured in countless broadcast, radio and print media interviews! We are certain you will enjoy learning more about her and reading about her fabulous tips for your media success!
How did you get started in the media?
I started my full-time business Health Stand Nutrition as soon as I graduated and completed my internship in year 2000. Business start-up is not easy and soon after I began building referrals and seeing clients I received my first inquiry to respond to an interview on a local radio show. In time as I built my name, local TV stations, newspapers and PR firms representing healthy brands started calling. I remember in the early days being absolutely terrified about going on the radio (and TV was even more nerve-racking). I’m living proof that things get easier the more you practice. Just like training for your first recreational running race, training for media interviews is a muscle you must build. You will not be born awesome, you must put in the time to practice. My first interviews sucked! Being really good on camera (and in front of any public audience) is a lifelong practice that often requires more time than most of us that are naturally impatient want to admit.
I even found earlier this year that despite having done hundreds of media interviews and having delivered keynote speeches to very large audiences, I was absolutely terrified to begin delivering Facebook Live sessions. Each type of media or camera skill requires different skills, so you must be patient and forgiving to learn to work with them. At first on Facebook Live talking to my phone and seeing my face on the video seemed very weird. I also missed the engagement of being able to feed off the energy of a live face-to-face audience in a presentation. I also found comments popping up on the screen distracting and missed the synergy that happens back and forth between you and the host of a TV or radio interview. So what did I do? Each year I pick one word or phrase that I am learning about and practicing. This year I am practicing, reading and learning anything I can about “dancing with fear.” I’ve learned fear never goes away and that we must step into discomfort for things we want to accomplish. The more we build a habit and practice something, the easier it gets. There is no way to skip nervousness, fear and discomfort – you must learn to dance and make friends with it. As I have intentionally befriended fear this last year in learning Facebook Live the process has become easier. Allowing myself compassion and the ability to “fail forward” when things don’t go perfectly is building a new muscle that is feeling stronger.
What was your most memorable interview and why?
I’m not sure I have one interview that is most memorable, but I really began enjoying media interviews in a much bigger way once I was able to secure regular spots on TV and radio where the producers allowed me the flexibility to drive my own topics. Before I had the freedom to choose topics and was sporadically being called to appear on a radio or TV show I found media more difficult. I would sometimes be called upon for interviews on subjects that were not within the context of what I wanted to be known for (or that would not serve the clients within our practice). Speaking about topics that are relevant for the network audience, but also your own business is a win-win for everyone. Building these connections with media takes time. You must be reliable, have great TV food visuals and demonstrate leadership to pitch them really great ideas. When you are pitching media, you must remember it is not about you, it’s about them. Study their program, watch trends, think about timely seasonal topics and most importantly solve problems their readers, viewers or listeners are struggling with. When you can provide them with great ideas I’ve noticed producers are really appreciative that you are coming to them. They have incredibly difficult and busy jobs and trying to figure out topics in a wide range of subject areas every single day is really tough. Becoming a reliable ally that brings them really good ideas and makes them and their program look good is a sure reason they will call on you again and again
Have you ever experienced a “fumble” during an interview, and if so, how did you fix it / what did you learn from it?
The most challenging interviews I have had typically involve a situation where the producer has either not shared many notes about your segment with the host (or the host has not had time to actually read the notes given how busy their day is). I’ve learned the best way to work around this is to prepare your notes for the producer in a Q and A format. Provide them with 3-5 questions and also summaries to your answers. Be sure to print out a copy of this and bring this to the TV interview since or ask the newspaper or radio if you can quickly email them the list of the questions to make the flow of the interview easier for both of you. The first thing you should ask a host is if they have seen the questions and answer document you sent to the producer. Don’t assume they have seen this! I’ve had situations where I’ve had less than the 30 seconds before going on the air live to quickly provide these questions. Before I had this “back-up” system in place I found sometimes interviewers don’t know what you want to talk about and can take you down a path that isn’t what you came prepared to talk about.
I’ve also learned that even when you prepare well, and the host has seen these questions, some will surprise you and ask you questions that stump you or surprise you. When you fumble or can’t think of what to say (and this has happened to me plenty of times) it’s OK to acknowledge a tough question but then drive the interview back into a key point you want to talk about.
- You can say something like “That is a really big question that we will need another segment to explore, but what I really want to emphasize today is….”
- Or perhaps something such as “That is an interesting question, but I don’t want to lose sight of the most important thing people need to remember….”
- Or you can provide a candid down to earth answer like “Geepers that is a tough question and given there is no black and white answer, what I can tell you is my personal opinion while we are trying to sort out the science. As a mom this is what I do for my family…. or as a fitness enthusiast this is how I approach this….
Can you share one tip or a nugget of expert advice for dietitians who would like to work / who are working in the media?
It is completely normal to be nervous when you are just starting out, but it does get easier. One of the most important things to remember is to really try to be your own authentic self. Let your quirks and fun side show – people surprisingly are drawn to your weirdness! As humans we connect with people that are real, vulnerable, show their flaws and don’t attempt to pretend they are perfect and have it all figured out.
The biggest mistake that I made when I was younger is trying to be too much of an “expert” and less of a human being. That may sound strange, but I think many of us in the dietitian community have a different version of ourselves that shows up in front of an audience on stage or on a media interview. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” Don’t go into an interview as a dietitian, instead go into an interview with the mindset that you are a friend, parent or neighbor having a candid conversation.
A little more about Andrea:
In addition to being the founder and president of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. Andrea is the creator of a one-of-a-kind online nutrition course The Pursuit of HealthinessTM that focuses on helping busy people and time-strapped employees in companies achieve better energy, health and move towards their personal best weight. Andrea is also one of a handful of Registered Dietitians in North America who are qualified professional speakers. She is a consultant on health trends and marketing to health conscious consumers for the food, grocery and restaurant industry. She is a columnist for the Calgary Herald, and regular on-air expert for QR77 Radio, Global Calgary Morning News and CTV Morning News. She is a member of the Dietitians of Canada, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the College of Dietitians of Alberta, the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, and the Canadian Obesity Network. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education.Andrea Holwegner, The Chocoholic NutritionistTM
To contact or follow Andrea you can reach her at: