Health, Wellness and Food Combining

Kenzie Burke

Kenzie Burke

Location: Kenzie’s home in Beverly Hills
Date: 3/26/20
Title: Health, Wellness and Food Combining
Profession: Entrepreneur 

Q & A

Tell us about yourself. Who are you and what do you do for a living?

I am Kenzie Burke.  I was born and raised in Wisconsin in a very small town.  I turned 24 years old today, and I moved to LA when I was 18. I have learned through self-discovery, research, and schooling, the foods and mindset that have transformed my life. I developed my business as a way for me to share some of my insights with others. 

What’s your backstory and what led you to your entrepreneurial journey?

I always knew I was going to move to LA the second I could. I never enjoyed my childhood. I was uncomfortable, I moved from school to school, and I felt very alienated most of the time. I couldn’t find my people.

I always felt there was more out there for me. My mind always wanted to expand, and I wasn’t in an environment where I could.

My parents were born and raised in Wisconsin. Everyone around me was born and raised in Wisconsin. No one traveled. I just knew from an early age that this wasn’t who I wanted to be.

My mom said she used to take me to the park when I was a young child and I wouldn’t play on the playground.  I would just go sit on the bench with my hands crossed and I watched all the kids.  I think looking back I always wanted to be an adult. I didn’t love authority.  I didn’t love doing things how people told me to do them.  I didn’t like that linear path in that box that people say you have to be a part of: “You have to go to school. You have to do this. You have to do that.” I just didn’t like it. I started battling with school in the 4th grade.  I just wanted to babysit.  I didn’t want to be in school, I wanted to make money. Anytime someone told me something that I “have to do”, I resisted it.

It’s beautiful in a way, but it was also very hard growing up.  I didn’t have certain friends, and I would go through friends very quickly.  I felt like I couldn’t connect with people.

At the age of 16 I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I had it for two years before being diagnosed. This took a huge toll on my mental health through my high school years because I just didn’t feel good most of the time.  When you don’t feel good on the inside, that doesn’t radiate on the outside to self-love. It doesn’t translate.

Through that whole process I became pretty insecure. I didn’t feel good. I wasn’t getting a lot of validation from anyone around me and I sure as hell was not validating myself. I just felt empty. With that said, I like to say that I was insecurely confident because I was confident enough to do things that most people from Wisconsin wouldn’t do – like move to LA.

When I was 18 I had saved some money from waitressing and babysitting. I packed a Hyundai Sonata and drove across the country to Los Angeles.  My dad came with me to drop me off. I remember he didn’t let me drive.  The freeway in Wisconsin was only two lanes, which was the complete opposite of LA.

Where did you go when you first moved to LA?

I loved the beach and I knew nothing about LA.  So, it was Malibu. Anyone that lives in L.A. knows that you don’t move to Malibu as an 18 year old. If you’re 45 with 3 children, maybe you move to Malibu.

So, I looked on Craigslist while I was still in Wisconsin, I found this room in Calabasas and I sent an $800 security deposit.  I had no financial support from my family and that was A LOT of money for me at the time.  My graduating class was paying $250 for rent in Wisconsin. At the time I had $4,000 to my name, and after I arrived, paid the security deposit and got a mattress to sleep on I only had $2,000 left.

My dad was flying out the day after we arrived.  I remember when we got to L.A.X. and he left. It was my first time getting ready to drive in this new city.  I got in the car and I just started crying.

I love challenges.  I went out and got a nannying job.  Right off the bat, I was already on to something because I was working for an actress and it was well paid for me at the time.  I was young and had just moved to LA, so it was a big deal. I used that to get my feet off the ground.

That’s when I started to divvy in and out of what I actually wanted to do, which was quite the journey.

What led you to starting your business?

It was really hard at first because I had to support myself.  Usually when you’re exploring career paths, you’re making no money.  So it was this rat race where I was working 7 days a week essentially to try all of these different things I wanted to try.  I was waiting tables to make money.

This took a huge toll on my mental health, and I was going through all of this with Lyme disease.  I had to learn how to pay my bills, how to feed myself, how to take care of myself and do all these things on my own. It was overwhelming.  I was so sick that I just couldn’t do anything. I had no social life.  I was working all day and then going to bed at 7:30 PM. That was my routine because I just didn’t feel good, and the only way I could go to work the next day was if I was somewhat rested. Those first 2 years in LA were very dark and lonely.

I was trying different things.  I tried photography, I tried fashion, and then I got into the styling industry. What I realized throughout this whole process was that I completely lost myself. I lost who I was. I didn’t know who I was. I was getting sicker and I had so much anxiety.

I was doing things that I thought were “right”, but now I realize I was doing them for the wrong reasons.  For example, I thought it would be cool to say that I worked for the Kardashians because I’m a girl from Wisconsin. I wasn’t doing it because my passion was in it, or because I was making a difference and it was fulfilling me.  I was doing it for this image.  Then I got really sick.  I was the sickest I had been.

To make things worse, I was having so much bad luck because I was so negative.  I would get a flat tire and I would say, “Oh, of course I got a flat tire.” and then the next day I’d find out something else was wrong with my car.  I was manifesting and projecting bad luck into my life. I just felt very out of control. 

That’s when I started working out.  I just wanted to feel some sense of control. I realized that the way my body looked was one aspect of my life that I could control. Working out actually relieved the migraines I had been having since I was 14. Some call this the ripple effect because the more I watched my body and aspects of my health change the more interested I became. Through that I became interested in the foods I eat, and eventually used all my free time to research food. I started to become obsessed.

I got this styling internship to work with the Kardashian’s stylist. Right when I got it, my first thought was, “How am I going to eat my food? How am I going to prepare my food?” I was in Calabasas and the internship was in West Hollywood, and it was something like 14 hour days. At this point I was really into eating healthy and doing this method of eating I found because it was making me happy.  How I was eating, how I was fueling my body, and how I was exercising were the only things that were making me happy.  It was the only thing that I was doing that was really honoring my soul and taking care of myself.

I had this moment where I realized that I’m doing things for the image, but no one’s watching.  I have no friends or anyone in my life watching. Despite eating well and exercising I was the sickest I’d ever been.  I was shredded with a six pack and had glowing skin, but I still felt miserable. I decided to go see a doctor. She looked at me, took my blood work, and she said that my cortisol levels were skyrocketing.  She said she hadn’t seen someone my age (early 20’s) with as bad cortisol levels as me. Then she looked at me and she said, “You need to change your life.  If you don’t want to feel sick, you need to change your life.”

I felt relieved at that moment.  It was exactly what I wanted to hear.  I feel like I’ve been my hype man my whole life.  I was the one that pushed myself to move to LA. I was the one that always told my parents what I was going to do. My parents ultimately had no say in anything I’ve done. They always support me, I’m so grateful. But at the end of the day I just say I’m doing it, and do it. I have given them no choice. So, it’s lonely. When you’re carving that path on your own in a ginormous city, with no friends, struggling to pay rent, and feeling so sick, it’s just awful.

So, when she said that to me I had this moment where I thought to myself, “I want to be that for someone. I want to make others feel relieved too”. That was all I was sure of in that moment. But I also knew that I had also found the coolest way of eating that no one was talking about. I found it through my own trial and error. I had been exercising and doing all of these things to try and feel good.  I just knew that there was more out there for me. On my way home from the doctor, I signed up for the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, which is a holistic health coaching school.

I threw in the towel with everything else. I quit all of my jobs.  I had about $500 in savings and I had no idea how I was going to do it.  I just needed to pause for a second. I ghosted everybody because I needed to collect myself.  I started the health school, and started getting my own mental health back on track.  It took me about a month and a half to start getting stronger.  I was feeling much better.

I noticed how young girls perceived themselves.  I saw that there weren’t a lot of girls eating.  I saw that there’s a lot of comparison, insecurity and hurt. I had felt all of those things myself. I wanted to do something about it.

Describe the process of launching your business. What was it like?

I was going through this incredible health course. I was learning how to be a health coach and do one on one sessions. I thought it was really great, but again I don’t like to follow the linear path. I wanted to do something different. 

I thought about the problems I had.  I asked myself what I wanted when I couldn’t figure out what to eat, when I was insecure, when I was confused, when I was lonely and when I was turning to social media, looking at other girls and the way of eating they suggested and promoted. There was nothing out there that felt right. I wanted to create something that helps people find who they are, especially young women.

I noticed that it was almost shunned upon for girls to fully finish their plates and to fully eat.  I felt like there was just a lot of judgement in that aspect. Through my self discoveries I realized that food is really fuel.  It’s medicine. It’s what we need.  I wanted to make food attractive.  I wanted to make it sexy, and I wanted to break down the status quo.  Women have so much pressure, so I wanted to help take some of that pressure off of how you look on the exterior so that you can focus on how you feel on the inside. When you feel it on the inside, the outside comes.

That’s when I created my book 21 Days To Your Best Body. I called it this because I want to help make this way of eating a habit for the rest of your life.  My goal is to teach people how to live a different and better lifestyle through this cutting edge way of eating. It’s called food combining and it’s kind of ancient wisdom.  No one was talking about it, and I brought it back to life by putting it in the reset. I took all the recipes I created and I compiled a bunch of information I wish I could have read when I needed it.  I solved my own problem.

What drives you?

What feeds my soul is honestly honoring myself.  I truly believe that when we honor ourselves, when we are true to ourselves, and when we do what makes ourselves proud it radiates and translates as confidence.  That, in turn, translates as self-worth. That’s something that’s bigger than you.  It’s not how you look. It’s not what someone says that you are.  It’s your soul’s doing.

Some people might perceive this answer to be selfish, but I don’t see it that way. My hope is that everybody chooses to honor themselves by not looking at what the person next to you is doing, by looking at how you fuel your body with food, thoughts, relationships etc. So, though it may seem selfish, that self love actually benefits everyone around you.

I’ve realized that I just have to do me. I have to block out the noise. I don’t listen to it. I show up and share what I have to give.  I share what’s on my chest, the information that I have, and it comes from my soul. That’s the way I lead. I don’t lead by coddling people, or asking them if they need my help.  I lead by being me and I think that’s made a huge difference because I’m showing people that they can succeed by just being themselves.

How did you effectively market and sell your product before you had any traction?

I spent 3 months writing the book. I was now 22 and at the time I had begged my grandparents and my parents to give me money to pay my rent so that I could write this book.  I think they thought I was crazy, but they gave me the money.  They would ask me questions like, “Where are you going to put the book?  Where’s the book going to go? Who’s going to see the book?”  I didn’t really have a good answer to those questions.

I wrote everything in a template on Photoshop.  I had no idea how to use it at first.  I figured out how to do graphic design as I went.  If you look at the first reset compared to now, it’s completely different.

I spent hours and hours in Photoshop trying to figure out how to lay everything out and get the perfect pictures to go with all of the words. I was also very insecure in front of the camera at the time. My near and dear friend, Kevin, taught me how to be in front of a camera. He believed in me before anyone else did. He practiced with me. He took all my photos for my first book. He was so patient and kind. I will always remember that time with him. Now, I am in front of the camera all the time and he taught me how. The photos for my first book were so cute, but I would never take a picture like that now.

I took everything I knew about how to eat at the time and poured my heart into this book. I made a website on Squarespace by myself and I launched the book. I started talking about food combining on my Instagram, and the little following that I had (about 4,000 followers at the time) was starting to notice it.  I gained a little bit of organic traction, and I think the reason for that was because it was very different. There wasn’t anything like it out there. That’s when I came to realize that I was doing all of these things in my career because everyone else was doing it – because that’s what I thought I needed to do.  It wasn’t until I started doing something completely unique that I realized I didn’t have to follow the status quo.

There was no book that showed me what to do.  There was no college degree on food combining.  My mom was telling me to just go get a job at a shoe store because they couldn’t pay my rent anymore.  I just kept saying, “One more week, one more week, one more week.” I kept asking them for one more week of rent money and everyone thought I was crazy, until I started to gain traction.

I noticed a girl who had 112,000 followers on Instagram was following me.  Her name is Maggie Macdonald and she’s a YouTuber.  I had no idea where she came from, but she started to swipe up to my stories when I was talking about food combining. She messaged me saying, “I wish I would have done your reset before I went traveling.” 

 
 
 
 
 
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One day, I messaged her and I said, “Give me three weeks. I’m going to send you questions, you’re going to answer them, I’m going to take you through my 21 day reset and I’m going to check in with you every single night.”  She said yes, and by the end of three weeks her life transformed. She was losing weight, she was feeling better, her skin was glowing, she said she didn’t feel lost anymore and she said she felt whole. It was very obvious that she did something very transforming, and everybody saw her transformation.  She posted about it, and from there it went viral.

Over the summer I was gaining over 15,000 followers every week. I was waking up every morning gasping and grabbing my phone because I was in shock. I had never received such attention or seen so many things that touched my soul so much.The most insane part about it was getting these positive messages from girls who were in the same position I was one year earlier.  They had body image issues, autoimmune diseases, hormone problems, felt cloudy, and were now sending me 3 week transformation photos and saying that I changed their lives.  Their bodies looked completely different. Their skin looked different. It was incredible.

This all happened in two months. I went from being in extreme debt to my parents who were asking me to get a job at a shoe store, to paying off all my debt and sending my parents money.  What made it even better was realizing that I had just changed thousands of peoples lives. It was exactly who I wanted to be. It all took off exactly 1 year after I saw the doctor who told me I needed to change my life.

 

Through starting your business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

For my business, my answer would honestly be just being truthful to yourself. I’m not perfect. There’s no fine print on what I should do.  There’s no book I can open that will tell me what to do.  I wake up every single day and I have a choice.  Am I going to do something today that’s going to make a difference? Am I going to do something that’s going to make me proud of myself? We all have those days where we don’t want to.

People always ask me how I’m always so motivated.  I’m not always motivated.  I don’t know who is always motivated, but I’m disciplined. I’m disciplined in the sense that I want to make myself proud.  I know how I feel when I don’t do something that makes me proud.  I know how I feel when I’ve wasted a day and it doesn’t feel good. So, what I’m practicing, especially lately, and seeing is making a huge difference in my life is just asking myself, “What’s one thing I can do today that’s going to make me proud?”  Sometimes it’s as simple as sending those three emails that have been in the back of my mind. Sometimes it’s as booking an appointment that has been on my to-do list. I always like to do one thing per day that is going to better myself and my future. Just doing something that’s going to make me proud of who I am.

I challenge everyone to wake up every single day and ask yourselves, “What is one thing I can do today that’s going to make me proud?”

To what would you attribute your success as an entrepreneur?

I’d attribute my success to having the confidence to not let other people’s opinions get to me. This hasn’t been easy. I’ve lost so many friends.  I’ve made temporary friends.  It’s not easy when you are starting something and you run your own business. You have to think differently. You have to move differently.  You have to want it so bad.  You have to want to do good.  You have to want to make a difference.  You have to put your heart and soul into it. So much has happened in one year, I’ve had management, chosen to let go of management, people have come and go. Ultimately it’s because I know how I want to do things and what I want to represent. I’ve been offered many opportunities that most people would be so happy to have, but I have turned them down to make sure I am true to myself, my future and my business. Not everyone is going to understand that.  I have always traded in going out at night to work, and I still do that.  I haven’t been in a romantic relationship since high-school. There are certain sacrifices, but I’ve gained a lot from them.

My success comes from doing what is on my chest and in my heart. It’s doing what I know I need to do and being persistent enough to not quit despite the noise that can be surrounding me, or even the noise that can be in my own mind.    

What career accomplishments would you say you are most proud of and why?

My greatest accomplishment has been taking a chance on myself and just doing it. What I’ve done is so far out of the universe from where I’m from.  I don’t think anyone thought I was capable of doing this.  It’s been about a year now, and this has already grown into much more than I or anyone around me ever thought it was going to be. So that’s my greatest accomplishment – showing myself that I can, I did and I will.

I’m also extremely proud of the small team I’ve built. My photographer, Cibelle, and my designer, Lindsey. I have two beautiful women who I get to work with in bringing my brand to life. As someone who has been alienated for most of her life, and as someone who’s struggled to find friends, job environments that worked for me, it’s a huge accomplishment to have these two souls that I love and are helping me along this journey and brining my visions to life.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in business and how did you go about it?

About 3 months after everything went viral, someone made a video about me. She talked about how the way I eat is not scientifically proven, but she took it a step further by negatively judging my character. She wasn’t just reviewing the way I eat, she was reviewing me as a human being and doing so without even knowing me as a person.

I woke up to 300 emails.  I was on the cover of Daily Mail and Cosmopolitan, and I was getting death threats.  People were saying that I looked botched, that I should die, and that my parents didn’t raise me right. I had no idea where it was coming from. I’m 3 months into this new life and business, and it hurt really bad.

The woman that reviewed me had no idea who I was.  She was doing it for her own publicity, and she grew a mass following and got a lot of attention from doing that.  It felt like I had a knife in my stomach during that time.  I hadn’t felt that hurt since my first heartbreak in high school. I didn’t know what to do. It took me down for 8 weeks. I didn’t know what to say or how to say it because at the time so many people were attacking me. People that would just come to my page to attack me. They never even followed me.

I haven’t shared this with anyone yet, probably because it’s a little too close to home, but I think it’s an important lesson and part of my journey. About 9 months ago, and when everything went viral, I came into a big chunk of money. I wanted to invest it wisely and do the best thing for my future. I immediately thought I should turn my 21 Reset Book into an app.  Without doing any real homework or research, I gave $100,000 to someone who said they could build me this app. That was a big mistake.  I thought I was being smart, but I didn’t handle it the right way.

It wasn’t until after that bad press hit that all of this really hit me at the same time. Not only was I grieving that intense press, but I was also grieving the amount of money I had just lost.  Now I believe that the $100,000 was never really mine. I didn’t have the maturity to have that kind of money at the time. It was a huge lesson for me, and a mistake that I won’t make again.

In the moment all this sucked, but it’s helped me grow and changed my business for the better.  It made my voice louder.  It made me not only talk about food, but also about being true to who you are, being a good person and not letting anyone bring you down.  I’ve realized that I just want to lead by being a good human and help other people do the same.

Despite going through these things that were pretty awful, it was important to have the willpower to turn them into something beautiful. I did that by just telling myself to keep going every single day until I got through it. I knew it was apart of my story for a reason and I knew it would make me more successful in the long run.  Eventually, I did get through it and it inspired me to write another book, which I launched in January and has been extremely successful. The book is called the Ten Day Reboot. It has my method of eating and all the food in it, but each day has a lesson around the power of your mind and the quality of your life. I took all of the lessons that I learned through those tough times and I put them in this new book.

My books are my learnings.  I learn and then I share. Now I’m only creating books after I have learned important lessons that I want to share. That’s essentially my business.  I’m going to keep going, keep living, keep learning and keep giving all of that to other people.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like? What’s your ultimate goal?

I feel good. I feel spring in the air. I just hired my first assistant, which I feel relieved about. I’m starting to realize that there’s only so much I can do alone.  I can’t go to the next level until I get help because I can’t do it all.  It’s very hard for me to say that as an Aries, as my own boss and as a fiery human being. However, I’ve come to this point where I’m surrendering to not being able to do it all and welcoming in that help.  That’s made me feel much lighter.

I have a few goals right now.  I have a couple more things that I’m building out as it relates to the food side of my business.  One of them will be launched soon, which is very exciting.  I want to give people the tools they need for the food they eat. I’m going to continue giving people the information they need to live a healthy lifestyle with food. Honestly, I have so many ideas it is just a matter of when I can drop each one. Ultimately, my dream is to speak in front of large audiences and I am starting that journey by creating my own podcast.  I want to do stuff that scares me and that people tell me I can’t do.

Software & Tools:

What software/tools do you use for your business?

My website is hosted Squarespace. It’s great because the back end is super user friendly so I am able to easily add in my blog content. My designer is building me an entire new custom website and I she’s building the code into Squarespace pro so I still have access to the simple user dash.

I use VSCO to edit all my photos. I really like keeping my unique look on everything I put out. I have a few preset filters I slap onto my photos before I put them on my IG stories as I really like having my own look.

If you could wave a magic wand and create any kind of software to help you scale your business up – what kind of tool would you build and why?

Something to do with organization. I have so many ideas, photos, notes, content that is scattered all over the place. I know there are so many programs to help with this but nothing I love yet. I am a dreamer, yet very visual. Some programs seem to industrial for me and I like to keep my dreams feeling like dreams. Not sure if that makes sense…but I would love a software for the dreamer who has to have a system.

What tools, other than software, do you use for your business and why?

Notes on my phone. Because I have a million thoughts per minute. I have to write things down always. I use my notes every day.

I also use an old fashion notebook. I make lists and cross off the box. This works for me. Call me old school but I love crossing a task off.

Resources:

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources you’ve learned from along your journey? Why?

Ed Mylett podcast. I binged listened to Ed Mylett when I needed that push to keep going, follow my heart and go against the grain. His podcast has played a huge role in the human I am now.

What courses have you taken that have been beneficial to you?

The Institute of Integrative Nutrition. This is the online health coaching school I attended. Super amazing experience.

The other course I took that I really value was the BYLR (Build Your Life Resume) by Jesse Itlzer. Super valuable for the business side of things. I found Jesse through Ed Mylett.

Where would you steer someone looking to learn more about business and food?

Personal research, trial and error AND the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

Where would you steer someone looking to learn more about business and food?

Lately, I’ve gotten very into human design. Everyone has a different human design.  It’s similar to astrology, but more universal.  When you’re living in alignment with what your human design is, you’re living in line with the universe. The universe already has a path for you, and if you start living your truth and who you really are, then the universe will show you the way. When you’re not living in your truest form, the universe doesn’t know what to give you.

So, what I’ve really been working on is myself.  We must decondition ourselves to truly live within our souls, and I’ve done a lot of that, but it takes constant work. I’m really taking the time right now to learn about my soul’s calling.  Everyone has an opinion, but I just want to have the strength to look within and keep listening to my intuition.

Final Question:

What is one thing you’d like to share with people based on your experience?

If I can leave people with one piece of advice it would be to listen to yourself and block out the noise. Do things that make you proud.  Give yourself the space to be you with no one around you. Embrace loneliness, and learn about yourself. Do things that are for you.

Trust the process.  There will be days with no movement and things won’t happen.  There will be days where you take three steps backwards.  It’s about trusting the bigger picture and having faith. Trust yourself. You can be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do.  The only thing that gets in our way is our minds that tell us we can’t.  If you believe it will work, it will.

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