Esther Blum is an integrative dietitian, high-performance coach, and bestselling author. She teaches her clients how to become fit and healthy through healing their relationship with food and unconditionally loving their bodies. Blum is the bestselling author of Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat, Eat, Drink and Be Gorgeous, Secrets of Gorgeous, and The Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous Project.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up in Fairfield, CT but spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ farmhouse in Ridgefield on a 25-acre farm and also at their house in Flatbush, Brooklyn. My grandfather Harry Blum was a huge influence in my life. He was one of the first to graduate medical school at NYU in 1921 and became a super successful ENT. My grandmother Reggie was a dietitian and he trained her to be the anesthesiologist and administer the ether during tonsillectomies. The two of them took out my tonsils in the operating room on the first floor of their Flatbush home! My grandfather continued to do surgeries until he was 80 and after that worked 4 days a week seeing patients until he was 95 ½. He then spent the final 10 years of his life painting 4 hours a day until he died at 105 ½! 

My father followed in his footsteps and became a beloved dermatologist and my mother was a post-partum nurse. So caring for others and helping them heal was something I grew up witnessing firsthand. I was surrounded by science, biochemistry, and compassionate healers and was hungry to be part of that world. To this day I’m so grateful I’ve had my career so far—It fills my bucket every day to know I’m helping people feel better and making a difference.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

Perfect is the enemy of done!

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

I think the most egregious thing I see is people giving out nutrition advice who are not qualified to do so—especially when they don’t actually have a practice or see patients. This leads to disinformation that is emotionally driven and not based on science or research.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

After 9/11 I struggled to maintain my nutrition practice. I had student loans, a 5th Avenue office in NYC, and apartment rent. My landlord lost the lease on the floor that housed my office and I couldn’t afford anything new on the market, so I closed my practice. After 6 months I worked as an office manager in a hedge fund and also started writing my first book, “Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous.” Six months later, Dr. Perricone opened a medi-spa on Madison Avenue and I landed the position as the Nutrition Director there. Unbeknownst to me, the Store Director pitched my book idea to Dr. Perricone’s agent. I met with him, gave him my proposal, and the rest is history! The book is still selling 13 years later and Suzanne Vega named it one of her top 10 cultural must-haves in the New York Times this year.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

Persistence and tenacity. I’ve never set a goal that I have not reached or surpassed. It doesn’t always happen in the timeframe I envision, but it always happens.

What is your morning routine?

Wake up at 6:10, have a mug of steamed almond milk with cinnamon and a bomb of protein—either in a smoothie with chia seeds, a veggie omelet, steak, or smoked salmon. Then I make my son breakfast and take my dog Rowdy out walking for an hour. In the winter I’ll sit in my infrared sauna after the walk for 30 minutes. I’ll hop in the shower, toss on jeans, high tops, and a sweater, and get to work seeing patients by 9:30 am.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Being very mindful of who I surround myself with and what projects I take on is key. My family always comes first and I build my business around them. So if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no!

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

I have an amazing business coach who helps me get clear on my goals and batch my time with clients. I also have a tech VA who helps me run the back end of my business. I’m a big fan of writing lists, staying organized, and purging clutter. It helps me think much more clearly. I also turn off my phone by 8 pm most nights and decompress. If I don’t tend to declutter my mind, I lose a lot of creativity. Lastly, I’ve eliminated caffeine and drink alcohol rarely—I find I’m far more productive and have much more energy as a result.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown changed the way I took ownership of my relationships and my actions.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

Maya Angelou—”When someone shows you who they are the first time, believe them.”