Cynthia Pasquella-Garcia overcame extreme trauma as a child to transform her own life by helping others transform as an entrepreneur, celebrity nutritionist, bestselling author, in-demand speaker, TV and media personality, and philanthropist. CEO of the Institute for Transformational Nutrition (ITN) Cynthia shares her go-to advice for women in business, and it’s about getting out of our bubbles of isolation and knowing our boundaries.
Melinda Wittstock: Cynthia, welcome to Wings.
Cynthia Garcia: Thank you so much, Melinda. It’s such an honor.
Melinda Wittstock: I am always so excited to connect with you and I know there’s so much change going on in your life and all the lives of entrepreneurs all the time, so what is inspiring you right now?
Cynthia Garcia: Yeah, that’s a great question. It is a very busy time and I’m sure it’s like that for many of us female entrepreneurs. I feel like we juggle so much in any given day, any given week, just every point in our lives, but the thing that’s really inspiring me right now, having said that, is really setting boundaries. I just a few weeks ago, Melinda, hit a bit of a wall and I realized that I was focusing on all of the wrong things, and I’ve heard “Set boundaries, say no. If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no.” I’ve heard that advice so many times and I think it’s great advice and I didn’t always take it.
I think that some times we have to learn our lessons the hard way, so I really hit a wall and I was feeling a little burned out and super fatigued. My mental health was really taking a beating and physically I had just … I was recovering from a broken foot. There was all of these things going on, so I just stopped and I got really clear on what my priorities are and listed them out in order. The first priority was myself and my health, and my healing, because without that, I can’t really give to anything else that’s on my list, any other role that I play.
Second, of course, is my family, my children, my husband, and so on and so forth. Got really clear on where work came into play, where friends and family came into play, where my home came into play. And when I did that, it made, things just sort of became crystal clear. And even though work was fourth on my list, my career was fourth on my list, it was number one on my calendar. So, I went and just … I sort of pressed the reset button and I cleared everything off and I put me first. Then I put my family on. And the times that are left over, those are for everything else on the list.
Obviously, listed those, I broke my time down in order of my priorities and I really have to tell you, it has completely changed my life. This might sound basic and simple, however putting it into action was truly transformative. It was really powerful to just start living my life differently. And I’m all about transformation. Change doesn’t scare me. I thrive off of it. I feel like you’re sort of the same way. So, it’s been a really important thing for me. The thing that’s inspiring me right now is really setting and sticking to those boundaries and truly saying no and meaning it.
Melinda Wittstock: I love that. And also what you said about it’s one thing to talk about, because we all do as entrepreneurs, we all pay lip service to putting ourselves first, but how many of us actually do it?
Cynthia Garcia: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s transformational. When you look at your calendar and see that, I went through that exercise not so long ago and I didn’t realize where I was just wasting time, frankly, or-
Cynthia Garcia: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: … I wasn’t budgeting for time that I really needed and I was wondering why I was feeling burnt out, and that was why.
Cynthia Garcia: Yeah. I think just women by default, we’re not always great at this, because we tend to be nurturers and caregivers. Even when we’re running our business, we’re taking care of our team and we’re taking care of our customers, and it’s just what we do. It’s interesting, because men don’t do that. Men are very quick to put themselves and their needs first and foremost, which is fine and probably be a great example for us to follow. But at the same time, you have to find what works for you. I think getting clear and doing this exercise for yourself as opposed to just paying lip service to it is really powerful.
Melinda Wittstock: Absolutely. So, this is an interesting segue into what’s challenging you right now, ’cause it feels like you overcame a challenge with your foot, which was probably a sign from the universe to slow down, or sit down, or something like that. But I love demystifying challenge, because for all the people listening to this that wonder why they’re being challenged all the time as an entrepreneur, it’s part of the territory and how can we change our mindset around it to really embrace it and use it to grow.
So, what are some of the things that are challenging you right now?
Cynthia Garcia: Gosh, that’s such a great question. I love that. Yes. Boundaries and my own personal time was a big challenge, and I’ll just be really vulnerable ’cause I’m feeling it and it’s coming up for me in the moment, but I’ll tell you what’s challenging me. What’s challenging me is really speaking my truth in a bigger way so that more people can hear it. And sharing my experience and my knowledge, and that truth with others in hopes that it liberates them to do the same.
So, I have spent … I’ve been an entrepreneur for a really long time. I’ve been in the health and wellness and transformation space for over 15 years, and for the last several years, last three years as a matter of fact, I’ve been really perfecting a health coaching process, a health coaching system to just really remove all of the guesswork from health coaching and give coaches a system that is foolproof so that they feel confident and credible. We’ve been building our institute, it’s called The Institute of Transformational Nutrition. We have state and federal approval. We are actually a school. We are accredited now in many different countries, and our content and curriculum is really just state of the art. So, I have dedicated the last three years to this project and it kind of became my identity in a way, Melinda, and I backed away from the things that I was doing for my own personal brand, if you will. I let this consume me.
What I realized, I woke up a few months ago and was just like, “Who am I? This isn’t fun anymore,” and I really felt stifled and held back in a big way. It was really interesting and I just, again, sort of lost my sense of identity. That didn’t feel good. And I had just become so consumed with the quality of the work and the deadlines, and the approvals, and the accredited, and all of this stuff that came with building what’s an amazing business and I am so proud of it. But at the end of the day, I realized I had lost myself. I had lost my truth somewhere along the way.
I’m so passionate about this because it was a program like this that quite literally saved my life many years ago, so I understand why I got to that place, why I let it consume me, but what I’m really interested in now and the challenge … I don’t really like to think of it as a challenge, to be honest, I like to think of it as an opportunity, because shortly after I came to that realization and I remember just sitting on the couch just thinking, “What have I done? What am I doing?”
It’s interesting. I got on a plane that same day. I flew. I live in tow different cities, so I flew to our other home and walking down the stairs, I had my phone in my hand, Melinda, still like just reeling from some things that had happened that day. But I was in a good place and I just took a deep breath and said, “Ugh, I need a break.” I took one more step and I broke my foot. It was like, “Really?” So the healing, the physical healing has been difficult, I’ll be really honest. It’s really tough being a strong, independent woman and then all of a sudden having to lean on others for support and help and not being able to walk and carry things, ’cause you have your crutches.
So, that’s been tough, but the metaphysical healing, that’s really where the magic has happened and I started to realize breaking my foot, it has to do with stepping forward, stepping out, really owning the truth, stepping up into a bigger role. What I’m really excited about right now and I’ve spent a few weeks getting clearer on this, is just sharing what I’ve learned through this last journey and getting back to the root of who I am and again, sharing that truth, sharing my journey, because I know that it can help so many other women. That’s how I got through the journey, is by reading books and gathering advice and listening to great podcasts like this one. Those things have really pulled me through. I’ve been able to see myself in women and men, too, and thinking, “Me too. That could help me.”
So, I just realized that I wasn’t really putting that information out and the universe wasn’t having it, so it’s been great. It’s been difficult and challenging, but it’s also been extremely rewarding and I feel like I’m in a really, really great place right now and excited about everything to come.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, that’s beautiful. It’s so interesting how the challenges are the things that really make us grow and set up the conditions for the next phase of amazingness that I know you are literally stepping to, now with both feet again.
Cynthia Garcia: Right?
Melinda Wittstock: Absolutely. So Cynthia, what are your top three go to pieces of advice? And I know you have much more than that, but if you were to think about just three things that are really game changing for women in business and female entrepreneurs, what are they?
Cynthia Garcia: Great question again. The number one thing is find a supportive group of people to surround yourself with. For me, that has really been so huge. I don’t do well alone. It’s lonely out there. We work in our bubbles and even though we have teams that we work with, our teams are not the same as other entrepreneurs doing things that you’re doing, right? So, I found that by really connecting to people who are going through the same things I’m going through, like yourself, and some other really amazing women, and a few good men too, that that has really changed everything.
I used to think I could just do it alone. I was totally fine, “I’ve got this. I’m good.” And the truth is that I didn’t and I wasn’t good. So, having a support network is just so critical and you know you can reach out to them for anything, whether you’re just having a bad day or you need to find a contact that works at XYZ magazine. It makes the process more fun, more enjoyable, and much more rewarding to be on that journey with others, so having that support network is huge, because it’s tough out there and it’s not always easy running your own business. So, having people that have been there before who say, “I know. I get it. And here’s some advice that might help,” is just critical.
That would be the number one thing. Your mindset would be the number two thing. Really cultivating a powerful mindset. As female entrepreneurs, we face a lot of challenges out there and we’re told, “You can’t. It won’t,” all of these things all day long. And there’s so many other things that come along with that, so many other frustrations that we face. We don’t get as much funding. I know you know a lot about this and it’s such an interesting thing. You don’t always receive recognition. You don’t always get the same support. So, it can be tough and I’ve found that if your mindset isn’t dialed in, those things can truly crush you. Not just your business, but your soul, your spirit, the reason you started doing this in the first place. It can really clip your wings.
So, for me, just making it a daily habit of focusing on my intentions and what I’m calling in and what I’m creating, and not allowing the negative things to even come in, because as soon as they enter my mind, then they’re possibilities, which is not okay. I have room for that. But that takes practice and it’s not something you just start doing randomly and it serves you. You have to work on this every single day. So, every day I spend time journaling and meditating and really cultivating a positive, powerful mindset. And I think it’s critical for women in business.
The third thing, which sort of goes along with that, but is a much bigger umbrella is self care. Again, going back to the conversation we were just having around women doing it all and taking it all on, and not saying no, and I certainly have fallen into that trap, as I shared. What I’m realizing is if we don’t put ourselves first, nothing else truly matters that much. I mean, in a lot of cases, we’re running these businesses, you are the business. I’m sure we’ve all built great teams and that’s wonderful, but we are the visionaries. We are the creators and we need to show up. And if we’re not caring for ourselves, we’re not sleeping, we’re not eating healthy, we’re not just taking some thinking time and white space away from things to just kind of come back into ourselves, then your business isn’t going to grow. Your team isn’t going to be happy. Your life isn’t going to be what you … the one that you want to live. You’re not going to be showing up for your children and your loved ones. That all starts with you.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” It’s so true. I grew up in the south and I remember the preacher used to always say that and I had no idea. I was like, “Well yeah, of course, if the cup’s empty, you can’t pour from it.” Never registered on my little eight year old ears what he actually meant. But I get it now. Self care, really putting yourself first and honoring that time for you is huge, and I don’t think I would be where I am without it. It’s crucial.
Melinda Wittstock: Beautiful. Cynthia, you offer so much to the world. For a ll the people listening who want to be able to be in touch with you or work with you, or do one of your programs, what’s the best way that they can find you?
Cynthia Garcia: Yeah, that’s a great question. CynthiaGarcia.com is the website. You can head over there. I’m finally changing my branding to my married name, Melinda. It’s so exciting. That’s a great place for people to go and get lots of great videos. There’s a show I do called What You’re Really Hungry For, so helping women understand what it is that truly feeds them so they can create an inspiring life on purpose. All of that’s there. I’m also on social media @IAmCynthiaGarcia, so you can check that out as well. Yeah, I’d love to be able to support your audience.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, I love what you’re doing in the world and such great advice. Thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us today.
Cynthia Garcia: Thank you, Melinda.