Katie featured in Rhode Island Inno

“Self-Care Is Not Selfish”: Meet bnourished CEO Katie McDonald

By Bram Berkowitz

Katie McDonald built a very successful career as an advertising executive.

She worked for Time, selling ads across 45 national publications including Businessweek, Forbes, Sports Illustrated and InStyle Magazine. She led a division of Time in Seattle and also established the company’s presence in upstate New York.

But as McDonald advanced in her career, her personal life fell apart. She didn’t take care of herself. She developed a slew of health issues: ulcerative colitis, pneumonia, shingles, asthma, allergies, depression and anxiety.

Knowing she needed a change, McDonald charted a new path, leaving her job and taking courses on wellness, well-being, productivity, spirituality, mindfulness and plant-based nutrition.

Now, having taken care of her personal issues and recovered, McDonald wants to help others who are struggling—like she was—achieve a more balanced and vibrant life. Her company, bnourished, seeks to help overwhelmed professionals focus on their own well-being, so they can get back to doing what they do best without sacrificing their health.

“I didn’t know how to be productive and still take care of myself,” McDonald told Rhode Island Inno. “My clients are high achievers. They know how to get stuff done and show up for everyone else—their businesses and their employees—but they don’t know how to show up for themselves. I had to completely fall apart in order to wake up. I get to people before they get to that point.”

McDonald’s clients include burned-out executives and entrepreneurs from all over the country and Europe, as well as workplace, community and family leaders. Typically, these people will come to her lacking piece of mind, suffering from what she calls “too-muchness,” anxiety, digestive issues and more.

McDonald said clients tend to find her after they have pretty much tried everything else, or when their employees or co-workers literally tell them they need to get help.

To be clear, McDonald said she does not consider herself an executive coach or a therapist, but rather a “self-care strategist.” Her job is to not be a guru, but to assist clients with the responsibility and power of just being themselves, she said.

“I’m not pussyfooting around, and I’m not right for everybody. I can sniff out whether somebody is going to be as invested as I am, and if not, I am not the right person for you.”

The program McDonald normally runs with clients is about six months long.

McDonald starts by asking clients what they want their future self looks like. She works with the client to tweak certain expectations if necessary, and then it’s game on.

McDonald meets with clients once every two weeks and gives them homework in between. The assignments consist of things like tracking their time in 30-minute intervals or tweaking their office environment so it supports well-being and productivity.

Make no mistake: McDonald stresses that she is very straightforward with people and will hold them accountable, as well as provide tools so clients can hold themselves accountable.

“I will call you on your [expletive] very fast,” she said. “I’m not pussyfooting around, and I’m not right for everybody. I can sniff out whether somebody is going to be as invested as I am, and if not, I am not the right person for you.”

McDonald said she pushes her clients because she knows they are high achievers who are doing amazing things with their lives.

Her goal, she said, is to help them realize that not only is it okay to take care of themselves, but doing so will actually make them be better workers, employers, family members and leaders.

“We have too much on our plate, literally and figuratively, and we can’t stomach it,” said McDonald. “Self-care is not selfish.”

This article was originally published by Rhode Island Inno here.


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