Tony Paradis was one of the first dietitians I met in Dallas at a Nutrition Entrepreneurs mini-meeting about a year ago. It was so refreshing (and inspiring) to meet a young RD who had already started a business and was paving his own way in the nutrition and fitness world, which gave me hope for my own career ambitions. I’ve also had the opportunity to hear him speak on the benefits for dietitians in forming partnerships with personal trainers– he’s a great speaker and has a refreshing “real-world” perspective on nutrition that he shares with his clients.
Tony, tell us a little about yourself and how you got where you are today.
My name is Tony Paradis. I am a registered and licensed dietitian and certified personal trainer. I have been involved in sports all my life. I have a degree from Texas Tech University in Nutrition Sciences and am certified as a personal trainer and Olympic weightlifting coach through USA Weightlifting. I’m the author of 2 books, experienced as a public speaker, and have competed in the obstacle course on American Ninja Warrior. I enjoy a good book, stargazing, and long walks on the beach…
I’m the owner of Food and Fitness in Lewisville, TX. We combine the expertise of a licensed dietitian, personal trainers, and a private chef to give our clients a complete package experience with their fitness journey.
I am dedicated to each and every client and create a nutrition and exercise program to fit their specific needs and personality. My clients enjoy working with me because I am personable and passionate about helping people. I believe that good nutrition is the foundation of a healthy body.
What got you interested in the field of nutrition?
It probably started when I was on the high school wrestling team. We did a lot of stupid things to make weight for competitions. I wanted to stay in the lower weight classes to be on top of the competition but I ended up graduation HS as a little shrimp. I was 5’8” and weighed 120 lbs. I started to develop a passion for lifting weights and building muscle. I really enjoyed the cooking and nutrition research part of that.
Also when I was younger, I used to see a quack chiropractor who used a method called applied kinesiology. He did a muscle testing procedure and diagnosed me a corn allergy. So I cut it out of my diet for many years and was afraid to eat most processed foods or anything with corn in it. It was an awful diet that was unnecessary for me to be on. Part of my passion as a RD is guiding people toward evidence based practices and using flexible dieting approaches.
What is your favorite part of going to work every day?
Besides the part where I have a big screen TV and leather couch and refrigerator in the break room of my gym? I love everything about my job. Of course working with people and helping them change their lives is very intrinsically gratifying to me. I’d have to say it’s the variety overall. One minute I’m helping a client with her diet for IBS, the next it’s for sports performance, I might go out onto the gym floor and train a client, or maybe go give a nutrition speech to a local company or organization. It’s never a slow day (as long as I have my coffee!)
What is the biggest challenge of being a dietitian in your field?
Self discipline and not accepting mediocrity. As a business owner, you’re responsible for your own schedule and what you see as acceptable progress in your endeavors. I’m always fulfilled but I stay hungry. I think that’s the key to moving forward in your goals and finding happiness in life. Sometimes I fall into the category of “workaholic” but I’m learning to make time for myself these days too.
Do you follow any certain diet?
I count calories and macronutrients and try to incorporate some plant based foods with every meal. Right now I’m focusing on building muscle getting ready for a weight lifting competition in December so I’m in a caloric excess. When I gain enough weight, I cut down my calories and increase my protein to keep my lean muscle mass and lose fat. It’s a typical “cutting” and “bulking” cycle that a lot of bodybuilders do.
What is one food you couldn’t live without?
Milk. It’s really the perfect food. It makes a good side to any meal and of course is a main ingredient in things like cheese and ice cream.
What is the top tip you give your patients/clients?
I have 5 pillars of nutrition that I give as guidelines to all my clients.
4. Pleasure in the diet
5. Food is fuel
What is your favorite place to go or thing to do in your city?
I really like playing disc golf. If you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out. It’s free, easy to learn, and you can drink beer while you’re doing it. Triple bonus!
What advice would you give someone interested in a career in the nutrition field?
Find someone who is doing what you want to do and ask them to be your mentor. I really look up to a dietitian named Eve Pearson who owns a company called Nutriworks in the DFW area. If you like what I do, check out the internship program I offer at my business, Food and Fitness.
Also, you really have to work hard to make it on your own in this business so you better have passion for what you do. You can love the bread but you also have to love eating the crust. Waking up at 4:00am to make a 5am appointment gets really old really fast if you’re not in love with what you do.
Check out my website and get a free copy of my book, Lean for Life by signing up for my newsletter at www.FoodandFitnessOnline.com
Interview by Megan Ware, RDN, LD. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in Dallas, TX.