Author Lisa Kiersky Schreiber On The Book That Changed Her Life
An Interview With Sara Connell
That continuous learning and growth should be the ultimate objective, not job titles or material things. Having a growth mindset is imperative because that job title or the material thing can go away. But knowing you always have the option to learn more and try new things means you can find a way to bounce back if necessary.
Books have the power to shape, influence, and change our lives. Why is that so? What goes into a book that can shape lives? To address this we are interviewing people who can share a story about a book that changed their life, and why. As a part of our series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Kiersky Schreiber.
Lisa is an author and nutrition/health coach who rejects perfection and serves as a guide for clients who are looking to slowly change their behaviors. Her book, “The Meal Deal — Blaze Your Own Trail to a Healthier Eating Lifestyle,” helps people get off the diet carousel by creating and practicing small nutrition habits that can lead to a lifetime of healthier eating. She believes that books can transform lives and help people become their best selves. One, in particular, had that kind of impact on her.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory” and how you grew up?
I was a child of the 70’s, when latch-key kids were the norm. We had a kind of freedom and independence that is less common in many of the generations that have since followed. My mom and dad, along with most of their friends, were big advocates for the Equal Rights Amendment. So, we were living in a household and an era where women were finally being encouraged to fight for equality and be seen and heard. Despite this, women were still finding that speaking up made them come across as too much, so society was giving us mixed messages about how much was enough. I think this led many of the women in my generation to forge ahead, but quietly. While I have always been a die-hard advocate of women’s rights, I believe that it’s only been the last 10 or so years that I feel I’ve been embracing my voice and putting it out there unapologetically.
My parents were big on helping me and my sister explore our emotions. They urged me to be a voracious reader, embrace and enhance diversity, and always be curious about the world. It was a colorful, exciting, growth-oriented, and culture-rich environment to grow up in, and one I’m extraordinarily grateful for.
Let’s talk about what you are doing now, and how you achieved the success that you currently enjoy. Can you tell our readers a bit about the work you are doing?
I’m just beginning to establish myself as a health coach. Because writing is one of my biggest passions, as is wellness, I’ve been blogging and contributing to articles about nutrition, fitness, and mindset, and am slowly beginning to take on clients to light the path as they follow their wellness journeys. I published “The Meal Deal — Blaze Your Own Trail to a Healthier Eating Lifestyle” last year to help readers set up their surroundings so they can begin creating and practicing healthier eating habits. My goal is to use the book, my continued writing efforts, the PN Level 2 Coaching Certification, and my motivational interviewing skills to help clients move forward with their nutrition and fitness objectives, in addition to doing a lot of mindset work.
I’m also on the path to getting my NBHWC certification to become a nationally recognized health coach so that I can be an even better client-centered guide.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Authenticity — I have always refused to be someone I’m not in order to become what society deems a “success.” Being authentic to myself and showing up that way for others has allowed me to feel like I never sacrificed one of my core values. When I started attending a freelance writer’s group many years ago, I landed a regular column in a local newspaper. It wasn’t because I asked for it, or even knew about the job. I think it was because I got to know the editor on a personal basis and was always genuine with her without expecting anything and our energies jived, so when she was looking for someone to write for her, she reached out to me.
Curiosity — Never one to be complacent with the status quo, I find that being curious has afforded me a great deal of knowledge many people don’t take the time to acquire. It’s easy to stick with things people think are working and not question how they could be better. I’ve always been a strong and active listener, and I much prefer to learn about other people or how things work, so that opens doors because people seem to respond to others who are curious just for the sake of wanting to know more with no hidden agenda.
Growth Mindset — Believing that our abilities aren’t set in stone and can be revisited, improved, and redefined at any time has allowed me to work through situations that might have been less than ideal. When I feel stuck, I remind myself that it’s never too late to learn or try something new. My first job out of college was as a graphic artist, but there was no clear path for me in that position, and my interest in the job at hand waned quickly. After almost minoring in economics in school and working with several economists in my department, I spent a lot of time learning what that job would entail. I think my curiosity and growth mindset helped me move into an economist role after people started noticing my enthusiasm.
What’s the WHY behind the work that you do? Please share a story about this if you can.
When I was studying for Precision Nutrition Level 2, we did an exercise called the “Five Whys.” It’s meant to help you get to the core of why you want to do something so that you can recall the big why as motivation when you get stuck. You could do this exercise a hundred times and end up with a hundred difference whys. But one of my constant whys is a strong desire to help women lead their healthiest lives and feel comfortable in their skin so they can be independent for as long as possible.
After a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease at the age of 28, I delved into research and decided to overhaul my nutrition, fitness, and stress levels to see if I could get my symptoms under control. That work proved to be life-changing for me. I went into complete remission, very rare in Crohn’s patients, and became so fascinated by how nutrition, fitness, and other lifestyle choices can impact our daily lives that I started seeking out certifications so I could help other women get their health under control. Wanting to impart to other people how good it feels to feel good and how they can get there became my big WHY behind the work I do.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My mom is one of my biggest role models. She’s always been whip-smart and determined, and when she finds a cause meaningful to her, she goes all in. She’s always on my side and supports everything I’ve ever done.
There has been no greater privilege than having my husband/best friend as my fiercest supporter. Having met in college, we’ve spent the last 30 years growing together and cheering each other on. The amount of encouragement I get from him and my mom is immeasurable. I pick their brains and have deep conversations with both of them daily.
Both my mom and my husband appreciate who I am and always let me know that I am a true success as a person in their eyes. While I don’t necessarily have a lot of confidence in terms of my knowledge and abilities, I do know that I have two remarkable people who love and respect me unconditionally. It’s an amazing gift, and it means everything to me.
Awesome! Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. I’m an author and I believe that books have the power to change lives. Can you please tell our readers about “The Book That Changed Your Life”? Can you share a story about how it impacted you?
I was battling with a lack of meaning and slight depression, so I started going to therapy to figure out what was hanging over my head and preventing me from doing things that I longed to do. And while I was in therapy, I came across a remarkable book called “Playing Big — Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead,” by Tara Mohr. It had never occurred to me that I had been playing small my whole life, but it struck a chord and I realized that this was exactly why I was struggling at this moment. I wanted to do more, to be more. But I had a lot of obstacles to overcome to get there (a lack of self-confidence being the biggest one). I had to work on figuring out what playing big looked like for me. I had to be willing to put myself out there and learn to manage the judgment of others if I wanted to try making a difference in the world, something I had been craving for as long as I can remember.
“Playing Big” gave me a tremendous amount of relief after learning that I was far from the only woman who struggles to play bigger. It’s a theme I recognized from when I was younger, when I yearned for women to take up more space in the world. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t doing just that. Once I began embracing the notion of playing bigger, I used Tara Mohr’s work as a playbook to slowly start testing the waters of being out there and being okay with making mistakes, learning from them, and building the grit to keep going.
What was the moment or series of events that made you decide that you wanted to take a specific course of action based on the inspiration from the book? Can you share a story about that?
I was sitting in my therapist’s office one day talking about “Playing Big” and telling her that I had been writing a book for probably over eight years. She asked me how badly I wanted to publish the book on a scale of 0–10, and, without hesitation, I said 11. Without thinking about it, she on the spot had me e-mail an editor I had worked with in the past and was considering asking to edit the book, and she watched me hit send. I published the book about a year later.
Can you articulate why you think books in particular have the power to create movements, revolutions, and true change?
When someone sees themselves reflected in a character or something similar to their life story in a book, they can become inspired to go on a similar journey. Here’s a person who resonates with them so much that they now have a model to emulate so they can begin to play on a bigger stage and make significant changes in the world.
Books like “Playing Big,” can inspire us to take a hard look at who we are and how we can begin to make changes to honor our true selves.
“The Light Side of the Dark Chasers,” by Debbie Ford, brings out our humanity by using compassion to acknowledge our dark sides. This can make us more capable of recognizing other peoples’ dark sides and working to understand and accept them.
“Big Magic,” by Elizabeth Gilbert, allows us to nurture our creativity and find the strength to put pieces of our soul into the world.
Books also help us see commonalities between ourselves and other humans, as well as differences so that we can build empathy and learn to understand, embrace, and celebrate others. A remarkable book like Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” could help a young, black girl or woman dare to make her mark on the world. Any of Judy Blume’s works can inspire a young woman to become secure in her identity. Or how about the classic Pulitzer Prize winner “To Kill a Mockingbird?” What better example is there of a book that explores race in such a gripping manner?
Books have the power to exponentially grow and transform our minds. If we go into the book with curiosity and an open mind, we can begin to unfold things that have been hidden or dormant in ourselves that could make a difference in how we experience the world, as well as our contributions to it.
A book has many aspects, of course. For example, you have the writing style, the narrative tense, the topic, the genre, the design, the cover, the size, etc. In your opinion, what are the main, essential ingredients needed to create a book that can change lives?
It has to reach the right audience at the right time in their lives. And it should probably cover a timeless topic — its subject matter will always be relevant to someone. With “Playing Big,” there will always be people (women, in particular) who feel like they’ve been playing small and want to be in the bigger arena of life. From “Think Again,” by Adam Grant, we might get that there will always be room for people to rethink their knowledge and question their beliefs or assumptions. Books that spark creativity or challenge you can also change lives because they foster a growth mindset. Brene Brown’s work has always resonated with me, and her books on vulnerability, shame, and other emotions are relevant because humans will always grapple with their feelings.
Even works that tackle big subjects like race or other social issues will likely be timeless. And they’re particularly significant because we often need to keep history from repeating itself.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started My Career” and why?
- That there is no such thing as “linear.” I started my career as a graphic artist with zero experience. By getting to know some of the other things that went on in my department, I found an interest in economics and ended up in that role for several years. That re-triggered an interest in writing, something that had always been a passion for me, which lead to becoming a freelance writer. I also become enthusiastic about nutrition, fitness, and mindset after a health scare. When combined with writing, this translated into finding space in the wellness industry. Letting go of some kind of ideal timeline for your career allows you to keep your eyes open for opportunities to do the things you love and lead to a path you might never have imagined.
- Success is subjective! I was never cut out for corporate America, and I knew that early on. But just because my criteria for success never involved having a job with a big title, that didn’t mean I couldn’t be successful by my own metrics. In the end, it really only matters if you feel successful at life. For me, that meant answering questions like: Have I done things and contributed in ways that felt meaningful to me as often as possible? Have I lived authentically? Am I living my core values? It took me a long time to recognize that I already meet my definition of success in so many ways.
- When I was studying for the Precision Nutrition Level 2 certification, I learned that action kills anxiety, something I wish I had understood early on. Experimenting and taking chances to see what works, then letting go if it doesn’t, and recognizing that there’s no such thing as failure. There’s only trying and learning what does and does not work. You only fail if you don’t learn something. But you do have to push yourself out of your comfort zone now and then and try things instead of just making assumptions. I do think I missed out on some great opportunities because I never gave them a chance. And taking the time to discover what you learned from your experiences is crucial. This gives you a chance to figure out where you can make things better, or where you might be a better fit.
- That continuous learning and growth should be the ultimate objective, not job titles or material things. Having a growth mindset is imperative because that job title or the material thing can go away. But knowing you always have the option to learn more and try new things means you can find a way to bounce back if necessary.
- I honestly believe, and there are endless studies that would back me up, that stress can manifest in the body and may be linked to illness. I battled a chronic disease at the age of 28 because my job was too much for me, and my husband was in school full-time getting his graduate degree so I couldn’t just quit (I got fired instead). Our income rested almost solely on my shoulders. Find ways to reduce/relieve stress, because NO JOB is worth the kind of harm it can inflict on your body (and your mind)!
The world, of course, needs progress in many areas. What movement do you hope someone (or you!) starts next? Can you explain why that is so important?
A Kindness Movement! This is a big one for me. I find it incredibly difficult sometimes living in a world where so many people have lost the fundamental ability to be kind. It just doesn’t take that much to offer a kind word or gesture, and it can make someone feel seen and valued. It starts with being kind to ourselves, and from there it can trickle down and make a meaningful difference in someone else’s life.
I truly believe that a kindness revolution could change the world. I’ll always be willing to continue my quest to make that happen.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
https://lisakschreiber.com/blog or https://lisakschreiber.com/media%2Fappearances
Balanced Healthstyles: https://balancedhealthstyles.com/lisa-kiersky-schreiber/
Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us and our readers. We know that it will make a tremendous difference and impact thousands of lives. We are excited to connect further and we wish you so much joy in your next success.