Chanay Walton of A Better Weigh On The 5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry
An Interview With Luke Kervin
Leadership. My main aim is to create leaders within my organization. When teams have respect for upper management and have the support to get to that role themselves, each member is able to thrive as an individual and as a part of the larger picture. This is how we are able to grow, because we are constantly learning.
The global health and wellness market is worth more than 1.5 trillion dollars. So many people are looking to improve their physical, mental, and emotional wellness. At the same time, so many people are needed to help provide these services. What does it take to create a highly successful career in the health and wellness industry?
In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry” we are talking to health and wellness professionals who can share insights and stories from their experiences.
In this particular interview, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Chanay Walton.
Chanay Walton is the Founder & CEO of A Better Weigh, Inc, a Chicago-based weight loss center that brings faster, safer and long-lasting weight loss results using FDA-approved medications, lipotropic formulas and proprietary supplements. Through her own postpartum struggle with weight loss and work as a nurse, Chanay realized the importance and challenge of maintaining diets, nutrition and weight management practices and opened A Better Weigh in 2009 as a solution. With quick success, she opened a second location and launched the franchise opportunity to expand locations across the midwest and beyond. Chanay is also the Founder & CEO of MyPay Circle, Inc, an app that manages personalized payment arrangements to organize and split costs of trips and large functions. Chanay received a Women in Tech Award as a Women in Tech Disruptor for the app and plans to launch in 2022. Chanay’s strength in brand development, market analysis and marketing strategy has allowed her to become the successful entrepreneur that she is today.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you grew up?
I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago in a neighborhood called North Kenwood — Oakland (6 miles away from Downtown Chicago) with my parents and older brother. As a middle class family, we dealt with the same trials and tribulations that so many do, but overall my childhood was great and memorable. I knew I would own my own business from a very young age. No one in my family was an entrepreneur or owner of their own business so I strived to become the first one. Before starting my own business, I worked odd jobs that ranged from security to gift wrapping, and began a career as a nurse. While I loved helping people, though, I always had the dream to work for myself in the back of my mind. I wanted to be my own boss and create my own goals, rather than follow what was already set in place by others.
Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to live a wellness-focused lifestyle? Can you tell us about your main motivation to go all in?
After giving birth to my son, I struggled to lose weight. I tried dieting and exercising on my own, but found that those strategies weren’t good fits for me — not only was I doing something I really disliked, but I wasn’t seeing the results or payoff, either. That struggle and frustration takes a toll on you mentally, physically and emotionally. I knew that there had to be a better way for people to lose weight and feel confident while doing it, so I began trying new products and nutrition practices. With the proper nutrition, support and products, I began to see the weight loss I had been trying to achieve for so long. That’s when that burning desire of entrepreneurship came back. That’s when I decided that was what I wanted to do. Using those same products and practices as a basis, I opened a clinic for weight loss to help and support women just like myself that struggle with weight loss. A Better Weigh was born.
Most people with a wellbeing centered lifestyle have a “go-to” activity, exercise, beverage, or food that is part of their routine. What is yours and can you tell us how it helps you?
When I tell people I don’t exercise, they are really shocked. In my daily activities of work and running businesses, I’m always on the go, so getting to the gym is really unrealistic to my lifestyle. That is why my products are so good — they are tailored to the lifestyle and eating style that fits you. We encourage our clients to eat healthy, but I also firmly believe that you can eat what you want when you practice moderation and limitation of those unhealthy (but favorite) foods. Food is my guilty pleasure. I love going out to eat and experiencing new types of food.
To live a wellness-focused life is one thing, but how did it become your career? How did it all start?
When I became a nurse, I had a job at a senior citizen home. I fell in love with taking care of the elderly, supporting them and their families. In the midst of one of our daily conversations, the subject of health and weight loss struggles came up. I noticed most of the people didn’t have affordable access to certain weight loss products and supplements to help combat weight loss and comorbidities such as Hypertension, High Cholesterol and Type 2 Diabetes. I even had several family members, such as my maternal grandmother, who suffered from Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease. My father suffered a heart attack and struggled with hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes also. I decided to create a solution to the problem by creating A Better Weigh, which offers affordable weight loss products, supplements, nutrition counseling and injections. A Better Weigh was created to help people who couldn’t afford health insurance, bariatric surgeries, medications and plastic surgeries. This created my passion for weight loss, developing our own supplements to not only help with weight loss but to help create a journey for a healthy lifestyle.
Can you share a story about the biggest challenges you faced when you were first starting? How did you resolve that? What are the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
When I started A Better Weigh, there were so many learning curves because I was tapping into a new market. I was creating my own products and a new brand. I also had to educate both the staff and the consumer not only that we existed, but what services we offered and why they worked. So I knew it would be very hard. But my mindset has always been to win, whatever the cost. Since I was young, I’ve had a “never give up” mentality.
I also had experience from working in and running other businesses — and from those, knew that the most important thing was to hire the right people. Especially when it came to A Better Weigh, I needed people who understood that it is not a job, it’s a journey. They needed to be passionate, because customer service was our business. We knew we had great products, but we weren’t in the weight loss business, we were in the customer service business. I wanted to be sure my team made our customers feel at home when they came by. Many clinics can be intimidating and cold, and when you are dealing with issues of weight you never know how that individual is dealing with them. So my goal is to make sure every customer knows we are with them on their journey.
Can you share with us how the work you are doing is helping to make a bigger impact in the world? Can you share a story that illustrates that?
Obesity is a leading issue in the United States. For decades, Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension, High Cholesterol, Hyperthyroidism and other conditions have ravaged through generations of families and caused thousands of deaths yearly. We help many of our patients break these generational curses and create wealth in health. Not only do we help with the medication part of weight loss, but we also create a supportive role. We have to have difficult conversations to combat these issues head on by getting down to the root of the problem. The conversation of being healthy can cause depression because it is so hard in our country where healthy eating is so expensive and non healthy eating is cheap and all around us. The bigger impact for me is making sure each customer feels they have support when they are on this journey to a healthy lifestyle. So many people come in with different stories and reasons, and we build some strong long lasting relationships with alot of our customers.
My father not only suffered from a heart attack, but he also had to undergo a quadruple heart bypass due to unhealthy habits and struggles with his own weight loss. And my grandmother had heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes that threatened not only her health but also her physical being. Neither had affordable accessible care and access to healthy foods. Many people have come to ABW with the same stories. Now, it’s my goal to help those people reclaim authorship of their stories, and tell a new one: a story of survival.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I have a big imagination and I love to solve problems, especially the ones I’m dealing with or the ones I see my family and friends dealing with. We are currently franchising A Better Weigh and it is going very well, even through the COVID-19 pandemic. We have franchised two new locations with no marketing and that came from people eager to get in the medical and weight loss industry and/or people who just want to be in business with me. We’re currently looking to expand and add more products to our brand. We just relocated to our brand new flagship location after 12 years of business at our original location. This has been very exciting especially for our long term customers to see a new, improved and may I add beautiful location.
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?
- Strategic thinking — I have a keen eye for detail and strategy especially for the weight loss market. I am always thinking of different ways of how people can lose weight effectively and with ease. I worked closely with multiple pharmaceutical companies and physicians to develop many of our products. I also researched other weight loss products and medications to develop our own formulas and to make it better than most products that are offered for weight loss.
- Innovation — I created our lipotropic injections, “Lipo-Ignite®” specifically for our weight loss centers. It has fat burning properties that not only help our clients to lose weight but also drop inches and speeds up their metabolism. I also created a specialty medication, “Crave-X®”, it helps our clients that have an issue with over eating and sweet tooth. It helps to make them feel happier so the cravings can go away. These products are exclusive and only available at our A Better Weigh Medical Weight Loss Centers along with all our other supplements.
- Action — I have always been about taking action in all aspects of what I do. From creating my own trademark formulas to having the vision 12 years ago of a business model that can be franchisable is what you call strategic thinking, innovation & action. I always put everything I see and what I want to do or create into action without any fear and doubt.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. Wellness is an incredibly broad topic. How would you define the term “Wellness”? Can you explain what you mean?
Wellness to me is defined as having a great state of overall health. That means being well emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. Sometimes, people believe if they’re not sick then they are well — that is not always true. Many take care of their body but neglect their mind and inner being. I have had many patients come into our facilities and state that they eat well and have a great bill of health from their primary physicians. But then, they complain about lack of energy, feeling down and depressed, stressed and some unknown feelings they cannot explain. People forget to take care of the emotional and mental components of wellness. It’s the little things that count, like getting those extra three hours of sleep, going out to eat by yourself or visiting your local library or getting back to a hobby you enjoyed.
As an expert, this might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons with our readers about why focusing on our wellness should be a priority in our lives?
Focusing on wellness is not only about focusing on health but your body overall. Wellness is found within your mind, body and soul. When all of this is well, it creates a healthy equilibrium of the whole body and you’ll begin to actually build great health. In order to do so, you have to follow good eating habits, get adequate sleep, be mindful of yourself and time and have mental clarity. This is why our slogan is “A Better Weigh to a new you.” All these pieces should come together as one whole and healthy body, mind and soul.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasingly growing understanding of the necessity for companies to be mindful of the wellness of their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, can you share steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental and physical wellness?
With the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s definitely been stressful, particularly in the medical industry. Maintaining optimal health and a peace of mind through these tough times are very important. I know most companies are encouraging staff to seek therapy, meditation classes and yoga for mindfulness. I am a listening ear so my management staff and I have an “open door policy” meaning we’re available to talk whether it’s personal or professional issues they’re dealing with. I also encourage all my staff to take mental health days when they’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
We encourage using resources that are provided through our employer partners such as free to low cost therapy sessions, financial literacy classes and discounted tickets for certain concerts, movies and attractions.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
Vision. Execution. Leadership. Confidence. Determination.
- Vision. When I first started A Better Weigh, I had to have a very strong vision in order to build the company. Since it was a new idea, it was incredibly important that I had a clear concept of what the company would become, so I could help others see that as well.. It was clear as day to me what it will become, but very hard for others to see.
- Execution. When I set my mind to something I have to get it done or it keeps me up at night. After all, execution isn’t just how you function day-to-day — it’s how you grow your empire. Expanding our product line was a big execution for us. We no longer were a one-product company, we become a more holistic, one-stop shop for anyone looking for support.
- Leadership. My main aim is to create leaders within my organization. When teams have respect for upper management and have the support to get to that role themselves, each member is able to thrive as an individual and as a part of the larger picture. This is how we are able to grow, because we are constantly learning.
- Confidence.Having confidence is equal to being fearless. It gives you the motivation to go after what you want. My confidence grows stronger when I actually lose. It teaches me that my goals are within reach.
- Determination. I’m relentless when I decide on something. I don’t think twice and must find the solution to the problem. Either I can find the answer on my own, or I must find someone who has the answer.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would promote the most wellness to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
If I were able to use my influence to promote wellness, I would change the culture of fast food. As of now, fast food restaurants are conveniently located just about everywhere, but the availability of healthy whole food menu options are almost non-existent. When healthy options are offered at these restaurants, the cost of those meals are significantly higher. Poverty is a direct link to the disparities in health and wellness. After all, if I were head of household to a family of five with low income, it would be far more affordable to purchase five burgers off of a dollar menu vs a nutritious salad with grilled chicken that costs $6 for one. If I was able to change the system and give every person an affordable, easy and healthy way to feed themselves and their families, I believe we’d have incredible change and impact throughout the country.
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Sara Blakely is the founder and CEO of Spanx. While our industries are completely different, the story behind the start of our entrepreneurial journey is very similar.
When I heard Sarah’s story for the first time it reminded me of how I started my business. It is very motivating to see a woman disrupt an industry in which all odds were against her. I can relate as I continue to expand the brand of A Better Weigh. I would love to have lunch with her to learn more about the risk she took to go to the next level and what strategic plan or advice she took to help her grow to Billions.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Readers can follow me on LinkedIn, Instagram ,our website BetterWeighMedical.com, our Facebook page @ A Better Weigh — Chicago Weight Loss Center, Instagram @BetterWeighMedical
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!