Women In Wellness: Erin Renzas Of Ebb Wellness On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

An Interview With Wanda Malhotra

Wanda Malhotra
Authority Magazine

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Embrace the Transformation. Real, powerful personal transformation can unlock your most satisfying, joyful life, but it can be terrifying. It can be isolating. It can take you to your lowest lows, but it can take you up to higher highs than you could have ever imagined. Be willing to go right through the transformation. Embrace it. It’s hard, but it is worth it.

Today, more than ever, wellness is at the forefront of societal discussions. From mental health to physical well-being, women are making significant strides in bringing about change, introducing innovative solutions, and setting new standards. Despite facing unique challenges, they break barriers, inspire communities, and are reshaping the very definition of health and wellness. In this series called women in wellness we are talking to women doctors, nurses, nutritionists, therapists, fitness trainers, researchers, health experts, coaches, and other wellness professionals to share their stories and insights. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Erin Renzas, Author and Founder of EBB Wellness.

Erin Renzas is an author and former CMO of some of Silicon Valley’s fastest-growing tech companies. She is the founder of EBB Wellness and is currently writing a book on weight loss versus wellness, personal transformation, and her own experience with extreme weight loss in the age of the new weight loss super drugs.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Like so many other women, I had big ambitions when it came to my career and my life. By the time I was 35 years old, I was leading marketing for one of the fastest growing tech companies — valued at more than $40 billion. I had moved to New York, San Francisco, and, eventually, to London and Amsterdam.

Then, suddenly, I realized that none of it was what I wanted. I spent 15 years building a life that didn’t make me really satisfied. So, where to go from there? One international move, a break up, and some soul searching later, I completely shifted my mindset, changed my life, and embraced a total transformation of mind and body — and I lost 102 pounds (42% of my body weight) in the process.

The weight loss is actually the least interesting piece of this story, but, with it, I found a new connection to my body, my sense of self, and what I wanted to do next. I also learned about the difference between weight loss and wellness. The mental health implications, and lack of focus on the mental health side of weight loss in general, took me by surprise. I went through a core-shaking, don’t-know-who-you-are-any-more-gotta-figure-it-out transformation, and came out the other side.

Long story short — holistic life transformations can be scary, but also necessary to finding out who you truly are and how you want to impact the world. Now, I am writing a book on my own experience with weight loss and wellness, the impact of body transformation on mental health, and the changing landscape of body acceptance in hopes that sharing my story will make others going through a similar thing not feel so alone.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

I’ll be honest, I liked climbing the corporate ladder. I loved solving tough challenges in fast-paced environments. I loved learning new things and pushing myself. I learned how to be great at it, and with that came amazing career progression. I’m proud of the work that I have done and the teams I have built and led.

But somewhere along the way, I realized that I never asked myself: What is the purpose? What is my purpose?

In marketing and corporate strategy, we talk about the purpose of a business. The purpose is why a business exists — beyond just making money. Having a clear statement of purpose guides your business. It grounds you and drives the decisions you make. A clear articulation of purpose is fundamental to the success of a business. It’s different from a vision — that’s the goal and what you achieve — and it is different from a mission — which is how you do it and the path you choose to accomplish the vision.

A purpose articulates the most important values and beliefs that inspires a company to make a difference. It is the reason for being.

Looking back, I needed to think about growing my career in the same way I thought about growing a successful business. I knew my vision — the goal. I knew my mission — how to do it. But I didn’t know why I was doing it. I never articulated my purpose.

From the moment I began focusing my career, and more importantly, my life on one guided by purpose, everything changed. It transformed my career, my life, and, yes — in my case — my body. Sometimes following my purpose meant making hard decisions which led me to some of the most challenging points in my life — psychological and psychologically — but when I came out on the other side, I found a life and career rooted in meaning, fulfillment, and joy.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I think about my early career, so much of my perception of success stemmed from signals of validation. How do we know we are doing a good job at our jobs? Well, we get the praise of our superiors. We get promoted. We get salary increases. We manage bigger teams. We get the better title.

There is a lot of interesting research on this — both in how it relates to academic success, career success, and, of course, our personal relationships — particularly for women.

One mistake I made in my early career was mis defining success. In my personal definition of “career success,” I conflated “career satisfaction” with “career validation.” That meant that I stopped focusing on what made me feel satisfied in my career and instead focused on what earned me validation from my superiors. Of course, a focus on that validation unlocked good things for me — more money, more promotions, and more leadership. On the flip side, it was what directly led me to feel unsatisfied in the work I was doing. I was burnt out, and I was doing work that pleased others instead of building a career that unlocked a life rooted in holistic happiness.

What I learned was that validation from others does not define success. Instead, success is defined by satisfaction, and satisfaction is unlocked through a commitment to your statement of purpose.

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

When I went on the journey to revamp my career and my life to be one rooted in purpose and satisfaction, I simultaneously found myself on a journey of extreme weight loss.

I want to be very clear that bigger bodies are not inherently less happy or less healthy bodies than smaller bodies. I did not lose more than 100 pounds because I thought it would magically make me happier. In fact, I had always had a bigger body and I had been relatively happy.

Before I started this transformation, I had great friends, a kind boyfriend, and a great family. I had a thriving career. I had traveled the world. Life was good.

My own physical transformation came as a result of a broader personal transformation — where I was looking to reestablish a life rooted in joy and satisfaction. That’s not to insinuate that my weight loss was not intentional: it was, but I never imagined it would be as extreme or life-altering as it was.

In fact, it was my physical transformation that brought about some of the most challenging times in my life. It was the opposite of what I expected or what I wanted. So often, #weightlosstransformation is presented as a path to a happier, shinier version of our lives.

My own physical transformation led to self-isolation and such intense body dysmorphia that it resulted in dissociative episodes and a mental breakdown. I wanted a joyful life and instead I found myself crying on the floor of my Amsterdam apartment insisting over and over to my mother that I no longer existed and that I wasn’t real.

Now, I am looking to share my story through my content platform EBB Wellness and by writing a book on weight loss and wellness, body acceptance, and personal transformation. My goal is to be a resource for other women who are finding out who they truly are as they navigate work, wellness, life and relationships.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?

1. Sustainability Unlocks Maintainability. Big personal transformation can be intimidating. Whether that is a change in your career or your lifestyle, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Instead of focusing on tons of big changes all at once, focus on making a small change today. Commit to that. See how it makes you feel. Then add in. The goal of any major personal transformation is to have it be maintainable over the long run. You want to find long-term wellness, and that means making changes that feel sustainable to your life over the long run. One of my goals was to have better stamina — I wanted to be able to move my body how I wanted for as long as I wanted. The reality is that I hate running. It is not sustainable for me because I never want to do it. Do you know what is sustainable for me? Boxing. I love the game and the technique behind it. It is one of my favorite activities and leads to a similar outcome, but because it is sustainable, that means the results it helps me achieve are maintainable.

2. Take Away the Time Bounding. Wellness and weight loss journeys are often time-bound. It’s thought of as a temporary state before you go back to living your old life. Think of the 75 Day Hard Challenge or Whole 30 or Dry January. These are “programs” you do for 75 days or 30 days to unlock a certain result. Before I made my own transformation, I would do the same thing, but that doesn’t result in long-term change. It can be intimidating to try to make a change that is forever. Maybe you don’t want certain things in your life to change forever. But the reality is that in order to make meaningful, fulfilling shifts, you need to be willing to commit to the long-run. Of course, that means that those changes need to be, as I said previously, sustainable.

3. Focus on Fulfillment Over Being Busy. When I went through my own personal transformation, I had to make space and time in my life for those changes. I needed to focus on my purpose and the path to that purpose. That meant that I needed to be very critical of the things in my life that took up my time, but didn’t bring me joy or fulfillment. Sometimes we busy-up our lives with things which take up space and time but don’t bring us joy. Focus your energy on things and people that fulfill you and be okay with letting go of things that simply make you busy.

4. Commit to Commitment Rather than Discipline. Holly Whitaker, who wrote Quit Like a Woman and started a movement that inspired women like Chrissy Teigen to stop drinking, has been a huge inspiration for me. One of the most influential things I learned from her is the difference between commitment and discipline. So often when we talk about lifestyle changes, you will hear about being “disciplined.” What Whitaker points out is that discipline is ultimately about doing something you have to do and being punished when you don’t. Merriam-Webster defines discipline as “control gained by enforcing obedience or order.” Commitment, on the other hand, is about something you want to do. It is about a pledge and a dedication. Commit to commitment, not discipline.

5 . Add In Instead of Take Out. When it comes to wellness (and, yes, weight loss), it can be easy to think about all the things you can’t do anymore. If you want to improve your sleep, it means you can’t stay out late. If you want to improve your mobility through yoga, it means you can’t go to brunch instead (or do whatever you used to do during that time). There can be a tendency to think about the things you are taking away instead of the things you are adding in. Instead, place the emphasis on the thing you are adding into your life. Make changes additive versus subtractive. I can keep up with my kids when they run at the park. Being more rested means I have more focus on the things I love the next day. Whatever that is, think about the things that you’re getting, not the things you are taking away.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

The global weight loss and obesity management market is estimated to be valued at more than $225 billion. Last August, the Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk, which developed weight-loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy, reached a market capitalization of $423 billion. That means the business is valued at more than the entire economy of its home country of Denmark.

We’re talking about big money and a huge industry, and it is based on the idea that weight loss leads to wellness. On the contrary, what I learned in my own journey is that that idea is simply not true.

As I began to achieve my weight loss goals, my mental health deteriorated. I was achieving goals on the scale, but I was losing the battle for personal wellness. I had shifted my nutrition and exercise to change my body, but I needed to shift my mindset and reconstruct who I was.

The movement which I am building is one of Sustainable Wellness — where embracing personal transformation rooted in purpose and in service of career and life satisfaction takes center stage. This movement focuses on the interconnection of how our bodies are interwoven with our entire concept of self, of who we are, what we experience, and how we find happiness.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

Embrace the Transformation. Real, powerful personal transformation can unlock your most satisfying, joyful life, but it can be terrifying. It can be isolating. It can take you to your lowest lows, but it can take you up to higher highs than you could have ever imagined. Be willing to go right through the transformation. Embrace it. It’s hard, but it is worth it.

Make Room for Good Things. True transformation often means that you have to let go of people and things from your life before that do not fit in your life now. That can be hard and sad, because chances are you loved those people and things from the before. I had to learn that just because something or someone doesn’t make sense in my life now, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t really love them and that they weren’t an amazing part of my life. You don’t have to carry everything forward. You can’t get to where you are going if you do. Love those things. Recognize their importance, but be okay with letting some of them go.

Give Yourself Time to Learn Who You Are. Dramatic transformation requires a change in who you are. This isn’t a temporary state where you go back to the person you used to be. Give yourself time to figure out what you like. Try new hobbies. Say yes to meeting new people. So much of the process of personal transformation can require cutting yourself off from things you used to love and that can leave a big hole in the person you were. Be open to finding new things you love that can make you feel fulfilled and find joy.

It Isn’t About Them. Personal transformation cannot be about other people — it can’t be about showing them or proving them wrong or being the version of you that they think is the better version of you. This cannot be about gaining validation from someone else. Personal transformation has to be about what you want. What gives you satisfaction and joy? Root your motivation in your own vision of success and happiness.

Let Your Purpose Guide You. Like any great business, you need to be able to articulate what drives you. What are your values and what do you fundamentally believe? If your personal transformation is grounded and driven by your view of purpose — you’ll be on the road to finding satisfaction.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

I am passionate about the mental health side of physical and personal transformation. In order to achieve wellness — not simply weight loss — I have had to make a deep and concerted effort to work on my mental health. It is a core focus, as much as strength training, mobility or nutrition.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

I share what I have learned along the way as @ErinRWellnes on TikTok or you can read more of my story at Erin Renzas on Medium.

Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.

About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at CrunchyMamaBox.com .

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Wanda Malhotra
Authority Magazine

Wellness Entrepreneur, Lifestyle Journalist, and CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living.