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mara-feil-meetNice to meet you.

Hi, I'm Mara, founder of Stand UPP Health. I received my training in Dietary Theory and Integrative Nutrition from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and I'm Board Certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and SUNY College at Purchase, NY. I'm also trained and certified in Orthomolecular and Functional Nutrition by the American Association of Nutritional Consultants.

Prior to studying nutrition, I graduated magna cum laude from Goizueta Business School at Emory University.

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Interview by Danielle McNally, Senior Editor, Details Magazine

Q – Why were you first drawn to the field of nutrition?
A – For a long time I've been fascinated by the inextricable link between what you eat and how you feel, age, and prevent (or manage) disease. After years of researching nutrition as a hobby and designing my own lifestyle program, friends and family started coming to me for advice as well. It grew from there. I'm passionate about inspiring people to get a little healthier and in the process become a little happier, and I'm fortunate to be able to make a career out of that. Once you realize how good 'healthy' feels, you'll never forget it.

Q – You transitioned from working in strategy at a commercial real estate firm to starting your own nutrition consultancy. What inspired the change and how is it going?
A – I woke up one day and realized that months of stress and anxiety were stemming from my unhappiness at work. My husband encouraged me to do what I love and follow my passion. When I considered what that might be, I realized I'm happiest when helping others get healthier or cooking delicious (and healthy) meals for dinner parties with friends. I enrolled in nutrition school soon thereafter, quit my job, and have never looked back! It's amazing, but sometimes you have to hear what you already know from someone you trust to finally take action.

Q – Your motto is “Healthy Is Easy.” Why do you believe that?
A – Extreme diets and radical changes are not the answer to weight loss or other health goals, as neither is sustainable nor enjoyable. Wellness is a combination of eating the right foods and approaching food from the right perspective. It's also about exercising your muscles to combat stress and cardiovascular wear-and-tear. But there is no one perfect way to eat or exercise that works for everyone. That's why it's crucial to first understand your body's unique needs and predispositions. Together, you and I will then create a customized lifestyle that assists your metabolism, controls cravings, addresses emotional eating, and so much more. All that's left to do is live the plan. No diet. Just a lifestyle.

Q – How would you sum up your approach to nutrition in a few words?
A – It's about the balance between eating what you should with eating what you want.

Q – What's your favorite splurge food?
A – This is a tie between chocolate soufflé and chocolate chip cookies.

Q – When you're not helping people get healthy, where can you be found?
A – I'm in my element when I'm trying out a new recipe and figuring out how to make it a little tastier and a little healthier. When I'm not in the kitchen, I'm likely jogging in Central Park or exploring the restaurant scene with my husband or close friends. My life definitely revolves around eating well and exercising often!

Q – You mention working out in addition to healthy eating. If I don't like exercising, what can I do?
A – A few days of exercise a week really makes a difference. It can be anything you consider fun, from a brisk walk to yoga to basketball. New York City has so many unexpected and exciting ways to get your heart pumping that won't feel like traditional exercise. Why not try an underwater cycling class, outdoor bootcamp, or ballet-style barre class?

My secret to fitting in exercise is to schedule a workout everyday, even though I know I won't always make it. That way I know I'll get in a good sweat session at least 3 or 4 days a week. It's all about establishing a routine and then doing those exercises that make you feel the happiest.

Q – What's your favorite thing about living in New York City?
A – The nonstop energy and can-do attitude.

Q – What's your favorite way to de-stress?
A – Either running in Central Park or taking high-intensity strength training classes at Equinox. Cardio Sculpt is my favorite!