FYI: This gets personal.

I think that us bloggers so often put the brightest, shiniest bits of our lives on display, and it isn’t realistic. What anyone knows about me from reading my website is that I’m a health coach, I’m engaged, I’m happy, I’m healthy. None of you know where I come from or how I got here. So I open up a bit about that today. If that’s not your thang, I warned you.

Also, I seriously considered titling this post “Started From The Bottom Now I’m Here” but didn’t think a lot of people would get it.

So here goes:

When I was 11 my mother told me I’d be pregnant by the time I was 17 and never amount to anything.

I’m not sure why she thought I’d be pregnant by the time I was 17, I was never promiscuous. But this is something I think a lot of people came to expect of me, and expect of most young girls who grow up as white trash. (But I just left my job to run my own nutrition coaching business; IN YOUR FACE, EVERYONE!) I used to be ashamed of admitting that I come from white trash, but now I’m proud of it and think it’s an integral part of my story. I grew up without a dad and a drug-addicted mother that has always made money by stealing from people (later in life, it turned out she would steal a lot of money from me). My grandmother lived with us on and off growing up and was my one saving grace. She is the reason I am the person I am, and likely why I didn’t starve to death (drug addicts don’t care about grocery shopping).

Growing up, I didn’t do well in school and I didn’t have high ambitions for myself.

A career and happy life were just things that didn’t even occur to me. My mother started kicking me out of the house when I was 14 and officially left to move in with her boyfriend when I was 16. That may sound like abandonment, but rest assured it was the best thing for me. Living with her was a terror every single day. When she moved away, she rented the other two rooms in our house two crackheads. I don’t mean that metaphorically, they literally smoked crack. But they were nice guys, even if they did keep me up all hours of the night partying; so school wasn’t high on my list of priorities when I didn’t even have food to eat.

When all of my friends left to go to different states and embark on their bright futures, I was living where I’d always lived: with two crackheads. So I started drinking heavily. At 19, because I refused to pay her more rent (the crackheads had both stopped paying rent months earlier), Joanna had kicked me out (I stopped referring to her as “mom” when I was a kid, that term of endearment always felt too awkward). So I slept on my friends’ couches and on the floor of my grandmother’s efficiency apartment.

Stick with me here, I have a point.

I’ve been working on and off since I was 11 years-old, but my big break came at 21 when I got a job with the government.

It was around this time I was falling in love with nutrition. I had watched Food, Inc. and wanted to learn more. I wanted to fight for small, organic farmers, I wanted to eat locally, I wanted to have a healthy and sustainable diet. So I enrolled and started putting myself through my first nutrition certification program, but they were all about raw, vegan and vegetarian diets. I was learning more and more about real nutrition and ancestral diets on my own, so their teachings felt very off to me. After that, I enrolled in a different certification program. I was in a student program with the government, and at 23 my department had decided to eliminate that program. So I was let go, along with the other students.

I immediately found work at a law firm, which is the job I just quit. What I thought would be an easy job that allowed me time to work on the site turned out to be a lot of work with very little downtime.

I’m not the type of person to be in an office all day with no sunlight, sedentary. That is not the kind of life I want for myself.

Not only that, but it wasn’t anything close to what I wanted to be doing. I knew it would take me a while to build my own business, but in the meantime, I hoped I’d find work doing something to at least help people that needed it. I didn’t. While I liked my immediate coworkers, the job was kind of soul-crushing.

In June of 2013, I started to really monetize this site. I was a certified holistic nutritionist, and I was ready to help people, transform lives and change the world. I created Ditch The Diet, and more recently the 21 Day Lifestyle Transformation.

Working from the couch because my office is crazy cold in the winter:

In the scheme of things, I’m still a n00b.

I’m not making a ton of money, but I know if I didn’t quit my job, I likely wouldn’t make anymore. Working a high-stress job takes so much out of you, I was out of the house until 5 every day, then had to come home, clean up, make dinner and make lunch for the next day. Trying to maintain a website and coaching and social media for a few hours a day was next to impossible. There were so many nights that I literally cried my eyes out to Scott. I wanted to quit, but I just wasn’t quite there yet. I wanted immediate success (like so many in my generation do). But the truth is that it doesn’t happen overnight. I busted my buns to even get to this point. It’s impossible for me to contain my excitement at putting all of my energy into this website, into helping people.

I highly encourage everyone to find what they’re passionate about.

Health is a true passion for me, and I’m insanely thankful I was able to turn that into a job for myself. I didn’t go to college, I didn’t have financial support from my family, hell, I didn’t even have a family. Now, I have Scott and I am beyond thankful for him and his support. He always believed I could do it, even when I doubted myself. I have the most amazing partner who I know will continue to support me throughout this journey. I think if you find something you’re passionate about and work your ass off, you can do whatever you want.

I’m confident that I can be incredibly successful for one big reason: I genuinely want to help people.

You don’t need a ton of money, you don’t need to be a doctor. But you do need the drive. I came from nothing, I came from a place where literally no one believed in me, and now I’m quitting my job to run Ancestral Nutrition. And you can bet your boots I’m going to keep working my ass off every day until the whole world knows about real, sustainable nutrition and I’m more popular than Jillian Michaels.


  1. Jessica Brooks-Forgan Reply

    This is so great! What an amazing story – congratulations!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. More power to you, Dani! You’ve pulled yourself up by your own bootstraps, and your struggles have made you even more equipped to help others. I’m planning to share about my own past circumstantial/familial struggles soon too (I only spoke about my health struggles in my book). It’s inspiring to read your words.

  3. Thank you for the inspiration! I was recently laid off and am trying to figure out what to do with myself. My journey into real health began about six years ago and I’ve always said I want to use what I’ve learned to help other people. Knowing it’s possible without a trust fund or a sugar daddy is great motivation!!

    • dani stout Reply

      Thanks for the awesome comment, Darcy! And let me know if you need any advice/would like to start a new venture. I also coach people on how to build an online essential oils business.

  4. Chelsea Chambers Reply

    This is one of the most inspiring posts I’ve ever read! You rock.

  5. Hello! I just came across your blog on pinterest. I am currently working to be a health coach (IIN- graduating in july. eeeeh!). I just wanted to stop and say how this is a fantastic post. I too am white trash. My sister was knocked up at 17 or so and most assumed I would follow suit. Alcoholic parents, small town in texas, and very poor college results the first time around have all set me up mentally for failure. I try to believe in myself but as I sit at my desk at a job i don’t enjoy, belief is hard. I will keep going though. Just as you did. And we, my new friend, will make the world happy and healthy. so thank you for the inspiration. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. You are awesome! You’re story is very inspiring. Sometimes our struggles are what pushes us to do great things; that even with hardships, there are blessings and lessons to be learned. Oh, and I totally got the Drake reference lol!

  7. Such an inspiring story, Dani! Thanks for sharing it! I’m also passionate about health, organic food, lifestyle, etc., so after 10 years working in advertising I’m seriously thinking about getting a certification to become a health coach (thinking about IIN program). As it will involve a time, energy and financial investment I truly relate to your words about having to keep a “high-stressful-soul-crushing job” in order to make this career transition possible. Anyway, truly inspiring to read your story and realize that even though it will take time, patience and hard work, the change is possible. Thanks Dani, keep up the great work! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • dani stout Reply

      Thank you! And let me know if you ever want to chat. Actually I think I’ll email you.

  8. Great inspiration. I would love to email with you. I’m currently finishing up my PhD in health psych and am interested in finding a way to transition my career more into health coaching (currently I am an athletic trainer and college instructor). I’d love to learn more about the business side of things, and I love chatting about health topics with people from different backgrounds keep up your hard work

  9. Thank you so much for your realness, your candor and rawness! More of this is needed in the world and I am sure this sets you apart as a coach. This blog was so timely as I have wanted to quit my job for along time. I am a single mom. Working a government office job that kills me. I need freedom. I am passionate about health and natural healing modalites. This article gave me hope! So I thank you!
    ~ namaste!

    • dani stout Reply

      That makes me so happy! Let me know if you ever want to talk about it. I’m always down to offer whatever insight I can.

  10. Hi there! I have been reading your blog every day on my lunch break for awhile. Pretty sure I’ve read almost all of the posts. Anyway, i have wanted to comment and say how awesome all of it is, but never felt like one I read was a good one. This one though. THIS is the one. the paragraph about the job you had is pretty much my current job. no sunlight, sedentary, nice coworkers, but not at all what i want. I’m taking classes to become a holistic nutrition consultant, and it’s going to take some time, but i know it will be worth it. this post drives that fact home. thank you for the inspiration and the newfound belief that i can actually make it happen too. and your website is awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • dani Reply

      I am SOO happy for you! It takes a few years of hustle but it will be so worth it! Email me if you ever have questions and best of luck!

  11. I love this story! I have had a rough upbringing myself, just lost my dad in July. I have a HUGE passion for helping others and am very health oriented. I am currently enrolled in IIN (Institute for Integrative Nutrition) I will be pre-certified in April 2017 and a graduate Sept 2017! I currently work a 9-5 office job, sitting for 8 hours starring at a job that does nothing for me. Your story is such a huge inspiration to help keep me focused on my goal and dream ahead! Thank you for sharing

  12. Such an inspiring story… I’m a nurse who’s recently started blogging…I hope one day I’ll be able to quit my hospital day job to become a full time blogger. I admire your courage and your passion about health and nutrition….keep up the good work!

    RN didi

  13. Hello!
    I came across your blog while trying to figure out where to go with my future. I recently got my Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences: Concentration in integrative holistic medicine and minored in nutrition and health. I would love to be able to educate people on how important and exactly what it takes to be healthy and well (especially if they’re unable to find the resources available/ aren’t sure how to live a healthy lifestyle). I’ve been contemplating if I should go to Grad school and get my masters in Public Health or if a certificate program would be more beneficial for my goals but I have nobody to talk to about it and I think you would be able to give me great advice! I did look into the Blue Heron Academy & the Holistic Health Practitioner really catches my eye but I also looked into IIN and am completely lost at which route to go since they all seem up my ally. I’d love to hear back from you!

  14. Congratulations! I’m in a program right now studying to be a health coach. I’m about 6 months into it and loving it!

  15. This story really inspired me and Iโ€™m ina similar point in my life where I am passionate about health and how it helps others. But Iโ€™m also nervous to quit my job because I donโ€™t have any savings to fall back on to pursue this. What do you suggest to follow my passion but to also have the courage to be fully committed to it?

  16. I’ve just come across your page thanks to Pintrest… I too work a full time job and am thinking about going towards my passion of food/personal wellness. I would love your insight on how you got started. I’ve been in cardiology for 10 years and the traditional medicine world is great but it lacks a lot of nutrition recommendations that actually work and helping detox the body. Congratulations on all that you have accomplished!

  17. Hi, thank you for your inspiring story! I have a culinary arts degree and have been thinking of a career change and becoming a health coach. Looking into options and wondering if this is what I really want to do.

  18. Wow!! Amazing story. So happy for you. I agree that we are on this life journey to use and share the gifts that God has given us…that we are passionate about…to help ourselves and others to be the BEST we can be.

  19. This is an amazing story and really inspiring. Congratulations for having that much strength and a belief in yourself when those that should have done that didn’t. Keep going and you will have great success.

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